Hey John, I’ve been wondering, why exactly is the Church necessary? You don’t need the Church in order to practice virtue; there are men who practice it outside the Church and who did so before it existed. Someone may say we need it because it preserves the true faith. But is stuff like whether the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father, or from the Father and the Son really that significant? To be honest, it sounds rather childish. Another argument may be because of the sacraments. Yes, the sacraments are powerful, but we really only partake regularly of the Eucharist and Confession (Can’t God forgive people apart from Confession?). Baptism is one sacrament that is valid in many Christian sects. So is that the answer, we need the Catholic faith because of two sacraments?
Is there any really significant reason why it is necessary? To be absolutely honest, I think I may just need more faith. If St. Peter were Pope instead of Pope John Paul II, I wouldn’t dare to ask that question, because if you are against St. Peter, then you are certainly against Christ. But nevertheless, I would appreciate your comments.
J. Salza: Gene, we need the Church in order to be saved. Jesus Christ gave us the Church as the exclusive means by which we become united to Him through the sacraments, which allow us to grow in holiness, and give us the best chance for salvation. Those outside the Church are, objectively speaking, in a spiritually deficient condition, although they can still be saved by Christ. But the Church gives us the totality of the means of salvation through Christ and His Eucharistic sacrifice, which the Church celebrates from the rising of the sun to its setting. The Church is the sacrament of salvation. Regularly receiving the sacraments that Christ instituted is the way that Jesus has set the whole thing up. Confession is the normative way that God forgives sins. The Eucharist is the greatest gift God has given to us this side of heaven – because it is Jesus Christ Himself. It is only in the Church where we eat His body and drink His blood as Jesus commanded us.
You cannot receive these sacraments outside the Church where there is no valid priesthood. The Catholic Church is the bride of Christ, and we are adopted sons of the Father in Christ through His bride, the Church. You are right to say this is also a matter of faith. The Church is supernatural, not just a human institution. That is why the Church is an article of faith. Pray to Mary, the Mother of the Church, to give you the wisdom you need to truly comprehend its magnificence and necessity.