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, November 20, 2010

PSUEDOSPIRITUALITY

Why not integrate teachings of other religions with Catholic spirituality?

by Father John Bartunek

Q: Dear Father John, the Church has clearly taught that there is truth and good in other religions – so why then is it a problem to integrate the truths found in prayer traditions outside of Christianity with Christian prayer methods?

A: This is a great question, especially for today’s world, in which religious tolerance is spoken about by so many different groups (though not all) as a universal value. Sometimes we can confuse openness and respect for believers in other religious with the sin of religious indifference Religious indifference can consist either in ignoring the authentic demands of religion, or in believing that all religions are the same. This question is also a good one because it shows the connection between doctrine and practice. What we believe about God, ourselves, and the world affects how we behave and the choices we make. So let’s start by clarifying the doctrine a bit, and then finish with some comments on the practical side.

Starting with Some Doctrine

Here is what the Catechism actually says about the “truth and goodness” found in non-Christian religions (#843):
The Catholic Church recognizes in other religions that search, among shadows and images, for the God who is unknown yet near since he gives life and breath and all things and wants all men to be saved. Thus, the Church considers all goodness and truth found in these religions as a preparation for the Gospel and given by him who enlightens all men that they may at length have life.
In other words, human nature is the same for all people, and so all people experience, even in this fallen world, a yearning to reconnect with God, to live in communion with God. And this is why all people also experience the difficulty, the challenge, the obstacles involved in that search: our common human nature is fallen, and we need a savior. These are common elements in every religion. This is why different religions have so many things in common, and why many aspects of non-Christian religious are in harmony with Christianity.

In the very next paragraph, the Catechism makes a clarifying statement (#844):
In their religious behavior, however, men also display the limits and errors that disfigure the image of God in them: [quoting the Second Vatican Council and referencing St Paul’s Letter to the Romans] “Very often, deceived by the Evil One, men have become vain in their reasonings, and have exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and served the creature rather than the Creator. Or else, living and dying in this world without God, they are exposed to ultimate despair.
In other words, although our common, fallen human nature universally searches for the way back to God, that same wounded nature creates a tendency for us to get lost and take dangerous and dead-end paths.

The Christian Difference

This is precisely why God himself intervened. His love and mercy moved him to come to our aid, to lead us along a sure path of return to communion with him and the happiness that we were created for. He did this through what is called revelation: God’s own explanation of himself, the world, and how we can attain salvation. Revelation culminated in the incarnation of the Second Person of the Trinity, Jesus Christ. Christ’s work and teaching differs essentially from every other religion. It is God’s effort to reach out to man, not just man’s effort to reach up to God.

Getting Practical

Consequently, the teaching and practice of the Catholic Church is unique, qualitatively different from those of other religions. Jesus is our standard, our sure standard, by which we judge the truth, goodness, and utility of all other doctrines and traditions. The spiritual life, in other words, is not a smorgasbord. If we just pick and choose whichever practices we happen to like, we have no guarantee that we will avoid dangerous pitfalls (the “limits and errors” referenced by the Catechism).
Prayer traditions from other religions , therefore, may be able to harmonize with Christianity, but in order to do so they need to be purified and appropriately grafted into the authentic spiritual vine, Christ himself. That can only happen with the guidance of the Holy Spirit through his chosen instrument, the Church.

A final observation. It is often frustrating to find Catholics searching energetically for exciting new spiritual practices, but searching everywhere except within the incredibly rich and abundant traditions of their own Catholic Church. This is one reason we started this website, to make at least a small effort to expose some of our Catholic treasures to modern Catholics who feel spurred on to a deeper spiritual life, but don’t know where to find tools that can help them respond.

Thank you again for this question. God bless you!

Yours in Christ, Father John Bartunek, LC, STL

10 comments:

Mrs. A said...

Dear Michael,

That scripture in Romans was talking about people who stopped being in awe of God and were not thankful for his wonderful creation. Then their hearts darkened and they became fools saying that for example "all of this was made by a great explosion". They made laws to protect animals and homosexuals more important than to protect unborn children.

I know I'm too chatty sometimes. Sorry for crowding your blog so much...ha ha! I will try to read quietly from now on.

God bless you

Michael Gormley said...

Dear Mrs A,
You’re not "too chatty," I appreciate your comments.

They made laws to protect animals and homosexuals more important than to protect unborn children.

I agree with you, check this out!

God bless you.
Michael Gormley

Mrs. A said...

"It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God!" We should always pray for our leaders though, even though we would like to punch them in the nose.

Blessings!

Mrs. A said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Mrs. A said...

I would like to ask you plainly. Do you believe that I am not a real Christian because I am not a Catholic?

Michael Gormley said...

Dear Mrs A,
Why do you ask?

Mrs. A said...

This hit a nerve and I wanted you to clarify.

Consequently, the teaching and practice of the Catholic Church is unique, qualitatively different from those of other religions. Jesus is our standard, our sure standard, by which we judge the truth, goodness, and utility of all other doctrines and traditions. The spiritual life, in other words, is not a smorgasbord. If we just pick and choose whichever practices we happen to like, we have no guarantee that we will avoid dangerous pitfalls (the “limits and errors” referenced by the Catechism).
Prayer traditions from other religions , therefore, may be able to harmonize with Christianity, but in order to do so they need to be purified and appropriately grafted into the authentic spiritual vine, Christ himself. That can only happen with the guidance of the Holy Spirit through his chosen instrument, the Church.

I believe I was grafted in already because I have faith. (Romans11:17)

Do you have any idea how it hurts to be told your not one of His because you are not a Catholic?

Michael Gormley said...

Dear Mrs A,

One Hundred Fifty Reasons I'm Catholic

And You Should Be Too!

by Dave Armstrong

1. Best One-Sentence Summary: I am convinced that the Catholic Church conforms much more closely to all of the biblical data, offers the only coherent view of the history of Christianity (i.e., Christian, apostolic Tradition), and possesses the most profound and sublime Christian morality, spirituality, social ethic, and philosophy.

2. Alternate: I am a Catholic because I sincerely believe, by virtue of much cumulative evidence, that Catholicism is true, and that the Catholic Church is the visible Church divinely-established by our Lord Jesus, against which the gates of hell cannot and will not prevail (Matthew 16:18), thereby possessing an authority to which I feel bound in Christian duty to submit.

3. 2nd Alternate: I left Protestantism because it was seriously deficient in its interpretation of the Bible (e.g., "faith alone" and many other "Catholic" doctrines - see evidences below), inconsistently selective in its espousal of various Catholic Traditions (e.g., the Canon of the Bible), inadequate in its ecclesiology, lacking a sensible view of Christian history (e.g., "Scripture alone"), compromised morally (e.g., contraception, divorce), and unbiblically schismatic, anarchical, and relativistic.

I don't therefore believe that Protestantism is all bad (not by a long shot), but these are some of the major deficiencies I eventually saw as fatal to the "theory" of Protestantism, over against Catholicism. All Catholics must regard baptized, Nicene, Chalcedonian Protestants as Christians.

More > > >

Mrs. A said...

I am satisfied with that answer. Thanks :)

Michael Gormley said...

You are welcome, Mrs A!!