By Father John Catoir
We seldom see the hidden hand of God at work in this world, but God is always active in human history. C.S. Lewis always stressed the fact that, “The Church will outlive the universe, and because of this, the individual person within it will outlive the universe.” I’ve been asked to repeat this column, and here it is with few improvements...
Everything that is joined to the immortal head of the Mystical Body of Christ will share his immortality. Lewis insisted, that if we do not believe this truth “we might as relegate the Christian faith to the museums”. Neither individuals nor communities can inherit eternal life unless they belong to the Mystical Body of Christ. The secular world is blind to this truth.
Lewis debunked the un-Christian notion that each one of us starts with the treasure we call the “personality” locked up within us, and life is about becoming famous. He scoffed, “But no one who seeks fame or originality for its own sake will ever become either famous or original.”
Considering the truths of the Gospel, we know that the true goal of human life is to abide in Jesus Christ, and attain heaven. We are called to tell the truth as we see it, doing our job as well as it can be done for the work’s sake. When we succeed at this, originality and sometimes fame will come unsought. Only in him and with him and through him will the goal of eternal life become possible.
The time will come when every culture, every institution, every nation, and the entire human race including every biological life form in this world will become extinct. The solar system, and the billions of galaxies in outer space, will all burn themselves out and disappear. Nothing is eternal but God, and those who share his life.
Immortality, which is the gift of living beyond the limits of this world, will only come to those who belong to the inner life of God. This gift is bestowed on us by virtue of our membership in Christ’s Body. By belonging to his Mystical Body, we come to share in His eternal destiny.
Lewis maintained, “Our immortality is directly related to our union with Christ. Baptism makes us an organic part of the Body of Christ. The Mystical Body of Christ is a metaphor for the cosmic Christ, who pervades and penetrates the entire universe.” Metaphors helps us to explain the unexplainable, which is the very purpose of all theology.
“Therein lies the maddening ambiguity of our faith as it appears to others. As private individuals, as mere biological entities, each with a separate existence, we all appear to be of little account, but as members of the Body of Christ, we are assured of our eternal self-identity, and shall live to remember the galaxies as an old tale.”
The Catholic Catechism defines membership in the Mystical Body of Christ as extending beyond the membership of the Roman Catholic Church. Then who are the members? All who sincerely call Jesus the Lord of their lives are certainly members, and Jesus established the Catholic Church to bring us all home. Exactly how? That is something hidden from our eyes.
Why be Catholic? Everyone must answer that for themselves.
Father Catoir is a retired priest of the Paterson Diocese.