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.
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 MARKS OF THE TRUE CHURCH: CATHOLIC
It was through a common bond of faith that the faithful throughout the world were to be united in one body, the Church, their heritage from the Son of God. Our Lord therefore before His Ascension made the necessary provision so that all men might from thenceforth recognize the Church which He established, and which He commanded all to join.
The history of the Catholic Church gives evidence of miraculous strength, permanence, and unchangeableness, thus showing the world that it is under the special protection of God. The Catholic Church has proved itself indestructible for almost two thousand years, against every variety and number of formidable enemies. The Church suffered from persecution and outside attacks, and from schism and heresy within its own ranks, yet still lives, is still universal.
The chief marks of the Church are four. We have covered ONE and HOLY so far, today we cover CATHOLIC.
Christ intended His Church to be universal, that is, catholic from the Greek word katholicos, the etimology of which is derived from kata meaning "concerning" and holos meaning "whole," hence: universal. Therefore the True Church must be Universal, or Catholic. It must be for all peoples of every nation and for all times and teach the same faith everywhere in the world.
Christ commanded His disciples in Matthew 28: 19, "Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations."
He reinforced this in Mark 16: 15, "Go into the whole world, and preach the Gospel to every creature."
Jesus again foreteld the power of the Word in reaching the world in Matthew 24: 14, "And the gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in the whole world, for a witness to all nations; and then will come the end."
Finally, in Acts 1: 8, Saint Luke wrote what Christ intended by universality, "You shall be witnesses for Me...even to the very ends of the earth."
Out side of the Church Christ founded, no denomination is catholic or universal. These non-Catholic churches are everywhere, sprouting up on every corner, but different everywhere. A regional or national church cannot be the true Church, since it cannot teach all nations, as Christ commanded. The Church of England cannot be the universal Church. Its very name declares it a national and not universal or true Church. The Catholic Church is catholic or universal because, destined to last for all time, it never fails to fulfill the divine commandment to teach all nations all the truths revealed by God.
The word "Catholic" first came into prominence when Saint Ignatius, appointed Bishop of Antioch by Saint Peter, first used the the word Katholicos when referring to the Church founded by Christ. He used this term in order to distinguish the True Church, already being preached throughout the world, from heretical churches that had arisen. In the 4th century certain sectarians protested against the True Church, yet still called themselves Christians. And so Catholics began calling themselves "Catholic" to differentiate. In that same century Saint Augustine said: "All heretics wish to call themselves Catholics; yet if you ask any of them to direct you to a Catholic church, he will not direct you to his own."
In order to be truly Catholic, wherever you go in the world there must be the mark of unity. Otherwise it would not be the same body, but many separate bodies. Some heretical churches have branches in different countries, but they are really different bodies, because they change doctrines under different conditions. Whereas the true Church teaches all the doctrines that Christ commanded His Apostles to teach and it is taught everywhere in the world. In the Catholic Church is fulfilled the prophecy of Malachia "From the rising of the sun to the going down, My name is great among the Gentiles, and in every place there is sacrifice, and there is offered to My name a clean oblation; for My name is great among the Gentiles, saith the Lord of Hosts" (Malachia 1: 11).
The True Church must be so organized that it can admit all men into its communion. This the Catholic Church does. Christ founded the Church for all men, not only for a selected few. It is man who rejects God, not God Who rejects man. He died for all men, and wishes the fruits of His death to do good for all men. Only the Catholic Church is to be found all over the world, ministering to all races and peoples, to all classes of the population, poor or rich, wise or ignorant, saint or sinner. The Cathoic Church is the only Church for Everyman.
Monday: The Marks of the True Church: APOSTOLIC