The Catholic Church is the congregation of all Baptized persons united in the same true faith, the same sacrifice, and the same Sacraments, under the authority of the Magisterium of the Church, which consists of the Sovereign Pontiff, the Pope, and all the Bishops in communion with him.
The Church is the Mystical Body of Jesus Christ. Her Head is Jesus; her soul is the Holy Spirit; her members are the Catholic faithful, her life is Grace.
Just as a human body has one head, so does the Church have one head who is Christ. The Pope is His Vicar, or representative, on earth, the visible head of the Church.
Just as our human body is made up of many members, such as hands, feet, eyes, lungs, the heart, etc. so is the Mystical Body of Christ composed of many members. The members of the Church are those Baptized, profess the true faith, and have not left or have been excommunicated (expelled) from the Church.
The Catholic Church is the fullness of Christ, Head and members, the whole Christ. It is rightfully said that the Church is the sum total of God's revelation to mankind. In the Church we are all one in Christ. In a mysterious, yet true sense, the Church is Jesus Christ.
The Church is made up into three sections, the Church Militant, who are all those living on earth who have been Confirmed; the Church Suffering, who are all those persons doing penance in Purgatory; and the Church Triumphant, who are all those alive in Heaven.
Some of the symbols and comparisons the Bible uses for the Church Militant and Church Triumphant are: the Vine, the Sheepfold, the Ark of Noe, and the New Jerusalem, the Bride of Christ.
The Catholic Church was founded by Jesus Christ and everything she teaches can be traced back to His mouth or the mouth of an Apostle who was breathed on by Jesus; with the exception of the Assumption of Mary, which was defined by Papal infallibility.
The Catholic Church was founded by Jesus to bring all men to eternal salvation. The Church is enabled to lead men to salvation by the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, who gives her life.
The dwelling of the Holy Spirit in the Church was first manifested on Pentecost Sunday, when He came down upon the Apostles and the Blessed Virgin Mary in the form of tongues of fire. Pentecost Sunday is the day we became a Church. We have the assurance that the Holy Spirit will dwell in the Catholic Church until the end of time. Jesus gave us this Promise when He said, "The gates (powers) of hell will not prevail against My Church." Matthew 16:18
The Indwelling of the Holy Spirit enables the Church to Teach. To Sanctify, and to Rule the Faithful in the name of Jesus Christ. Just as the human body has one soul to give it life, so the Mystical Body of Christ has one soul, the Holy Spirit. He dwells in the body as a whole and in each living member, filling it with Divine Life.
Just as the human body has a human life, so does the Mystical Body of Christ have a Divine Life, which we call Sanctifying Grace.
By Teaching, Sanctifying, and Ruling, in the name of Christ is meant that the Church always does the Will of its Divine Founder, Jesus, who remains forever its invisible Head.
Teaching- Christ stands behind the preaching of the Church.
Sanctifying-It is Jesus who is the invisible Minister of every Sacrament.
Ruling-it is Jesus who guides the Church in making Laws.
Christ gave the power to Teach, Sanctify, and Rule the members of His Church to the Apostles, the first Bishops. Jesus intended that this power should be exercised by them and passed on to their successors, the Bishops of the Church.
Jesus gave to St. Peter a special power in the Church by making him the head of the Apostles and chief teacher and ruler of the entire Church. St. Peter is our First Pope, his power was always intended to be passed down through his successors, the Popes, the Bishops of Rome, all 264 of them, who are the Vicars of Christ on earth, the visible Head of the Church. Our Parish priests assist the Bishops in the care of souls.
The Laity, or Laic society, of the Church are all its members who do not belong the clerical or religious state. The Laity can help the Church in her care of souls by leading lives that will reflect credit on the Church, and by cooperating with their Bishops and priests, especially through Catholic Action.
Catholic Action is the active participation of the laity in the Apostolate of the Church
under the guidance of the Hierarchy. Some examples of Catholic Action would those involved in the ministries of Lay Missionaries, Eucharistic Minister, Lector, Knights of Columbus, or other various organizations working for the Church; Catechetical instruction; and by promoting the high standards in the press, motion pictures, radio and television industries.
Every Catholic is obliged to help the Church to spread. Non-Catholics are most often
brought into the Church by the good example of Catholics and kept away by bad example.
Every one of us has a moral obligation to take an interest in Catholics who have fallen away from the Church and Non-Catholics. Never argue, but cheerfully answer their sincere questions, regardless of how silly they may sound. They do not know any better. Encourage them, and, if possible, donft just tell, but take them to see a priest.
We got our Name, "Catholic" from St. Ignatius of Antioch. On his way to Martyrdom in the year 107, he wrote seven letters, six the Churches in his See, and one to his friend, St. Polycarp. In his letter to the Smyrneans, he said,
"Wherever the Bishops appears, let the people be there, just as Jesus Christ is, there will be the Catholic Church."
The name has stuck ever since.
The Hierarchy of the Church
The Chief teaching of the Catholic Church is the Incarnation. The Incarnation means that the Son of God, Jesus Christ, retaining His Divine Nature, took to Himself a human nature, that is, a body and soul, like ours.
The Center of the Catholic Church is the Holy Eucharist. This is the manner Jesus chose to remain with us always. The Holy Sacrifice of the Mass beautifully fulfills the Prophecy of Malachi 1:11.