The Catholic Church
( Originally Published 1922 )
Christ made the Apostles the first priests and bishops of His Church. He Himself taught them the Gospels and the Christian life. He gave them His own divine power so that they could bring His grace to the people. Christ Himself is the head of the Catholic Church. But the Pope rules the Church for Him and so he is the earthly head of the Church. St. Peter was the chief of the Apostles and thus the first Pope of the Catholic Church.
Perhaps you would like to talk again about the Catholic Church, children. Tell me how the Holy Ghost came down upon the Apostles. Tell me all that you know about the Catholic Church. Who established the Catholic Church? On what day did the Catholic Church really begin? Why are you sure that the Catholic Church always teaches the truth? Who sent the Holy Ghost to stay with the Catholic Church ? How long will the Catholic Church teach the truth? Why are you sure that the Catholic Church will last until the end of the world?
At the end of St. Matthew's Gospel you can read what our Lord said to the Apostles after His resurrection. He told them to go to preach the Gospel to all the nations of the earth and to baptize the people in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Then He promised to watch over them until the end of the world. How, then, do you know that the Catholic Church will last until the end of the world? How do you know that no one can ever destroy the Catholic Church? Who tried to destroy the Catholic Church in the beginning? In the Gospel of St. Matthew, Ch. 16, 18, you can read how our Lord promised to save the Catholic Church from all its enemies. He said the gates of hell should never prevail against it.
Why should all belong to the Catholic Church? For whom did our Lord establish the Catholic Church? What can you do for those who do not belong to the Catholic Church? Why will you pray for them? What Church unites us all in love? What Sacrament gives us all food for our souls? How many members of the Church receive the same Sacraments? Where does the Catholic Church teach the same doctrines? How long has the Catholic Church taught the same holy doctrines? How long will it teach them?
Who teaches us the doctrines of the Catholic Church? Who sent the priest to teach us? Who baptized you when you were a little baby? Who gave you the Sacrament of Penance? What did the priest do for you when he gave you the Sacrament of Penance?
What does the priest do for people who are very sick? What Sacrament does he give them when they are in danger of death? What does the priest do when he says Mass? Who gave him power to change bread and wine into our Lord's body and blood?
Who gives you Holy Communion? What does the priest give you when you receive Holy Communion? Why do you call the priest "Father"? What does he do for your soul? Why do good men and boys lift the hat when they meet the priest? In whose name does the priest teach you? Who were the first priests of the Catholic Church? Who ordained the Apostles priests? What powers did our Lord give the Apostles when He made them priests? What did He send them to teach? How many Sacraments did He give them? What did the Apostles do for those who wanted to become Christians? Who baptized babies then?
Who said Mass for the people after our Lord went up to heaven? Who forgave them their sins then? What Sacrament did the Apostles give when they forgave sins? When the people went to Mass to the Apostles who gave them Holy Communion? What did the Apostles do for people who were very sick? Who confirmed people at that time? Why could the Apostles give the Sacrament of Confirmation? Who gives the Sacrament of Confirmation now? Who were the first bishops of the Catholic Church? Who ordained other priests after our Lord went to heaven? What Sacrament did the Apostles give when they ordained priests? Who gives the Sacrament of Holy Orders now?
In how many parts of the world are there priests now? Yes ; there are priests in all parts of the world, for the Catholic Church is spread throughout the whole world. There are about three hundred millions of Catholics in the world now. Why are there priests in all parts of the world? About how many Catholics are there in the world ? What do the priests do for the people? In whose name do the priests teach us? Who ordained the first priests of the Catholic Church ? In whose name did the Apostles teach? Who gave the Apostles power to say Mass? Who gave them power to forgive sins ? You can read in St. John's Gospel, Ch. 20, 23, how our Lord gave the Apostles power to forgive sins. He said to them : "Whose sins you shall forgive they are forgiven them and whose sins you shall retain they are retained."
Where do the priests now receive power to for-give sins? Who gives them power to change bread and wine into our Lord's body and blood? What Church did our Lord establish? Why did our Lord establish but one Church? Whom does our Lord want the Catholic Church to teach? How long will the Catholic Church teach the people? Whose Church is the Catholic Church? In whose name does the Catholic Church teach us? Who gave the Catholic Church power to teach in our Lord's name ?
Who is the real head of the Catholic Church? Why do you say that our Lord is the head of the Catholic Church? Why are all the members of the Catholic Church like one family? Who united them all in love? How long has our Lord been head of the Catholic Church? How does our Lord want us to live together? Why does He want us to love one another? Whose children are we all? How long will our Lord be head of the Catholic Church? Who first taught what the Catholic Church teaches us? What did our Lord send the Catholic Church to teach? Who taught the first priests of the Catholic Church?
Who gave the seven Sacraments to the Catholic Church? Why did our Lord give the Sacraments to the care of the Catholic Church? What do the Sacraments bring to us ? When did our Lord gain God's grace for us? How many people does our Lord want to belong to His Church ? What Church is our Lord's Church?
Whom did our Lord send to guard the truth in His Church? Why are you sure that the Catholic Church always teaches the truth? How do you know that the Catholic Church will last to the end of the world? Who has promised to take care of the Catholic Church? Where can you read our Lord's promise to take care of the Church? (St. Matt., Ch. 18.)
Why are you sure that our Lord can take care of the Catholic Church? What person of the Blessed Trinity is our Lord? What can our Lord do? Whom did our Lord place over the Catholic Church in the beginning? What did our Lord tell the Apostles to do? How did the Apostles know what to teach?
In the Gospels, St. Matt. 10; St. Mark 3; St. Luke 6, you can read the names of the Apostles. St. Matthew says : "And the names of the twelve Apostles are these : The first, Simon who is called Peter, and Andrew his brother. James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother, Philip and Bartholomew, Thomas and Matthew the publican, and James the son of Alpheus, and Thaddeus, Simon the CananŠan, and Judas Iscariot who also betrayed Him." St. Peter's name was Simon but our Lord gave him the name of Peter. St. Peter is always named first.
Who was the chief of the Apostles? Who made St. Peter the chief of the Apostles? Why did the other Apostles obey St. Peter? Who gave St. Peter power to rule the Catholic Church? For whom did St. Peter rule the Catholic Church? At first St. Peter was bishop of Antioch in Asia. After remaining there some years, he went to Rome, where he was bishop. Of course he ruled the whole Church while he was bishop of Antioch and while he was bishop of Rome. Who was the first Pope of the Catholic Church? Who made St. Peter Pope? What did our Lord tell St. Peter to rule? Where was St. Peter bishop at first? Where was he bishop after that?
How long did St. Peter rule the whole Catholic Church? Who obeyed St. Peter? Who ordained other priests and bishops? Whom did those other bishops and priests obey ? How many of the priests and bishops obeyed St. Peter? Where did St. Peter die? How was he put to death? Why did he ask to be crucified with his head down? What beautiful church is built on the spot where St. Peter died? What emperor first built St. Peter's church? At what time did Constantine the Great live? Who was the first Christian emperor of Rome ?
Where did St. Paul die? How did they put St. Paul to death? When is the feast of Sts. Peter and Paul? (June 29th.) What is the color of the vestments which the priest wears on that day? Why does he wear red vestments? How many of the Apostles were martyrs ?
Can you name some of the Popes who ruled the Church after St. Peter died ? When did St. Linus rule the Catholic Church? For whom did St. Linus rule the Church? When did Pope St. Cletus rule the Catholic Church? Who gave St. Cletus power to rule the Church? When did St. Clement rule the Catholic Church? In whose name did St. Clement rule the Catholic Church? St. Clement lived about a hundred years after our Lord was born. He had a house in Rome which he made into a church. The old church of St. Clement is beneath the new church which was built about seven hundred years ago.
Who tried to destroy the Catholic Church in the beginning? What did the pagans do to destroy the Church? Why did they put many priests and bishops to death? They put many people to death for the Faith. There were four Popes in the first hundred years ; there were eleven in the second ; and there were fifteen in the third. Nearly all of these were martyrs ; they were put to death for our holy Faith. How many Popes were there in the first century? How many in the second ; the third? How many of these were martyrs?
The most cruel of the pagan emperors was Nero. It was he who put St. Peter and St. Paul to death. He had thousands of Christians thrown to wild beasts. He also bound them on high poles, covered them with tar and oil, and set them on fire in the night. Now, who was the most cruel of the pagan emperors? How did Nero put the Christians to death? Where were the martyrs buried at Rome? Where did the Christians have Mass in those days? Where are the catacombs? Who rules the Church for our Lord now? Where does the Pope live? Of what place is the Pope bishop? Why is the Bishop of Rome always Pope? Who was the first Pope to live at Rome ? Where did St. Linus, St. Cletus, and St. Clement live? Why is the Church some-times called Roman Catholic ?
Of course you know our Lord's Church is properly called the Catholic Church. Catholic means general or universal. The Church is called Catholic because it is spread throughout the whole world and exists at all times. It is sometimes called Roman Catholic because the Pope lives at Rome. Now, what would you say if some one asked you why our Lord's Church is called Catholic? Why is it also proper to call it the Roman Catholic Church? Where does the earthly head of the Church live? What is the Pope's house called? Why do we call the Pope our Holy Father? For how many of us does he labor? Who are the Pope's spiritual children?
Why do you love to pray for our Holy Father? Who watches over the whole Church? Why does our Holy Father need much of God's help? Why do so many good people pray for our Holy Father every day? What will God do for our Holy Father when you pray for him? How often do you think priests pray for our Holy Father? What great cares does our Holy Father have? Whom does our Holy Father help? What does he do for the poor ? What does he do when there is any great trouble in the world? Who is Pope now? Who names all the bishops in the world? Whom do all the bishops in the world obey? In how many parts of the world are there bishops ?
You know the cardinals help the Pope to rule the Church. Next to the Pope the cardinals have the highest dignity in the Church. The Pope is always chosen from among the cardinals. When a Pope dies a cardinal is always chosen to be Pope. There are archbishops in all parts of the world, too. The archbishop does not rule the bishops under him, but he often gives them advice. Now, who are next in dignity to the Pope? What do the cardinals do for the Pope? Who is always chosen Pope when a Pope dies ?
Bishops and archbishops rule a part of the Church called a diocese. The priests of a diocese obey their bishop. The bishop sends them to take care of the people and makes laws for them. The diocese is divided into parishes. The priest in charge of a parish is called a pastor. The priests who help him are called assistants or curates. Now, what part of the Church do bishops rule? Into what parts are dioceses divided? Who makes laws for the diocese ? Whom do the priests obey? Who have charge of parishes? What are the priests called who help pastors?
Who makes laws for the whole Church ? Who gave the Pope power to make laws for the whole Church? Who guards the teaching of the whole Church? Which person of the Blessed Trinity guides the Pope in his teaching? Why are you sure that the Pope always teaches the truth to the whole Church? How long will the Holy Ghost remain with the Catholic Church? Who tells the bishops how to rule their dioceses? To whom do the bishops have to give an account of their diocese ? Every bishop has to go to Rome every few years to tell the Pope about the work in his diocese. The American bishops go every five years. Why do the bishops have to go to Rome? Why do they have to tell the Pope about their diocese? How many bishops obey the Pope? Who obey the bishops in a diocese? Who obey the priests in parishes?
Whom does the Pope obey? To whom does he have to give an account of the whole Church? When will the Pope have to give an account to God of the whole Church? Why, then, do you pray for the Pope ?