Catholics and the Church 20/02/18
Can you remember this little exercise?
Here’s the Church and here’s the steeple open the doors and see all the people.
What is the Church? How would you describe the Church?
Write down some words or phrases to describe the Church or even do a little sketch.
From time to time the Church comes under pressure to change or become “more modern”.
I can remember before Pope Francis became pope Catholics were being asked about the kind of Church they would like to have. There were about as many different answers as there were people interviewed. That is to say each person seemed to want a Church in their own image. Overall this would seem to be rather exclusive, whereas the Church desires to be inclusive and in conformity to one image – that of Christ.
Let’s have a look at the cartoons on “Catholics and the Church” in the book “How to Survive being married to a Catholic”
Points – The Church is a sign of Christ in the world.
The Church hands on Christ’s message of love and forgiveness.
The Church is a community of people on a voyage of discovery.
The Holy Spirit gives the Church its life, motivation and heart.
The Holy Spirit remains faithful to the Church.
The Church endures, perseveres and prevails.
Youtube clip “Whiteboard, Whole Church, Whole Gospel, Whole World.
Points – The Church is a called out assembly – ekklesia.
- The Church is the body of Christ. A people working out their salvation in “fear and trembling”. Philippians 2: 12.
- The Church is a vessel or vehicle of salvation, rather like Noah’s Ark.
- The Church is the only society on earth that exists for the benefit of non-members. Quote – Archbishop William Temple
- The Church is one, holy, catholic and apostolic.
Of course the Church is also a paradox – it is made up of sinners who have the promise of salvation through Jesus Christ.
Does this make us all hypocrites?
Here’s an answer from the “How to Survive being married to a Catholic” book;
Hypocrisy – Catholics are hypocrites. Why do they pretend to be better than the rest of us?
It is surprising how many people share this view. Perhaps it is because Catholics lay great stress on going to Mass and confessing their sins to a priest. In fact Catholics don’t pretend to be better than anyone else. If you ask them, most will probably say that they consider themselves to be no better and at times worse.
The idea that Catholics are morally superior to anyone else is false. The Catholic Church is in reality like a band of pilgrims on a journey towards the God who loves them.
A Missionary Church
We invite others to accompany us on the journey.
“If God can save me he can save anybody!”
“We are only the earthenware vessels that hold this treasure, to make it clear that such an overwhelming power comes from God and not from us”. 2 Corinthians 4:7
“My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” 2 Corinthians 12: 9
When we meet together in Church something wonderful happens;
“For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I in the midst of them”. Matthew 18:20.
Take this together with Jesus present in the Eucharist and we are getting a lot of Christ in the Mass. You can’t get more, the body and the blood, soul and divinity of God’s dearly beloved Son freely given to us in the Mass.
So when the priest raises the host and says;
“Behold the Lamb of God, behold him who takes away the sins of the world. Blessed are those called to the supper of the Lamb.”
And we make our response;
“Lord, I am not worthy that you should enter under my roof, but only say the word and my soul shall be healed.”
We could think of this short hymn;
Turn your eyes upon Jesus, look full in His wonderful face,
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim,
In the light of His glory and grace.
YouTube clip- Hillsong “Turn your eyes upon Jesus”
Prayer – remembering the Church on earth, the Church militant, the Church in Purgatory, the Church suffering, and the Church in Heaven, the Church triumphant.
Lord Jesus, we give you thanks for the gift of the Church, our spiritual home on earth. We thank you for the Mass and the foretaste of heaven it gives us. Help us to enter more fully into its mysteries.
We pray for our Church, locally, nationally and internationally. We pray for its constancy and witness to the world. Help us to play our part in any way we can.
We pray for the Church suffering, all those who have gone before us and are awaiting their perfection and entrance into that heavenly Church. We look forward to being united with them in that Church Triumphant where we will behold God in all His Glory.
Eternal rest grant unto them, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon them. May the souls of the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace.
St. Paul – pray for us
St. Francis of Assisi – pray for us
St. Teresa of Calcutta – pray for us
From the Creed
I believe in one, holy, catholic and apostolic church.
From the Catechism
- THE CHURCH IS ONE
“The sacred mystery of the Church’s unity” (UR 2)
813 The Church is one because of her source: “the highest exemplar and source of this mystery is the unity, in the Trinity of Persons, of one God, the Father and the Son in the Holy Spirit.”259 The Church is one because of her founder: for “the Word made flesh, the prince of peace, reconciled all men to God by the cross, . . . restoring the unity of all in one people and one body.”260 The Church is one because of her “soul”: “It is the Holy Spirit, dwelling in those who believe and pervading and ruling over the entire Church, who brings about that wonderful communion of the faithful and joins them together so intimately in Christ that he is the principle of the Church’s unity.”261 Unity is of the essence of the Church:
What an astonishing mystery! There is one Father of the universe, one Logos of the universe, and also one Holy Spirit, everywhere one and the same; there is also one virgin become mother, and I should like to call her “Church.”262
II THE CHURCH IS HOLY
823 “The Church . . . is held, as a matter of faith, to be unfailingly holy. This is because Christ, the Son of God, who with the Father and the Spirit is hailed as ‘alone holy,’ loved the Church as his Bride, giving himself up for her so as to sanctify her; he joined her to himself as his body and endowed her with the gift of the Holy Spirit for the glory of God.”289 The Church, then, is “the holy People of God,”290 and her members are called “saints.”291
III. THE CHURCH IS CATHOLIC
What does “catholic” mean?
830 The word “catholic” means “universal,” in the sense of “according to the totality” or “in keeping with the whole.” the Church is catholic in a double sense: First, the Church is catholic because Christ is present in her. “Where there is Christ Jesus, there is the Catholic Church.”307 In her subsists the fullness of Christ’s body united with its head; this implies that she receives from him “the fullness of the means of salvation”308 which he has willed: correct and complete confession of faith, full sacramental life, and ordained ministry in apostolic succession. the Church was, in this fundamental sense, catholic on the day of Pentecost309 and will always be so until the day of the Parousia.
831 Secondly, the Church is catholic because she has been sent out by Christ on a mission to the whole of the human race:310
All men are called to belong to the new People of God. This People, therefore, while remaining one and only one, is to be spread throughout the whole world and to all ages in order that the design of God’s will may be fulfilled: he made human nature one in the beginning and has decreed that all his children who were scattered should be finally gathered together as one…. the character of universality which adorns the People of God is a gift from the Lord himself whereby the Catholic Church ceaselessly and efficaciously seeks for the return of all humanity and all its goods, under Christ the Head in the unity of his Spirit.311
- THE CHURCH IS APOSTOLIC
857 The Church is apostolic because she is founded on the apostles, in three ways:
– she was and remains built on “the foundation of the Apostles,”362 The witnesses chosen and sent on mission by Christ himself;363
– with the help of the Spirit dwelling in her, the Church keeps and hands on the teaching,364 The “good deposit,” the salutary words she has heard from the apostles;365
– she continues to be taught, sanctified, and guided by the apostles until Christ’s return, through their successors in pastoral office: the college of bishops, “assisted by priests, in union with the successor of Peter, the Church’s supreme pastor”:366
You are the eternal Shepherd
who never leaves his flock untended.
Through the apostles you watch over us and protect us always.
You made them shepherds of the flock
to share in the work of your Son….367