Let’s say you have a choice to take one of two airplanes to take to a distant city, lets call it “Heavenly City.” The one plane (Church Airlines) gets there 100% of the time. The other plane (Alsoran Airlines) gets there sometimes, but other times it is in disrepair, or it lands in the wrong city, or at still other times it crashes. OK, which plane are you going to take?
Now I am not going to tell you that only Church Airline riders get to Heavenly City. A few people on the other plane do sometimes get there, but its a pretty uncertain ride. At least with Church Airlines the plane is certain to get there: it won’t crash, get lost or fail to take off. So, choose your airline! But remember that Church Airlines has a 100 % record, Alsoran Airlines can make no such claim. When it comes to flying even 99 1/2 won’t do, gotta make a 100!
The simple fact is that the world and other inferior brands might not get you there. Untested spiritualities and the latest trends won’t cut it. Only Jesus and the Catholic Church he founded are up to the job 100% of the time. Now be careful though. You have to stay on the plane for the whole journey. Don’t get off at a connecting city (such as Sin City) or any such thing. Stay the course to Heavenly City. The Catholic Church alone (aka Church airlines) is 100% reliable by Jesus’ own promise. It’s a pretty good reason to get on board before the door closes and walkway swings back. There is a mid-flight meal, (called the Eucharist), and an in-flight movie, “The Greatest Story Ever Told (aka the Scriptures) included in the price of your ticket which is, by the way, free.
The Church is Indefectible- There are very few certainties in this world about anything but one thing is for sure: The Church will prevail, the Church will be here to infallibly lead us to the end of days. “How arrogant!” you might say. And yet, I did say it. Why? Not because of any human guarantee, but based rather on the firm promise of Jesus himself:
The place is Ceasarea Phillipi and Jesus is speaking to Simon Peter who had just confessed him to be the Christ and the Son of the Living God. Now Jesus speaks and says, You are Peter (Rock), and upon this rock I will build my church,and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. (Matt 16:18) The Church will surely be hated, attacked and persecuted but Hell will never prevail, never defeat the Church Jesus founded. Now I want to emphasize that this power of the Church to endure to the end is no human power. It is not based on brilliant or perfect human leaders. It is based solely on Jesus’ promise. So it is not arrogant to make this claim, it is simply biblical and a matter of faith in Jesus.
This prevailing power of the Church means that the Church will be here to the end. Count on it since Jesus promised it. This is what is meant by the “indefectibility” of Church.
The Church is Infallible - Christ promise also means that the Church cannot mislead us or teach falsely in a matter of faith and morals. This is what is meant by the “infallibility” of the Church in matters of faith and morals definitively taught. Here is the way the catechism puts it.
In order to preserve the Church in the purity of the faith handed on by the apostles, Christ who is the Truth willed to confer on her a share in his own infallibility…It is this Magisterium’s task to preserve God’s people from deviations and defections and to guarantee them the objective possibility of professing the true faith without error. Thus, the pastoral duty of the Magisterium is aimed at seeing to it that the People of God abides in the truth that liberates. To fulfill this service, Christ endowed the Church’s shepherds with the charism of infallibility in matters of faith and morals. The exercise of this charism takes several forms: “The Roman Pontiff, head of the college of bishops, enjoys this infallibility in virtue of his office, when, as supreme pastor and teacher of all the faithful – who confirms his brethren in the faith he proclaims by a definitive act a doctrine pertaining to faith or morals. The infallibility promised to the Church is also present in the body of bishops when, together with Peter’s successor, they exercise the supreme Magisterium, above all in an Ecumenical Council. (Catechism of the Catholic Church 889-891)
Now some object to this claim of the infallibility of the Church. But reason with me for a minute. Jesus promised that the gates of Hell could not prevail against the Church. But if the Church could formally teach error about faith and morals, and if the Church could mislead people about what was necessary for their eternal salvation, then it would be a fact that the gates of Hell HAD prevailed. But since Jesus promised it could never happen, then, by God’s grace, the Church is protected from formally teaching falsely on matters of faith and morals. Do you trust Jesus and believe his word? Then the Church is unsinkable and infallible regarding faith and morals.
There are many other gifts given to the Church and Fr. Barron speak of them here: