Why I love being Catholic and a member of the Body of Christ.

Because I find Him here, in a description Thomas Merton found regarding the Cistercians, or Trappists, written in the Catholic Encyclopaedia that he found in a college library:

Day after day the round of the canonical hours brought them together and the love that was in them became songs as austere as granite and sweet as wine. And they stood and they bowed in their long, solemn psalmody. Their prayer flexed its strong sinews and relaxed again into silence, and suddenly flared up again in a hymn, the color of flame, and died into silence: and you could barely hear the weak, ancient voice singing the final prayer. The whisper of the amens ran around the stones like sighs, and the monks broke up their ranks and half emptied the choir, some remaining to pray.

~ Paul Elie, The Life You Save May Be Your Own: An American Pilgrimage. (New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2004 first paperback edition). p. 120.

And because I find Him here:

Closing Mass at WYD 2013 in Rio.

Closing Mass at WYD 2013 in Rio.

Just as a body has individual cells that make it a whole and are of themselves “the body”, we as human individuals play the same part in comprising the Body of Christ. Whether through our actions as individual helping a stranger or a community, praying alone or with a larger group, the “DNA” within our individual selves when formed together with a larger whole make a powerful force serving as His hands and feet in this world. As individuals we can do the same.

We may think that as a lone, tiny cell we are significant and make no difference. Yet we can and we do.

And so I find Him in the solitude of prayer in a quiet spot in my home, my church or a monastery.

I find Him in the teeming masses of millions of people attending the closing Mass this weekend at Copacabana Beach in Rio during World Youth Day 2013.

And I absolutely love that.

One cell.

One body.

One in Christ.


On the rock of Peter, see my Church I build.
Come receive my spirit, with my gifts be filled.
For you are my body, you’re my hands and feet.
Speak my word of life to ev’ryone you meet.

Verse 6 of “We Are One Body” by Dana Scallon


*The Life You Save May Be Your Own is a wonderful book about four mid-twentieth century American Catholic authors: Dorothy Day, Flannery O’Connor, Walker Pearcy and Thomas Merton. From the Amazon book description:

the-life-you-save-may-be-your-own_paul-elieA friend came up with a name for them-the School of the Holy Ghost-and for three decades they exchanged letters, ardently read one another’s books, and grappled with what one of them called a “predicament shared in common.”

A pilgrimage is a journey taken in light of a story; and in The Life You Save May Be Your Own Paul Elie tells these writers’ story as a pilgrimage from the God-obsessed literary past of Dante and Dostoevsky out into the thrilling chaos of postwar American life. It is a story of how the Catholic faith, in their vision of things, took on forms the faithful could not have anticipated. And it is a story about the ways we look to great books and writers to help us make sense of our experience, about the power of literature to change—to save—our lives.


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