Each issue carries an imprimatur from
the Archdiocese of Cincinnati. Reprinting prohibited
People, Body, Temple
Why should I want to belong to this Church? Hearing
this question, a parent may search quickly within
himself or herself and pray: “Please, God, help me
now. Guide my words!”
Sometimes we may search in a similar way.
Graced by God, we come to see that “In the life of
faith there are always two movements: God in
search of us and we in search of God” (U.S. Catholic
Catechism for Adults, p. 109).
We do not search alone. As faithful Catholics,
we belong to more than an organization of our own
making. Each of us is more than a category on a
form or a number on a membership spreadsheet.
We are part of the community of the Church.
People of God
Christians note the special ties that bind us to the
Jewish community, a people chosen by God for special
and lasting relationship with him. We must
cherish these bonds and nurture them with mutual
trust and respect. Jewish people today continue to
strive to live in response to God’s covenant with
them, “for the gifts and the call of God are irrevocable”
Applied to the Church, the term People of God
is a reminder that we worship as a people God
claims for himself through the Son and in the
power of the Spirit. We participate actively in
Christ’s own priesthood in our daily activities,
including setbacks that may shake us but uplift our
faith. We witness by example and by word our living
as prophets of faith. And we are called to serve
others as faithful stewards of the mission of Christ.
Called to witness
I realize more and more my connection to other
believers as I recall aspects of Catholic life that
nourish my growth in faith. Grace before meals, family parish participation, adult faith
formation, and social outreach help to
affirm my identity and heritage in faith.
In a world often driven by self-promotion,
we can become a gentle
and humble people living in intimate
and close relationship with the One
who calls all people to himself. We are
a people sealed in the new covenant of
Christ’s blood. We are a gathering of
believers striving to live as witnesses to
“one Lord, one faith, one baptism”
(Eph 4:5) as the People of God.
Body of Christ
Imagine for a moment the inviting
aroma of a simmering meal. It permeates
its surroundings, awakening our
senses and beckoning us to come closer.
We approach, eagerly and deliberately,
each at our own pace.
Our faith beckons us to a lifestyle
of deliberate discipleship. Eagerly and
deliberately, we participate in the
Church’s mission—our mission—of
bringing the gospel to all people. We
promote virtues and values born of the
life of the Church, the Body of Christ.
As we assert our common identity on
the vast stage of humanity, we draw
strength from this community that
binds us together as one.
The Church is bound intimately to
the Trinity, for “The Holy Trinity
abides with the Church always...”
(USCCA, pp. 112-113). Each person of
the Trinity, distinct yet one in eternal
and loving communion with the other
two, is related in a dynamic way to the
Church. We enter into that love relationship
as part of this community.
Visible signs of God’s presence
The Church is a living reality of God’s
own life with us—a sacrament. “The
Church as both visible and spiritual is
traditionally described as the Mystical
Body of Christ” (USCCA, p.115).
Most of us can name some visible
aspects of what it is to be Catholic:
efforts to promote justice; our leadership
and structure, including our bishops,
successors of the apostles; cherished
relationships and practices. In its
spiritual sense, the Church lives in
faith and love through the Holy Spirit,
its constant guide.
I treasure the reality that the
Catholic Church is a unity of both the
Latin (Western) Church and the
Eastern Catholic Churches. There is
much to be gained from prayer, conversation
and common action as one,
holy, catholic and apostolic Church.
“[W]e, though many, are one body
in Christ and individually parts of one
another” (Rom 12:5). The Church,
rooted in mystery, is ever-present to us.
We, as the community of the Church,
are present to others.
Temple of the Spirit
It is tempting to think of the founding
of the Church as something similar to
founding a company. Ideas are presented,
action steps are taken, results are examined.
Simple? Yes. Adequate? No. Viewed
through the eyes of faith, this example
limps in identifying our witnessing and
merciful community. The Church is a
living mystery focused on “mission
ends” rather than “market trends.”
Jesus promises a gift for mission:
the Holy Spirit. The Spirit sustains the
Church, guiding it through its long and
sometimes tumultuous, sometimes glorious,
The same Holy Spirit who came
upon the apostles and disciples
“[w]hen the time for Pentecost was
fulfilled” (Acts 2:1) cradles the Church
even today. The Spirit enables both
first-century and 21st-century witnesses
to faith to proclaim what we have
come to believe. “[L]ike a strong driving
wind” (Acts 2:2), the Spirit continues
to call this community to ongoing
witness to eternal truth. We become
temples of the Holy Spirit, graced by
God and the Spirit who enlivens and
lives within us.
The Spirit calls both those who are
seeking God and those who have
accepted the risk of being found by
him. This ongoing call is to new life in
Christ, liberation from sin, a new confidence
in ourselves and a new day of
working together for justice and peace.
The Spirit of God prompts us to leave
Mass intent on giving away what we
have received. We hand on what we
cherish, believe and practice. That is
part of our mission.
Mary: the first disciple
My introduction to motherhood came
when my wife Elaine and I were
expecting our first child, who was born
sooner than expected. I remember
opening and closing drawers repeatedly
in a feverish attempt to gather additional
belongings for the mother-to-be.
But she just wanted to get to the hospital.
Elaine knew more about necessities
than I did!
I think that mothers instinctively
know about life’s necessities. How
extraordinary that Mary, a young Jewish
woman, responds to God’s call to be the
Mother of his Son “with profound faith
and trust” (USCCA, p. 143). She gives
her life for the eternal gift of life in
rejoicing: “My soul proclaims the
greatness of the Lord; my spirit rejoices
in God my savior” (Lk 1:46-47).
Mary, ever-Virgin, gives birth to an
infant son and, little more than three decades later, witnesses his execution.
Through all this, her strength, faith,
compassion and “yes” to God’s call are
At the Last Supper, Jesus replies to
the questioning apostle Thomas, “I am
the way and the truth and the life” (Jn
14:6). Mary, the first disciple, teaches us
by her living and trusting witness what
this way of discipleship can become for
us. To be sure, there is joy and pain, sorrow
and exaltation. The story of life is
modeled for us in this faithful and faith-filled
woman of Nazareth.
We honor Mary as Mother of God
and Mother of the Church and thank her
for how she continues to intercede for us.
No wonder that Mary, Blessed Mother
and “blessed…among women” (Lk
1:42), is called the greatest disciple.
God’s love and grace
The Holy Spirit and the Church are
deeply knitted together. Through the
Church we experience the life and presence
of the Spirit, gently leading, calmly
encouraging and always sustaining us in
faith, hope and love.
Why should I want to belong to this
Church? “Dear child of God, God’s love
and grace are within the very fabric of
who we are—identifying us, challenging
us and supporting us. Please trust us.
God will not abandon you. Neither will
we. We are searching with you and will
never stop loving you.”
The theme of this article is drawn from Ch. 9, 10,
11 and 12 (pp. 101-149) of the United States
Catholic Catechism for Adults.
Next: Celebrating the Mystery
How does the following statement
make you feel? “In the life of faith there
are always two movements: God in
search of us and we in search of God”
(USCCA, p. 109, emphasis added).
What role has your membership in a
community of faith played in your
own relationship with God? How
would your faith be different if you
were not part of such a community?
What is your response to the question:
Why should I belong to this
Church? How does your “lifestyle of
deliberate discipleship” invite people
to Christianity in general and to
Catholicism in particular?