A Letter from Our Pastoral Coordinator
October 7th, 2018
May Christ’s peace, joy and hope be with you all!
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ –
On Sept. 16th and 23rd weekends, I wrote about two of the first four marks ofthe Church – that she is both one Church and a Church that is holy from the Nicene creed that we say together every Sunday.These marks both identifywhat we are and that to which we are called. In this weekend’s column I wantto share some reflections about the catholic mark of the Church. In this context of the Nicene Creed, the word catholic is not an identifier noting that we are Roman Catholic (Western) as opposed to Orthodox Catholicism (Eastern). Here the word catholic, lower case,originates from the Greek, kata holos, meaning “with respect to the whole.”
Pope Francis, in his book, The Church of Mercy, suggests that the Church is catholic in three basic ways. First, it’s because it is “the home in which the faith is proclaimed to us in its entirety, in which the salvation brought us by Christ is offered to everyone (p. 33).” In other words, all that Christ proclaimed by his words and actions – its confession, its sacraments and its ministry is complete in the Church. We encounter Christ Jesus in its dynamic community.
Second, the Church is catholic because she is universal - proclaimed and experienced all over the world to every person everywhere. Pope Francis teaches an important lesson here. “The Church does not rest solely beneath the shadow of our steeple; rather, she embraces a vast number of peoples and nations who embrace the same faith, are nourished by the same Eucharist, and are served by the same pastors. The universality of our church, is united under our local (Arch) bishop [and] linked to the Holy Father”(p. 34). Witnessing to Christ is the work of every one of us to all people in the world, lay or pastoral leader, each with roles to play in the transmission of the Gospel of Christ.
Third, Pope Francis suggests that the Church is catholic because she is “the home of harmony, where unity and diversity know how to merge” (p. 35) as one source of greatness. The Holy Father likens the catholic nature of the Church to a symphony with various sounds playing together around one theme. We all have our “sound” or gifts that we offer for the sake not of ourselves but for blending with and for others for the sake of Jesus and the Gospel.
What does this look like on the ground at our parishes? In our catholic nature, we proclaim all aspects of the gospel of Jesus: in entirety, in universality, in link to our bishops, and in harmony. We are linked to two Catholic churches: Holy Rosary and Visitation and their schools, to those in the Pierce Deanery, to the Archdiocese, to the world. We must continue to work for this catholic –i.e. “missionary sense” of ourselves. In her catholic nature, the essence of the Church is missionary to “Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations” (Mt. 28:19).
We all have different points of view and understandings of how the catholic character of our faith
in Christ is lived in missionary discipleship. But we must remember that as members of the Church, Jesus is the head, and he alone is the “maestro.” United in Christ, the Holy Spirit guides us in ourcatholic “harmony.”
In God’s great love, hope and mercy,
Deacon Jim Fish,
Pastoral Coordinator Holy Rosary and Visitation parishes Archdiocese of Seattle