There are four “marks” of the Catholic Church, identified in the Creed, which distinguish It from all others. The true Church is “One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic.” Its true members possess characteristics as individuals that enable the Church to display her “marks” as a society.
The Church is One. Catholics must seek the truth and profess it to those around them. Only unity of belief in the truth can bring about unity of purpose and unity of action. Our Lord describes Himself as the Truth, the Word of God who became flesh and dwelt among us.1 Without truth there is no Christ; without Christ there is no Church.
Catholics must be truthful and seekers of truth.
The Church is Holy. But, by nature, we are sinful people. The Church offers us many avenues to holiness, many forms of life that lead to God, and many ways to receive His graces. But central to any attempt at holiness is the virtue of humility. Those that perceive themselves as somehow better than others are destined to sin, just as the devil was able to tempt Adam and Eve through their pride.2
Catholics must be humble and submissive to God’s laws.
The Church is Catholic. For the Church to be Catholic, simply the Greek word for “universal,” Her members must have charity, the Greek word for “love.” We will unite all nations under the rule of Christ the King, only if we love God and only if we love our fellow man for the love of God.3 “Charity is not envious, is not pretentious, is not ambitious, is not self seeking”; it has no room for making others look bad so that we can look good.4
Catholics must be charitable.
The Church is Apostolic. Our Faith goes back to the Incarnation and the Public Life of Christ. Catholics hold the Faith that has come down to us from the Apostles, as though it were a jewel wrapped in silk. “Even if an angel from heaven should preach a different Gospel, we would not believe him.”5 They “stand firm and hold the traditions they have learned from the Apostles.”6
Catholics must be traditional.
Pope Saint Pius X is said to have quizzed a group of seminarians studying in Rome as to how the Church might be identified. They all responded with the traditional four “marks,” but Pope Pius demanded another. One bright student added that “the Church must be Roman.” Another quickly added, “and loyal to the Popes.” The Saint smiled, perhaps condescendingly. “Yes, of course, both the good and the bad, but what else.” No hands were raised. The Pontiff himself supplied the answer:
“The Church is Persecuted.” This we learn from our Lord Himself at the first Mass: “If you had been of the world, the world would love its own: but because you are not of the world … the world hateth you. If they have persecuted Me, they will also persecute you.”7 But, our Lord would have us cherish this persecution as a beatitude: “Blessed shall you be when men hate you, and when they shut you out, and reproach you, and reject your name as evil because of the Son of Man. Rejoice on that day and exult, for behold your reward is great in heaven…. bless them that curse you and pray for those who lie about you.”8
Catholics will be persecuted. Preceding section by Fr. Brusca
The term “Catholic” means “universal” but that is insufficient to answer the question. If a Church is to be considered “Roman Catholic” it must acknowledge the petrine ministry, that is to say the pope, the successor to the See of Rome. These Churches in turn are organized into assemblies of the faithful, hierarchically ordered, normally in terms of a certain territory, and often called a “particular church” (See, diocese, prelature, et al). Under Roman Catholicism there are a number of rites and traditions divided into Eastern and Western Rites:
Eastern rites include: Byzantine Rite (Antiochian, Greek, Slavonic); Alexandrian Rite; the Syriac Rite; the Armenian Rite; the Maronite Rite and the Chaldean Rite.
Western rites include: Roman (Mass of St Pius V, Mass of Paul VI, Anglo-Catholic Ordinariate); Ambrosian; Carthusian; Dominican; and Sarum.
The Old Roman Catholic Church is part of the western Roman rite with “juridic irregularity” from the current Vatican administrative perspective, similar to the Society of Pius X. We acknowledge Peter, we pray and hope for full union but are impeded by the modernist influence and agenda. We give Vatican II the assent to which it is due.
1. John xiv: 6; i: 1, 14, 17.
2. Genesis iii: 5 “and you shall be as Gods.
3. Mark xii: 30, 31. The two great commandments.
4. 1 Corinthians xiii: 4-6.
5. Cf. Galatians i: 8, 9.
6. Cf. 2 Thessalonians ii: 14 (15).
7. John xv: 19, 20. But John xiii through xvii are as much a consolation as a forewarning of persecution. Everyone should read them once in a while.
8. Luke vi: 22, 23, 28.