Not Just A Building
Lantern Vol 21
In reading some of the responses to my blogs I believe many of my comments are shared with non-catholics. Although these blogs are posted on Facebook they originate from my blog on my Catholic website. My initial intentions were to share my musings with others who share my faith, but in the digital world everyone is free to join the conversation and rightfully so.
Today I want to address a prevalent argument raised by many of my facebook followers and others. The argument is this: churches are just buildings and we do not need a building to pray to God. This sentiment is felt and argued by non-Christians and Christians alike.
The latter part of that statement, that we do not need a building to pray to God, is true. We can pray to God wherever we are and “For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I in the midst of them.” (Matt. 18:20) However, that is only part of the story because to an informed practicing Catholic their Church is like no other church on earth. Many denominations have places and buildings where they worship. For a Catholic, the Church is so much more. It is where the physical presence of the Son of God resides.
This understanding of “sacred spaces” can be traced back to the Old Testament when the Ark of the Covenant (the ten commandments) was kept within the Holy of Holies. The Holy of Holies, or in the Greek the sanctum sanctorum, was the inner sanctuary where the Word of God was kept. Today our Catholic churches contain what we consider to be the equivalent, the tabernacle or “tent”, where the presence of God physically resides. And next to our tabernacles we light a candle to remind Catholics He is here with us. Yes, that means Catholics were the first ones to “leave the light on for you.”
A Catholic church is not just a building where we pray but the true “home” of the Catholic pilgrim. Why? Because that is where God physically resides.
As human person’s we value the “in person experience”. As a music lover I have thousands of songs on my iphone yet myself and others flock to concerts to hear the original artists perform these songs live. During the Covid crisis, many have been streaming concerts and religious ceremonies. However, the experience is not the same. For centuries, we as humans have recognized the importance of coming face to face with others.
Within the context of a Catholic perspective when we gather together at church we do not merely offer praise but a sacrifice as well. We offer the eternal sacrifice of Christ and afterwards our Lord resumes His residency in His holy tent, His tabernacle. It is not so much a weekly obligation but rather a physical encounter. One that is continually available due to Christ's continuing presence.
When Catholic leaders closed our church doors they did not lock us out of a building or a worship center. They locked us out of God’s home, the place where Catholics meet with their Savior face-to-face.
The recent response of Catholic Church’s leadership is the great apostasy of our time. We cannot comprehend how religious leaders tell us how great God is and how great heaven is, yet they will fight to stay out. They are scared to die. What an ugly lack of witness. It is hard for Catholics to explain why no one argued or put up a fight. One of the oldest religious organizations in the world was tested. It was asked who determines our path and sadly, God was not the answer. In a time of need they panicked, and shut their doors so they alone could meet with God. When they shut the doors of our Churches they both denied God and denied us His presence.
I am not asking my readers to embrace the Catholic faith but am merely providing the underlying theological tenants which inform and shape my view on this subject. I am also trying to educate my Catholic readers of their faith and it’s ever old and ever new teachings which are beautiful, good, true, and something worth fighting for.
Although the faithful have been locked out of our churches we should never forget that our churches are always occupied and He has left the light on for us.