Jesus Founded a Church, Not a Club

In which I take issue with people who seem to think it the mission of the Church to keep out as many people as possible:

So last week, Lady Gaga posted a picture of herself praying the Rosary and accompanied it with an explanation of why her health troubles had forced her to cancel her tour. Unlike, say, Madonna’s use of sacred imagery to shock and subvert the point of sacred imagery, this was simply an image of her at prayer as an ordinary supplicant, expressing her suffering and need to God:

Performer Lady Gaga talks about her mental health on Instagram. Source: Instagram

It’s not the first time she has unironically spoken well of the Faith. Last year, she posted a picture of a priest friend …

Lady Gaga, whose real name is Stefani Germanotta, is pictured with friend and pastor, Fr John Duffell. Source: Instagram

… and wrote:

Thank you Father Duffell for a beautiful homily as always and lunch at my pop’s restaurant.
I was so moved today when you said.. “The Eucharist is not a prize for the perfect but the food that God gives us.” – Father Duffell, Blessed Sacrament Church
Nourishment

The response to the Rosary picture was swift and not a happy picture of the Righteous. When ChurchPOP ran the story, the comboxes were filled with people writing things like:

she’s an agent of the devil. dont be fooled!!

and:

I don’t think that the so called Lady Gaga is going through something. She strikes me as wanting to shock people with the way she dresses and etc. Looks like her parents must have had trouble with her growing up.

The message, again and again, from people reacting to the sight of her with the Rosary and the priest is that she is an enemy virus, a thing to be expelled and rejected, not somebody who might be imperfectly seeking Christ, a wounded fellow sinner, somebody in confusion or pain or need who might be doing her best to seek Christ under God knows what circumstances or bad catechesis, or suffering, or so on.

With that goes the assumption that the Church is not primarily ordered toward evangelization of those in the highways and byways seeking salvation–those who are both spiritually and materially the poor, the crippled, the blind, and the lame–but rather a Fortress whose mission is to drive away the impure, to pour boiling oil on the enemies at the gate, to root out from among us the Fifth Columnists, the spies, saboteurs and outsiders, to destroy all who do not belong to the Club of the Perfecti.

It’s an easy mindset to fall into. Even the apostles did it:

John said to him, “Teacher, we saw a man casting out demons in your name, and we forbade him, because he was not following us.” But Jesus said, “Do not forbid him; for no one who does a mighty work in my name will be able soon after to speak evil of me. For he that is not against us is for us. (Mk 9:38–40).

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