Thursday, November 20, 2008

Where did the term "Catholic Church" come from....?

In one of the comments from my post on Defending Peter and explaining the Papacy, Belteshazzar Mouse asked where the term Catholic Church came from. Logic tells us that this term must have originated during the time of the Reformation in order to distinguish between Protestants and Catholics. Prior to the Reformation, there would not have been a reason.

After reading the Four Witnesses, I learned that the term katholike ekklesia, was first used by St. Ignatius of Antioch circa 110AD.

St. Ignatius of Antioch was the Bishop of Syria during the time of Christian Persecution. He was arrested as a Christian and then transported to Rome where he would devoured by lions. During his transportation to Rome, he wrote several letters to many of the different churches, including (Ephesians, Magnesians, Trallians, Romans, Philidelphians, Smyrneans). If you are interested in downloading these letters in MP3 format, please visit Joe McClane site.

In his letter to the Smyrneans, he writes:

"Wherever the bishop shall appear, there let the multitude [of the people] also be; even as, wherever Jesus Christ is, there is the Catholic Church"(The Epistle of Ignatius to the Smyrnaeans Ch. 8).

I am amazed at how much information is readily available regarding our Christian heritage. I am also amazed that I did not really care about what happened in the Early Church history. These early martyrs are the champions of our faith. They are part of our Christian Culture and we should recognize them for the heroes that they are.

The book that I mentioned earlier, Four Witnesses would be a great start to learn more about our Christian heritage. There are countless other heroes and role models that we can turn to imitate. If you are struggling with prayer, look at St. John of the Cross or St. Teresa of Avila. If you have questions about God and theological concepts, look at the Summa Theologica written by St. Thomas Aquinas. If you struggle with loving your neighbor, read about Mother Teresa, and how she recognized Jesus in everyone that she saw (Matt 25:44-45). I would encourage everyone to spend some time learning more about the history and heroes of our faith. We are so ready to look at the lives of athletes and political leaders that we hold in high esteem, shouldn't we be as excited and even more motivated to look at the lives of people of the faith?

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