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Faith of the Mountain

The Catholic Catechism
for the Maronite Church

Cedars in aShouf Lebanon

One Lord, One Faith, One Baptism

Christ with Early Church Teachers from the Rabbula Gospels

The Church, Our Mother

Saint Cyprian, Bishop of Carthage (near modern Tunis, Tunisia) from about 251 to 256 AD, wrote:

The spouse of Christ cannot be defiled; she is uncorrupted and chaste. She knows one home, with chaste modesty she guards the sanctity of one couch. She keeps us for God; she assigns the children whom she has created to the kingdom. Whoever is separated from the Church and is joined with an adulteress is separated from the promises of the Church, nor will he who has abandoned the Church arrive at the rewards of Christ. He is a stranger; he is profane; he is an enemy. He cannot have God as a father who does not have the Church as a mother. If whoever was outside the ark of Noah was able to escape, he too who is outside the Church escapes. The Lord warns, saying: ‘He who is not with me is against me, and who does not gather with me, scatters’ (cf. Matthew 12:30).

Saint Cyprian, “The Unity of the Church,” translated by Roy J. Deferrari, Ph.D.
in Treatises, translated and edited by Roy J. Deferrari
Washington, DC: The Catholic University of America Press, 1958, Chapter 6

What do you think?

A pilgrim using his hands to make a heart-shaped frame around the dome of Saint Peter's Basilica, Vatican City

Saint Peter’s Basilica
The Vatican

Saint Cyprian’s statement, “He cannot have God as a father who does not have the Church as a mother,” is frequently quoted. How do you understand what he is saying in this passage?

A Reading from the Letter of St Paul to the Ephesians

From the Epistle for the Eleventh Sunday of Pentecost.

Brothers and Sisters:
So [Jesus Christ] came and proclaimed peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near; for through him both of us have access in one Spirit to the Father. So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are citizens with the saints and also members of the household of God, built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the cornerstone. In him the whole structure is joined together and grows into a holy temple in the Lord; in whom you also are built together spiritually into a dwelling place for God.(Ephesians 2:17-22)

What do you think?

From what Saint Paul said to the Christians in Ephesus, what do you understand to be the basis of the teaching of the Church?

What is the role of the Church in the faith and the way of life of a Chirstian?

We believe in One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church

There are many groups that call themselves Christian churches in the world. Not all of these groups would be recognized by all of the other groups. Still, we believe that the Church is One, because it is the Body of Christ in this world.

The reading from Saint Cyprian with which this lesson began was written to warn people about false teachers who would try to divide the Church. Saint Clement of Alexandria was a leading church teacher in Alexandria, Egypt, at the end of the second century. He was ordained by Pope Julian in or before 189. In the fifth chapter of a work called, The Teacher, Clement writes a great deal about the importance of simple, childlike trust in God and in the Church as the Bride of Christ and our Mother ( Clement stressed that Christ alone is our teacher and that we are all children and disciples. Clement also insists on the unity of the Church in teaching and faith and how we must avoid individualistic and flase teachings.

If we have one Teacher in heaven, as the Scripture says, we can agree that those on the earth will be rightly called disciples. For so the truth, that is perfection, is with the Lord, who is always teaching, and infancy and childishness are with us, who are always learning… Christ is the head, the mature man, the only one perfect in righteousness; and we who are children must guard against the blasts of heresies, which blow to make us proud, and we must not put our trust in “fathers” who teach us otherwise. We are then made perfect when we are the church, having received Christ the head.

(Saint Clement of Alexandria, The Teacher, Chapter 5, edited)

Pope Frances greets Eastern and Oriental Christian patriarchs and bishops at a meeting in Bari, Italy

The Bishop of Rome is the Holy Father of all Catholic Christians. He works with the leaders of other churches, both Catholic churches, such as the Maronites, and non-Catholic churches such as the Roum, or Greek Orthodox, to lead the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church and to bring unity among all Christians.

Christian Authority

Sayidna Mor Gregory Mansour holding a baby during a visit to a shelter for abused women and their children in Lebanon
Pope Francis listening to a young hospital patient whispering into his ear

The authority of Christian leaders comes from Christ himself who said,“Whoever wants to be first must be last of all and servant of all.” Then he took a little child and put it among them; and taking it in his arms, he said to them, “Whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me, and whoever welcomes me welcomes not me but the one who sent me.” (Mark 9:35-36) To the Apostle Peter, Jesus entrusted the leadership of the Church, calling him the "Rock" on which Christ would build His Church (see Matthew 16:18). After His resurrection, Jesus instructed Peter saying, "Feed My lambs," and, "Follow Me" (see John 21:15-19). Our bishops, led by the Bishop of Rome, the successor to Peter the Apostle, hold apostolic authority to teach and guide the Church. Their unity is what makes the Church truly Catholic, universal. They lead through paternal love and service. For this reason, we call our bishops and priests, "Father."

A Prayer from the Maronite Liturgy

This is the Sedro from the Prayer of Forgiveness, or Husoyo, for Saturdays in the Season of the Glorious Resurrection.

In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
By your resurrection, O Christ, you completed your work of redemption on earth. You established your Church on your holy apostles, with Peter, the rock of faith, as their head. You entrusted your Church to distribute the fruits of redemption through her sacred Mysteries, and to bring salvation to all people.
Now, O Lord, we ask you, with the fragrance of this incense, to keep your Church as one flock, united to you as her Good Shepherd. Call young men and women to serve you and dedicate themselves to the work of evangelization. May they spread your Gospel, teach your children, care for your sick, and serve your poor.
Make us worthy to attain unity of faith and knowledge of you, so that we may reach a more perfect humanity, strive on earth to become more fully like you, and achieve the fullness of your glory in heaven, where we will praise and thank you, and your Father, and your Holy Spirit, forever. Amen.

From the Catechism of the Catholic Church

The reference below each statement links to the official English translation of the Catechism of the Catholic Church on the Web site of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops

  • Our faith is a gift from God that begins in the Church and grows in the Church. Faith is the conviction and belief of the individual and the shared communion of the People of God through faith in Jesus Christ.
  • The Church is one through all time and in all places because of the one Lord whom Christians love and follow, the one faith that Christians profess, and the one baptism by which Christians are made members of the one Body of Christ.
    CCC#166-184; and CCC #811-870, especially CCC #866-870
  • Our faith in God and the model of life given us by Jesus lead us to serve other for the love of God. All people are made in the image of God, and Jesus offered his life for the life of the world.
    CCC #1905-1948
  • Authority and leadership in the Body of Christ is motivated by faith and lived out in service.
    CCC #874-879

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