Michael Daly CJ Blog

A Companion of Jesus

Being real in Church….

“let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us”. (Hebrews 12. 1)

Some time we can find ourselves going to church out of duty and not out of a living intimate relationship with Jesus. We can perform outwardly whilst our hearts are far away. We can say the right words and perform the rites and rituals and observe the holy days.. but they really have no meaning…as our hearts remain unchanged, cold and void of love. So much of our religious observance can be done out of obligation and fear. Unfortunately, many Church leaders have domineered manipulated and controlled the flock in their care. But it’s not just leaders who have missed the point……

I was reminded of a sad story told to me many years ago by a dear friend who was a Roman Catholic priest. ‘A devout Catholic woman was preparing to go to mass on a Sunday morning when her elderly neighbour called in quite distressed. The neighbour’s niece had died suddenly in the early hours of the morning and the neighbour who was her aunt and also her Godmother had just been informed. She lived on her own as her husband had died a few years earlier and just needed a place of refuge and a shoulder to cry on. The devout Catholic lady, kept looking at her clock as the neighbour tried through tears to explain matters. Apologising for not being able to stop and listen at that moment, the devout Catholic woman said she was very sorry but late for mass, and told her neighbour she could come back later’. This is religion at it’s worst…yet not so uncommon!

We need to throw off this obligatory religious observance mentality, which hinders us from loving both our neighbour and God, by entangling us in a selfish web which colours itself in a false piety that grieves and quenches the Spirit.

To be real calls for radical changes to our thought life and the way we live our Christianity. As a Roman Catholic I have been (over) sacramentalised and not evangelised enough. This is not all the fault of the hierarchy or local clerics, (though many will have to give an account) but it involves us all.

To be real means, I must use the ears I have been give to listen and use the eyes I have to see and the feet I have to carry the good news of Jesus to my neighbour.

When celebrating mass I have noticed so many sisters and brothers who turn up at the last moment or well into the service and then leave so quickly at the end. I wonder, Why? There seems no time for others. No time to speak with their neighbour in the pew. No time to receive ministry from the body that is gathered together. No thanksgiving at the Eucharist. No fellowship. No reality! They go through the motions like visiting Tesco’s… once the shopping is done they are off….until next time.

St Teresa of Avilla wrote,

“Christ has no body now on earth but yours,
no hands but yours,
no feet but yours,
Yours are the eyes through which is to look out
Christ’s compassion to the world;
Yours are the feet with which he is to go about
doing good;
Yours are the hands with which he is to bless men now*.

May our lives somehow reflect the truth encapsulated in this prayer-poem, so we may be real to one another in Church and outside in the world, to the many millions who know nothing of the love and mercy of God, found in Jesus Christ.

Michael Daly
December 2009


December 18, 2009 - Posted by | Thoughts

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