the following is an extract from a recent talk given by Pope Francis.
A Christian is part of a people with a history. The Christian belongs to a people called the Church and this Church is what makes him or her a Christian, on the day of Baptism, and then in the course of their education in the faith. But no one, no one becomes Christian on his or her own. If we believe, if we know how to pray, if we acknowledge the Lord and can listen to his Word, if we feel him close to us and recognise him in our brothers and sisters, it is because others, before us, lived the faith and then transmitted it to us. We have received the faith from our fathers, from our ancestors, and they have instructed us in it. If we think about it carefully, who knows how many beloved faces may pass before our eyes: it could be the face of our parents who requested our Baptism; that of our grandparents or of some family member who taught us how to make the sign of the Cross and to recite our first prayers. Or it could be the face of a priest, or a teacher or a catechist, who transmitted the contents of the faith to us and helped us to grow as Christians. So, this is the Church: one great family, where we are welcomed and learn to live as disciples of the Lord Jesus.
We are able to live this journey not only because of others, but together with others. In the Church there is no “do it yourself”. At times one hears someone say: “I believe in God, I believe in Jesus, but I don’t care about the Church”. How many times have we heard this? And this is not good. There are those who believe they can maintain a personal, direct and immediate relationship with Jesus Christ outside the communion and the mediation of the Church. These are dangerous and harmful temptations. It is true that walking together is challenging, and at times can be tiring: it can happen that some brother or some sister creates difficulties, or shocks us. But the Lord entrusted his message of salvation to human beings, to us all; and it is in our brothers and in our sisters, with their gifts and limitations that he comes to meet us and make himself known. And this is what it means to belong to the Church. Remember this well: to be Christian means belonging to the Church.
Dear friends, let us ask the Lord, through the intercession of the Virgin Mary, Mother of the Church, for the grace never to fall into the temptation of thinking we can make it without the others, that we can get along without the Church, that we can save ourselves on our own. On the contrary, you cannot love God without loving your brothers, you cannot love God outside of the Church; you cannot be in communion with God without being so in the Church, and we cannot be good Christians if we are not together with those who seek to follow the Lord Jesus, as one single people, one single body, and this is the Church.