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114 • Part I. The Creed: The Faith Professed


Jesus brought about the fulfillment of the Father’s plan for the Church

first by his preaching and witnessing the Good News of the Kingdom,

with its gifts of salvation from sin and participation in divine life. The

seed and beginning of the Kingdom was the little flock whom Jesus shep-

herded as his family. Jesus established the beginnings of a visible struc-

ture of the Church that will remain until the Kingdom is fully achieved,

through his choice of the Twelve Apostles, with Peter as the head.

By his Cross, Jesus gave birth to the Church:

The Church is born primarily of Christ’s total self-giving for

our salvation, anticipated in the institution of the Eucharist and

fulfilled on the cross. “The origin and growth of the Church

are symbolized by the blood and water which flowed from the

open side of the crucified Jesus.” “For it was from the side of

Christ as he slept the sleep of death upon the cross that there

came forth the ‘wondrous sacrament of the whole Church.’” As

Eve was formed from the sleeping Adam’s side, so the Church

was born from the pierced heart of Christ hanging dead on the

cross. (CCC, no. 766, citing LG, no. 3, and SC, no. 5)


The Holy Spirit revealed the Church at Pentecost, coming upon the

Apostles and the disciples with a transforming fire, forming them into

a visible community, and empowering them to proclaim the Gospel of

Jesus Christ.

The early Church Fathers taught that there was an inseparable

link between the Holy Spirit and the Church: “Where the Church is,

there also is God’s Spirit; where God’s Spirit is, there is the Church” (St.


Against Heresies

, III, 24.1). So forceful is the presence of the

Spirit in the life of the early Church that the New Testament narrative

of the Church’s early growth, the Acts of the Apostles, is often called the

“Gospel of the Holy Spirit.”

The Acts of the Apostles and early Church history show how the

Holy Spirit bestowed gifts on the community of believers for their roles