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Name: Christian. Surname: Belonging To The Church

Pope Francis weigelVatican City, 25 June 2014 (VIS) – This morning in St. Peter’s Square the Holy Father, in his general audience, continued to speak about the People of God, a theme that he began to explore last Wednesday. Today he highlighted the importance for a Christian of belonging to this people, and reiterated that we are not isolated Christians. “Belonging is our identity”, he said. “We are Christians because we belong to the Church. It is like a surname: if our name is ‘I am Christian’, our surname is ‘I belong to the Church’.

“No-one becomes a Christian alone; we must think first, with gratitude, of all those who have preceded us”, he continued. “If we believe, if we pray, if we know the Lord and are able to listen to His Word, we feel close to Him and recognise Him in our brethren, and because others before us have lived faith and transmitted it to us, have taught us. The Church is a family in which one is welcomed and learns to live as believers and disciples of the Lord Jesus”. The Pope explained that this is a path that one may undertake not thanks to others, but rather united with others, and emphasised that a “do-it-yourself Church” does not exist.

“How many times did Benedict XVI describe the Church as an ecclesiastical ‘we’? Often we hear people say, ‘I believe in God, I believe in Jesus, but I am not interested in the Church...”. There are those who believe they can have a personal relationship, direct and immediate, with Jesus Christ removed from communion and the mediation of the Church. They are dangerous and damaging temptations. They are, as the great Paul VI said, absurd dichotomies. It is true that to walk together is challenging and difficult. … But the Lord has entrusted his message of salvation to human beings, to  all of us, as witnesses; and it is in our brothers and sisters, with their gifts and their limits, that it comes towards us and is revealed to us. And this is what belonging to the Church means. Remember: being Christian means belonging to the Church”.

Before concluding, the Pope asked that the Lord, by the intercession of the Virgin Mary, might grant us the grace never to give in to the temptation to think we can do without other people, that we can do without the Church and save ourselves alone, that we can be ‘laboratory Christians’. On the contrary, it is not possible to love God without loving one’s brethren, it is not possible to love God outside the Church; it is not possible to be in communion with God without being in communion with the Church, and we cannot be good Christians other than by staying together with those who follow the Lord Jesus, as one people, a single body”.

The Church As Mother  [VIS  17/6/14]

The Holy Father went on to describe the Church as a mother who knows how to raise her children. “The great challenge faced by the Church is that of being a mother”, he said, “not a well-organised NGO full of pastoral plans. … The Church needs to rediscover her maternity. She must be a mother; maternity is the grace that we must now ask of the Holy Spirit in order to go ahead in our pastoral and missionary conversion. However, the Church grows not by proselytism but by maternal attraction, through tenderness, through the testimony of her many children”. The Pope remarked that the Mother Church has aged somewhat, to the risk of becoming “Grandmother Church”, and that she must therefore be rejuvenated, “but not by taking her to a cosmetic surgeon, no! The Church becomes younger when she is able to generate more sons; the more children she has, the younger she becomes”.  

The Parable of the  Sower  VIS 14/7/14

“This parable speaks to each of us today, as it spoke to the listeners of Jesus two thousand years ago. It reminds us that we are the land where the Lord tirelessly throws the seed of His Word and His love. How do we receive it? How is our heart? What type of ground do we offer it: a path, a stone, a thorn bush? It is up to us to become good soil without thorns or stones, but instead cultivated with care, so that it can bring forth good fruit for us and for our brethren”.

The Pope concluded, “it is good for us not to forget that we too are sowers. God sows good seeds, and at this point too we can ask ourselves: what type of seed comes out of our heart and our mouth? Our words can do great good and also much evil; they can heal and they can wound, they can encourage and they can depress. Remember then, what counts is not what enters, but what emerges from the mouth and heart”.

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