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Reflections: Catholic Basics Sctn. (Catholic Church)

Jesus Speaking From Boat

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Note: For information on the term 'church', click here (Church Talk Section: "A Note Regarding the Term 'Church'")


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"Because the Church is by divine institution the sole depository and interpreter of the ideals and teachings of Christ, she alone possesses in any complete and true sense the power effectively to combat that materialistic philosophy which has already done and, still threatens, such tremendous harm to the home and to the state. The Church alone can introduce into society and maintain therein the prestige of a true, sound spiritualism, the spiritualism of Christianity which both from the point of view of truth and of its practical value is quite superior to any exclusively philosophical theory. The Church is the teacher and an example of world good-will, for she is able to inculcate and develop in mankind the 'true spirit of brotherly love' (St. Augustine, De Moribus Ecclesiae Catholicae, i, 30) and by raising the public estimation of the value and dignity of the individual's soul help thereby to lift us even unto God." (Pope Pius XI, "Ubi Arcano Dei Consilio", 1922 A.D.)

"[T]he Church of God, though afflicted by many a disaster and social upheaval, torn by many a heresy and schism, anguished by the treason of her followers and by the disloyalty of her sons, nevertheless, trusting in the promises of her Founder, while human institutions of varying origin that surrounded her fell in ruins, not only stood safe and unharmed, but also in every age glowed with brighter beauty in noble lives of holiness and devotion, while in many Christians she made the fire of charity burn with growing heat. Moreover, thanks to her missionaries and martyrs she brought into her Fold fresh nations, among whom the pristine glory of virginity renews its bloom and the rank of priest and Bishop keeps its vigor. In fine, so deeply has she imbued all peoples with her spirit of charity and justice, that the very men who treat her with indifference or hostility, cannot refrain from borrowing her way of speaking and acting." (Pope Pius XI, "Ad Salutem", 1930 A.D.)

"The Church which, already conceived, came forth from the side of the second Adam in His sleep on the Cross, first showed herself before the eyes of men on the great day of Pentecost. On that day the Holy Ghost began to manifest His gifts in the mystic body of Christ, by that miraculous outpouring already foreseen by the prophet Joel (ii., 28-29), for the Paraclete 'sat upon the apostles as though new spiritual crowns were placed upon their heads in tongues of fire' (S. Cyril Hier. Catech. 17). Then the apostles 'descended from the mountain,' as St. John Chrysostom writes, 'not bearing in their hands tables of stone like Moses, but carrying the Spirit in their mind, and pouring forth the treasure and the fountain of doctrines and graces' (In Matt. Hom. L, 2 Cor. iii., 3). Thus was fully accomplished that last promise of Christ to His apostles of sending the Holy Ghost, who was to complete and, as it were, to seal the deposit of doctrine committed to them under His inspiration." (Pope Leo XIII, "Divinum Illud Munus", 1897 A.D.)

"As her children, it is our duty, not only to make a return to her for her maternal goodness to us, but also to respect the authority which she has received from Christ in virtue of which she brings into captivity our understanding unto the obedience of Christ. Thus we are commanded to obey her laws and her moral precepts, even if at times they are difficult to our fallen nature; to bring our rebellious body into subjection through voluntary mortification; and at times we are warned to abstain even from harmless pleasures. Nor does it suffice to love this Mystical Body for the glory of its divine Head and for its heavenly gifts; we must love it with an effective love as it appears in this our mortal flesh - made up, that is, of weak human elements, even though at times they are little fitted to the place which they occupy in this venerable Body. In order that such a solid and undivided love may abide and increase in our souls day by day, we must accustom ourselves to see Christ Himself in the Church. For it is Christ who lives in His Church, and through her, teaches, governs, and sanctifies" (Pope Pius XII, "Mystici Corporis Christi", 1943 A.D.)

"Now, as all salvation comes from Jesus Christ - for there is no other name under heaven given to men whereby we must be saved - Our ardent desire is that the most holy name of Jesus should rapidly pervade and fill every land. And here, indeed, is a duty which the Church, faithful to the divine mission entrusted to her, has never neglected. What has been the object of her labors for more than nineteen centuries? Is there any other work she has undertaken with greater zeal and constancy than that of bringing the nations of the earth to the truth and principles of Christianity? Today, as ever, by Our authority, the heralds of the Gospel constantly cross the seas to reach the farthest corners of the earth; and We pray to God daily that in His goodness He may deign to increase the number of His ministers who are really worthy of this apostolate, and who are ready to sacrifice their convenience, their health, and their very life, if need be, in order to extend the frontiers of the kingdom of Christ." (Pope Leo XIII, "Praeclara Gratulationis Publicae", 1894 A.D.)

"Blessed Peter, prince of Apostles, and his successors have been given the power and care of feeding and ruling the flock of Christ, our God and Savior. Hence, the more grave the evils threatening the flock, the greater the solicitude the Roman Pontiffs ought to employ in preventing them. For, those who have been placed in the topmost watch tower of the Church can discern from afar the artifices which the enemies of the Christian family undertake to destroy the Church of Christ: (which they will never achieve) they can point them out and expose them to the faithful, who may then guard against them; they can drive away and remove them by their authority. Our predecessors, the Roman Pontiffs, understanding this most grievous duty imposed upon them, have unceasingly kept the watches of a good shepherd, and by exhortations, doctrines, decrees, and by their very life given for their sheep, have been solicitous about restraining and utterly abolishing the sects threatening the complete ruin of the Church." (Pope Leo XII, "Quo Graviora", 1826 A.D.)

"Wherefore, He willed not only to train disciples in His doctrine, but to unite them into one society, and closely conjoin them in one body, 'which is the Church,' whereof He would be the head. The life of Jesus Christ pervades, therefore, the entire framework of this body, cherishes and nourishes its every member, uniting each with each, and making all work together to the same end, albeit the action of each be not the same. Hence it follows that not only is the Church a perfect society far excelling every other, but it is enjoined by her Founder that for the salvation of mankind she is to contend 'as an army drawn up in battle array.' The organization and constitution of Christian society can in no wise be changed, neither can any one of its members live as he may choose, nor elect that mode of fighting which best pleases him. For, in effect, he scatters and gathers not who gathers not with the Church and with Jesus Christ, and all who fight not jointly with him and with the Church are in very truth contending against God." (Pope Leo XIII, "Sapientiae Christianae", 1890 A.D.)

"So that we could fulfill our duty of embracing the true faith and of persevering unwaveringly in it, God, through his only begotten Son, founded the Church, and He endowed his institution with clear notes to the end that She might be recognized by all as the guardian and teacher of the revealed word. To the Catholic Church alone belong all those things, so many and so marvelous, which have been divinely ordained to make for the manifest credibility of the Christian faith. What is more, the Church herself by reason of her astonishing propagation, her outstanding holiness and her inexhaustible fertility in every kind of goodness, by her Catholic unity and her unconquerable stability, is a kind of great and perpetual motive of credibility and an incontrovertible evidence of her own divine mission. So it comes about that, like a standard lifted up for the nations, she both invites to herself those who have not yet believed, and likewise assures her sons and daughters that the faith they profess rests on the firmest of foundations." (First Vatican Council)

"In truth, Christ our Lord, setting Himself to fulfill the commandment which His Father had given Him, straightway imparted a new form and fresh beauty to all things, taking away the effects of their time-worn age. For He healed the wounds which the sin of our first father had inflicted on the human race; He brought all men, by nature children of wrath, into favor with God; He led to the light of truth men wearied out by longstanding errors; He renewed to every virtue those who were weakened by lawlessness of every kind; and, giving them again an inheritance of never-ending bliss, He added a sure hope that their mortal and perishable bodies should one day be partakers of immortality and of the glory of heaven. In order that these unparalleled benefits might last as long as men should be found on earth, He entrusted to His Church the continuance of His work; and, looking to future times, He commanded her to set in order whatever might have become deranged in human society, and to restore whatever might have fallen into ruin." (Pope Leo XIII, "Arcanum", 1880 A.D.)

"It is eminently befitting the nature and necessity of the case, that Christ Jesus has been and shall continue to be ready to safeguard the Church, which His provident care established for the salvation of the human race. This certainty is warranted by the promise of her Divine Founder, which we read in the Gospel; and it must be clear to evidence from the annals of that Church, on which error has never set a stain, which no falling away - however widespread - of her sons has made to waver, which regains her youthful vigor and ceaselessly renews her strength despite the assaults of impious men, even when carried to the most shocking extremes. While our Lord in securing the stability and promoting the growth of His foundation, which belongs to all time, did not limit Himself to a single method nor proceed always in the selfsame way, yet it is noteworthy that in every age He raised up distinguished men, who, by talents and efforts suited to the times and their exigencies, should rejoice the heart of the Christian people, by successively curbing and conquering the 'power of darkness.'" (Pope Pius XI, "Ad Salutem", 1930 A.D.)

"[The Church] is not an association of Christians brought together by chance, but is a divinely established and admirably constituted society, having for its direct and proximate purpose to lead the world to peace and holiness. And since the Church alone has, through the grace of God, received the means necessary to realize such end, she has her fixed laws, special spheres of action, and a certain method, fixed and conformable to her nature, of governing Christian peoples. But the exercise of such governing power is difficult, and leaves room for numberless conflicts, inasmuch as the Church rules peoples scattered through every portion of the earth, differing in race and customs, who, living under the sway of the laws of their respective countries, owe obedience alike to the civil and religious authorities. The duties enjoined are incumbent on the same persons, as already stated, and between them there exists neither contradiction nor confusion; for some of these duties have relation to the prosperity of the State, others refer to the general good of the Church, and both have as their object to train men to perfection." (Pope Leo XIII, "Sapientiae Christianae", 1890 A.D.)

"O Catholic Church, true Mother of Christians! Not only doest thou preach to us, as is meet, how purely and chastely we are to worship God Himself, Whom to possess is life most blessed; thou does moreover so cherish neighborly love and charity, that all the infirmities to which sinful souls are subject, find their most potent remedy in thee. Childlike thou are in molding the child, strong with the young man, gentle with the aged, dealing with each according to his needs of mind of body. Thou does subject child to parent in a sort of free servitude, and settest parent over child in a jurisdiction of love. Thou bindest brethren to brethren by the bond of religion, stronger and closer then the bond of blood ... Thou unitest citizen to citizen, nation to nation, yea, all men, in a union not of companionship only, but of brotherhood, reminding them of their common origin. Thou teachest kings to care for their people, and biddest people to be subject to their kings. Thou teachest assiduously to whom honor is due, to whom love, to whom reverence, to whom fear, to whom comfort, to whom rebuke, to whom punishment; showing us that whilst not all things nor the same things are due to all, charity is due to all and offense to none." (St. Augustine, Doctor of the Church) 

"Certainly there is the greatest need now of such valiant soldiers of Christ who will work with all their strength to keep the human family safe from the dire ruin into which it would be plunged were the teachings of the Gospel to be flouted, and that order of things permitted to prevail which tramples underfoot no less the laws of nature than those of God. The Church of Christ, built upon an unshakable rock, has nothing to fear for herself, as she knows for a certainty that the gates of hell shall never prevail against her. Rather, she knows full well, through the experience of many centuries, that she is wont to come forth from the most violent storms stronger than ever and adorned with new triumphs. Yet her maternal heart cannot but be moved by the countless evils with which so many thousands would be afflicted during storms of this kind, and above all by the consequent enormous injury to spiritual life which would work eternal ruin to so many souls redeemed by the Blood of Jesus Christ. To ward off such great evils from human society nothing, therefore, is to be left untried; to this end may all our labors turn, to this all our energies, to this our fervent and unremitting prayers to God!" (Pope Pius XI, "Quadragesimo Anno", 1931 A.D.)

"Adhering firmly to the foundation of the Catholic Faith, other than which, as the Apostle testifies, no one can lay, we openly profess with Holy Mother Church that the only begotten Son of God, subsisting eternally together with the Father in everything in which God the Father exists, assumed in time in the womb of a virgin the parts of our nature united together, from which he himself true God became true man: namely the human, passible body and the intellectual or rational soul truly of itself and essentially informing the body. And that in this assumed nature the Word of God willed for the salvation of all not only to be nailed to the cross and to die on it, but also, having already breathed forth his spirit, permitted his side to be pierced by a lance, so that from the outflowing water and blood there might be formed the one, immaculate and holy virginal mother church, the bride of Christ, as from the side of the first man in his sleep Eve was fashioned as his wife, in this way, to the determinate figure of the first and old Adam, who according to the Apostle is a type of the one who was to come, the truth might correspond in our last Adam, that is to say in Christ." (Council of Vienne)

"The Eternal Shepherd and guardian of our souls, in order to render permanent the saving work of redemption, determined to build a Church in which, as in the house of the living God, all the faithful should be linked by the bond of one faith and charity. Therefore, before He was glorified, he besought His Father, not for the apostles only, but also for those who were to believe in Him through their word, that they all might be one as the Son Himself and the Father are one. So then, just as He sent apostles, whom He chose out of the world, even as He had been sent by the Father, in like manner it was His will that in His Church there should be shepherds and teachers until the end of time. In order, then, that the episcopal office should be one and undivided and that, by the union of the clergy, the whole multitude of believers should be held together in the unity of faith and communion, He set blessed Peter over the rest of the apostles and instituted in him the permanent principle of both unities and their visible foundation. Upon the strength of this foundation was to be built the eternal temple, and the Church whose topmost part reaches heaven was to rise upon the firmness of this foundation." (First Vatican Council)

"Hence it is that in this proper object of her mission, that is, 'in faith and morals, God Himself has made the Church sharer in the divine magisterium and, by a special privilege, granted her immunity from error; hence she is the mistress of men, supreme and absolutely sure, and she has inherent in herself an inviolable right to freedom in teaching.' By necessary consequence the Church is independent of any sort of earthly power as well in the origin as in the exercise of her mission as educator, not merely in regard to her proper end and object, but also in regard to the means necessary and suitable to attain that end. Hence with regard to every other kind of human learning and instruction, which is the common patrimony of individuals and society, the Church has an independent right to make use of it, and above all to decide what may help or harm Christian education. And this must be so, because the Church as a perfect society has an independent right to the means conducive to its end, and because every form of instruction, no less than every human action, has a necessary connection with man's last end, and therefore cannot be withdrawn from the dictates of the divine law, of which the Church is guardian, interpreter and infallible mistress." (Pope Pius XI, "Divini Illius Magistri", 1929 A.D.)

"As for what concerns the exterior and temporal prosperity of the Church, it is evident that she has to cope with most malicious and powerful adversaries. Too often has she suffered at their hands the abolition of her rights, the diminution and oppression of her liberties, scorn and affronts to her authority, and every conceivable outrage. And if in their wickedness her enemies have not accomplished all the injury they had resolved upon and striven to do, they nevertheless seem to go on unchecked. But, despite them the Church, amidst all these conflicts, will always stand out and increase in greatness and glory. Nor can human reason rightly understand why evil, apparently so dominant, should yet be so restricted as regards its results; whilst the Church, driven into straits, comes forth glorious and triumphant. And she ever remains more steadfast in virtue because she draws men to the acquisition of the ultimate good. And since this is her mission, her prayers must have much power to effect the end and purpose of God's providential and merciful designs towards men. Thus, when men pray with and through the Church, they at length obtain what Almighty God has designed from all eternity to bestow upon mankind." (Pope Leo XIII, "Octobri Mense", 1891 A.D.)

"Hence We are not, and cannot be anxious on account of the Church, but We greatly fear for the salvation of very many, who proudly despise the Church, and by every kind of error rush to ruin; We are concerned for those States which We cannot but see are turned from God and sleeping in the midst of danger in dull security and insensibility. 'Nothing is equal to the Church;' [says St. John Chrysostom,] 'how many have opposed the Church and have themselves perished? The Church reaches to the heavens; such is the Church's greatness. She conquers when attacked; when beset by snares she triumphs; she struggles and is not overthrown, she fights and is not conquered.' Not only is she not conquered, but she preserves that corrective power over nature, and that effective strength of life that springs from God Himself, and is unchanged by time. And, if by this power she has freed the world grown old in vice and lost in superstition, why should she not again recover it when gone astray? Let strife and suspicion at length cease, let all obstacles be removed, give the possession of all her rights to the Church, whose duty it is to guard and spread abroad the benefits gained by Jesus Christ, then We shall know by experience, where the light of the Gospel is, and what the power of Christ can do." (Pope Leo XIII, "Exeunte Iam Anno", 1888 A.D.)

"Again it is the inalienable right as well as the indispensable duty of the Church, to watch over the entire education of her children, in all institutions, public or private, not merely in regard to the religious instruction there given, but in regard to every other branch of learning and every regulation in so far as religion and morality are concerned. Nor should the exercise of this right be considered undue interference, but rather maternal care on the part of the Church in protecting her children from the grave danger of all kinds of doctrinal and moral evil. Moreover this watchfulness of the Church not merely can create no real inconvenience, but must on the contrary confer valuable assistance in the right ordering and well-being of families and of civil society; for it keeps far away from youth the moral poison which at that inexperienced and changeable age more easily penetrates the mind and more rapidly spreads its baneful effects. For it is true, as Leo XIII has wisely pointed out, that without proper religious and moral instruction 'every form of intellectual culture will be injurious; for young people not accustomed to respect God, will be unable to bear the restraint of a virtuous life, and never having learned to deny themselves anything. they will easily be incited to disturb the public order.'" (Pope Pius XI, "Divini Illius Magistri", 1929 A.D.)

"And first of all education belongs preeminently to the Church, by reason of a double title in the supernatural order, conferred exclusively upon her by God Himself; absolutely superior therefore to any other title in the natural order. The first title is founded upon the express mission and supreme authority to teach, given her by her divine Founder: 'All power is given to me in heaven and in earth. Going therefore teach ye all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you, and behold I am with you all days, even to the consummation of the world.' Upon this magisterial office Christ conferred infallibility, together with the command to teach His doctrine. Hence the Church 'was set by her divine Author as the pillar and ground of truth, in order to teach the divine Faith to men, and keep whole and inviolate the deposit confided to her; to direct and fashion men, in all their actions individually and socially, to purity of morals and integrity of life, in accordance with revealed doctrine.' The second title is the supernatural motherhood, in virtue of which the Church, spotless spouse of Christ, generates, nurtures and educates souls in the divine life of grace, with her Sacraments and her doctrine. With good reason then does St. Augustine maintain: 'He has not God for father who refuses to have the Church as mother.'" (Pope Pius XI, "Divini Illius Magistri", 1929 A.D.)

"But this supremacy of man, which openly rejects Christ, or at least ignores Him, is entirely founded upon selfishness, knowing neither charity nor self-devotion. Man may indeed be king, through Jesus Christ: but only on condition that he first of all obey God, and diligently seek his rule of life in God's law. By the law of Christ we mean not only the natural precepts of morality and the Ancient Law, all of which Jesus Christ has perfected and crowned by His declaration, explanation and sanction; but also the rest of His doctrine and His own peculiar institutions. Of these the chief is His Church. Indeed whatsoever things Christ has instituted are most fully contained in His Church. Moreover, He willed to perpetuate the office assigned to Him by His Father by means of the ministry of the Church so gloriously founded by Himself. On the one hand He confided to her all the means of men's salvation, on the other He most solemnly commanded men to be subject to her and to obey her diligently, and to follow her even as Himself: 'He that heareth you, heareth Me; and he that despiseth you, despiseth Me' (Luke x, 16). Wherefore the law of Christ must be sought in the Church. Christ is man's 'Way'; the Church also is his 'Way' - Christ of Himself and by His very nature, the Church by His commission and the communication of His power. Hence all who would find salvation apart from the Church, are led astray and strive in vain." (Pope Leo XIII, "Tametsi Futura Prospicientibus", 1900 A.D.)

"Like her divine Head, the Church is forever present in the midst of her children. She aids and exhorts them to holiness, so that they may one day return to the Father in heaven clothed in that beauteous raiment of the supernatural. To all who are born to life on earth she gives a second, supernatural kind of birth. She arms them with the Holy Spirit for the struggle against the implacable enemy. She gathers all Christians [Catholics] about her altars, inviting and urging them repeatedly to take part in the celebration of the Mass, feeding them with the Bread of angels to make them ever stronger. She purifies and consoles the hearts that sin has wounded and soiled. Solemnly she consecrates those whom God has called to the priestly ministry. She fortifies with new gifts of grace the chaste nuptials of those who are destined to found and bring up a Christian family. When at last she has soothed and refreshed the closing hours of this earthly life by holy Viaticum and extreme unction, with the utmost affection she accompanies the mortal remains of her children to the grave, lays them reverently to rest, and confides them to the protection of the cross, against the day when they will triumph over death and rise again. She has a further solemn blessing and invocation for those of her children who dedicate themselves to the service of God in the life of religious perfection. Finally, she extends to the souls in purgatory, who implore her intercession and her prayers, the helping hand which may lead them happily at last to eternal blessedness in heaven." (Pope Pius XII, "Mediator Dei", 1947 A.D.)

"After (all these) prophetic and evangelical and apostolic writings (which we have set forth above), on which the Catholic Church by the grace of God is founded, we have thought this (fact) also ought to be published, namely that, although the universal Catholic Church spread throughout the world has the one marriage of Christ, nevertheless the holy Roman Church has not been preferred to the other churches* by reason of synodical decrees, but she has held the primacy by the evangelical voice of the Lord and Savior saying: Thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my Church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it, and I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatsoever thou shalt bind upon earth, it shall be bound also in heaven, and whatsoever thou shalt loose upon earth, it shall be loosed also in heaven [Matt. 16:18 f.]. There is added also the association of the most blessed Paul the Apostle, the vessel of election, who not at a different time, as the heretics say, but at the one time, on one and the same day, while contending for the prize together with Peter was crowned with a glorious death under Caesar Nero in the City of Rome; and equally have they consecrated the above-mentioned Church of Rome to Christ the Lord and have raised it above all other cities in the whole world by their presence and their venerable triumph. Accordingly the see of Peter the Apostle of the Church of Rome is first, having neither spot, nor wrinkle, nor anything of this kind [Eph. 5:27]. But the second see at Alexandria was consecrated in the name of blessed Peter by Mark his disciple and evangelist... but the third in honor is considered the see of the most blessed Apostle Peter at Antioch." (Pope St. Gelasius I, 495 A.D.) [* Note: The term 'churches' herein refers to various parts of the Catholic Church. For more information on the term 'church', click here (Church Talk Section: "A Note Regarding the Term 'Church''")]

"Consider, most dear ones, that the Truth could not have lied, nor will the faith of Peter be able to be shaken or changed forever. For although the devil desired to sift all the disciples, the Lord testifies that He Himself asked for Peter alone and wished the others to be confirmed by him; and to him also, in consideration of a greater love which he showed the Lord before the rest, was committed the care of feeding the sheep [cf. John 21:15 ff.]; and to him also He handed over the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and upon him He promised to build his Church, and He testified that the gates of hell would not prevail against it [cf. Matt. 16:16 ff.]. But, because the enemy of the human race even until the end of the world does not abstain from sowing cockle [Matt. 13:25] over the good seed in the Church of the Lord, and therefore, lest perchance anyone with malignant zeal should by the instigation of the devil presume to make some alterations in and to draw conclusions regarding the integrity of the faith - and (lest) by reason of this your minds perhaps may seem to be disturbed, we have judged it necessary through our present epistle to exhort with tears that you should return to the heart of your mother the Church, and to send you satisfaction with regard to the integrity of faith... If anyone, however, either suggests or believes or presumes to teach contrary to this faith, let him know that he is condemned and also anathematized according to the opinion of the same Fathers... Consider (therefore) the fact that whoever has not been in the peace and unity of the Church, cannot have the Lord [cf. Gal. 3:7]..." (Pope Pelagius II, c. 585 A.D.)

"Now, who would make bold to deny that the Church, by spreading the Gospel throughout the nations, has brought the light of truth amongst people utterly savage and steeped in foul superstition, and has quickened them alike to recognize the Divine Author of nature and duly to respect themselves? Further, who will deny that the Church has done away with the curse of slavery and restored men to the original dignity of their noble nature; and - by uplifting the standard of redemption in all quarters of the globe, by introducing, or shielding under her protection, the sciences and arts, by founding and taking into her keeping excellent charitable institutions which provide relief for ills of every kind - has throughout the world, in private or in public life, civilized the human race, freed it from degradation, and with all care trained it to a way of Living such as befits the dignity and the hopes of man? And if any one of sound mind compare the age in which We live, so hostile to religion and to the Church of Christ, with those happy times when the Church was revered as a mother by the nations, beyond all question he will see that our epoch is rushing wildly along the straight road to destruction; while in those times which most abounded in excellent institutions, peaceful life, wealth, and prosperity the people showed themselves most obedient to the Church's rule and laws. Therefore, if the many blessings We have mentioned, due to the agency and saving help of the Church, are the true and worthy outcome of civilization, the Church of Christ, far from being alien to or neglectful of progress, has a just claim to all men's praise as its nurse, its mistress, and its mother." (Pope Leo XIII, "Inscrutabili Dei Consilio", 1878 A.D.)

"But with no less religious care must we preserve that great and sacred treasure of the truths which God Himself has taught us. By many and convincing arguments, often used by defenders of Christianity, certain leading truths have been laid down: namely, that some things have been revealed by God; that the only-begotten Son of God was made flesh, to bear witness to the truth; that a perfect society was founded by Him - the Church, namely, of which He is the head, and with which He has promised to abide till the end of the world. To this society He entrusted all the truths which He had taught, in order that it might keep and guard them and with lawful authority explain them; and at the same time He commanded all nations to hear the voice of the Church, as if it were His own, threatening those who would not hear it with everlasting perdition. Thus, it is manifest that man's best and surest teacher is God, the Source and Principle of all truth; and the only-begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, the Way, the Truth, and the Life, the true Light which enlightens every man, and to whose teaching all must submit: 'And they shall all be taught of God.' In faith and in the teaching of morality, God Himself made the Church a partaker of His divine authority, and through His heavenly gift she cannot be deceived. She is therefore the greatest and most reliable teacher of mankind, and in her swells an inviolable right to teach them. Sustained by the truth received from her divine Founder, the Church has ever sought to fulfill holily the mission entrusted to her by God; unconquered by the difficulties on all sides surrounding her, she has never ceased to assert her liberty of teaching, and in this way the wretched superstition of paganism being dispelled, the wide world was renewed unto Christian wisdom." (Pope Leo XIII, "Libertas Praestantissimum", 1888 A.D.)

"From this it follows that The Church is not something dead: it is the body of Christ endowed with supernatural life. As Christ, the Head and Exemplar, is not wholly in His visible human nature, which Photinians and Nestorians assert, nor wholly in the invisible divine nature, as the Monophysites hold, but is one, from and in both natures, visible and invisible; so the mystical body of Christ is the true Church, only because its visible parts draw life and power from the supernatural gifts and other things whence spring their very nature and essence. But since the Church is such by divine will and constitution, such it must uniformly remain to the end of time. If it did nor, then it would not have been founded as perpetual, and the end set before it would have been limited to some certain place and to some certain period of time; both of which are contrary to the truth. The union consequently of visible and invisible elements because it harmonizes with the natural order and by God's will belongs to the very essence of the Church, must necessarily remain so long as the Church itself shall endure. Wherefore Chrysostom writes: 'Secede not from the Church: for nothing is stronger than the Church. Thy hope is the Church; thy salvation is the Church; thy refuge is the Church. It is higher than the heavens and wider than the earth. It never grows old, but is ever full of vigor. Wherefore Holy Writ pointing to its strength and stability calls it a mountain' (Hom. De capto Eutropio, n. 6). Also Augustine says: 'Unbelievers think that the Christian religion will last for a certain period in the world and will then disappear. But it will remain as long as the sun - as long as the sun rises and sets: that is, as long as the ages of time shall roll, the Church of God - the true body of Christ on earth - will not disappear' (In Psalm. lxx., n. 8)." (Pope Leo XIII, "Satis Cognitum", 1896 A.D.)

"Do you not think that a keen interest for human welfare is shown, not only in this, that many philosophers maintain that neither earth nor fire nor aught else within the range of sense should be worshipped as God - the only path to whom lies through the mind - but in the fact that an untaught multitude of men and women in so many different nations makes profession of its belief in the same truth? Witness an abstinence from food contenting itself with a meager diet of bread and water, fast not for a day but continued through many days. Witness a chastity so perfect as to be indifferent to wedlock and offspring, an enduring patience that scorns crucifixion and the stake, liberality that divides fortunes among the poor, in short, a contempt so intense of everything worldly as even to yearn for death. Not many do these things, fewer are they that do them well and wisely; but whole peoples approve, applaud, favor, aye, love such conduct. Nor is it without a closer approach of the mind to God, not without some spark of virtue, that whole peoples avow themselves too feeble to mount so high. This marvel has Divine Providence wrought by the oracles of the prophets, by the Incarnation and teaching of Christ, by the journeys of the Apostles, by the affronts and crosses and life-blood and death of martyrs, by the saintly lives we boast, and in all this can be discerned miracles suited to the needs of the time and worthy of such achievements and such virtues. Seeing, then, as we do such marked assistance from God, so much progress and fruit, shall we hesitate to nestle in the bosom of that Church which, as the human race confesses, stands a pillar of authority derived from the Apostolic See whereon successive Bishops have sat enthroned, while the rebel cry of heresy has been condemned in part by the popular voice, in part by the judgment of Councils, in part too by the majestic utterance of miracles?" (St. Augustine, Doctor of the Church)

"Our most beloved Redeemer, Christ the Lord, willed as you well know, venerable brothers, to deliver all men from the captivity of the devil, free them from the yoke of sin, call them from darkness into his wonderful light and be their salvation. When he had blotted out the handwriting of the decree against us, fastening it to the cross, he formed and established the Catholic Church, won by his blood, as the one 'Church of the living God,' the one 'kingdom of heaven,' 'the city set on a hill,' 'one flock,' and 'one body' steadfast and alive with 'one Spirit,' one faith, one hope, one love joined and firmly held together by the same bonds of sacraments, religion and doctrine. He further provided his Church with leaders whom he chose and called. In addition, he decreed that the Church will endure as long as the world, embrace all peoples and nations of the whole world, and that whoever accepts his divine religion and grace and perseveres to the end will attain the glory of eternal salvation. To preserve forever in his Church the unity and doctrine of this faith, Christ chose one of his apostles, Peter, whom he appointed the Prince of his Apostles, his Vicar on earth, and impregnable foundation and head of his Church. Surpassing all others with every dignity of extraordinary authority, power and jurisdiction, he was to feed the Lord's flock, strengthen his brothers, rule and govern the universal Church. Christ not only desired that his Church remain as one and immaculate to the end of the world, and that its unity in faith, doctrine and form of government remain inviolate. He also willed that the fullness of dignity, power and jurisdiction, integrity and stability of faith given to Peter be handed down in its entirety to the Roman Pontiffs, the successors of this same Peter, who have been placed on this Chair of Peter in Rome, and to whom has been divinely committed the supreme care of the Lord's entire flock and the supreme rule of the Universal Church." (Pope Pius IX, "Amantissimus", 1862 A.D.)

"But how many wonderful and shining proofs are ready at hand to convince the human reason in the clearest way that the religion of Christ is divine and that 'the whole principle of our doctrines has taken root from the Lord of the heavens above'; therefore nothing exists more definite, more settled or more holy than our faith, which rests on the strongest foundations. This faith, which teaches for life and points towards salvation, which casts out all vices and is the fruitful mother and nurse of the virtues, has been established by the birth, life, death, resurrection, wisdom, wonders and prophecies of Christ Jesus, its divine author and perfector! Shining forth in all directions with the light of teaching from on high and enriched with the treasures of heavenly wealth, this faith grew famed and notable by the foretellings of so many prophets, the lustre of so many miracles, the steadfastness of so many martyrs, and the glory of so many saints! It made known the saving laws of Christ and, gaining in strength daily even when it was most cruelly persecuted, it made its way over the whole world by land and sea, from the sun's rising to its setting, under the single standard of the Cross! The deceit of idols was cast down and the mist of errors was scattered. By the defeat of all kinds of enemies, this faith enlightened with divine knowledge all peoples, races and nations, no matter how barbarous and savage, or how different in character, morals, laws and ways of life. It brought them under the sweet yoke of Christ Himself by proclaiming peace and good tidings to all men! Now, surely all these events shine with such divine wisdom and power that anyone who considers them will easily understand that the Christian faith is the work of God. Human reason knows clearly from these striking and certain proofs that God is the author of this faith; therefore it is unable to advance further but should offer all obedience to this faith, casting aside completely every problem and hesitation. Human reason is convinced that it is God who has given everything the faith proposes to men for belief and behavior." (Pope Pius IX, "Qui Pluribus", 1846 A.D.) 

"Never will there be grief enough over the corruption of morals so extensively increasing and promoted by irreligious and obscene writings, theatrical spectacles and meretricious houses established almost everywhere; by other depraved arts and monstrous portents of every error disseminated in all directions; by the abominable impurities of all vices and crimes growing constantly and the deadly virus of unbelief and indifferentism spread far and wide; by contempt for ecclesiastical authority, sacred things, and laws and by the outrageous plundering of Church possessions; by the bitter and constant abuse of consecrated Church officials, of the students of religious communities, of virgins dedicated to God; by the diabolical hatred of Christ, his Church, teaching, and of this Apostolic See. These and almost innumerable other evils perpetrated by the embittered enemies of the Catholic Church and faith, we are daily compelled to lament. All these agonies seem to prolong and delay that most yearned for time when we shall see the full triumph of our most holy religion, of justice, and of truth. This triumph cannot fail us, however, even if it is not given us to know the time destined for it by almighty God. Even though our heavenly Father permits his holy Church to be afflicted and plagued by various tribulations and distresses while serving during this most miserable and earthly pilgrimage, nevertheless, because it has been founded by Christ, the Lord, upon an immovable and most firm rock, it cannot be shaken or overthrown by any force or violence. Rather, 'it is strengthened, not weakened by persecutions. The Lord's vineyard is always clothed with a richer harvest, for while each grain dies singly, it is born again many-fold.' That is what we see happening, beloved sons and venerable brothers, even in these most sorrowful times as a special blessing from God. For although the immaculate Spouse of Christ may be vehemently troubled at the present time by the work of the wicked, yet she is triumphing over her enemies. Yes, indeed, she is conquering her enemies and shines wonderfully bright with your unparalleled faithfulness, love, and respect towards us and this Chair of Peter, and with your outstanding constancy and that of the other venerable brothers, the bishops of the whole Catholic world. She shines with many pious works of Christian charity multiplying rapidly each day; with the light of blessed faith illuminating many regions evermore each day; with the exceptional love and devotion shown by Catholics towards the Church itself, towards us, and this Holy See; with the eminent and immortal glory of martyrdom." (Pope Pius IX, "Quanto Conficiamur Moerore", 1863 A.D.)

"Amid such reckless and widespread folly of opinion, it is, as We have said, the office of the Church to undertake the defense of truth and uproot errors from the mind, and this charge has to be at all times sacredly observed by her, seeing that the honor of God and the salvation of men are confided to her keeping. But, when necessity compels, not those only who are invested with power of rule are bound to safeguard the integrity of faith, but, as St. Thomas maintains: 'Each one is under obligation to show forth his faith, either to instruct and encourage others of the faithful, or to repel the attacks of unbelievers.' To recoil before an enemy, or to keep silence when from all sides such clamors are raised against truth, is the part of a man either devoid of character or who entertains doubt as to the truth of what he professes to believe. In both cases such mode of behaving is base and is insulting to God, and both are incompatible with the salvation of mankind. This kind of conduct is profitable only to the enemies of the faith, for nothing emboldens the wicked so greatly as the lack of courage on the part of the good. Moreover, want of vigor on the part of Christians is so much the more blameworthy, as not seldom little would be needed on their part to bring to naught false charges and refute erroneous opinions, and by always exerting themselves more strenuously they might reckon upon being successful. After all, no one can be prevented from putting forth that strength of soul which is the characteristic of true Christians, and very frequently by such display of courage our enemies lose heart and their designs are thwarted. Christians are, moreover, born for combat, whereof the greater the vehemence, the more assured, God aiding, the triumph: 'Have confidence; I have overcome the world.' Nor is there any ground for alleging that Jesus Christ, the Guardian and Champion of the Church, needs not in any manner the help of men. Power certainly is not wanting to Him, but in His loving kindness He would assign to us a share in obtaining and applying the fruits of salvation procured through His grace. The chief elements of this duty consist in professing openly and unflinchingly the Catholic doctrine, and in propagating it to the utmost of our power. For, as is often said, with the greatest truth, there is nothing so hurtful to Christian wisdom as that it should not be known, since it possesses, when loyally received, inherent power to drive away error. So soon as Catholic truth is apprehended by a simple and unprejudiced soul, reason yields assent." (Pope Leo XIII, "Sapientiae Christianae", 1890 A.D.)

"Union with the Roman See of Peter is to [St. Jerome] always the public criterion of a Catholic. 'I acknowledge everyone who is united with the See of Peter' (Ep. xvi., ad Damasum, n. 2). And for a like reason St. Augustine publicly attests that, 'the primacy of the Apostolic chair always existed in the Roman Church' (Ep. xliii., n. 7); and he denies that anyone who dissents from the Roman faith can be a Catholic. 'You are not to be looked upon as holding the true Catholic faith if you do not teach that the faith of Rome is to be held' (Sermo cxx., n. 13). So, too, St. Cyprian: 'To be in communion with Cornelius [the pope] is to be in communion with the Catholic Church' (Ep. lv., n. 1). In the same way Maximus the Abbot teaches that obedience to the Roman Pontiff is the proof of the true faith and of legitimate communion. 'Therefore if a man does not want to be, or to be called, a heretic, let him not strive to please this or that man...but let him hasten before all things to be in communion with the Roman See. If he be in communion with it, he should be acknowledged by all and everywhere as faithful and orthodox. He speaks in vain who tries to persuade me of the orthodoxy of those who, like himself, refuse obedience to his Holiness the Pope of the most holy Church of Rome: that is to the Apostolic See.' The reason and motive of this he explains to be that 'the Apostolic See has received and hath government, authority, and power of binding and loosing from the Incarnate Word Himself; and, according to all holy synods, sacred canons and decrees, in all things and through all things, in respect of all the holy churches of God throughout the whole world*, since the Word in Heaven who rules the Heavenly powers binds and loosens there' (Defloratio ex Epistola ad Petrum illustrem). Wherefore what was acknowledged and observed as Christian faith, not by one nation only nor in one age, but by the East and by the West, and through all ages, this Philip, the priest, the Pontifical legate at the Council of Ephesus, no voice being raised in dissent, recalls: 'No one can doubt, yea, it is known unto all ages, that St. Peter, the Prince of the Apostles, the pillar of the faith and the ground of the Catholic Church, received the keys of the Kingdom from Our Lord Jesus Christ. That is: the power of forgiving and retaining sins was given to him who, up to the present time, lives and exercises judgment in the persons of his successors' (Actio iii.). The pronouncement of the Council of Chalcedon on the same matter is present to the minds of all: 'Peter has spoken through Leo' (Actio ii.), to which the voice of the Third Council of Constantinople responds as an echo: 'The chief Prince of the Apostles was fighting on our side: for we have had as our ally his follower and the successor to his See: and the paper and the ink were seen, and Peter spoke through Agatho' (Actio xviii.). In the formula of Catholic faith drawn up and proposed by Hormisdas, which was subscribed at the beginning of the sixth century in the great Eighth Council by the Emperor Justinian, by Epiphanius, John and Menna, the Patriarchs, this same is declared with great weight and solemnity. 'For the pronouncement of Our Lord Jesus Christ saying: 'Thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my Church...' cannot be passed over. What is said is proved by the result, because Catholic faith has always been preserved without stain in the Apostolic See' (Post Epistolam, xxvi., ad omnes Episc. Hispan., n. 4). We have no wish to quote every available declaration; but it is well to recall the formula of faith which Michael Paleologus professed in the Second Council of Lyons: 'The same holy Roman Church possesses the sovereign and plenary primacy and authority over the whole Catholic Church, which, truly and humbly, it acknowledges to have received together with the plenitude of power from the Lord Himself, in the person of St. Peter, the Prince or Head of the Apostles, of whom the Roman Pontiff is the successor. And as it is bound to defend the truth of faith beyond all others, so also if any question should arise concerning the faith it must be determined by its judgment' (Actio iv.)." (Pope Leo XIII, "Satis Cognitum", 1896 A.D.) [* Note: The term 'churches' herein refers to various parts of the Catholic Church. For more information on the term 'church', click here (Church Talk Section: "A Note Regarding the Term 'Church''")]

"But when we consider what was actually done we find that Jesus Christ did not, in point of fact, institute a Church to embrace several communities similar in nature, but in themselves distinct, and lacking those bonds which render the Church unique and indivisible after that manner in which in the symbol of our faith we profess: 'I believe in one Church.' ... For this reason Christ, speaking of the mystical edifice, mentions only one Church, which he calls His own - 'I will build my church;' any other Church except this one, since it has not been founded by Christ, cannot be the true Church... The Church, therefore, is bound to communicate without stint to all men, and to transmit through all ages, the salvation effected by Jesus Christ, and the blessings flowing therefrom. Wherefore, by the will of its Founder, it is necessary that this Church should be one in all lands and at all times... The Church of Christ, therefore, is one and the same for ever; those who leave it depart from the will and command of Christ, the Lord - leaving the path of salvation they enter on that of perdition. 'Whosoever is separated from the Church is united to an adulteress. He has cut himself off from the promises of the Church, and he who leaves the Church of Christ cannot arrive at the rewards of Christ...He who observes not this unity observes not the law of God, holds not the faith of the Father and the Son, clings not to life and salvation' (S. Cyprianus, De Cath. Eccl. Unitate, n. 6). But He, indeed, Who made this one Church, also gave it unity, that is, He made it such that all who are to belong to it must be united by the closest bonds, so as to form one society, one kingdom, one body - 'one body and one spirit as you are called in one hope of your calling (Eph. iv., 4)... Agreement and union of minds is the necessary foundation of this perfect concord amongst men, from which concurrence of wills and similarity of action are the natural results... Besides Holy Writ it was absolutely necessary to insure this union of men's minds - to effect and preserve unity of ideas - that there should be another principle. This the wisdom of God requires: for He could not have willed that the faith should be one if He did not provide means sufficient for the preservation of this unity; and this Holy Writ clearly sets forth... Wherefore, as appears from what has been said, Christ instituted in the Church a living, authoritative and permanent Magisterium, which by His own power He strengthened, by the Spirit of truth He taught, and by miracles confirmed. He willed and ordered, under the gravest penalties, that its teachings should be received as if they were His own... It is then undoubtedly the office of the Church to guard Christian doctrine and to propagate it in its integrity and purity. But this is not all: the object for which the Church has been instituted is not wholly attained by the performance of this duty. For, since Jesus Christ delivered Himself up for the salvation of the human race, and to this end directed all His teaching and commands, so He ordered the Church to strive, by the truth of its doctrine, to sanctify and to save mankind. But faith alone cannot compass so great, excellent, and important an end. There must needs be also the fitting and devout worship of God, which is to be found chiefly in the divine [Eucharistic] Sacrifice and in the dispensation of the Sacraments, as well as salutary laws and discipline. All these must be found in the Church, since it continues the mission of the Savior forever. The Church alone offers to the human race that religion - that state of absolute perfection - which He wished, as it were, to be incorporated in it. And it alone supplies those means of salvation which accord with the ordinary counsels of Providence. But as this heavenly doctrine was never left to the arbitrary judgment of private individuals, but, in the beginning delivered by Jesus Christ, was afterwards committed by Him exclusively to the Magisterium already named, so the power of performing and administering the divine mysteries, together with the authority of ruling and governing, was not bestowed by God on all Christians indiscriminately, but on certain chosen persons. For to the Apostles and their legitimate successors alone these words have reference: 'Going into the whole world preach the Gospel.' 'Baptizing them.' 'Do this in commemoration of Me.' 'Whose sins you shall forgive they are forgiven them.' And in like manner He ordered the Apostles only and those who should lawfully succeed them to feed - that is to govern with authority - all Christian souls. Whence it also follows that it is necessarily the duty of Christians to be subject and to obey. And these duties of the Apostolic office are, in general, all included in the words of St. Paul: 'Let a man so account of us as of the ministers of Christ, and the dispensers of the mysteries of God' (I Cor. iv., I). Wherefore Jesus Christ bade all men, present and future, follow Him as their leader and Savior; and this, not merely as individuals, but as forming a society, organized and united in mind. In this way a duly constituted society should exist, formed out of the divided multitude of peoples, one in faith, one in end, one in the participation of the means adapted to the attainment of the end, and one as subject to one and the same authority. To this end He established in the Church all principles which necessarily tend to make organized human societies, and through which they attain the perfection proper to each. That is, in it (the Church), all who wished to be the sons of God by adoption might attain to the perfection demanded by their high calling, and might obtain salvation. The Church, therefore, as we have said, is man's guide to whatever pertains to Heaven. This is the office appointed unto it by God: that it may watch over and may order all that concerns religion, and may, without let or hindrance, exercise, according to its judgment, its charge over Christianity... Therefore the Church is a society divine in its origin, supernatural in its end and in means proximately adapted to the attainment of that end; but it is a human community inasmuch as it is composed of men. For this reason we find it called in Holy Writ by names indicating a perfect society. It is spoken of as the House of God, the city placed upon the mountain to which all nations must come. But it is also the fold presided over by one Shepherd, and into which all Christ's sheep must betake themselves. Yea, it is called the kingdom which God has raised up and which will stand forever. Finally it is the body of Christ - that is, of course, His mystical body, but a body living and duly organized and composed of many members; members indeed which have not all the same functions, but which, united one to the other, are kept bound together by the guidance and authority of the head. Indeed no true and perfect human society can be conceived which is not governed by some supreme authority. Christ therefore must have given to His Church a supreme authority to which all Christians must render obedience. For this reason, as the unity of the faith is of necessity required for the unity of the Church, inasmuch as it is the body of the faithful, so also for this same unity, inasmuch as the Church is a divinely constituted society, unity of government, which effects and involves unity of communion, is necessary jure divino...The nature of this supreme authority, which all Christians are bound to obey, can be ascertained only by finding out what was the evident and positive will of Christ. Certainly Christ is a King forever; and though invisible, He continues unto the end of time to govern and guard His Church from Heaven. But since He willed that His kingdom should be visible He was obliged, when He ascended into Heaven, to designate a vice-regent on earth.... Jesus Christ, therefore, appointed Peter to be that head of the Church; and He also determined that the authority instituted in perpetuity for the salvation of all should be inherited by His successors, in whom the same permanent authority of Peter himself should continue. And so He made that remarkable promise to Peter and to no one else: 'Thou are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church' (Matt. xvi., 18)... From this text it is clear that by the will and command of God the Church rests upon St. Peter, just as a building rests on its foundation. Now the proper nature of a foundation is to be a principle of cohesion for the various parts of the building. It must be the necessary condition of stability and strength. Remove it and the whole building falls. It is consequently the office of St. Peter to support the Church, and to guard it in all its strength and indestructible unity... [St. Peter] alone was designated as the foundation of the Church. To him He gave the power of binding and loosing; to him alone was given the power of feeding... [T]he authority of the Roman Pontiff is supreme, universal, independent; that of the bishops limited, and dependent." (Pope Leo XIII, "Satis Cognitum", 1900 A.D.)

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