Monday, February 15, 2010

Things I've heard Recently

This past week I had the pleasure of hearing two great one-liners. It never ceases to amaze me that I never hear just one cool thing, it's always more than one. Maybe it's because I hear something interesting and it makes me more aware of what others around me are saying. Suddenly I hear great lines from all over the place! Great one-liners are meant to be shared, so here they are.

Last Monday I was at an event called Theology on Tap. It's a discussion geared toward Catholic young adults (though anyone is welcome) and held in a local bar one night a week for several weeks (about 6 usually). So the speaker last Monday was talking about conversion, specifically his story of conversion to the Catholic Church. At one point he was talking about the typical stumbling blocks for non-Catholic Christians who have an interest in learning more about the Church. He mentioned Mary, but he didn't feel that this was a stumbling block for him; he mentioned the Eucharist, but again didn't feel that this was a stumbling block for him; and he mentioned the authority of the Pope, which again he felt he came around to accepting that part of the Church fairly quickly. That's when he said this great one-liner:

"You can't have unity without authority."

I never thought about it like that before!! It was such a simple way of putting it. And it's so true. Christ left us ONE Church. He did not want 30 million churches (or however many it is) independent from each other. He did not want disagreements in beliefs to cause people to break away from a church they disagreed with in order to start a new church. Christ said to Peter: "upon this rock I will build my Church" (Mt 16:18-19). The "rock" was Peter (whose Aramaic name means rock), our first Pope, and the apostles were our first Bishops, who passed the Word of God on to those who followed them and so on down the line to today. In order for us to remain one Church we need that authority, someone in charge, someone to make the hard decisions, and that someone is the Pope and our Bishops.

We need Authority in order to be "ONE, holy, catholic, and apostolic church" (notice "catholic" is lower-case, meaning "universal" here). Such a nice succinct way of putting it: "you can't have unity without authority."

The second great one-liner of the week was something I heard on the radio. We were in the car going somewhere and listening to Catholic Answers Live, a nationally syndicated program from EWTN. Someone called in to ask a question about Eucharistic miracles. I don't remember the question so much but I remember one part of the answer:

"Eucharistic miracles are like the whipped cream on top of the faith."

Catholics should get that! Don't get it? Keep reading, I'll explain.

Catholics believe that during the consecration of the bread and wine during the Mass the substances of bread and wine do in fact become the body and blood of Christ. They are not mere symbols (as some Christians believe) nor are they still just bread and wine until you consume them (as some other Christians believe). In the Catholic Church they become the actual body and blood of Christ on the altar and remain that way. As a result, we treat it very carefully and we save any extras in a tabernacle to be used at a later time. This is the sacred body and blood of Christ himself.

Now you may ask, where does this belief some from?? That's easy! My favorite section of the Bible!! John chapter 6, the Bread of Life Discourse. In particular I point you to John 6:22-35. Here Jesus tells his followers that they must partake of the Bread of Life to have eternal life. Eternal life!! Wow, they say, how can we get some of this! And Jesus says, "I am the bread of life." Jesus explains this further in vs. 36-40. Then in vs. 41 the Jews grumble about this. If Jesus did not intend for them to actualy partake in Him as the Bread of Life, he had a chance here to explain that he was speaking symbolically. But he does not, so He explains it all again (John 6:43-51). Again the Jews quarrel about this, it is just too hard to understand! He can't possibly be talking about actually eating His body, can he? So Jesus explains once more in John 6:53-58, and He doesn't change His story. Finally, His disciples say to him, "This saying is hard; who can accept it?" (John 6:60). I love how Jesus then says to them in vs. 61, "Does this shock you?" Yes, I'm sure it did, as it still shocks people today! He explains again in the following verses and He still does not change His story, He is not speaking symbolically. Finally, in John 6:66 we read, "As a result of this, many [of] his disciples returned to their former way of life and no longer accompanied him."

Wow!! It was such a hard concept that many disciples left him! They just couldn't follow that teaching. Now, if Jesus was actually speaking symbolically, I think he had several opportunities to explain himself, three according to my count, and he could have called those disciples that left Him back. But He did not. He intended for the bread and wine to indeed become His body and blood and for us to partake of His body and blood. How amazing that we have that in the Catholic Church!!

So there have been lots of Eucharistic miracles throughout the ages. I've heard stories of priests who started doubting that what they held in their hands was the Body of Christ only to have it turn into actual flesh. I've heard stories of consecrated hosts bleeding, several of those have been scientifically studied and proven to be human blood. The amazing thing about those miracles is that, for those that have been tested, they are always the same blood type and one that is very common among the people of the Middle East. (I forget what it is.) There are lots and lots of these miracles on record. I find it hard to not believe in the True Presence in the Eucharist when I read these stories.

Getting to the one-liner I heard: "Eucharistic miracles are like the whipped cream on top of the faith." This is such a great way of saying that belief in those miracles is fine, but the real miracle is the one Jesus gave us in the Eucharist. This is like icing on the cake, or whipped cream on a sundae. It's already good, great even, this is just a little something extra.

Two very cool one-liners about the Catholic faith this past week. I hope you enjoy them too. I'm going to keep my ears tuned for more great one-liners I can share.

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