Though the Foundation of the Church is the Ninth Article of the Apostles' Creed, we decided to debut this series during Pentecost Week and thus begin with that very article of the Creed considering the descent of the Holy Ghost upon the Apostles on WhitSunday is the birthday of the Church, even though it was founded a few years earlier by Christ when He instituted the Church upon the Rock of Peter. But it wasn't until Pentecost when basically the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Faith began to multiply among the masses. It was a fulfillment of Our Lord's promise to send His Spirit.
From among His disciples Our Lord chose twelve Apostles, and gave them special training. He sent them forth to teach His doctrines, saying, "As the Father has sent Me, I also send you." The Apostles were the foundation of the True Church. Christ gave them all power and authority, saying, "He who hears you hears Me: he who rejects you rejects Me."
The Church is the congregation of all baptized persons united in the same true faith, the same sacrifice, and the same sacraments, under the authority of a true Sovereign Pontiff, designated as Christ's Vicar on earth, along with the true Bishops in communion with him.
Even considering it only as a visible society, the Church is a perfect religious body. All
members are subject to the same religious authority, possess identical religious doctrines, live a common religious life, and make use of the same means of grace, the sacraments.
The Bible refers to the Church as the Body of Christ, as a sheepfold, as the kingdom of God, as the kingdom of Heaven.
A person becomes a member of the Chuch upon receiving Baptism. During life he belongs to either of the two divisions in the Church: the "teaching Church" or the "hearing Church."
True priests, with their true bishops and a true Pope, compose the "teaching Church," the body of rulers termed the hierarchy and the Magisterium of the Church. The faithful, who believe and obey, compose the "hearing Church." On each of these divisions are laid powers and duties.
All history, religious and non-religious, including the Bible, clearly proves that Jesus Christ founded a Church. After teaching publicly what He required all to believe and practice, thereby announcing the main doctrines of His Church, Christ gathered a number of disciples. From them He chose twelve, to whom He gave special instruction and training. The term "a kingdom," by which Our Lord used to refer to His Church, implies organized authority. And He said to the special men He had chosen, "You have not chosen Me, but I have chosen you" (St. John 15:16). He did not teach the disciples for themselves alone, but to be the foundation of His Church. God did not come to save only a few disciples, but all men.
After training the disciples and Apostles to form the organization of His Church, Christ chose Simon Peter, and made him the Chief. Simon, whose name Christ changed to Peter, was the Head of the Church.
On Simon Christ promised to build His Church, saying: "Thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build My Church" (St. Matthew 16:18). After the Resurrection He said to Peter: "Feed My lambs...feed My sheep"(St. John 21: 15:17).
Christ completed the founding of His Church just before His Ascension, when He said to His Apostles, "Go into the whole world, and preach the Gospel to every creature" (Mark 16:15). He sent them to all nations, promising salvation to those that should believe, and threatening condemnation to those refusing to believe.
"He who believes and is baptized shall be saved, but he who does not believe shall be condemned" (St. Mark 16:15). He sent them to all nations, promising salvation to those that should believe, and threatening condemnation to those refusing to believe by reasserting Our Lord's Own words in St. Mark 16: 15-16. God is just; He would not have threatened condemnation to unbelievers unless He had furnished the means whereby they could believe. His Church is this means: all men must join it.
Christ promised to remain for all time in the Church He had founded, saying, "Behold, I am with you all days, even unto the consummation of the world" (St. Matthew 28:20)
If the death of Our Lord were to do good only to a few persons then living in Judea, its merits would have been very limited. But it could do good to future generations only if there were an organization with authority to carry on His teachings and preserve them from all change. This is His Church.
After Pentecost Sunday, the Apostles began to carry out their mission. Through them and their successors, this mission of making disciples of all nations continues and will continue to the end of the world.
On the first Pentecost about three thousand were received into the Church after St. Peter's sermon. They were the first members converted and baptized since the Ascension of Our Lord. As God is one, He established one Church, which He commanded all men to obey and to follow in the way of salvation. God is essentially one. He is Truth itself. How can He say to one group of men that there are three Persons in one God, and to another that there is only one Person? Or that we all worship the same God? No, there is only one God and He is Three Persons in One God, the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost. Anyone who does not recognize all three does not worship the "same God" and to say they do is anathema.
In the same manner, how can He say to one body that the Holy Eucharist is Himself, and to another that It is mere bread? God cannot contradict Himself. "He who hears you hears Me" (St. Luke 10:16) and "There shall be one fold and one shepherd" (St. John 10:16).
Christ never referred to His Churches, but to His Church. Peter could not have been the Head of conflicting churches. Christ said: "And I say to thee, thou are Peter, and upon this rock I will build My Church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it" (St. Matthew 16:18).
Christ did not say: "Upon this rock I will build My Churches." It was clearly not His intention to establish various conflicting churches. Christ, even in His prayers, spoke of unity among His followers. There would evidently be no unity if He had founded many different churches.
Immediately before His passion, He prayed: "Yet not for these only do I pray, but for those also who through their word are to believe in Me, that all may be one, even as thou, Father, in Me and I in Thee; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that thou hast sent Me" (St. John 17:20-21).
He gathered about Him a group of disciples, and called it His Church. "And I say to thee, thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build My Church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it" (St. Matthew 16:18) and we see also in Acts His words recorded by St. Luke, "And you shall be witnesses for Me in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the very ends of the earth" (Acts 1:18).
He promised that this Church of His would last until the end of time.
"Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you; and behold, I am with you all days, even to the consummation of the world" (St. Matthew 28:19-20). St. Paul reaffirmed this in his epistle to the Corinthians: "For as often as you shall eat this bread and drink of the cup, you proclaim the death of the Lord, until He comes" (1 Corinthians 11:26).
Jesus declared that all men must believe and be baptized (that is, join His Church), in order to be saved.
Again, "Go into the whole world and preach the gospel to every creature. He who believes and is baptized shall be saved; but he who does not believe shall be condemned" (St. Mark 16: 15-16).
Christ also confirmed that Baptism was mandatory for salvation. "Amen, amen, I say to thee, unless a man be born again of water and the Holy Ghost, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God" (St. John 3:5).
Our Lord commanded His Apostles to establish the Church all over the world; that was His express command. The Apostles and their successors, the true Bishops, have complied with this command, this mission of the Church to continue Christ's teaching and to apply the fruits of His Sacrifice to all men. In the process many have suffered martyrdom for their mission. As the early Christian polemicist Tertullian affirmed in his Apologeticum, "the blood of the martyrs is the seeds of the Church."
Jesus Christ founded the Church to bring all men to eternal salvation.
"For the grace of God, our Savior hath appeared to all men, instructing us, that denying impiety, and worldly desires, we should live soberly, and justly, and piously in this world. Waiting for the blessed hope, and coming of the glory of the great God, and our Savior, Jesus Christ, Who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify for Himself a people acceptable, pursuing good works" (Titus 2: 11-14).
Our Lord Jesus Christ established the Church in order to lead men to Heaven by:
(a) continuing His teaching and example; and
(b) Applying the fruits of His Sacrifice on the cross to all men until the end of the world.
Our Lord gave to the Church a three-fold office: the office of teacher, the office of priest or sanctifier, and the office of pastor or ruler. By these offices Christ intended His Church to accomplish the purpose for which He founded it.
The Church founded by Christ was a visible organization, with the Apostles as superiors and rulers. From the very beginning they exercised their authority and powers. They did not advise; the directed, as superiors, and decided, as judges. Thus St. Paul excommunicated the sinful Corinthian; and he commanded the Hebrews: "Obey your superiors, and be subject to them" (Hebrews 13:17).
The Church is enabled to lead men to salvation by the indwelling of the Holy Ghost, Who gives life.
God the Father and God the Son sent the Holy Ghost to dwell in the Church.
On the feast of Pentecost, we celebrate a mystery which is forever renewed in the Church and in our souls: the mystery of the indwelling of God, the reign of the law of love which succeeded the law of bondage and fear (cf. Romans 8:15).
The Holy Ghost guides the rulers of the Church, especially a valid, true Pope (never does or can the Sanctifier guide a false pope or antipope, nor can He impart error), and helps them in their duties.
Before the descent of the Holy Ghost, the Apostles had been timid and afraid. After His coming they went forth to teach, whatever hardships came; they remembered and understood all the teachings of Christ.
The Holy Ghost preserves the Church from all error in its teaching; in times of danger, He raises up able defenders of its doctrines. Saint Athanasius defended the Church in the time of the Arian heretics; Pope Saint Gregory VII, during a period of great disorder; Saint Dominic, during the time of the Albigenses; and Saint Ignatius of Loyola, Pope St. Pius V and St. Robert Bellarmine, after the Protestant Rebellion.
The Holy Ghost raises up saints in the Church throughout all generations.
The members of the Church strive to imitate its Divine Founder, and in all countries and all times it has produced saints, canonized and uncanonized, martyrs, confessors, hidden souls that burn with the love of God and their fellowmen. The indwelling of the Holy Ghost enables the Church to teach, to sanctify, and to rule the faithful in the name of Christ.
"But when He, the Spirit of truth, is come, He will teach you all truth. For He will not speak on Himself, but what things soever He shall hear, He shall speak, and the things that are to come He will shew. He shall glorify Me: because He shall receive of Mine and will declare it to you" (St. John 16: 13-14).
The Church must teach, otherwise men would not know the sacred truths taught by Jesus Christ . The Church must sanctify, bringing grace, otherwise men could not be saved. And the Church must rule, because Christ founded it as a society, which must have authority. The Holy Ghost came down upon the Apostles to enlighten, strengthen, and sanctify them, so that they could preach the Gospel and spread the Church all over the world, "Keep the good deposit by the Holy Ghost, Who dwelleth in us" (2 Timothy 1:14).
The power to sanctify is the power of orders; the power to teach and to rule is the power of jurisdiction.
With these powers - as can easily be seen in the Gospels - Christ gave His Apostles, and those who were to follow them, the power to bind and loose, to baptize, to forgive sin, to offer Holy Mass. By teaching, sanctifying, and ruling in the name of Christ it meant that the Church always does the will of its Divine Founder, Who remains forever its invisible Head.
The will of the Founder of the Church is fully expressed in the commission He gave to His Apostles just before His Ascension: "Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you" (St. Matthew 28:19).
During His public life Christ was a teacher, making His doctrines clear, as in the sermon on the mount. He appointed the Church to teach, saying: "Go into the whole world and preach the gospel to every creature" (St. Mark 16:15). Today the Church continues to teach what He taught, by preaching, by deciding controversies, by condemning wrong teaching.
Just by the fact that the modern conciliar church has not condemned wrong teaching, and has taught error and heresy, it cannot be the same Church Christ founded. That is not to say that that same Church is gone. Rather it has been eclipsed. The true Church is still there and visible, yet hidden by those who have usurped her ranks and sabotaged and camouflaged the Faith, watering it down and jeopardizing the souls entrusted to the care of the hierarchy. More of this will be addressed in future installments.
During life Christ dispensed the means of grace, as when He forgave St. Mary Magdalen, and when He gave His flesh and blood at the Last Supper. He appointed the Church to continue this office, to sanctify the faithful by administering the means of grace. The Church had power to forgive sins when He said: "Whose sins you shall forgive, they are forgiven them" (St. John 20:23). It had power to say Mass when, after instituting the Holy Eucharist at the Last Supper, He said: "Do this for the commemoration of Me" (1 Corinthians 11: 24-25). The Church has always exercised the priestly office in offering the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, forgiving sins, administering the sacraments, etc.
Christ was the Good Shepherd, the pastor and ruler of men. He gave commandments, sent His disciples on missions, instructed them, and reproved the Pharisees. He appointed the Church to rule, with authority, saying: "He that despiseth you, despiseth Me. And he that despiseth Me, despiseth Him that sent Me" (St. Luke 10:16). And "Whatsoever thou shalt bind upon earth, it shall be bound also in Heaven" (St. Matthew 18:18). The Church exercises this office by laying down precepts for all to observe, y reproving and correcting, by binding and loosening. Without this pastoral office and the corresponding duty of the faithful to obey, it would be impossible for the Church to keep going.
"And if he will not hear them, tell the Church. And if h will not hear the Church, let him be to thee as the heathen and the publican" (St. Matthew 18:17). "Take heed to yourselves and to all the flock, over which the Holy Ghost hath placed you bishops, to rule the Church of God, which He hath purchased with His Own blood." (Acts 20:28).
These are the foundations and mission of the Church founded by the Second Person of the Holy Trinity. The more one studies the truths and traditions in divine Revelation, one realizes why the false church masquerading as the Catholic Church over the past 50 years cannot stand. It is destined to fail because it has not the authority nor guidance of the Advocate, the Holy Ghost.
Next: Step Two: The Blessed Trinity