What does “one holy, catholic and apostolic Church” mean?
Today we celebrate a special feast, the feast of the 12 apostles, the St. Peter and Paul feast. This feast is the oldest feast and fast of the church.
But I want to say the four very important words that we say in the prayer of the creed. If you open your liturgy book to page 21/22. It is the form of our faith. If someone asks you about the Virgin Mary, the answer is here. If someone asks, about the last days, the answer is here. If someone asks you who is Jesus for you, the answer is here.
We say, “one holy, catholic, and apostolic church.” Each single word has very deep meaning behind it. This is the church’s identity. There is only one church, and it is united, and it is the body of the Christ.
All these names, Orthodox, Catholic, etc., these are members of the body of the church. Jesus Christ says, there will be one flock and one shepherd. When St. Paul spoke in Romans, “so we being many are one body in Christ,” this is what he meant.
So, in this church, there are no divisions. There are many names, but there are no divisions. The more you have faith, the more you are united in this body. The less faith you have, your deeds will divide you from this united body.
Then we say “catholic” – this word means “universal.” At the beginning of the church, when the Holy Spirit came upon the apostles, there were 13-14 nations in the area. And because there were so many cultures, the church was described in Greek, catholic, to mean universal and unifying.
Next, the word “Holy” – what does that mean? Jesus is the holy one, who established this church.
Jesus washed the church and made it holy. The word holy means set apart for God. We are not holy by ourselves, but the one who sacrificed himself on the cross made the church clean.
When we baptize people, we wash away the original sin.
And now the word “Apostolic” – this describes the church’s foundation, the apostles of Jesus Christ. The word “apostle” means “sent to” – received the faith from Jesus himself, kept it, died for it, and passed it on from generation to generation until we received it. And we also, as an apostolic church, recognize the original teaching of the apostles. No changes.
And as such, we have an obligation of sharing this good news with everybody. So, I encourage you from now on be faithful to these people who came before us, by passing this on to all generations.
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