Every day we present a short point that helps bring into focus the treasures of the Roman Catholic Church that comprise the great Deposit of Faith.
It is no secret that over the past thirty years fewer and fewer know their Faith and it shows with the declining number of vocations, parish participation and attendance at Holy Mass. We have the new Catechism of the Catholic Church but for the common man, the one brought up on sound bites and instant gratification, it is more of a text book and that in itself prompts them to shy away from such a tome. So what's a loyal Catholic to do in evangelizing to fellow Catholics and understand their Faith? Our answer: go back to basics - to the great Deposit of Faith. We have the Baltimore Catechism which, for unknown and ridiculous reasons, was shelved after Vatican II. We have the Holy Bible but there are so many newer versions that the Douay-Rheims and Confraternity Latin Vulgate in English versions, the ones used for so long as the official Scriptural text authorized by the Church, seem lost in a maze of new interpretations that water down the Word. This is further complicated by the fact there are so few Douay-Rheims editions in circulation though it is available on the net at
DOUAY-RHEIMS BIBLE. We have so many Vatican documents available at the Vatican web site and other excellent Catholic resource sites that detail Doctrine, Dogma and Canon Law. We have the traditions, and the means of grace but how do we consolidate all these sources into one where it is succinct and easy to understand? We have the perfect vehicle. It is called "My Catholic Faith", now out of print, that was compiled by Bishop Louis Laravoire Morrow and published by My Mission House. This work ties in Scriptural references, the Sacraments, Dogmas, Doctrines, Traditions, Church documents, Encyclical and Papal decrees to clearly illustrate the Faith in simple, solid and concise terms that all can understand and put into practice. We will quote from this work while adding in more recent events and persons when applicable since the book was written in the late forties during the pontificate of Pope Pius XII. We also quote from the Catholic Almanac published by Our Sunday Visitor for the Roman Curial offices.
Nothing in Holy Mother Church's teaching has changed and therefore we feel confident that these daily "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.
THE FOUNDATION OF THE CHURCH
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” (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” (Mark 16:16). 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” (Matt. 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? 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” (Luke 10:16). “There shall be one fold and one shepherd” (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” (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” (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” (Matthew 16:18). “And you shall be witnesses for Me in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the very ends of the earth” (Act 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 Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you; and behold, I am with you all days, even unto the consummation of the world” (Matthew 28:19-20). “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).
He declared that all men must believe and be baptized (that is, join His Church), in order to be saved.
“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” (Mark 16: 15-16). “Amen, amen, I say to thee, unless a man be born again of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God” (John 3:5).
Monday: The Mission of the Church part one