Hello there Rosary Lovers! In this post we will explore that awesome question: What is the Catholic Church?
This is a huge question, and one which we could take many posts to answer. Here’s my attempt in one post. Enjoy!
The Catholic Church is True
There are many faiths and many different forms of Christianity. Of course, people don’t like to hear such claims today, but the Catholic Church claims that she is the true Church of God.
What this means is that the Catholic Church claims to be THE CHURCH. There is only one Church, because Christ Jesus only has one Bride. And this Bride is the Catholic Church.
It’s a shame people get offended at this sort of claim in today’s relativistic age. It’s a day of ‘anything goes’ (except what doesn’t go).
It’s an odd day. Whilst in many ways, people are more open and less willing to judge the beliefs of others, it seems everyone draws a line somewhere.
The Catholic Church simply claims, ‘I know where to draw that line, a line for all. I am from God. I am the Body of Jesus Christ. I transmit divine Truth to the world.’
Don’t we all do this sort of thing? When we all choose what to believe, what is right and what is wrong, aren’t we saying to everyone else, ‘My truth is what is true. Yes, it’s true for me, but I also want it to be your truth.’
Abortion is a good example here. People can get very heated about this issue. The Catholic Church strongly condemns it as never, ever acceptable, and always seriously morally wrong.
But there are plenty of individuals on the other side, who believe that the Catholic Church’s position is seriously morally wrong.
Who is right?
Well, I take the view that the Catholic Church is wiser than I am. She’s cleverer than me, she’s been around longer than me, and she knows what is right and what is wrong.
I don’t always know what is right and what is wrong.
It takes humility to come to this position, and to entrust your reason and your worldview and your opinions to the Catholic Church.
But if we don’t do this, we are merely entrusting them either to a Government or to ourselves.
Neither of which are perfect or infallible, at all.
My boss said yesterday, after making a mistake, ‘Nobody’s perfect.’
There it is. Thank God I don’t need to trust in myself anymore. It’s incredibly liberating.
The Catholic Church is VERY old
Not only is the Catholic Church true, but she is also very, very old.
She is the oldest living institution in the world: “the world’s oldest and largest continuously functioning international institution” (Wikipedia).
We might wish to ponder why she is still here.
Do you know that the Catholic Church might have been wiped out numerous times?
Yet here she stands.
I find comfort in that. There’s something to be said for a Church which has seen and experienced it all over the last 2,000 years. That’s a lot of wisdom to draw on.
The Catholic Church is Apostolic
The Catholic Church was founded by Jesus Christ, who left it to his Apostles. The Apostles were the first Bishops of the Catholic Church.
Of course, the Catholic Church did not exist in exactly the same way as she does today, but the seeds of what she is today were there in the time of the Apostles.
There were Bishops. There was the holy Eucharist. There was holy Baptism and Confirmation. There was Peter, the first Pope. There was Mary.
In the generation or two following the Apostles, we had a lot more we could call Catholic.
We have the rise of the word ‘Catholic’ in reference to the true Christians. We have the relics of Polycarp, and the rise of saint followings. We have the first few Popes, like Pope St Clement.
Over time, of course, the Catholic Church grew and evolved and traversed through the centuries to be what she is today.
But she is still essentially the same Church, the same Body of Christ.
We still have the Eucharist. We still have Bishops. We still have the Pope. We still have Mary and the saints.
The Catholic Church is Holy
The holiness of the Catholic Church refers to the fact that she is the Body of God, who is Holy and holiness itself.
The Church is cut out from the world, separate and set apart from all other churches or assemblies of peoples.
She is pure in that she is filled with righteous and godly people. Just look at our saints and their lives. Look at their miracles, many of which are well-documented.
We even have Eucharistic miracles, where the consecrated bread actually weeps the precious blood of Jesus.
The Catholic Church is not like any other church or religion, and there will never be another like it. It is from God.
The Catholic Church is ‘catholic’
The word catholic can stand for a number of things.
It can mean universal. The Church is universal in that she is everywhere. She is in all nations, and is spread throughout the world.
The word catholic can also mean pure. This is the pure Church, where pure truth is taught, and where moral purity is the goal for us all.
The word catholic began to be used perhaps because there were a lot of churches claiming to be the true Church.
When the Catholic Church began to call herself ‘Catholic’, she was claiming that she is the true Church, the one everyone can trust:
Because she is universal.
Because she is pure.
It is a very interesting fact that no other church calls itself by the name ‘the Catholic Church’. Even the Church’s enemies call her ‘the Catholic Church’.
St Augustine once said that no unorthodox group would ever dream of calling themselves ‘catholics’ or ‘the catholic church’. Generally speaking, this remains true to today.
There is something terribly unique and precious about this world ‘catholic’, and God has ensured it has been preserved for one Church in the world: the Catholic Church
Many people ask: ‘Where is the true Church?’
But no-one needs to ask: ‘Where is the Catholic Church?’
But in effect, both questions mean the same thing. ‘Where is the Catholic Church, that is, the true Church?’
The true Church is found in the one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church: the Catholic Church.
Because for the Church to be Catholic means she is the one true Church.
So if you want to find the true Church, just ask where there is a Catholic Church.
The Catholic Church is ONE
Another very interesting fact about the Catholic Church is that she is ONE. She is united. Absolutely.
The Catholic Church doesn’t have a pretend or feeble unity. Catholics are one in Christ, around the Pope and the Eucharist.
No other religion or form of Christianity can really claim this.
Islam has a very large divide between those who follow Shia Islam and Sunni Islam.
Judaism has many denominations, and they often disagree strongly with each other.
Hinduism is a family of religions rather than one religion really, and there is so much diversity in beliefs that it becomes very hard to actually say what Hinduism is. For instance, one can be a Hindu and believe in one God, but one can be a Hindu and be an atheist.
And then as for Protestant Christianity, there are so many denominations that everyone looks in and thinks, ‘Well, they can’t decide who is right, so it all must be wrong.’
The Orthodox Christians (who I am very fond of) are divided between the Oriental Orthodox and the Eastern Orthodox.
And even within Eastern Orthodoxy, these churches jump in and out of communion with each other often, such as the recent enormous split between the Russian Church and the Greek Church.
The one main problem of the Orthodox churches is that they are not united around a Supreme Bishop on earth, who would be the Pope. Only the Pope could qualify for this position, but these churches reject the Pope as their Supreme Pastor.
In all of these religions and forms of Christianity, there is disunity, with fragments of unity. The unity isn’t really real anywhere else.
Except in the Catholic Church. We have unity because we are united around the Pope, our Spiritual Father and the representative of Jesus on earth. We are united in belief and practice, and around the Holy Eucharist.
The Catholic Church is MASSIVE
It is surely something noteworthy that the Catholic Church is the largest body of Christians in the world. By FAR.
Look at the stats:
- Catholic Church – 1.3 billion
- Eastern Orthodox – 200-300 million
- Oriental Orthodox – 60-100 million
- Church of England – 80 million
- Lutheran Church – 80 million
By the time we get to a single Protestant denomination, we are at 80 million. This is still large, but nothing compared to 1.3 billion of the Catholics.
And look at the gap between the Catholics and the Orthodox in terms of numbers. The Catholic Church is over 4 times larger than the Eastern Orthodox Church!
I personally found this a very attractive feature of the Church.
There is safety in numbers and I often feel emboldened that I am Catholic, because I am part of such an enormous family.
There are about 8 billion people in the world. 1.3 billion are Catholic.
1 in every 6 people worldwide are Catholic.
I belong to a HUGE family.
The Catholic Church is heading for heaven
The Catholic Church is portrayed in the Old Testament by Noah’s Ark.
Just as Noah’s Ark was built of wood, so the Catholic Church is built from the wood of the cross of Jesus.
Just as Noah’s Ark was baptised in water, so all Catholics enter the Church by baptism in water.
Just as Noah’s Ark came to rest on the mountains of Ararat, so the Catholic Church will one day come to rest on Mount Zion in heaven.
Just as Noah’s Ark escaped the flood, saving all inside, so the Catholic Church will escape God’s judgment soon to fall upon the world. All who are safe in the Church will be safe on that day.
The Catholic Church is heading for heaven, come what may. If we are joined to her, and reconciled to her, she will bring us safely into heaven’s port.
The Catholic Church is filled with sinners
It is true, sadly, that the Catholic Church is full of sinners, but it is true nonetheless.
For one thing, every Catholic is a sinner. We all still screw up and do things we know we shouldn’t do. Sin continues in the flesh of us all.
The other thing to mention is that some Catholics down through history have been unspeakably horrible. Including some Popes and Bishops.
Many who have represented the Church in the past have blasphemed her name by their awful actions and deeds.
This is true of certain members of the Church, but it is not true of the Church herself.
The Church herself is holy, good and pure. She is spotless by the blood of Jesus.
But there are, unfortunately, many Catholics who simply do not take their faith very seriously, or don’t even bother to learn about it properly.
There is no excuse for this, especially in this day of the internet. Information is everywhere.
There are many Catholics who are so only nominally, that is, in name only. They blaspheme the name of Jesus with their own beliefs and with their sinful lives.
Yes, yes, the Church is full of sinners.
Jesus told a number of parables about this. The Kingdom of heaven is like someone who threw a net into the sea, and he caught good and bad fish. And so on.
The good and bad exist within the Catholic Church and will do so until Christ returns.
The Catholic Church is filled with saints
Mercifully, many Catholics are very, very good people. I personally know many Catholics who are the finest people I’ve ever met.
They are generous, kind, they listen, they cry with you, they pray for you, they support you, they give financially, they show they care in so many ways.
And then, of course, we have all of our saints. Check out some of our saints! Their lives were INCREDIBLE!
The saints show us what it is possible to become as a Catholic. It is possible to be holy. It is possible to be filled with love. It is possible to live a supernatural life.
This is what the Catholic Church offers us all. A life beyond what is merely natural, and then heaven forever.
One thing the Catholic Church offers us all is the Holy Rosary. Many believe this is the greatest prayer in the Church, second only to the Mass.
The Rosary has transformed countless people into saints. I love the Rosary because I am Catholic, and I love the Catholic Church because of the Rosary.
I encourage you to check out the Rosary on this website.
If you have a question about anything or wish to discuss things further, email me or leave a comment.
God bless you on your journey, whoever you may be.