Is the Catholic Church STILL the One True Church???
In the past, the teaching that the Catholic Church is the one true church was boldly proclaimed in Catholic schools and from the pulpit. Since Vatican II seldom does anyone makes this bold statement. Why? Perhaps because some in the ecumenical movement see such an assertion as an obstacle to unity. There are literally thousands of Christian denominations today. Isnít it being haughty to assert that we have the one true church? One definition of humility can be that humility is truth. So were we truly humble, we would humbly assert the truth. God became man and taught His disciples truth. He established His Church on earth. He established only one church, and anyone who takes the time to study history and the beliefs of the church will find that what the Christians of the early centuries believed, we in the Catholic Church still believe - i.e. Jesusí Real Presence in the Holy Eucharist, love and honor for the Mother of God, the God-given authority in the Church of Pope and bishops. The answer to the question in the title is YES, unequivocally yes! Jesus is God, the image of the Father, the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity. He is the founder and head of the church.
Brothers and sisters, we Christians were once united in this one Catholic Church. For fifteen hundred years this unity existed. Perhaps because of the many sins of Her members, God allowed the Church to be divided. When Martin Luther, a Catholic priest, left the Church in the sixteenth century and started his own religion, it started an explosion, eventually fragmenting Christians into thousands of different denominations with a great range of beliefs and practices. It was as if a hand grenade had been thrown into the midst of Christendom.
But God allowed it in order to bring a greater good out of it. What good could possibly come from sin and division? Look at the sin of Adam and Eve, what an unimaginable good came from that! In order to reconcile man with God again, God became man and elevated our human nature to a height that would never have been possible without the Incarnation. He made a marriage of divinity with humanity. He took the division sin had caused between God and man and made it a reason, an `excuse' to bring about an even greater unity than had existed before man sinned! God longs to be one with His People: one heart, one mind, one will, united in Truth and Love. Just as God brought a greater good out of the sin of our first parents, Adam and Eve, so will He bring a greater good out of the disunity He allowed to happen during the Reformation.
Throughout salvation history God has led His People as a people, not as individuals independent of one another. We are a body, His Body, and He is our Head. If the Israelites had believed that God led each individual and each was free to discern truth for himself, how many small groups would have gone off wandering in the desert in all directions and never have reached the Promised Land! And they certainly would not have reached it, for they would have starved. The manna from Heaven came down only where Moses was. He was God's chosen mediator between God and man. God continues to lead His People as a people. He established one Church, the Catholic Church, to be the instrument through which He would lead His People in spirit and truth. He entrusts to His Church the new Manna from Heaven: the Holy Eucharist, His Body and Blood.
In the letter to the Hebrews we read: “Obey your leaders and defer to them, for they keep watch over you and will have to give an account, that they may fulfill their task with joy and not with sorrow.” (Hebrews 13:17) The early Church had a visible structure and leaders. Without these, unity is impossible. The Church is both a human and a divine institution. God uses weak, even sinful human beings to lead His People, but through the guidance of His Holy Spirit He protects the Church from teaching error in doctrine and morals. In the two thousand year history of the Catholic Church, despite sinful leadership at times - even a few sinful popes -the Church has never taught doctrines that were in error: the teachings of Jesus and His Apostles have been preserved throughout the centuries. Surely this doctrinal consistency is proof of the divine dimension of the Catholic Church, a consistency that can even be proven historically by reading the documents throughout Church history.
The manna, the bread from heaven, was a great incentive for the Israelites to stay united in the desert. Today the Eucharist, the true Bread from Heaven, is the Sacrament of Unity. We beg God's grace for all to come to believe in the Real Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist, the greatest gift God has given His People. “Unless you eat My Body and drink My Blood, you have no life in you.” He wants all of His children to share in this Sacred Food and to receive the many graces He has for those who adore Him in the Holy Eucharist. Once Christians are aware of Jesus' Presence in the Blessed Sacrament, unity will blossom in spite of any scandals and other tactics of satan to destroy the Church. Just as the Israelites did not wander off into separate groups in the desert because they knew they needed to stay with Moses in order to gather the manna, so too will Christians some day unite in the one Church God established in order to be fed the Bread from Heaven.
This unity will become reality when Catholics bring harmony between the words they profess and their actions. It is the official teaching of the Catholic Church that the Eucharist is Jesus. The Enthronement of Jesus Sacramentalized (Perpetual Exposition and Adoration of Jesus in the Eucharist) will be a visible witness to this belief. Yet, it will not be our witness that defeats satan, but the grace poured out upon the world because of our ceaseless love and praise of God in the Most Blessed Sacrament. It is Jesus Who will save us.
It is God's will that Christians be united. The only unity that benefits humanity is a unity based on truth. When Christians become aware of Jesus' Presence with us in the Eucharist and that His substantial Presence is made available to us only through validly ordained Priests who can change bread and wine into Our Lord: Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity, then unity will be a natural consequence. It is very important to pray for the grace for all mankind to love and adore Our Eucharistic Lord.
The Church would be greatly enriched if all believers in Jesus united in the Church He founded. Christians separated from the Catholic Church have much to offer the Church in their zeal for souls and their love for Sacred Scripture. And God through His Catholic Church has infinitely precious gifts to offer them ~ Himself in the Blessed Sacrament and the means of forgiveness of sin: the Sacrament of Reconciliation.
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