Baltimore Catechism 3

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The Catholic Church




 * Q. 136. What is the Church?
A. The 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 Sovereign Pontiff and the bishops in communion with him.


 * Since Baptism, according to the ruling of Christ, is the gateway to the Church, a person becomes a member of the Church on receiving this sacrament. To remain a real member of the Church after Baptism a person must profess the one true faith and must not withdraw from the unity of the body of the Church in schism or heresy or be excommunicated by legitimate authority because of serious sins. Even schismatics, heretics, and those excommunicated are subjects of the Church and are obliged by its laws unless exempted by the Church.

 * Sacred Scripture refers to the Church as the Body of Christ, as a sheepfold, as the kingdom of God, and as the kingdom of heaven.

 * > "The kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in his field ... " (Matthew 13:24).

 * > "But if I cast out devils by the finger of God, then the kingdom of God has come upon you" (Luke 11:20).

 * > "I am the good shepherd, and I know mine and mine know me, even as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I lay down my life for my sheep. And other sheep I have that are not of this fold. Them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice, and there shall be one fold and one shepherd" (John 10:14-16).

 * > "For as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, many as they are, form one body, so also is it with Christ ... Now you are the body of Christ, member for member" (1 Corinthians 12:12, 27).

 * > " ... one body and one Spirit, even as you were called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one Baptism; one God and Father of all" (Ephesians 4:4-6).


 * Q. 137. Who founded the Church?
A. Jesus Christ founded the Church.


 * Christ completed the founding of His Church just before His Ascension, when He commissioned the apostles to make disciples of all nations. Earlier in His public ministry He had instituted the sacraments, chosen the twelve apostles, instructed them by word and example, and conferred on them the power of teaching, ruling, and sanctifying.

 * The Gospels show that Christ founded the Church in the form of a visible, hierarchical society, that is, one made up of subjects and superiors who rightfully rule subjects. The Roman Pontiff and the bishops under him are the ruling hierarchy of the Church. The Church is also a monarchical society in which the Pope rules with full power, that is, with jurisdiction over the entire Church. Peter

 * > "And I say to thee, thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my Church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it" (Matthew 16:18).

 * > "And Jesus drew near and spoke to them saying, 'All power in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you; and behold, I am with you all days, even unto the consummation of the world' " (Matthew 28:18-20).

 * > " ... Christ also loved the Church, and delivered himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, cleansing her in the bath of water by means of the word; in order that he might present to himself the Church in all her glory, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she might be holy and without blemish" (Ephesians 5:25-27).


 * Q. 138. Why did Jesus Christ found the Church?
A. Jesus Christ founded the Church to bring all men to eternal salvation.


 * The Church instituted by Christ is the only way to eternal salvation. Christ gave the Church the means whereby man can be sanctified and saved.

 * > "My sheep hear my voice, and I know them and they follow me. And I give them everlasting life; and they shall never perish, neither shall anyone snatch them out of my hand" (John 10:27-28).

 * > "As the Father has sent me, I also send you" (John 20:21).

 * > "For the grace of God our Savior has appeared to all men, instructing us, in order that, rejecting ungodliness and worldly lusts, we may live temperately and justly and piously in this world; looking for the blessed hope and glorious coming of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us that he might redeem us from all iniquity and cleanse for himself an acceptable people, pursuing good works" (Titus 2:11-14).


 * Q. 139. How is the Church enabled to lead men to salvation?
A. The Church is enabled to lead men to salvation by the indwelling of the Holy Ghost, who gives it life.


 * Although the work of salvation is the result of the operation of all three Persons of the Blessed Trinity, it is especially the result of the Redemption by Christ, and because this work is one of divine love it is attributed to the Holy Ghost, who is the soul of the Church, of which Christ is the Head.

 * > "But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you, and you shall be witnesses for me in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria and even to the very ends of the earth" (Acts 1:8).


 * Q. 140. When was the dwelling of the Holy Ghost in the Church first visibly manifested?
A. The dwelling of the Holy Ghost in the Church was first visibly manifested on Pentecost Sunday, when He came down upon the apostles in the form of tongues of fire.


 * The word "Pentecost" means fiftieth and is applied to the fiftieth day after Our Lord's Resurrection. The apostles were sent by Christ to preach His doctrines to all men.

 * > "And when the days of Pentecost were drawing to a close, they were all together in one place. And suddenly there came a sound from heaven, as of a violent wind blowing, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. And there appeared to them parted tongues as of fire, which settled upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in foreign tongues, even as the Holy Spirit prompted them to speak" (Acts 2:1-4).


 * Q. 141. How long will the Holy Ghost dwell in the Church?
A. The Holy Ghost will dwell in the Church until the end of time.


 * Christ foretold that the Holy Ghost would dwell in the Church until the end of time.

 * > "And I will ask the Father and he will give you another Advocate to dwell with you forever, the Spirit of truth whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you shall know him, because he will dwell with you, and be in you" (John 14:16-17).


 * Q. 142. Who sent the Holy Ghost to dwell in the Church?
A. God the Father and God the Son sent the Holy Ghost to dwell in the Church.


 * It is a matter of faith that the Holy Ghost proceeds from the Father and the Son and is sent by Both to dwell in the Church.

 * > "But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things, and bring to your mind whatever I have said to you" (John 14:26).

 * > "But when the Advocate has come, whom I will send you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who proceeds from the Father, he will bear witness concerning me" (John 15:26).

 * > "It is expedient for you that I depart. For if I do not go, the Advocate will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you" (John 16:7).


 * Q. 143. What does the indwelling of the Holy Ghost enable the Church to do?
A. The indwelling of the Holy Ghost enables the Church to teach, to sanctify, and to rule the faithful in the name of Christ.


 * The Church must teach because otherwise men would not know the truths of divine revelation taught by Christ. The Church must sanctify, that is, bring grace to the world through the sacraments, because otherwise men could not be saved. The Church must rule because it was established by Our Saviour as a society, which is inconceivable without authority.

 * > "But when he, the Spirit of truth, has come, he will teach you all the truth. For he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he will hear he will speak, and the things that are to come he will declare to you. He will glorify me, because he will receive of what is mine and declare it to you" (John 16:13-14).

 * > "Guard the good trust through the Holy Spirit, who dwells in us" (2 Timothy 1:14).


 * Q. 144. What is meant by teaching, sanctifying, and ruling in the name of Christ?
A. By teaching, sanctifying, and ruling in the name of Christ is meant that the Church always does the will of its Divine Founder, who remains forever its invisible Head.


 * The will of the Founder of the Church is expressed in the commission He gave to His apostles to teach all nations, to baptize them, and to have them observe all the things He had commanded. This commission, as well as the guarantee that Christ would be with His Church until the end of time, is related in the Gospel. 12


 * Q. 145. To whom did Christ give the power to teach, to sanctify, and to rule the members of His Church?
A. Christ gave the power to teach, to sanctify, and to rule the members of His Church to the apostles, the first bishops of the Church.


 * That Christ gave His apostles the power to teach, to rule, and to sanctify is evident from the Gospels, the inspired account of Our Lord's life written by Saints Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. Christ gave the apostles the power to bind and loose, to baptize, to forgive sin, and to offer the sacrifice of the Mass.

 * The power to teach and to rule is the power of jurisdiction; the power to sanctify is the power of orders. The power to sanctify sometimes requires jurisdiction, as in the sacrament of Penance.

 * > "Go into the whole world and preach the gospel to every creature" (Mark 16:15).

 * > "He who hears you, hears me; and he who rejects you, rejects me; and he who rejects me, rejects him who sent me" (Luke 10:16).

 * > "He therefore said to them again. 'Peace be to you! As the Father has sent me, I also send you.' When he had said this, he breathed upon them, and said to them, 'Receive the Holy Spirit; whose sins you shall forgive, they are forgiven them; and whose sins you shall retain, they are retained' " (John 20:21-23).

 * > "You shall receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you, and you shall be witnesses for me in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria and even to the very ends of the earth" (Acts 1:8).


 * Q. 146. Did Christ intend that this power should be exercised by the apostles alone?
A. No, Christ intended that this power should be exercised also by their successors, the bishops of the Church.


 * Christ founded the Church to last until the end of time. The apostles lived for a short time only. Christ must, then, have intended that the apostles provide duly authorized successors to carry on the work of teaching, sanctifying, and ruling. The of the Apostles and the Epistles of Saint Paul contain references to the work done by the successors of the apostles.

 * > "And they prayed and said, 'Thou, Lord, who knowest the hearts of all, show which of these two thou hast chosen to take the place in this ministry and apostleship from which Judas fell away to go to his own place.' And they drew lots between them, and the lot fell upon Matthias; and he was numbered with the eleven apostles" (Acts 1:24-26).

 * > "This saying is true: If anyone is eager for the office of bishop, he desires a good work" (1 Timothy 3:1).

 * > "For this reason I left thee in Crete, that thou shouldst set right anything that is defective and shouldst appoint presbyters in every city, as I myself directed thee to do" (Titus 1:5).


 * Q. 147. Did Christ give special power in His Church to any one of the apostles?
A. Christ gave special power in His Church to Saint Peter by making him the head of the apostles and the chief teacher and ruler of the entire Church.


 * The power of the keys was promised to Saint Peter

 * > "Then Jesus answered and said, 'Blessed art thou, Simon Bar-Jona, for flesh and blood has not revealed this to thee, but my Father in heaven. And I say to thee, thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my Church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. And I will give thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven; and whatever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven' "(Matthew 16:17-19).

 * > "And the Lord said, 'Simon, Simon, behold, Satan has desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat. But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith may not fail; and do thou, when once thou hast turned again, strengthen thy brethren' " (Luke 22:31-32).

 * > "When, therefore, they had breakfasted, Jesus said to Simon Peter, 'Simon, son of John, dost thou love me more than these do?' He said to him, 'Yes, Lord, thou knowest that I love thee.' He said to him, 'Feed my lambs.' He said to him a second time, 'Simon, son of John, dost thou love me?' He said to him, 'Yes, Lord, thou knowest that I love thee.' He said to him, 'Feed my lambs.' A third time he said to him, 'Simon, son of John, dost thou love me?' Peter

 * > "In those days Peter

 * > "But Peter, standing up with the Eleven, lifted up his voice and spoke out to them" (Acts 2:14).


 * Q. 148. Did Christ intend that the special power of chief teacher and ruler of the entire Church should be exercised by Saint Peter alone?
A. Christ did not intend that the special power of chief teacher and ruler of the entire Church should be exercised by Saint Peter alone, but intended that this power should be passed down to his successor, the Pope, the Bishop of Rome, who is the Vicar of Christ on earth and the visible head of the Church.


 * A successor to Saint Peter, the first Bishop of Rome, was required as chief teacher and ruler for the same reason that successors were required for the other apostles. From the very beginning it was acknowledged by the Church that the successor of Saint Peter

 * The bishops of the Church are the successors of the apostles because they have received their power of orders by valid consecration through an unbroken line of successors of the apostles, and have received their power of jurisdiction through their union with the Pope, the successor of Saint Peter. The Pope is now elected by the College of Cardinals.


 * Q. 149. Who assist the bishops in the care of souls?
A. The priests, especially parish priests, assist the bishops in the care of souls.


 * Although all priests assist the bishop of a diocese in the care of souls, parish priests especially are given the definite care of a section of a diocese, which is called a parish and is of ecclesiastical institution.

 * > "And when they had appointed presbyters for them in each church, with prayer and fasting, they commended them to the Lord in whom they had believed" (Acts 14:22).


 * Q. 150. Who are the laity of the Church?
A. The laity of the Church are all its members who do not belong to the clerical or to the religious state.


 * The clerical state includes all priests and all aspirants to the priesthood who have received tonsure, which is the initiation into the ecclesiastical state. Students of minor and major seminaries are aspirants to the Priesthood. The religious state includes men and women who embrace a community life and make the vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience. Those who are preparing to embrace the religious state are called aspirants, postulants, or novices.

 * Religious and clerics enjoy special canonical privileges and have many more obligations than lay people have. Among the laity are secular persons who have embraced the state of celibacy or virginity, or the matrimonial state.


 * The Confession of St. Peter


 * This picture shows Our Lord Jesus handing over the keys to St. Peter, as a sign of the power which He was giving him to forgive sins or to retain them, as shown in the account of St. Matthew:

 * > "Now Jesus, having come into the district of Caesarea Philippi, began to ask His disciples, saying, 'Who do men say the Son of Man is?' But they said, 'Some say, the Baptist; and others, Elias; and others, Jeremias, or one of the prophets.' He said to them, 'But who do you say that I am?' Simon Peter


 * Q. 151. How can the laity help the Church in her care of souls?
A. The laity can help the Church in her care of souls by leading lives that will reflect credit on the Church, and by co-operating with their bishops and priests, especially through Catholic Action.


 * The lay people can assist in a special way by prayer. Catholic Action is the participation of the laity in the apostolate of the hierarchy of the Church. There can be no Catholic Action without an episcopal commission.

 * > "Even so let your light shine before men, in order that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven" (Matthew 5:16).

 * > "I entreat Evodia and I exhort Syntyche to be of one mind in the Lord. And I beseech thee also, my loyal comrade, help them, for they have toiled with me in the gospel, as have Clement and the rest of my fellow-workers whose names are in the book of life" (Philippians 4:2-3).

 * > "Behave yourselves honorably among the pagans; that, whereas they slander you as evildoers, they may, through observing you, by reason of your good works glorify God in the day of visitation" (1 Peter 2:12).




 * One of the most important articles of faith in the Catholic religion is the doctrine that Jesus Christ in the course of His lifetime on earth established a Church-that is, a visible organization which was to continue His work '" of bringing men to salvation until the end of time. This Church was to be an extension of Christ's own life and activities down through the ages. The account of Our Lord's life contained in the Gospel clearly indicates that He founded such an organization. He often spoke of it; He chose the apostles and disciples to be the first members of the Church; as time went on He made it clear that in the Church there were to be rulers who would teach, sanctify and govern the others; He made the apostles the first superiors of the Church, and gave them the power they needed for their office; He indicated that this power was to continue in their successors until the end of the world. As the chief of the apostles and the head of the Church, Christ chose Simon Peter. That Peter

 * Such was the Church as Christ founded it; and such it continues to be today. The Catholic Church has remained the Church of Christ for more than nineteen centuries. It is ruled by the Pope, the successor of St. Peter

 * We call that portion of the Church that is governed by a bishop a diocese. The place from which the bishop teaches and rules is called a see-for example, the see of New York, the see of Boston. The see of the Pope in Rome, because of his special dignity and authority, is called the Holy See. Every diocese is divided into parishes, and the priest in charge is called the pastor or parish priest. The priests who aid him are called assistants or curates.

 * If the church were a merely human organization, it could not have survived for nineteen hundred years. But the Church is a divine organization founded by the Son of God, receiving its life from the Holy Ghost, who on Pentecost came down upon the apostles, the first bishops, to give them light and strength, and to dwell in the Church, as its soul, until the end of time. As members of the Church we all share in this divine life.

 * These thoughts should urge us to be faithful to our obligations as Catholics. We should unhesitatingly accept the teachings of the Church, make use of the means of holiness the Church provides, and obey all the Church's laws, with the conviction that Christ Himself is teaching, sanctifying and ruling us through His representatives, the superiors of the Church. Above all, we should always be loyal to the Pope, the Vicar, or earthly representative, of Jesus Christ.




 * Resolve to say a special prayer at Sunday Mass and after Holy Communion for the Pope and for the freedom and exaltation of the Church.

 * Complete Exercises For Lesson 11





 * (Select the word or phrase which most exactly and most completely fills out the sentence):


 * The Holy Ghost began to dwell in the Church on (Good Friday ... Easter Sunday ... Pentecost).

 * The Pope is elected by (the bishops ... the cardinals ... the people of Vatican City).

 * The Pope uses his power of (teaching ... sanctifying ... ruling) when he appoints a priest to be a bishop.

 * St. Peter

 * Christ completed the founding of His Church (at His death ... when He rose from the dead ... just before His Ascension into heaven).

 * A person becomes a Catholic (by professing the Catholic faith ... by receiving Baptism ... by acknowledging the supreme spiritual power of the Pope).

 * The soul of the Church is (sanctifying grace ... Jesus Christ ... the Holy Ghost).

 * Our Lord promised to give the power of the keys to (St. Peter

 * Novices are (candidates for the priesthood ... those preparing to enter the religious state ... those who have taken the vows of religion).

 * Initiation into the clerical state takes place through (entrance into a seminary ... ordination ... reception of the tonsure).



 * (Answer the questions orally or write them as your teacher may direct):


 * Blanche, the daughter of a Christian Scientist, is interested in our Church. In your own words, explain to her when Our Lord started the Catholic Church.

 * Carl, a Lutheran Sunday-School boy, tells Patrick, a Catholic playmate, that he has read through his New Testament three times already, and he does not remember reading in it anything about the "Roman Catholic Church." Did Our Lord call His Church the "Roman Catholic Church? By what names did He call it?

 * Out in the lonely farming district where Miriam lives, each summer a traveling minister erects a gospel tent which he calls the "Pentecost Tabernacle." Miriam is the only Catholic pupil in the seventh grade of the district school. When the teacher asked the class if anyone knew the meaning of 'Pentecost' not one child, including Miriam, knew the answer. Should Miriam have been able to answer correctly? Why?

 * Lucius asks if any of the books of the Bible speak about bishops who were the successors of the apostles. Can you name any such books?

 * Christopher is an ardent baseball fan. From memory, he can name the lineups of the sixteen clubs in the National and the American Leagues. The other day in a religion test he could give the names of only nine of the apostles. How many apostles did Our Lord choose, and what are their names? Do their names appear in the Mass? Where?

 * What power did Our Lord give the apostles when He said to them: "Go ye into the whole world and preach the Gospel to every creature."?

 * Does the Holy Ghost dwell in the Church today? Can you name any facts that indicate His indwelling in the Church?

 * How many inspired accounts have we of Our Lord's life and works and sayings? Were all of them penned directly by apostles? Explain your answer.

 * When did the apostles receive the command to say Holy Mass and to hear confessions? In carrying out these commands of Our Lord what power were the apostles exercising toward the first Christians?

 * What is the difference between the power of orders and the power of jurisdiction? In which of the sacraments must both be employed? Which of these two powers does a bishop exercise when he ordains a man to the priesthood? When he sends a letter to be read to the people of the diocese? When he dispenses a person from the law of fasting?

 * Name the present bishop of your diocese. When was he consecrated bishop? Do you know the name of the bishop who consecrated him? Does his power come to him from one of the apostles?

 * Can you explain to a person who is not a Catholic the meaning of these terms: diocese; see; seminary; postulant; parish; Catholic Action?


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