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Apostolic in origin and nature, the Roman Catholic Church is constituted by a community — bishops, priests, deacons and laity — that are “co-responsible” for the Church. The Letter to the Romans reminds us
For as in one body we have many parts, and all the parts do not have the same function,so we, though many, are one body in Christ and individually parts of one another. Since we have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us exercise them: if prophecy, in proportion to the faith; if ministry, in ministering; if one is a teacher, in teaching; if one exhorts, in exhortation; if one contributes, in generosity; if one is over others, with diligence; if one does acts of mercy, with cheerfulness (Roman 12: 4-8).
When, therefore, in the Profession of Faith, we proclaim “I believe in One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church,” this is what we mean by “Apostolic.” In believing, we understand.
Faith is as natural to the human person as religious faith is indispensable to the baptized Roman Catholic. In the first case, faith seems to be part of the make-up of who and what we are, creatures possessed of intellect and free will, capable of seeking and knowing truth and following where it leads in our lives. In the second case, religious faith, Christian faith, Catholic faith is a gift and grace infused in the human mind and heart by God, our Creator, so that we might know and love him and his truth and follow where he leads in our lives. His path leads us to the Roman Catholic Church and to all that it believes and teaches as true. Our Catholic faith gives us, as human persons, the truest sense of purpose in life as God created us. Our Catholic faith gives us, as human persons, the truest sense of belonging in life as God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, intended for us: belonging to him and to one another in one, holy, catholic and apostolic community of believers.
In his collection of essays “The Weight of Glory,” the Christian apologist C.S. Lewis once wrote, “I believe in Christianity as I believe the sun has risen; not only because it has risen but because by it I see everything else.” For the Catholic, faith enables us to see everything in life by the light and truth and glory of the Lord Jesus Christ.
As we begin this “Year of Faith” together in the Roman Catholic Church throughout the Diocese of Trenton, let us prayerfully and joyfully reflect upon the closing words of the apostolic letter of Our Holy Father Pope Benedict XVI, Porta Fidei, 15,
Having reached the end of his life, Saint Paul asks his disciple Timothy to “aim at faith” (2 Timothy 2:22) with the same constancy as when he was a boy (cf. 2 Timothy 3:15). We hear this invitation directed to each of us, that none of us grow lazy in the faith. It is the lifelong companion that makes it possible to perceive, ever anew, the marvels that God works for us. Intent on gathering the signs of the times in the present of history, faith commits every one of us to become a living sign of the presence of the Risen Lord in the world. What the world is in particular need of today is the credible witness of people enlightened in mind and heart by the word of the Lord, and capable of opening the hearts and minds of many to the desire for God and for true life, life without end.
Most Reverend David M. O’Connell, C.M.,
Bishop of Trenton
Feast of St. Augustine, Bishop and Doctor of the Church
August 28, 2012
For the Catholic, faith enables us to see everything in life
by the light and truth and glory of the Lord Jesus Christ.