What did Jesus really mean by the words, "Rebuild My Church"

This is the command by Jesus to St. Francis.

I think we must remember the setting of those times. When Francis speaks of Christianity in his famous paper “Mirror of Perfection” he is only speaking of the Catholic and Orthodox Church. There were no other christian religions at that time. The Institution we call the Catholic Church was pretty much dominant in Europe, even to the point of influencing and infiltrating civil structures in some cases. So it was not a weak Church by any stretch.

So we can see Jesus could not have been speaking of integrating ecumenical principles into the teachings at that time. There were Muslims,Buddhists,Jewish and various other established religions already present. The evangelical ways of bringing those into the Catholic Faith are already tested and working well for 11 centuries. It is already known that by Christ’s redemption these people are heirs to the Kingdom of God. But all the same Christ insisted that they be taught and indoctrinated into his new religion. We know that Francis in his sermons used these working methods to try to win over the souls, not only to repair the bodies or these people he was in contact with.

So Francis was working under this framework. He treated everyone with charity regardless of faith or lack thereof.

The question then is that. Other than the corruption in the Church that also was rampant, I can’t see what else there could be to rebuild/repair.

This was a very special moment in the life and history of the Church.

In the West, until the time of Francis, Religious life had largely meant either monastic life (Benedictine and the beginnings of the Cisterican reform) or the life of the canons regular (Augustinian and Norbertine). They were both geographically restrictive and oriented toward the celebration of the sacred liturgy, particularly what we know today as the liturgy of the hours.

With Francis and Dominic as well as the seven holy founders of the Servite Order and the Carmelites (who began as hermits), we see the dawn of the friars. They would be vowed Religious but they would not be tied to a monastery or a cathedral.

The friaries would be smaller and the friars, who were not bound my a vow of stability, could be deployed wherever they were needed. They would also have much more of an apostolic life…less occupied with chanting the breviary, more occupied with ministries touching the people in the towns and in the public squares beyond the walls of the monastery or canonry. The friars played a crucial role with (and were the bedrock of) the nascent universities which were coming into existence across Europe.

Francis personally together with the orders he founded – the friars, the nuns and the brothers and sisters of penance for lay men and women – would have a far reaching impact on the life of the Church and for the care of souls. Even today, there are more Franciscan Religious than of any other Religious institute.

His radical poverty, simplicity, and his charism of undertaking the most of humble of ministries helped to reorient the Church in the 13th century and has has an enduring effect on the Church. It was a call against worldliness and the amassing of temporal power and wealth. He has been a saint who has touched Christians beyond the Roman Church and he continues to be cherished and esteemed by various Christian confessions.

The friars also were an important remedy to crises in the particular churches arising from the Albigensians and other heresies which the Church faced/would face at the moment these Orders were founded.

Probably it was the interior worship that was so lacking. The Lord needs true worshipers that will worship in spirit and truth and all that exterior worship unless it helps build up this interior worship in you, it will never change the world to be better.

Yes! The Body of Christ, the Church, increases with the holiness of its individual members, and decreases with the disobedience of its members who choose sin and rebellion.

The more the Light of Christ shines in the Body of Christ, the Church, the more the darkness will recede.

Jesus, …be our holiness,

Blessed Mother Mary…pray for us!

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