Many non-Catholics have the impression that the Catholic Church somehow sprang up from nowhere during the early part of the 4th century, shortly after the Roman Emperor Constantine experienced a vision, leading him to officially legalize Christianity in the Empire, for the very first time.
Still others (some officially, according to the stated beliefs of the leaders of their particular denomination) continue to claim that the Catholic Church is the “Whore of Babylon” or “the Woman Riding the Beast” in the Book of Revelation (or as Catholics know it, The Apocalypse of St. John).
By the middle of the 19th century, some other Christian groups developed the entirely new idea that the Catholic Church had somehow been “paganized” and so could no longer be the authentic Church that Jesus personally founded, authorized, empowered, and eternally guaranteed, for the purpose of our salvation.
And while such beliefs might be convenient for those attempting to minimize or deny the uniquely divine authority of the Roman Catholic Church, the truth of the matter is quite different.
All the rhetoric aside, Jesus made certain promises to the Church that he established and paid for with his own blood, and those promises are absolute and irrevocable.
If Jesus is God, and Jesus always keeps his word, than there is absolutely no way that the only Church he ever authorized, empowered, and eternally guaranteed could EVER fail.
Mat 16:15 Jesus saith to them: But whom do you say that I am?
Mat 16:16 Simon Peter answered and said: Thou art Christ, the Son of the living God.
Mat 16:17 And Jesus answering said to him: Blessed art thou, Simon Bar-Jona: because flesh and blood hath not revealed it to thee, but my Father who is in heaven.
Mat 16:18 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.
Mat 16:19 And I will give to thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven. And whatsoever thou shalt bind upon earth, it shall be bound also in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth, it shall be loosed also in heaven.
Mat 28:18 And Jesus coming, spoke to them, saying: All power is given to me in heaven and in earth.
Mat 28:19 Going therefore, teach ye all nations: baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost.
Mat 28:20 Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you. And behold I am with you all days, even to the consummation of the world.
Joh 14:14 If you shall ask me any thing in my name, that I will do.
Joh 14:15 If you love me, keep my commandments.
Joh 14:16 And I will ask the Father: and he shall give you another Paraclete, that he may abide with you for ever:
Joh 14:17 The spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, nor knoweth him. But you shall know him; because he shall abide with you and shall be in you.
Joh 14:18 I will not leave you orphans: I will come to you.
History is also clear.
The Church that was born in Jerusalem on Pentecost is the very same Church that St. Peter established in Rome, about 42 AD (a pretty gutsy thing to do, considering what the Romans did to Jesus, just a few short years before).
The Roman Church overcame more than 200 years of brutal and almost continuous persecution, which culminated in the conversion of the Roman Emperor Constantine, the conversion of the Roman Empire itself, and then, the conversion of most of the known world.
This clearly shows the power of God at work in the world. It clearly shows God’s enemies being made his footstool. It clearly shows the Church … the visible Kingdom of God on the earth … reaching out to save uncounted millions of souls … and literally saving the world, in the process.
In the Book of Revelation … if either Jesus or St. John KNEW that the Church would fail, why didn’t they just say so?
And finally, St. John, the last living original apostle on earth, had many disciples.
One of the best known was St. Ignatius, who was martyred in 107 AD, who learned at the side of St. John, and who would have been as knowledgeable about the authentic meaning of the Book of Revelation as anyone.
Right up to the very moment of his death, Ignatius never failed to urge anything other than full and faithful participation in the Church that he loved, that he gave his life for, and that he referred to (in writing) by the name of … “Catholic”.
And then there is the simple fact that after some 2000 years, the Catholic Church still exists … fully formed … constituted precisely as Jesus set it up … the world’s most enduring government of ANY kind … still saving souls … still a light to the nations … still giving honor, correct praise, and acceptable worship to God alone, 24/7 and 365, every hour of every day, all around the world.
Would Jesus have lied about his Church?
Would Jesus have permitted St. Ignatius to die for a lie?
Would God have permitted every apostle, save one … along with St. Stephen and all the early martyrs … to die for a Church that would soon, SECRETLY fail and lead the whole world astray … in spite of Jesus’ express promises, and in spite of the ever present advocacy, guidance, and POWER of the Holy Spirit?
If so, I suggest that all Christians everywhere … Catholics and otherwise … have much to be concerned about … for then, salvation would be only an illusion … and the devil has already won.
My “money” remains on Jesus … and on the one, holy, apostolic, and Catholic Church that he founded, for the purpose of our salvation.
God ALWAYS keeps his promises, and his promises are clear … while the idle speculation of men has always been futile and foolish … especially when their self-serving, late day “faith” traditions make Jesus out to be a powerless liar!
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