The indestructible Fortress

The Catholic Church has survived many a trial and tribulation in Her 2,000 year history, all of which would have destroyed an earthly Organization, if it was not protected and preserved by Almighty God.  From bloody persecutions to spiritual persecutions from heretics, the Church has always risen from the ruins victorious and remained the ever spotless and holy Bride of Christ.  The Church has been promised to exist until the end of time by Her Founder, Our Lord Jesus Christ, who Himself said that the gates of hell shall not prevail against His Church.

“The Church has ever proved indestructible. Her persecutors have failed to destroy her; in fact, it was during times of persecution that the Church grew more and more; while the persecutors themselves, and those whom the Church would destroy, are the very ones who came to nothing… Again, errors have assailed her; but in fact, the greater number of errors that have arisen, the more has the truth been made manifest…Nor has the Church failed before the assaults of demons: for she is like a tower of refuge to all who fight against the devil.”   ~St. Thomas Aquinas

“Dynasties, empires, forms of government, have succeeded each other, and only one institution has stood unchanged – the Church.”   ~Dom Gueranger

“In vain will the Princes of the earth seek, in their conceited calculations, to destroy the Church: God, who has founded her, will make her triumph. Empires shall pass away, and their persecutions: the Church will survive them all, knowing neither wrinkle or decay.”  ~Dom Gueranger

“It is the peculiar property of the Church that when she is buffeted, she is triumphant; when she is assaulted with argument she proves herself in the right; when she is deserted by her supporters, she holds the field.”   ~St. Hilary of Poitiers

The grandeur and glory of the Church in every aspect is so great that it could have only been fashioned by the hand of God. Many characteristics of the Church clearly distinguish it from every other false religion. No other church or religion can claim that God remains with them in His Person, visibly present, like we can, for we have Him present in the Holy Eucharist.  Her history, replete with every sort of miracle, from the miraculous lives of Saints to the preservation of the Holy Eucharist in the Eucharistic miracles to the incorruptible bodies of the Saints, all show and prove the miraculous and divine nature of the Catholic Church.  Her missionaries and martyrs attest to the truth of the Church, for they spilled their blood for Her and Her Bridegroom, Jesus Christ.  Additionally, only the Church can claim power as a spiritual and temporal force, like She did in Christendom.  To Her, Christ gave all of Himself and left the Church to us as his dying gift, for the Church was born from the side of Christ on the Cross.

Sacred Scripture itself says that Christ gave Himself up for the Church:

“Husbands, love your wives, as Christ also loved the church, and delivered himself up for it: That he might sanctify it, cleansing it by the laver of water in the word of life: That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy, and without blemish.”  ~Ephesians 5: 25-27

Pope Pius IX says on the divine nature of the Church:

“But how many wonderful and shining proofs are ready at hand to convince the human reason in the clearest way that the religion of Christ is divine and that ‘the whole principle of our doctrines has taken root from the Lord of the heavens above’; therefore nothing exists more definite, more settled or more holy than our faith, which rests on the strongest foundations. This faith, which teaches for life and points towards salvation, which casts out all vices and is the fruitful mother and nurse of the virtues, has been established by the birth, life, death, resurrection, wisdom, wonders and prophecies of Christ Jesus, its divine author and perfector! Shining forth in all directions with the light of teaching from on high and enriched with the treasures of heavenly wealth, this faith grew famed and notable by the foretellings of so many prophets, the lustre of so many miracles, the steadfastness of so many martyrs, and the glory of so many saints! It made known the saving laws of Christ and, gaining in strength daily even when it was most cruelly persecuted, it made its way over the whole world by land and sea, from the sun’s rising to its setting, under the single standard of the Cross! The deceit of idols was cast down and the mist of errors was scattered. By the defeat of all kinds of enemies, this faith enlightened with divine knowledge all peoples, races and nations, no matter how barbarous and savage, or how different in character, morals, laws and ways of life. It brought them under the sweet yoke of Christ Himself by proclaiming peace and good tidings to all men! Now, surely all these events shine with such divine wisdom and power that anyone who considers them will easily understand that the Christian faith is the work of God. Human reason knows clearly from these striking and certain proofs that God is the author of this faith; therefore it is unable to advance further but should offer all obedience to this faith, casting aside completely every problem and hesitation. Human reason is convinced that it is God who has given everything the faith proposes to men for belief and behavior.”   ~Pope Pius IX, “Qui Pluribus”

Since the Church’s beginning, Satan has been at war with Her because he knows the power the Bride of Christ possesses to snatch souls from the pit of hell:

“Believe me, O man, there is no power like the power of the Church. Cease thy battling, lest thou lose thy strength; wage not war with heaven. When it is with man thou warrest, thou mayst win or lose; but when thy fighting is against the Church, it is impossible thou shouldst conquer, for God is above all in strength… If thou will not believe [Christ’s] word, believe facts. How many tyrants have sought to crush the Church? They had their gridirons and fiery furnaces, and wild beasts, and swords – and all failed. Where are those enemies now? Buried and forgotten. And the Church? Brighter than the sun. All they had is now past, but her riches are immortal. If the Christians conquered when they were but few in number, canst thou hope to vanquish them, now that the whole earth is filled with the holy religion? ‘Heaven and earth shall pass, but my words shall not pass.’ Wonder not at it; for the Church is dearer unto God than the very heavens. He took flesh not from heaven, but from his Church on earth; and heaven is for the Church, not the Church for heaven.”  ~St. John Chrysostom

Because we have knowledge of the divine nature of the Church, all the more is it our duty to make this known for the salvation of souls:

“All, moreover, are bound to love the Church as their common mother, to obey her laws, promote her honor, defend her rights, and to endeavor to make her respected and loved by those over whom they have authority.”   ~Pope Leo XIII, “Immortale Dei”, 1885

Pope Leo XIII says that we should even love the Church more than our own Country and rightly so, for the Church is of things heavenly, while the earthly is only temporary:

“Now, if the natural law enjoins us to love devotedly and to defend the country in which we had birth, and in which we were brought up, so that every good citizen hesitates not to face death for his native land, very much more is it the urgent duty of Christians to be ever quickened by like feelings toward the Church. For the Church is the holy City of the living God, born of God Himself, and by Him built up and established. Upon this earth, indeed, she accomplishes her pilgrimage, but by instructing and guiding men she summons them to eternal happiness. We are bound, then, to love dearly the country whence we have received the means of enjoyment this mortal life affords, but we have a much more urgent obligation to love, with ardent love, the Church to which we owe the life of the soul, a life that will endure forever. For fitting it is to prefer the good of the soul to the well-being of the body, inasmuch as duties toward God are of a far more hallowed character than those toward men.”   ~Pope Leo XIII, “Sapientiae Christianae”, 1890

No matter how hard they try, the gates of hell cannot prevail against the indestructible Fortress, that is the Church:

“As for what concerns the exterior and temporal prosperity of the Church, it is evident that she has to cope with most malicious and powerful adversaries. Too often has she suffered at their hands the abolition of her rights, the diminution and oppression of her liberties, scorn and affronts to her authority, and every conceivable outrage. And if in their wickedness her enemies have not accomplished all the injury they had resolved upon and striven to do, they nevertheless seem to go on unchecked. But, despite them the Church, amidst all these conflicts, will always stand out and increase in greatness and glory. Nor can human reason rightly understand why evil, apparently so dominant, should yet be so restricted as regards its results; whilst the Church, driven into straits, comes forth glorious and triumphant.”   ~Pope Leo XIII, “Octobri Mense”, 1891

“Men should realize that all attempts to overthrow the ‘House of God’ are in vain. For this is the Church founded on Peter, ‘Rock,’ not merely in name but in truth. Against this ‘the gates of hell will not prevail’, ‘for it is founded on a rock.’ There has never been an enemy of the Christian religion who was not simultaneously at wicked war with the See of Peter, since while this See remained strong the survival of the Christian religion was assured. As St. Irenaeus proclaims openly to all, ‘by the order and succession of the Roman pontiffs the tradition from the Apostles in the Church and the proclamation of the truth has come down to us. And this is the fullest demonstration that it is the one and the same life-giving faith which has been preserved in the Church until now since the time of the Apostles and has been handed on in truth.”   ~Pope Pius VII, “Diu Satis”, 1800

Finally, let this from Dom Gueranger give us hope during this crisis of Faith in the Church, that She will always remained unchanged in her essence and that no foe of hers, even the Modernists of today, can ever destroy or change Her:

“O holy Roman Church! Thou hast for ever put thy trust in the Lord; and He, faithful to His promise, has humbled before thee the haughty ones that defied thee, and the proud cities that were against thee. Where now are the Caesars, who boasted that they had drowned thee in thine own blood? Where the emperors, who would ravish the inviolate virginity of thy faith? Where the heretics, who, during the past centuries of thine existence, have assailed every article of thy teaching and denied what they listed? Where the ungrateful princes, who would fain make a slave of thee, who hast made them what they were? Where that empire of Mahomet, which has so many times raged against thee, for that thou, the defenseless State, did arrest the pride of its conquests? Where the reformers, who were bent on giving the world a Christianity, in which thou was to have no part? Where the more modern sophists, in whose philosophy thou wast set down as a system that had been tried, and was a failure, and is now a ruin? And those kings who are acting the tyrant over thee, and those people that will have liberty independently and at the risk of truth, where will they be in another hundred years? Gone and forgotten as the noisy anger of a torrent; whilst thou, O holy Church of Rome, built on the immovable rock, wilt be as calm, as young, as unwrinkled as ever. Thy path through all the ages of this world’s duration, will be right as that of the just man; thou wilt ever be the same unchanging Church, as thou hast been during the two thousand years past, whilst everything else under the sun has been but change. Whence this thy stability, but from Him who is very truth and justice? Glory be to Him in thee!”   ~Dom Gueranger

Let us rejoice at belonging to the Bride of Christ, the indestructible and forever glorious Church of God, that will forever remain our sure refuge and fortress in the world until the end of time.

~Damsel of the Faith

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