The Indefectability of the Church |
Contrary to what many may think, nothing in Holy Mother Church's teaching has changed and therefore we feel confident that these "points of enlightenment" will help more Catholics better understand their faith, especially those who were not blessed with early formation of the faith in the home and their parish school. Regardless of where any Catholic is in his or her journey toward salvation, he or she has to recognize that the Faith they were initiated into at the Sacrament of Baptism is the most precious gift they have been given in life. If they truly want to live their Faith as it was taught from Peter to Pius XII, they must know the Faith and live it as Traditional Catholics. That is the only way to KEEP THE FAITH!
"Behold, I am with you all days, even unto the consummation of the world" Our Lord's certain words to His Apostles as recorded in Matthew 28: 20
By the indefectibility of the Catholic Church is meant that the Church, as Jesus Christ founded it, will last until the end of time. The Archangel Gabriel announced to the Blessed Virgin Mary that Christ “shall be king over the house of Jacob forever; and of His kingdom there shall be no end” (Luke 1: 32-33).
Christ meant His Church to endure to the end of the world. It is to be indestructible and unchanging, - to possess indefectibility. Christ, God Himself, could scarcely have come, and with such incredible pain and labor have founded a Church which would die with the Apostles. He came to save all men. Those to live in future ages needed salvation as much as the people of Apostolic times.
Christ said too Peter: “Upon this rock I will build My Church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it” (Matthew 16:18). By the “gates of hell”, He meant all the power of the devil - all kinds of attacks, physical violence as well as false teaching. Christ promises here that the Church would be assailed always, but never overcome. This promise of Our Lord has been proved for almost 2000 years by the facts of history. Not one of the persecutors of the Church has prevailed over it. On the contrary, many of them have come to a fearful end. There will always be Popes, bishops, and laity, to compose the Church; the truths taught by Our Lord will always be found in His Church. Though not always manifestly visible to the world.
After telling His Apostles to teach all nations, Christ said: “Behold, I am with you all days, even unto the consummation of the world” (Matthew 28:20). As the Apostles were not to live to the end of the world, Christ must have been addressing them as representatives of a perpetual Church.
The Apostles themselves understood Christ to mean that His Church should endure. After organizing Christian communities, they appointed successors in their place, to live after them and carry on the Church. The Apostles instructed these successors to ordain in turn other bishops and priests. All these acts were to assure the perpetuity of the Church.
Christ intended the Church to remain as He founded it, to preserve the whole of what He taught, and the shining marks which He gave it in the beginning. If the Church lost any of the qualities that God gave it, it could not be said to be indefectible, because it would not be the same institution. Indefectibility implies unchangeability. Our Lord promised to abide by the Church, to assist it, and to send the Holy Ghost to remain in it. God does not change; again: “Behold I am with you all days, even unto the consummation of the world” (Matthew 28:20).
Because of its indefectibility the truths revealed by God will always be taught in the Catholic Church. Saint Ambrose said: “The Church is like the moon; it may wane, but never be destroyed; it may be darkened, but it can never disappear.” Saint Anselm said that the bark of the Church may be swept by the waves, but it can never sink, because Christ is there. When the Church is in greatest need, Christ comes to its help by miracles, or by raising up saintly men to strengthen and purify it. It is the bark of Peter; when the storm threatens to sink it, the Lord awakens from His sleep, and commands the winds and waters into calm: “Peace; be still!”
The Catholic Church has, throughout its long history, proved itself indefectible, against all kinds of attack from within and without, against every persecution and every heresy and schism. And she will continue to withstand even the insidious attacks over the past 40 years. As its Founder was persecuted, so the Catholic Church has been and ever will be persecuted. “You will be brought before governors and kings for My sake”...“And you will be hated by all for My name’s sake”...“No disciple is above his teacher, nor is the servant above his master” (Matthew 10: 20, 22, 24). “They will deliver you up to councils, and you will be beaten in the synagogues” (Mark 13:9), and “They will arrest you, and persecute you” (Luke 21:12).
The Church survived three hundred years of incredible persecution under pagan Rome. Of the 33 Popes that ruled before the Edict of Milan, 30 died as martyrs. That mighty Empire, with its colossal strength, before whose standard the nations quailed, could not kill the infant Church or stop its progress. In a short time the Popes were ruling where the imperial Caesars had issued edicts against the Christian Church. The Roman Empire waged ten fierce persecutions against the Church, but could not destroy it. In the year 313 the Emperor Constantine was converted and granted the Church freedom by the Edict of Milan.
Then for two centuries hordes of barbarians swept upon civilized Europe, destroying the old Roman Empire. Add to this the devastating Arian Heresy which swallowed up almost 90% of the hierarchy and laity. Yet Arianism faded in time and Holy Mother Church grew stronger. In fact, the Church not only survived, but converted and civilized the barbarians who threatened the gates of Rome and its empire. God’s ever-watchful providence brought about the conversion of the Frankish King Clovis, with a great number of his warriors. This was the beginning of the firm establishment of the Church in the Frankish kingdom, although missionaries had gone there from the first century. In the eight century Saint Boniface converted Middle and Northern Germany, until then the home of violent paganism.
For nine centuries Mohammedanism threatened Christian civilization. It was the Church under the Popes that urged the nations to league against Islam. In the sixteenth century the Mohammedan menace was subdued for awhile at the great battle of Lepanto in 1571 when the Don Juan of Austria, with an undermanned fleet but under the protection of Our Lady of the Rosary, soundly defeated the superior Turkish forces. In recent decades it has made its rise again and we can see the threat in Iraq today in the Holy Land and, basically all over the world including Europe and North America where the EU is trying to phase out God while Islam threatens to overrun the old continent by migration. In Canada, sodomite laws are enveloping that neighbor to the north in satan's cloak. Here in the US, morality has hit rock bottom with the legalization of murder in the womb and the Noahide Laws which basically put true Christians back in the same predicament as the first three centuries. Yet the True Church, though eclipsed, will continue and will emerge stronger than ever because of Christ's promise.
As we know only too well in the aftermath of the devastation of souls wrought from the Vatican II church, not only non-Christians, but its own rebellious children have persecuted the Church. From the beginning heresy has attacked it from within. And still the Church lives greater than ever, changeless, indefectible. The long history of the Catholic Church is attended by schism and heresy, but each attack has only strengthened it. It has continued to live and spread in spite of everything and everybody. Griff Ruby has an excellent column on schism in this issue.
The Church is the Bride of Christ, cast into prison, starved, thrown to the beasts, trampled underfoot, hacked, tortured, crucified, and burned. But this fair Bride emerges from it all in the bloom and freshness of youth, serene, calm, immortal - for She is INDEFECTIBLE!
Next issue: The Church and Salvation