Bread of Life

BREAD OF LIFE
 this is the bread that comes down from heaven so that one may eat it and not die. (john 6: 50)
The miracle of God’s physical presence to us at every Mass is the truest testament to Christ’s love for us and His desire for each of us to have a personal relationship with Him. Jesus Christ celebrated the first Mass with His disciples at the Last Supper, the night before He died. He commanded His disciples, “Do this in remembrance of me” (Luke 22:19). The celebration of the Mass then became the main form of worship in the early Church, as a reenactment of the Last Supper, as Christ had commanded. Each and every Mass since commemorates Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross through the Holy Eucharist. Because the Mass “re-presents” (makes present) the sacrifice on Calvary, Catholics all around the world join together to be made present in Christ’s timeless sacrifice for our sins. There is something fascinating about continuing to celebrate the same Mass—instituted by Christ and practiced by the early Church—with the whole community of Catholics around the world…and in heaven.

THE REAL PRESENCE

Why does the Catholic Church believe Christ is really present in the Eucharist?
The Catholic doctrine of the Real Presence is the belief that Jesus Christ is literally, not symbolically, present in the Holy Eucharist—body, blood, soul and divinity. Catholics believe in the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist because Jesus tells us this is true in the Bible:

“I am the bread of life. Your fathers ate the manna in the wilderness, and they died. This is the bread which comes down from heaven, that a man may eat of it and not die. I am the living bread which came down from heaven; if any one eats of this bread, he will live for ever; and the bread which I shall give for the life of the world is my flesh." The Jews then disputed among themselves, saying, ‘How can this man give us his flesh to eat?’ So Jesus said to them,

"Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink his blood, you have no life in you; he who eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. For my flesh is food indeed, and my blood is drink indeed. He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him” - John 6:48-56
Furthermore, the early Church Fathers either imply or directly state that the bread and wine offered in the celebration of the Lord’s Supper is really the body and blood of Jesus Christ. In other words, the doctrine of the Real Presence that Catholics believe today was believed by the earliest Christians 2,000 years ago!

This miracle of God’s physical presence to us at every Mass is the truest testament to Christ’s love for us and His desire for each of us to have a personal relationship with Him.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

HOW ARE WE SAVED?

BY JEFFREY MIRUS

How are we saved? The best way to know is to look at the teaching of the Church, which Christ instituted to safeguard the doctrine that He gave to the apostles, and which was completed through the revelation of the Holy Spirit to the apostles after Jesus’ ascension. We cannot pick and choose what we believe about faith and salvation.

The Church clearly teaches that we are justified by the free gift of God’s grace. If we do not resist this first grace when it is given, we are immediately justified. Along with this grace we are given the three theological virtues. Faith in the Pauline sense encompasses all three of these virtues. Faith in the more specific sense is the first theological virtue. This means belief in what God has revealed.

Thus the first theme of Christ’s teaching when he began his public life (Mark 1:15) was, “Repent and believe the good news.” The Greek word for repent is “metanoeo.” It carries the root meaning “to change one’s mind.” This can only refer to the acceptance (i.e. non-rejection) of the saving grace offered by God, whereby the mind is turned away from sin, to God. Notice that it comes before belief, or faith.

So first we turn to God by accepting grace, and immediately after that we believe the “good news of the kingdom of God.” This good news encompasses all the teachings of Christ. By the close connection of repentance and belief which Jesus makes, we see that to refuse to believe these teachings is to reject grace.

However, it is also easy to see that a mere intellectual belief in the teachings of Jesus does not sufficiently express the meaning of His words in Mark 1:15. When Jesus tells us to “believe the good news of the kingdom of God,” something more is implied. To believe the good news means to believe that salvation has indeed arrived for men--that through Jesus we are rescued from sin and death and made adopted children of God.

Christ promised His followers that they would not die forever, but that He would raise them up on the last day. Belief that He spoke truly, i.e., trust in His promises, is also called Hope. This, then, is the second of the theological virtues, the second aspect of the belief in the good news.

But there is still something missing. The good news of the kingdom, as preached by Jesus, also includes the moral law, summed up in the law of charity. If we truly believe the good news, we must have charity, or love: the third theological virtue.

Thus Jesus says in Matthew 22:37ff: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. . . . You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two [commandments] the whole law and the prophets depend.”
Later, He explains again what this love means (John 14:21): “He who keeps my commandments, and observes them, he it is who loves me. And he who loves me will be loved by my Father . . . .” In other words, belief (faith in the narrow sense) is not enough. Hope is not enough. In order to receive the Father’s favor, we must love, and this includes keeping the commandments. As James says (James 2:26), “For just as the body without the spirit is dead, so also faith without works is dead.”

In sum: How are we saved? Not by faith alone, but by grace alone, as I believe Fr. Most has said. This grace it is that makes us participate in the very nature of God himself, so that we become his adopted children. In other words, this adoption, and it alone, is what justifies. But to avoid being disinherited, as it were, we must act as sons, and so God give to all those in the state of grace the capacities for supernatural acts of faith (again in the restricted sense), hope, and charity.

Unless we practice these virtues, we shall lose that sanctifying grace, that divine adoption; we shall no longer be justified. If I refuse to believe what my Father has told me about himself and his plan for me, I certainly cannot participate in that plan. Thus without the gift of Faith, i.e. belief (insofar as I am informed and capable of believing), I cannot be adopted.

If I later reject the faith, I shall be disinherited. Also, if I refuse to trust in the promises that my Father has made to me, then too I show myself to be truly unworthy of them. Thus if I refuse or reject the gift of Hope, I cannot be a son of God. Finally, if I do not act in a way proper to a child of God, if I do not will in conformity to and and in response to the divine will of my Father, I cannot retain my adoption. That is, if I reject the gift of Charity, which as we have seen involves the keeping of the moral law, I cannot be saved.

If you look carefully at the above, you will find that the three theological virtues, faith, hope, and charity, correspond perfectly to the three aspects of Pauline faith. And this is not at all surprising, because St. Paul, as has the Catholic Church for 19 centuries after him, read the Gospels as an elucidation of that first teaching of Christ. For Paul, faith is our response to the original mandate to believe the good news of the kingdom of God, which, as we have seen, includes all three aspects which Paul explains in his epistles.

Grace comes first. Faith necessarily accompanies it. Faith shows itself under the three aspects of theological faith, hope, and charity. This is the pure teaching of Jesus Christ, the good news of the kingdom of God.

ACKNOWLEDGEMENT

Mirus, Jeffery A. “How are We Saved?” Trinity Communications (February 14, 1999).

Published with permission of Jeffery A. Mirus and Trinity Communications.

THE AUTHOR

Jeffery A. Mirus is President of Trinity Communications.

13 comments:

daveg4g said...

The Baltimore Catechism states that: "A person who denies even one article of our faith could not be a Catholic; for truth is one and we must accept it whole and entire or not at all."

This merely repeats the teaching of Our Lord as written by St. James: "whosoever shall keep the whole law, but offend in one point, is become guilty of all." (St. James 2:10)

St. Thomas Aquinas concurs: "To reject but one article of faith taught by the Church is enough to destroy faith as one mortal sin is enough to destroy charity..."

Scooter said...

dave4g: How can you equate the Law of God with Catholic doctrine that has in fact opposed the Word of God. The following are some simple examples:
* Do not call anyone on earth your father; for One is your Father, He who is in heaven. Matthew 23:9
*And when you are praying, do not use meaningless repetition as the Gentiles do, for they suppose that they will be heard for their many words. Matthew 6:7 Note-The Rosary.
*Is Mary a mediator?
For there is one God, and one mediator also between God and men, the man Christ Jesus." 1 Timothy 2:5
While Jesus was saying these things, one of the women in the crowd raised her voice and said to Him, "Blessed is the womb that bore You and the breasts at which You nursed." But He said, "On the contrary, blessed are those who hear the word of God and observe it."" Luke 11:27-28
* Who are saints? To the church of God which is at Corinth, to those who have been sanctified in Christ Jesus, saints by calling, with all who in every place call on the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, their Lord and ours" 1 Corinthians 1:2

My question-If I don't do the rosary or follow the scriptures rather than Man's Roman system am I guilty of breaking the whole of God's Law??

daveg4g said...

Do not call anyone on earth your father...

Protestants seem to take Matthew 23:9 out of context and then forget about other Scriptures that talk about spiritual fathers.

Matthew 23:6-9 reads, "They (the scribes and the Pharisees) love places of honor at banquets, seats of honor in synagogues, greetings in marketplaces, and the salutation 'Rabbi.'

As for you, do not be called 'Rabbi.' You have but one teacher, and you are all brothers. Call no one on earth your father; you have but one Father in heaven."

Are we also not to call anyone "teacher" or "doctor" which is how "rabbi' would translate? I think not.

This is call for humility for those in leadership roles. Not to be taken literally.

We are not to deny our male parent and cut the Commandment to honor our father and mother in half.

Some leaders in any church may fall into the same folly of a lack of humility as the pharisees of Jesus' day.

By the way, we also take into account the entirety of the Bible:

The Apostle Paul writes:

I am writing you this not to shame you, but to admonish you as my beloved children. Even if you should have countless guides to Christ, yet you do not have many fathers, for I became your father in Christ Jesus through the gospel. (1 Corinthians 4:14-15)

And:

As you know, we treated each one of you as a father treats his children, exhorting and encouraging you and insisting that you conduct yourselves as worthy of the God who calls you into his kingdom and glory. (1 Thessalonians 2:11-12)

And:

I urge you on behalf of my child Onesimus, whose father I have become in my imprisonment, who was once useless to you but is now useful to (both) you and me. (Philemon 10-11)

And finally, Peter calls himself the "father" of Mark:

The chosen one at Babylon sends you greeting, as does Mark, my son. (1 Peter 5:13)

With love in Christ.

daveg4g said...

And when you are praying, do not use meaningless repetition as the Gentiles do..

As New Testament scholar Don Carson said, Jesus is not forbidding all long prayers or all repetition.

He himself prayed at length (Luke :12), repeated himself in prayer (Matt 26:14), and told a parable to show His disciples that “they should always pray and not give up” (Luke :12).

His point is that His disciples should avoid meaningless, repetitive prayers offered under the misconception that mere length will make prayers efficacious.

daveg4g said...

Is Mary a mediator?

If you read number 969 of the Catechism you will see Mary is called Advocate, Helper, Benefactress and Mediatrix.

Yes, it is true that Mary is all of these. Mediatrix simply means that she can mediate, or pray to God, on our behalf. If I would ask you to pray for me, you would be mediating for me.

But all of our mediation, including Mary's, is subordinate to Christ. Christ is the reason. He allows us to participate in his mediation, just like he allows us to share in his sufferings (Col. 1:24), to further the work of his redemption.

If you look at the Scriptures on subordinate mediation and intercessory prayer, you will see that they (Scriptures) replete with verses supporting these positions. So do the Church fathers and doctors.

Michael Gormley said...

Dear Schooner,
For Catholics, justification includes sanctification whereas, for the Protestant, sanctification mainly, though not entirely, comes later; but the two things are separate. Therefore Catholicism insists that 'works' play a large part in the process.

For Catholicism, one can never be saved by "justification by faith alone" since that would be insufficient. The Catholic concept is of a lifelong justification (that justification to include, of course, what the reformers called 'sanctification').

Only right at the end of the process can anybody be said to be 'saved.' This is why the Catholic looks in amazement upon the Protestant who might say things like, "I accepted the Lord at age 21 and I was saved!"

To the Catholic, to say such a thing is just dreadful presumption. And Catholicism rejects the idea of a regenerate man or woman being declared righteous without the presence of any works.

This is largely because the acceptance of sacramentalism, including Catholic Mass, or Eucharist, with it's very 'high' view of literally eating and drinking Christ's body and blood (transubstatiation), confession, penance, prayers, an understanding of 'purgatory' plus various pious and charitable works, are right at the very hub of Roman Catholic theology: these things are intrinsic to it.

The Catholic faithful's acceptance, and practicing, of such matters are the things which will reveal Justification.

Anonymous said...

Schooter said..
*And when you are praying, do not use meaningless repetition as the Gentiles do..

Why do Catholics pray the rosary if it is repetitive prayer?

I will try to say this very simply for you.

The key words here are "empty" and "Gentiles." The Gentiles prayed to pagan Gods, their prayers were empty, insincere and blasphemous.

The verse is a condemnation of empty prayers to pagan gods. I don't think this passage is a condemnation of repetition. The Greek word is "Battologeo", which comes from "Battos," a stammerer, someone who stutters, which is meaningless sylables.

This would apply much more to "speaking in tongues" than repeating a great prayer. Although I have nothing against authentic speaking in tongues.

The word "repetition" is not mentioned in most translations of the verse. One could "heap up" empty "free form" praises (that don't repeat) as easily as one could "heap up" a repeating phrase from Scripture. The crucial thing is not whether a phrase repeats, but rather whether it is sincere.

Two verses later Jesus gives us the Lord's Prayer (Mat 6:9). This is a main prayer in the Rosary. It is neither empty or pagan. It is Holy and honorable and worth repeating because it has meaning.

Many of the beautiful traditional Protestant hymns are repetitious. The repetition of "Praise God" during free form worship in Evangelical Assemblies is repetitive.

Even the angels are eternally in the presence of God repeating "Holy, Holy, Holy (Rev 4:8). This is not empty nor pagan is it? It pleases God.

When I do the Rosary, I'm sincere. I'm saying very meaningful prayers that come from Scripture. I think this makes Jesus immensely happy and He has given me the experience of his love consistently during the Rosary to prove it.

Some Evangelicals can't imagine how a memorized prayer could at all come from the heart. Yet they memorize dozens of beautiful praise songs.

If I was to walk up to an Evangelical, who is praising God in song and say "You are all in your head, you are not sincere cause you memorized that and therefore it is not coming from the heart" they would quickly correct me and say "It is no struggle for me to worship God through this song. I memorized it but now it is part of me and I incorporate that in my heartfelt praise."

I would like to invite you to pray to Jesus. Most Christians would agree that it is completely safe to pray to Jesus about anything.

I would like to invite you to pray to Jesus about Mary. Simply ask Jesus to show you the truth about his mother.

Ask Him to direct your thinking about her. Ask Jesus if his mother is alive with Him. Ask Him if Mary is praying for us. Just pray to Jesus about her.

Try this every night for six weeks. I am thoroughly convinced that He will bring you to the truth about his mother.

Scooter said...

Michael and dave4g,
Justification is the legal declaration by God upon the sinner where God declares the sinner righteous in His sight. This justification is based completely and solely on the work of Christ on the cross. We cannot earn justification or merit justification in any way. If we could, then Christ died needlessly. "I do not nullify the grace of God; for if righteousness comes through the Law, then Christ died needlessly," (Gal. 2:21). Because righteousness cannot come through the Law (through our efforts of merit), the Bible declares that we are justified before God by faith:

"Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law," (Rom. 3:28).

"For what saith the scripture? Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness," (Rom. 4:3).

"But to the one who does not work, but believes in Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is reckoned as righteousness," (Rom. 4:5).

"Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ," (Rom. 5:1).

"For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God," (Eph. 2:8).

However, in Roman Catholicism, justification by faith is denied.

"If any one shall say that justifying faith is nothing else than confidence in the divine mercy pardoning sins for Christ's sake, or that it is that confidence alone by which we are justified ... let him be accursed," (Canon 12, Council of Trent).

Which are we to believe? The Roman Catholic Church or God's word? Furthermore, the RCC states that justification is received not by faith, but by baptism. The Catechism of the Catholic Church says in paragraph, 1992, that "...justification is conferred in Baptism, the sacrament of faith." This means that faith is not the instrument of obtaining justification; instead, it is an ordinance performed by a priest in the Roman Catholic Church.

Furthermore, baptism is only the initial grace along the road of justification. The Roman Catholic is to then maintain his position before God by his efforts.

"No one can MERIT the initial grace which is at the origin of conversion. Moved by the Holy Spirit, we can MERIT for ourselves and for others all the graces needed to attain eternal life, as well as necessary temporal goods," (Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC), par. 2027).

The problem here is that the RCC is teaching us to "merit for ourselves and for others all the graces need to attain eternal life." You cannot merit grace. Grace is unmerited favor. Merit is, according to the CCC, par. 2006, "...the recompense owed by a community or a society for the action of one of its members, experienced either as beneficial or harmful, deserving reward or punishment..." CCC 2006. This means that merit is something owed. By contrast, grace is something not owed. Therefore, the RCC is teaching contrary to God's word regarding grace and justification.

The sad result is that in Roman Catholicism, justification before God is a process that is maintained by the effort and works of the Roman Catholic. This is a very unfortunate teaching since it puts the unbearable burden of works righteousness upon the shoulders of the sinner. By contrast, the Bible teaches that justification/salvation is by faith.

"But to the one who does not work, but believes in Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is reckoned as righteousness," (Rom. 4:5).

"Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ," (Rom. 5:1).

"For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God," (Eph. 2:8).

Just a few but very important thoughts to consider-our eternal destiny depends on it.
Grace to you,
Scooter

Michael Gormley said...

Dear Scooter,

Private interpretation of Scriptures can be exceedingly harmful to self and others. This has divided Christianity into hundreds if not tens of thousands of segments.

Too many individuals claim their position is right and are unwilling to freely discuss the position taken or to be submissive to moral authorities.

Holding to a personal position, or one of heretical source, places one's eternal soul in jeopardy. Such people often become instruments that lead others to perdition.

Scooter said...

Michael, I don't think any of the scriptures I've quoted are of private interpretation but are open to the whole body of believers to read and understand. The message is clear. Historic Protestantism accepts the Scripture as the only written revelation of God. 2 Timothy 3:16 Paul says to Timothy, "All scripture is breathed out by God and is profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work." As a result, the Scriptures are infallible rather than an institution, in all they affirm. They are sufficient, containing everything that is necessary to know for salvation and eternal life. They are clear , so that a person without special preparation can understand what God requires withoutthe intervention of an official interpreter. The canonical Scripture is the voice of god in the world. It has an authority, or right to command, corresponding to its divine Author. For this reason we submit our thoughts and moral standards to the Bible.It was through the recognition that the Bible cannot be subject to any person or group, however exalted, that the Reformers freed their consciences from human traditions and authorities.

daveg4g said...

When Catholics and Protestants talk about "the Bible," the two groups actually have two different books in mind.

In the sixteenth century, the Protestant Reformers removed a large section of the Old Testament that was not compatible with their theology.

They charged that these writings were not inspired Scripture and branded them with the pejorative title "Apocrypha."

Catholics refer to them as the "deuterocanonical" books (since they were disputed by a few early authors and their canonicity was established later than the rest), while the rest are known as the "protocanonical" books (since their canonicity was established first).

Following the Protestant attack on the integrity of the Bible, the Catholic Church infallibly reaffirmed the divine inspiration of the deuterocanonical books at the Council of Trent in 1546.

In doing this, it reaffirmed what had been believed since the time of Christ.

Michael Gormley said...

Scooter said...
Historic Protestantism accepts the Scripture as the only written revelation of God

Dear Scooter,
The Bible came out of the Catholic (Universal) Church and so does Salvation.

The Bible did not come complete with an index, telling us which books, and how many, are inspired writings and canonical or not.

It was the bishops of the Catholic Church under the guidance of the Holy Spirit that sorted out and decided the canon of Sacred Scripture.

The bishops were preserved from falling into error, as our Lord promised, on this important matter concerning the Holy Catholic Church. (Matt. 16:18; 28:18-20) (John 14,15, and 16) (1 Tim. 3:14-15) (Acts 15:28) They included Tobit, Baruch, Judith, Wisdom, Ecclesiasticus (Sirach), 1 Maccabees, and 2 Maccabees. Roman Catholics call these books deuterocanonical. Protestants call them Apocrypha. There are some additional passages in Daniel and Esther not found in Protestant Bibles.

Relatively recent archeological findings and analysis of the Dead Sea scrolls (Qumran) of 1947 revealed that several deuterocanonical books were originally composed in Hebrew(Sirach, Judith, 1 Maccabees,) or Aramaic (Tobit).

The Protestant reformers of the 16th century were not aware of the Hebrew and Aramic Versions of the deuterocanonical books in the Alexandrian canon.


These are significant and noteworthy because it proves that some of these books were in circulation in Palestine and were accepted by Jewish groups there.

Many of the Christian evangelists and apologists used the Alexandrian canon ( Septuagint LXX ) preserved (not composed or originally written) in Greek.

Hellenists Jews from outside Palestine had their own synagogue where the Bible was read in Greek.

The Hebrews were native Palestinian Jews with their own synagogue. Their language was Aramaic and their Bible was read in Hebrew.

There were complaints and disputations amongst these two Jewish groups ( Hellenists and Hebrews ), who used different languages, as is noted in ( Acts 6:1-2 ).

The Protestant Reformers (not preserved from falling into error) thought that all the deuterocanonical books in the Alexandrian canon had been composed in Greek.

Anonymous said...

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