A July Faith Formation Series – Part I
As many of you may know, I have an 11 month employment agreement with St. Francis Xavier which means that I will be out of my office for the month of July. In my absence I have prepared a series of articles with hope that all will grow in their understanding of our beloved Church.
Have you ever been asked or heard the question; “What are the marks of the Roman Catholic Church?” Perhaps you are thinking, “What is that supposed to mean?” In this instance the word “mark” is referring to identity or characteristic of the Church. You may think you do not know these, but you profess them as we pray the Creed at every Eucharistic Celebration: “We believe in one, holy, catholic and apostolic church”. Sound familiar? These are the four marks of the Catholic Church and in the coming weeks we will explore their meaning.
ONE – HOLY – CATHOLIC – APOSTOLIC
The Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC) says this about the four marks of the Church:
“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, catholic and apostolic, and it is he who calls her to realize each of these qualities.” (CCC.811)
So these marks which define the Church and say so much about our mission are made known to us by Jesus Christ in union with the Holy Spirit. It is Christ, who gathered believers, walked with them, taught them, challenged them loved them, sacrificed his life for them and ultimately united them in faith in Him and the Blessed Trinity. It was Jesus who helped us to understand the ONE nature of God in three persons: Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
We most often speak the word ONE as in the first numeral, however, it holds or implies many things. Remember these lyrics of an old song, “One is the loneliest number that we ever knew”? Often we think of one as meaning solo or to stand alone or as the one and only. ONE does define the Catholic Church as the ONE true Church of Jesus Christ. And as that ONE Church, we as members profess and believe in ONE baptism in Christ when we become ONE within the ONE Body of Christ.
“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.” (CCC.813)
Jesus entrusted the Apostle Peter with the mission to unite all people into ONE church, in ONE Spirit, acting and loving as ONE Body of Christ. This is our mission and it is meant to include all people of the world, especially those who are yet to know Jesus Christ. We must, united as ONE body, act in such a way that people will be drawn to Christ through us. In this way, ONE is most definitely not a lonely number. Let us think about this in the coming week; what is my role as a member of the ONE Body of Christ in bringing others to the Catholic Church?
Blessings to all,