Because of our experiences with the church, many of us might find the phrase, “I believe in the holy catholic church, the communion of saints,” the hardest part of the Apostle’s Creed. I know we believe it in theory, but it’s not so easy to believe in practice.
That’s why I find this quote from Nouwen so challenging:
The Church is an object of faith. In the Apostles’ Creed we pray: “I believe in God, the Father… in Jesus Christ, his only Son in the Holy Spirit, the holy catholic Church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body and the life everlasting.” We must believe in the Church! The Apostles’ Creed does not say that the Church is an organization that helps us to believe in God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. No, we are called to believe in the Church with the same faith we believe in God.
Often it seems harder to believe in the Church than to believe in God. But whenever we separate our belief in God from our belief in the Church, we become unbelievers. God has given us the Church as the place where God becomes God-with-us.
So the real question is not so much whether or not to be part of the church but how to get the church to be the church.