The Birth and Nature of the Church Opening Prayer Apostle’s Creed p.181 Scripture p.15 Scripture p.19 Jesus instituted His Church to spread the Gospel and dispense Grace. We can know Christ’s Church by her four marks. Ice Breaker • In each group, we are going to play a game of Hot Potato. • Each person has to reintroduce themselves to the group. • When the music stops, the person who has possession of the Potato is out. • We will play until we have two winners A Vision of the Trinity We need three volunteers The Holy Trinity • One God • Three distinct and equal Persons • First Person: Father • Second Person: Son • Third Person: Holy Spirit • Each Person acts in perfect union with the others Read Paragraphs 1-3 on p.15 in your small group The Church’s Birthday • Was Pentecost the first day of the Church? • No, just as life begins at conception but birth occurs nine months later, the Holy Spirit and the Church began at Creation. • The Holy Spirit was sent to us at Pentecost, but was always present in the world. • Before Pentecost the Holy Spirit was preparing its mission among us (Kings, Judges, Prophets). • After Pentecost, the Holy Spirit is fulfilling its mission among us (Apostles, Popes, Bishops, Priests, Deacons, Religious, and in all of us). Jesus Founds the Church • The Church is founded on the New Covenant in Jesus Christ. • Jesus offered himself as a sacrifice to redeem us from the penalty of sin, to restore us to grace, and to offer us eternal life with God in heaven. • The Church has one aim, which is to proclaim this Covenant (The Gospel) and to invite the whole world to enter into it. Who is Jesus? • God the Son: The Second Person of the Trinity made man. • True God and True Man • As God, Jesus is equal with the Father and Holy Spirit • As man, Jesus is like us in all things but sin • Jesus is the mediator between God and man • Jesus is the Savior – His passion and death was the sacrifice that atoned for our sins. We know his sacrifice was accepted because of His Resurrection • Jesus founded the Church and instituted (began) the sacraments to confer the grace that won upon the Cross to mankind. With the life of grace, we can live forever with God in Heaven. Saint Peter • Jesus founded the Church but he entrusted its care to Peter and his successors (The Popes). • Jesus said, “Upon this rock (Peter), I will build my church.” • Jesus gave the keys to the Kingdom of Heaven. • Keys are a sign of authority given to a lead steward in the absence of the master. • The steward makes decisions on behalf of the master and acts on his behalf until the master returns. • This is why the Pope is called the Vicar of Christ. The Four Marks of the Church • There are many Christian Churches and many other religions, how do we know that ours is the true Church founded by Jesus, the Lord. • We profess the four marks of the church every Sunday during the Apostle’s Creed • We say, “We believe in One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic church” First Mark: One • Catholics share one Faith, one Baptism, one head on earth (the pope), one Sacrifice of the Mass – the same Sacrifice of Christ on the Cross. • We are also united in one Mystical Body of Christ through the Holy Spirit. Second Mark: Holy • The Church is holy in that she was founded by Jesus Christ himself. • By Christ’s sacrifice and through the Church, we can become holy through holy doctrines and holy sacraments. • The church is sanctified by the Holy Spirit and shares in the sanctity of her members, including the saints and holy souls. Third: Catholic • The church is catholic (meaning universal). • She is for all people, of every time, until the end of time. • She proclaims the whole Gospel. • It is through this mark that the Church gets its name “The Catholic Church” Fourth Mark: Apostolic • The Church is apostolic in that her beginnings date to the days of the apostles who learned from and were formed by our Lord. • The apostles were the first members and teachers. • Their successors share their work of teaching, governing, and sanctifying. • A special sign of the apostolic succession is the Pope, Christ’s vicar on earth. The Holy Spirit • After Jesus Ascended into Heaven He sent down his Holy Spirit upon the Church at Pentecost. • The Holy Spirit is also called the Advocate, who speaks on our behalf to God and Jesus’ behalf to us. • The Holy Spirit is promised to guide the Church “into all truth.” The Two Gifts of the Holy Spirit to the Church • Infallibility: – The Holy Spirit protects the Church when the Pope or bishops teach things long held by the church, embraced throughout time and in all places, as true. – The Holy Spirit protects the councils of bishops when gathered with the Pope from error when it defines doctrine for the Church. – When the Pope speaks ex cathedra (from the chair of Peter) on Faith and Morals. This has been done only a couple of times in 2000 years. • Idefectibility: – This means that the Catholic Church will be present on earth until the end of the world. – It will continue its mission to teach and spread the Gospel until the end of the world. – We will always have a Pope and bishops and she will always teach the truth. Surety in our Faith • The four marks of the Church supported by infallibility and indefectibility give us surety in our faith. • Many arguments are laid against the Church but the Church has answered them all. • Most complaints against the Church come from personal desire for something different, often seeking an element of faith or morals that is more convenient. • For example: Why do I have to go to Confession, why can’t I just say sorry directly to God? • Answer: Because forgiveness requires faith and doubt can impede the grace of forgiveness. When you encounter Christ, through the priest in reconciliation, and he gives you absolution, there is no doubt that you are forgiven. It is confirmed by the priest. It is easy to doubt whether you are really forgiven when you don’t; there is no confirmation. (This is only part of the full answer). Small Group Activity Fill Out Workbook P. 10 & 11 Closing Prayer Prayer to the Holy Spirit Leader: Come Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of you faithful All: And enkindle in them the fire of your love. Leader: Send forth your Spirit and they shall be created. All: And you will renew the face of the earth.
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