There is a “permanent hatred of the Catholic faith which is inseparable from the existence of the Church on Earth. . . . Such hatred is natural and inevitable. All energy polarises, and the Catholic Church is the most powerful source of energy on earth. It provokes an opposite pole. Further, the Church is at issue everywhere with man as he is, restricting him always, and, at some time or other in nearly every man’s life, violently at issue with pride, ambition, or desire. Over and above, and more powerful still as a provocative, is the Church’s claim to absolute authority and universal moral dominion.” Hilaire Belloc, How the Reformation Happened.
St. Barnabas is part of the one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church. It seems odd to say that Christianity “restricts” people. Doesn’t God want us to be happy and carefree? The answer is, yes, but you don’t get that way by ignoring God’s commands. Think of a marathon runner. She wants to do well and to enjoy the race. Does she sit around in a thoughtless and carefree manner until the race starts? No, she trains hard and heeds the advice of experts. We want to flourish and live with the loving God forever. We need to train, heeding the advice of Jesus, the Son of God. But be warned: God’s rules will inevitably conflict with our pride, ambition, and desire. This is not because God wants to rain on our parade, but because he wants us to join the parade that is truly blessed for eternity. The sin in us must someday die, and we might as well start now.
Haven’t bad things been done in the name of the Church? Yes of course. Do Christians claim to be better than other people? No. The Church is made up of flawed and sinful people. Consequently, the Church’s authority does not rest on the goodness or wisdom of its mortal members, but on the wisdom of Jesus, through whom we were created.and who lived as a man to show us God’s ways. When the Church listens to Jesus and follows his teachings, it does well. When the Church forgets its mission, it does poorly. That is why our focus must always be on Jesus and that is why the Church is always reforming itself. It’s an exciting ride, and you are welcome to join.