Catholic FAQ


Latest Threads
newest posts



Go Back   Catholic Answers Forums > Forums > Catholic Living > Spirituality
 

Welcome to Catholic Answers Forums, the largest Catholic Community on the Web.

Here you can join over 400,000 members from around the world discussing all things Catholic. Membership is open to all, Catholic and non-Catholic alike, who seek the Truth with Charity.

To gain full access, you must register for a FREE account. Registered members are able to:
  • Submit questions about the faith to experts from Catholic Answers
  • Participate in all forum discussions
  • Communicate privately with Catholics from around the world
  • Plus join a prayer group, read with the Book Club, and much more.
Registration is fast, simple and absolutely free. So join our community today!

Have a question about registration or your account log-in? Just contact our Support Hotline.

Reply
 
Thread Tools Search Thread Display
  #1  
Old Aug 16, '12, 9:29 am
AlanFromWichita AlanFromWichita is offline
Banned
Forum Supporter
 
Join Date: August 17, 2004
Posts: 13,587
Religion: catholic
Send a message via AIM to AlanFromWichita
Default The Church is for the sheep, not the sheep for the Church.

These are very "raw" thoughts and somewhat abstract, so please bear with me or scroll on by ...

I've never tried to explain anything like this before, except to a very few people and then in person. So if you are offended, then I did not intend it, except possibly by awkwardness of my wording. If this is just totally alien to you or makes you want to type harsh words, then just move on down to the next thread.

Everyone has their own feelings about the Church and their relationship with it, and I'm not claiming anyone's to be inferior. That said, I do wonder if there are certain correlations between behavior I've noticed on the outside, and the way people internally feel about their relationship to the Church.

The Church is God's gift to us, His sheep. We sheep are entrusted to the Church, but the Church does not own us. The Church manages the Shepherds. And when sheep stray, it is the purpose of the Shepherd to retrieve it, even though it means straying outside the property, not to yell at it over the fence insisting it come back or be lost forever.

The purpose of the Church is to feed Jesus's sheep. At least that what Jesus told Peter to do as a response to his love for Jesus.

The Church shows us the Way, Truth, and Light that Jesus is.

But I don't see her as my "ruler" or "commander" like so many seem to see.

The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath. Without a Church, there would still be sheep. Lost sheep, but sheep. But without sheep, there can be and there would be no need for, a Church. The Church ("sabbath") IMO is to help man, not to give him another worldly authority to obey (as in man being made for the sabbath).

The reason I bring this up, is that I get the feeling that being hard-core obedient and defensive of the Church (not exactly turning the other cheek in His name) can have an unintended side effect of measuring ourselves against the "yardstick" of Church teachings as an indicator of our own goodness, and consider that as how well we're doing with God. In fact, the true test of prayer's effectiveness is not how one feels during the prayer itself, but how much improvement do we have in our relationships with other people when on the outside. Just like the value of going to Mass is how well we go and serve others in the Lord.

Sure, the Church gives us examination of conscience and that's useful, but when complying with Church becomes the goal in and of itself, instead of looking at the Church as a path to holiness beyond herself, then a potential for idolatry exists. Because then we see the Church as pointing to herself rather than God.

I first thought of some of this when I was visiting another church and the pastor said, "you people are always trying to get on my good side. It doesn't matter what I think of you; you can fool me easily enough. What matters is your relationship with God."

Does this make sense to anyone other than me? I guess I'll know, if nobody replies.

Alan
Reply With Quote
  #2  
Old Aug 16, '12, 9:48 am
Veronica97 Veronica97 is offline
Regular Member
 
Join Date: August 18, 2011
Posts: 1,123
Religion: Catholic
Default Re: The Church is for the sheep, not the sheep for the Church.

Yes, it does make sense to me, Alan. I see myself in your example of someone using following church teachings as a "yardstick for holiness". Being scrupulous, I tend to try to follow rules and not break them. But that's mainly b/c I didn't know or understand (or was defiant towards) Church teachings before and I don't want to go back to that place. But I do see that we must grow in LOVE and everything we do (or don't do) must be out of love for Jesus or love for others (I'm working on it--Lord help me!) I especially like your analogy of calling to the sheep over the fence! We do have to go out and bring the sheep back and it's hard to get people to come back when we're always telling them, "You're breaking the rules of the Church!" Perhaps a better approach would be to show people how wonderful it is to have Jesus in the Blessed Eucharist!
Reply With Quote
  #3  
Old Aug 16, '12, 10:22 am
Aelred Minor's Avatar
Aelred Minor Aelred Minor is offline
Regular Member
 
Join Date: June 2, 2011
Posts: 4,268
Religion: Catholic
Default Re: The Church is for the sheep, not the sheep for the Church.

The sheep are the Church. It seems to me the real question is are we, as members of the Church, for Christ or is Christ for us. The answer is, of course, "both."
__________________
But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness." I will rather boast most gladly of my weakness, in order that the power of Christ may dwell with me. (2 Corinthians 12:9)
Reply With Quote
  #4  
Old Aug 16, '12, 10:40 am
Julia Mae's Avatar
Julia Mae Julia Mae is offline
Senior Member
Book Club Member
 
Join Date: July 30, 2011
Posts: 6,221
Default Re: The Church is for the sheep, not the sheep for the Church.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Aelred Minor View Post
The sheep are the Church. It seems to me the real question is are we, as members of the Church, for Christ or is Christ for us. The answer is, of course, "both."
My thoughts exactly.
Reply With Quote
  #5  
Old Aug 16, '12, 10:47 am
ejp123 ejp123 is offline
Junior Member
 
Join Date: April 9, 2012
Posts: 175
Religion: Catholic revert
Default Re: The Church is for the sheep, not the sheep for the Church.

Very refreshing and validating as I too feel this way. I have posted many times along the same lines of what you are saying, but you expressed it very eloquently clear. I don't feel that we should be oppressed with legalism. If Im understanding you correctly I think this might be part of what you are saying. If not, I apologize. I also think that we tend to get caught up in the letter of the law. I don' t think that that is what it is about. It is about an active relationship with the Trinity. A personal relationship. I think this gets lost underneath the letter of the law. A favorite author of mine is Fr. George Girzone who wrote the series "Joshua". (I think he would be hated on this forum because i think he is considered a liberal.) After I read his book I saw Christ in a whole different way that is very enlightening. Soemtimes it is hard to trust what he said because it released me from oppression. It ripped off the chains of legalism and the letter of the law leaving more free to love and to think for myself. A Portrait of Jesus is also another good title by him. Again, Alan, if am off track of what you are saying I do apologize.
Reply With Quote
  #6  
Old Aug 16, '12, 10:52 am
Armor of Light Armor of Light is offline
Banned
 
Join Date: April 16, 2011
Posts: 1,862
Religion: Laid back trad
Default Re: The Church is for the sheep, not the sheep for the Church.

Quote:
measuring ourselves against the "yardstick" of Church teachings as an indicator of our own goodness, and consider that as how well we're doing with God. In fact, the true test of prayer's effectiveness is not how one feels during the prayer itself, but how much improvement do we have in our relationships with other people when on the outside.
Alan..Good post! I was happy to read it all the way through..

I heard something recently that made me think along the same lines, and I'll paraphrase:

"Sure, you follow the rules, but do you have others want to follow you?"

Got me thinking seriously about the saints, and how they (for the most part) exuded the love & joy that Christ brings to our lives. Also, it is making me stop from time to time and focus on living that love & joy to inspire my wife and children.

Again, my friend..good post.
Reply With Quote
  #7  
Old Aug 16, '12, 11:41 am
AlanFromWichita AlanFromWichita is offline
Banned
Forum Supporter
 
Join Date: August 17, 2004
Posts: 13,587
Religion: catholic
Send a message via AIM to AlanFromWichita
Default Re: The Church is for the sheep, not the sheep for the Church.

Thank you for all your replies; I liked all of them and really don't have anything to add to them.

One thing I learned in training to become a leader in our diocesan stewardship policy, is that stewardship is based on the need for the people to give, not the need for the parish to receive.

That's one thing very hard for pastors to grasp onto from a practical standpoint, because they are pressured with financial problems all the time. So it's hard for them to resist telling people about church expenses and asking people to meet them, but that is not true stewardship. True stewardship would bring an abundance that would only cause the pastor to decide where to plant the seeds of new funds and not what expenses to keep cutting, cutting, cutting.

Alan
Reply With Quote
  #8  
Old Aug 16, '12, 12:47 pm
wmw wmw is offline
Regular Member
 
Join Date: June 25, 2012
Posts: 634
Religion: Catholic
Default Re: The Church is for the sheep, not the sheep for the Church.

Until you said that you are talking about a pastor at the parish level I didn't know how to understand this sheep talk.

The Parish Church is many people working together in many roles. Here are a few.

1) For Charity I see the Priests position as being fulcrums in a lever. The people must push (in the form of talented time and treasure) to lift the poor. If the pushing is greater then greater programs can be built if people are falling off the work programs are needing cuts.

2) Teaching, the world is full of many yardsticks these days and many are very disturbing in the way they send people astray. Opening eyes to the truth of ours and falsehood of others is a very vital role that has been seriously weakened since the 60's only to begin to come back with stronger Catholic materials that need eyes to see them.

3) Nourishing, I think your getting in touch with this one with additions besides the main event of the Eucharist. So, I'll say no more, but definitely have it as part of the, wide angle view, list.
Reply With Quote
  #9  
Old Aug 16, '12, 1:28 pm
Lancer Lancer is offline
Regular Member
 
Join Date: July 19, 2004
Posts: 1,281
Religion: Catholic
Default Re: The Church is for the sheep, not the sheep for the Church.

I think I understand that you see something and/or experience something that you don't like it in (certain) Catholics...but you are not challenging them or their words or actions...(what they say or door their attitudes)...you are straining to define the Church to show they are wrong(headed/hearted)...IMHO...your words of how you view/define the Church are off the mark...and a bad way to go...leads to convoluted subjective truncated ideas at best and a seriously distorted redefinition of the Church at worst.

Simply...Christ is the Church... its his body...and...if you redefine/cast a shade on the Church...you redefine/cast a shade on Christ himself. I know that is not your intention... for sure...but that is what I see. You make obedience to the Church seem like a distortion of the Catholic faith. Christ is obedience personified... obedience is a person...how then, can I expect to draw close to obedience himself...by being disobedient...in any shade of disobedience whatsoever? Does Christ call us to obedience...if he does...and he is the Church...then, Christ is calling us to obedience. Obedient or slightly obedient...pregnant or slightly pregnant.

Some Catechism stuff...hope I grabbed some that will help.

All for your consideration...
Pax Christi
Quote:
I. "LORD, LOOK UPON THE FAITH OF YOUR CHURCH"

168 It is the Church that believes first, and so bears, nourishes and sustains my faith. Everywhere, it is the Church that first confesses the Lord: "Throughout the world the holy Church acclaims you", as we sing in the hymn "Te Deum"; with her and in her, we are won over and brought to confess: "I believe", "We believe". It is through the Church that we receive faith and new life in Christ by Baptism. In the Rituale Romanum, the minister of Baptism asks the catechumen: "What do you ask of God's Church?" And the answer is: "Faith." "What does faith offer you?" "Eternal life."54

169 Salvation comes from God alone; but because we receive the life of faith through the Church, she is our mother: "We believe the Church as the mother of our new birth, and not in the Church as if she were the author of our salvation."55 Because she is our mother, she is also our teacher in the faith.

171 The Church, "the pillar and bulwark of the truth", faithfully guards "the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints". She guards the memory of Christ's words; it is she who from generation to generation hands on the apostles' confession of faith.57 As a mother who teaches her children to speak and so to understand and communicate, the Church our Mother teaches us the language of faith in order to introduce us to the understanding and the life of faith.
Quote:
III. THE MYSTERY OF THE CHURCH

770 The Church is in history, but at the same time she transcends it. It is only "with the eyes of faith"183 that one can see her in her visible reality and at the same time in her spiritual reality as bearer of divine life.

The Church - both visible and spiritual

771 "The one mediator, Christ, established and ever sustains here on earth his holy Church, the community of faith, hope, and charity, as a visible organization through which he communicates truth and grace to all men."184 The Church is at the same time:

- a "society structured with hierarchical organs and the mystical body of Christ;

- the visible society and the spiritual community;

- the earthly Church and the Church endowed with heavenly riches."185


These dimensions together constitute "one complex reality which comes together from a human and a divine element":186

The Church is essentially both human and divine, visible but endowed with invisible realities, zealous in action and dedicated to contemplation, present in the world, but as a pilgrim, so constituted that in her the human is directed toward and subordinated to the divine, the visible to the invisible, action to contemplation, and this present world to that city yet to come, the object of our quest.187
O humility! O sublimity! Both tabernacle of cedar and sanctuary of God; earthly dwelling and celestial palace; house of clay and royal hall; body of death and temple of light; and at last both object of scorn to the proud and bride of Christ! She is black but beautiful, O daughters of Jerusalem, for even if the labor and pain of her long exile may have discolored her, yet heaven's beauty has adorned her.188
Reply With Quote
  #10  
Old Aug 16, '12, 2:06 pm
PTL PTL is offline
Regular Member
 
Join Date: March 3, 2010
Posts: 619
Religion: Catholic
Default Re: The Church is for the sheep, not the sheep for the Church.

I am not sure I understand your point clearly. Are you trying to say obedience to the Church teaching is not necessary - the Church is for the sheep, not sheep for the Church?
Please answer straightforwardly so I could understand your point with no misunderstanding.
Reply With Quote
  #11  
Old Aug 16, '12, 2:59 pm
Prairie Rose's Avatar
Prairie Rose Prairie Rose is offline
Junior Member
 
Join Date: July 19, 2010
Posts: 260
Religion: Catholic
Default Re: The Church is for the sheep, not the sheep for the Church.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Veronica97 View Post
Yes, it does make sense to me, Alan. I see myself in your example of someone using following church teachings as a "yardstick for holiness". Being scrupulous, I tend to try to follow rules and not break them. But that's mainly b/c I didn't know or understand (or was defiant towards) Church teachings before and I don't want to go back to that place. But I do see that we must grow in LOVE and everything we do (or don't do) must be out of love for Jesus or love for others (I'm working on it--Lord help me!) I especially like your analogy of calling to the sheep over the fence! We do have to go out and bring the sheep back and it's hard to get people to come back when we're always telling them, "You're breaking the rules of the Church!" Perhaps a better approach would be to show people how wonderful it is to have Jesus in the Blessed Eucharist!
Well put Veronica!!!!!
__________________
He does not abandon us. Every Mass is a Second Coming, every Eucharist a revelation, every Communion an apocalypse. So it shall be until the skies roll back, the earth parts, and the living and the dead are summoned to judgment when the time of mercy has passed
Reply With Quote
  #12  
Old Aug 16, '12, 3:28 pm
in_servitude in_servitude is offline
Regular Member
 
Join Date: December 22, 2011
Posts: 784
Religion: Catholic
Default Re: The Church is for the sheep, not the sheep for the Church.

I think people get into trouble when they decide that they know better than the Church and start to fight it. For example, contraception, celibacy, and the like.

When you say that the Sabbath is made for man (true enough), does that give us license to say that attending Mass is unimportant?

Can you give some examples of rules you'd like to stop observing?

Pax!
__________________
in servitude to our Master
Reply With Quote
  #13  
Old Aug 16, '12, 3:57 pm
ejp123 ejp123 is offline
Junior Member
 
Join Date: April 9, 2012
Posts: 175
Religion: Catholic revert
Default Re: The Church is for the sheep, not the sheep for the Church.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Lancer View Post
I think I understand that you see something and/or experience something that you don't like it in (certain) Catholics...but you are not challenging them or their words or actions...(what they say or door their attitudes)...you are straining to define the Church to show they are wrong(headed/hearted)...IMHO...your words of how you view/define the Church are off the mark...and a bad way to go...leads to convoluted subjective truncated ideas at best and a seriously distorted redefinition of the Church at worst.

Simply...Christ is the Church... its his body...and...if you redefine/cast a shade on the Church...you redefine/cast a shade on Christ himself. I know that is not your intention... for sure...but that is what I see. You make obedience to the Church seem like a distortion of the Catholic faith. Christ is obedience personified... obedience is a person...how then, can I expect to draw close to obedience himself...by being disobedient...in any shade of disobedience whatsoever? Does Christ call us to obedience...if he does...and he is the Church...then, Christ is calling us to obedience. Obedient or slightly obedient...pregnant or slightly pregnant.

Some Catechism stuff...hope I grabbed some that will help.

All for your consideration...
Pax Christi
Yes, Christ was obedient, but to God the Father. The church is our teacher and like John the baptist, must point to the Trinity. John the Baptist never pointed to himself as the church should not either. When the church points to itself, it is idolatry and a hinderance to unity with the trinity.
Reply With Quote
  #14  
Old Aug 16, '12, 4:21 pm
AlanFromWichita AlanFromWichita is offline
Banned
Forum Supporter
 
Join Date: August 17, 2004
Posts: 13,587
Religion: catholic
Send a message via AIM to AlanFromWichita
Default Re: The Church is for the sheep, not the sheep for the Church.

Quote:
Originally Posted by wmw View Post
Until you said that you are talking about a pastor at the parish level I didn't know how to understand this sheep talk.

The Parish Church is many people working together in many roles. Here are a few.

1) For Charity I see the Priests position as being fulcrums in a lever. The people must push (in the form of talented time and treasure) to lift the poor. If the pushing is greater then greater programs can be built if people are falling off the work programs are needing cuts.

2) Teaching, the world is full of many yardsticks these days and many are very disturbing in the way they send people astray. Opening eyes to the truth of ours and falsehood of others is a very vital role that has been seriously weakened since the 60's only to begin to come back with stronger Catholic materials that need eyes to see them.

3) Nourishing, I think your getting in touch with this one with additions besides the main event of the Eucharist. So, I'll say no more, but definitely have it as part of the, wide angle view, list.
I agree with taking a wide angled view. And I agree that the function of the Church as the authority on faith and morals is critical.

Alan
Reply With Quote
  #15  
Old Aug 16, '12, 4:34 pm
AlanFromWichita AlanFromWichita is offline
Banned
Forum Supporter
 
Join Date: August 17, 2004
Posts: 13,587
Religion: catholic
Send a message via AIM to AlanFromWichita
Default Re: The Church is for the sheep, not the sheep for the Church.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Lancer View Post
I think I understand that you see something and/or experience something that you don't like it in (certain) Catholics...but you are not challenging them or their words or actions...(what they say or door their attitudes)...you are straining to define the Church to show they are wrong(headed/hearted)...IMHO...your words of how you view/define the Church are off the mark...and a bad way to go...leads to convoluted subjective truncated ideas at best and a seriously distorted redefinition of the Church at worst.
Wrong-headed isn't quite what I was looking for, because that makes it sound as if it is the fault of the individual Catholic.

But I don't think that we should have a master/slave relationship with the Church. I did read your clips from the CCC and I thank you for them, and I see how they are framing it where the Church plays the role of our mother. So in that case we are bound to honor our father and mother. To me, this view of Church as mother is one that is considered useful in forming attitudes. Evidently this will try to connect the fourth commandment with obedience to Church.

Quote:
Simply...Christ is the Church... its his body...and...if you redefine/cast a shade on the Church...you redefine/cast a shade on Christ himself. I know that is not your intention... for sure...but that is what I see. You make obedience to the Church seem like a distortion of the Catholic faith. Christ is obedience personified... obedience is a person...how then, can I expect to draw close to obedience himself...by being disobedient...in any shade of disobedience whatsoever? Does Christ call us to obedience...if he does...and he is the Church...then, Christ is calling us to obedience. Obedient or slightly obedient...pregnant or slightly pregnant.
You can't come to Christ through obedience, either, if you want to get to brass tacks. We cannot "earn" closeness to Christ, but we can submit to practices that are intended to condition ourselves to better accept the Lord.

Let me also clarify that I am not talking about the mystical Church, but the worldly Church. The Roman Catholic organization. The RCC is not my master, though she be my guide, is what I'm saying. If I choose to comply with her teachings, then I expect that I would receive whatever benefit the Church attaches to them.

Obedience to the Church is not a distortion of faith, but it isn't the essence of it, either. The Bible is very clear that we can follow every rule, speak in tongues, give our income to the poor, and still have not love. My point is it isn't about behavior contests, and our status with God isn't determined by our perceived authority in the Church.

Alan
Reply With Quote
Reply

Go Back   Catholic Answers Forums > Forums > Catholic Living > Spirituality

Bookmarks

Thread Tools Search Thread
Search Thread:

Advanced Search
Display

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Forum Jump



Prayer Intentions

Most Active Groups
8451Meet and talk,talk talk
Last by: suko
5142CAF Prayer Warriors Support Group
Last by: tawny
4424Devotion to the Sorrowful Mother
Last by: DesertSister62
4037OCD/Scrupulosity Group
Last by: eschator83
3863SOLITUDE
Last by: beth40n2
3734Let's empty Purgatory
Last by: DesertSister62
3317Petitions Before the Blessed Sacrament
Last by: grateful_child
3282Poems and Reflections
Last by: PathWalker
3223Catholic Vegetarians & Vegans
Last by: Rifester
3107For seniors and shut- ins
Last by: flower lady



All times are GMT -7. The time now is 8:02 pm.

Home RSS Feeds - Home - Archive - Top

Copyright © 2004-2014, Catholic Answers.