I. Ecclesiology - the study of the nature and mission of the Church.
As part of his continuing mission fo the salvation of humanity Christ established his Church to teach, govern, and sanctify humanity.
A. The Nature of the Church is that of an "Ekklesia", Greek for "assembly".
An assembly consists of people called together by someone for a purpose. The Church is "People Called by God."
B. The Mission of the Church, the purpose for which it is called, is to bring about the Kingdom of God. Note that the Kingdom of God is a state in which God's will is given due respect as supreme authority and is obeyed rather than the will of man.
C. The Method the Church uses to build up the Kingdom of God is three-fold, corresponding to the three-fold nature of the Christian as Priest, Prophet, and King. Thus the Church's efforts consist of Prayer, Preaching, and Service.
D. The Organization of the Church is hierarchichal, led by the pope, successor of St. Peter and Vicar of Christ. He is advised and assisted by the college of Cardinals. Locally each diocese is led by a bishop, who is a spiritual descendant of the Apostles themselves. They are the chief shepherds of the flock they are called to serve. They are aided by priests and deacons in their apostolic ministry.
II. The Communion of Saints - this is the idea that membership in the Church transcends time and space. We are at one with all of our brothers and sisters in Christ regardless of how much time or physical distance separates us. The "spiritual" division of the Church is as follows:
A. Church Militant - as the name implies, these are members of the Church engaged in the battle against sin and evil, and is comprised of the souls here on earth.
B. Church Suffering - these are the souls suffering the pains and consequences of earthly sin, namely the souls in Purgatory where they await purification and entrance into heaven. They are aided by our prayers and charitable works when offered on their behalf.
C. Church Triumphant - this is the portion of the Church that has triumphed over sin and evil and enjoys the beatific vision of God in Heaven. These are the souls tha we know officially as "saints", both named and anonymous. Their intercessory prayers, as well as their example, are of benefit to us in our life of discipleship.
We will investigate exactly how the Chruch serves as a vehicle of moral authority next time, and there will be yet another Powerpoint posted on Weblcocker.
Ad Jesum per Mariam,