CATHOLIC NEWS OF THE WEEK . Saturday, 9 June 2018

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Praying for a body broken and divided

 
The Solemnity of Corpus Christi is a solemn reminder of the two manifestations of the person of Christ amidst his people: the Eucharist and the Church. Today the Church invites the faithful to be united with Christ, both in the Eucharist and in the Church, constituting the one body of Christ. 
 
The Apostle Paul developed this theme beautifully to instruct the Church in Corinth saying, “Just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ” (I Corinthians 12:12). He goes on to explain that “You are the body of Christ and individually members of it” (12:27).
 
In the early Church, when the number of believers grew beyond the confines of the Jewish world, the Apostles and leaders had one serious concern: that in every city there should be only one bishop and one altar. The unity of the bishop and altar was to give expression to the unity of the Church, beyond the many differences among members of the Church. 
 
The feast of Corpus Christi reminds us of that intention of being united in the body of Christ. The doors of our churches, parishes and dioceses open to welcome the believers around the altar of the Lord, and all find themselves together to be one with him, the source of unity. 
 
Down the line of the history of the Church, the Body of Christ has suffered grievous wounds and many a schism. For the Church in China and in Hong Kong, this feast must be an occasion for prayer. We profess one faith and we share the one body and one cup, yet we are way too far away! 
 
An agreement between Communist China and the Vatican would mean not only agreeing on the terms of appointment of bishops on the mainland, but also a reconciliation between the two Churches. Yet, “For any kind of reconciliation, there needs an act of contrition, but would anyone acknowledge that ‘forgive me, for I have sinned?’,” asks a priest who requests anonimity. “Our bishops and priests have been arrested and detained for decades, our churches have been pulled down, our people are still being persecuted and lately, our children are taken out of the churches and in the midst of all this, can there be a true reconciliation?” 
 
The fear is real for many in the Church today even as Vatican and Beijing move towards an agreement. 
 
On May 23, on the eve of the Feast of Our Lady of Sheshan, Pope Francis prayed for the faithful in China. “For them we pray to Our Lady, so that they may live their faith with generosity and serenity, and so that they may carry out concrete gestures of fraternity, concord and reconciliation, in full communion with the Successor of Peter .” 
 
“Dearest disciples of the Lord in China,” he added, “the universal Church prays with you and for you, so that even amid difficulties you may continue to entrust yourselves to the will of God. Our Lady will never fail to help you and will safeguard you with her maternal love.” 
 
We continue to pray for this Body, broken and divided, that there may be healing, peace and joy! jose