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The Profession of Faith

219

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

this love

alone

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

SPACE—IT’S ETERNAL!

298

827

“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

renewal.”

299

All members of the Church, including her ministers,

must acknowledge that they are sinners.

300

In everyone, the weeds

of sin will still be mixed with the good wheat of the Gospel until

the end of time.

301

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.

302

828

By

canonizing

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.

303

“The saints have

always been the source and origin of renewal in the most difficult

moments in the Church’s history.”

304

Indeed, “holiness is the

hidden source and infallible measure of her apostolic activity and

missionary zeal.”

305

298 St. Thérèse of Lisieux,

Autobiography of a Saint,

tr. Ronald Knox (London:

Harvill, 1958) 235.

299

LG

8 § 3; cf.

UR

3; 6;

Heb

2:17; 7:26;

2 Cor

5:21.

300 Cf.

1 Jn

1:8-10.

301 Cf.

Mt

13:24-30.

302 Paul VI,

CPG

§ 19.

303 Cf.

LG

40; 48-51.

304 John Paul II,

CL

16, 3.

305

CL

17, 3.

864

1425-1429

821

1173

2045