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One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church
Likewise we say the Church is Holy, not because of our efforts or our personal holiness but because of its unity with Christ who is God. Our task as individuals is to grow into that unity, to grow in holiness...
Date: 15 Mar 2020
Last week we spoke of the Church, not in the sense of a building but as the community of people who, believing that Christ Jesus has reconciled all people to God are united by the Holy Spirit and even on earth share and grow into the unity at the heart of God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. We looked at how we are aided in this by the visible organisation founded on the Apostles which Jesus gave us on earth, by the sacraments beginning with baptism, by the prayers of the saints and by the continual loving self-gift of Jesus which is made fully present at Mass, at the Holy Eucharist. It is both a profoundly human community but also a divine community, made up of people like us but with Christ as our head and the Holy Spirit as our Soul.
Human sin, often amongst the members of the Church, brings about divisions within the Church, this has happened throughout history from the time people said to Jesus ‘this is intolerable teaching’ and left him, through the reformation which did so much damage here in England, to the thousands of lapsed Catholics in this area. It can make the Church seem weak and divided. But with Christ at its head, the Holy Spirit at its heart, so many saints with Our Lady already in loving unity with the Blessed Trinity the Catholic Church cannot fail. The victory was won when Christ rose from the dead. The Church’s unity is not the result of our efforts but a Divine Gift. The Church is One. We must work to realise and witness to that Oneness but it is already One.
Likewise we say the Church is Holy, not because of our efforts or our personal holiness but because of its unity with Christ who is God. Our task as individuals is to grow into that unity, to grow in holiness and the Church itself on the one hand, constantly calls its members, with the loving voice of Jesus, begging us to repent and follow the path of penance and renewal – and on the other hand points to the saints revealing the power of the Spirit to inspire and guide us to Holiness in our lives. Above all the Church proclaims that in Our Lady we see a vision of the Church as it is and will be.
When we say the Church is Catholic we are saying that the fullness of salvation is in the Catholic Church for Christ is its founder, Christ is its head; Through the gifts of Scripture, Tradition and Magisterium, which we spoke about right at the beginning, Christ reveals to us the fullness of Divine Truth, Divine love and Divine life. No one can come to the Father except through Him. Catholic means ‘for all’ and the mission of the Church is Catholic for it is sent to the whole world. All are called to the Catholic Church and by accepting in faith and love, the teaching of the Church, its sacraments, authority and structure a person becomes part of the Church.
All Christians share some communion with the fullness of truth in the Catholic Church through baptism and the profession of Christ. Other religions to some degree share in belief in God. However all salvation comes from Christ through his Church. There is no other Saviour or way of salvation. Though God in his love and mercy can call people to faith in ways we know not, the Church has an obligation to proclaim Christ and bring all to the fullness of the Catholic faith.
We say the Church is Apostolic because it was founded by Christ upon the Apostles and their successors. It is also called apostolic because each member shares in the apostolic task of proclaiming the gospel to the whole world.
Next week we will look at the structure of the Church on earth, the different tasks and responsibilities we have.