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, July 31, 2013

AUGUSTINE'S VIEW ON PRDESTINATION

St. Augustine, Part 9  

Although Pelagianism, a view that denies original sin and promotes the idea that salvation can be earned, went against Augustine’s views of grace through Christ, it did encourage Augustine to focus his thinking on the doctrine of predestination. In his early writings, Augustine taught predestination based upon God’s foreknowledge. The idea was that God merely chose those human beings whom He foreknew would freely choose to believe in Him.

However, the mature Augustine promoted predestination based upon God’s autonomous and inscrutable choice. This position holds that God chooses to extend His saving grace to some (the elect), but not to all (bypassing the reprobate).1 Thus, God predestines some to eternal life via irresistible though not coercive grace, but leaves others in their sin to be justly condemned through their own choice and deeds.

Augustine’s great and terrible doctrine of so-called “double predestination” was rejected by many in his time as it is by some today. However, Augustine believed that while God’s act of election may be inequitable, it is not unfair. Augustine reasoned that sinners have no claim whatsoever to the grace of God. The choice as to whom God extends His grace is totally within His sovereign discretion and prerogative. Most importantly, Augustine believed his thinking on the subject was simply reflecting the clear teaching of Scripture, especially the writings of the Apostle Paul (Romans 8–9; Ephesians 1).

Augustine’s strong predestinarian views influenced a number of Roman Catholic thinkers in history, but has been, for the most part, ignored by their modern counterparts. Augustine’s basic perspectives on this topic were embraced largely by such Protestant Reformers as Martin Luther and John Calvin, and are still reflected today in the historic confessional statements of the Reformed theological tradition.

Endnotes:

1. Allan D. Fitzgerald, ed., Augustine through the Ages (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1999), s.v. “Predestination.”

Subjects: People of Faith, Philosophy of Religion

2 comments:

Frank Blasi said...

There are some Protestants who believe in what is referred to as Hyper-Calvinism. They have their acronym TULIP with each letter being the initial of the five points they advocate, which are:
1. Total Depravity.
2. Unconditional Election.
3. Limited Atonement.
4. Irresistable Grace.
5. Perseverence of the Saints.
Although I agree to a certain extent point one (T) and point five (P), I do call to question the other three in between.
This is in light of the following Scripture verses:

"Peter replied, 'Repent and be baptised, every one of you, for the forgiveness of your sins.'" Acts 2:38.
"Repent then, and turn to God, that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord."
Acts 3:19.
"In the past god overlooked such ignorance, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent."
Acts 17:30.
The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.
2 Peter 3:9.
For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
John 3:16.
For my Father's will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have everlasting life, and I will raise him up at the last day.
John 6:40.
On the last and greatest day of the Feast, Jesus stood and said in a loud voice, "If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink."
John 7:37.

These and many other verses of Scripture indicates that salvation is open to everyone, as the majority of Protestants, including myself, believe; and not restricted to a limited few God chose, leaving everyone else to face judgement without the ability to repent, as taught by the Hyper-Calvinists.
It is true that God does predestine believers, according to Ephesians chapter one. But being omniscient, God knew from eternity past who will those who will turn to him and from those who will not.
But that does not make the availability of salvation less than universal.

Michael said...

"Are you saved?" asks the Fundamentalist. The Catholic should reply: "As the Bible says, I am already saved (Rom. 8:24, Eph. 2:5–8), but I’m also being saved (1 Cor. 1:18, 2 Cor. 2:15, Phil. 2:12), and I have the hope that I will be saved (Rom. 5:9–10, 1 Cor. 3:12–15). Like the apostle Paul I am working out my salvation in fear and trembling (Phil. 2:12), with hopeful confidence in the promises of Christ (Rom. 5:2, 2 Tim. 2:11–13)."