Marks of the Church - What Are They Good For? Recognizing the Church of Christ!
The Four Marks of the Church are present, and visible/knowable in order for all the world to be able to discern which of the claimants is truly the Church of Christ, His Mystical Body.
Even after 50 years of crisis, the Church of Christ is still Visible, it still has the Four Marks. It is still the Catholic Church under the Successor of Peter.
For further reading: The Four Marks of the Church
As quoted in the above article:
The four marks of the Church are integral to external elements that constitute the visibility of the Church:
- A unity that can be traced back to the Apostles in Government, Faith, & Worship.
- A universality from the beginning to end of time embracing all peoples in the profession of the same faith.The marks and the visibility of the Church are woven into a tapestry of the Church. Remove or mar one and the entire tapestry is ruined.A Church that lacks this visibility, cannot be the Church, just as a Church that lacks the Four Marks cannot be the Church.So where is the Visible, One, Holy, Catholic Apostolic Church of Christ? Where is the continual uninterrupted “assembly of men united in the profession of the same Christian faith and in the communion of the same sacraments, under the rule of legitimate pastors, and in particular, that of the one Vicar of Christ on earth, the Roman Pontiff.”Given that the doctrine of the Faith, Sacraments and Vicar of Christ are found intact only in the "assembly of men" united under Pope Francis. That is where we find the Church of Christ - even in these days of crisis within the Church.
PS As noted elsewhere - the copy / paste from the pdf of 'Ott' is not perfect. If you want to read the original the link is provided.
14. The Visibility of the Church
Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma - Ott
Visibility is that quality of the Church on the ground of which she appear~ externally and perceptibly to the senses. A distinction is made between material and formal visibility. The former consists in the sensory appearance of her mClllberst the latter in dcfmite propertiest by which the nlembers of the Church externally and visibly belong to a religious conlmunion. The Inaterial visibility of the Church is not disputed; but the formal visibility is questioned. The formal visibility presupposes and is based on the know-ability of the Church.
1. The External Visible Side of the Church
The Church founded by Christ is an extemal visible commonwealth. (Sent. certa.)
According to the teaching of the Council of Trent there is in the Church H a visible sacrifice" and an U visible and external priesthood" (0 957). The Vatican Council teaches that Christ appointed the Apostle Peter to be the " visible foundation" (0 1821) of the unity qf the Church. Leo XIIIt in the Encyclical "Satis cognitum" (1896), teaches: "When one visualises the ultinlate purpose of the Church and the proxituate causes effecting sanctity, she is, in fact, spiritual. But when one considers the members of the Church and the means which lead to the spiritual giftst then she is externally and necessarily visible." A threefold sensible bond binds the members of the Church to one another, and makes them known as such: the profession ofthe same Faith, the use of the same means of grace, and the subordination to the same authority.
Pius XIIt in the Encyclical" Mystici Corporis/' confirmed the teaching of Leo XIII, and expressly rejected the view that the Church is "a mere spli-itual entity, joining together by an invisible link. a number of communities of Christians, in spite of their difference in Faith."
I'he visibility of the Church \vas denied by the Spiritualistic Sects of the Middle Ages, by Huss and the Reforn1ers. According to Huss, the Church consists ofthe communion of the predestinated (0627). Calvin held the sanle view. Luther taught that the Church is " the assembly of the saints (= the faithful), in which the Gospel is properly taught and the Sacranlents are properly adlninistered ., (Conf. Aug. Art. 7). But without an authoritative teaching office there is no certain norm for the purity of doctrine or for the administration of the Sacraments. The rejection of the hierarchy inevitably led to the doctrine of the invisible Church.
The biblical proof of the visibility of the Church springs from the Divine institution of the hierarchy (Par. 4). The teaching office demands from its incumbents the duty of obedience to the faith (Rom. I, 5) and the confession of faith (Mt. lOt 32 et seq.; Rom. 10, 10). To the sacerdotal office corresponds, on the part of the faithful, the duty of using the means of grace dispensed by it (John 3, 5 ; 6, 54). To the pastoral office corresponds, on the part of those shepherded, the duty of being subject to the Church Authority (rvlt. 18. 17 et seq.; Luke 10. 16).
The Prophets ofthe Old Covenant depict the Messianic Kingdom symbolically by the simile of a high mOlll1tain visible from afar off: which overtowers all other mOlll1tains, and to which all people converge (Is. 2J 2, et seq.; Mich. 4, I et seq.). According to the parables ofJesus, the Church is like an eartWy kingdom, a flock, a building, a vine, a city on a mOWltam. St. Paul compares the Church to the human body.
The Fathers teach that the Church of Christ is easily recognised and distinguished as such from heretical communions. St. Irenaeus holds against the Gnostics that the adherents of the Church throughout the whole world confess the same faith, observe the [same commandments and preserve the same form of Church constitution. He compares the Church, which preaches the same truth everywhere, to a seven-branched candlestick, \vhich, visible to all, bears the light of Christ (Adv. haer. V 20, I). St. Augustine compares the Church to a city on a mountain (Mt. S, 14) : "The Church stands clear and visible before all men; for she is the city on the mountain which caMot be hidden" (Contra Cresconium, II, 36, 45). Cf. In Ep. I loan. tr. I, 13. " The fmal reason for the visibility of the Church lies in the Incarnation of the Divine Word" (Mohler, Symbolik, Par. 36).
2. The Inner, Invisible Side of the Church Side by side with the outward visible side, the Church, like her Divine-human F01.Ulder, has also an inner, invisible side.
The purpose of the Church-the inner sanctification of mankind-is invisible. The gifts of Salvation, which the Church commtmicates, truth and grace, are invisible. The inner life-principle of the Church, the Holy Ghost, and the operation of His grace, are invisible. While the outward social side is an object perceptible to the senses, the itmer Inystical side is an object of faith. The visible appearance of the Church,
therefore, in no wise excludes faith in the Church as the salutary institution founded by God.
The objections raised against the visibility rest mostly on a one-sided emphasis on the inner spiritual side. The words ofJesus, Luke 17, 21 : "The Kingdom of God is within you" (intra vos), as they were addressed to the Pharisees. do notassert: theKingdomofGodisinyourhearts,but: theKingdomofGodis in your midst. But even in the former interpretation it does not exclude the visibility.