Tag Archives: Early Church

Catholic Teachings in the Early Church : Part 7 The Saints and Purgatory

The Saints and Purgatory

[Quotes below are listed in Rod Bennett’s book Four Witnesses]

Today’s Catholic Teaching:

Until the Lord shall come in His majesty, and all the angels with Him and death being destroyed, all things are subject to Him, some of His disciples are exiles on earth, some having died are purified, and others are in glory beholding “clearly God Himself triune and one, as He is”; but all in various ways and degrees are in communion in the same charity of God and neighbor and all sing the same hymn of glory to our God. For all who are in Christ, having His Spirit, form one Church and cleave together in Him. Therefore the union of the wayfarers with the brethren who have gone to sleep in the peace of Christ is not in the least weakened or interrupted, but on the contrary, according to the perpetual faith of the Church, is strengthened by communication of spiritual goods….

For after they have been received into their heavenly home and are present to the Lord, through Him and with Him and in Him they do not cease to intercede with the Father for us, showing forth the merits which they won on earth through the one Mediator between God and man, serving God in all things and filling up in their flesh those things which are lacking of the sufferings of Christ for His Body which is the Church…. Fully conscious of this communion of the whole Mystical Body of Jesus Christ, the pilgrim Church from the very first ages of the Christian religion has cultivated with great piety the memory of the dead and “because it is a holy and wholesome thought to pray for the dead that they may be loosed from their sins”, also offers suffrages for them.

~Vatican II, Lumen Gentium, no 49, 50. Continue reading

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Catholic Teachings in the Early Church : Part 6 The Role of Mary

The Role of Mary

[Quotes below are listed in Rod Bennett’s book Four Witnesses]

Today’s Catholic Teaching:

What the Catholic faith believes about Mary is based on what it believes about Christ, and what it teaches about Mary illumines in turn its faith in Christ.

~CCC 487

Called in the Gospels “the mother of Jesus,” Mary is acclaimed by Elizabeth, at the prompting of the Spirit and even before the birth of her son, as “the mother of my Lord” [Lk 1:43; Jn 2:1; 19:25; cf. Mt 13:55; et al.]. In fact, the One whom she conceived as man by the Holy Spirit, who truly became her Son according to the flesh, was none other than the Fathers’s eternal Son, the second person of the Holy Trinity. Hence the Church confesses that Mary is truly “Mother of God” (Theotokos).

~CCC 495, quoting the council of Ephesus (431): DS 251.

Mary “remained a virgin in conceiving her Son, a virgin in giving birth to him, a virgin in carrying him, a virgin in nursing him at her breast, always a virgin” (St. Augustine, Serm. 186, 1: PL 38, 999): with her whole being she is “the handmaid of the Lord” (Lk 1:38).

~CCC 510

“Finally the Immaculate Virgin, preserved free from all stain of original sin, when the course of her earthly life was finished, was taken up body and soul into heavenly glory…” [Lumen Gentium 59; cf. Pius XII, Munificentissimus Deus (1950): DS 3903; cf. Rev 19:16]. The Assumption of the Blessed Virgin is a singular participation in her Son’s Resurrection and an anticipation of the resurrection of other Christians.

~CCC 966 Continue reading


Catholic Teachings in the Early Church : Part 5 The Lords Supper

The Lords Supper

[Quotes below are listed in Rod Bennett’s book Four Witnesses]

Today’s Catholic Teaching:

At the Last Supper, on the night he was betrayed, our Savior instituted the Eucharistic sacrifice of his Body and Blood. This he did in order to perpetuate the sacrifice of the Cross throughout the ages until he should come again, and so to entrust to his beloved Spouse, the Church, a memorial of his death and resurrection: a sacrament of love, a sign of unity, a bond of charity, a paschal banquet in which Christ is consumed, the mind is filled with grace, and pledge of future glory is given to us.

~Vatican II, Sacrosanctum Concilium, no. 47. Continue reading


Catholic Teachings in the Early Church : Part 4 Baptism

Baptism

[Quotes below are listed in Rod Bennett’s book Four Witnesses]

Today’s Catholic Teaching:

The sacrament of Baptism confers first sanctifying grace by which original sin is washed away, as well as all actual sin if any such exists; it remits all punishment due on account of such sins; it imprints the character of a Christian; it makes us children of God, members of the Church, and heirs to Paradise, and enables us to receive the other sacraments.

~A.D. 1908: Catechism of St. Pius X Continue reading


Catholic Teachings in the Early Church : Part 3 The Papacy

The Papacy

[Quotes below are listed in Rod Bennett’s book Four Witnesses]

Today’s Catholic Teaching:

That which our Lord Jesus Christ, the prince of shepherds and great shepherd of the sheep, established in the blessed apostle Peter, for the continual salvation and permanent benefit of the Church, must of necessity remain for ever, by Christ’s authority, in the church which, founded as it is upon a rock, will stand firm until the end of time. For no one can be in doubt, indeed it was known in every age that the holy and most blessed Peter, prince and head of the apostles, the pillar of faith and the foundation of the Catholic Church, received the keys of the kingdom from our Lord Jesus Christ, the savior and redeemer of the human race, and that to this day and for ever he lives and presides and exercises judgment in his successors the bishops of the holy Roman see, which he founded and consecrated with his blood. Therefore whoever succeeds to the chair of Peter obtains by the institution of Christ himself, the primacy of Peter over the whole Church. So what the truth has ordained stands firm, and blessed Peter perseveres in the rock-like strength he was granted, and does not abandon that guidance of the Church which he once received. For this reason it has always been necessary for every church – that to say the faithful throughout the world – to be in agreement with the Roman Church because of its more effective leadership.

~Vatican I, First Dogmatic Constitution on the Church of Christ. Continue reading


Catholic Teachings in the Early Church : Part 2 The Nature of the Church

The Nature of the Church

[Quotes below are listed in Rod Bennett’s book Four Witnesses]

Today’s Catholic Teaching:

Christ, the one Mediator, established and continually sustains here on earth His holy Church , the community of faith, hope and charity, as an entity with visible delineation through which He communicated truth and grace to all….That divine mission, entrusted by Christ to the apostles, will last until the end of the world (Mt 28:20), since the Gospel they are to teach is for all time the source of all life for the Church. And for this reason the apostles, appointed successors.

For they not only had helpers in their ministry, but also, in order that the mission assigned to them might continue after their death, they passed on to their immediate cooperators, as it were, in the form of a testament, the duty of confirming and finishing the work begun by themselves, recommending to them that they attend to the whole flock in which the Holy Spirit placed them to shepherd the Church of God. They therefore appointed such men, and gave them the order that, when they should have died, other approved men would take up their ministry….Therefore, the Sacred Council teaches that bishops by divine institution have succeeded to the place of the apostles, as shepherds of the Church, and he who hears them, hears Christ, and he who rejects them rejects Christ and Him who sent Christ.

~Vatican II, Lumen Gentium, nos. 8, 20 Continue reading


Early Christians on the Holy Eucharist

What did the Church say about it’s own understanding of the Eucharist?  How did the first generation of disciples of the Apostles understand the Body and Blood of Jesus?  Did they say it was a symbol or was it the real thing?  This is a hotly debated issue today but it wasn’t then.

It’s seems we can argue over our individual understanding of the scriptures all day long but why not listen to those who sat at the feet of the Apostles and see what they had to say.  By the way, keep an eye on the dates and remember that these are the men future giants of the Church relied on to determine what is and isn’t an orthodox understanding of this issue.   Continue reading


Catholic Teachings in the Early Church : Part 1

As a Catholic, how often are you faced with the challenge that our Church teachings are some corruption of the scriptures or the influence of paganism because of the efforts of Emperor Constantine (Roman Emperor from 306 to 337AD)? This series of posts are intended to shine a light on what the early church said about itself and what they believed.

This was a time of great growth and faith of the Church. A time the laity clung to the churches and their Bishops for teaching and direction. A time before and after the canonization of the Bible. A time of heresies and leaders who fought against them. A time when calling yourself a follower of Christ was risking torture and death. A time where unity of faith and understanding was critical. It was a time of the Early Church Fathers. A time when their words and the direction of the Church of Rome helped form the orthodox understanding of the Epistles (letters) and Gospels (memoirs) of the Apostles.

Do these church fathers represent authority, that Catholic authority of scripture and tradition and the magisterium, we rely on for guidance and understanding of our faith and morals? No, but they are “witnesses”. Voices from the past, voices from the great cloud of witnesses calling us to remember and never to forget. Cardinal John Henry Newman wrote about these church fathers:

The Fathers are primarily to be considered as witnesses, not as authorities. They are witnesses of an existing state of things, and their treatises are, as it were, histories – teaching us, in the first instance, matters of fact, not of opinion. Whatever they themselves might be, whether deeply or poorly taught in Christian faith and love, they speak, not their own thoughts, but the received views of their respective ages. ~ Primitive Christianity: Essays and Sketches (1833-1836)

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Origin of the Apostles Creed : Part 3

 

A formula containing in brief statements, or “articles,” the fundamental tenets of Christian belief, and having for its authors, according to tradition, the Twelve Apostles.

I. ORIGIN OF THE CREED

Throughout the Middle Ages it was generally believed that the Apostles, on the day of Pentecost, while still under the direct inspiration of the Holy Ghost, composed our present Creed between them, each of the Apostles contributing one of the twelve articles. This legend dates back to the sixth century (see Pseudo-Augustine in Migne, P.L., XXXIX, 2189, and Pirminius, ibid., LXXXIX, 1034), and it is foreshadowed still earlier in a sermon attributed to St. Ambrose (Migne, P.L., XVII, 671; Kattenbusch, I, 81), which takes notice that the Creed was “pieced together by twelve separate workmen”. About the same date (c. 400) Rufinus (Migne, P.L., XXI, 337) gives a detailed account of the composition of the Creed, which account he professes to have received from earlier ages (tradunt majores nostri). Although he does not explicitly assign each article to the authorship of a separate Apostle, he states that it was the joint work of all, and implies that the deliberation took place on the day of Pentecost. Moreover, he declares that “they for many just reasons decided that this rule of faith should be called the Symbol”, which Greek word he explains to mean both indicium, i.e. a token or password by which Christians might recognize each other, and collatio, that is to say an offering made up of separate contributions. Continue reading


The Apostles Creed and the Fight Against the Gnostic Heresy : Part 2

A Creed is used as a baptismal confession, a teaching outline, and as a guide and guard against those errors that the Church thinks most dangerous at the time. The Nicene Creed, drawn up in the fourth century, is emphatic in affirming the Deity of Christ, since it is directed against the Arians, who denied that Christ was fully God. The Apostles’ Creed, drawn up in the first or second century, emphasizes the true Humanity, including the material body, of Jesus, since that is the point that the heretics of the time (Gnostics, Marcionites, and later Manicheans) denied. (See 1 John 4:1-3)

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The Apostles Creed : Part 1

Historical Catholic tradition states that the twelve apostles are the authors of the creed that bears their name. According the early church, the twelve composed the creed with each apostle adding a clause to form the whole. Though scholars today argue against this tradition many continue to think of the creed as apostolic in nature because its basic teachings are agreeable to the theological formulations of the apostolic age.

Though the current form appears to stem from about 700 AD, segments of it are found in Catholic writings dating as early as the second century. The most important predecessor of the Apostles’ Creed was the Old Roman Creed, which was probably formalized during the second half of the second century.

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