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  A Christian Faith Magazine September 2004, Volume 10, Issue 2  
Author Photo I Believe In The Holy, Catholic Church
Rev. Paul N. Check
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Church Pew

Every Sunday, each Catholic at Mass makes the Profession of Faith (the Creed) and publicly confirms his or her belief in the Church. Of course, these words do not simply convey our acceptance of the existence of the Church, even nonbelievers can say and do as much. But as Msgr. Ronald Knox said, when you've said these words, "you've said a mouthful. If you believe in the holy Catholic Church, then it follows that you believe in all the rest of the Creed; it would be silly to believe in the Church and not believe in what the Church tells you."

Exactly right. If I believe in the Church, then what I am really saying is that I trust the Church to teach me, in the name of Christ, in matters related to the Creed, the Sacraments and the Commandments (in other words, the content of the Catechism). That only makes sense: if I want to go to Heaven, and I believe that the Church was established by Christ to guide me along the narrow path to salvation (cf. Mt 7:13-14), then I depend on the Church to "show me the path to life." (Ps 16:11)

On the other hand, if I don't trust the Church to teach me about these things (or even just some of them) or if I reserve final judgment to myself, then as a matter of intellectual honesty alone or simple rational argumentation, I should stop saying the Creed. Concretely, this means that if I do not accept Church teaching on abortion, contraception, homosexual behavior and "same-sex marriage", divorce, cohabitation, etc., then I have to ask myself in all sincerity and humility, to what extent do I truly "believe in the holy, Catholic Church."

St. Thomas Aquinas
St. Thomas Aquinas

Here is what St. Thomas Aquinas said on this topic: "For what makes something a matter of faith is God's truth revealed in Sacred Scripture and the Church's teaching. So whoever does not adopt the Church's teaching, derived from the truth revealed in Scripture, as an infallible and divine rule, does not have the disposition of faith, but is holding matters of faith in some other way than by faith. Because he picks and chooses from the Church's teaching, what he takes as his infallible rule is his own will." (ST II '- II, 5, 3)

Strong words, those, and clear ones, too, and worthy of our reflection, especially since we say the Creed week after week. They come to us from the saint that the Church (to include Vatican II) has always looked to in modern times to teach us in the ways of faith. What St Thomas means is this: if I pick and choose what to accept in Church teaching-here I am especially thinking of the Commandments, since that is where most controversy lies today-then my ultimate guide to salvation is not the Church, but my own personal judgment. And that, my dear people, is a very dangerous disposition.

Jesus said, "If you love me, you will keep my commandments." (In 14: 15) Our Lord established the Church to guide us along the sure and certain path to eternal life. As her faithful children, may we trust the Church to do just this and may we say the Creed each week with conviction.

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