I have noticed that a lot of people complain about the Catholic Church as a thing that is in the way of a person getting to God (as I am sure many of you feel). While I have never noticed this, nor felt that the Church in any way hinderd me getting to God but, rather helping me get to know God. Some people I am sure would proboly say that I am simply Young and Niave and dismiss such a view. What would be the best way to talk to people about this issue?
Personally I often view the role of the Church in the world as follows. Each of us is dropped off in an enormous wilderness, and we need to get home. In this wilderness there are many wonders, many dangers, and in particular, many dangers that look like wonders. The purpose of the Church is to lay out the path which will, without fail, bring us home. In doing so the Church naturally marks certain large areas off limits, because those areas will either waste our time or they will actually injure us. Now if we see something alluring in those marked-off areas of course we’ll complain that the Church is getting in our way of what we want (and we always only want the best, in our own minds). But the objective reality is much different.
Children want to play with matches and put their fingers in light sockets and hit their siblings on the head with sticks, and they scream when we stop them, but we must stop them because we know that what they want and what they need (and what they need to avoid) are two different things.
What those people mean is that the Church gets in the way of defining God how they want. They fear the Church’s teaching authority and being told what to believe. How is this any different than being told what to believe by the Bible’s authority? Simply that people can distort the Bible’s message and claim to be true Christians whereas Catholics cannot use that loophole when the Church interprets a particular Biblical message for us. Being Christian means becoming a slave to Christ. This does not mean to forsake our will, but to offer it to God as a gift.