A Message from Father William

Every Sunday and solemnity in the Church, we profess the Faith as we recite the Nicene Creed. Based on the Apostles’ Creed and given to the Church by God through two Church councils in 325 and 381 A.D., the Nicene Creed states that we believe in one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church. In light of today’s Gospel (Jesus says, “And I say to you, you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my Church, and the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it.” Matthew 16:13-20), it is worth reviewing these four marks or pillars of the Church (Catechism of the Catholic Church, Part One, ##26- 1065; the Catechism also has many references to Holy Scripture):

We are one because the Church’s source is the one and only God. There can therefore only be one true Church, one mystical Body of Christ, founded by Jesus, who restores unity between creation and the Creator. We believe in: one faith, rebirth in one Baptism, only one Body, and that it is given life by the one Spirit.

We are holy because Christ Himself founded the Church as His bride. He gave Himself up to make her holy. At Pentecost, the Spirit of holiness gives her life. Since she still includes sinners, she is “the sinless one made up of sinners.” Her holiness shines in the saints; in Mary she is already all-holy. It is through the Church and the Holy Spirit that the grace of God is distributed. We need that grace to be saved. We, likewise, are called to become holy!

We are catholic (universal) because the Church contains the fullness of the faith, which
includes all seven Sacraments (Baptism, Confirmation, the Holy Eucharist, Holy Matrimony, Holy Orders, Confession, and Anointing of the Sick) – this fullness is expressed in the Roman Catholic Church. (Other Christian ecclesial communities share partially in this fullness, as they have: retained baptism as a Sacrament, but do not have the other six Sacraments; broken apostolic succession; an incomplete Old Testament, lacking seven books and parts of other books from the Hebrew Scriptures). The Church bears in herself and administers the totality of the means of salvation. She is sent out to all peoples everywhere. She speaks to all people and encompasses all times. She is missionary of her very nature. We likewise are called to assent to this fullness of the universal truths she offers and to be missionary, to “Go Make Disciples,” as Bishop Donald Hying has said.

We are apostolic because the Church was built on the twelve apostles, by Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit. The Church is therefore indestructible (Matthew 16:13-20). She is upheld infallibly in the truth because Christ governs her through Peter and the other
apostles, who are present in their successors, the Pope and the college of bishops in union with him. This is, by definition, the Magisterium of the Church.

If we fall short of believing these pillars of the Church, we will find it difficult to be as
sincere as possible when we profess the Faith on Sundays and solemnities. God calls us to accept not just one, or only some, of these marks. In giving us the Creed, He calls us
to believe them all, in an illuminated faith. Similarly, we would be wise to always take an honest look at those beliefs that we might question and to look deeper, so as to reconcile ourselves to the fullness of the faith of Christ’s Church, and never the other way around. In joyful and loving obedience, then, may we continue to profess the faith that God has given us, in word and deed, as we follow Jesus Christ, the Second Person of the Holy Trinity of God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, for He is the way, the Truth and the life, yesterday, today and forever, the Only Savior of the world.

With peace and prayers in Christ,
Fr. William Vernon