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Chapter 10. The Church: Reflecting the Light of Christ • 113

Trinity abides with the Church always, creatively and providentially. The

Church, empowered by the Holy Spirit, brings Christ’s salvation to the

world. She is the instrument of God’s universal call to holiness. At the

same time, the Church is made up of a sinful people. Yet despite the

personal sinfulness of her members, the Church remains holy by the

presence of Jesus and the Holy Spirit who permeates her.



The word


is a translation of biblical words: the Hebrew word


, and the Greek word


, both of which mean “gathering of

people or community” for worship. It was first applied to the people of

Israel whom God called into existence. The Church is also called into

existence by God. Responding to the proclamation of the Gospel begun

by the Apostles, men and women embrace God’s gift of faith and through

Baptism become members of the community of the Church.

The word


means the people gathered by God into one com-

munity, guided today by the bishops, who are the successors of the

Apostles and whose head is the Bishop of Rome, the Pope. The term


also applies to specific geographical communities called dio-

ceses. It also applies to the buildings where the faithful gather for the

Sacraments, especially the Eucharist, and to families, who are called

domestic churches.


How did the Church come to be?

From the beginning, the Church was part of God’s plan for sharing

his divine life with all people. There was a gradual formation of God’s

family through a series of events described in the Old Testament: God’s

covenant with Abraham as the father of a great people, the liberation

of ancient Israel from slavery in Egypt and their establishment in the

Promised Land, and their solidification as a nation through the kingship

of David.