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Flashcards in Ecclesiology Deck (9)
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1

The Church is One

• The unity of the Church is based on three aspects: because her source, the Trinity is One; because her founder Christ reconciled fallen humanity back to God; and finally because the Holy Spirit is her soul that makes her one.
• The Church is very rich in diversity. Sin, not diversity, is the greatest obstacle to unity.
• The visible bonds of this unity are: the profession of faith; common celebration of divine worship; and apostolic succession.
• Heresy, apostasy and schism are some of the visible wounds to unity.
• Unity is of the essence of the Church, for it is a gift bestowed on her by the Church (the Catholic Church) that she can never lose.
• The process towards unity involves everyone: lay and clergy alike and entails prayer in common, dialogue, conversion of heart, collaboration, fraternal knowledge of each other

2

The Church is Holy

• The Church is Holy because her founder, Christ, is holy and continues to sanctify her through the sacraments by the power of the Holy Spirit.
• The Church on earth (pilgrim Church) though holy is imperfect, yet she is called to perfection as God is perfect. Mary and the saints are like witnesses to the attainment of this holiness.
• The Church will always comprise of wheat and weed; of Saints and Sinners until the end of time.
• Just as the soul of unity is the Holy Spirit, the soul of the holiness of the Church is Charity.
• Through penance and renewal, the Church moves towards the attainment this perfect holiness, without spot or stain

3

The Church is Catholic

• The word Catholic is from the Greek, Kath holos, which means according to the whole. The Church is Catholic on two grounds: by virtue of Christ's presence, for where Christ is present, there is the Church, and secondly, by virtue of her universal mission to all creation.
• The Church's universality is not only the Catholic faithful world wide or the baptized but all humanity that is called to salvation by God's grace. Hence, the Church relates/connects with Jews, Muslims, etc in various degrees.
• The Church considers the goodness and truth found in other religions as preparations for the Gospel.
• All salvation is from Christ through the Church, His Body (There is no salvation outside the Church).
• The Mission of the Church stems from its Catholicity; she is the universal sacrament of salvation.
• The origin of the Church's mission is from the Trinity that all men may share in the eternal communion of the Trinity.
• The motivation to be missionary is the love of Christ that urges us.
• The Holy Spirit is the protagonist of the Church's mission.
• In her missionary task, the Church is called to be the leaven, the soul of society.
• It is the mission of the Church to therefore strive for Christian unity and inter-religious dialogue

4

The Church is Apostolic

• Apostolic is from the Greek apostellein which means “to send.” The Church is apostolic in three ways: built on the foundations of the apostles; on the teaching of the apostles and continues to hand on the teaching of the apostles through their successors.
• The Apostle's mission is the continuation of Christ's mission.
• The success of the apostle's apostolate depends on their union with Christ, the Vine.
• In a word, the Church of Christ subsists in the Catholic Church

5

What Scriptural evidence can you give that Jesus established and sustains a church?

Organization: Jesus having chosen 12 apostles, then choosing an additional 72 as disciples, plus naming Peter as the Rock upon which he would build his church= hierarchical structure in Jesus’ own time.
Continuity is provided by: his giving the Holy Spirit to guide the early Church from Pentecost into the future.
Intention: giving the apostles and disciples a specific mission, “Go out and baptize” and it is especially shown in the Eucharist which he describes as a New Covenant in his Blood fulfilling the prophecy of Jeremiah 37

6

How would CCC 761 “The gathering together of the Church [people of God] is, as it were, God's reaction to the chaos provoked by sin. This reunification is achieved secretly in the hearts of all peoples . . . .” help to explain that the Church is not just the visible Catholic Church?

The excerpt from Lumen Gentium clearly states that the Church is a complex reality and not either just a visible nor an invisible Church, but both.
The “gathering together” which CCC 761 refers to is the response to the original sin of Adam and the subsequent moments of sin described in Genesis. Since this is long before the Incarnation of Jesus this “church” as God’s plan must pre-date the Incarnation and cannot then be just the visible Church established by Jesus with “hierarchical organs”.
Also that it “is achieved secretly in the hearts of all peoples” indicates its invisible nature. Membership in the visible church is not secret, nor can the visible church be said to be in the hearts of all people since only a portion of the world’s population is part of the visible church.

7

How do the images of the Church as the Mystical Body of Christ and the Temple of the Holy Spirit help to clarify this portion of LG 8? Consider particularly how these images are used in the New Testament.

-This does not call for any set answer, so you were to integrate a couple of ideas and come up with your own well reasoned response.
-Two possible approaches suggest themselves right away and you could use either (or some other).

The first line of this portion of LG 8 says: “the Church is compared to the mystery of the Incarnate Word” so the first and most obvious approach is by way of the incarnation. The humanity and divinity of Christ are joined in one person. One nature is visible and the other invisible. The idea that the visible Church is the body of Christ we take from St. Paul especially in Ephesians and Colossians. This visible body is enlivened by the Holy Spirit, particularly as that enlivening/vivifying work of the Holy Spirit is seen at Pentecost and in the various charisms and guidance given to the early Church in the Acts of the Apostles. Like in the Incarnation the salvific work is by way of the invisible reality of the divine presence. The divine presence is in Christ as the Word and in the Church as the Holy Spirit, yet they are not separate, the visible “social structure of the Church” serves the Holy Spirit who dwells therein like in a Temple, and who also vivifies it.

One other approach could be by way of the human body. The visible church is likened to the body of Christ, but this is an analogy to the human body. The church is the body with its many various parts and Christ is the head. A human body needs a soul, an invisible reality, to vivify it, to make it alive. So the Holy Spirit vivifies, makes alive, the body of the Church by coming upon the Church at Pentecost and dwelling with the body as in a Temple. The work of the Holy spirit then builds up the body of Christ to its fullness.

8

How does this notion of “subsists in” differ from the common image of Church before Vatican II?

The Bellarminian view of the Church, not actually the opinion of Robert Bellarmine, which existed before Vatican II was that the visible Catholic Church was the totality of the Church. The Church equaled the visible church. After Vatican II, the view is that since truth and sanctification are the “gifts belonging to the Church of Christ,” finding elements of them outside of the visible Church indicates that the Church must be broader than simply the visible Church. You can no longer say the Church equals the visible church.

9

Why are elements of sanctification and truth existing outside the visible Catholic Church “forces impelling toward catholic unity?”

Since the Catholic Church has the fullness of truth and means of sanctification, but elements of truth and sanctification can be found outside of the visible Catholic Church, we share something in common. That we share something in common, even though we also have some very large differences, gives us a certain shared communion in truth and sanctification. Emphasizing what we share in common can be a force which moves us toward unity.

(As an aside and something we haven’t covered, Paul VI and JP II both emphasized what we share in common with other Christians and non-Christians, Pope Benedict XVI did the same but did not gloss over the differences. Pope Francis is interesting and does not seem to fit into either of those two categories because at the level of the person on the street he overlooks the differences, washing the feet of a young Muslim in a juvenile detention center, for example, BUT at a more official level, for example, calling out governments for “genocide” and publically stating the victims of radical islam are martyrs for the faith.)