“…so that they may be one just as we are one...” (John 17:11). The Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC) para. 811 holds that the four marks of the Church are: one, holy, catholic and apostolic – each inseparably connected to one another. I would certainly encourage you to read the paragraph and the following sections, but in the interim here is the condensed version as regards “one.”
The Church is said to be one because of her source (the Father), the founder (Jesus) and her soul (Holy Spirit). It is this divine foundation that serves as the source of unity within its diversity. The CCC goes on to say that charity is the bond of unity as the internal sign of Oneness even while there are external signs:
- Profession of one faith received from the Apostles
- Common celebration of divine worship and the sacraments
- Apostolic succession
There will always be extreme positions marking our territory on one or more of these external marks.
There are the sede vaticanus Catholics who assert that apostolic succession has been broken with the last valid pope was Pius XII (d. 1959). There are Catholics who assert that the priesthood of the laity is the stream in which the succession is maintained
There are Catholics who stringently hold “extra Ecclesiam nulla salus” – outside the Church there is no salvation. There are Catholics who hold that in the end God’s mercy will save everyone.
There are Catholics who want strict controls on the Mass even down to the most minute of details. There are Catholics who want more latitude to help the Mass speak to a generation of lost sheep.
There seems to be an increasing level of intra-church dialog that has forgotten St. Pope John XXIII’s admonition: “In essentials, unity; in doubtful matters, liberty; in all things, charity.”
If there comes a time when you are in conversation about the faith and you notice an increase in the “energy” of the dialog, might we all remember that in all things charity, the bond of unity. In those more energetic moments may we give evidence of the Mark of Oneness and remember its source, founder and soul.