Friday, March 22, 2013

What are the four aspects of the Church?

 I will give you a hint, we proclaim them every time we attend Mass.  The Church is:  one, holy, catholic, and apostolic.  Let’s take a moment to unpack those ideas.  The Church is one because God is one and “the Lord your God is Lord alone.”  Next, the Church is holy.  The purpose of the Church is to bear its holiness to all the world.  While the media frequently reminds us of the less than holy actions throughout the ages of some associated with the Church, this does not dull the holiness of the Church.  The Church is made up of fallen, sinful human beings. Their weakness and sinfulness does not speak to or speak for the holiness of the Church, though.  We must always be reminded that the grace of the Sacraments, which form the foundation of the Church, does not come from the ministers, but from God.  “The grace of God, which is all holy, comes often through weak and sinful channels.”  Next we see that the Church is catholic.  While some Protestant denominations remove this from their version of the creed, this does not refer to the Catholic Church, but to the catholic church, which means universal.  God gathers the world to himself through his Church, meaning the Church is universal and not contained in only one culture or one nation.  Finally, the Church is apostolic, meaning that it is rooted in the Apostles that Jesus educated and formed and sent out into the world.  This highlights our missionary call and our need to be “sent” out into the world just as the Apostles were.  In the early Church people could trace their faith back to the Apostle that taught them.  We are no longer able to do this, but we see the hierarchy of the Catholic Church still maintains the authority of the first Apostles.  First and foremost we see this maintained in the Papacy, which has been handed down over the Centuries from Peter. 

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