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How do you look at the Church today? That’s a question we must ask ourselves.

Here I present Pope Francis’ own words describing three ways of looking at the Church.

Do you look at the Church from above, around you, and as a whole? (His full text draws from Scripture and Vatican II.)

From above

This is the first way to look at the Church: from above… with God’s eyes, eyes full of love.

We are always tempted to start from ourselves rather than from God, to put our own agendas before the Gospel,

 Let us rediscover the Council in order to restore primacy to God, to what is essential:

to a Church madly in love with its Lord and with all the men and women whom he loves;

to a Church that is rich in Jesus and poor in assets;

to a Church that is free and freeing.

A Church in love with Jesus has no time for quarrels, gossip and disputes.

May God free us from being critical and intolerant, harsh and angry! This is not a matter of style but of love.

Around

This is the second way of looking at the Church that we learn from the Council: looking around.

Being in the midst of the people, not above the people, which is the bad sin of clericalism that kills the sheep rather than guiding them or helping them grow.

Feed: the Church did not hold the Council in order to admire herself, but to give herself to others.

Let us not forget that the People of God is born “extrovert” and renews its youth by self-giving, for it is a sacrament of love, “a sign and instrument of communion with God and of the unity of the entire human race” (Lumen Gentium, 1).

Brothers and sisters, let us return to the Council, which rediscovered the living river of Tradition without remaining mired in traditions.

As a whole

The third way of looking at the Churchto see the whole, all of us together.

The Council reminds us that the Church is a communion in the image of the Trinity (cf. Lumen Gentium, 4.13).

The devil, on the other hand, wants to sow the darnel of division. Let us not give in to his enticements or to the temptation of polarization.

  • To be progressive or conservative rather than being brothers and sisters
  • To be on the “right” or “left”, rather than with Jesus
  • To present themselves as “guardians of the truth” or “pioneers of innovation” rather than seeing themselves as humble and grateful children of Holy Mother Church.

All of us are children of God, all brothers and sisters in the Church, all of us making up the Church, all of us. … Let us overcome all polarization and preserve our communion. May all of us increasingly “be one”, as Jesus prayed before sacrificing his life for us (cf. Jn 17:21).

Can we join in Pope Francis’ prayer?

We thank you, Lord, for the gift of the Council.

You who love us, free us from the presumption of self-sufficiency and from the spirit of worldly criticism. Prevent us from excluding ourselves from unity.

You who lovingly feed us, lead us forth from the shadows of self-absorption.

You who desire that we be a united flock, save us from the forms of polarization and the “isms” that are the devil’s handiwork.

And we, your Church, with Peter and like Peter, now say to you: “Lord, you know everything; you know that we love you” (cf. Jn 21:17)

Click below for an early version of this Vincentian Mindwalk

Ways of looking at the church
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