Week 12 - Holy Spirit and Church (197-251)

The Creed continues "I believe in the Holy Spirit..."

The Catechism shows that the third person of the Trinity is referred to using many different analogies (water, anointing oil, fire, cloud, light, seal, hand, finger, dove, gift of God) none of which exhausts his dynamic reality.

Faith in Christ is impossible apart from the work of the Spirit, for "No one can say 'Jesus is Lord' [which is what being a Catholic is all about] except by the Holy Spirit" (1 Cor. 12:3). In other words, your believing in Christ is not merely a result of your own effort or decision - it is a gift of the Holy Spirit.

The Spirit animates all creation (point 703, but especially the Church, for "what the soul is to the human body, the Holy Spirit is toe the Body of Chirst, which is the Church... the Church is where the Spirit flourishes" (point 797 and 748).

"the Holy Catholic Church"

The Catechism uses the moon analogy to describe the Church, for though the moon shines brightly, its light is not its own. In the same way "The Church has no other light than Chirst's (point 748)." This is often misunderstood! If Christ was not living and reigning in heaven, then the Catholic Church would be of no significance whatsoever.

Some people think the Catholic Church claims she is perfect. On the contrary the Catechism states,
"The Church... will receive its perfection only in the glory of heaven... Here below she knows that she in exile far from the Lord, and longs for the full coming of the Kingdom, when she will 'be united in glory with eher king" (point 769).
Yet at the same time the Church is also, according to the Nicene Creed "one, holy, catholic and apostolic." This may seem a contradiction, but is in fact a sort of "double reality." As Bernard of Clarivaux stated, the Church is
"Both tabernacle of cedar and sanctuary of God; earthly dwelling and celestial palace; house of clay and royal hall; body of death and temple of light; and at last both object of scorn to the proud and bride of Christ!"
That the Church is this double reality is no excuse for her shortcomings, but a result of her being constituted of sinners like us. The Church points to the saints (point 828) as models of what we all should be like!

The Catechism also points out that the Church has been given gifts (charisms)to sustain her - and each member has at least one. It is essetial that each of us "discern these charisms" for "no charism is exempt form being referred and submitted to the Church's shepherds" (point 801). That means that the talents and abilities you have are not only your own - but are to be given for the sake of building up the Church. Rather than a burden, I hope this sounds exciting!

OTHER FAITHS: Christianity is the largest religion in the world, and Catholics account for over half of that number. But what is the relationship of the Catholic Church to these other Christian and non-Christian faiths?

The Second Vatican Council was open in an unprecedented way to non-Catholics. This chart may be helpful in understanding this more developed perspective.

But this new understanding also has (not surprisingly) led to confusion. The Church sought to clarify such confusion in the encyclical Dominus Iesus in the year 2000. Here are some exerpts:
"As a remedy for this relativistic mentality, which is becoming ever more common, it is necessary above all to reassert the definitive and complete character of the revelation of Jesus Christ. In fact, it must be firmly believed that, in the mystery of Jesus Christ, the Incarnate Son of God, who is “the way, the truth, and the life” (Jn 14:6)...

"...there exists a single Church of Christ, which subsists in the Catholic Church, governed by the Successor of Peter and by the Bishops in communion with him. The Churches which, while not existing in perfect communion with the Catholic Church, remain united to her by means of the closest bonds, that is, by apostolic succession and a valid Eucharist, are true particular Churches. Therefore, the Church of Christ is present and operative also in these Churches, even though they lack full communion with the Catholic Church, since they do not accept the Catholic doctrine of the Primacy, which, according to the will of God, the Bishop of Rome objectively has and exercises over the entire Church."
So while very open to other faiths, especially other Christian faiths, the Catholic Church still claims to contain the fullness of truth, and speaks as one "with authority" (Mark 1:27).

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