The Profession of Faith
If the Church was a body composed of different members, it
couldn’t lack the noblest of all;
it must have a Heart, and a
Heart BURNING WITH LOVE.
And I realized that
was the true motive force which enabled the other
members of the Church to act; if it ceased to function, the
Apostles would forget to preach the gospel, the Martyrs
would refuse to shed their blood. LOVE, IN FACT, IS THE
VOCATION WHICH INCLUDES ALL OTHERS; IT’S A
UNIVERSE OF ITS OWN, COMPRISING ALL TIME AND
“Christ, ‘holy, innocent, and undefiled,’ knew nothing of
sin, but came only to expiate the sins of the people. The Church,
however, clasping sinners to her bosom, at once holy and always
in need of purification, follows constantly the path of penance and
All members of the Church, including her ministers,
must acknowledge that they are sinners.
In everyone, the weeds
of sin will still be mixed with the good wheat of the Gospel until
the end of time.
Hence the Church gathers sinners already
caught up in Christ’s salvation but still on the way to holiness:
The Church is therefore holy, though having sinners in her
midst, because she herself has no other life but the life of
grace. If they live her life, her members are sanctified; if they
move away from her life, they fall into sins and disorders
that prevent the radiation of her sanctity. This is why she
suffers and does penance for those offenses, of which she
has the power to free her children through the blood of Christ
and the gift of the Holy Spirit.
some of the faithful, i.e., by solemnly pro-
claiming that they practiced heroic virtue and lived in fidelity to
God’s grace, the Church recognizes the power of the Spirit of
holiness within her and sustains the hope of believers by proposing
the saints to them as models and intercessors.
“The saints have
always been the source and origin of renewal in the most difficult
moments in the Church’s history.”
Indeed, “holiness is the
hidden source and infallible measure of her apostolic activity and
298 St. Thérèse of Lisieux,
Autobiography of a Saint,
tr. Ronald Knox (London:
Harvill, 1958) 235.
8 § 3; cf.
302 Paul VI,
304 John Paul II,