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THE CHURCH

Sacrament of Gods Love and Salvation


Contents:
I.
The Nature of the Church
II.
Brief History of the Church
III.
The Church in the Philippines
IV.
The New Way of Being a Church
INTRODUCTION
Jesus Christ Established a Visible Church On Earth

Jesus Christ established and sustains a community of faith, hope and


love for all believers.
The Church that Christ founded has a formal earthly structure
established by Christ and which continues under His authority and
protection.

In the Old Testament


God's was involved in the lives of the Israelites (through appointed leaders and
prophets)
God delivered, instructed and admonish the Israelites.
He made His motions in a visible, specific and formal way.
He always did so through human hands, mouths, feet, minds and wills.
God established a law and a means for executing it.
In the New Testament;
Jesus did three things that established the framework of His Church.
First, He chose humans to carry out His work. He appointed Peter to be the
visible head of the Church. Jesus said to Peter, "You are Rock and on this rock
I will build my Church." (Matthew 16: 18) Jesus said "build," as in to create a
structure. Jesus built His structure on specifically chosen human beings Peter
and the apostles.

Second, Jesus gave Peter and the apostles the power and authority to
carry out His work. "Whatever you bind on earth will be bound in
heaven."(Matthew 16:19; 18:18) "Receive the Holy Spirit, whose sins you
forgive, they are forgiven, whose sins you retain, they are retained."(John
20:23)

Third, Jesus gave Peter and the apostles commands as to what that
work should be. At the last supper,
-

He commanded, "Do this in memory of Me." (Luke 22:19)

He commanded them to "Make disciples of all nations" (Matthew


28:19),
and to "Go into the whole world and proclaim the Gospel to
every creature." (Mark 16:15)

The early Church was structured in a hierarchical manner as it is today.


The Catholic Church is the only church that can claim to have been founded
by Christ personally. Every other church traces its lineage back to a mere
human person such as Martin Luther or John Wesley.

The Catholic Church can trace its lineage back to Jesus Christ who
appointed St. Peter as the first pope. This line of popes has continued
unbroken for almost 2,000 years.

God rules, instructs and sanctifies His people through His Church.
-

Under her teaching office, the Catholic Church preserves the Word of
God. She is the custodian, keeper, dispenser and interpreter of
teachings of Christ. And she accomplishes this under the protection of
the Holy Spirit.

THE NATURE OF THE CHURCH


The Term Church
Etymologically, the term churchcame from
Anglo-Saxon, cirice, circe;
Modern German, Kirche; Swedish, Kyrka
It is the name employed in the Teutonic languages to render the Greek
ekklesia(ecclesia), the term by which the New Testament writers
denote the society founded by Our Lord Jesus Christ.
The derivation of the word has been much debated. It is now agreed that it is
derived from the Greek kyriakon (cyriacon), i.e. the Lord's house, a term
which from the third century was used, as well as ekklesia, to signify a
Christianplace of worship.

As signifying the Church, the word Ecclesia is used by Christian writers,


sometimes in a wider, sometimes in a more restricted sense.

It is employed to denote all who, from the beginning of the


world, have believed in the one true God, and have been made
His children by grace. In this sense, it is sometimes distinguished,
signifying the Church before the Old Covenant, the Church of the
Old Covenant, or the Church of the New Covenant.

It may signify the whole body of the faithful, including not


merely the members of the Church who are alive on earth but
those, too, whether in heaven or in purgatory, who form part
of the one communion of saints. Considered thus, the Church is
divided into the Church Militant, the Church Suffering, and the
Church Triumphant.

It is further employed to signify the Church Militant of the New


Testament. Even in this restricted acceptation, there is some variety
in the use of the term.
-

The disciples of a single locality are often referred to in the


New Testament as a Church (Revelation 2:18; Romans 16:4; Acts
9:31), and
St. Paul even applies the term to disciples belonging to a
single household (Romans 16:5; 1 Corinthians 16:19,
Colossians 4:15; Philemon 1-2).
Moreover, it may designate specially those who exercise the
office of teaching and ruling the faithful, the Ecclesia
Docens (Matthew 18:17), or again the governed as
distinguished from their pastors, the Ecclesia Discens (Acts
20:28).
In all these cases the name belonging to the whole is applied to a
part. The term, in its full meaning, denotes the whole body of
the faithful, both rulers and ruled, throughout the world
(Ephesians 1:22; Colossians 1:18).
The definition that usually adopted by Catholic theologians:
- "A body of men united together by the profession of
the same Christian Faith, and by participation in the same
sacraments, under the governance of lawful pastors,
more especially of the Roman Pontiff, the sole vicar of
Christ on earth"

Planned by God, founded by Jesus, led and sanctified by the Holy


Spirit(C 758-769)
The Catholic Church believes and teaches that;
God created the world so that we could share in the life and love
that exists between the Father, Son and HolySpirit.

God the Father prepared for the Church


- with the call of Abraham (and other individuals) (Gen
12:1-4)
- the formation of the people of Israel(Ex 19 & 20). Israel,
as a
consecrated people, foreshadows the Church.

In Gods own time, he sent Jesus into the world to establish the Church
which came about as a result of Jesus preaching and his suffering,
death andResurrection.
In Mt 16:17-19 Jesus explicitly speaks of his plan to establish
theChurch:
- Called individuals
- Formation of the apostles
Confer the foundation to Peter;
You are Peter and upon this rock I will build my church
and the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against
it.

The Catechism states that the Church was born on the cross:
As Eve was formed from the sleeping Adams side, so the church was
born from the pierced heart of Christ hanging on the cross (C 766).
But the Apostles and disciples of Jesus need the enlightenment of
the Holy Spirit to awaken them to what Jesus has done on the
cross, and to help them realize that they are the New Israel
who has now entered into a new covenant relationship with
Christ.

In Mt 28:19-20, Jesus commissions his Apostles


- To go forth and make disciples
- And baptize them in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

In Acts we see
Peter and other disciples acting on Jesus command. Descesnt of the
Holy Spirit
- His message is preachedand people are called to repent.
- Those who respond are baptized and
- acommunity of disciples is born.
Today we refer to this process as the beginnings ofthe Church. As
we read the Acts of the Apostles, sometimes called the Gospel of
the Holy Spirit, we notice how much the Holy Spirit is present
and activein the early Church.
Down through the 2,000 years of her history, the Holy Spirit
continues to guide theChurch despite the sinfulness of her
members and despite attacks from outside.
The Holy Spirit maintains the stability, durability, and continuity of
the church both
in
favorable and unfavorablehistorical
circumstances. (USC p. 115).

The Church as a Mystery


When the bishops of the world gathered together in Rome for Vatican
Council II (1962-65), they produced sixteen documents, the most important
ofwhich is the Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, also called
Lumen Gentium, or Light of Nations.
The Mystery of the Church- the opening chapter of Lumen Gentium
The Church, like the Trinity,is a mystery which human reason alone cannot
comprehend. The mystery of the Church lies in the reality that she is one
and, at the same time, both visible and spiritual.
-

The visible dimensions of the Churchbuildings, the pope,bishops,


priests,lay faithful, ministries, etc.

The invisible or spiritual dimension of the Churchthe presence


of the Trinity in her.Jesus proclaims that he will be with the Church at all
times to the end of the world. Jesus sends the Holy Spirit to guide and
empower the Church to continue his mission.
Without faith, we are unable to see this presence of God in the
Church. (But only a person of faith can recognize)

Five images of the Church (C 781-786)


Because the Church, like Jesus her founder, is amystery where the human
and divine meet, shecannot be defined; she can only be described or
envisaged. Lumen Gentium (paras. 6,7,9) offers many beautiful scriptural
images of the Church. We will now look at some of these images that help us
to gain some insight into the mystery of the Church.
1. The Church as the people of God(C 791-786, USCp.116).
The primary image used by the bishops at theSecond Vatican Council
to describe the Church isPeople of God (Lumen Gentium, ch 2).
Thisrepresentation is deeply rooted in Scripture.

In theOld Testament, we find


God calling and forming thepeople of Israel into his
own special people andentering into a covenant
relationship with them.
Thepeople of Israel understood themselves to be thepeople
of God (Ex 6:7).

In the New Testament


heythe first Christians who were Jews continued to
seethemselves as Gods Chosen People who had
nowentered into a new covenant relationship with
him.
Speaking to the first Christians,
Peter says: You area chosen race, a royal priesthood, a
holy nation, andGods own people (1Pt 2:9).
This new people of Godwas to be universal in nature
embracing all races andcultures. One is not born into this
people throughphysical birth but through faith and
baptism.

2. The Church as the Body of Christ (C 787-795).


The Body of Christ image of the church isdrawn from the
writings of St. Paul.
In 1Cor 12:12,27, Paul writes:
For just as the body is one and hasmany members and all the
members of the bodythough many, are one body, so it is with
Christ... Nowyou are Christs body and individually parts of it.

o Body ofChrist representation of the Church


o also reminds usthat every member of the Church is
important to herlife and mission (1Cor 12:15-17).
o Everyone is endowedby the Holy Spirit with giftsneeded for
building upof the Body of Christ.
3. The Church as the Bride of Christ (C 796)
In hisletter to the Ephesians (5:21-33),
Paul compares therelationship between Christ and the Church to
thatbetween husband and wife.
Husbands, love yourwives just as Christ loves the Church
and gavehimself up for her(5:25).

This spousal image of theChurch also reflects the


wonderful intimacy thatexists between Christ and his
Church.
It is the Brideof Christ image that the Church is
traditionallyreferred to as she.

4. The Church as the Temple of the Holy Spirit(C 797-798).


Quoting St. Augustine, the Catechismstates: What the soul is to
human body, the HolySpirit is to the Body of Christ, which
is the Church(C 797).
The Holy Spirit is the source of the Churchslife, unity, gifts and
special gracesgiven to theChurch so that she may proclaim
Jesus and hismessage to the world. Just as one cannot
separate theChurch from Christ, neither can one separate
theHoly Spirit from the Church.
An early Church Father,St. Irenaeus states: Indeed, it is to the
church itselfthat the Gift of God has been entrustedfor
wherethe Church is, there is also Gods Spirit; whereGods Spirit
is, there is the Church and every grace(C 797).
5. The Church as the sacrament of Gods love andsalvation
The Catechism states:
The Church in thisworld is the sacrament of salvation, the sign
and theinstrument of the communion between God and
men(C 780).
A sacrament is defined as an efficacioussymbol,which
means that it brings about what itpoints to and embodies the
reality it represents.

Inthis context, Jesus is often described as the sacramentof Gods


love and salvation.When people encountered Christ with the
eyes offaith, they were encountering the invisible God in
avisible way and experiencing his love and savinggrace.
Since the Church is the Body of Christ, theBride of Christ and the
Temple of the Holy Spirit, wetoo meet Christ in a visible and tangible
way in theChurch. Thus the Church is the sacrament of Godslove
and salvation in our world.
Professor ThomasGroome of BostonCollege calls the Church
theinstrument that God uses to come looking for us andthat which
we use to go looking for God.
Membership and ministries in the Church (C 888-931,
In the Catholic Church, we distinguish threecategories of membership:
The hierarchyrefers to ordained ministers, bishops, priests
anddeacons.

Consecrated religiousinclude both ordainedand non-ordained


persons (e.g., ordained Franciscans,religious Franciscan brothers or
sisters, and layFranciscans). Consecrated religious devote their whole
life to God in a special way. Most of them alsoembrace what is called
the Evangelical Counsels ofpoverty, (renouncing ownership of
property),
chastity(abstaining
from
sexual
activity),
and
obedience(submission to a superior in community).

The laity refers to most of the faithful that are either


members of hierarchy or religious.
All theabove persons join together to respond to JesusGreat
Commission to make disciples of all nations.
The three main roles or ministries of the hierarchy,especially of the
bishops assisted by their priests:
o To teachthe truths of the Catholic faithfaithfullyand fully;
o To sanctifythe members of the Church especiallythrough the
celebration of the sacraments;
o To govern the Church wisely as caring shepherdsof Gods
people.

These three roles of the clergy are similar to thepriestly,


prophetic and kingly roles of Christ whichall the baptized are
called to actively participate in.
Priestly role(C 901).
Through baptism every memberof the Church shares
in the priesthood of Christ(1Pet2:9). While the
priesthood of the laity differs inessence from the
priesthood of the ordained, they arenevertheless
interrelated (Lumen Gentium, 10).
How do we share?
Throughparticipation in the
especiallyin the Eucharist,
by works of charity and
by livinggood Christian lives

prayer

of

the

Church,

the laity do not just only grow inholiness but they also help
others to become holy,thus sharing in the bishops role of
sanctifying theChurch.
Prophetic role (C 904-907).
The most effectiveprophet or teacher is the one who witnesses to
theteachings of Christ in their daily life.
St. Francis ofAssisi used to say: preach the gospel always, ifnecessary
use words.
This is a very excitingdevelopment in our Church.
Within the prophetic ministry of the Church, bishopsin union with
the Pope, hold a special role. They arethe official teachers of the
Church, sometimes calledthe Magisterium (from the Latin to
teach).
How do we share?
The lay faithful share in the prophetic ministry of Christ and
the Church both by teaching and witness of life.
Kingly role(C 908-913).
Jesus is called Christ the Kingbecause he is the King of the universe
and the sourceof all authority. During his life on earth, Jesusmodeled
for us a servant style of leadership. He saidthat the son of man
came not to be served but to serveand give his life for others (Mk
10:41-45).

How do we share?
Clergy andlaity alike exercise their baptismal kingly role in
aChrist-like way when they carry out their ministrywithin
the Church in a humble servant-like manner.

Leadership and authority in the Body of Christ(C 874-877,)


In the Church, all members through baptism haveequal status:
o all are equally important and are calledto promote the message
of Christ to those who do notknow him.
In the New Testament, leadership andauthority are presented as a call
to serve others. Oncewhen some of the Apostles are competing for
theplaces of honor in the kingdom that Jesus isinaugurating, he tells
them that in his kingdom,leaders and those in authority are not to lord
it over
A hierarchical form of leadership(C 874-886).
TheCatholic Church has a hierarchical form of leadershipas opposed to
a democratic form where issues aredecided by a vote.
The dictionary defines hierarchyas a ruling body of clergy
organized into orders andranks, each subordinate to the other
one above it.
The Pope, our universal shepherd.
In ourhierarchical form of leadership, the Pope, thesuccessor
of St. Peter, is our universal shepherd orpastor.
He has the final say when it comes to matters of doctrine,
morals and discipline.
The developmentof the papacy into what it is today, is a long
andcomplex story. Gradually, the bishop of Rome,
wheretradition tells us Peter and Paul died, came to
berecognized as the head Bishop of the Church.
By the fourth century, the Bishop of Rome was
calledPope (Papa). Sometimes the Popes ministry
isreferred to as the Petrine Ministry(Peter). In this role, the
Pope is the symbol of unity in the universalChurch and

his role is to protect the unity of theChurch and to work


for reconciliation among allChristian churches.
Bishops successors of the Apostles.
When it comesto the governing of the Church, bishops work
veryclosely with the Pope. E te
In Catholic tradition, bishopsare recognized as successors
of the Apostles.
Bishopsare
pastors
of
local
churches
called
dioceses,whichoversees the functioning of many parishes.
Thewhole body of bishops is referred to as the Collegeof
Bishops.
Priests and deacons
They are co-workers of the bishop inhis role of teaching,
sanctifying and governing theChurch. Both of these
ordained ministries have theirroots in the New Testament.Lay
faithful play a leadership role in the Church bysharing with her
their baptismal gifts and graces andby serving on various
councils and committees withinthe Church.
Gift of infallibility (C 888-892).
The giftof infallibility was given to the Church when
Jesuspromised to be with her at all times until the end
ofthe world(Mt 28:20), infallible
andwhen he promised to sendthe Holy Spirit to lead the
Church into the fullness ofthe truth (Jn 16:13).

It would be pointless for Jesus togive his Church an infallible


Bible, if he did not alsogive her infallible teachers to protect her
fromteaching error when interpreting the Bible andteaching the
core beliefs of the Church.
The gift ofinfallibility which Christ gave to his Church is
oftenmisunderstood. It does not mean that popes cannotsin;
obviously they can. It does not mean that theycannot err when
speaking about non-Church matters.It does not mean that they
cannot err in Churchmatters when writing a book as a private
member ofthe Church.
The gift of infallibility only comes intoplay when the Pope is
speaking from the chair thatis, ex cathedra, or is
speaking as universal shepherdin matters of faith and
morals.
The College ofBishops, when speaking as a body in union
with thePope, can also teach infallibly about matters of

faithand morals. The Pope uses the gift of infallibilityvery


rarely.

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