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The Postmodern Catholic

Unit II Church

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Sacred Paths
Homeworks and Outline: Sacred Paths
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Homeworks: and Outline: Introduction to Catholicism
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        Origins and meanings of Church

        Scripture and Tradition

        Jesus the Christ

        Marks of the Church

        Images of Church: People of God, Body of Christ, Communion of Saints, Ark

        Church in Heaven and Earth

        Church hierarchy


Origins of Church

  • Jesus and the Apostles
  • Established by Jesus as an instrument of salvation
  • Led by Peter, the twelve apostles established the church as a hierarchy with a particular form: bishops, priests, deacons, laity
  • Jesus passed on power to Peter and the apostles to continue the sacraments

The Church is….

Scripture Tradition and the Magisterium

  • Holy Scripture: believed to be divinely inspired, revealed divine truth

        centered on the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth

        believed to be the Christ: Anointed of God, the Son of God.

  • Tradition: “that which is passed on”

        The rituals, doctrine, canon law developed over time

        Meant to give meaning and relevance to Scripture

  • Magisterium: authoritative teaching voice of church

        The Pope, Cardinals, and Bishops make up the Magisterium and are the authoritative interpreters of Scripture and Tradition

Jesus the Christ

  • Is the source of the Church, Scripture, and Tradition
  • Saint Paul: Christ as the Bridegroom of Church

Marks of the Church

  • (4) One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic
  • 1.  Unity: The Church is unified in its teaching and ministry: One Lord, One Faith, One Baptism, One Body
  • 2.  Holiness: flows from the death of Christ on the Cross.

        Seven Sacraments maintain and pass on this holiness.

        It is believed to be the fountain and source of personal holiness

  • 3.  Catholic: means universal.  “All people are called by God and his Church
  • 4.  Apostolic: refers to how the church is built on foundation of apostolic succession: the bishops were originally viewed as the successors to the apostles

Attributes of the Church

  • Authority: derived from Christ
  • Infallibility: the Holy Spirit ensures infallibility and indefectibility
  • Indefectibility: without defect (?) 

People of God

  • Has a broad and specific meaning
  • A visible and invisible form
  • People of God (Visible) are those who have been baptized and profess faith in Jesus Christ and obedience to the Roman Catholic Church are fully participate in the church sacraments
  • People of God (Invisible) are all those who profess a love for God in their hearts and are open to the will of God in their lives

People of God continued

  • Faith is essential for the People of God to be saved
  • Faith, however, is not enough.  One must practice one’s faith in hope and charity, study it, and attract others to it
  • The People of God share in Christ’s role as priest, prophet, and king, and are responsible for church mission and service to the world

Church as Body of Christ

  • Reflects the belief that we all, collectively, make up the body of Christ here on earth.
  • Also meant to reflect the idea that, like the body, the church is made up of many different parts, each with a specific function.
  • All bodies have a head that coordinates and directs the rest.  The Pope and Vatican as a whole act as the head.

Church as Ark of Covenant

  • Like Noah’s Ark, the church is meant to act as a vehicle that saves all from sin and death
  • It carries us over to New, resurrected life and the Promised Land

Church as Bride of Christ

  • Reflects the Church’s intimate, loving relationship with Christ
  • Also meant to reflect the need for faithfulness and devotion to each other

Church Hierarchy

  • Made up of Four Parts:

        Bishops: leaders of the church.  There are also arch-bishops, and cardinals, the Princes of the Church.  All are led by the Holy Father, the Pope.  All are considered authoritative teachers on matters of doctrine and morals

        Priests: pastors who dispense the sacraments, give guidance and council

        Deacons: aid the priests in the educational, ministry, and running of the parish

        Laity: by far the largest part of the church.  Made up of the everyday men, women, and children who attend mass regularly 


The Last Things


  • Here, the church is best described as the divinely authorized institution that seeks the salvation of all souls
  • The Last Things speak of final judgment at the second coming of Christ
  • All souls are believed to receive their eternal punishment or reward, according to one’s works and faith

Last Things continued

  • Purgatory: a time of purification from venial sins
  • It is a time to be freed from the attachment to creatures
  • Purgatory is not a permanent state
  • At the Last judgment, God’s majesty, wisdom, and justice, and mercy are evealed
  • The Saints will be raised up into the Kingdom of God
  • The wicked will be cast into “the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels”
  • The universe itself will be renewed
  • Here, the church will be perfected


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D. “The more I am able to affirm others, to say ‘yes” to them in myself, by discovering them in myself and myself in them, the more real I am. I am fully real if my own heart says yes to everyone” Thomas Merton