A July Faith Formation Series – Part IV – APOSTOLIC
This week brings to a close to our reflection on the Four Marks of the Catholic Church: One, Holy, catholic, and Apostolic. Remember these are characteristics of our Church and we profess them each time we pray together the Nicene Creed. And yes I do know that catholic is not capitalized; explanation was in last week’s column. The Catholic Church is APOSTOLIC in nature, meaning that the leadership of the Church can be traced directly back to St. Peter whom Jesus chose to lead his Church here on this earth. St. Peter is often depicted in liturgical art holding keys; these are the keys to the Kingdom of Heaven, entrusted to him by Jesus himself. St. Peter is also considered the Church’s first Pope, even though the pastoral office of Pope was not official until long after his death.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC) states this about the APOSTOLIC nature of the Church:
“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.”
The successor of Peter is our Pope; today, Pope Francis I. Think about the rich history and incredible honor he shares in a leadership role that comes directly from Jesus Christ. This truly is APOSTOLIC as Jesus chose the Apostles, called them forth, walked with them, taught them by his example how they were to assist in building the Kingdom of God that Jesus professed was here and now. It was Jesus who sent his Apostles out to all nations, to the end of the earth to share the Good News of our salvation in Jesus Christ. It is Pope Francis who leads that cause today. By our baptism into the Catholic Church, we become part of the one Body of Christ and we, too, are sent like the Apostles to share the Good News of Jesus Christ; his life, his death, his Resurrection and his promise that eternal life with him is open to all of God’s people. How incredible is that?!
In a very real way, we participate, along with the Pope, bishops and priests in handing on our shared faith in Jesus Christ.; and in doing so we perpetuate the APOSTOLIC nature of the Catholic Church and by that the direct lineage from the Apostles is carried forth.
Let us together give thanks to God for the gift of the ONE, HOLY, CATHOLIC and APOSTOLIC Church whose origin and ultimate teacher is His Son, Jesus Christ.
In faith and trust,