Every Sunday we confess in the Creed that “We believe in one holy catholic and apostolic Church,” and sometimes people ask why that word “catholic” is in there.
“Catholic” just means “universal,” and I recently read a wonderful description of what this means from Cyril of Jerusalem in his Catechetical Lectures, which he gave around 350 AD.
Cyril states that the Church is “Catholic” in five ways: It’s a church that…
- Is throughout the whole world (not just one place),
- Teaches the whole truth about earth and heaven (the true story of the world),
- Addresses the same message to all alike, whether rich or poor, top or bottom, educated or not,
- Attempts to deal with the healing of all our infirmities, body and soul, and
- Possesses all the virtues, all the fruit of the Spirit upon which we can draw for our life.
As those who call ourselves catholic Christians, part of the catholic Church, we are pledged to all of these things. I found it to be a beautiful, deep, and comprehensive picture of what it means to be the church (maybe it could be a 5-week class at some point?).
Of course, Fr. Matt’s sermon from this past Sunday was all about what it means to be the church, too (I encourage you to listen to it if you missed it):
You can’t “close” the church, even during a pandemic. God is still open for business, building us up, present with us and between us, so that we grow into our salvation. Let’s stay connected as we continue to be saved through this pandemic.
So here’s my encouragement for us this week: Because we belong to the one holy catholic and apostolic Church, which is worldwide, teaches the whole truth, preaches the same message to all, works for holistic healing, possesses all good things necessary for life, and cannot be “closed,” let us continue to do the difficult work of staying connected to each other in this pandemic, proclaiming and embodying the good news of God’s kingdom.
Let’s not get tired of doing this good and hard work, because in time we’ll reap a harvest if we don’t give up.
I deeply appreciate you all, and I’m remembering you every day in my prayers. I’m asking that God will strengthen you inwardly with the glorious riches of his Spirit. I’m asking that Christ’s life would burst forth within you, that your roots would go deep into the soil of God’s love, growing strong. I’m asking that you’ll be empowered to truly grasp the width and length and height and depth of God’s love for us. I’m asking that we will, as a church, together, be filled entirely with the fullness of God.
Grace and peace,