What do you think of when you hear the word ‘Church’?
Fr Steve Ransome sought to provide some clarity to this question at last weekend’s first virtual Catholic Charismatic Renewal (CCR) 23rd National Conference. The conference had as its theme: Let Us Rebuild (Acts 2: 42–47).
Fr Ransome’s pre-recorded talk on Saturday (January 9) was titled ‘Practical steps on rebuilding the Church’.
In answering the question, Fr Ransome emphasised that the Church is and has always been more than just a building where people gather. In fact, he said, the understanding of Church really, is an assembly, a gathering of people.
He highlighted that while faithful are restricted to gather amidst the present pandemic, they remain Church “insofar as [they are] followers of God”.
The Barataria parish priest identified different metaphors used in the Bible to describe the people of God: the Body of Christ, and the Bride of Christ. The description as the ‘Bride of Christ’ is used at least three times in the New Testament—in the Book of Revelation 19: 7–8; Revelation 21; and Ephesians 5.
“So this description of Church as the bride, I like it because we have a sense of when a bride is preparing for the wedding.”
He continued that as a priest of over ten years, he knows too well of seeing brides first, during the five to seven months of preparation and on the wedding day.
“But on the wedding day, that bride takes on a whole different look. …I have never seen a bride look anything but beautiful, wonderful on her wedding day,” he said.
To this end, the Seminary vice rector asserted that faithful, as brides of Christ are also to be spotless, beautiful and full of splendour. This, he stressed, is God’s primordial plan.
Undertaking practical steps to achieve this ideal, is by way of prophetic intervention. Fr Ransome gave the example of prophetic intervention as he shared the story of the prophet Hosea, whom God told to marry a promiscuous woman named Gomer.
“Think of the primordial plan God has for the Church of that spotless bride and think about Hosea marrying Gomer. That my brothers and sisters is the prophetic intervention. God is saying ‘I know my ideal for the Church… I am fully aware that you are not pure, you are not spotless, you are not full of splendour, you are a work in progress’.”
Fr Ransome added there are four attributes of the bride, which is also acknowledged in the Bible: the Church as bride is One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic.
He concluded his talk with some practical steps faithful can inculcate in uniting in the Body of Christ: engage in the Church always in a life of prayer, cooperatively and sacramentally; ensure all sacraments are celebrated and liturgies are engaged; cultivate a spirituality of prayer and read encyclicals together as a parish.
By Kaelanne Jordan