One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church. These words are known as the Four Marks of the Church. This post will examine each of the marks in detail. These marks are stated in the Nicene Creed and are the characteristics of the Church.
"Hear, O Israel! The Lord is our God. The Lord is one!" -Deuteronomy 6:4
St. Cyprian once said, "God is one and Christ is one: there is one Church and one chair founded, by the Lord's authority, on Peter." The Church MUST be one, for its whole purpose is to unite the world around the one God.
Another way to examine the mark of "one" is to examine the Holy Trinity. The Holy Trinity is three persons united in one God. God is one in the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. Recall St. Patrick's method for teaching the Holy Trinity using a shamrock. There are three leaves, but only one stem. Therefore, God is one.
Jesus' great, high priestly prayer was thus: "...that they may all be one; even as You, Father are in Me, and I in You, that they may also be in Us, so that the world may believe that you sent me. The glory which You have given Me I have given to them, that they may be one just as We are one; I in them and You in Me, that they may be perfected in unity, so that the world may know that You sent Me, and loved them, even as You have loved Me." -John 17:21-23
"We believe in the Holy Church because the Church is in Christ and Christ is in the Church." -St. Peter Chrysologus
The Church is holy because Jesus Christ, the head of the Church is holy. The Church reveals and brings the holiness of Christ to the world through liturgy and sacraments, the witness of saints and martyrs, the proclamation of Scripture, adherence to Sacred Tradition and more. God reveals Himself to us through Sacred Scripture and Sacred Tradition. From this revelation flows the foundation of our Church. Because this revelation is sacred, the Church is also sacred and thus is holy.
"Christ came into the world to save sinners." -1 Timothy 1:15
"because of the hope laid up for you in Heaven, of which you previously heard in the word of truth, the gospel which has come to you just as in all the world also it is constantly bearing fruit and increasing, even as it has been doing in you since the day you heard of it and understood the grace of God in truth." -1 Cor. 5-6
The word "Catholic" stems from the Greek word, "kata holos" which means "according to the whole." The Catholic Church is universal- that means that the Church is meant for everyone and is predestined to reach everyone throughout the world. One of my favorite things about the Catholic Church is that she is universal. This means that the Church is united and the same, no matter what part of the world you are in. When I was stationed overseas in the Air Force, I would attend Mass in different countries; I heard the Mass proclaimed in German, French, Italian, etc. My homesick heart found comfort knowing that I was hearing the same liturgy as my family back in Colorado. Additionally, even though I barely understood the foreign languages, I could easily follow along with the Mass because it was the same format as the Mass back home. The Church is universal- it is united and it is one all across the world.
When Pilate put the sign on the Cross that read, "Jesus, King of the Jews," he put it in the three major languages of the day. It's ironic that the man who condemned Jesus was an evangelizer by proclaiming Jesus Christ as King in multiple languages so that it could be understood by as many people as possible. Pilate confirmed the Catholic Church's universality when he did this.
"Jesus answered them, 'Did I not choose you, the twelve?'" -John 6:70
The following passage is known as The Great Commission and is my favorite passage in the Bible. "And Jesus came up to them and spoke to them, saying 'All authority has been given to me in Heaven and on Earth. Go therefore, and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of age." -Matthew 28:18-20
Apostolic Succession means that the Church stems from the teachings of the Apostles who taught the world what Christ taught them. It is important because it is the basis for the Bishops of the Church today who derive their office and authority from the Apostles themselves. The Apostles handed on what they had been told by Christ by preaching, personal example and observances of Christ. This is what is known as Sacred Tradition.
"He who hears you, hears me." -Luke 10:16
New York Governor, Andrew Cuomo has passed a bill in his state to allow of late term abortions - that is, abortion after 24 weeks. Cuomo affirms that these late term abortions can only be carried out if the mother's health or life are at risk. This leaves too much gray area for abortion practitioners to "justify" an abortion. In Virginia, Governor Ralph Northam and Delegate Tran are pushing for late term abortions up to and including during the time of labor. Abortion at any stage is the tragic murder of an innocent child; but an abortion during labor is ghoulish and stomach churning. In New York, the bill implies that medical help is not necessary for a baby who survives a botched abortion. This means that if a child survives the torture of being poisoned or torn limb from limb, then he/she will likely not receive the medical help that they so desperately need. Virginia is trying to pass legislation similar to that of New York. Many people who are pro-choice agree that allowing a child to die during labor or after a botched abortion is unthinkable. Yet, these governors are very pro-abortion. They are not only embracing the culture of death, they are promoting it and celebrating it.
Protecting the sanctity and dignity of life from conception to natural death is a fundamental belief and principle of the Catholic faith. Cuomo claims to be a practicing Catholic, yet he throws our fundamental belief and principle in our face by celebrating the legalization in New York to allow an innocent child to die. Many people have called for his excommunication from the Church. Excommunication can only be imposed if the Code of Canon Law is clearly violated. I am not a Canon Law expert. While I personally believe that Cuomo should be excommunicated, I leave that decision with Cardinal Timothy Dolan. I trust the Cardinal's expertise and good judgment in this matter.
Last weekend, my husband and I bundled up our three children and took them to a "Stop Abortion Extremism #ResistInfanticide" Rally in Lorton, VA. Alexander and Abby stood in front of the podium for an hour in chilly temperatures holding up their handmade signs. One sign quoted Mother Teresa, "It is a poverty to decide that a child must die so that you may live as you wish." The other sign read, "Before I formed you in the womb, I knew you," Jeremiah 1:5. You can see Abby in her bright pink coat and Alexander is standing next to her in a blue coat on this video. https://www.breitbart.com/politics/2019/02/02/watch-live-pro-life-activists-rally-to-stop-virginia-abortion-extremism/ More importantly, you can view the entire Rally and listen to the powerful speeches.
Our nation is embracing a culture of death. It is sad that we must explain to Alexander and Abby what an abortion is. Abby responds with sadness and Alexander questions, "how would they (the abortion practitioners) like it if someone killed them?" I believe that we will see Roe v. Wade overturned in the near future. I also believe that Governors, such as those from New York and Virginia, see that Roe v. Wade could be overturned and are exercising state's rights. In the face of darkness, though, there is a light.
In the video, you can see many children gathered around the speakers podium. These children are the future and we are witnessing a pro-life generation growing before our very eyes. We even have a pro-life president who made historic comments in his State of the Union address calling for Congress to pass legislation that would end late term abortions. Yes, abortion at any stage is horrific. But as Voltaire said, "the best is the enemy of the good." An interpretation of this quote, is "don't let the perfect be the enemy of the good." Let's chunk the pro-life battle and celebrate that we have a president who is calling for an end to late term abortion. Love him or hate him, President Trump has been a president who has fought for the pro-life cause. Both during his State of the Union and at the National Prayer Breakfast, Trump has affirmed that "all children, both born and unborn, are made in the holy image of God."
Let us renew our commitment to fight for the protection of all life, and for the dignity of all persons. Let us fight with the passion of St. Joan of Arc to promote and defend the dignity and the right to life. May we never tire of this battle.