Wednesday, October 16, 2013

The Church, there to Love the World, not Itself


I'm reading a little book these days on the Church written by my former spiritual director, Fr. Adrian Lyons, S.J.  It's interesting, in his lifetime Adrian was probably known to most as a very quiet man -- he was one of the best listeners I've ever met.  He just had a way of being silent that made you feel welcome with whatever you had going on.

But I'm reading this book that he had published just months before he died, THE FIRST THING TO DO IS LIVE, and I must say, I'm finding it pretty dazzling.

The first section is on the Church in the world. Here's his take:
The Christian community's deepest purpose is to show that the Creative Power keeping our universe in existence is overwhelmingly in love with ongoing creation.  Within that grand scheme, we, the creatures of Planet Earth, are passionately cherished despite our tragic flaws. 
And here's what you might call the tail of that scorpion:
Christian communities exist, then, not primarily to communicate God's love for the church, nor even for the totality of those who live well, but for the world in all its grandeur and fallibility. (emphasis mine)
Isn't that something? It's common sense, really, Jesus at his most fundamental. But boy howdy does it get lost in most religious institutions most of the time.

A few pages later he puts it even better:
To act as if the church's main task is to bring the world to see the church's importance is a mistake of Copernican proportions. What is assumed is that the world revolves around the church, or it ought to.  Instead, it is more appropriate to imagine the church as a moon -- offering illumination by reflecting the sun -- revolving around the world God loves so much. 
Tell me that's not the good stuff.

I wish I could tell you you could buy this book on Amazon, but alas, you can't. It can be picked up via this link, however, at a cost of something like $35 American with shipping.

I'll try also to post more of it as I read more. It's really a solid and inspiring read.