An Online Multimedia Study Guide
to The Catholic Passion

by David Scott

• One: Son of Mary, Man of Heaven
• Two: God, the Hound of Heaven
• Three: Living as the Image of God
• Four: Why the Catholic Church?
• Five: The Sacramental Life
• Six: Word of Life
• Seven: Possibility of Prayer
• Eight: The Miracle of the Mass
• Nine: The Life of the World to Come

The Catholic Passion
• Home




Chapter Four:
Why the Catholic Church?

Madonna in the Church
Jan van Eyck, 1425


  • To present the Church as one, holy, Catholic, and apostolic.
  • To explain the Church’s mission to bring salvation to the world through Jesus Christ.
  • To show the visible structure of the Church—its hierarchy and organization.
  • To present the Church’s teaching function and its guidance by the Holy Spirit.


Introduction / For the Sake of the World
What Catholic Means
Mother Church
The “People” of God
Church of the Apostles
A Kingdom Built on Solid Rock
The Spirit of Truth
The One True Path
A Communion of Saints and Sinners
The Beauty of the Church


E Doctrina Duodecim Apostolorum
from The Didache (The Teaching of the Twelve Apostles)

Gratias tibi agimus, Pater sancte, pro sancto nomine tuo, quod fecisti ut habitet in cordibus nostris, et pro scientia et fide et immortalitate, quam indicasti nobis per Iesum puerum tuum; gloria tibi in saecula.

We thank Thee, Holy Father, for Thy holy Name which Thou hast made to dwell in our hearts, and for the knowledge, faith, and immortality which Thou hast made known to us through Jesus Thy Son; glory to Thee forever.

Tu, Domine omnipotens, creasti omnia propter nomen tuum, et cibum potumque dedisti hominibus ad fruendum, ut tibi gratias agant, nobis autem largitus es spiritualem cibum et potum et vitam aeternam per puerum tuum. Thou, O Lord Almighty, hast created all things for the sake of Thy Name, and hast given food and drink to all for their enjoyment, so that they might return thanks to Thee. Upon us, however, Thou hast bestowed spiritual food and drink and eternal life through Thy Son.
Ante omnia gratias tibi agimus, quod potens es; gloria tibi in saecula. Above all, we give Thee thanks, for Thou art almighty; glory unto Thee forever.
Recordare, Domine, Ecclesiae tuae, ut eam liberes ab omni malo eamque perficias in caritate tua, et collige eam a quattuor ventis sanctificatam in regnum tuum, quod ei parasti, quoniam tua est virtus et gloria in saecula. Remember, O Lord, Thy Church. Deliver it from all evil and perfect in Thy love. Gather it from the four winds, sanctified in Thy kingdom which Thou hast prepared for it, for Thine is the power and the glory forever.
Adveniat gratia et praetereat mundus hic. Hosanna filio David. Si quis sanctus est, accedat; si quis non est, paenitentiam agat. Maranatha. Amen. Let grace come and this world pass away. Hosanna to the Son of David. If anyone is holy, let him come. If not, let him repent. Maranatha! Amen.

Introduction / For the Sake of the World
The Catholic Passion, 79–84

The Church, the kingdom of God and the family of God established by Jesus Christ, is the goal and the purpose of God’s plan for history.

Domine quo vadis?
Annibale Carracci, 1602

St. Augustine
St. Leo the Great
St. Irenaeus
St. Maximus the Confessor

What Catholic Means
The Catholic Passion, 84–86

The Church is “catholic” because it is universal, embracing all men and women of all nations, drawing them into a worldwide family of God.

Mother Church
The Catholic Passion, 86–88

The Church is the bride of Christ and the mother of all believers.

Mary, the Mother of Christ, is the Mother of the Church

Nunc gaudeant materna viscera Ecclesia *
by Hildegard of Bingen (1098–1179)

Nunc gaudeant materna
viscera Ecclesia
quia in superna simphonia
filii eius
in sinum suum collocati sunt.

Unde, o turpissime serpens,
confusus es,
quoniam quos tua estimatio
in visceribus suis habituit
nunc fulgent in sanguine
Filii Dei,
et ideo laus tibi sit,
rex altissime,


Now let the motherly heart
of the Ecclesia rejoice,
because in supernal harmony
her children
are gathered into her bosom.

Hence, O shameful serpent,
you are confounded,
because the ones your jealousy
held in its maw
now gleam in the blood of
God’s Son
and therefore praise be to you,
King Most High,


St. Augustine

The “People” of God
The Catholic Passion, 88–89

The Church is the “people” of God, made up of clergy, religious, and laity.


Questions for Reflection

What does it mean to say that the world was created for the Church?

Describe how the Church is our mother?

What does it mean to say that the Church is “one” and “Catholic”?

Church of the Apostles
The Catholic Passion, 89–92

The Church, as established by Christ, is a hierarchy. This hierarchy is founded on the authority and mission that Christ entrusted to his twelve apostles.

The Twelve Apostles
Matthew10:2–4; Mark 3:16–19; Luke 6:14–16; Acts 1:16–26

1. Bartholomaeus
2. Andreas
3. Petrus (Simon)
4. Philippus
5. Thomas
6. Iacob Zebedaei
7. Ioannes Zebedaei
8. Iacobus Alphaei
9. Iudas Iacobi (Thaddeus)
10. Iudas Iscariotes
11. Simon Chananaeus (Zelotes)
12. Mattheus
(12. Mathia)
1. Bartholomew
2. Andrew
3. Peter (Simon)
4. Phillip
5. Thomas
6. James
7. John
8. James (the Lesser)
9. Jude
10. Judas Iscariot
11. Simon (the Zealot)
12. Matthew
(12. Mathias)
Blessed Ignatius Maloyan
St. Clement of Rome
St. Cyprian
St. Ignatius
St. Augustine
St. Fabian
St. Polycarp
St. Clement of Alexandria

A Kingdom Built on Solid Rock
The Catholic Passion, 92–95

The pope is the head of the Church. The ministry, authority, and primacy of the pope comes directly from that entrusted by hrist to the head of the apostles, St. Peter.

St. Peter
by Vasco Fernandes, c. 1530
St. Cyprian
Pope St. Leo
St. Ignatius
Pope St. Clement I
The Council of Chalcedon

The Spirit of Truth
The Catholic Passion, 95–98

The magisterium, the teaching office of the Church, is guided by the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit guarantees that the pope’s teachings on faith and morals are infallible, or preserved from error.

The Descent of the Holy Ghost
by Tiziano Vecelli (Titian), c. 1530

St. Vincent of Lèrins

Questions for Reflection

Explain how the Church is “apostolic.”

How is the ministry of the pope related to that of the apostle Peter?

What is the biblical basis for the Church’s belief that her teachings are protected from error by the Holy Spirit?

What does infallibility mean?

The One True Path
The Catholic Passion, 97–101

The Church is the sign and instrument of the unity and salvation of mankind.

The Church has a missionary mandate to preach the gospel to all men and women.

The Jewish people have a special place in God’s plan.

The Church’s mission includes working to restore the unity that Christ intended for his Church.

Apostle Peter Preaching
by Lorenzo Veneziano, c. 1370

Pedro Calderón de la Barca
St. Cyprian
St. Augustine
St. John Chyrsostom
Madeleine Delbrêl

A Communion of Saints and Sinners
The Catholic Passion, 101–104

The Church is a holy communion of saints.

The Church is also a company of sinners.

St. Josemaría Escrivá
Epistle to Barnabas
St. Bridget of Sweden
Pope Gregory XI
St. Cyprian

The Beauty of the Church
The Catholic Passion, 104–105

The reason for the Church is to make men and women into saints.

Questions for Reflection

Explain the expression “no salvation outside the Church.”

What does it mean to say that the Church is “holy”?

Who is your favorite saint? How does this saint inspire you?