3 Why are there so many images for the Church? When it comes to capturing the inner meaning of any mystery of faith, language can be limiting.Images can help us to overcome the limitations of language.Images point to the truth of something that words alone cannot capture.Some of the images for the Church from the New Testament:Shepherd and flockVine and branchesTemple of the Holy SpiritBody of ChristHoly People of GodWhat other images for the Church do you know? Which is your favorite?
4 Why do we need the Church? We need the Church as our community of faith to support us to live a spiritual life.Stories and traditions of faith guide us.Virtues and values inspired by faith enable us to live as good people.Celebrating our faith in rituals helps us to grow in our relationship with God.Because human beings are social by nature,we need the encouragement, support and example of others.
5 Church as mysteryThe Church straddles two basic realities: the visible and the invisible;the human and the divine.The Church is both a visible society and the Mystical Body of Christ.In every era since apostolic times the Church has looked at her presentlife and the issues she is facing to discern how best to pass on and teachthe faith to the present generation.
6 The instrumental Church: sign and sacrament of the reign of God There are many images that seek to convey how the Church is a visible instrument through which people share in the invisible saving grace of God.The Church is described as:the seed and the beginning of the Kingdom;the sheepfold or flock whose shepherd is Jesus;a cultivated field that Jesus tills, plants, waters, grows and harvests;like the Ark of Noah providing protection against the storms of the world;the new Temple of God.Which of these images appeals to you? Why?
7 Roles and structures within the Church Visible and concrete roles within the Church:Hierarchy or clergyLay faithful, or laityConsecrated lifeStructures of the Church:The Vatican and the CuriaDioceses and their officesParishes, monasteries and conventsService organizations, including hospitals, schools and charities
8 The Church: A communion of love Jesus said: ‘I am the true vine, and my Father is thevine grower Abide in me as I abide in you. Just asthe branch cannot bear fruit by itself unless it abides inthe vine, neither can you unless you abide in me. I amthe vine, you are the branches As the Father hasloved me, so I have loved you; abide in my love.’ —John 15:1, 4–5, 9IMAGES FROM THE NEW TESTAMENT:Bridegroom: An image Jesus used for himself, to teach his disciples about his relationship with the Church.Bride of Christ: An image St. Paul used for the Church, to convey the depth of the relationship between Jesus Christ and the Church.
9 The Church: The family of God ‘Family’ is a powerful image for the Church.In the Acts of the Apostles and in St. Paul’s letters:believers identify themselves as brothers and sisters in the Lord;God is addressed as Father, Christ as brother;believers are called children of God.The Christian family, ‘the Church of the home’, is the domestic church.The parents or guardians are the first witnesses to children of a life of faith.
10 The Church: the seed of the Kingdom The Church’s mission is to bring about the new creation, the fulfillment of the divine plan of Salvation.The Kingdom of God is the final stage of God’s plan of Salvation. The Greek word eschaton means ‘final age’.The Church is preparing the way for the coming of the reign of God, when Christ will come again in glory.The Church is both the seed and sign of God’s saving work in the world.The Church teaches and encourages us to do God’s will ‘on earth as it is in heaven’.The ‘pilgrim people’ of the Church are always on a journey to new life in Christ.The Church is the means and the goal of God’s plan for humanity.
11 Responding to the signs of the times Blessed Pope John XXIII believed that the Church always needs to read and respond to the ‘signs of the times’.He convoked the Second Vatican Council to keep the Church truly in touch with the world so that she could be an instrument of Salvation for the people of the world.The Council emphasized that:the work of the Church is the work of all the baptized and is not limited to the hierarchy;the Church is first and foremost a People, the new People of God;all the baptized are to join with humanity in building a more human world.“…
12 Responding to the signs of the times Blessed John Henry Cardinal NewmanNewman challenged the Church to understand and appreciate the role of the laity in the Church.He referred to the laity’s steadfast adherence to the authentic Tradition of the Church as the consensus fidelium, or the consent of the faithful.He believed that the Holy Spirit communicates the truth about faith and morals to all baptized people, and not just to bishops and theologians.One hundred years later, Vatican II affirmed Newman’s teaching.