Beloved reader, our weekly Sunday Rice and Stew (Catholic Catechism) is two year old today and I also celebrate my Birthday today also. I need your prayers for more grace to continue the good work.
On today’s special edition, we shall look at the four marks of the church. This four marks is what celebrate or differentiate the church from other denominations.
Definition of terms
A Mark according to Collins dictionary, a mark is a quality or feature which and object or a person possess which is typical to it.
The mark the church derives is biblically recognized from St. Paul epistles, which state that the Church is “one”. 1 Cor. 15:9.
“This is the sole Church of Christ, which in the Creed we profess to be one, holy, catholic and apostolic.” These four characteristics, inseparably linked with each other, indicate essential features of the Church and her mission. The Church does not possess them of herself; it is Christ who, through the Holy Spirit, makes his Church one, holy,
Roman Catholics believe the description “one, holy, catholic, and apostolic Church” to be applicable only to the Roman Catholic Church and it is professed in the Apostle creed. We Catholics hold that “Christ established here on earth only one Church” and they believe in “the full identity of the Church of Christ with the Catholic Church”.
While “there are numerous elements of sanctification and of truth which are found outside her structure”, these, “as gifts properly belonging to the Church of Christ, impel towards Catholic Unity”.
The mark of the Church includes:
- The Church is one:
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.”
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.”
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.”
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.
- The Church is Holy
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.”
The Church, then, is “the holy People of God,” and her members are called “saints. “
United with Christ, the Church is sanctified by him; through him and with him she becomes sanctifying. “All the activities of the Church are directed, as toward their end, to the sanctification of men in Christ and the glorification of God.” It is in the Church that “the fullness of the means of salvation” has been deposited. It is in her that “by the grace of God we acquire holiness.
- The Church is Catholic
What does “catholic” mean?
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.”
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” 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 Pentecost and will always be so until the day of the Parousia.
Secondly, the Church is catholic because she has been sent out by Christ on a mission to the whole of the human race: 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.
- The Church is Apostolic
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,” The witnesses chosen and sent on mission by Christ himself;
– with the help of the Spirit dwelling in her, the Church keeps and hands on the teaching, The “good deposit,” the salutary words she has heard from the apostles;
– 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”.
1. The Church is one: she acknowledges one Lord, confesses one faith, is born of one Baptism, forms only one Body, is given life by the one Spirit, for the sake of one hope (Eph 4:3-5), at whose fulfillment all divisions will be overcome.
2. The Church is holy: the Most Holy God is her author; Christ, her bridegroom, gave himself up to make her holy; the Spirit of holiness gives her life. Since she still includes sinners, she is “the sinless one made up of sinners.” Her holiness shines in the saints; in Mary she is already all-holy.
3. The Church is catholic: she proclaims the fullness of the faith. She bears in herself and administers the totality of the means of salvation. She is sent out to all peoples. She speaks to all men. She encompasses all times. She is “missionary of her very nature.
4. The Church is apostolic. She is built on a lasting foundation: “the twelve apostles of the Lamb” (Rev 21:14). She is indestructible (Mt 16:18). She is upheld infallibly in the truth: Christ governs her through Peter and the other apostles, who are present in their successors, the Pope and the college of bishops.
Beloved reader, our weekly Sunday Rice and Stew (Catholic Catechism) is two year old today and I also celebrate my Birthday today also. I wish to thank God Specially for the grace and inspiration so far, i sincerely wish to appreciate you my esteem Reader for the love and support you have given me for this two years. i also wish to thank Fr. Chrysanctus Okey for giving me the privilege to use his Website for the pass one year. I also need your prayers for more grace to continue the good work.
May God bless you dearest and keep us together weekly with Our Sunday Rice and stew (Catholic Catechism) and Thursday with the Saint.