Lesson V – Propagation of Christ’s Religion
Q. What did the Apostles do after they had received the Holy Ghost on Whitsunday?
A. They went forth into the whole world to instruct all nations, according to the orders given them by Jesus Christ.
Q. What did they do with those who believed their doctrine?
A. They gathered them into congregations.
Q. What came from these congregations of believers?
A. There arose, in many places, communities of Christians, whose rulers were the Apostles.
Q. What did the Apostles do when those communities of Christians became very numerous?
A. They chose from amongst them men whom they ordained Bishops, appointing them everywhere as the spiritual rulers of the new Christian communities, with the commission likewise to ordain and appoint others to like offices.
Q. Were all these communities united with one another?
A. Yes; because they all professed the same faith, partook of the same sacraments, and formed all together one great Christian community, under one common head, St. Peter.
Q. What did they call this great community of Christians under one common head?
A. The Catholic, that is, the universal Church, or, simply, the Church.
Q. What, then, is the Church at the present time?
A. The entire body of pastors and people, bound together by the same divine truths, laws, and means of grace, under one head, the Pope of Rome.
Q. Who are the true successors of the Apostles?
A. Only the Bishops of the Roman Catholic Church.
A. Because they alone are rightly consecrated and in communion with the Pope, the Head of the Church.
Q. Did Christ appoint the Pope alone to govern His Church?
A. The Bishops, too, aid in governing the Church, but only with and under their head, the Pope. “Take heed to yourselves, and to the whole flock, wherein the Holy Ghost hath placed you Bishops, to rule the Church of God.” Acts xx. 28.
Q. On what condition did Christ grant any power to His Apostles and their successors?
A. On condition that they would always believe and teach, as the visible Head of His Church believed and taught, and remain obedient to him.
Q. What does St. Irenæus say on the subject?
A. “The Apostles certainly delivered the truth and all the mysteries of our faith to their successors, the pastors. To these, therefore, we ought to have recourse to learn them, especially to the greatest church, the most ancient and known to all, founded at Rome by the two most glorious Apostles, Peter and Paul, which retains the tradition which it received from them, and which is derived through a succession of Bishops down to us. To this Church of Rome, on account of its chiefer principality, it is necessary that every church, that is, the faithful everywhere, address themselves, in which Church the tradition from the Apostles is everywhere preserved.” Lib. iii. c. 3.
Q. What does St. Cyprian say?
A. “There is but one God and one Christ; there is but one Church and one See, founded upon Peter by our Lord Himself.” Lib. i. ep. 8.
Q. What did St. Jerome write to Pope Damasus?
A. “I am attached to your Chair, which is the Chair of St. Peter. I know that the Church is built upon this rock. Whosoever does not eat the Lamb in this house is profane, and whoever does not enter into this Ark, will perish in the waters of the deluge. I do not know Vitalis, I am unacquainted with Meletius, and Paulinus is unknown to me—whoever is not with you is against Jesus Christ, and whoever gathereth not with you, scattereth.”
Q. What conclusion are we forced to draw from this constant tradition of the Fathers?
A. That all Christians are bound to be in full communion with the Church of Rome.
Q. Why is the Catholic Church called the Roman Church?
A. Because St. Peter established the See of his primacy in Rome, and because he handed down the same to be the See of all his successors.
Q. How do the Bishops rule the Church?
A. Each Bishop governs the diocese or bishopric assigned to him by the Pope, and according to the regulations of the Pope. They occasionally meet in council to give their opinion about the best way of advancing the welfare of the Church, and to make decrees and regulations, to be approved of by the Pope.
Q. Through whom do the Bishops exercise their office in the particular congregations (parishes) of their dioceses?
A. Through the priests or pastors whom they appoint.
Q. When may a priest discharge the duties of the priesthood?
A. When he has been expressly sent, or authorized, for that purpose, by his lawful Bishop.
Q. By what means are unity and good order maintained in the Church?
A. By the laity being always obedient to the priests, the priests to the Bishops, and the Bishops to the Pope. “Obey your prelates and be subject to them. For they watch as being to render an account of your souls.” Heb. xiii. 17