Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
In the last two pastor messages we learned that the four marks of the Church are: that it is One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic.
When we ask where, if anywhere, is to be found the same Church which the New Testament tells us Christ founded, we have to reformulate the question to ask: What Church, if any, descends in an unbroken line from the apostles of Jesus Christ (and also, not incidentally, possesses the other essential notes of the true Church of which the creed speaks)?
Further, to introduce a point we have not dwelt upon at all up to now, What Church, if any, is headed by a single recognized designated leader, just as the apostles of Jesus plainly functioned, on the evidence of the New Testament, under the headship of Peter?
To ask these questions is to answer them: Any entity or body claiming to be the Church of Christ would have to be able to demonstrate its apostolicity by demonstrating an organic link with the original apostles on whom Christ manifestly established his Church. Nothing less than this could qualify as the “apostolic” Church which Jesus founded.
As much for our instruction as for the assurance he intended to give to the apostles to whom he was actually speaking, Jesus said, “He who hears you, hears me” (Luke 10:16). Do we take these words seriously today? Do we listen to the teachings of the successors of the apostles of Jesus, the bishops, in union with and under the successor of the apostle Peter, the pope, as if these teachings were the words of Christ himself?
If we do, we are properly members of the Church which Jesus Christ founded on the apostles and which has come down to us from them. If we do not, how can we pretend that we take anything seriously that Christ said and taught?
He said nothing more solemnly and categorically than these words, in which he declared that the apostles and their successors would speak for him in the serious business of gathering in and sanctifying his people and leading them toward the salvation he offers. Jesus intended that the fullness of his grace should come to his people in a Church that, from the beginning, was what the creed still calls it today: One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic.”
The Catholic Church that we pray and worship in today is the same Church established by Jesus Christ and proclaimed by the Apostles. We are so blessed to have a Church that is founded by Jesus Christ and passed down throughout history through the apostolic succession. Jesus placed Peter as Head of His Church and throughout history we have had a Pope, a single head of our Catholic Church in the world today.