Tuesday, January 6, 2009

WHAT!!!!! CHARISMATICS DON'T BECOME CATHOLICS!!!! (or do they?) PT8

Where a lone man may be overcome, two together can resist. A three-ply cord is not easily broken. --Ecclesiastes 4:12


Wow....I know that I have written much in regard to how I came to embrace the three fold cord of Sacred Tradition along with The Magisteruim and Sacred Scripture, but to me, once I realized how they all work together, it seemed as though I was finally able to rest. I was not resting in what I understood about Scripture, or trying to defend what God had shown me. I was resting and taking refuge in the Body of Christ which he had established--The Catholic Church. For so much of my life it seemed as though I was working so much in my relationship to God. Going to hear this person, hoping that somebody had a word for me from the Lord, trying to be this or that and now all that just fell away and it was all coming together. It was thought I had now discovered Christ again for the very first time and I was able to identify with Him when he spoke about becoming like a child. Becoming a Catholic for me took a step of humility. I had to finally step back and admit that I didn't know it all. I was not my own Pope and that I needed help and I needed guidance--I was beginning again almost from the ground floor up and I was loving every minute of it.


"Re-Sacrificing of Christ", "Idolatry", "The Death Cookie": All things I had heard through my life about the Catholic Church and their doctrine the Eucharist. I really didn't have any connection with the Catholic Church throughout my life, so I had nothing to counter it with, and anything t0 base it on, until now. Symbolism...all symbolism. That is what I was raised to believe as a Protestant. There was nothing "magical" or "transformative" about communion. It was a symbol of the unity of the " invisible universal Church". There was no special formula to be used or no special elements that were needed, just grape juice and crackers, or wafers, or bread, or matzoh whatever was used at that Church. When I started reading, however, I wanted to really know what the early Church thought and believed. After all, it seemed to me that they were the closest to Christ, so they should have some insight, right? What I began to study is the Old Testament, first. I soon saw what Christ meant in Matthew when he stated that he had not come to destroy the law, but to fulfill it. The Old Covenant was not done away with and tossed to the side when Christ came on the scene, but rather fulfilled, I like to explain it like a structure with no walls, no roof, just the steel structure. In this example the building is there, but it has no way to do what it is intended to do. What was not possible through the Law, now had power through Christ. When Christ came he fulfilled, or completed the Structure and the method that God had implemented. In regard to the Eucharist, It is shown over and over in the Old Testament, in Symbols. It is very interesting that when we read the beginning of Genesis, we see that Man brought sin into the world through the consumption of a fruit. Our Redemption
was began to be shown through the Manna that God provided to the Children of Israel through the desert. It was also shown through the water that sprung through the rock. But the most deliberate symbol of our salvation was shown in the Exodus of the Children of Israel. The entire Exodus is a complete showing of us leaving our lives of sin and our escape from the shadow of death but before they could leave, they had to partake in the Passover meal. Their redemption came through the consumption of the lamb--all of it. Further more, according to Exodus 12: 24:




"You shall observe this as a perpetual ordinance for yourselves and your descendants. "



For centuries this meal had been celebrated by the Children of Israel as a remembrance of their deliverance from Egypt. Now, how does this translate to us as Christians. Christ fulfilled this, gave power to this as HE became the Lamb. That is what I began to see through John 6.

In John 6, we see Jesus first feeding the multitudes, multiplying the loaves and fishes. Then Jesus begins to gradually teach his disciples about himself. In verse 35, Jesus states:

35 Jesus said to them, "I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me will never hunger, and whoever believes in me will never thirst."


From this opening statement, the crescendo grows stronger moving to how God provided for the Children of Israel in the desert:

49 Your ancestors ate the manna in the desert, but they died; 50 this is the bread that comes down from heaven so that one may eat it and not die.

Notice that through out the chapter Jesus has been dealing with physical food; feeding people, referring to himself as bread, then recalling how the Children of Israel had been physically fed in the desert. Beginning in v. 51 and moving forward, Jesus now with no doubt reveals himself as the new Lamb of the Passover. Just as the Children of Israel had to consume the Lamb, Christ himself now had to be consumed, physically:

51
I am the living bread that came down from heaven; whoever eats this bread will live forever; and the bread that I will give is my flesh for the life of the world." 52 The Jews quarreled among themselves, saying, "How can this man give us (his) flesh to eat?" 53 Jesus said to them, "Amen, amen, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you do not have life within you. 54 Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him on the last day. 55 For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink. 56 Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me and I in him. 57 Just as the living Father sent me and I have life because of the Father, so also the one who feeds on me will have life because of me. 58 This is the bread that came down from heaven. Unlike your ancestors who ate and still died, whoever eats this bread will live forever."

Wow. This was extremely offensive to the Jews that were in Capernaum listening to Christ. Eating human flesh was a sacrilege to them, yet the words that Christ used in this were the same words used for the consumption of the bread in the desert. Christ was not using symbolism or hyperbole in this. He was telling us that as sin came into the human race through the consumption of fruit, our redemption would now come through the consumption of his Flesh and Blood. If at this point you feel the hair standing up on the back of your neck, and you are offended at the thought of this, you are probably feeling the same thing that some of Christ's disciples felt:

60 Then many of his disciples who were listening said, "This saying is hard; who can accept it?"
61 Since Jesus knew that his disciples were murmuring about this, he said to them, "Does this shock you? 62 What if you were to see the Son of Man ascending to where he was before? 63 It is the spirit that gives life, while the flesh is of no avail. The words I have spoken to you are spirit and life. 64 But there are some of you who do not believe." Jesus knew from the beginning the ones who would not believe and the one who would betray him. 65 And he said, "For this reason I have told you that no one can come to me unless it is granted him by my Father." 66 As a result of this, many (of) his disciples returned to their former way of life and no longer accompanied him.


After the some of them leave, we don't see Christ running after them saying: "Hey guys...come on back! I am just talking in symbols! You don't understand!" Not at all, he let them leave, while others stayed. They had faith in Christ though they didn't understand what he meant or how it was going to work out:

67 Jesus then said to the Twelve, "Do you also want to leave?" 68 Simon Peter answered him, "Master, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. 69 We have come to believe and are convinced that you are the Holy One of God."




So they stayed with Christ through the end. When did they understand? When did they know what Christ meant? Christ clearly defined what he meant.....At the Last Supper:




26 While they were eating, Jesus took bread, said the blessing, broke it, and giving it to his disciples said, "Take and eat; this is my body." 27 Then he took a cup, gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, "Drink from it, all of you, 28 for this is my blood of the covenant, which will be shed on behalf of many for the forgiveness of sins.


Can you imagine the thoughts of the disciples as the pieces came together for them? Jesus WAS the Lamb of God that would take away the sins of the world! Our Lord NEVER did refer to the bread and wine as a symbol, but rather he said: "This IS my Body.....This IS my Blood" These words were not spoken by a man, but by God Himself. The same God that spoke the universe into existence by his words. The same Almighty that parted the Red Sea and met with Moses on the Mount. This same God was now sitting in the presence of His Disciples speaking into existence our Salvation. Could this REALLY be? We believe that God created the world from nothing, we believe in a Virgin Birth, we believe in a Holy Trinity and the Holy Spirit, but we find it impossible to accept that our Lord can or WOULD give Himself to us under the form of Bread and Wine?
This is what is termed in Catholic Theology as the REAL PRESENCE. In the Bread and Wine, we believe that (once consecrated) Christ exists Body, Blood, Soul and divinity under the guise of bread and wine. Furthermore, this is the teaching that was passed down through the Centuries of the Early Church, beginning with St. Paul in 1 Corinthians 10:16


16
The cup of blessing that we bless, is it not a participation in the blood of Christ? The bread that we break, is it not a participation in the body of Christ?

and again in 1 Corinthians 11:23-29

23 For I received from the Lord what I also handed on to you, that the Lord Jesus, on the night he was handed over, took bread,
24 and, after he had given thanks, broke it and said, "This is my body that is for you. Do this in remembrance of me." 25 In the same way also the cup, after supper, saying, "This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me." 26 For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the death of the Lord until he comes. 27 Therefore whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord unworthily will have to answer for the body and blood of the Lord. 28 A person should examine himself, and so eat the bread and drink the cup. 29 For anyone who eats and drinks without discerning the body, eats and drinks judgment on himself.

What is so dynamic here is that St. Paul doesn't even refer to Bread and Wine, but rather the Body and Blood of the Lord: That is what he believed it to be and even said so in the last three verses. If the bread and wine were just symbols, then why did St. Paul offer such a strong warning about taking the Body and Blood unworthily? How would we be accepted to answer for just symbols? And how can you eat and drink judgment upon yourself with just symbols? These teachings were further taught to the early Church by the Church Fathers:

Ignatius of Antioch-Ignatius of Antioch (also known as Theophorus) (ca. 35 or 50-between 98 and 117) and was among the Apostolic Fathers, was the third Bishop and Patriarch of Antioch, and was a student of John the Apostle.
"Take note of those who hold heterodox opinions on the grace of Jesus Christ which has come to us, and see how contrary their opinions are to the mind of God..."They abstain from the Eucharist and from prayer because they do not confess that the Eucharist is the flesh of our Savior Jesus Christ, flesh which suffered for our sins and which that Father, in his goodness, raised up again. They who deny the gift of God are perishing in their disputes" (Epistle to the Smyrnaeans 6:2; 7:1 [A.D. 110]).


Justin Martyr-Saint Justin Martyr (also Justin the Martyr, Justin of Caesarea, Justin the Philosopher, Latin Iustinus Martyr or Flavius Iustinus) (100–165) was an early Christian apologist and saint. His works represent the earliest surviving Christian "apologies" of notable size.
"We call this food Eucharist, and no one else is permitted to partake of it, except one who believes our teaching to be true and who has been washed in the washing which is for the remission of sins and for regeneration [baptism] and is thereby living as Christ enjoined."For not as common bread nor common drink do we receive these; but since Jesus Christ our Savior was made incarnate by the word of God and had both flesh and blood for our salvation, so too, as we have been taught, the food which has been made into the Eucharist by the Eucharistic prayer set down by him, and by the change of which our blood and flesh is nurtured, is both the flesh and the blood of that incarnated Jesus" (First Apology 66:1-20 [A.D. 148]).

Irenaeus-(2nd century AD - c. 202) was Bishop of Lugdunum in Gaul, then a part of the Roman Empire (now Lyons, France). He was an early church father and apologist, and his writings were formative in the early development of Christian theology. He was a disciple of Saint Polycarp, who was said to be a disciple of Saint John the Evangelist.
"He has declared the cup, a part of creation, to be his own blood, from which he causes our blood to flow; and the bread, a part of creation, he has established as his own body, from which he gives increase unto our bodies."When, therefore, the mixed cup [wine and water] and the baked bread receives the Word of God and becomes the Eucharist, the body of Christ, and from these the substance of our flesh is increased and supported, how can they say that the flesh is not capable of receiving the gift of God, which is eternal life--flesh which is nourished by the body and blood of the Lord, and is in fact a member of him?" (Against Heresies 5:2 [A.D. 148]).
Do these writings really mean anything? Are they important, or should they just be forgotten and buried? St Ignatius was said to be a disciple of John the Apostle. Irenaeus is said to be a disciple of John the Evangelist. If this is the case, which Sacred Tradition has held since the beginning of the Church, this means either one of two things. First, it could mean that the Promise of our Lord to the Apostles in the promise of the Holy Spirt was wrong. Jesus stated very clearly in John 14:26

26 The Advocate, the holy Spirit that the Father will send in my name--he will teach you everything and remind you of all that (I) told you.
Could the Church have gotten lost that early on? Could the first 1500 years of Christianity been so out of control of the Holy Spirit that it took Martin Luther and the Reformers to bring it back to "Truth"? I think not. I choose rather to believe what Christ spoke and what was taught my the Early Church. We must partake in the Body and Blood of Our Lord..or we have no part in Him.
Our Lord has given us a wonderful Blessed Sacrament. A sacrament that is not a "re-sacrificing" of Christ as that can never be done, as stated in Hebrews 10:12:
12
But this one offered one sacrifice for sins, and took his seat forever at the right hand of God
Rather the Mass is a RE-PRESENTATION of Christs Sacrifice. By the power of the Holy Spirit, our Lord makes Himself PRESENT and real for us, His Body once again upon the altar and once again gives Himself to us to continually redeem us from our Sins. You see, the Sacrifice that Christ gave to us is eternal...it continues to this day. Yet Christ and the Holy Trinity have chosen to allow us to partake in that Sacrifice --Everytime we partake in the Mass. Being able to recieve the Sacrament has been the greatest joy in my life. Partaking in the Body, Blood Soul and Divinity of our Lord. Why did he choose to do it this way? We may never know until we see him face to face.

I think that it was at this time that I realized that the greatest gift that our Lord left us was Himself. In the Mass Catholics all around the world are focused on the center of our Faith and our Salvation, the Sacrifice of our Lord. Inspiring messages are great and necessary (St. Jerome said that ignorance of Scripture is ignorance of Christ), but that is not what Christ left us. The greates thing that Christ left us was himself. We were promised that Christ would never leave us or forsake us and with the Sacrament of Holy Communion, he has fulfilled that. Everytime we celebrate the Sacrifice of the Mass we once again are given the opportunity to come into complete communion with Our Lord and receive all the graces that entails. And even more than that, the Sacrifice is being continually lifted up before God thousands upon thousands of times a day from altars around the world.

3 comments:

Gardenia said...

Hmmm, reading your blog will be a journey. I was baptized in the Catholic Church as an infant and have run the whole gamut of teachings it seems.

Friends are converting to Catholicism. I do give it some thought. But then since I've been married previously, it is out of the question for me, I won't go to a church where I can only be on the outside fringes spiritually because of that - but sometimes I do long for "more" - I went to First United Methodist for two years and so miss the Lent and other meaningful passages that point us to Christ. And communion. I still fully believe I can confess my sins directly to my Father in heaven. Still, sometimes I think....I think.

I'm adding your link to my blog, hope its ok.

Allan Richards said...

Gardenia,

Thanks for your comments. When I first began my journey, it was though I was on my own, no friends were moving at all in that direction, so one of the first things I did was to call our Diocece and got intouch with a Sister who said something very profound and simple. She said "God is calling you." So in a sense, I would say the same thing, Gardenia, God is calling you. To what? You must decide. Your past marriage, etc. don't exclude you and place you on the sidelines in the Catholic Church, but only provide more areas for the Grace of our Lord to be made manifest. Do these things need to be addressed? Absolutely, their time will come. Always but our spiritual life is and always will be a journey. Follow Him and remain pliable.

Hattigrace said...

Gardenia,

TT's first marriage did not keep him on the outside fringes of the church.

And yes, you are right. We can confess our sins directly to the Lord. And He forgives. Yet, a more powerful grace occurs when His priest says His words into our aching ears and hearts, words of forgiveness and affirmation as He turns our ashes into beauty through the grace of penance.

I love you,
Hattigrace <><