Saturday, March 1, 2014

Definitions of terms

Note: this is an incomplete work in progress. Certain terms need definition, and some need to be defined better. Also, I need to list sources referenced in my definitions.

These are terms I regularly use in discussions on Facebook and other online forums. I'm placing it here so that I can refer people to it when necessary.

Apostolic succession: the line of succession leading from the Apostles down to every catholic (note the lower case "c") bishop. To begin at the beginning, God the Father gave authority to Jesus, Jesus gave His authority to the Apostles, and the Apostles appointed bishops as their successors, passing to these bishops their Apostolic authority in matters of faith, morals, and the valid administration of sacraments. Those bishops then ordained other bishops, passing along their Apostolic authority. This line has continued through the ages so that every bishop in every catholic Church has been ordained in this line. Sadly, the same is not true of Protestant communities, many of which don't even claim to have bishops. Every bishop of every catholic Church has some measure of Apostolic authority, but Apostolic authority is only found in the full sense in the True Church.

bishop: a bishop is a man who was ordained in the line of Apostolic succession and who possesses the fullness of the priesthood to rule a diocese as its chief pastor. The office of bishop is of Divine institution. In the ministerial hierarchy they possess powers superior to those of priests and deacons; in the hierarchy of jurisdiction, by Christ's will, they are appointed for the government of one portion of the faithful of the Church. They are the successors of the Apostles, though they do not possess all the prerogatives of the latter.

catholic (with a lower case "c"): the points of doctrine, theology, and sacramental life on which the Catholic Church, Eastern Orthodox Church, and Oriental Orthodox Church agree. If I use this word at the beginning of a sentence, it will be spelled "c"atholic.

Catholic (with an upper case "C"): refers to the teachings and/or sacramental life of the Catholic Church.

Catholic Church: sometimes mistakenly referred to as the Roman Catholic Church. It is the largest Christian Church in the world, and is headed by the Pope, the bishop of Rome. It is made up of 23 different Churches. Each of the Churches is headed by a bishop (various titles such as Patriarch or Metropolitan may be used instead of bishop, but Patriarchs, etc. [and even the Pope] are all bishops). The Catholic Churches are:

Albanian Byzantine Catholic Church
Armenian Catholic Church
Belarusian Greek Catholic Church
Bulgarian Greek Catholic Church
Byzantine Church of Croatia, Serbia and Montenegro
Chaldean Catholic Church
Coptic Catholic Church
Ethiopic Catholic Church
Greek Byzantine Catholic Church
Hungarian Greek Catholic Church
Italo-Albanian Catholic Church
Macedonian Greek Catholic Church
Maronite Church
Melkite Greek Catholic Church
Roman Catholic Church
Romanian Church United with Rome, Greek-Catholic
Russian Byzantine Catholic Church
Ruthenian Catholic Church
Slovak Greek Catholic Church
Syrian Catholic Church
Syro-Malabar Church
Syro-Malankara Catholic Church
Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church

celibacy: the state of being unmarried.

celibate: single; unmarried. If a married couple refrains from sex for a period of time, they are not celibate, they are continent. Married people cannot be celibate because celibate means unmarried.

chaste: sexually pure.

chastity: sexual purity. All persons, whether single or married, are called by God to be chaste. For single people, chastity involves refraining from lust, pornography, and sexual activity with oneself or other persons, and active service to meet the needs of other people (e.g. encouraging the discouraged, feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, mentoring the young). For married people, chastity involves all the above with the exception that they can focus their sexual desires on and have sexual relations with their spouse.

church (with a lower case "c"): a local body of non-catholic Christians who meet together under self-elected officials (usually called a pastor). Non-catholic churches are not Churches in the proper sense, as they lack Apostolic succession and valid sacraments.

Church (with an upper case "C"): a local body of catholic Christians who are lead by a bishop. Each local body is referred to as a Church, but each one is considered to be the local expression of the True Church established by Christ.

continence: refraining from sexual activity with oneself or other persons.

continent: the state of being sexually inactive.

Eastern Orthodox Church:

Oriental Orthodox Church:

Roman Catholic Church: the largest of the 23 Catholic Churches. It is headed by the bishop of Rome, who is also the ultimate head of the 22 other Catholic Churches.

True Church: before Christ ascended into Heaven, He established His Church on Earth that would bear His authority, faithfully preserve and pass on His teaching, and make disciples of all nations. That Church has both a visible and an invisible aspect. The visible part of the Church includes a hierarchy (bishops, priests, and deacons), the lay people, the sacraments, and the Church's doctrine.

The invisible aspect of the Church...

1) includes those members of the Church who are truly disciples of Jesus Christ;
2) includes those members of the Church whose bodies have died; their spirits are still alive in Christ, and they are still members of Christ's living Body;
3) includes Christians who are not members of the True Church, but who, by the grace of God, are truly following Jesus Christ to the best of their understanding;
4) includes people who through no fault of their own have never heard of Christ or who have never had the Gospel presented to them in such a way that they can grasp it, but to whom God has revealed some piece of truth which they follow because they know it is true.

It is God's desire that all humanity be full members of the True Church in both its visible and invisible aspects.

The True Church is the either the Catholic Church or the Eastern Orthodox Church. I do not know which. Both claim to be the Church established by Christ, and say that the other one is schismatic (i.e. it broke off from the True Church) and heterodox (while maintaining much true doctrine, it also has some errors). Recently I almost became a Catechumen in the Orthodox Church, but am not yet ready to make that commitment. I continue to pray about this issue.