Reading: I believe in the Holy catholic Church, the communion of saints. (Apostles’ Creed)
Today, in our reflection, we will focus on the additional clause of the Apostles’ Creed which speaks about the Church. The Church is not only a “gathering” of believers, but it is also the “communion of saints.” However, living in a community is not an easy task. Misunderstanding the essence of the Christian community and our expectations of it represent the greatest challenge. As a person who believes that the Church is the gathering of people around one God, one faith, one Spirit, and one goal, I consider that a true Christian community requires individuals’ readiness to pay the necessary price to preserve its greatest value.
In a true Christian community, individuals persist on the path toward one goal, putting aside personal preferences and ideas of what it should look like. Everyone strives to become “all things to all people” without condemning different opinions, while the strong carry the weak. Those who are part of a true Christian community rise above the stereotypes and prejudices of the dominant culture and always make an effort to include every person for whom the Lord laid down His life into the communion of saints.
Some may notice that the Church does not always succeed in fulfilling the high ideals of the Christian community. Nevertheless, the fact that the Church strives to be a true communion of saints and that some actually succeed, testifies that it is on the right path. The Church is only a foretaste of the Kingdom of God, which, according to Jesus’ words, is near but has not yet fully arrived. The Church is the communion of “saints” to the extent that it tries to approach the true state of “separateness.” By this, I mean its difference from other communities in society while living and acting guided by different principles and looking primarily for the benefit of others, not its benefit. This is a challenging task, but it is not impossible.
The Church is a community of “saints” to the extent that it tries to approach the true state of “separation.” By this, I mean its difference from other communities in society while living and operating guided by different principles, and while looking primarily to the benefit of others, rather than its benefit. Although it is a challenging task, it is not impossible.
I recommend the book ‘Life Together’ by Dietrich Bonhoeffer for a deeper exploration of the theme of the Christian community. Below, I will quote a part that will be useful to you. “The more genuine and deeper our community becomes, the more everything else will pale by comparison, and only Jesus Christ and his work among us will become clearer and more purely alive. We have one another only through Christ, but through Christ, we truly have one another, we have one another completely, for all eternity. This is already from the beginning a departure from every obscure urge for something greater. Whoever wants more than what Christ has done among us, does not want a Christian community. They seek some extraordinary experiences of community that were denied to them elsewhere. Such a person brings vague and impure desires into the Christian brotherhood. This is where the greatest danger, the deepest internal poisoning, most often threatens the Christian brotherhood from the very beginning. Christian brotherhood begins to be replaced by the desired image of a pious community, the natural aspiration of the pious heart for community mixes with the spiritual reality of Christian brotherhood. From the very beginning, it is of incomparable importance for Christian brotherhood to be clear: First: Christian brotherhood is not an ideal, but a divine reality. Second: Christian brotherhood is a pneumatic, not a psychic reality. Countless times, the entire Christian community has been shattered by living out of some projection of desires*.”
Prayer: Use this quote to reflect on your attitude towards the Christian community. Turn it into a personal prayer with elements of repentance if you have expected too much from the Christian community and invested too little.
*Life Together, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Sources, Christian Publishing House, Osijek, Croatia, 2021.pdf (Translated from Croatian)