Wednesday, May 12, 2010

The 15 Marks of The Church

Traditionally, there are 4 "Marks" of the Church. These 4 marks tell us about the character and nature of what the Church is. The Catechism describes them in this way:
811 "This is the sole Church of Christ, which in the Creed we profess to be one, holy, catholic and apostolic." These four characteristics, inseparably linked with each other, indicate essential features of the Church and her mission. The Church does not possess them of herself; it is Christ who, through the Holy Spirit, makes his Church one, holy, catholic, and apostolic, and it is he who calls her to realize each of these qualities.
So, the four marks are:
  • One - Christ founded only one Church, which subsists within the Catholic Church.
  • Holy - Because she is wedded to Christ, the Church is Holy.
  • Catholic - The Church is universal.
  • Apostolic - The Church is founded upon, and comes from, the Apostles.
Yet, there are more "marks" that St. Robert Bellarmine came up with. He lived from 1542 - 1621 and he was a Cardinal, Bishop, and later made a Doctor of the Church. He lived during the time of many of the Protestant Reformers and thus, he was battling against some of the false understandings of the Church by coming up with these additional "marks".

Here are St. Robert Bellarmine's 15 Marks of the Church:
  1. Catholicity - the Church's name, Catholic, universal, and worldwide, and not confined to any particular nation or people
  2. Antiquity  - in tracing her ancestry directly to Jesus Christ
  3. Duration  - constant duration in lasting substantially unchanged for so many centuries
  4. Extensiveness - extensiveness in the number of her loyal members
  5. Episcopal Succession - episcopal succession of her bishops from the first Apostles at the Last Supper to the present hierarchy
  6. Doctrinal Agreement - doctrinal agreement of her doctrine with the teaching of the ancient Church
  7. Unity - union of her members among themselves and with their visible head the Roman Pontiff;
  8. Holiness - holiness of doctrine in reflecting the sanctity of God
  9. Efficacy - efficacy of doctrine in its power to sanctify believers and inspire t hem to great moral achievement
  10. Holiness of Life - holiness of life of the Church's representative writers and defenders
  11. Glory of Miracles - the glory of miracles worked in the Church and under the Church's auspices
  12. Prophetic - the gift of prophecy found among the Church's saints and spokesmen
  13. Opposition that the Church - the opposition that the Church arouses among those who attack her on the very grounds that Christ was opposed by his enemies
  14. Unhappy End - the unhappy end of those who fight against her
  15. Temporal Peace and Earthly Happiness - the temporal peace and earthly happiness of those who live by the Church's teaching and defend her interests


√Čamonn said...

Both lists are missing one: Full of noisy children! Any really good Catholic parish will manifest (in some way) all of the elements listed and the fruit of it will be babies! (Oh and vocations ...)

Equus nom Veritas said...

How about timelessness: a sense of being in this world, but not of it? Or, to quote paraphrase Chesterton, the Church is never married to the spirit of the age, and thus is never widowed in the next. Rather, her Lord and spouse is Christ, and so she is married eternally.

Peregrinus said...

The fifteen are entailed in the four and merely elaborations of them.

martin the sinner said...

√Čamonn: Let us be mindful that marriage, and parenthood by extension, is a vocation too!