Laudetur Jesus Christus! Gelobt sei Jesus Christus! Sia lodato Gesù Cristo! Praised be Jesus Christ!
Over the past few weeks in our adult catechism class, we have been talking about virtue. The first such discussion dealt with the virtue of religion. St. Thomas Aquinas defines the virtue of religion as the rendering to God the worship due to Him as the source of all things and the principle of all government of things. The virtue of religion falls specifically under the virtue of justice, which is the rendering of things properly owed to another.
As the source of our being and the sustainer of life, it is an obligation from justice to give to God proper worship. The virtue of religion assists us in this obligation.
We apply the virtue of religion to our own parish church. We have an obligation to give proper worship to God. This includes not just our prayer, but also the worship that Christ Himself demanded, which is the one Sacrifice that He established. The Sacrifice of the Mass is the one and same sacrifice that Christ established on Mount Calvary, and is our participation in the very act of redemption. Far from being a simple meal or community gathering, what we participate in at Mass is the work of Christ Himself to save us.
Christ sacrified Himself for our benefit so that no matter the time or place that we are, all Christians have the opportunity to participate in His work of grace. He did this by establishing the Priesthood so that Priests could be sent to the four corners of the world to establish local churches where this sacrifice could take place. Telling all of mankind, not just a certain race or a people in a particular location, that there is but one God, and that He has come to live amongst us and to offer us eternal life.
We each have an obligation to participate in this act, and for this reason we have parishes under the care of a pastor. The pastor, and other priests, seek to ensure that this Sacrifice is continued to be made present to the people under their care. They also seek to ensure that the Sacrament of Penance is readily available, for us who need the cleansing graces of this sacrament.
To ensure success in Christ’s mission, and by virtue of our Baptism, something is demanded of each Christian. Each has a role to play in his or her local parish. Much goes into the care and devotion that we show to the Sacred Mysteries, entrusted to us first by the Apostles, and then by the Bishops who followed them. This is why Catholics have an obligation to financially support their parish, as it does take money in order to operate a parish. This is why, when we have special talents, we should freely and generously give of them to the parish church, because all work and operate together to ensure that we can practice the virtue of religion, in rendering to God what is owed to Him. This is first and foremost the Holy Mass, for which a parish church exists. All that we do, from paying the bills, to flowers upon the altar, to choir practice, to socials, to the preparation of homilies and sermons, is directed towards this end.
Christ desired that we be holy, and he has left us the means to do so, found first and foremost in our parish church. May we each pray and work to ensure that our parish works diligently for the glory of God and the sanctity of God’s holy people.