The Birth of Church

church-cartoonIt all begins with a personal yearning deep inside you.  You feel that something is missing, an emptiness that you hope can be at least satisfied if not fulfilled.  The yearning is for something more and that something more is out there, beyond yourself.  It makes you wonder if others feel the same way.

In moments of honesty you share your feelings and find that others do sometimes feel the same yearning.  You and your newly found friends decide to meet.  You stand around in a room and wonder what to do next.  “I guess someone could lead us,” says the first spoken sentence.  Someone else suggests we explore pages and pages of stuff that’s been written generation after generation with direction, dictates, guidance and inspiration; much of which the group would like to hear more about.

A leader is chosen from the group, one of the wealthier members because he has more time than those who labor 12-14 hours a day.  He carefully puts together a simple service to lead The Group to their goals of addressing this yearning which only seems to grow stronger with age.  The Group finds itself rapidly growing and needs to expand.  How to make that happen?  The Group decides that if the leader cannot marry then his wealth will become a part of The Group.  What a great idea, except of course for the now-unmarried man who needs to make a few phone calls to girlfriends.  Someone in the group wisely inquires, “What about the women who wish to lead us?”  “There’s none like them,” another says and a third shouts, “That’s it!  They’ll be called nuns!”  All agree as the women resume their kitchen and cleanup duties.

Teaching their children is a cinch, what 8 year old will question the wisdom of all those pages of stuff and a trusting parent telling them that it’s all true?  A virgin’s birth and a crucified guy who saves you from something or another to an 8 year old is responded with, “Yeah, but what’s for supper?”

This yearning within someone joining The Group at a much later age is trickier because it all sounds too improbable, impractical and mostly impossible.  “Faith” and “trust” is pushed around a lot during those conversations.

Back to the impressible kid.  A depressingly-induced 40 days is foisted upon him and kind acts are encouraged like buying what parents and teachers called “pagan babies” for .25 each.  (Do you know how many birthday cards I have to send each year since those days?)  The creation of indulgences also motivates us to shorten our destiny-pending-Purgatory days.  The more you give, in prayer and money, the lesser those imminent days become.  (Where those records are recorded and kept, I have no idea but I’m working on it.)  On November 1, this eager kid is taught to go to The Group and say three prayers to release a Purgatory soul.  You are to then leave The Group, go outside and reenter to recite the same three prayers to release another soul.  You don’t have to be sincere in your prayers, just do the three.  You can do this for as long as you wish.  (I think four was my limit.  These days I’d say that I love the theology of a union of the living and deceased but the methodology is way off.)

Years and more years pass and many wonderful things happen through The Group; more groups are formed, grand schools built, works of selfless charity, works of true mercy, and countless examples of Group members helping each other.

Decades pass and those simple, original people become more aware of The Groups thinking and how to respond to their inner yearnings.   A struggle ensues that brings The Group’s intentions back to their original meaning.  The unmarried guy is now teamed up with a team of others to govern and influence The Group.  What began as the unmarried guy happily singing “My Way” is now doomed to sing with the rest of The Group, “I’m Stuck In The Middle With You.”

Behind the curtains for decades is a small hiccup of some unmarried guys doing some crazy stuff that eventually cost millions of dollars to The Group but no one wants to talk about it so it remains on the back burners of our minds while The Group of unmarried guys tries to solve its own problems.

In the meantime, generation after generation of The Group raise families, build businesses, labor long and hard while all consoled and guided by The Group for which they love and faithfully support.

It’s funny because it all began with one person with a deep yearning, seeking something or someone greater than himself.  The Group has found its way while the unmarried guy is still wondering why he can’t sing “My Way” any longer.

About Rev. Joe Jagodensky, SDS.

A Roman Catholic priest since 1980 and a member of the Society of the Divine Savior (Salvatorians). Six books on the Catholic church and U.S. culture are available on
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