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​One Body in Christ: Communion of Saints

 

The illustration shows the continuous communication in the three portions of the Church spiritually united in Jesus Christ. The members on earth send up prayers to the angels and saints for themselves and for the poor souls in purgatory. They in turn are helped by the intercession of the saints and angels, and by the graces obtained thereby. The poor souls pray for the members on earth.

    Why is the Catholic Church called the Mystical Body of Christ? –The Catholic Church is called the Mystical Body of Christ, because its members are united by supernatural bonds with one another and with Christ, their Head, thus resembling the members and head of the living human body.

  1. The term “Mystical Body of Christ” is derived from St. Paul’s metaphor: “He is the head of his body, the Church” (Col. 1:18) . Again: “You are the body of Christ, member for member” (1 Cor. 12:27). “We, the many, are one body in Christ” (Rom. 12:5).Jesus Himself used a similar symbol: “I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in me, and I in him, he bears much fruit; for without me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in me, he shall be cast outside as the branch and wither” (John 15:5-6). 
  2. In the Mystical Body, Christ as Head wills to be helped by His Body. Thus He rules the Church, but does so indirectly, through the hierarchy, human authority.In a similar manner the human head, to live, has need of the rest of the body. The hierarchy is the material on which is formed the Image of Christ, God. The acts, ceremonies, ritual, liturgy of the Church,-all these are outward signs of the inward reality of the union of the members with one another and with their Head, Christ; they are visible manifestations of a common supernatural life in the Godhead. 
  3. Among the members of the Mystical Body of Christ there exists an interdependence; so that although each one has his own individual function, yet he does not live for himself alone, but for the entire Body. Every good he does perfects the Body, of which he is a part.Similarly, the eye, or the foot, or the arm of a man is useless existing alone and apart from the rest of his body. Here is an example of the interdependence among members of the Church: Suppose a Catholic prays to recover from a grievous illness, and he does not recover; there is no evident answer to his prayers. Yet, do they go to waste? God lets no good work “go to waste”; the merits of the prayers are not lost for the Mystical Body. 
  4. Because of the interdependence among the members, and between members and Head, of the Mystical Body, there follows a continuouscontribution and distribution of merits and graces, profiting all towards eternal life. This supernatural fellowship, this mystical union and interdependence, is presented to us in the Apostles’ Creed in the doctrine of the Communion of Saints.
    What is meant by “the Communion of Saints” in the Apostles’ Creed? –By “the Communion of Saints” is meant the union of the faithful on earth, the blessed in heaven, and the souls in purgatory, with Christ as their Head.There is only one Mystical Body, only one Church. But this Church has three aspects: the Church Triumphant, the Church Suffering, and the Church Militant.

  1. The saints and angels in heaven compose the Church triumphant,because they have gained the crown of victory. The souls in purgatory compose the Church suffering, because they still have to expiate for their sins before they can enter heaven. The faithful on earth compose the Church militant, because they have to struggle ceaselessly against the enemies of their souls.The Church triumphant, the Church suffering and the Church militant compose one Church united in Christ, members of a body whose head is Christ: “So we, the many, are one body in Christ, but severally members one of another’ (Rom. 12:5). 
  2. All the members of the Church are of one family, and share in the spiritual treasures of the Church. However, not all members of the Church Militant fully enjoy the benefits of the communion of saints, but only those in a state of grace.“Dead members” do not lose all the benefits of the communion of saints, for the Church prays publicly for them, and particular members in the state of grace often send up petitions for them. Thus they may receive the grace to repent and recover sanctifying grace. Hence a Catholic who still belongs to the Church, although a great sinner, may have more hope of being converted than one who cuts himself off from the Church.
    How do the members of the Communion of Saints help one another? –The members of the Communion of Saints help one another by prayer and intercession, and by the merits of their good works. 

  1. The faithful on earth can help one another by practicing supernatural charity and, especially, by performing the spiritual and corporal works of mercy.St. Peter was freed from prison by the prayers of the faithful. St. Stephen’s prayer obtained the conversion of St. Paul. The prayers of St. Monica led to the conversion of her son, St. Augustine. This is why today, on all occasions, Catholics ask for each other’s prayers, and pray for those in need. They give the spiritual alms of prayers continually, even when they cannot perform the corporal works. 
  2. The faithful on earth, through the communion of saints, can relieve the sufferings of the souls in purgatory by prayer, fasting, and other good works, by indulgences, and by Masses offered for them.St. Augustine says: “Prayer is the key by which we open the gates of heaven to the suffering souls.” In the Memento after the consecration at every Mass, a special petition is made for the souls of the faithful departed. The poor souls cannot merit anything; they depend upon their brothers in Christ on earth and in heaven to help them attain their eternal home as soon as possible. 
  3. The souls in purgatory pray to the angels and saints, and pray for the living.They cannot merit anything, either for themselves or for the living, but they intercede for us. 
  4. Through the communion of saints, the blessed in heaven can help those in purgatory and on earth by praying for them. The faithful on earth should honor the blessed in heaven and pray to them, because they are worthy of honor and as friends of God will help the faithful on earth.This is why we pray to the saints and angels that they may intercede for us before God, Whom they see face to face. “Rendering thanks to God the Father, who has made us worthy to share the lot of the saints in light” (Col. 1:12). 
  5. The doctrine of the communion of saints is one of the most consolingdogmas of the Church. When our loved ones die, they are not separated from us forever. Whether in heaven or purgatory, they still love us and pray for us.We should be happy to call saints and angels our brothers. We should implore their intercession, not only for ourselves, but also for our other brothers, the poor souls in purgatory.

This article has been taken from “My Catholic Faith” I am not the author merely the distributor.God Bless BJS!!

​Marks of the True Church

 

The True Church is one, holy, catholic, and apostolic. The Church that possesses all the shining marks which Our Lord gave is the Church of God, the True Church. Any church that lacks even one of these marks is an imitation, a false church, and not the one founded by Our Lord. The True Church must possess all these marks. It is the Church which Christ commanded all to hear and obey.

 

    Did Christ establish many Churches? –Christ established only one Church, to continue till the end of time. 

  1. As God is one, He established one Church, which He commanded all men to obey and to follow in the way of salvation.God is essentially one. He is Truth itself. How can He say to one group of men that there are three Persons in one God, and to another that there is only one Person? How can He say to one body that the Holy Eucharist is Himself, and to another that it is mere bread? God cannot contradict Himself. “He who hears you hears me” (Luke 10:16). “There shall be one fold and one shepherd” (John 10:16). 
  2. Christ never referred to His Churches, but to His Church. Christ chose only one Head for His Church. Peter could not have been the Head of conflicting churches.Christ said: “And I say to thee, thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my Church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it” (Matt. 16:18). Christ did not say: “Upon this rock I will build My Churches,” it was clearly not His intention to establish various conflicting churches. 
  3. Christ, even in His prayers, spoke of unity among His followers. There would evidently be no unity if He had founded many churches.Immediately before His passion, He prayed: “Yet not for these only do I pray, but for those also who through their word are to believe in me, that all may be one, even as thou, Father, in me and I in thee; that they also may be one in us, that the world may believe that thou hast sent me” (John 17:20-21).

      Is there any way by which we can distinguish the Church that Christ founded from all other churches? –We can distinguish the Church founded by Christ from all other churches by the marks or signs that Our Lord gave to it.

      mark is a sign by which something may be distinguished from all others of the same kind. By its marks we can recognize the True Church as the one founded by Jesus Christ, distinguishing it from all other churches, however similar.

       

    1. It is important that we know which is the Church established by Christ, in order that we may obey it, as God commands. Then shall we also be certain what to believe and do in order to be saved; the Church, that True Church, will be our guide to heaven.We must distinguish the True Church from false churches, because today there are many imitations of the Church founded by Christ. 
    2. The True Church must be that which Christ personally founded, and the Apostles propagated. It must have existed continuously since the time of Christ. It must teach in their entirety all the doctrines commanded by the Divine Founder while He was still on earth; and all its members must profess those fundamental doctrines. It must be a visible organization, discernible and discoverable, evidently existing, with clear marks or signs distinguishing it as the True Church.It was through a common bond of faith that the faithful throughout the world were, to be united in one body, the Church, their heritage from the Son of God. Our Lord therefore before His Ascension made the necessary provision so that all men might from thenceforth recognize the Church which He established, and which He commanded all to join.
      What are the chief marks of the True Church? –The chief marks of the True Church are four: It is one, holy, catholic or universal, and apostolic. 

    1. Christ intended His Church to be One; therefore the True Church must be One. Its members must be united in doctrine, in worship, and in government. Christ said:“If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand” (Mark 3:24). “There shall be one fold and one Shepherd” (John 10:16). 
    2. Christ intended His Church to be Holy; therefore the True Church must be Holy. It must teach a holy doctrine in faith and morals, because its Founder is holy. It must provide the means for its members to lead a holy life.“Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves. By their fruits you will know them. Do men gather grapes from thorns, or figs from thistles? Even so, every good tree bears good fruit, but the bad tree bears bad fruit. … Therefore, by their fruits you will know them” (Matt. 7:15-17,20).Christ promised His Church the gift of miracles, a sign of holiness: “Amen, amen, I say to you, he who believes in me, the works that I do he also shall do, and greater than these he shall do” (John 14:12). He said: “You therefore are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is Perfect” (Matt. 5:48). 
    3. Christ intended His Church to be universal, that is, catholic; and therefore the True Church must be Universal, or Catholic. It must be for all peoples of every nation and for all times and teach the same faith everywhere. Christ commanded His disciples:“Go therefore and make disciples of all nations” (Matt. 28:19). “Go into the whole world. and preach the Gospel to every creature” (Mark 16:15). “You shall be witnesses for me … even to the very ends of the earth” (Acts 1:8). 
    4. Christ intended His Church to be propagated by His Apostles; and therefore the True Church must be Apostolic. It must be the Church propagated by the Apostles. Its rulers must derive their office and authority by lawful succession from the Apostles. It must hold intact the doctrine and traditions of the Apostles, to whom Christ gave authority to teach.It was Christ Himself, and no one else, Who chose His Apostles and disciples, and commanded them to teach His doctrines to all the world. St. Paul says: “Even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a Gospel to you other than that which we have preached to you, let him be anathema” (Gal. 1:8). St. Paul himself refers to the Church as “built upon the foundation of the Apostles” (Eph. 2:20).

    This article has been taken from “My Catholic Faith” I am not the author merely the distributor.God Bless BJS!!