I’ve been posting our Sunday Campfire Service videos here each week, but last Sunday we had to cancel because of the unhealthy air quality due to wildfires throughout the northwest region. So, it’s kinda like when we have a snowstorm and have to cancel church… no video to share. But, since I’m in the habit of posting each week, I thought I’d share something else—something I read this week by Italian writer and mystic Carlo Carretto:
How baffling you are, oh Church, and yet how I love you!
How you have made me suffer, and yet how much I owe you! I would like to see you destroyed, and yet I need your presence. You have given me so much scandal and yet you have made me understand what sanctity is. I have seen nothing in the world more devoted to obscurity, more compromised, more false, and yet I have touched nothing more pure, more generous, more beautiful. How often I have wanted to shut the doors of my soul in your face, and how often I have prayed to die in the safety of your arms.
No, I cannot free myself from you, because I am you…. And besides, where would I go? Would I establish another? I would not be able to establish it without the same faults, for they are the same faults I carry in me. And if I did establish another, it would be my Church, not the Church of Christ.
I am old enough to know that I am no better than anyone else.
The Church has the power to make me holy but it is made up, from the first to the last, only of sinners. And what sinners! It brings a message of pure transparency but it is incarnated in slime, such is the substance of the world. It speaks of the sweetness of its Master, of its non-violence, but there was a time in history when it sent out its armies to disembowel the infidels and torture the heretics. It proclaims the message of evangelical poverty, and yet it does nothing but look for money and alliances with the powerful.
Those who dream of something different from this are wasting their time and have to rethink it all. And this proves that they do not understand humanity. Because this is humanity, made visible by the Church, with all its flaws and its invincible courage, with the Faith that Christ has given it and with the love that Christ showers on it.
When I was young, I did not understand why Jesus chose Peter as his successor, the first Pope, even though he abandoned Him. Now I am no longer surprised, and I understand that by founding his church on the tomb of a traitor…
He was warning each of us to remain humble, by making us aware of our fragility.
And what are bricks worth anyway? What matters is the promise of Christ, what matters is the cement that unites the bricks, which is the Holy Spirit. Only the Holy Spirit is capable of building the church with such poorly molded bricks as are we.
And that is where the mystery lies. This mixture of good and bad, of greatness and misery, of holiness and sin that makes up the church… this in reality am I.
The deep bond between God and His Church, is an intimate part of each one of us… to each of us God says, as he says to his Church, “And I will betroth you to me forever” (Hosea 2,21). But at the same time he reminds us of reality: ‘Your lewdness is like rust. I have tried to remove it in vain. There is so much that not even a flame will take it away’ (Ezekiel 24, 12).
But then there is even something more beautiful. The Holy Spirit who is Love, sees us as holy, immaculate, beautiful under our guises of thieves and adulterers… It’s as if evil cannot touch the deepest part of mankind.
He re-establishes our virginity no matter how many times we have prostituted our bodies, spirits and hearts. In this, God is truly God, the only one who can ‘make everything new again.’ It is not so important that He will renew heaven and earth. What is most important is that He will renew our hearts. This is Christ’s work. This is the divine Spirit of the Church.