A Church Is Not Just A Building
A church is not just a building in which something takes place every morning but which is then empty for the rest of the day. On the contrary, the universal Church is always present in a church because the Lord always bestows his presence there, because the mystery of the Eucharist is always present there, and because, when we enter it, we are always assumed into the divine worship of the whole believing, praying, and loving Church. There is today a great danger that our churches will become museums and will share in the fate of our museums: when they are not locked, they are robbed. They are no longer living. Only the presence of those who pray can protect the Church from within; only those who pray can preserve the houses of God as “open churches”. In the troubled times of World War II, Reinhold Schneider wrote these words: “Only those who pray can succeed now in keeping the sword from our heads.” A single hour of quiet listening to the word of God would often be more effective than whole days of sessions and discussions, and a moment of prayer would be more effective than whole stacks of paper, for it is not only what we do that makes us effective. Sometimes the impression arises that behind our hectic hyperactivity there lurks a paralysis of faith, since in the last analysis we have more confidence in what we ourselves contrive and accomplish. But we are effective by no means only through what we do but also through what we are if we become mature and free and genuine by sinking the roots of our being into the fruitful stillness of God. If we really say Kyrie eleison, if we really call to God out of the depths of our poverty, we thereby recognize what we are and what he is, and we really adore his glory, for we thereby say, according to the situation: Behold me, O God; I am nothing, but you are everything; I am full of misery, but you are rich enough to heal all the misery of this world; I am sinful and evil, but you are superabundant love. You do not love as human beings do, who love only those that appeal to them. You love the beggar in his rags, the prodigal son. You love us, not because we are good, but because you are good.
From: Bavarian radio broadcast, August 5, 1978
Ratzinger, J. (1992). Co-Workers of the Truth: Meditations for Every Day of the Year. (M. F. McCarthy & L. Krauth, Trans., I. Grassl, Ed.) (pp. 337–338). San Francisco: Ignatius Press.