This lesson is based on the text, Life in Christ: A Catholic Catechism for Adults, by Rev. Gerard Weber and Rev. James Killgallon (Acta Publications, 1995). The question in bold type is followed by a short answer taken from the text. The text in italics is another answer from the RCIA teacher, Jim Collins. Hyperlinks in red will direct you to documents or websites related to the topic. The entire sequence of lessons forms a comprehensive approach to basic RCIA instruction.
Questions and answers: Sections 15: The Church is One: See Why do Catholics believe their Church is Unique?
1. What are the bonds of the Church’s unity? Ultimate foundation is love, by the common life of divine worship, and apostolic succession through Holy Orders. Blessing of the Trinity
2. Can there be more than one true Church of Christ? The Church is Christ. He cannot be divided. Only one. Why would Jesus found more than one?
3. How has the unity of the Church been weakened? From the very beginning the Church experienced disputes and divisions. The unity of the Church has always been under attack within and without.
4. What is the ecumenical movement? The attempt by many Christian denominations to restore the union envisioned by Jesus at the Last Supper: That they may be one. (John 17). The movement to find common ground with all Christian faiths.
5. What is a rite? A system of ritual and prayer used in the worship of God and the administration of the sacraments (Byzantine, Alexandrian, Coptic, Syriac, Armenian, Maronite, Chaldean) A different form of saying the Mass and celebrating the Sacraments from various cultures and traditions.
6. How did these various rites originate? Each bishop said Mass and administered sacrament in his own way. The centers for the first Bishops were Constantinople, Antioch, Jerusalem, and Alexandria. As the Church spread from Palestine to the rest of the world, various ways of saying Mass and celebrating the sacraments developed.
7. What are some of the differences between the Eastern and Western rites? Mass and Sacraments ceremonies and administration. Married priests. Communion under both species. Profound bow instead of genuflection. Different laws. Differences in languages, reception of the Eucharist, rituals in the sacraments, married priests, rubrics of the Mass.
8. Do all these rites still exist within the Catholic Church? Orthodox Eastern Churches (Greek, Russian, Georgian, etc.) broke away (Eastern Schism). Certain rites are part of the Catholic Church. Others broke away from the Catholic Church and formed their own Church.
9. What other peoples have separated themselves from the unity of the Church? Protestant Movement. Protestantism, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Seventh Day Adventists.
10. Why did Protestants leave the Roman Catholic Church? Abuses in the Church: clergy not faithful to its vows. Overemphasis on externals and neglect of inner religious spirit. Nationalism. Initially led by Martin Luther in protest of the abuse of indulgences and other issues included on a list posted in on the door of a church in public protest.
11. What effect did the Protestant Reformation have on the Church? Many in Europe left the Catholic Church for Protestantism. It forced long overdue reforms. I brought about major reform efforts to remove many of the abuses pointed out by Martin Luther. The Council of Trent was called to organize this reform. Many left the Church to follow Martin Luther and other protestors. Religious orders and seminary formation was reformed.
Section 16: The Church is Holy and Catholic
1. How is the Church Holy? Because of its unique relationship with the Trinity. It shares Christ’s mission to sanctify others. It was instituted God himself.
2. How does the Church help people achieve holiness? (a) liturgical and sacramental life; (b) teaching of the Church which presents a recipe for holiness; (c) the example of the saints; (d) devotions; (e) laws of the Church which oblige its members to follow the way of holiness. Through the sacramental life of the Church, the example of the saints.
3. How is the Church Catholic? (1) it possesses the full and complete means of salvation; (2) its mission is for the entire human family. It concerns itself with the salvation of everyone.
4. How can the Church be universal and local at the same time? The entire world is divided into dioceses or regions through which it attempts to reach everyone on earth. Each division in an expression of the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church. It operates in many localities to spread the Good News of Jesus to everyone.
5. What is a diocese or an eparchy? An area pastured by a bishop. Diocese in the Western Church. Eparch in the eastern rites. A diocese is an area under the jurisdiction of a bishop; a eparchy, of an eparch (different rite). Rt. Rev. Archimandrite Wesley Izer
6. What is a parish? A portion of a diocese under the supervision of a pastor who represents the bishop of the diocese.
7. What is the role of a parish? (1) proclaims the Word of God through the liturgy, religious instruction, and efforts of parishioners; (2) gives praise to God through its liturgical and sacramental life; (3) witnesses to the world through social action and nurturing the baptismal responsibilities of all believers. To provide every possible means of salvation to its parishioners.
8. What is the role of the pastor? Carries out the ministry of the diocesan bishop in the parish he is called to serve. Shares his duties with other parish ministers and consultative bodies such as the parish council. To lead the sheep of his flock, his parishioners, to salvation.
9. What is the role of the people of the parish? Carrying on the mission which Jesus Christ left to his Church. To follow the lead of the pastor and the bishop in seeking salvation.
10. Who is the center of the parish? The center is the life of Christ. The parish church is the physical center. The spiritual center is Christ Himself. .
11. What is meant when it is said that “outside the Church there is no salvation”? The Church is the Body of Christ. To separate oneself from the Church is to separate oneself from Christ and salvation. Those who through no fault of their own do not know of this aspect of God’s plan of salvation, can certainly achieve salvation. Jesus intended everyone to find salvation in Him through His church. All who are saved must belong in some way to the Church which He founded.
1. Who were the apostles? The twelve apostles who Jesus called in the Gospel.
2. What do we mean when we say that the Church is apostolic? The Church remains in communion with its origins and carries on the mission given to the apostles. It traces its roots and origin to the twelve apostles.
3. What is meant by “each in his or her own way” share in this apostolic mission? The Spirit, through gifts known as “charisms,” calls persons in individual ways to contribute to the building up of the kingdom of God. Every Christian is called to spread the Good New of Jesus, some as priests, religious, or laity, each according to the gifts and opportunities given.
4. What is a bishop? A successor of the apostles who is responsible for pasturing a diocese. He is the local ordinary (leader) of a diocese
5. Why is the pope called the head of the bishops? As Peter was the leader of the apostles, the first bishops, the pope is the leader of all the other bishops. He, like Peter, is called to lead the entire Church including all the other bishops.
6. Where in Scripture do we read that Jesus made Peter the visible head of the Church? At Caesarea Philippi where he said: You are Peter and on this rock I will build my Church. (Matthew 16:18-19)
7. Why is the pope the successor of St. Peter? St. Peter was the first bishop of Rome. The many who becomes the bishop of Rome, therefore, becomes the successor of St. Peter and pope. Historically the line of popes throughout the centuries traces its origin to St. Peter.
8. What special guarantee did Jesus give the apostles to help them teach in his name? You will receive power when the Holy Spirit come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, throughout Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth. Acts 1:8. I will be with you even until the end of time Mt 28:20
9. How is the Church infallible? The Church as a whole is infallible, that is, the entire Church will never accept a doctrine which is contrary to faith. (It is the Body of Christ). The bishops as a whole share in the Church’s infallibility when they are gathered in a council of the Church or when they separately all teach the same doctrine. The pope shares in the Church’s infallibility when he exercises the fullness of his apostolic office by acting “ex cathedra” (that is, “from the chair” of Peter) and proposing in a definitive manner a doctrine on faith and morals. Ex cathedra in matters of faith and morals. See article on infallibility.
10. How should we respond to that which is taught infallibly? With obedience
11. Where do we read in Scripture that Christ gave the apostles the promise of infallibility? And behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age—Matthew 28:20. I am with you always…
12. What is meant by the infallibility of the pope? By the special protection that Jesus promised to St. Peter and his successors God will not permit the pope to teach error on matters of faith or morals. Ex cathedra in matters of faith and morals. See article on infallibility. See: Papal Infallibility
13. Must we accept the teachings of the pope even when he does not explicitly use his infallible authority? Teachings on faith and morals which do not have the added weight of an “ex cathedra” pronouncement “are to be adhered to with religious assent. Distinct from the assent of faith, it is an extension of it. In other words, the faithful are to take all the pope’s teachings on faith and morals very seriously. We must distinguish between the teaching of the Pope in encyclicals, audiences, sermons, unofficial writings, etc.
Tour of a Catholic Church
Closing Prayer: From the Confessions of St. Augustine: Late have I loved you, O Beauty ever ancient, ever new, late have I loved you! You were within me, but I was outside, and it was there that I searched for you. In my unloveliness I plunged into the lovely things which you created. You were with me, but I was not with you. Created things kept me from you; yet if they had not been in you they would have not been at all. You called, you shouted, and you broke through my deafness. You flashed, you shone, and you dispelled my blindness. You breathed your fragrance on me; I drew in breath and now I pant for you. I have tasted you, now I hunger and thirst for more. You touched me, and I burned for your peace.
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