The Church in God’s Plan

Summary of Catechism paragraphs 748-810:

  • The English word “Church” derives from the Greek Kyriake, meaning “what belongs to the Lord.”
  • The Latin term for “Church,” Ecclesia, is a loan word from the Greek Ekklesia, meaning “convocation” — with the special sense of an assembly literally “called forth” by God, not just any ordinary group which associates on its own terms.
  • The Church has been in God’s plan from before the foundation of the world: God has ever intended to gather together a family in communion with Him, and even the tragedy of human sin will not prevent God from accomplishing His will.
  • This plan to form a People of God begins to unfold in the Old Testament, as God calls Abraham, our father in faith, and espouses Israel as His own chosen people, to whom He reveals Himself.
  • Jesus fulfills this divine plan by founding His Church, through His preaching, His sacrificial offering on the Cross and in the Eucharist, and by endowing His Apostles with authority, thus giving the Church a visible structure.
  • Christ cannot be separated from His Church, which is His Body, comprising the saints in heaven, the holy souls being purified in Purgatory, and the faithful on earth; as God wedded Israel, so does Christ join Himself to the Church, His Bride.
  • The Church is a mystery because it is both the divinely established, Mystical Body of Christ, filled with holiness and grace, and at the same time human, including the earthly community of flawed people still striving to overcome sin.
  • The Church serves as both the means and the goal of God’s plan: God helps us to attain interior union with Him through the sacramental life of the Church, so that we may enjoy eternal life with Him in heaven.
  • As the soul is to the body, so the Holy Spirit is to the Church: the Spirit forms us into the Temple of God, and lavishes charisms (graces) upon its members for the building up of the Church and the good of the world.
  • Because the Church is the convocation of the human race for salvation, it is in its very nature missionary: we must teach and make disciples of all, to bring everyone into the intimacy of God’s family.

Live Your Faith

The root meaning of the Church, as an assembly convoked by God Himself, gives us perspective: the Church does not belong to us as its members, but instead belongs to the Lord.

The Church is not a social club, in which we get to write the bylaws to suit ourselves. Nor can the Church be reduced to our experience within a particular parish.

Rather, the Church is both the visible society on earth and a transcendent reality as the Mystical Body of Christ.