Being Church

Matt Kresich | Director of Young Catholics, Holy Name | Diocese of Gary Indiana 

We take the basics for granted. Our belief in Jesus as fully God and fully man, the Three Divine Persons of the Trinity, and Mary as Mother of God were not always de facto dogma. Each took much discussion, debate, and in some cases, punches. Yes, there are doubts St. Nicholas went to blows with Arius, but it makes for a compelling story of how messy being Church really is.

Last summer, young adults from across the country gathered in Chicago for Alive in Christ. The weekend was the culmination of the multi-year process called Journeying Together. Its aim was to provide opportunities of encounter and story sharing. A plethora of Zoom meetings and virtual preparation sessions set the stage for what was hoped to be a beautiful weekend of community and action. But even in a diverse gathering, mistakes were made, hurtful mistakes. A palpable feeling of the event coming to an early end was present to all. Old scars were shown, and we were reminded how even non-malicious actions can cause the same pain as those done on purpose.

And here was a great mystery of the Faith present to us all. We belong to a Church which is divinely instituted but made up of us, feeble and fallible. It is in this mess, the Holy Spirit works, and I believe is at work even harder when the pain and hurt are greatest. The event did not end. Instead, we continued to move. Not move on but move as one. We addressed the hurt. We called out the hurt. And we tried to reconcile the hurt. We were not perfect. We did not solve world peace over the weekend. We did not bring healing to the racial hurt so prevalent in society. Instead, we provided hope of what the Church can be.

It is this hope which was brought to the USCCB’s Plenary Assembly Meeting in November. “We spent time in Chicago to talk about these dreams and how we can make it happen together, to be Catholic in the truest sense of the word,” shared Rudy Dehaney with the bishops of the United States. Fellow Alive in Christ organizer, Cecilia Marie Flores, echoed this hope, “we are committed to model and embody the community that we wish to build in the church.” Here is the real Church. It is us, broken and messy, but only here that God can transform.

At a time when our Church and country need unity more than ever, Alive in Christ offers a valuable lesson. Being Church might be messy and our path might not be perfect but that’s why we go on the journey. By allowing God to work through our brokenness only then can the dream of Journeying Together be realized. It is an invitation not just for those at Alive in Christ but for the whole Church. Let us keep working through the mess, trusting that God is right there with us.