Pope: Regarding the Church, What Is Not Seen Is More Important Than What Is Seen

Despite Our Smallness, Limits, Fragility, Says We Are Called to Carry Out God’s Plan

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Pope Francis has urged the faithful to not let their limitations and fragile nature interfere with their ability to reach out to others and make a difference.

Addressing thousands of pilgrims gathered for the weekly Wednesday Audience, the Holy Father admitted, “Often as a Church we experience our fragility and our limits,” yet, he added, we should not be discouraged since “the Lord has really made ​​an instrument of grace and visible sign of his love for all mankind.”

While admitting that our natural human weakness can be discouraging, he reflected that with faith, “we can understand how, despite our smallness and our poverty,” the Lord is working through us to make a difference in the lives of others.

«The reality of the visible Church is beyond our control, beyond our strength,» the Pope said, as «it’s a really mystery because it comes from God.» 

Recalling last week’s catechesis, the Pontiff said it showed the Church has a spiritual nature: “It is the body of Christ, built in the Holy Spirit.”

However, he pointed out, when we refer to the Church, “our thoughts turn immediately to our communities, our parishes, our diocese, to the structures in which we usually gather together and, of course, of the component and institutional figures which guide and govern it.» 

«This,» he said, «is the visible reality of the Church.»

As such, he said, we must ask two questions: “Are they two different things or the One Church?” and, “If it is the One Church, how can we understand the relationship between its visible and spiritual reality?”


Responding to the questions, he made three points.

“First of all,” he said, “when we speak of the visible reality of the Church, we must not think only of the Pope, bishops, priests and consecrated persons,” because the visible reality of the Church is made ​​up of the many baptized brothers and sisters around the world who “believe, hope and love,” and “who do these things which the Lord sent us to do.”

The visible reality of the Church “cannot be measured, it cannot be known in all its fullness,” he said, since: “How can one know of all the good that is done?”

“You see,” Francis continued, “the reality of the visible Church goes beyond our control, beyond our strength, and it is a mysterious reality because it comes from God.”

Second, the Pontiff stressed that to understand the relationship in the Church, the relationship between its visible and spiritual realities, “there is no other way but to look to Christ.”

Just as in Christ, he explained, “human nature serves the divine in accordance with the fulfillment of Salvation.” So, in a similar way, he said, «the visible reality serve the spiritual reality of the Church.»

The Church, he stated, is also a mystery, in which “what is not seen is more important than what is seen, and can only be recognized with the eyes of faith.”

The third aspect, he noted, involves whether the visible reality can really be at the service of the spiritual.

“Again, we can understand it by looking to Christ,” he said, noting: “Look to Christ. You can’t go wrong!”

Christ used his humanity, Francis said, to announce and carry out God’s plan of redemption and salvation.

Through this visible reality, the sacraments and testimony, “the Church is called every day to get closer to every person,» which can be manifested by helping the poor, those who suffer and those who are marginalized, as Jesus did.


On ZENIT’s Web page:

Full Text: http://www.zenit.org/en/articles/full-text-of-pope-s-general-audience-catechesis-oct-29

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Deborah Castellano Lubov

Deborah Castellano Lubov is Senior Vatican & Rome Correspondent for ZENIT; author of 'The Other Francis' ('L'Altro Francesco') featuring interviews with those closest to the Pope and preface by Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Parolin (currently published in 5 languages); Deborah is also NBC & MSNBC Vatican Analyst. She often covers the Pope's travels abroad, often from the Papal Flight (including for historic trips such as to Abu Dhabi and Japan & Thailand), and has also asked him questions on the return-flight press conference on behalf of the English-speaking press present. Lubov has done much TV & radio commentary, including for NBC, Sky, EWTN, BBC, Vatican Radio, AP, Reuters and more. She also has contributed to various books on the Pope and has written for various Catholic publications. For 'The Other Francis': http://www.gracewing.co.uk/page219.html or https://www.amazon.com/Other-Francis-Everything-They-about/dp/0852449348/

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