Marks of the Church

By Vic Scaravilli

We always have to remember that Christ established His Church and is ultimately head of it for eternity. (Col. 1:18)

The marks are used to identify the characteristics of Christ’s Church.

Nicene Creed

Established by the Ecumenical Council of Nicea in 325 AD to formally define some of the fundamental beliefs of the Catholic faith. This is recited at Mass.

“We believe in one, holy, catholic, and apostolic church.”

 

ONE

  1. Unity, united in faith
  2. Not divided
  3. No confusion of beliefs
  4. Focused on the same objective
  5. One leadership

Jn. 17:20-22 So they will all be one.

1Cor. 1:10 Be no divisions among you, but that you remain united in the same mind and purpose.

Rom. 16:17 Avoid people with different beliefs

HOLY

  1. Having the Holy Spirit working through the church
  2. Getting His Graces
  3. Set apart by God as His own
  4. Being able to give God’s graces

1Pet. 2:9 You are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a HOLY nation, a people of His own.

It’s God who makes us holy, not us.

Eph. 5:25-27 Christ loved the church and died for it so that it can be holy.





Grace is the free gift that God gives each person who accepts it of Himself and His power to live out Christian lives. Grace is a participation in the life of God (CCC 1997)

1. Actual grace or the help we get from God to conform our lives to His will or the help us through particular trials in life. This comes from prayer and asking God for His grace.

2. Sanctifying grace is where God shares His divine life and friendship within us. It allows our souls to live with God because He is actually within us. This comes from the sacraments.


Catholic

1. Universal

2. The same everywhere with a common set of beliefs and structure

Another way to think of universal is for a church not to be its own individual congregation operating on its own, but rather a part of a world-wide body with the same roots and beliefs.

When did the name “Catholic” come from? It was first used by the Church Father, Ignatius who was taught by John the Apostle in about 110 AD. He said, “Wherever the bishop appears, let the people be there; just as wherever Jesus Christ is, there is the Catholic Church.”

APOSTOLIC

3. Founded on the apostles

4. Apostolic succession to the present time

The CCC really sums it up in paragraph 857:

“The Church is apostolic because she is founded on the apostles in three ways:

1. She was and remains built on the foundation of the apostles, the witnesses chosen and sent on mission by Christ Himself

2. With the help of the Holy Spirit dwelling in her, the Church keeps and hands on the teaching or the deposit of Faith she has heard from the apostles

3. She continues to be taught, sanctified, and guided by the apostles until Christ’s return, through the successors in pastoral office; the college of bishops assisted by priests, in union with the successor of Peter, the Church’s supreme pastor.


When looking for Christ’s true Church, find one that has ALL of the four marks:


One, holy, catholic, apostolic



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