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Unfortunately, the unity of the Church suffered some ruptures. They are the schisms: that means the rupture of the communion with the Pope and not necessarily implies in heresy. It is the division of the Mystical Body; it is like tearing Christ’s seamless gown.
“After they had crucified him, they divided his garments by casting lots” (Matthew 27, 35).
The Church has always regarded the garments that the soldiers divided (without tearing them) as a strong symbol of the Unity Christ wants for Her.
Nevertheless, these garments have been torn in the worst moments in the history of the Church. Saint Hillary of Poitiers (dead 367 A.D.) brings us consolation by saying: “It has been always the great privilege of the Church to win when She is wounded, progress when She is abandoned and to grow in wisdom when She is attacked.”
It was precisely during Her worst moments of fight against heresies arisen in Her own Body that the Church solidified Her Doctrine in those principles we profess in the Credo.
Christ and the Apostles had warned the Disciples about the dangers of false doctors and false prophets. Jesus started warning people very early in His Mission, when He proclaimed the Blessings in His Sermon on the mount:
“Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but underneath are ravenous wolves” (Matthew 7, 15).
Saint Paul exhorted the elders and bishops of Ephesus in his farewell to them:
“Keep watch over yourselves and over the whole flock of which the holy Spirit has appointed you overseers, in which you tend the church of God that he acquired with his own blood. I know that after my departure savage wolves will come among you, and they will not spare the flock. And from your own group, men will come forward perverting the truth to draw the disciples away after them. So be vigilant and remember that for three years, night and day, I unceasingly admonished each of you with tears” (The Acts of the Apostles 20, 28-31).
It is worth noticing that Saint Paul affirms that the wolves will emerge from “among the flock”.
Saint Peter puts the same stress in his exhortations:
“There were also false prophets among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you, who will introduce destructive heresies and even deny the Master who ransomed them, bringing swift destruction on themselves” (The Second Letter of Peter 2, 1).
It is very important to notice in this sentence that Peter mentions “destructive heresies” that abound today in countless sects.
Professor Felipe Aquino
Professor Felipe Aquino is a widower, father of five children. On TV Canção Nova he presents the program “Escola da Fé” [School of faith] and “Pergunte e Responderemos” [Ask and respond], on Radio he presents the program “in the heart of the Church”. On weekends he preaches deepening meetings throughout Brazil and abroad. He wrote 73 books of Catholic background by publishers, Loyola and Cleopas and Canção Nova. His teacher’s page:www.cleofas.com.br Twitter: @pfelipeaquino