If you have been away, you might want to know how you can reconnect.
"Which one of you, having a hundred sheep and losing one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness and go after the one that is lost until he finds it? When he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders and rejoices." Luke 15:4-5
Our Church is God's family. Like any family, people have their differences. Sometimes people are hurt by other members of the family. Sometimes, just through the cares of the world, we may drift away from our home. Please know that if you have been away - either out of hurt or because life seems so full - that you are still called by God to fullness of life, and to live that life in the fellowship of our Church community.
Our Church seeks your forgiveness if you have experienced hurt through our community.
How do we reconnect? Simply come back to Mass, talk to a priest or contact us . Ask us about the special programs available if you feel you need some advice or support with "returning home."
Rev. Martin Pable in his book Remaining Catholic, Six Good Reasons for staying in an imperfect Church offers us some great views on why the Church matters. They are summarised below.
Through our scriptures, we see that we are called to be united with God - not just as individuals, but in a faith-filled community, which we call Church. Jesus invited his followers to be baptised, again, not only into God but into a community of believers who care for one another and the human family. Within this family, I can be encouraged and encourage others, and share in a vision wider than myself.
Of course, while we are baptised in the Holy Spirit which gathers us into one family, we are also capable of getting things very wrong, through our own frailties and failings. Yet we stay, because we cling to God and what is good about our faith. Pable says this is not because Catholics are naive. He says:
They know very well that the Catholic Church is a body with many warts, wounds and scars. They know there is often a disconnect between what it teaches and how it acts. They are not afraid to be critical of the church when they perceive inconsistencies and injustices. But through it all, they continue to look beyond the human face to see the deeper reality: It is still the church of Jesus Christ, his body extended in space and time "for us and our salvation". (p28)
Our Church has been around for a long time, and traces its beginnings to the first-century Christian community of the apostles and the generations that immediately followed. Why is this important? Well, if we are followers of Jesus Christ how do we know that we are being true to his teachings and the way of life he calls us too? Can we simply rely on the Bible? For Catholics, the Bible is understood through the ongoing, living Tradition of the Church (meaning the central church teachings, beliefs and practices).
"It is not that Scripture and Tradition are two separate sources of divine truth. The Second Vatican Council taught that together both form "one sacred deposit of the Word of God," which is entrusted to the teaching authority of the church...In other words, the Bible, alone without the guidance of Tradition, is not a complete guide to God's revealed truth. This is because the meaning of biblical passages is not always self-evident..." p34. Our Tradition and structures also help to manage with conflicts. Over the years, Christians have been pained by continual divisions into new communities that believe they have a better way of living Christ's message. Having our structure of Bishops and priests all united with the Pope may seem to some to be too prescriptive, but actually is designed to ensure we both hold onto the belief entrusted to us all the way back to the time of the apostles, as well as ensuring the unity of Christ's followers today.
One aspect of Catholic faith which is distinctive is our belief that we don't simply encounter God through nature and scriptures, but through sacramental actions.
"When people think about what is distinctive about Catholicism, they easily think of the sacraments. No other religion, I would venture to say, takes the material world more seriously. Catholics believe that in the simple actions and words of the seven sacraments, Jesus Christ becomes present and acts within the souls of believers to nourish and strengthen their relationship with him. They do not work like magic, of course. The believer must approach the sacraments with faith and with the desire to receive what Christ wants to give us. For those that do, the sacraments are times of personal encounter with the God who came that we might have life in abundance." (John 10:10)
Our Church places Scripture in a central place and offers wonderful scholarship to assist in interpreting its meaning both in its original setting and for our context today. Find out more about our life in God's word.
"One of the exciting things going on in the Catholic Church today is the increased presence and visibility of lay people at nearly every level of church life." p107. From caring for the sick and dying, to supporting those who are unemployed or with special needs, to working for peace and justice, Catholics are involved in the Church's mission. Our hospitality and welcome are renewed in recent times too, with our diocese announcing a Year of Welcome in 2007! Greeters will meet you at the doors of many churches and morning tea after Mass is becoming a more frequent event. Parishes with younger families have seen the rise of play groups, special prayer groups for children and youth movements. Also, we are involved in the Mass - through those who proclaim the word, to those who assist in distributing communion or sharing in the music ministry.
Stewardship is a wonderful practice that is gathering momentum in our diocese. People come to see their service not only as doing good, but as a response of profound gratitude for the great gift of love God has granted to each of us. Our very life and all that we are and own, really all belong to God. So we are seeking ways to respond as a disciples, by sharing of our time, talents and treasures out of a loving act of generosity in response to God's goodness to us.
"For two millennia the church has withstood wars, schisms, scandals, abuses of power, and controversy upon controversy. In that same time, it has given physical and spiritual healing to the sick, homes to the impoverished, courage to the frightened, understanding to the intolerant, and love to the hard hearted. In a way, the church's history is much like the people, clergy and lay, in every parish in the world - an embodiment of good and evil, sin and holiness....This does not mean the church can be complacent about its defects. The worst weeds can and should be rooted up. But the church will never be perfect. And we do not belong to the church because we are good and holy. We belong precisely because we are sinners and needy and weak and imperfect. As someone once said, 'The church is a mansion for saints, but a hospital for sinners.' We know we cannot overcome our problems or grow spiritually merely by our own efforts. We need help - from hearing the word of God in Scripture and praying together as a fellowship of sinners striving to become saints." p123
How do we reconnect? Simply come back to Mass, talk to a priest or contact us. Ask us about the special programs available if you feel you need some advice or support with "returning home." Be sure to let someone know though, so we can make you feel welcome and support you.