Sunday, July 8, 2012

Authority of the Church

We learned last week that some things that, when done freely and with full knowledge, can separate us from the love of God that is in Jesus Christ. These things must be of a grave matter and done freely knowing that it is indeed wrong to do and yet do it anyway. To do such a thing in those conditions means that one has committed a mortal sin, he has now separated Himself from God and His Church (His Church is His Body, see Eph 1:22-23)

Jesus is also the way, the truth and the life, no one comes to the Father except by Him (John 14:6). That in knowing the truth we are made free of sin (John 8:32 ff ). We need to go to Him when determining the truth on whether a subject matter is ‘grave’ or not.

But in this day and age, where do we go to have the truth? When one says that the bread and wine that are blessed are mere symbols of His flesh and Blood and another believes that the bread and wine are actually and truly His Flesh and Blood,Soul and Divinity…who do we believe? Who has the final say in determining the truth? The final arbiter and defender of the truth decides what is true. To do this fully then this arbiter must be infallible, that whatever it binds on earth is already bound in heaven (Matt16:19 and 18:18).  What is the defender and upholder of the truth?  Well, Scripture tells us directly that the defender and upholder of the truth is the Church (1 Tim3:15).  Scripture tells us that the last resort that we are to go to settle the matter is the Church (Matt18:15-17) and that is how the first followers of our Lord Jesus Christ understood the matter. We know this because we see the first application of this teaching in the council of Jerusalem as found in the book of Acts (Acts 15:2, 15:28). A council whose decision was binding for all Christians (Acts 16:4).

We can easily infer that the Church Christ founded must be a visible Church, it must be a Church that one can go to settle disputes and have questions answered definitively one way or another. There is only one Christian Church that can be seen throughout history settling disputes between Christians. That Church can only be the Catholic Church. And so, if one has any doubt if a subject matter is ‘grave’ or not then the Catholic Church can answer it definitively for you. Is abortion a grave matter? Yes, and it is always and everywhere wrong. Is it a grave matter to choose not to go to Church on Sunday? Yes. The Church has determined that it is of great importance that every faithful Christian receives the Lord in the Eucharist at least once a week on the day of the week commemorating His Resurrection. This means that if you deliberately, that is both knowing its wrong and willing it anyway without just cause in failing to fulfill your Sunday obligation, then you are in fact rejecting the authority of the Church. That rejection is the sinful act. It’s a grave matter since he who listens to the Church listens to Christ and he who rejects the Church rejects Christ (Luke 10:16). To knowingly and freely reject Christ is the definition of a mortal sin.

Unless one has other mitigating circumstances that would make it very difficult to go (as in taking care of a sick child or on vacation with no Catholic Church in the vicinity) then to purposely avoid performing your Sunday obligation is to commit a mortal sin. It is recommended you go to confession prior to receiving the Eucharist the next time you go to Mass.

Prepared by a St-Denis parishioner

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