The Bride of Christ : The Church
Eph. 5:27 "…Christ loved the Church and gave himself up for it that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word, that He might present her to Himself a glorious church not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish."
When we are invited to a wedding by our best friend the groom, we bring gifts and good wishes to the bride as well. Often we don't know the bride if we had been friends with the groom alone. So regardless of how comely she is (or isn't as the case may be) we rejoice in his good fortune for finding the love of his life. I wouldn't dare say to my good friend, "Your wife is certainly pleasant, old chap, but perhaps she could lose a bit of weight, or perhaps she should consider a nose job, or elocution lessons." I wouldn't be surprised if the bridegroom gave me a nose-job without anesthesia for speaking so boldly regarding his precious bride that he has given all to wed.
When I came to the Catholic Church, I felt that I had known the groom very well but had never come to know his bride at all. As a matter of truth, when I accepted Christ as Savior in my 2nd conversion experience (my first was my infant baptism) , I had found Jesus in a new way, but alas, I lost his bride, the Church. Now after re-discovering the Catholic Church, I need to get to know her better and accept her, not in part, but in whole, because she is the Bride that He gave His life for and continues to be manifested in via the Mass, the Sacred Scripture, the Magisterium and the faithful.
Does she always smell good to me? Does she always meet my expectations for what I think she should be? Should I make suggestions to the Bridegroom regarding how to "dress her up" a bit? Can I just take the parts of her I like and benefit from and criticize the aspects that I don't?
Like it or not, when I reverted to Catholicism, I said to Jesus, "Ok, ok, I give up my rights to decide what your Church should look like and who should belong in it, as well as who should lead it." I agreed to accept His bride and get to know her and submit to her , or my will to Him, through her, if that makes better sense.
Now, with that being said, it doesn't mean that I should not attempt to participate in reform of the Church and cleaning up of the parts that have gotten kinda' stinky. I can't look at the bride with "rose-colored" glasses believing all is perfect and already without wrinkle or spot. But perhaps, I can ask Jesus to help me see His bride from His perspective. Perhaps I can ask him to help me love the Church the way He truly does. Now, when I get discouraged regarding the state of the Church or the latest scandal or shenanigan, I must remember, this is the self-same Church that He gave His life for. He doesn't pick and choose which Mass and which Church He will become truly present in, regardless of the heterodoxy. If the Eucharist is validly consecrated, then He is there, body, soul and Divinity, regardless of the situation that surrounds Him. If He is willing to still humble Himself and present himself for His bride, who am I to cast aspersions on her?
St. Catherine of Sienna; you were willing to submit yourself to Christ's bride in a difficult time in her history. I ask that you intercede for me to the Lord that I may see her as He wants me to. That He will give me a heart to know and love her as He does.
St. Pio; You experienced much pain and sorrow from the decisions made by the Church, yet never spoke against her. Intercede for me, that I may have the same mind as you towards the Bride of Christ.