Chapter 4: The Church as the Sacrament of Salvation THE CHURCH: Sacrament of Salvation
1. The Church is the Sacrament of Salvation and Communion BASIC QUESTIONS What does it mean to say that the Church is the Sacrament of Salvation? What does it mean to say that the Church is a mystery? What does it mean to say that the Church is the Sacrament of Communion? KEY IDEAS The Church is the Sacrament of Salvation because she is both a sign and instrument of God’s salvation for humanity. The Church is a mystery with human and divine, visible and invisible, and horizontal and vertical dimensions. The Church is the Sacrament of Communion because she is God’s instrument to bring human beings into communion with God and with each other through the grace of the Sacraments.
1. The Church is the Sacrament of Salvation and Communion Anticipatory Set The ultimate purpose of Christianity is salvation: either eternal happiness with God or eternal damnation without God. Read the questions from “In this chapter” in the student text. Respond, in writing, to this doctrine: Outside the Church there is no salvation.Discuss why this doctrine might seem harsh, unjust, or untrue to some people. This chapter will clarify what the Church means by this statement.
1. The Church is the Sacrament of Salvation and Communion What is a Sacrament? It is a sign that accomplishes what it signifies. Extension: For example, Baptism is a sign of washing that actually purifies the soul. What does it mean to say that the Church herself is the Sacrament of Salvation? It means that the Church is a sign of salvation and that she actually brings about salvation.
1. The Church is the Sacrament of Salvation and Communion THE CHURCH IS THE SACRAMENT OF SALVATION What was God’s intent in creation? To share his divine life with all people through the Church that he would create through his Son, Jesus Christ. What is the etymology of the Latin ecclesia (“church”)? The Latin ecclesia comes from the Greek ekklesia and means “assembly” or “to call out of.” More significantly, this was the word used throughout the Old Testament (translated from the Hebrew qahal) to refer to Israel, the People of God. Why did the early Church continue to use Old Testament terminology to describe herself? The early Christians understood themselves to be the New People of God. What is the etymology of the English word “church”? It derives from the Greek kyriake,meaning “what belongs to the Lord.”
1. The Church is the Sacrament of Salvation and Communion Who calls together the Church? Jesus Christ. Who is the visible foundation of Christ’s Church? St. Peter. Who established the way the Church is governed? Christ. What is the proper response to the call of Christ to be in the Church? Faith and cooperation. What are the three meanings of “church” according to the Catechism, no. 752? (1) The liturgical assembly. (2) The local community. (3) The whole universal community of believers.
1. The Church is the Sacrament of Salvation and Communion Guided Exercise Free write on what Christ meant when he said the following to his disciples (this message includes all Christians, including the students in this class): “It was not you who chose me, but I who chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit” (Jn 15:16).
1. The Church is the Sacrament of Salvation and Communion THE MYSTERY OF THE CHURCH What are the meanings of the Latin translations of the Greek word “mysterion”? The Greek mysterion is translated into Latin by two words: sacramentum and mysterium. The term sacramentum describes the Church as a visible sign, while the term mysterium outlines the hidden reality of salvation.
1. The Church is the Sacrament of Salvation and Communion Guided Exercise Think/Pair/Share: What does it mean to say that the Church is the universal Sacrament of Salvation?
1. The Church is the Sacrament of Salvation and Communion A visible and invisible society What is the Church as a visible society? It is the members of the Church on earth with her hierarchical governors and her institutions and various organizations. What is the Church as an invisible society? It is the spiritual community of all the members of the Church, including those on earth, in Purgatory, and in Heaven. How is the Church’s nature akin to the nature of Christ? Just as Christ is one divine Person with two natures, the Church is also a single reality with a dual composition: human and divine.
1. The Church is the Sacrament of Salvation and Communion How does the Church fulfill man’s nature as a social being? Man’s nature and deepest need as a social being is to be in communion with God and neighbor. How is the Church a “mixed composition”? The visible Church on earth is comprised of human members who are sinners and subject to the weaknesses of the flesh yet who are also (hopefully) on the way to holiness. Even though the Church on earth is made up of sinful members, why is the Church, herself, not sinful? The Church is holy and without sin because she is united to Christ.
1. The Church is the Sacrament of Salvation and Communion Why is the Church a mystery? Neither our senses nor our reason can fully unveil the reality of the Church. How is the Church “like a sacrament” according to the Catechism, no. 775? She is a sign and instrument of communion with God and of unity among all people. How does the Church unify the human race? The Church is the instrument by which human beings are united with God and with one another. In Christ, the Church gathers them “from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and tongues.”
1. The Church is the Sacrament of Salvation and Communion Guided Exercise Think/Pair/Write/Share: How does the Sacrament of the Eucharist specially contribute to the Church as the Sacrament of Salvation?
1. The Church is the Sacrament of Salvation and Communion THE CHURCH AS A SACRAMENT OF COMMUNION What is the definition of the Church presented in this section? The Sacrament of Communion refers to a community of men and women united in Christ’s fullness of grace as Head of his Mystical Body. What does the New Testament word koinonia (in Latin, communio) mean? Communion. What are the two “spatial” dimensions of communion? The vertical dimension is communion with God and the horizontal dimension is communion among men.
1. The Church is the Sacrament of Salvation and Communion What are the visual dimensions of communion? The invisible dimension is the intimate communion with the Holy Trinity and other human beings. The visible dimension is communion in the teaching of the Apostles, in the Sacraments, and in the hierarchical order. How does each individual enter into the Church’s communion? By faith and Baptism. How does Christ build up and sustain the members of his Body on earth? Through the Eucharist. How is the Eucharist the source of communion among the members of the Church? The Eucharist unites each member of the Church with Christ himself.
1. The Church is the Sacrament of Salvation and Communion Sidebar: POPE BENEDICT ON THE MEANING OF COMMUNION What Greek and Latin words express the very essence of the Church? In Greek, koinonia, and in Latin, communio. Why do we refer to receiving the Eucharist as “receiving Holy Communion”? As St. Paul wrote, the bread and wine is a koinonia, or communio or participation, in the Body and Blood of Christ. How do we enter a blood relationship with Christ in the Eucharist? According to the Hebrew way of thinking, blood stands for life. Participation in the Blood of Christ is participation in his life.
1. The Church is the Sacrament of Salvation and Communion Closure Write a paragraph explaining as simply as you can how the Church is a mystery that is both the Sacrament of Salvation and the Sacrament of Communion.
1. The Church is the Sacrament of Salvation and Communion Homework Assignment Reading: • The Hierarchical Structure of the Church through St. Peter and the Papacy, including How a pope is elected. Questions: • Study Questions 1–4. • Workbook Questions 1–5.
1. The Church is the Sacrament of Salvation and Communion Free write on the meaning of one of the following quotes in light of the Church as the Sacrament of Communion: “Because the bread is one, we, though many, are one body, all of us who partake of the one bread” (1 Cor 10: 17). “When we share in the body and blood of Christ we become what we receive” (St. Leo the Great, Sermon 63, no. 7).
2. Authority in the Church: The Hierarchy and the Papacy. BASIC QUESTIONS What is the hierarchical structure of the Church? Who is the Pope? KEY IDEAS Christ endowed the Church with a hierarchical structure in which those in authority—the Pope and the bishops in communion with him—serve her members by teaching, ruling and sanctifying them. The Pope is the apostolic Successor of St. Peter and possesses St. Peter’s authority to rule the Church, possessing the gift of infallibility in defining doctrines of faith and morals.
2. Authority in the Church: The Hierarchy and the Papacy. Anticipatory Set Work with a partner to identify the key ideas in the selection from Pope St. Clement of Rome’s Letter to the Corinthians (Supplemental Reading 1).
2. Authority in the Church: The Hierarchy and the Papacy. THE HIERARCHICAL STRUCTURE OF THE CHURCH Why is it logical that Christ should have established his Church with a particular organization? Every kingdom needs a certain organization or it will fall apart, and the kingdom Christ established will endure until the end of time. When was the hierarchy of the Church established? When Christ chose his Twelve Apostles. Why was the hierarchy of the Church established? To pass down the Apostles’ authority and traditions so the Church would continue on the course Christ had set for it.
2. Authority in the Church: The Hierarchy and the Papacy. What is the college of bishops? It is the bishops of the Church in union with the Pope as their head. What is Apostolic Succession? It is the line of bishops that stretches back to the Apostles, each consecrated by the previous one.
2. Authority in the Church: The Hierarchy and the Papacy. What are the three distinct ministerial offices within the Church? Bishops, priests, and deacons. Where do bishops, priests and deacons get their authority and powers? From Christ. What is the equality and inequality in the visible Church on earth? There is a true equality of dignity among the faithful with each member contributing to the Church’s mission. At the same time, the Church’s government is hierarchical; some members, because of the graces available through their ordained roles, possess greater authority than others.
2. Authority in the Church: The Hierarchy and the Papacy. Why is the Church not a democracy? In a democracy, political power derives from the consent of the people. The power of the Church comes from Christ, not from the baptized members. Which Sacrament imparts the ministerial authority of Christ? The Sacrament of Holy Orders. Who make up the Church’s hierarchy or sacred order? The clergy, i.e., bishops, priests and deacons.
2. Authority in the Church: The Hierarchy and the Papacy. Guided Exercise Perform a focused reading of the final four paragraphs of the section “The Hierarchical Structure of the Church” (p. 115) using the following question: How is the Church’s attitude to authority different from the world’s?
2. Authority in the Church: The Hierarchy and the Papacy. Sidebar: The Hierarchy of the Church Established by Christ What three tasks did Christ entrust to the college of the Twelve? To teach, rule and sanctify the Church. Who remains forever the chief Cornerstone and Shepherd of souls? Even thought Christ made St. Peter (and his successors) the foundation of the Church and the chief pastor on earth, Christ himself remains the Head of his Church. In what ways do the successors of the Apostles teach, rule and sanctify? The bishops—in union with St. Peter’s successor as their head—preach the Gospel faithfully, rule the Church by service, and sanctify the Church through the Sacraments.
2. Authority in the Church: The Hierarchy and the Papacy. ST. PETER AND THE PAPACY How do the Roman Pontiff and the bishops relate to St. Peter and the Apostles? The Apostles were a collegial body with St. Peter as their head. The bishops are the successors of the collegial body of the Apostles with the Roman Pontiff, the successor of St. Peter, as their head. What is infallibility? It is a guarantee, made by Christ, that St. Peter and his successors would be free from error in their public teachings on matters of faith and morals.
2. Authority in the Church: The Hierarchy and the Papacy. Guided Exercise In a small group, examine one of the examples of St. Peter exercising authority in the Apostolic Church (p. 118). Explain (1) the example and (2) what it indicates about St. Peter’s role in the Church.
2. Authority in the Church: The Hierarchy and the Papacy. Sidebar: HOW A POPE IS ELECTED What is the most important duty of a cardinal? To act as a papal elector. What is a conclave? It is a papal election, which takes place in the Sistine Chapel. How many votes does a candidate need to be elected Pope? Two-thirds of the cardinals.
2. Authority in the Church: The Hierarchy and the Papacy. What is the significance of white and black smoke emanating from the chimney of the Sistine Chapel? Dark smoke means a ballot has been cast but there is no winner. White smoke (which is accompanied by the peal of bells) means a Pope has been elected. What is Urbi et Orbi? “To the City and to the World”: It is the Pope’s first blessing given to the city (of Rome) and the whole world.
2. Authority in the Church: The Hierarchy and the Papacy. Guided Exercise Think/Pair/Share: Why is it prudent that the papal electors be locked into the Sistine Chapel until a Pope is elected?
2. Authority in the Church: The Hierarchy and the Papacy. Closure Write a paragraph summing up the hierarchical structure of the Church and the special role of St. Peter and his successor.
2. Authority in the Church: The Hierarchy and the Papacy. Homework Assignment Reading: • Roman Curia through Pontifical Councils. Questions: • Study Questions 5–11. • Workbook Questions 6–11.
2. Authority in the Church: The Hierarchy and the Papacy. Alternative Assessment Read the following selection: [Jesus] said to them, “The kings of the Gentiles exercise lordship over [their people]; and those in authority over them are called benefactors. But not so with you; rather let the greatest among you become as the youngest, and the leader as one who serves.… I am among you as one who serves.” (Lk 22: 25-27) Free write on the following question: • How does the way Christ ordered his Apostles to exercise their leadership in the Church reflect (1) the way God the Father rules over creation and (2) how Christ brought salvation into the world?
3. Authority in the Church: the Roman Curia BASIC QUESTION What is the Roman Curia? KEY IDEA The Roman Curia consists currently of the Secretariat of State, nine Congregations, three tribunals, and twelve Pontifical Councils, all of which assist the Roman Pontiff in governing the Church throughout the world.
3. Authority in the Church: the Roman Curia Anticipatory Set A Christian who believes only in the authority of the Bible might object to the Roman Curia as a completely unbiblical organization that has no authority over Christians. Does Christ’s giving the keys of the Kingdom of Heaven to St. Peter answer this objection?
3. Authority in the Church: the Roman Curia ROMAN CURIA What is the Roman Curia? It is the administrative, or governing, body of the Catholic Church, which assists the Pope in his role as pastor of the universal Church. Why does the Pope have a curia? It is not possible for a Pope to administer his workload in every detail, so Popes have created various offices, or ministries, to assist them in their responsibilities. Of what does the Roman Curia presently consist? A Secretariat of State, nine congregations, three tribunals, and twelve Pontifical Councils.
3. Authority in the Church: the Roman Curia Secretariat of State What does the Secretariat of State oversee? The political and diplomatic functions of the Catholic Church. What does the Secretariat of State section for General Affairs handle? The everyday administrative functions of the Vatican. What does the Secretariat of State section for Relations with States handle? The Vatican’s diplomatic relations with civil governments.
3. Authority in the Church: the Roman Curia Congregations Guided Exercise Complete the following table to learn the purpose of the various congregations of the curia.
3. Authority in the Church: the Roman Curia Tribunals What is a tribunal? It is a court. What does the Apostolic Penitentiary do? It grants absolutions and dispensations in matters reserved to the Holy See. It also has authority over the granting and proper use of indulgences. What does the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura do? It ensures that justice in the Church is correctly administered. What does the Tribunal of the Roman Rota do? It is an appellate court charged with safeguarding individuals’ rights within the Church and with providing assistance to lower tribunals.
3. Authority in the Church: the Roman Curia Guided Exercise Complete the following table to learn the purpose of the various councils of the curia.
3. Authority in the Church: the Roman Curia Closure Write a paragraph describing the work of the Roman Curia with one example of each of the tribunals, councils, and congregations.
3. Authority in the Church: the Roman Curia Homework Assignment Reading: • The Office of Bishop through The Office of Deacon. Questions: • Workbook Question 12.
3. Authority in the Church: the Roman Curia Alternative Assessment Work with a partner to identify three issues in which the Church might be involved, and then decide which branch of the Roman Curia the problem concerns.
4. Authority in the Church: Bishops, Priests, and Deacons BASIC QUESTIONS What is the episcopacy? What is an Ecumenical Council? What is the priesthood? What is the diaconate? KEY IDEAS Bishops are successors of the Apostles who exercise the fullness of the priesthood of Christ. They serve the People of God in their dioceses and remain in fellowship with their brother bishops, concerned with the universal needs of the Church. An Ecumenical Council is a meeting of all the bishops of the world under the authority of the Pope. A priest assists his diocesan bishop or religious community in the office of the priesthood of Christ, usually taking care of the people of a parish. Deacons are ordained to provide a ministry of service.
4. Authority in the Church: Bishops, Priests, and Deacons Anticipatory Set Work with a partner to answer the following question based on the Catechism, nos. 883–884 (see “Ecumenical Councils,” p. 122): What is the Pope’s role in an Ecumenical Council?
4. Authority in the Church: Bishops, Priests, and Deacons THE OFFICE OF BISHOP What is a bishop able to confer? The Sacraments of Holy Orders, whether to the episcopacy, the priesthood, or the diaconate. How does a bishop have both a particular and a universal focus? As the head of a particular church, he takes care of his own diocese, assisted by his priests and deacons. As a member of the College of Bishops, he is concerned with the universal challenges of the Church. What is a particular church? A diocese, or local church.