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St. Thomas Aquinas
Catechetical Instructions

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  • THE NINTH ARTICLE: "I Believe in the Holy Catholic Church."
    • THE APOSTOLICITY OF THE CHURCH
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THE APOSTOLICITY OF THE CHURCH

 

The Church is firm. A house is said to be firm if it has a solid

foundation. The principal foundation of the Church is Christ: "For other

foundation no men can lay but that which is laid, which is Christ Jesus."26

The secondary foundation, however, is the Apostles and their teaching.

Therefore, the Church is firm. It is said in the Apocalypse that the city

has "twelve foundations," and therein were "written the names of the twelve

Apostles."27 From this the Church is called Apostolic. Likewise, to

indicate this firmness of the Church St. Peter is called the crowning

head.28

 

The firmness of a house is evident if, when it is violently struck, it does

not fall. The Church similarly can never be destroyed, neither by

persecution nor by error. Indeed, the Church grew during the persecutions,

and both those who persecuted her and those against whom she threatened29

completely failed: "And whosoever shall fall upon this stone, shall be

broken; but on whomsoever it shall fall, it shall grind him to powder."30

As regards errors, indeed, the more errors arise, the more surely truth is

made to appear: "Men corrupt in mind, reprobate in faith; but they shall

proceed no further."31

 

Nor shall the Church be destroyed by the temptations of the demons. For she

is like a tower towards which all flee who war against the devil: "The name

of the Lord is a strong tower."32 The devil, therefore, is chiefly intent

on destroying the Church, but he will not succeed, for the Lord has said:

"The gates of hell shall not prevail against it."33

 

This is as if He said: "They shall make war against thee, but they shall

not overcome thee." And thus it is that only the Church of Peter (to whom

it was given to evangelize Italy when the disciples were sent to preach)

was always firm in faith. On the contrary, in other parts of the world

there is either no faith at all or faith mixed with many errors. The Church

of Peter flourishes in faith and is free from error. This, however, is not

to be wondered at, for the Lord has said to Peter: "But I have prayed for

thee, that thy faith fail not; and thou, being once converted, confirm thy

brethren."34

 

 

 

 




26. I Cor., iii. 11.

 



27. Apoc., xxi. 14.

 



28. As it is spoken of by Our Lord: "And I say to thee that thou art Peter;

and upon this rock I will build My Church, and the gates of hell shall not

prevail against it" (Matt., xvi. 18).

 



29. That is, enemies of the Church who in one or other ways resisted the

authority or teachings of the Church.

 



30. Matt., xxi. 44.

 



31. Tim., iii. 8.

 



32. Prov., xviii. 10.

 



33. Matt., xvi. 18.

 



34. Luke, xxii. 32.




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