In the Creed which we recite together every Sunday, we profess our belief in the “one, holy, catholic, and apostolic Church.” These “four marks of the Church” are a shorthand way of describing a rich reality. One of those marks of the Church – her catholicity – is alluded to in today’s readings. (By the way, we traditionally refer to the Church in the feminine because the Church is the “Bride of Christ”.) The word “catholic” comes from a Greek word meaning “universal”. The Church is universal in two fundamental senses. First, she is universal because Christ is present in her; therefore, everything necessary for salvation is found in her. And secondly, she is universal because the Church has been sent out by Christ in a mission to the whole human race. Everyone is eligible for salvation, by the Grace of God, through the Church which Jesus Christ founded upon the Apostles. This truth is present already in the Old Testament. In today’s first reading, the prophet Isaiah says that God will “come to gather nations of every language.” And the Lord Himself says: “And people will come from the east and the west and from the north and the south and will recline at the table in the Kingdom of God.” The Catholic Church is not only American (we Americans make up less than 6% of all Catholics). She is truly universal – Catholic! Even though we come from many places and speak many languages, we still worship at the one altar of the Lord when we celebrate the Mass. This is one reason the Church preserves Latin as her “official” language. It is the universal language of our worship. While our primary language is English, it is still good for us to understand and have the ability to sing Sanctus, Sanctus, Sanctus (Holy, Holy, Holy), or Agnus Dei (Lamb of God) with the whole Catholic – Universal – Church. When we sing (or say) some of the Mass in Latin, it assists us to connect more with our tradition and to express more fully the universal character of the Church.
May God bless you!