The Passion of the Church

Source: District of Asia

One of the great principles of the theology of history is that the Church, the mystical body of Christ, must reproduce the same mysteries as its divine Head. In the light of this principle, the entire life of the Church becomes luminous, especially in these calamitous times in which we are living today, and in which we might feel inclined towards discouragement or despondency.

Let us therefore expound this truth in detail, prompted by the liturgical season of the Passion.

1. The Church must live the mysteries of Christ as His mystical Body.

  1. The Church is the indissoluble Associate of Christ in the redemptive work, the New Eve of the New Adam. For this reason, it must be somehow proportionate to Him; it must be a "Help similar to Him," and Christ, in turn, must recognize it as "flesh of His flesh and bone of His bones." This, not to mention that it is the mystical Body of Christ, receiving divine life from Him. By virtue of all this, the Church identifies and interpenetrates with its divine Head. Let us observe, therefore, the history of the Church.
  2. Just like Christ, the Church was born (on Pentecost) of the Holy Spirit and the Virgin Mary: just as the Holy Spirit descended upon the Virgin Mary in the Annunciation to conceive the incarnate Son of God from her, similarly, He descended upon her on Pentecost to conceive the mystical Body of her son Jesus, for a Mother cannot conceive the Head without the members.
  3. Just like Christ, the Church, barely born, was persecuted by Herod, that is, by the temporal power of kings: for three consecutive centuries, persecution by the Roman emperors was unleashed upon it, starting with the persecution unleashed with the death of Saint Stephen the Protomartyr.
  4. After this persecution, a long period of relative calm began for the Church, just as for Christ in Nazareth, during which the Church saw pagan nations convert to her and become Christian, witnessed the increase of confessors, virgins, missionaries, holy fathers, and doctors, and the world awoke to Catholicism.
  5. Christ, as soon as He began to preach, was opposed by the Scribes and Pharisees; similarly, a time came for the Church to experience great challenges to the doctrine it taught, which tore several nations, hitherto Catholic, from its bosom: it was the time of the Protestant Reformation, which followed a great series of movements adverse to the Roman Catholic Church, culminating in its condemnation to death in the French Revolution: the Catholic Church had to die.

2. The Church, particularly today, is associated with Christ in His Passion.

  1. From that moment, perceptive Catholics realized that a new time was beginning for the Church: a time that would lead it to its passion. Already Dom Guéranger, followed by Father Emmanuel André, asserted in their time (late 19th century) that the Catholic Church should, as the end of times approached, undergo a great trial that would be like its Passion. And it could not be otherwise, as it is the mystical Body of Christ and has to share, as such, all the states and mysteries of its divine Spouse.

    Well, this is what we are experiencing today. We are witnessing how the Church's passion is unfolding before our eyes, even with details that could never have been imagined in the past.

    Indeed, at the Second Vatican Council, we witnessed the abandonment of the Church by its own: just like Christ, betrayed by one, denied by another, abandoned by all the rest, the Church suffered betrayal, denial, and abandonment by its shepherds, as it had never known before.

    From that moment on, we saw how the Church was brought before human courts, judged by them, and condemned. In the year 2000, we were dismayed by the "request for forgiveness" from the men of the Church: like Christ in His Passion, the Church was accused of all the good it had done to souls, and it remained silent in the face of these accusations, as its divine Spouse took away all means for it to publicly defend itself: neither press, nor radio, nor television were in the hands of its children to vindicate its rights.

    With Assisi, we also witnessed the comparison of Christ with Barabbas: the unique Spouse of Christ is systematically compared to false religions, and not only that, but these are preferred over Her: and it is because the Roman authorities, driven by their ecumenism, neglect the true sheep to care for those outside the fold.

  2. It seems that we are currently in this state, and this state of affairs puts us in a state of disorientation, which makes us at risk of becoming discouraged if we do not remember why God allows it. But, just as Our Lord Jesus Christ transfigured Himself before His apostles before His Passion, to prevent them from the "scandal of the cross," we could also say that, before allowing the passion of His Church, Our Lord wanted it to transfigure itself before our eyes, to clearly show its divinity. Indeed, the Church has shown its divine condition throughout the centuries, winning for Christ all pagan nations, consecrating numerous souls to God, gaining Virgins, Martyrs, Confessors, Fathers, Doctors, and Saints of all kinds. And, just like the Apostles, this transfiguration of the Church must help us not to doubt its divinity now that, by the secret designs of Our Lord Jesus Christ, He intimately associates it with His Passion."

    "We find ourselves, so to speak, in the same state of mind as the apostles, who, at the moment of the passion of their beloved Master, did not know to what extent his divinity, so clearly contemplated on Mount Tabor, could be reconciled with the sufferings and anguish of his passion and death. 'But... wasn't he God?' they must have asked themselves bewilderedly: 'How can he then die? And yet, there he is, dying on a cross...'

    The same happens to us: we know that the Church is divine, that the gates of hell will not prevail against it, but we do not know to what extent its divine nature and condition can be reconciled with all the miseries that we witness today in the shepherds of the Church, in the errors that the hierarchy currently falls into, in this almost universal defection and apostasy in which nations, once Catholic, find themselves. The Church... wasn't it divine? And then, how can the crisis it is experiencing today happen? The answer is this: the Church is in its Passion.
  3. And it is possible, or rather, certain and inevitable, that the Church will enter even more dramatic moments: like Christ, it must experience a death (perhaps a return to the catacombs, an effective abolition of the Church in its public and external manifestation), and then a resurrection, an unprecedented triumph (probably the conversion of the Jewish people, accompanied by a great expansion of faith), before being associated with its ascension (that is, its bodily and spiritual ascent to heaven with Christ on the day of the Final Judgment). The Church will have thus imitated all the stages of the earthly life of its Head, will have appropriated the virtue and grace of each of them, will have grown 'to the fullness of the stature of Christ,' and history will have then reached its goal and come to an end: the moment will have come to enter eternity with its Bridegroom.

3. Attitudes of the Catholic towards this Passion of the Church.

All that has been said, far from discouraging anyone, should help us avoid confusion with everything that is happening today, and it is our turn to suffer. Knowing that the Church had to undergo this supreme trial, announced many times in the Scriptures, is a great comfort to us: everything is under the control of its Bridegroom, who only allows these things, like his Passion, for the greater glory of God his Father, and the salvation of many souls. What to do in the meantime? Our behavior can be summarized in four attitudes.

1st Do not be discouraged or disoriented by what we have to live. We should not imitate the Apostles in this, since we have many more proofs than they did, not only of the divinity of Christ but also of his Church. We do not know how, but we are certain that the victory will be Christ's and his Church's. 'Fear not, little flock: I have overcome the world.' Therefore, let our conduct be one of great serenity and calm in the way of suffering for the Church, in the manner of carrying this heavy cross.

2nd Do not think that we are alone. Just like in the Passion, the disciples of Christ had scattered: 'I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep will be scattered': this has been the masterstroke of the devil. But all these scattered sheep are Christ's, whom He does not forget, and whom He obliges himself to gather after this enormous storm has passed. There are many souls today, even within the official Church, struggling and suffering to preserve and transmit the faith, prayer, devotion to the Virgin, the rosary; many souls who do not know us, and whom we do not know, and yet Our Lord has kept for Himself, as in the time of Elijah: 'I have reserved seven thousand men in Israel who have not bowed their knees to Baal.'

3rd Maintain fidelity to everything the Lord has bequeathed to us: fidelity to his grace, his doctrine, his sacraments, his Mass, to everything that can be preserved today (family, Christian education of children, seminaries, priories, schools). 'Guard what you have': that is the command that the Church receives from Christ in the Apocalypse for the last stages of its history.

4th Cling to true devotion to the Blessed Virgin. And it is that the last times, as they are of the Dragon, are also those of the Woman who is to crush his head. Like St. John at the foot of the Cross, our fidelity will be due to union with the Blessed Virgin. This is what God has wanted to manifest to us in a very clear way. As the last times approach, Heaven demands more and more from men and the Church a great devotion and union with the Blessed Virgin. Lourdes, Pontmain, the Miraculous Medal, Fatima, are a confirmation of this truth. Likewise, the saints of the last times have shone, more than ever, their devotion to the Blessed Virgin:

Saint John Bosco, the Holy Curé of Ars, Saint Bernadette, are just a few examples of this.

Our merit and perfection do not lie in many comforts and consolations, but rather in suffering hardships and tribulations for the love of Christ.