Saturday, April 17, 2010

The Gates of Hell Shall Not Prevail Against Her

Jesus told Peter, "And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it." Matthew 16:18 (K.J.V.). The secular world expects the Catholic Church to just fold up and disappear. Mark Shea at The National Catholic Register has a great article about why the reports of the demise of the Catholic Church are greatly exaggerated.

This quote from Philip F. Lawyer's excellent book The Faithful Departed: The Collapse of Boston's Catholic Culture is very instructive:

. . . The Catholic Church has never had any earthly hope.

Right from the beginning, the Church faced odds which were, from any logical viewpoint, insuperable. A dozen uneducated men, mostly fishermen by trade, from an insignificant captive nation in a remote and desolate part of the world, were sent out to preach the Gospel to all nations. They had no transportation, no efficient means of communication, no special skills in personal persuasion. Objectively speaking, they had no earthly hope of success.

No, the Apostles had something much more powerful than any earthly hope. Since they could not place their confidence in any logical process, or any material resources, they relied entirely on the power of the Holy Spirit. And they succeeded.

If the Catholic Church is nothing more than a human institution, it will not survive beyond the next generation or two. But then, if the Catholic Church is only a human institution, it does not deserve to survive. If, however, the Church is an institution founded by God - if it is the living Body of Christ - then she will certainly survive and flourish in spite of all earthly handicaps.

Amen and Amen.

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