"The Christianity of history is not Protestantism. If ever there were a safe truth it is this, and Protestantism has ever felt it so; to be deep in history is to cease to be a Protestant." (-John Henry Newman, An Essay on the Development of Christian Doctrine).

"Where the bishop is, there let the people gather; just as where ever Jesus Christ is, there is the Catholic Church". -St. Ignatius of Antioch (ca 110 AD)a martyr later thrown to the lions, wrote to a church in Asia Minor. Antioch was also where the term "Christian" was first used.

“But if I should be delayed, you should know how to behave in the household of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and foundation of truth.” 1 Timothy 3:15

"This is the sole Church of Christ, which in the Creed we profess to be one, holy, catholic and apostolic." -CCC 811

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

The Beauty Of The Catholic Faith

We cannot speak of beauty if we do not know what beauty is, With the words of St. Thomas Aquinas "Beauty is the splendor of the goods that each being ought to have according to its nature”. In other words St. Thomas is telling us that beauty is not something that we see and pleases our senses, beauty is imbued deep within the being's nature. The beauty of the Catholic faith lies not in its glorious basilicas, majestic tabernacles and incorruptible saints but it emanates from its very foundation the body, blood and divinity of its founder Jesus Christ. To completely exhaust the reasons why the Catholic faith is beautiful is quite unrealistic because our lifetime would not be enough to articulate the beauty, majesty and splendor of the Catholic faith. In lieu of our limitations we'll just have to discuss some of the reasons why the Catholic faith is beautiful.

Unity in Diversity - The Catholic faith is capable of fostering unity among diverse individuals, it cannot be denied that the Catholic Church is made of members coming from various cultures, race, background, lifestyle and language. However, the Catholic faith like a fire it purges (Zec.13:8-9) away the imperfections of these elements and integrates whatever is pure and profitable for the soul. The Pontificate of Blessed Pope John Paul II reiterates the message of St. Paul in our contemporary society that among us Christians "There is neither Jew nor Greek: there is neither bond nor free: there is neither male nor female. For you are all one in Christ Jesus." (Gal.3:28). We have seen this unity of Christians through the World Youth Day and other universal gatherings espoused by this great pope. Despite of the difference in culture, race and background those who were able to attend the world youth day didn't experience any untoward feeling towards their Catholic brothers and sisters coming from different nations. Rather they are overwhelmed with joy, belongingness and sense of sacredness. Such an event is a foretaste of what the Kingdom of God would be like, there are no barriers and discrimination all are one in Christ. No any other institution in the world can imitate this kind of unity only the Catholic Church because it is no ordinary institution, it is the body of Christ (Col.1:18).

The Communion of Saints - Every time we attend the Sunday Mass we often recite the Apostles creed, a public profession of our Catholic faith. In the creed we say "I believe in the communion of saints", but what do we really mean by this? One must not think that we are the only Catholics in the Church, we have forgotten that we are the Church militant the one who still have to workout his salvation with fear and trembling (Phil.2:12). There are those who died in God's grace but still have to be purified from their imperfections for no defile can enter the Kingdom of God (Rev.21:27), we often refer to these souls as the Church suffering. We also have our brothers and sisters who are already in heaven (Heb.12:22) and continually intercedes for us that we may join them in heaven (Rev.4:8). Though we are all in different state yet we are a family we help each other attaining our goal and that is to be with Jesus Christ in heaven. The Church militant offers prayers for the poor souls in Purgatory that their purification will be shorten and those who are in heaven unceasingly prays for us giving us strength and inspiring us to be obedient sons and daughters of God. In fact together with our fellow Catholics those who are in heaven and in purgatory are worshiping Jesus Christ (Phil.2:10). If only we spend more time reading the teachings of the Church and writings of saints we would even more appreciate the beauty of the communion of saints. God knows that man will always have the inclination to use his senses even in spiritual matters thus he left us not in vain but provided us with evidences of his presence through the incorruptible body of saints. Modern science cannot explain how these body remain intact and no signs of decay after being laid to rest hundreds of years ago. Unlike the mummified remains of the Egyptians the incorruptible body of saints remains to be fresh, some are even reported to be within their normal body temperature and would even bleed if pricked by a needle. There are no any other plausible explanation for this miraculous events but a sure sign of God's presence and favor. The communion of saints tells us to never lose hope in our battle to enter the kingdom of God, the saints too like us were sinners but they didn't lose hope as what Pope Francis said "God never gets tired of forgiving us." So, let us not forget to pray for our beloved brothers and sisters who are in purgatory and to ask the intercession of the saints.

The Sacraments - Jesus Christ founded the Catholic Church not only for the purpose of preaching the gospel to all nations (Mt.28:18-20) but also as a means to where people are gathered and saved (Acts 2:47, Eph.5:23). But what is in the Catholic faith that Pope Francis was able to say that "It's absurd to think you can live with Jesus, but without the church."? It is through the Church that Jesus Christ will sanctify his people through the sacraments. When Jesus Christ was hanging on the cross a soldier pierce his side with a spear and immediately blood and water came out (John 19:34). Blood and water is taken by the Church Fathers as a symbolism of the Sacrament. Water symbolizes the Sacrament of initiation, baptism (Jn.3:5, Ti.3:5) and blood symbolizes the Holy Eucharist (Jn 6:54) the life and summit of the Church. The Sacraments of the Church are fountains of grace, it is through the Sacraments that sanctifying grace is being dispense to those who are spiritually prepared to receive it. Though the Holy Spirit can infuse grace to whomever he wants but He choose the Sacraments as the ordinary means of dispensing the graces that is necessary for salvation. Without the Sacraments it would be impossible to man to obtain graces on his own.

Miracles - Since his birth Jesus Christ already showed us signs of wonder that he is no ordinary person from his miraculous birth (Jn.1:14) to his ascension in heaven. Christ's public ministry is also accompanied with miracles to prove his true nature that he is the Son of God, true God and true man. In like manner the Church that he founded is also accompanied with miracles and signs of wonder that serves as evidence of its divine mandate. All throughout the centuries we have seen numerous incorrupt body of saints venerated by Christians since time immemorial, to name a few Pope St. Pius X, St. Catherine Laboure and St. Claire of Assisi. Aside from that there are miracles wherein the consecrated bread and wine literally turns into real flesh and blood, and who else can forget about the miracle that happened in Fatima? These miracles where scrutinized by science yet they cannot provide a probable explanation for these events. But there is one explanation that is plausible that these miracles originated from God, that like Christ whose public ministry is accompanied with miracles his Church also in her public ministry is accompanied with various miracles. No any other religion in the world can claim miracles that are far more superior than the miracles that occurred in the Catholic Church.

Spirituality - Spirituality is an important aspect of man, it is through spirituality that he establishes an intimate relationship with God. Without proper form of spirituality it is impossible to build a deep relationship with our creator. God wanted us to build a relationship with him but we have to do it in a way that he wants it to be. People from other religions search in the shadows in an attempt to connect with God but their efforts are in vain because they are performing forms of spirituality that had its origin in man and not God. The Catholic faith has many forms of spirituality that will aid the individual in attaining a relationship with God. The saints are the prime example of how effective Catholic spirituality is. The Rosary is a favorite of the saints because it entails them to meditate on the life and passion of Jesus Christ as they recite the mysteries of the Holy Rosary. Novenas to the different saints and angels are also an effective form of spirituality through this ritual we establishes a relationship with our brothers and sisters already in heaven invoking their aid through their intercession that we too might also join them in God's Kingdom. Spirituality also fosters devotion to the Holy Eucharist, all of the saints have great devotion to the Holy Eucharist, one cannot become a saint if the Eucharist is not the center of his spirituality.

Here are some of the reasons why the Catholic faith is beautiful, the externals of the Catholic faith that captured our senses are emanates from the inner beauty of the Catholic faith. In reality words are not enough to elucidate the beauty and splendor of the Catholic faith.

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