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It’s been called the Catholic Church since the Year of Our Lord 107 January 23, 2013

Posted by Tantumblogo in awesomeness, Basics, catachesis, Dallas Diocese, Ecumenism, episcopate, General Catholic, Glory, Grace, Papa, Tradition.

On his way to his glorious martyrdom in Rome before the unholy Emperor Trajan, St. Ignatius of Antioch sent a series of letters to various churches – a sort of last will and testament from the Bishop of what was one of the great Sees of the earliest Church.  The content of most of these letters dealt with the structure of Authority in the Church, with St. Ignatius imploring the Christians of the churches of Philadelphia, Magnesia, Ephesus, etc. to adhere to the Faith passed on to them by their bishops, presbyters (priests) and deacons.  There is also a letter to the Romans which acknowledges – in confirmation of Pope St. Clement I’s Ignatius_of_Antiochearlier letter to the Corinthinas (ca. AD 75-80) – that the Church of Rome is the primatial See of all the world, it’s Bishop the Head of the Church and Supreme Arbiter on all matters of doctrine.

It is interesting, then, that the very first use of the term Catholic Church came in St. Ignatius’ Letter to the Smyrnaeans, most likely written in AD 107.  Here it is in context, in the 6th and final paragraph of the letter (see how many Catholic Doctrines were already established at this amazingly early point):

You must all follow the bishop as Jesus Christ follows the Father, and the presbytery as your would the Apostles. Reverence the deacons as you would the command of God. Let no one do anything of concern to the Church without the bishop. Let that be considered a valid Eucharist which is celebrated by the bishop, or by one whom he appoints. Wherever the bishop appears, let the people be there; just as wherever Jesus Christ is there is the Catholic Church………

So, St. Ignatius makes plain, in one paragraph, that there is a Catholic Church, that it exists in those who are united to their Bishop and the hierarchical Authority of the Church, and that even the Sacraments which are the lifeblood of the Church are to be performed either by the bishop directly or those whom he delegates.

In truth, St. Ignatius was using the term Catholic in the sense of “universal,” but isn’t it interesting that the Bishop of Antioch – where the term “Christian” was first used, would also be the first to use the term Catholic (no, Ignatius did not coin the word Christian).

Within 50-70 years, however, the term Catholic Church was being used to clearly delineate those who were in union with Rome, and Gnostics, Manicheans, and other sects which claimed some Christian revelation but were, in fact, very wrong. The understanding of the Authority of the Church, of the Blessed Sacrament, of the sacramental priesthood – all these date from the 1st Century.  Ignatius is confirming them in the earliest 2nd century, but those practices had obviously been in place for some time.

I feel so badly for protestants!  They are so deluded, and have been the subject to a barrage of completely erroneous propaganda.  Unfortunately, the above is known by few Catholics, let alone protestants, many of whom, like dear Pastor Jefferts down there at first baptist in Dallas, still claim the Church is a perversion of Christ’s intent, a semi-Roman “babylonian mystery cult” (his quote) which was taken over by the Emperor Constantine and used for his nefarious purposes, frustrating, apparently, the Almighty and the work of the Holy Spirit.  Constantine was just too much for them.  Then, the Lord the Giver of Life and Source of all Charity allowed His Church to remain mired in complete error and apostasy for 1200 years until the protestant revolt.  It is amazing, but tens of millions believe this, in spite of clear and widely available historical evidence of the total continuity of the Church – in Doctrine, in practice, in Authority, AND in history- which spans the entire 2000 year history of the Church.

Bishop Farrell was calling for prayers for Christian unity this week.  I don’t know what kinds of prayers may be being used by folks, or by parishes in the Diocese, but here are Pope St. Pius X’s original intentions for the Octave of Christian Unity:

January 18: For the return of the “other sheep” to the One Fold of Our Lord Jesus Christ.

  •     January 19: For the return of the Eastern Schismatics to communion with the Apostolic See.
  • January 20: For the return of the Anglicans to the authority of the Vicar of Christ.
  • January 21: For the return of all Protestants throughout the world to the unity of the Catholic Church.
  • January 22: That heretics and schismatics may be one, in union with the Chair of Saint Peter.
  • January 23: That lapsed Catholics may return to the Sacraments of the Church.
  • January 24: That the Jewish people may be converted to the Catholic Faith.
  • January 25: That missionary zeal may conquer the world for Christ

As always with the last saintly Pope, that’s the kind of ecumenism I can get behind!



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