25. The Church, One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic
The Phalangist initially encountered the Church as a mother who baptised, regenerated, and instructed him in the Mysteries. It is through her visible ministry of teaching, sanctification and direction that he has been made a son of God, a disciple of Christ, and the temple of the Holy Spirit. Through a gradual illumination he learns to see in the Church’s visible perfections the invisible perfections of the Holy Spirit Himself.
1. ONE is the Spirit, the Paraclete, in the perfect unity of a single divine person. And in the same way as the divine person of the Word makes the individual human nature He has chosen intimately His, so the Paraclete subsists as perfectly one in the multitude of faithful Christians to whom He gives Himself, gathering them into His unity and creating – as it were, with a single vital breath – this organic and mystical unity, which is the Church, from so many dispersed elements.
ONE and UNIQUE is the Church, hierarchical and fraternal, without totalitarian collectivism or anarchic individualism, by virtue of this divine, simple, simplifying, unifying and perfect soul given her by Christ – His Holy Spirit.
2. HOLY is the Spirit of the Father and of the Son, with that holiness which belongs only to God – in whom there can be no shadow of evil – a holiness which shines with unmistakable brilliance in the Son. The mission of the Holy Spirit in the Church is, by an inexhaustible radiation of virtues and gifts, of goodness and glory, to the mystical members of the Church, to configure each and every one of them to the image and likeness of their Head, their “ unique model ”, Jesus Christ.
HOLY and SANCTIFYING is the Church, which on an earth exposed to shadow and change is the reflection – the iridescent and diverse image, incomparable and marvellous – of the divine beauty and goodness, ceaselessly subsisting in new forms, a source of joy and beatitude for all her children.
3. CATHOLIC is the indefatigable Spirit, the soul of the Church, whose mission is to evangelise and christianise the nations, from one extremity of the world to the other, from the beginning to the very end of time. His power embraces all men and each man, in accordance with Christ’s infinite wisdom and the Father’s mysterious design to gather them all in the Church as one society – a society which though diverse, multiple and changing because of the variety of its members, is unified and harmoniously assembled by Him who fills it with His own beauty.
CATHOLIC is the Church which, through the Spirit that guides her, encompasses all the nations in her hope and her love – and that by right, by desire, and progressively in reality. In this way she responds to the confused aspirations of the human race to recover, seal, and celebrate its primordial unity, its fraternity of original justice and grace. For such is the fullness of the vocation of the Church, humanity redeemed. As the daughter of the Father, she makes her return to Him through His Son Jesus Christ in the unity of the Holy Spirit.
4. APOSTOLIC is the faithful Spirit, sent by the Father and the Son to continue the work of the Gospel. As the Spirit of prophecy, He had inspired, sanctified and guided the people of Israel right up to the time of Christ. As the Apostolic Spirit, it is He who infallibly inspired the preaching and the writings of Christ’s witnesses, the pillars of the Church, assisting them in establishing divine Christian institutions, and multiplying marvels and gifts of holiness, so that the holy election of this new people might be visible to everyone. Since then, throughout subsequent centuries, the Paraclete Spirit, ever faithful, has assisted the successors of the Apostles and assured the Church’s unbroken and homogeneous development down the ages, without novelty or distortion.
APOSTOLIC is the Church through the fidelity that the Holy Spirit imposes on her and preserves in her. She has lost none of her ancient riches and she defends the deposit of revelation from all distortion. She protects the people of God from every fall, from every irreparable disorder. What is more, she continually augments the treasures of wisdom, virtue, power and divine glory entrusted to her by her Spouse, whilst the number of the elect grows to the fullness fixed for it by the Father.