Lesson VI —Marks of the Church
Q. How many churches did Christ establish?
A. He established only one Church.
Q. How do we know this?
A. Because He said to St. Peter: “Upon thee I will build My Church.”
Q. Was it a visible or an invisible Church that Christ established?
A. Christ established a visible Church.
Q. How do we know this?
A. Because Christ has commanded us “to lay our complaints before the Church, that is, before her pastors, and abide by her decision” (Matt. xviii. 17); and because an invisible Church could neither teach the law of God nor administer the sacraments.
Q. How does it follow from this that Christ’s Church is visible?
A. Because our Lord cannot command us to lay our complaints before invisible pastors.
Q. How, then, is the Church of Christ visible?
A. She is visible because all her pastors and members are visible, and have always suffered persecution because they were members of the Church of Christ.
Q. For how many years was this visible Church of Christ to last?
A. It was to last to the end of the world.
Q. How do we know this?
A. Because Jesus Christ said that His Church should last to the end of the world.
Q. What are his words?
A. “Behold I am with you all days, even to the end of the world” (Matt. xxviii. 20); and, “The gates of hell shall not prevail against my church.” Matt. xvi. 18.
Q. What would happen, then, if the Church were not to last to the end of the world?
A. Jesus Christ would have told an untruth; to say which would be blasphemous.
Q. How old is the Church to-day?
A. Over eighteen hundred years since our Saviour ascended into heaven.
Q. In which of the religious societies do we find these marks of the Church of Christ?
A. Only in the Holy Roman Catholic Church.
Q. Can the Roman Catholic Church be traced as far back as eighteen hundred years?
A. It can; because we can trace an uninterrupted succession of Popes and Bishops from Pius IX. to St. Peter, and it is impossible to show that it was established at any later period.
Q. Did the Roman Catholic Church ever cease to exist?
A. Never; for she has always existed, and it would be impossible for one to name a period when she did not exist since the time of her establishment.
Q. Do all admit that the Catholic Church was the first Church, that it is the oldest Church, and, consequently the Church established by Jesus Christ?
A. All must admit this; for it is a fact clearly proven by Scripture and by history.
Q. Who bear witness to this fact?
A. The Jews and the Gentiles bear witness to it, and even Protestants themselves acknowledge it.
Q. How do Protestants acknowledge it?
A. If asked why they call themselves Protestants, they answer: “Because we protest against the Catholic Church.”
Q. What follows from this answer?
A. That the Catholic Church is older than Protestantism, otherwise they could not have protested against her.
Q. If we go still farther back, and ask the Greeks how they came to existence, what will be their answer?
A. They must answer: “We began by separating from the Catholic Church in the ninth century.
Q. What follows from this?
A. That the Catholic Church existed for eight hundred years before the Greek Church began, and, consequently, it is older than the Greek Church.
Q. If we thus go back to the very days of the Apostles, what do we find everywhere?
A. That every sect separated from the Catholic Church, and, consequently that the Catholic Church existed before any of them.
Q. What follows from this?
A. That the Catholic Church is the oldest Church, the first Church, and, consequently, the Church established by our Lord Jesus Christ.
Q. Can anything like this be said of any of the non-Catholic religious sects now existing?
A. By no means; since the oldest of them was established only about three hundred years ago.
Q. Do you mean to say that the Protestant doctrine was not known before it was preached by Luther, Calvin, Henry VIII., and John Knox?
A. I do, for it is impossible to show from history what society held this doctrine before Luther, Calvin, Henry VIII., and John Knox.
Q. If the Protestant religion was established fifteen hundred years later than the true Church of Christ, what follows from this?
A. It clearly follows that the Protestant religion is not the true Church of Jesus Christ.
Q. But were, then, a Protestant to say to you that his doctrine is the same as that held by the Apostles and the Church during the first four centuries, what would you answer him?
A. I would simply ask him whether or not he was foolish enough to believe that our Lord Jesus Christ and the Blessed Virgin and the Apostles were all Protestants.
Q. Are there still some other marks by which the true Church of Christ may be easily known?
A. Yes, by these four: She is one; she is holy; she is Catholic; she is apostolic.
Q. How many societies are there in this world, in which unity has always existed, and has never been broken?
A. There is only one such society, and this society is the Catholic Church.
Q. In what do her members differ from one another?
A. They differ in their character, their education, their modes of thought; they differ in their language, their habits of life, their sympathies, prejudices; in one word, they differ from one another in everything that distinguishes man from man.
Q. Is there one thing in which they do differ from one another?
A. There is; they do not differ, and never have differed, from one another in their religion, in which alone they are all of one mind and one heart.
Q. How so?
A. Because they believe all the same sacred truths contained in the Apostles’ Creed, they are all bound by the same commandments of God and the Church, they have all recourse to the same means of grace, the seven sacraments and prayer, and they unite all in the same divine worship—in the holy sacrifice of the Mass.
Q. Can this union in religion ever be broken in the Catholic Church?
A. Never; because the entirety of her faith will, according to Christ’s promise, never fail in her Head—the Pope—from whom it will always flow in all its purity upon all her pastors, and through them upon the rest of the faithful; and the pastors, as well as their flocks, are, by the express command of Christ, all bound under pain of mortal sin to teach and to believe as the Pope teaches and believes, and to be perfectly submissive to him.
Q. How is the Roman Catholic Church holy?
A. Because her founder, Jesus Christ, is holy, and she teaches His holy doctrine, offers to all the means of holiness, and is distinguished by the holiness of so many thousands of her children.
Q. What means the word Catholic?
A. It means “universal.”
Q. How is the Roman Church Catholic or universal?
A. Because she exists in all ages, teaches all nations, and maintains all revealed truths, and, therefore, she always went by the name of Catholic, even among her bitterest enemies. “Your faith is spoken of in the whole world.” Romans i. 8.
Q. How is the Roman Catholic Church apostolic?
A. Because she has come down directly from the Apostles through the uninterrupted succession of her bishops; and because she received from the Apostles of Christ, who alone could give them, her doctrine, her orders, and her mission.
Q. Is any non-Catholic religious society one?
Q. Why can no non-Catholic religious society be one?
A. Because to be one a religious society composed of various members must obey one infallible head only, submit absolutely to be governed by that common head, and obey the infallible teachings of that head. No non-Catholic religious society has or pretends to have such a head and such an infallible teacher.
Q. Give another reason why none of the Protestant sects can be one?
A. Every one of their members assumes to himself more power than Christ gave even to Peter and his successors.
Q. How so?
A. The founders of the Protestant sects and their successors after them, invariably taught their followers that every one has the right to interpret Holy Scripture as he pleases, and to believe as he pleases.
Q. What is the consequence of this freedom of interpretation and belief, as it is called?
A. That no two of them believe alike; that. according to them, Christ’s doctrine contradicts itself, and that many of them have already become unbelievers.
Q. Is any non-Catholic religious society holy?
Q. Why not?
A. Because their founders and their doctrine are unholy.
Q. Why are their founders not holy?
A. Because the founders of Protestantism were bad Catholics, who fell away from the faith. “And of your ownselves shall arise men speaking perverse things to draw away disciples after them.” Acts xx. 28.
Q. Why is their doctrine not holy?
A. Because it makes our divine Lord Jesus Christ a liar; rejects and derides the means of holiness instituted by Him; and instead of leading men to holiness, leads them to unbelief and idolatry, by leaving every one free to believe whatever he chooses.
Q. Why cannot non-Catholic religious societies be called Catholic?
A. Because they sprang up only in later years, and have not ceased to split again into countless sects, none of which is universally spread, or continually spreading in the manner ordained by Christ.
Q. What are the Calvinists, Arminians, Antinomians, Independents, Kilhamites, Glassites, Haldanites, Bereans, Swedenborgians, New-Jerusalemites, Orthodox Quakers, Hicksites, Shakers, Panters, Seekers, Jumpers, Reformed Methodists, German Methodists, Albright Methodists, Episcopal Methodists, Wesleyan Methodists, Methodists North, Methodists South, Protestant Methodists, Episcopalians, High Church Episcopalians, Low Church Episcopalians, Ritualists, Puseyites, Dutch Reformed, Dutch non-Reformed, Christian, Israelites, Baptists, Particular Baptists, Seventh-Day Baptists, Hardshell Baptists, Softshell Baptists, Forty Gallon Baptists, Sixty Gallon Baptists, African Baptists, Free-will Baptists, Church of God Baptists, Regular Baptists, Anti-Mission Baptists, Six Principle Baptists, River Brethren, Winebremarians, Menonites, Second Adventists, Millerites, Christian Baptists, Universalists, Orthodox Congregationalists, Campbellites, Presbyterians, Old School and New School Presbyterians, Cumberland Presbyterians, United Presbyterians, The Only True Church of Christ, 573 Bowery, N.Y,. up stairs, 5th story, Latter-Day Saints, Restorationists, Schwentfelders, Spiritualists, Mormons, Christian Perfectionists, etc., etc., etc.?
A. They are all so many sects that sprang up from Protestantism.
Q. Was any of the non-Catholic religious societies ever universally called Catholic?
A. None of them was or can, by right, be called by that name.
Q. Why not?
A. Because the name Catholic belongs to the true Church only; for they who remained and remain always united with the ancient body of the faithful have retained their ancient name; but they, on the contrary, who have separated from that body, received a new name, as a mark of their new departure.
Q. Why can none of the non-Catholic religious societies be called apostolic?
A. Because none of them sprang up until fifteen hundred years after the times of the Apostles. They cannot, therefore, trace their descent directly to the Apostles who were commissioned by Christ to teach, and of whom they have no lawful successors. Therefore their teachers, not being empowered by the Apostles or their lawful successors, are not sent by Christ, and are not to be believed and obeyed by Christians.
Q. If, then, none but the Roman Catholic Church has the marks of the one Church of Christ, what follows from this?
A. That the Roman Catholic Church alone is the true Church of Jesus Christ.
Q. Give a few proofs to show that the Roman Catholic Church alone is the true Church of Jesus Christ.
A. 1. The antiquity of the Roman Catholic Church.
2. Her establishment by poor fisherman all over the earth.
3. Her invariable duration from that time.
4. The miracles which are wrought in her.
5. The purity and holiness of her doctrines and precepts.
6. The holiness of all those who live according to her laws.
7. The deep science of her doctors.
8. The almost infinite number of her martyrs.
9. The peace of mind and happiness of soul experienced by those who have entered her bosom.
10. The fact that all Protestants admit that a faithful Catholic will be saved in his religion.
11. The frightful punishments inflicted by God upon all the persecutors of the Catholic Church.
12. The melancholy death of all the authors of heresies.
13. The constant fulfilment of the words of our Lord, that His Church would always be persecuted—all tend to convince every reasonable mind that the Roman Catholic Church alone is the true Church of Jesus Christ.