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.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

THE NARROW GATE

by Fr. Jerome Magat

In an age of inclusivity, our Lord’s stern words must come as a shock to those who would presume their salvation. In no uncertain terms, Jesus makes it alarmingly clear that the road to heaven is arduous and the gate of heaven is narrow. His words would have come as a surprise to his own audience, as well. Presumably, Jesus was speaking to a Jewish audience, and the Jews assumed that salvation was only for them and that the gentiles would be shut out. In this passage, our Lord reveals to us three facts about entrance into the kingdom of heaven:

First, Jesus tells us that in order to enter through the narrow gate, we must continually strive to do so. In other words, we must be prepared to work diligently in order to prepare ourselves for heaven. Interestingly, the Greek word for “striving” is base of the word we use in English which means “agony.” This translation suggests that any person who wishes to get to heaven must be prepared to suffer for it. In effect, the believer must either advance in the spiritual life or risk falling behind and being lost.

Second, it is not simply enough to claim a certain “friendship” with Christ as those in the Gospel who exclaim, “We ate and drank in your presence and you taught in our streets.” There are those who claim that merely being Catholic is a free pass to heaven. Nothing could be farther from the truth. Nominal Catholicism does not pass muster in the kingdom of heaven. One’s Catholicism must be active, vibrant, orthodox and sanctifying. Neither a Catholic education nor a Catholic upbringing per se guarantee automatic entrance into heaven.

With the gift of a Catholic education and upbringing comes tremendous responsibility. We are reminded in Scripture that to whom much is given, much is expected and to whom much more is given, much more is expected (Luke 12:48). Therefore, more is expected from Catholics since they have been given the benefit of the fulness of the Faith and thus are expected to produce more fruit.

Finally, we learn that we should expect some surprises in the kingdom of heaven. There are those who might pass through the narrow gate who were “nobodies” in this life. Earthly glory, wealth, and prestige are no assurance of future glory in heaven. We delude ourselves greatly if we think that God will judge us by worldly standards. God will judge us by the standards of the kingdom of heaven and those standards are not easy to meet. In many cases, they are at complete variance with worldly values. Attempting to project worldly standards on an otherworldly kingdom is futile. Hence, our Lord warns us that the door to heavenly glory is in fact quite narrow.
In humility, we do well to ask the Lord how we can pass through the narrow gate. May we never presume our salvation or wrongly evaluate our spiritual progress by earthly standards. Instead, may we learn to follow Jesus on his terms and not merely our own.
Fr. Magat is parochial vicar of St. William of York Parish in Stafford, VA.

(This article courtesy of the Arlington Catholic Herald .)

9 comments:

Mrs. A said...

I did read though that some people are still saved even though their work will be burned up and he will suffer loss. (1Cor 3:15)

From my understanding that means we work in the Spirit of holiness, not by our flesh to *earn* a place in Heaven. Jesus' righteousness already payed it for us. Our works alone are but filthy rags.

I think allot of churches don't emphasize the significance of Christ's work enough. That is the only problem. People wallow around feeling so unloved because they know they can never measure up to God's holy standard.

God bless you too and your welcome my friend.

Rosemi

Michael Gormley said...

Dear Mrs A,

12 If anyone builds on this foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, or straw,
13 the work of each will come to light, for the Day will disclose it. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire (itself) will test the quality of each one's work.
14 If the work stands that someone built upon the foundation, that person will receive a wage.
15 But if someone's work is burned up, that one will suffer loss; the person will be saved, but only as through fire.
16 Do you not know that you are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?
17 If anyone destroys God's temple, God will destroy that person; for the temple of God, which you are, is holy.
(1Corinthians 3: 12-17)

In these passages - 1 Cor. 3:12-17 - Paul is talking about how God judges our works after death by using a string of metaphors (we are God's building; works are good and bad materials, etc.).

Paul says that if a person builds with good materials, he will receive a reward (verse 14). If he builds with a mixture of good and bad materials, his work is burned up, but he is still saved (verse 15).

If he only builds with bad materials, he has destroyed the temple, and God will destroy him (verse 17).

These passage demonstrates several things. First, it demonstrates that our works serve as a basis for determining our salvation.

This is contrary to the erroneous Protestant belief that, once we accept Jesus by faith alone, we are saved.

Protestants have no good explanation for why Paul is teaching the Corinthians that our works bear upon our salvation.

Second, the verse demonstrates that, if a person does both good and bad works, his bad works are punished, but he is still saved.

The Greek phrase for "suffer loss" (zemiothesetai) means "to be punished" (Purgatory).

This means the man undergoes an expiation of temporal punishment for his bad works (sins) but is still saved.

The phrase “but only” or “yet so” (in Greek, houtos) means "in the same manner." This means that the man must pass through the fire in the same way that his bad works passed through the fire, in order to expiate himself of the things that led him to produce the bad works in the first place.

Mrs. A said...

Phew!... Ok, you almost lost me. I had to read it again. Thanks for taking the time to explain. I believe what your saying... I think. I'll definitely study the passage again. I still think our good works are filthy rags without the sprinkling of Christ's blood. I think I read that too in the scriptures.

I accidentally erased your comment at my blog. I didn't mean to.

You are too brainy my friend! And I thought I was bad. :)

Mrs. A said...

God also chastises us in this life so that we may do things His way. Going against him can be painful. I pray God continues to prune me while I'm alive so I can bear much good fruit for Him. Pruning does not feel good but when it's over you look back and are thankful.

Michael Gormley said...

Dear Mrs A,

"What is the fruit God wants?" And second, "How do I bear that fruit?"

In response to the first question, the fruit God wants consists of acts of self-giving love done for others.

This is what Jesus describes in the Sermon on the Mount, "Let your light (the reflection of Christ's light) shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven" (Matthew 5:16).

We do this by "loving God with all our heart, mind, soul and strength"(Mark 12:30) and "loving others as Jesus has loved us" (John 15:12).

This love is more than a wish or good will toward another, but a work, a concrete act of love. There are fruits that we need to come from our spiritual life, that flow from our relationship of love with God.

There are also fruits called the spiritual and the corporal works of mercy that we're called to do out of love for God and others, like passing on the faith to children and colleagues, going the extra mile to care for those who need it.

Jesus said clearly that when he comes at the end of time to judge the living and the dead, he will separate the dead into two groups like a shepherd separates sheep from goats.

To those on his right, to those who are saved, he will say, "Come you who are blessed by my Father. Inherit the kingdom prepared for you since the beginning of the world, for I was hungry and you fed me, thirsty, ... naked, ... ill, ... a stranger, ... in prison ... and you cared for me" (Matthew 25:31ff).

Then he will say to those on his left, "Depart from me, you accursed, into the everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels, for I was hungry, ... thirsty, ... naked, ... ill, ... a stranger, ... in prison ... and you did nothing for me."

Jesus didn't give us an exhaustive list of actions, but he did tell us that what we did or failed to do for the least of his brethren, we did or failed to do to him. And on those fruits, or lack thereof, we will be judged.

Mrs. A said...

Lacking in fruits lately here. Good read, thanks.

Mrs. A said...

"Work out your salvation with fear and trembling". That scripture is making sense now. That scripture seemed out of place to me.

I can't wait until I can completely get out of the spiritual stump I admittingly have been in.

I am following a couple of Catholic women's blogs. It's funny how I used to think you guys didn't know scripture...lol! I gotta just laugh at myself. I was the blind one! I can't believe it! I can.

Are you ill? You seem missing in action.

Michael Gormley said...

"Work out your salvation with fear and trembling".

Dear Mrs A,
Are you saved? How many times have we all been asked that question by well meaning Protestant friends of ours?

The question is a loaded one, implying that once you confess that Jesus Christ is your personal Lord and savior, that's it, you're saved.

If that were true, then we wouldn't need to go to Confession, nor would we need the Eucharist at each Mass, because we now have a get-out-of-jail-free card; that is, our professed belief in Jesus as our personal Lord and savior.

In other words, they ask you that question to get you to leave the Catholic Church and join their protestant church.

Mrs. A said...

I think you were right the first time when you said "well meaning Protestant friends". But Maybe some ask in arrogance.

But, I honestly think they fear Catholics don't understand grace. They think there will be serious consequences. Not that they think their better. At least that's not the heart of the matter. At least that's where I believe I've been at for some people.

The Holy Spirit's love that's in us causes that love. But, we don't always have His perfect wisdom.

The Devil is the one who uses misunderstandings to bring division.

My understanding is that we work only because He asked us to and there are consequences for our actions.Is that not what Catholics also believe?

http://womenofgod-rosemi.blogspot.com/2010/08/how-god-changed-my-life-part-1.html

Please read my 3 part testimony if you have time. I would like you to share your thoughts with me. And don't be cranky.

:)