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.

Friday, December 16, 2011

SALVATION BY FAITH ALONE NOT ASSURED

One of the doctrines by Luther, the father of the Protestant Reformation, was that salvation could be achieved by faith alone. While of course faith is necessary, it is what you do with that faith that counts. If you believe is it also not true that you follow and obey. To not act in a way dictated by the faith is a clear sign of hypocritical and false faith. Yes, we are saved by faith. But it is not by faith alone.

"Be doers of the word and not hearers only, deluding yourselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks at his own face in a mirror. He sees himself, then goes off and promptly forgets what he looked like." James 1:22-25

It seems pretty clear here that we must do something. It is not just enough to believe, we must act. How can we say we have faith and not live that faith. Remember, even Satan believed that Jesus was the Son of God. We must live out our faith through actions, not just words.

"What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? If a brother or sister has nothing to wear and has no food for the day, and one of you says to them, 'Go in peace, keep warm, and eat well,' but you do not give them the necessities of the body, what good is it? So also faith of itself, if it does not have works, is dead. Indeed someone might say, "You have faith and I have works." Demonstrate your faith to me without works, and I will demonstrate my faith to you from my works. You believe that God is one. You do well. Even the demons believe that and tremble." James 2:14-19
How can it be made more clear that we do not achieve eternal life by faith alone? Faith without works IS dead. Luther eventually admitted adding the word "alone" to his essay, but by then the damage was done. Now many millions are following the false teachings, the hollow teachings, the incomplete truth of a man who lived hundreds of years ago. And he admitted the error on his essay. Why do these people continue to attach themselves to churches founded on this man's teachings?
"When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit upon his glorious throne, and all the nations will be assembled before him. And he will separate them one from another, as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will place the sheep on his right and the goats on his left. Then the king will say to those on his right, 'Come, you who are blessed by my Father. Inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, a stranger and you welcomed me, naked and you clothed me, ill and you cared for me, in prison and you visited me.' Then the righteous 16 will answer him and say, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? When did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? When did we see you ill or in prison, and visit you?' And the king will say to them in reply, 'Amen, I say to you, whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me.' Then he will say to those on his left, 'Depart from me, you accursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, a stranger and you gave me no welcome, naked and you gave me no clothing, ill and in prison, and you did not care for me.' Then they will answer and say, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or ill or in prison, and not minister to your needs?' He will answer them, 'Amen, I say to you, what you did not do for one of these least ones, you did not do for me.' And these will go off to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life." Matthew 25:31-46

In this scripture, Jesus is explaining the judgment of nations and what is required for salvation. Our very salvation depends upon what we do. Christ did not say it was just enough to believe that the poor should be fed, we must feed them. Christ did not say it was just enough to pray for those that are ill, we must care for them. From this passage it is easy to understand that if we do not act we are in fact neglecting Christ.

"Do not be amazed at this, because the hour is coming in which all who are in the tombs will hear his voice and will come out, those who have done good deeds to the resurrection of life, but those who have done wicked deeds to the resurrection of condemnation." John 5:28-29

Those who have done good deeds to the resurrection of life? One of my favorite parts of confession is as asking for the forgiveness of the sin of failing to take action. So many times we do not do as we should, we do nothing, a sin of omission. Those who have done good deeds to the resurrection of life? I suspect just "thinking" or "believing" is not enough.

"There was a scholar of the law who stood up to test him and said, 'Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?' Jesus said to him, 'What is written in the law? How do you read it?' He said in reply, 'You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your being, with all your strength, and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.' He replied to him, 'You have answered correctly; do this and you will live.'" Luke 10:25-28

The questions was what must I "do", not what must I "believe". And Jesus answered you must "do", not you must "believe".

"For it is not those who hear the law who are just in the sight of God; rather, those who observe the law will be justified." Romans 2:13

Once again, it is not enough to "hear" the law, one must "observe". In other words, live the law, not just "believe" it.

"By your stubbornness and impenitent heart, you are storing up wrath for yourself for the day of wrath and revelation of the just judgment of God, who will repay everyone according to his works: eternal life to those who seek glory, honor, and immortality through perseverance in good works, but wrath and fury to those who selfishly disobey the truth and obey wickedness. Yes, affliction and distress will come upon every human being who does evil, Jew first and then Greek. But there will be glory, honor, and peace for everyone who does good, Jew first and then Greek. There is no partiality with God." Romans 2:5-11

Paul is clear on this point. Our salvation comes through our own deeds and merits, as well as how we "live" our faith. This is not the same as saying that we receive salvation through works alone because we all know there is no salvation without Christ. Yes, you must have faith, but it is a "living" faith.

8 comments:

Frank Blasi said...

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith - and this not of yourselves, it is a gift from God - not by works, so that no one can boast.
(Ephesians 2:8-9).

Please note the past tense "saved".
Salvation through faith comes first. Then works follow as described in verse 10.

I stongly reccommend you read the whole letter of Paul to the Galatians. Especially chapter 3.

Michael said...

What's your point?

Frank Blasi said...

Michael asks:
"What's your point?"

My point is that God saves us through faith alone, without works, which is at varience with your main article posted above. In the 3rd chapter of his letter to the Galatians, Paul was demonstrating that Abraham believed in what God had told him, which was about becoming a father of a nation, and by believing, God's righteousness was imputed to him. (Galatians 3:6-14)
The same applies to us. The righteousness of Christ is imputed to all who believe, without works. In other words, when a believer dies, he goes straight to Heaven to be with Christ, because it is Christ's righteousness that brings the believer to Heaven, not his own righteousness.
What can I say about Purgatory? It is void, or else we must believe that Jesus Christ sinned when he was on earth. But if Jesus Christ committed no sin at all when on earth, then his righteousness and purity are credited to our account, and God pronounces us as Not Guilty.
Now if that is not wonderful news, then what is?
However, other men are not able to see Christ's righteousness except through our works, and this is where James takes up the arguement. The point of James'letter was to make our faith visible to others through our works, because without works, our faith is dead, meaning that Christ's righteousness in us has no effect on those around us.
I hope I have answered your question.

Michael said...

My point is that God saves us through faith alone, without works,...

Romans 5:1-2 states, "Therefore, since we are justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him we have obtained access to this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in our hope of sharing the glory of God."

This text indicates that after having received the grace of justification, we now have access to God’s grace by which we stand in Christ, and we can then rejoice in the hope of sharing God’s glory. That word hope indicates that what we are hoping for we do not yet possess.

"For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them" (Eph. 2:10). Without a doubt, we must continue to work in Christ as Christians; it is also true that it is only by the grace of God we can continue to do so. But even more importantly, Scripture tells us this grace can be resisted. Second Corinthians 6:1 tells us that "Working together with him, then, we entreat you not to accept the grace of God in vain."

St. Paul urged believers in Antioch—and all of us by implication—"to continue in the grace of God." Indeed, Paul warns Christians that they can "fall from grace" in Galatians 5:4.

Frank Blasi said...

Dear Michael,
First let me say thank you for allowing me to partake in this discussion without any ill feelings. Secondly, thanks for your response.

May I comment on the header text you have submitted? There are some things I have noticed in Romans 5:1-2.

First that we have peace with God in Jesus Christ through justification by faith. This is very crucial. For this truth highlight a serious flaw in the history of the Catholic church. Throughout the time of Martin Luther, the average laity were terrified of Purgatory, and the Church capitalised on this by selling indulgences. People paid out lots to have their time in Purgatory reduced or eliminated, both for themselves and for their loved ones. This does not reflect the peace one has with God through faith in Christ!
It was this sale of indulgences that had sparked off the Reformation in the first place, after Luther read one verse in the Bible, "The just shall live by faith" (Romans 1:17).
Then our access to his grace through faith in Christ does not mean that we have to work to keep or hold on to our hope of salvation, or else we would be bound in fear of losing this grace, as the Catholic church actually teaches. This does bring me to ask how did Paul and his associates REJOICE over telling others about Christ if it actually induces fear instead of peace to their listeners?
Then the word "hope". In the English language, "hope" is looking forward to something but with an element of doubt. For example,
"I hope it doesn't rain when we picnic tomorrow (but it might)".

The New Testament does not seem to indicate this. We read in Ephesians 1:14 that the Holy Spirit is given to us as a deposit of the guarantee of our redemption until fulfillent. And in 2:6 in the same letter, Paul declares that we are already seated with him in the heavenly places (past tense, but still awaiting fulfillment.)

Then the continuing in grace is to live out our Christian lives through his power and strength, not in our own strength. It does not mean "hanging there" by sheer desparation for fear of losing it and ending up in Hell. It simply means that we need his grace to empower us to do good to others.
Finally, to fall from grace as given in Galations 5:4 means to start trusting in our own righteousness, here in this context to circuncise oneself in order to make peace with God. That is not grace, but the opposite, human effort.

Michael said...

...and the Church capitalised on this by selling indulgences.

Myths about Indulgences

Myth 7: A person used to be able to buy indulgences.

One never could "buy" indulgences. The financial scandal surrounding indulgences, the scandal that gave Martin Luther an excuse for his heterodoxy, involved alms—indulgences in which the giving of alms to some charitable fund or foundation was used as the occasion to grant the indulgence. There was no outright selling of indulgences.

The Catholic Encyclopedia states: "[I]t is easy to see how abuses crept in. Among the good works which might be encouraged by being made the condition of an indulgence, almsgiving would naturally hold a conspicuous place. . . . It is well to observe that in these purposes there is nothing essentially evil. To give money to God or to the poor is a praiseworthy act, and, when it is done from right motives, it will surely not go unrewarded."

Being able to explain these seven myths will be a large step in helping others to understand indulgences. But, there are still questions to be asked:

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Frank Blasi said...

I have read your link on indulgencies carefully and I have checked three of the Scripture references given - Philippians 2:12, 1 Peter 1:9 and Colossians 1:24.
And none of these Scriptures give any references to either Purgatory or indulgencies.
Phil 2:12 - Work out your salvation with fear and trembling... Fear of punishment? Rather, going by the context, isn't it a fear of dishonouring God in the eyes of those whom you have testified about Jesus Christ?
1 Pet 1:9 - For you are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls...So Peter says this is the reason for joy and rejoicing, and not fear of punishment.
Col 1:24 - Paul rejoicing in his suffering in his flesh what is still lacking to Christ's afflictions, for the sake of the church...Lacking TO Christ's affliction, not what is lacking IN Christ's afflictions. There is a difference. This seem to indicate that Paul had to suffer physically in his efforts to get the church at Colosse to understand what the suffering of Christ on the cross was all about. Whichever the case might have been, there does not seem to be any connection between this verse of Scripture to Purgatory and the indulgence.
Also Hebrews 12 talks about God punishing his those he receives as sons, so not to perish with the world but to partake in his holiness.
All these references quoted here, if they are to do with punishment and discipline, then these must be all earthly trials, with nothing said about the afterlife or punishment after death.
Finally, it seem to me that even if indulgencies were never sold, but was granted by means of almsgiving, the arguement goes that the church still finacially benefitted. Also money from almsgivers must have come from those who had the means to give in the first place, which is another way of saying that the rich or well off can benefit from this indulgence, while the poor had to suffer the full brunt of Purgatory, since they had no means to give, and receive the indulgence.

Michael said...

And none of these Scriptures give any references to either Purgatory..

PURGATORY

Scripture

I. A State After Death of Suffering and Forgiveness
Matt. 5:26,18:34; Luke 12:58-59 – Jesus teaches us, “Come to terms with your opponent or you will be handed over to the judge and thrown into prison. You will not get out until you have paid the last penny.” The word “opponent” (antidiko) is likely a reference to the devil (see the same word for devil in 1 Pet. 5:8) who is an accuser against man (c.f. Job 1.6-12; Zech. 3.1; Rev. 12.10), and God is the judge. If we have not adequately dealt with satan and sin in this life, we will be held in a temporary state called a prison, and we won’t get out until we have satisfied our entire debt to God. This “prison” is purgatory where we will not get out until the last penny is paid.

Matt. 5:48 - Jesus says, "be perfect, even as your heavenly Father is perfect." We are only made perfect through purification, and in Catholic teaching, this purification, if not completed on earth, is continued in a transitional state we call purgatory.

Matt. 12:32 – Jesus says, “And anyone who says a word against the Son of man will be forgiven; but no one who speaks against the Holy Spirit will be forgiven either in this world or in the next.” Jesus thus clearly provides that there is forgiveness after death. The phrase “in the next” (from the Greek “en to mellonti”) generally refers to the afterlife (see, for example, Mark 10.30; Luke 18.30; 20.34-35; Eph. 1.21 for similar language). Forgiveness is not necessary in heaven, and there is no forgiveness in hell. This proves that there is another state after death, and the Church for 2,000 years has called this state purgatory.

Luke 12:47-48 - when the Master comes (at the end of time), some will receive light or heavy beatings but will live. This state is not heaven or hell, because in heaven there are no beatings, and in hell we will no longer live with the Master.

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