Mark P. Shea is a popular Catholic writer and speaker. The author of numerous books, his most recent work is The Work of Mercy (Servant) and The Heart of Catholic Prayer (Our Sunday Visitor). Mark contributes numerous articles to many magazines, including his popular column “Connecting the Dots” for the National Catholic Register. Mark is known nationally for his one minute “Words of Encouragement” on Catholic radio. He also maintains the Catholic and Enjoying It blog. He lives in Washington state with his wife, Janet, and their four sons.
The thing is, that’s no great credit to us Catholics. I owe Anglicans like C.S. Lewis, John Donne, Charles Williams and Dorothy L. Sayers a debt I can never repay. The tragedy of the Anglican communion is that there are so many people there of whom the Episcopalian Thing is now utterly unworthy.
In contrast, when I think of the Catholic Church, I’m reminded of a trip I once took to my brother’s house with a carload of teenagers. He lives on a lake, and one fine summer day we went down there to swim. He owns a canoe, one of those fiberglass kind that no mortal power can sink, lade her how you will with water and teenagers. I swam for a full afternoon as half a dozen teenagers strove with might and main to force her beneath the waves. It was not in her nature to sink.
The Catholic communion is like that. It’s not to the credit of the passengers and crew of the Barque of Peter that the ship is unsinkable. Try as we might with our unbelievable sins and folly (Problem: child raping priest. Solution: send him to a parish with more children and don’t tell anybody. Lather, rinse, repeat for decades), we just can’t sink the Boat. But that’s only due to the fact that the Hold is full of the styrofoam of the Holy Spirit and was built that way by the Divine Engineer. If it were up to us, we’d have filled her with rocks and bashed a hole below the waterline centuries ago. Jesus deserves the credit—entirely and without reservation—for any future the Catholic communion possesses. He’s the Savior. We’re the Savees.