What is the Catholic Church? “The Church is the Body of Christ. Through the Spirit and his action in the sacraments, above all the Eucharist, Christ, who once was dead and is now risen, establishes the community of believers as his own Body” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, paragraph 805).
“‘The one mediator, Christ, established and ever sustains here on earth his holy Church, the community of faith, hope, and charity, as a visible organization through which he communicates truth and grace to all men.’ The Church is at the same time:
– a ‘society structured with hierarchical organs and the mystical body of Christ;
– the visible society and the spiritual community;
– the earthly Church and the Church endowed with heavenly riches.’
“These dimensions together constitute ‘one complex reality which comes together from a human and a divine element.’
“‘The Church is essentially both human and divine, visible but endowed with invisible realities, zealous in action and dedicated to contemplation, present in the world, but as a pilgrim, so constituted that in her the human is directed toward and subordinated to the divine, the visible to the invisible, action to contemplation, and this present world to that city yet to come, the object of our quest.’” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, paragraph 771).
In his “Letter to the Smyrnaeans, chapter 8, St. Ignatius of Antioch, martyred about the year 117, says:“See that you all follow the bishop, even as Jesus Christ does the Father, and the presbytery as you would the apostles; and reverence the deacons, as being the institution of God.
“Let no man do anything connected with the Church without the bishop. Let that be deemed a proper Eucharist, which is administered either by the bishop, or by one to whom he has entrusted it. Wherever the bishop shall appear, there let the multitude of the people also be; even as wherever Jesus Christ is, there is the Catholic Church.”
Since its founding by Jesus Christ, the Catholic Church has endured untold persecution by her enemies. The devil is on a mission to destroy the Church, but Christ told St. Peter that the gates of hell will not prevail against it (cf. Matthew 16:18).
In 1978, in the book Reasons for Hope, Dr. Warren Carroll wrote: “The Church is not only a visible institution, but also and far more importantly, it is the Mystical Body of Christ, His presence in history. It is in the world but not of the world.
“It is wounded by the sins of its members, yet fired forever by inextinguishable light and life. It can err in everything but the solemn official teaching of the Pope on faith and morals and the unanimous or near-unanimous assent of the faithful over the centuries.
“It can be crucified and buried—and has been, over and over again, in many lands and civilizations. But ever and always it will rise again; the graves men dig for the Church cannot hold it, any more than they could hold its Founder. There is not a century in the Church’s twenty that does not show us a new resurrection.”
Let us pray earnestly for the Catholic Church–for protection against the assaults of her enemies; for the pope, the bishops, and all the clergy; consecrated religious; and for all the members of the Church! Lord Jesus Christ, please bless and protect your Church!
Prayer to Saint Michael for Protection of the Church
O glorious St. Michael, guardian and defender of the Church of Jesus Christ, come to the assistance of this Church; guard with especial care her august Head, and obtain that for him and for us the hour of triumph may speedily arrive. O glorious Archangel St. Michael, watch over us during life, defend us against the assaults of the demon, assist us especially at the hour of death; obtain for us a favorable judgment and the happiness of beholding God face to face for endless ages. Amen.
Prayer to St. Joseph for the Church
O glorious St. Joseph, chosen by God to be the foster father of Jesus, the chaste spouse of Mary ever Virgin and the head of the Holy Family, and then appointed by the Vicar of Christ to be the heavenly patron and defender of the Church founded by Jesus, most confidently do I implore at this moment thy powerful aid for all the Church Militant on earth. Do thou shield with thy truly paternal love especially the Supreme Pontiff and all the bishops and priests who are in union with the Holy See of Peter. Be the defender of all who labor for souls amidst the trials and tribulations of this life, and cause all the peoples of the earth to submit themselves in a docile spirit to that Church which is the ark of salvation for all men.
Be pleased also, dear St. Joseph, to accept this dedication of myself which I now make unto thee. I dedicate myself wholly to thee, that thou mayest ever be my father, my patron, and my guide in the way of salvation. Obtain for me great purity of heart and a fervent devotion to the interior life. Grant that, following thine example, I may direct all my actions to the greater glory of God, in union with the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Immaculate Heart of Mary and in union with thee. Finally, pray for me that I may be a partaker in the peace and joy which were thine at the hour of thy holy death. Amen.