The Bride of Christ, the Catholic Church, is the great legacy handed down to the world by Jesus Christ when He left planet Earth and ascended into Heaven. Before He ascended, Jesus told His Apostles to return to the Upper Room and pray while awaiting The Holy Spirit, who would come upon them and lead then into all Truth. On the feast of Pentecost, nine days after the Ascension, The Holy Spirit appeared as tongues of fire and came to rest on the Apostles and Mary. This is considered the Birthday of the Church.
His Bride, Holy Mother Church, was under the authority of Peter, a mere human who had failed miserably when he denied Jesus three times. You could say that Peter was “reborn” through his new “Mother”. The once frightened Peter fearlessly, and with authority, spoke to those who were in Jerusalem for the Jewish Feast. Peter preached in his native tongue, but he was understood be everyone in their native languages. It was miraculous! The Bible (Book of Acts) tells us that over 3000 were converted on that first day of the Church.
From that day forward, the Word of God was spread by word of mouth. It is important to understand that Jesus gave us The Church, and The Church gave us The Bible – 400 years later.
In the Third Millennium, much of the teachings of The Church have been watered down, misrepresented, or simply ignored. A case could be made that ignorance of Church teaching is one reason for an epidemic of despair, disillusionment, and devaluation of life itself. The difficulty is that The Church was established to be our Rock, our Pillar of Truth! For 2000 years, she has been challenged and contaminated by the spoils of Spiritual Warfare. But, Jesus promised Peter, and the twelve, that “the gates of hell will not prevail” against His Church.
Throughout history, the Catholic Church has withstood heresy, apostasy, rebellion, and malaise. Because of the scandalous behavior of some priests, bishops and cardinals, the public image of the Catholic Church has been impugned. This is the crisis of the current age.
Long ago, Jesus asked St. Francis of Assisi and St. John Vianney to “Rebuild My Church”. Today, with the help of the Holy Spirit, and the Hand of God, we must all do our part to help restore the damage caused by these ungodly scandals, and by the failings of those who should know better! As Catholic lay people, we are called to action to evangelize, catechize, and recognize that we can, and must, step forward! The Bride of Christ is under attack. We are the Church Militant. We must defend her. Semper Fi!