Catechism Lesson 4: The Catholic Church
What is the Catholic Church? The Catholic Church is the union, founded by our Lord Jesus Christ, of all the faithful in the whole world into one body. Jesus Christ founded the Catholic Church so that the Church might continue Christ’s work on earth, and to distribute the fruits of His redemption to all peoples until the end of the world. Jesus Christ gave the Church three kinds of authority:
- To teach the nations.
- To govern the faithful.
- To administer the Sacraments. There are seven Sacraments of the Church: Baptism, Confirmation, Eucharist, Penance, Anointing of the Sick, Holy Orders and Matrimony.
The Catholic Church is the one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church.
The Church is one because Jesus Christ is the Head of the Church, and all the faithful members of the Church are united in the One Body of Christ. This unity is assured from the following:
- The profession of one faith received from the Apostles.
- The common celebration of divine worship.
- The apostolic succession through the Sacrament of Holy Orders.
The Church is holy because Jesus Christ, its Head, is holy. As the Church is united with Christ, so is the Church sanctified by Christ. The fullness of the means of salvation has been given to the Church. The Church is holy, even though there are sinners in the Church, because the Church has the life of grace. Those who live this life of grace are sanctified. On the other hand, those who are separated from this life of grace fall into sin and disorder. The Church has the power to free her members through the Blood of Christ and the gift of the Holy Spirit.
The Church is catholic because Christ is present in her. As such, the Church possesses the correct and complete confession of faith, the full sacramental life, and the ordained ministry in apostolic succession. In addition, the Church is catholic because she was sent by Christ on a mission to the whole human race. This mission of the Church is to seek the return of all humanity under Christ the Head.
The Church is apostolic because she was built on the foundation of the Apostles, she keeps and hands on the teaching of the Apostles, and she continues to be taught, sanctified and guided by the successors of the Apostles until the return of Christ. The Pope is the visible head of the Church because he is the vicar of Christ on earth. St. Peter the Apostle is the first Pope and there is a long line of apostolic succession from St. Peter to the present Pope. The Pope is elected by the College of Cardinals. Cardinals are the main advisers and collaborators of the Pope. Just as the Pope appoints Cardinals, the Pope also appoints Bishops. A Bishop is an ordained minister who holds the fullness of the Sacrament of Holy Orders and is responsible for teaching doctrine, governing Catholics in his jurisdiction, sanctifying the world and representing the Church.
The Lord’s Prayer
Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name. Thy Kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. Amen.
- Read Matthew 16:18-19. Which Apostle did Jesus give the keys to the Kingdom of heaven?
- Read John 20:23. Jesus gives His disciples the power to forgive sins. Which two Sacraments of the Church mainly administer the forgiveness of sins?
- True or False: The Catholic Church is the one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church.
- True or False: The Church is holy because the Pope is the head of the Church.