The Catholic Church will endure to the end of time, for it is founded on a rock. The powers of evil will beat in vain against it. They will break themselves and perish, but the Church will remain, indefectible. The testimony of almost two thousand years proves the perpetuity of the Church. Nothing that malice and envy could invent; nothing that the world, the flesh; and the devil could do have been left untried in the past 1900 years. Still the Church is with us, exactly as Christ founded it, and stronger than ever.
What is meant by the indefectibility of the Catholic Church? –By the indefectibility of the Catholic Church is meant that the Church, as Christ founded it, will last until the end of time.The Archangel Gabriel announced to Mary that Christ “shall be king over the house of Jacob forever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end” (Luke 1:32-33)
- Christ meant His Church to endure to the end of the world. It is to be indestructible and unchanging,-to possess indefectibility. Christ, God Himself, could scarcely have come, and with such incredible pain and labor have founded a Church which would die with the Apostles.He came to save all men. Those to live in future ages needed salvation as much as the people of Apostolic times.
- Christ said to Peter: “Upon this rock I will build my Church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it” (Matt. 16:18). By the “gates of hell”, He meant all the power of the devil-all kinds of attacks, physical violence as well as false teaching.Christ promises here that the Church would be assailed always, but never overcome. This promise of Our Lord has been proved for almost 2000 years by the facts of history. Not one of the persecutors of the Church has prevailed over it. On the contrary, many of them have come to a fearful end. There will always be Popes, bishops, and laity, to Compose the Church; the truths taught by Our Lord will always be found in His Church.
- After telling His Apostles to teach, all nations, Christ said: “Behold, I am with you all days, even unto the consummation of the world” (Matt. 28:20).As the Apostles were not to live to the end of the world, Christ must have been addressing them as representatives of a perpetual Church.
- The Apostles themselves understood Christ to mean that His Church should endure. After organizing Christian communities, they appointed successors in their place, to live after them and carry on the Church.The Apostles instructed these successors to ordain in turn other bishops and priests. All these acts were to assure the perpetuity of the Church.
- Christ intended the Church to remain as He founded it, to preserve the whole of what He taught, and the shining marks which He gave it in the beginning. If the Church lost any of the qualities that God gave it, it could not be said to be indefectible, because it would not be the same institution. Indefectibility implies unchangeability.Our Lord promised to abide by the Church, to assist it, and to send the Holy Ghost to remain in it. God does not change: “Behold, I am with you all days, even unto the consummation of the world” (Matt. 28:20).
- Because of its indefectibility the truths revealed by God will always be taught in the Catholic Church. St. Ambrose said: “The Church is like the moon; it may wane, but never be destroyed; it may be darkened, but it can never disappear.”St. Anselm said that the bark of the Church may be swept by the waves, but it can never sink, because Christ is there. When the Church is in greatest need, Christ comes to its help by miracles, or by raising up saintly men to strengthen and purify it. It is the bark of Peter; when the storm threatens to sink it, the Lord awakens from His sleep, and commands the winds and the waves into calm: “Peace; be still!”
Has the Catholic Church actually proved itself indefectible? –The Catholic Church has, throughout its long history, proved itself indefectible, against all kinds of attack from within and without, against every persecution and every heresy and schism.As its Founder was persecuted, so the Catholic Church has been and ever will be persecuted. “You will be brought before governors and kings for my sake” (Matt. 10:18). “And you will be hated by all for my name’s sake” (Matt. 10:22). “No disciple is above his teacher, nor is the servant above his master” (Matt. 10:24).“They will deliver you up to councils, and you will be beaten in the synagogues” (Mark 13:9). “They will arrest you, and persecute you” (Luke 21:12).
- The Church survived three hundred years of incredible persecution under pagan Rome. Of the 33 Popes that ruled before the Edict of Milan, 30 died as martyrs. That mighty Empire, with its colossal strength, before whose standard the nations quailed, could not kill the infant Church or stop its progress. In a short time the Popes were ruling where the imperial Caesars had issued edicts against the Christian Church.The Roman Empire waged ten fierce persecutions against the Church, but could not destroy it. In the year 313 the Emperor Constantine was converted, and granted the Church freedom by the Edict of Milan.
- Then for two centuries hordes of barbarians swept upon civilized Europe, destroying the old Roman Empire. The Church not only survived, but converted and civilized the barbarians.God’s ever-watchful providence brought about the conversion of the Frankish king Clovis, with a great number of his warriors. This was the beginning of the firm establishment of the Church in the Frankish kingdom, although missionaries had gone there from the first century. In the eighth century St. Boniface converted Middle and Northern Germany, until then the home of violent paganism.
- For nine centuries Mohammedanism threatened Christian civilization. It was the Church under the Popes that urged the nations to league against Mohammedanism.In the sixteenth century the Mohammedan menace was removed.
- Not only non-Christians, but its own rebellious children have persecuted the Church. From the beginning heresy has attacked it from within. And still the Church lives, greater than ever, changeless, indefectible.The long history of the Catholic Church is attended by schism and heresy, but each attack has only strengthened it. It has continued to live and spread in spite of everything and everybody.
- The Church is the Bride of Christ, cast into prison, starved, thrown to the beasts, trampled underfoot, hacked, tortured, crucified, and burned. But this fair Bride emerges from it all in the bloom and freshness of youth, serene, calm, immortal.
This article has been taken from “My Catholic Faith” I am not the author merely the distributor.God Bless BJS!!
The Church cannot teach error, because it was founded by Christ, God Himself. He sent forth His Apostles with full powers to preach His Gospel. He said. “As the Father has sent me, I also send you” (John 20:21). “I will ask the Father and he will give you another Advocate to dwell with you forever. . . . But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things, and bring to your mind whatever I have said to you” (John 14:16,26).
What is meant by the infallibility of the Catholic Church? –By the infallibility of the Catholic Church is meant that the Church, by the special assistance of the Holy Ghost, cannot err when it teaches or believes a doctrine of faith and morals.Christ promised: “All power in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go, therefore, and teach all nations … teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you; and behold, I am with you all days, even unto the consummation of the world” (Matt. 28:20). If Christ is with the Church all days, it cannot err in teaching; it cannot lead men away from God.
- “Infallibility” is often distorted by enemies of the Church to mean “impeccability”, and therefore derided. Infallibility is freedom from error; impeccability is freedom from sin. In an institution established by God for the salvation of men, error in doctrine is unthinkable.Every teacher in the Church, from the Pope down to the humblest priest, like all of the faithful, is capable of falling into sin. But in the Catholic Church, because of the promise of Infallibility, the Holy Ghost cannot permit the purity of a single doctrine to be stained.
- Jesus Christ promised to preserve the Church from error. If His prediction and promises were false, then He would not be God, since God cannot lie. Christ said: “Thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build My Church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” If therefore the Church falls into error, the gates of hell certainly would prevail against it.Christ promised: “I will ask the Father, and he shall give you another Advocate to dwell with you forever … He will teach you all the truth” (John 14). If the Church can err, then the Holy Ghost cannot abide in it and Christ has failed to keep His promise-a thing absolutely impossible.
- A doctrine of faith is something we must believe in order to be saved. A doctrine of morals is something we must do in order to be saved.For example, we must believe the doctrine of the Blessed Trinity: that there are Three Divine Persons in One God. We must believe that Jesus Christ is God. We must believe in the Blessed Virgin Mary’s immaculate conception.Of things we must do are these: we must go to Mass on Sundays and holydays of obligation; we must fast and abstain when our bishops so order; we must receive Holy Communion at least once a year. We must obey the Ten Commandments.
- Jesus Christ commanded all men to listen to and obey the Church, under pain of damnation. If His Church can teach error, then He is responsible for the error, by commanding all to obey.Jesus sent forth His Apostles with full powers to preach His Gospel: “As the Father hath sent Me, I also send you.” – “Make disciples of all nations teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.” – “Preach the Gospel to every creature.”
- Christ said: “He who believes and is baptized shall be saved; but he who does Hot believe shall be condemned” (Mark 16: 16). A just God could not command men under penalty of damnation to believe what is false. So the teaching of the Church must be infallibly true.He said: “You shall be witnesses for me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea, and Samaria, and even to the very ends of the earth” (Acts 1:8). Since it was physically impossible for the Apostles to preach to the whole world, the mission must have been intended also for their successors to the end of time, our Catholic Bishops and priests.
- Christ said: “If he refuse to hear even the Church, let him be to thee as the heathen and the publican” (Matt. 18:17) “He who hears you hears me; and he who rejects you rejects me; and he who rejects me rejects him who sent me” (Luke 10:16) .He said, “And whoever does not receive you, or listen to your words-go forth outside that house or town, and shake off the dust from your feet. Amen I say to you, it will be more tolerable for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah in the day of judgment than for that town” (Matt. 10:14-16).
- No Christian denies that the Apostles were infallible. In fact, in the first century, they were the only authority in the Church. The Bible was not completed till the end of that century, not within reach of all.But God loves the Christians of today as much as He did the primitive Christians. We have as much need of unerring teachers as they. The Apostolic Church of the 20th century must therefore be as infallible as the Apostolic Church.
- An infallible Bible is no use without an infallible interpreter. History has proved this, in the multiplication of the innumerable denominations that deny the infallibility of the Church. By infallibility, the faithful know exactly what to believe and what to do in order that they may be pleasing to God and save their souls. They have surety; they need suffer no doctrinal doubt.It is a great blessing that, in the midst of the everchanging views of men and the conflict of human opinion, there is one voice crying out in unerring tones: “Thus saith the Lord.”
Has the Church in fact proved itself infallible? –It is a historical fact that the Catholic Church, from the twentieth century back to the first, has not once ceased to teach a doctrine on faith or morals previously held, and with the same interpretation; the Church has proved itself infallible.
- It is a historical fact that not one Pope, whatever he was in his private life, has ever taught error.“The Scribes and the Pharisees have sat on the chair of Moses. All things, therefore, that they command you, observe and do. But do not act according to their works.” By obeying the Pope, every Christian can live as Christ commanded, in any age.
- True, some high rulers of the Church have gravely sinned. Nevertheless, enemies of the Church have exaggerated even the lack of impeccability. In the long line of Popes the vast majority led virtuous lives. Many of them are honored as Saints and martyrs. The enemies of the Church can bring charges against only five or six Popes: Most of the charges are calumnies or exaggerations. But even if the charges were true, they prove nothing against infallibility.Of the Sovereign Pontiffs that have succeeded Peter, 84 are canonized Saints, of whom 32 were martyrs. However holy the Pope, he regularly goes to confession to a priest. No Pope ever considers himself above the laws of the Church and of God.
- The Church cannot change its teachings on faith and morals. But it may restate the doctrines more clearly and completely. Year after year the Church proclaims the same unchanging doctrines. Her doctrines need no reform, for they are of Divine origin, the work of the Incarnate God.No Pope or general Council in almost two thousand years has annulled or revoked a single decree of faith or morals enacted by a previous Pope or Council. This is history.
This article has been taken from “My Catholic Faith” I am not the author merely the distributor.God Bless BJS!!