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.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

CHRISTIANS DEALING WITH SEXUAL TEMPTATION

Hormones are tough to handle. Without being knowledgeable about how hormones actually work, we can state the obvious: that they are a real and powerful part of our human make up. Our sexual hormones, which give us “sex drive”, can make being a Christian very tough at times!

Many of the world’s societies are sex mad. Sexual immorality is everywhere, both visibly and hidden. The prevalence and extent of unchecked sexual activity creates a situation where to be different really makes you stand out from the crowd. Pornography has more and more of a place in many cultures and societies. Also the practice and acceptance of homosexuality is possibly greater now than at any time in history.

Lust and fornication (sex outside marriage) are sinful. In order to resist sexual temptation, the Christian needs to have knowledge of why he or she needs to resist, as well as having the spiritual and emotional strength to make an effective resistance. With God’s help we can resist. If we trust in the truth behind God’s rules about sexual morality, then we have the foundation that we need to make our stand against temptation.

1 Corinthians 10:13 says: “When you are tempted (God) will provide a way out so that you can stand”.

Here are some other scriptures which will help those who are tempted: Psalm 1, Psalm 139:23,24, Matthew 26:41, I Corinthians 10:12-14, Philippians 4:8, James 4:7, II Peter 2:9, II Peter 3:17.

We must trust that God knows what is best for us and that we will ultimately be happiest if we obey Him in this area of sex and sexuality. Indeed, we must comply with God’s will or we will be judged and cut off from Him. The Bible is clear that lust, fornication and adultery are sinful. We can see this in scriptures such as Matthew 5:27,28:

“You have heard that it was said “Do not commit adultery.” But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.”
This verse is followed by a warning that, “it is better to (sacrifice our personal desires and not sin) than for your whole body to be thrown into hell” (verse 29). If we persist in sin we will pay the crushing price of experiencing separation from God.
Masturbation

The issue of the acceptability of masturbation is one that divides the opinion of Christians. According to some statistics, it seems to be the case that roughly one third of Christians view masturbation as wrong, one third view it as acceptable with certain rules and one third have an unclear opinion. Whilst we remain on the fence, so as to encourage our site goal of unifying Christians, we do want to animate one or two points about masturbation. Those who see no wrong in masturbation would normally describe its practi[c]e as being useful in relieving individuals of pent up sexual desire, which if unexpressed could lead to lust or actual physical sexual sin. They would probably encourage masturbation to be done only in a clinical way - in other words without lustful thoughts about an actual existing human individual in their minds.

What we can state regarding masturbation is that we have found no credible Biblical argument that proves or convincingly argues that masturbation is wrong. Many Christians would further view masturbation within marriage as certainly wrong. However, others would argue that it may be necessary within marriage in certain unusual circumstances (for example during pregnancy), to satisfy sexual desires and to avoid temptation which could lead to adultery.

Temptation to commit Adultery

Adultery is clearly described as being sinful in the Bible, for example in Matthew 5:27-32 and I Corinthians 6:9-11. It is a serious issue, and Christian couples should not be complacent about its threat. When one half of a marriage partnership commits this sin, they are breaking the sacred relationship bond that they have made before God in marriage. Without doubt it can be very tempting for some to break this bond and indulge in such sin. There may be several reasons for this. For example, a relationship may be at a low ebb. Perhaps there is a lack of quality time or communication in the relationship and perhaps a lack of sexual activity, which leaves sexual needs unmet. This can make it very tempting for one or both parties to find satisfaction for those needs through someone other than their partner.

Hopefully it is common sense that if you have a strong and healthy marriage, with satisfying sexual activity, then a barrier against sexual temptation will be built. This barrier is obviously not impenetrable; people can still be tempted. Their greedy hormones may try to push them towards sinful sexual indulgence. The consequences of sinning in this way are enormous. Even if the truth does not come out, and all the consequences of this do not have to be faced (possible divorce, financial damage, damage to other friendships and relationships), God knows the truth about what has happened. Imagine how hard it must be to wrestle with this guilt, all the time knowing that you cannot escape judgement unless you truly repent. To truly repent, you must tell your husband/wife what has happened - admittedly hard when it may mean the end of your marriage.

Go to extremes to avoid adultery - it is plain that its impact often cannot be reversed, even thought there is no doubt that God can forgive us. Whether it means changing your job or taking other extreme measures to avoid a situation of extreme temptation - make sure you put your marriage first. Of course, the sexual dimension of relationships may not be the only, or indeed the main focus or experiencing temptation to be unfaithful. It may be that friendship with a member of the opposite sex is so enjoyable that it starts to form a deeper bond. This is an obvious warning sign to absolutely withdraw from that friendship. We must make these sacrifices in order to please God.

No relationship will meet all of our deeper needs and expectations and where we are tempted to know fulfilment from outside our marriage in such a way, we need to trust that the Lord Himself will meet those remaining needs. He sees our sacrifice as we withdraw from such tempting friendships and He will reward us. He knows our needs and He can help us to meet them in other ways. There are some good web sites in the “Marriage and Relationships” section, which specialise in building up and guarding marriage relationships.

2 comments:

Michael said...

Masturbation: Mortal Sin?
GRACE MACKINNON

Grace: What is the Catholic Church's teaching on masturbation? Is it viewed as a mortal sin or as a venial sin? Could it prevent us from getting into heaven?

To answer this, let us look, first of all, at the Church's teaching. In 1975, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith issued a Declaration on Certain Problems of Sexual Ethics, and it is this document that the Catechism of the Catholic Church quotes regarding this issue. "Both the Magisterium of the Church, in the course of a constant tradition, and the moral sense of the faithful have been in no doubt and have firmly maintained that masturbation is an intrinsically and gravely disordered action" (CCC# 2352).

Whatever the motive, solitary sex in itself contradicts the meaning of human sexuality, which is meant by God to be shared between a man and a woman in marriage.

You ask if masturbation is viewed as a mortal or venial sin. Remember, that for a sin to be mortal, three conditions must together be met. It has to be a very serious and grave matter, which is committed with full knowledge and with deliberate consent. What we are saying is that for it to be mortal sin, it would have to be done deliberately, knowing that it is not what God wishes for us and without any regard for that. In order to judge the morality of a human act, certain conditions have to be considered. The Church recognizes, for example, that in the practice of masturbation, psychological factors including adolescent immaturity, lack of psychological balance, and even ingrained habit can influence a person's behavior, and this could lessen or even eliminate moral responsibility.

The condition that many persons claim for their innocence regarding masturbation is habit, and we certainly know how difficult habits are to break. We must keep in mind, however, that habit does not completely destroy the voluntary nature of our acts. As Christians who are going to be held accountable for our actions, we must strive to unite ourselves to the Lord and, therefore, do all we can to curb or eliminate all habits that detach us from Him. So, if a person is masturbating and knows fully that it is wrong, and does it willingly without doing anything to resist, then he or she is guilty of grave sin.

If they are in doubt about the morality of any sexual activity, a person should talk to his or her confessor, a priest. After listening to all of the circumstances and conditions surrounding an individual's actions, he will make a judgment and give the proper guidance. Sometimes, professional help will have to be sought. But we should be careful with this because some professionals will actually encourage masturbation, and this would be wrong. God knows that we will sometimes fail, but He does expect us to do our best to live according to His ways. He knows when we have done all we can to resist sin. If we have done that and have acknowledged and confessed our sin, then we can rest in the knowledge that we have done our best, and that He will forgive us.

Michael said...

Grace MacKinnon is a syndicated columnist and public speaker on Catholic doctrine. She is the author of Dear Grace: Answers to Questions About the Faith published by Our Sunday Visitor. Order online by e-mail at osvbooks@osv.com or call 1-800-348-2440.

Readers are welcome to submit questions about the Catholic faith to: Grace MacKinnon, 1234 Russell Drive #103, Brownsville, Texas 78520. Questions also may be sent by e-mail to: grace@deargrace.com.