Day 24: Unity of Faith (170-175)
This is the conclusion of Article 2: We Believe
Tomorrow we have the IN BRIEF
After tomorrow, it gets PRETTY INCREDIBLE and PRETTY EXCITING!!
We get to launch into Section 2: The Creed
WHICH IS PRETTY NEAT!!
So let's say a prayer!!
Prayer by Fr. Mike: “Father in heaven, we give you praise and glory. We thank you so much for bringing us to this moment. We thank you for the fact that you've passed on your Word. You passed on your Revelation of yourself to us, through the Church. Lord God, we also know that we don't simply believe in formulas. We believe in the realities that those formulas express. We know we don't believe in the idea of you as Father, and as Son, and as Holy Spirit. We believe in the reality, you are Father, you are Son, you are Holy Spirit. We don't believe merely in the idea that you came to save us from our sins, but in the reality that you have done this and you continue to do this by sending out your Holy Spirit, and meeting us ever new with your mercy every morning. So Lord, help us to continue to recognize that you're not merely an idea. You are Reality itself. You are Being itself. Help us to be aware of your reality. Help us to be aware of your being. Help us to be aware of you this day and every day. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen”
There is ONLY ONE FAITH when it comes to Christianity
There may be many “claimants”
People, organizations, and groups may claim this truth about Jesus
The truth about what Christians believe
THERE TRULY AND ULTIMATELY IS ONLY ONE FAITH IN WHICH WE PROFESS TOGETHER!!
Uniting our hearts and our minds to what God has REVEALED
The Language of Faith
Paragraph 170 is FASCINATING
For more than 20 years Fr. Mike has come back to this
Paragraph 170 says, “We do not believe in formulas, but in those realities they express, which faith allows us to touch.”
There is something SO POWERFUL about that
We stand up EVERY SINGLE SUNDAY and recite the Nicene Creed
We also, at times, recite the Apostles’ Creed
We say THE CREED and the reality is we say, “I believe in one God, the Father almighty, creator of Heaven and Earth…etc.”
We will talk about that more tomorrow
Sorry, the day after that 😉
We are not saying we believe IN THESE WORDS
We are not saying we believe IN THE FORMULATION
We believe THE FORMULATION
THE FORMULATION IS TRUE!!
THE WORDS ARE ACCURATE!!
We believe in the REALITY THAT THEY EXPRESS
THIS IS AN IMPORTANT DISTINCTION!!
We will continue to talk about THE DEVELOPMENT OF DOCTRINE all year
As our understanding GROWS…
Remember, FAITH SEEKING UNDERSTANDING
As our understanding GROWS…
As our faith DEEPENS…
There might be a MORE UNIQUE WAY that we can express the TRUTH ABOUT THE SAME REALITY
We BELIEVE the formula
We don’t believe IN the formula
IN THE REALITY THAT THE FORMULA EXPRESSES!!
IN THE REALITY THAT THE FORMULA IS CONVEYING THAT FAITH ALLOWS US TO TOUCH!!
Think of any of the COMPLICATED WAYS in which we try to understand what is the NATURE of Jesus being FULLY HUMAN and FULLY DIVINE (ok now my brain is starting to hurt 😕 🧠 🤕)
This is called THE HYPOSTATIC UNION
What is it that Jesus is ONE DIVINE PERSON with TWO NATURES?
A DIVINE NATURE
A HUMAN NATURE
So we say that He is ONE PERSON with TWO NATURES
Ok, that formula of saying Jesus is ONE DIVINE PERSON with a DIVINE AND HUMAN NATURE is a FORMULA trying to give us the ability to EXPRESS AND CAPTURE AND CONVEY TO OTHERS what we believe about Jesus
If we say we UNDERSTAND that…
If we say that we FULLY GRASP THE DEPTH OF WHAT THAT MEANS…
Well actually, NO WE DO NOT
We don’t really understand what that REALLY MEANS
In order to assert that GOD IS ONE in His UNITY and in His BEING
HE IS ONE
He is also Father, Son, and Holy Spirit
THREE DIVINE PERSONS
That FORMULA indicates a DEEP and PROFOUND TRUTH
We don’t believe IN the FORMULA
We believe THE FORMULA
We do believe IN God the Father
We do believe IN God the Son
We do believe IN God the Holy Spirit
Hope that makes sense!! (This reminds me of biochemistry class in first year of medschool and we had to memorize the Krebs Cycle and then substitute nitrogen for oxygen to show that we understood the concept of cellular respiration. That was MUCH easier than today 🤣 🤣 🤣)
The formulas are NOT THE END IN THEMSELVES
They allow us to EXPRESS AND APPROACH THE REALITIES
They allow us to CONVEY THE REALITIES
They allow us to DIVE MORE DEEPLY INTO THE REALITIES THAT THEY ARE TRYING TO CONVEY TO US
IT IS ABSOLUTELY IMPORTANT THAT WE HAVE THESE FORMULAS!!
WE NEED THESE FORMULAS!!
THEY LEAD TO THE PROPER UNDERSTANDING OF THE REALITIES!!
WITHOUT THE FORMULAS, WE CAN FALL INTO GRAVE ERROR!!
The formulas are actually INDISPENSABLE in our FAITH
WE CANNOT GO WITHOUT THEM
They play an ESSENTIAL ROLE in knowing the TRUTH OF THE REALITIES that they EXPRESS
Paragraph 171 says, “The Church…faithfully guards ‘the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints.’”
THAT IS SO IMPORTANT!!
Remember how St. Paul wrote to Timothy and he called the Church “THE PILLAR AND BULWARK OF THE TRUTH” in 1 Tim 3:15
THAT DECLARATION IS VERY IMPORTANT!!
ESPECIALLY for our brothers and sisters who say, “No, Scripture is our ONLY SOURCE of God’s Revelation.”
Ok, well that Revelation…
That Sacred Scripture…
The Holy Bible…
The Word of God…
CALLS THE CHURCH THE PILLAR AND BULWARK OF TRUTH!! 🤯 🤯 🤯
WHICH IS VERY VERY IMPORTANT!!
Because The Church faithfully guards the faith…
Paragraph 171 says, “She guards the memory of Christ’s words.”
Remember, we talked about how The Church is MOTHER
NOT in the same way how God is the Father
The Church is MOTHER in the sense that SHE CONTINUES TO TEACH US
It is THROUGH THE CHURCH that we are handed on ETERNAL LIFE
It is FROM GOD
It is THROUGH THE CHURCH that we are given that ETERNAL LIFE
Paragraph 171 continues, “As a mother who teaches her children to speak and so to understand and communicate, the Church our Mother teaches us the language of faith in order to introduce us to the understanding and the life of faith.”
THAT IS SO VASTLY IMPORTANT!!
Paragraphs 172-175 are extended quotes from St. Irenaeus of Lyon
THIS IS SO IMPORTANT!!
He was a disciple of St. Polycarp, who was a direct disciple of a man named JOHN THE APOSTLE
THIS IS REALLY REALLY IMPORTANT!!
St. Irenaeus of Lyon lived around 130-202 AD
So right at the VERY BEGINNING of the Early Church
He was an EARLY CHURCH FATHER with a DIRECT CONNECTION to JOHN THE APOSTLE!! 🤯
One of the things we have established and assert is the REALITY OF APOSTOLIC SUCCESSION
Here are the 12 Apostles that Jesus gathered around him TO SEND THEM OUT
Judas betrayed Jesus so they replaced him with St. Matthias
So those 12 are SENT OUT and consistently ordained OTHER MEN who would be their SUCCESSORS
They would LAY THEIR HANDS ON THEM
They would INVOKE THE HOLY SPIRIT
They would ORDAIN THEM AS JESUS HAD ORDAINED THE APOSTLES!!
We recognize that UNITY in APOSTOLIC SUCCESSION
WE CAN GO ALL THE WAY BACK TO JESUS HIMSELF!! 🤯 🤯 🤯
THIS IS ESSENTIAL!!
THIS IS HISTORICAL!!
Here is St. Irenaeus from 130-202 AD who was HIMSELF ORDAINED by St. Polycarp who was HIMSELF ORDAINED by John the Apostle who himself was ORDAINED BY JESUS CHRIST!!
St. Irenaeus says in Paragraph 173, “Indeed, the Church, though scattered throughout the whole world, even to the ends of the earth, having received the faith from the apostles and their disciples…guards (this preaching and faith) with care, as dwelling in but a single house, and similarly believes as if having but one soul and a single heart, and preaches, teaches, and hands on this faith with a unanimous voice, as if possessing only one mouth.”
At the Last Supper, Jesus has a long HIGH PRIESTLY PRAYER in John 17:1-26
Part of that prayer is, “Father, may they be ONE as you and I are ONE.”
St. Irenaeus is saying this is one of the marks of The Church
IT IS ONE!!
IN A SINGLE HOUSE
AS IF POSSESSING ONLY ONE MOUTH
Paragraph 174 says, “For though languages differ throughout the world, the content of the Tradition is one and the same. The Churches established in Germany have no other faith or Tradition, nor do those of the Iberians, nor those of the Celts, nor those of the East, of Egypt, of Libya, nor those established at the center of the world…”
THEY ARE NOT DIFFERENT!!
Yes, they may have different LANGUAGES
Paragraph 174 continues, “The Church’s message ‘is true and solid, in which one and the same way of salvation appears throughout the whole world.’”
THAT IS SO VASTLY IMPORTANT!!
We are so used to seeing DIVISION among Christians that we think that is how things are
THAT IS NOT HOW THINGS ARE!!
From the very beginning The Church had to fight for UNITY
Not the broken ways in which churches and Christians have fought for unity in terms of PERSECUTION
Having to fight for IDEAS
Having to fight for THE TRUTH
Having to STAND FOR AND WRESTLE WITH EACH OTHER over how we are going to LIVE OUT…
How are we going to EXPRESS…
How are we going to UNDERSTAND…
This is part of what the Church Councils have been all about
We know this is reality because in Acts of the Apostles, the Church gathered in the very first Council of Jerusalem
They answered the question about the people who were not Jewish, the Gentiles, who were not brought into the OLD COVENANT
Can we just bring them into the NEW COVENANT?
So from the VERY BEGINNING The Church has had to COME TOGETHER
The Church had to COME TOGETHER
INVOKE THE HOLY SPIRIT
AND REALLY WRESTLE WITH THESE BIG QUESTIONS
The ANSWER that they come to about these BIG QUESTIONS…
HAS BEEN PASSED ON!!
HAS BEEN FORMULATED AND TAUGHT THROUGHOUT THE WHOLE WORLD!!
SO THAT WE HAVE THIS ONE UNITED FAITH!!
Because of that, Paragraph 175 says, “We guard with care the faith that we have received from the Church, for without ceasing, under the action of God’s Spirit, this deposit of great price, as if in an excellent vessel, is constantly being renewed and causes the very vessel that contains it to be renewed.”
As Catholic Christians we recognize that we are CONSTANTLY IN NEED OF RENEWAL!!
WE ARE CONSTANTLY IN NEED OF CONVERSION!!
WE ARE CONSTANTLY NEEDING TO COME BACK TO THE LORD!!
“Ok Lord, what am I missing? What are my blind spots? Where do I need to grow? Where do I need to understand you? Where do I need to say ‘YES’ to you?”
THIS IS OUR PRAYER TODAY!!
How can we submit to the invitation of The Church to COME BACK TO THE LORD?
How can we submit to the TEACHING OF THE CHURCH and say, “Ok Lord, I don’t have all the answers. Your Church is going to guide me into ALL TRUTH by the power of your Holy Spirit. Help me today. Help me today not just so I can know more about you, but so that in knowing you I can love you better. I can follow you better. And in knowing you I can be renewed.”
THAT IS THE WHOLE THING!!
TO BE RENEWED!!
BY THE TRUTH OF THE GOSPEL!!
BY THE TRUTH OF THE HOLY SPIRIT!!
BY THE TRUTH THAT THE CHURCH CONTINUES TO PROCLAIM THROUGHOUT THE WORLD!!
So we pray for that!!
Fr. Mike is praying FOR YOU!!
Please pray for Fr. Mike and for each other!!
I cannot WAIT to see you tomorrow!!
Scripture References & Reflections
- compiled by Andrew Adamany
Bible Translation - RSVCE
CCC 171 "The Church, "the pillar and bulwark of the truth", faithfully guards "the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints". She guards the memory of Christ's words; it is she who from generation to generation hands on the apostles' confession of faith.
1 Timothy 3:14–16
"I hope to come to you soon, but I am writing these instructions to you so that, if I am delayed, you may know how one ought to behave in the household of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and bulwark of the truth. Great indeed, we confess, is the mystery of our religion:
He was manifested in the flesh, vindicated in the Spirit, seen by angels, preached among the nations, believed on in the world, taken up in glory."
"Beloved, being very eager to write to you of our common salvation, I found it necessary to write appealing to you to contend for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints."
As a mother who teaches her children to speak and so to understand and communicate, the Church our Mother teaches us the language of faith in order to introduce us to the understanding and the life of faith."
"Tell me, you who desire to be under law, do you not hear the law? For it is written that Abraham had two sons, one by a slave and one by a free woman. But the son of the slave was born according to the flesh, the son of the free woman through promise. Now this is an allegory: these women are two covenants. One is from Mount Sinai, bearing children for slavery; she is Hagar. Now Hagar is Mount Sinai in Arabia; she corresponds to the present Jerusalem, for she is in slavery with her children. But the Jerusalem above is free, and she is our mother."
"Then came one of the seven angels who had the seven bowls full of the seven last plagues, and spoke to me, saying, “Come, I will show you the Bride, the wife of the Lamb.” And in the Spirit he carried me away to a great, high mountain, and showed me the holy city Jerusalem coming down out of heaven from God, having the glory of God, its radiance like a most rare jewel, like a jasper, clear as crystal."
"Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish."
"But far be it from me to glory except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world. For neither circumcision counts for anything, nor uncircumcision, but a new creation. Peace and mercy be upon all who walk by this rule, upon the Israel of God."
"And his gifts were that some should be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, some pastors and teachers,
to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ; so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the cunning of men, by their craftiness in deceitful wiles."
CCC 172 "Through the centuries, in so many languages, cultures, peoples and nations, the Church has constantly confessed this one faith, received from the one Lord, transmitted by one Baptism, and grounded in the conviction that all people have only one God and Father."
"There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of us all, who is above all and through all and in all."
CCC 173. St. Irenaeus of Lyons: "Indeed, the Church, though scattered throughout the whole world, even to the ends of the earth, having received the faith from the apostles and their disciples. . . guards [this preaching and faith] with care, as dwelling in but a single house, and similarly believes as if having but one soul and a single heart, and preaches, teaches and hands on this faith with a unanimous voice, as if possessing only one mouth."
"After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude which no man could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, and crying out with a loud voice, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits upon the throne, and to the Lamb!”
CCC 174 "'For though languages differ throughout the world, the content of the Tradition is one and the same. The Churches established in Germany have no other faith or Tradition, nor do those of the Iberians, nor those of the Celts, nor those of the East, of Egypt, of Libya, nor those established at the center of the world. . ." The Church's message "is true and solid, in which one and the same way of salvation appears throughout the whole world."
"And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, to the close of the age.”
CCC 175 "'We guard with care the faith that we have received from the Church, for without ceasing, under the action of God's Spirit, this deposit of great price, as if in an excellent vessel, is constantly being renewed and causes the very vessel that contains it to be renewed."
2 Timothy 2:1–2
"You then, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus, and what you have heard from me before many witnesses entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also."