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Spirit of Truth, High School

Course IV


1Christ Establishes His Church

In this course, we are going to explore the mystery of the Church in order to understand what it means to be part of her. We will look at the history of Church in Sacred Scripture, the mystery of the Church in time and eternity, and your life in the Church today. Through it all, the goal is not only to deepen your understanding of the Church but also to strengthen your appreciation for the Church, helping you to recognize more clearly that the Church is an indispensable gift through which God seeks to unite you ever more closely to himself.

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2Images of the Church

The greatness of the Church鈥檚 mystery is one of the reasons God has given us a wide array of images to help us understand the Church. Each image is a metaphor that helps us to see a particular aspect of the Church. In a sense, each image is like a window through which we can gaze upon the truth. The wide variety of images of the Church is because the truth of the Church is inexhaustible.

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3The Marks of the Church

The Nicene Creed that we pray every Sunday at Mass states that we believe in 鈥渙ne, holy, catholic, and apostolic Church.鈥 These characteristics of the Church are called the four 鈥渕arks of the Church.鈥 They tell us that the true Church is one. She is holy. She is catholic (which means 鈥渦niversal鈥). And she is apostolic. The Church can be recognized by these four characteristics.

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4The Church in the World

The Church is both the sign of humanity鈥檚 communion with God and the instrument that makes that communion possible. The Church makes visible to the world the unity of those who follow Christ, and at the same time she makes that unity real鈥攊n fact, she is that unity. For this reason, the Second Vatican Council called the Church 鈥渢he universal sacrament of salvation鈥 (Lumen Gentium 48).

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5The Church and the Life of the Believer

Belonging to the Church is not an optional extra for a follower of Jesus. It is an essential part of what it means to be His disciple and have a relationship with Him. As we have learned, Jesus founded the Church and made her the sign and instrument of humanity鈥檚 salvation. This truth means that through the Church, God leads humanity to Heaven. The Church is His instrument, or the means by which He accomplishes this mission of salvation. Through her, we receive the Sacred Scriptures. Through her, we receive Sacred Tradition, handed on from the Apostles. And through her, we receive the Sacraments, through which God鈥檚 grace flows to humanity. These Sacraments, especially Baptism and the Eucharist, are how God desires to dispense His salvific grace.

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