The faithful have the responsibility of purifying the Catholic Church through their growth in holiness, the Bishop of Shrewsbury has said.
In a homily preached at the Mass of Sacred Chrism on April 17, Bishop Mark Davies reminded the congregation that the Catholic Church was always holy because it was a divine institution united to Christ.
But he also told them that the Second Vatican Council had taught that it was the task of every generation to continually purify the Church through acts of penance and renewal.
"At Easter 2019, we are conscious how people are losing confidence in all human institutions, and have need to recall what the Second Vatican Council taught so emphatically 'The Church … is held, as a matter of faith to be unfailingly holy'," said Bishop Davies.
"On the night and morning of Easter you and I will declare with renewed joy that 'I believe in the Holy Catholic Church'.. For the Catholic Church is holy because she is united with Christ, has received the Holy Spirit and has been gifted with the fullness of the means of salvation, above all, the Sacrifice and Sacrament of the Eucharist.
"This realisation led the Christians of the first centuries to say without hesitation that the world was created for the sake of the Church; for she is the goal of all things; God's intention is the salvation of men, they said, and it is called 'the Church'.
"Let us never regard the Church as a merely human agency however benevolent or flawed. Let us never speak of Holy Church as if it were of our making or unmaking."
The Bishop continued: "The Church is, and always remains, a Divine creation - the work of the Holy Trinity. Yet being made up of people like you and me, the Church in her members has frailties and defects.
"She has known dark chapters when her children have not responded to the call to holiness and this led the Second Vatican Council to remind us that the Church 'at once holy' is, 'always in need of purification, following the path of penance and renewal'.
"This is the task of our life-times, which we accept anew when you or I kneel to make our Confession or to receive Holy Communion."
Bishop Davies, speaking in St Anthony's Church in Wythenshawe, Manchester, also quoted the teachings of Pope Francis on the call to holiness, telling the faithful that it would a source of joy.
"Our joy will be in proportion to our striving for holiness - which is to say, our union with Christ, in prayer and in the Holy Eucharist; in the frequency and sincerity of our Confession; and as St Francis de Sales beautifully reminds us, doing the most ordinary things with love," said Bishop Davies.
"For holiness is nothing other than the perfection of love."
Bishop Davies has dedicated 2019 as a diocesan Year of Holiness.
In his homily he said: "Tonight, in an anticipation of the day when the Eucharist and the Catholic priesthood were born together, we give thanks to God for the gift of the priesthood.
"We give thanks for the gift of our own priests and for many new vocations to the priesthood. And we pray, above all, for the holiness of priests."
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