The visibility of the Catholic Church

Discussion in 'Faith, Devotion & Formation' started by anglican74, Nov 14, 2021.

  1. anglican74

    anglican74 Well-Known Member Anglican

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    Anglican (ACNA)
    As we all know, Anglicans consider themselves a part of the one true Catholic Church… And by the Catholic Church we do not mean some invisible body, but the visible congregation of the faithful here on earth (and that the relation of the Pope to the Catholic Church is antithetical goes without saying)

    The question I’ve been having is, does the Catholic Church have to always be visible, or can it ever go into a twilight and obscurity (such as during some times in the middle ages)

    I have found this passage from St. Augustine where he asserts that the Catholic Church can at some times go into obscurity… What do you guys think of it?

    St Augustine, Letter to Hesychius (Epistola CXCIX, par. 39; in Collectio Selecta Ss. Ecclesiae Patrum, vol. CXLVIII)
    -“By all means, I think these [prophetic developments] are better understood with regard to the Church, lest the Lord Jesus, with His second coming drawing near, seem to have foretold as being of great consequence [developments] that had been accustomed to happen to this world even before His first coming, and [lest] we be laughed at by those who have read in the history of nations more and much greater things than the ones at which we tremble as the final and most important of all. For the Church is the sun and the moon and the stars, to which it was said, “fair as the moon, bright as the sun” (Canticle of Canticles 6:9). In this world our Joseph [=son of Jacob and Rachel] is worshipped [=venerated] by the [moon], as though in Egypt [when he had been] lifted up on high from the lowliest [condition]. For the Joseph’s mother, who died before Jacob had come to his son, was certainly unable to worship him, in order that the truth of the prophetic dream (Genesis 37:9), to be fulfilled with Christ the Lord, might be preserved. For when “the sun shall be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of heaven shall be moved,” just as this passage was recorded by the other two Evangelists (Matthew 24:29, Mark 13:24), the Church will not be perceptible at that time, with the ungodly persecutors raging beyond measure and with all fear laid aside as though the world’s good fortune were smiling approvingly, while they say, “Peace and security” [1 Thessalonians 5:3]. Then the stars shall fall from the heaven, and the powers of heaven shall be moved, because many who seemed to shine brightly with grace will yield to the persecutors and will fall, and some of the most valiant faithful will be confounded. However, for this reason, according to Matthew and Mark it is said that this will take place after the tribulation of those days, not because these things will happen after that entire persecution has been brought to an end, but because the tribulation will come before, in order that certain people’s defection [from the faith] may follow. And because it will come to pass in such a way through all those days, therefore after the tribulation of those days, but all the same it will nonetheless come to pass in the same days.”
  2. Botolph

    Botolph Well-Known Member

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    I understand the catholic church to be visible and invisible, comprising the Church Triumphant, the Church Expectant, and the Church Militant here on earth. The Church as it was, as it is, and as it will be. The Church as we experience it is the temporal expression of the a-temporal reality.

    Obviously, as western Christians Augustine makes sense to us, and in many ways this is another way of expressing in tract 45 - John 10:1-10, @ 12.

    You hear, brethren, the great importance of the question. I say then, The Lord knows them that are His. 2 Timothy 2:19 He knows those who were foreknown, He knows those who were predestinated; because it is said of Him, For whom He did foreknow, He also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren. Moreover, whom He did predestinate, them He also called; and whom He called, them He also justified; and whom He justified, them He also glorified. If God be for us, who can be against us? Add to this: He that spared not His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how has He not with Him also freely given us all things? But what us? Those who are foreknown, predestinated, justified, glorified; regarding whom there follows, Who shall lay anything to the charge of God's elect? Romans 7:29-33 Therefore the Lord knows them that are His; they are the sheep. Such sometimes do not know themselves, but the Shepherd knows them, according to this predestination, this foreknowledge of God, according to the election of the sheep before the foundation of the world: for so says also the apostle, According as He has chosen us in Him before the foundation of the world. Ephesians 1:4 According, then, to this divine foreknowledge and predestination, how many sheep are outside, how many wolves within! And how many sheep are inside, how many wolves without! How many are now living in wantonness who will yet be chaste! How many are blaspheming Christ who will yet believe in Him! How many are giving themselves to drunkenness who will yet be sober! How many are preying on other people property who will yet freely give of their own! Nevertheless at present they are hearing the voice of another, they are following strangers. In like manner, how many are praising within who will yet blaspheme; are chaste who will yet be fornicators; are sober who will wallow hereafter in drink; are standing who will by and by fall! These are not the sheep. (For we speak of those who were predestinated — of those whom the Lord knows that they are His.) And yet these, so long as they keep right, listen to the voice of Christ. Yea, these hear, the others do not; and yet, according to predestination, these are not sheep, while the others are.​