Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Wonderful Gift Of Apostolicity

In the face of so many critics of the Church hierarchy and calls to change it, by for example ordaining women, or removing the distinction between the priesthood of the laity and the ministerial priesthood of the clergy, I thought it would be good to share these intercessions, from the Office of Lauds of the Divine Office, for todays feast of St Andrew the Apostle.

I believe that these intercessions may help us to remember again that our Lord specifically and deliberately chose these men, the twelve Apostles, on which to build his Church.

Catholics should jealously guard and always be thankful for the gift of the Apostolic Church. We should also pray continuously for the gift of courage and wisdom for our bishops, so that they will always remain true to the teaching, which they have received from the Apostles, as the successors of the Apostles.

Here are the intercessions from Lauds:

Beloved brethren, the Apostles have given us an everlasting inheritance, so let us thank the Father for his gifts, saying:

Lord, the choir of Apostles sings your praise.

Praise to you, Lord, for the feast of your Body and Blood, which the Apostles have handed down to us: It heals us and gives us life.

Lord, the choir of Apostles sings your praise.

Praise to you, Lord, for the feast of your Word, which your Apostles have prepared for us: It brings us light and joy.

Lord, the choir of Apostles sings your praise.

Praise to you, Lord, for your holy Church, for the Apostles are its foundation: It unites us all in one body.

Lord, the choir of Apostles sings your praise.

Praise to you, Lord, for the cleansing of baptism and penance, which you entrusted to the Apostles: It washes us free of all sin.

Lord, the choir of Apostles sings your praise.

Lord God, you called Saint Andrew, your apostle, to preach the gospel and to guide your Church. We humbly pray that he may always plead for us in your presence. We make our prayer through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, God for ever and ever. Amen.

In closing, I thought I would include a few extracts from the Catholic Encyclopaedia on the subject of Apostolicity.

Apostolicity is the mark by which the Church of today is recognized as identical with the Church founded by Jesus Christ upon the Apostles. It is of great importance because it is the surest indication of the true Church of Christ, it is most easily examined, and it virtually contains the other three marks, namely, Unity, Sanctity, and Catholicity. Either the word "Christian" or "Apostolic", might be used to express the identity between the Church of today and the primitive Church. The term "Apostolic" is preferred because it indicates a correlation between Christ and the Apostles, showing the relation of the Church both to Christ, the founder, and to the Apostles, upon whom He founded it. "Apostle" is one sent, sent by authority of Jesus Christ to continue His Mission upon earth, especially a member of the original band of teachers known as the Twelve Apostles. Therefore the Church is called Apostolic, because it was founded by Jesus Christ upon the Apostles. Apostolicity of doctrine and mission is necessary. Apostolicity of doctrine requires that the deposit of faith committed to the Apostles shall remain unchanged. Since the Church is infallible in its teaching, it follows that if the Church of Christ still exists it must be teaching His doctrine.

The history of the Catholic Church from St. Peter, the first Pontiff, to the present Head of the Church, is an evident proof of its Apostolicity, for no break can be shown in the line of succession. Cardinal Newman says: "Say there is no church at all if you will, and at least I shall understand you; but do not meddle with a fact attested by mankind." "No other form of Christianity but this present Catholic Communion has a pretence to resemble, even in the faintest shadow, the Christianity of antiquity, viewed as a living religion on the stage of the world." "The immutability and uninterrupted action of the laws in question throughout the course of Church history is a plain note of identity between the Catholic Church of the first ages and that which now goes by that name."

Apostolicity is not found in any other Church. This is a necessary consequence of the unity of the Church. If there is but one true Church, and if the Catholic Church, as has just been shown, is Apostolic, the necessary inference is that no other Church is Apostolic. All sects that reject the Episcopate, by the very fact make Apostolic succession impossible, since they destroy the channel through which the Apostolic mission is transmitted. Historically, the beginnings of all these Churches can be traced to a period long after the time of Christ and the Apostles.

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