Monday, 5 September 2016
Why Be Catholic (2)
BE CATHOLIC BECAUSE CATHOLICISM MAKES SENSE OF LIFE, SUFFERING AND DEATH
None of us is free of suffering in this world. Whether we believe in a loving God or not we all have trials and tribulations in life, and all of us will ultimately die. Catholicism may not make these tribulations and death easier to get through, but it does provide an understanding of them and give a purpose to them beyond the random chance with which the atheist must content Himself.
[a] Catholics believe suffering and death came into the world by the hand of the devil who, by tempting man to self-rule, turned man away from God who alone is life, happiness and peace. It was by turning us to self and away from God and His life, happiness and peace that the devil brought us all the opposites to God: sorrow, suffering and death (Gen.3v1-19); with all the sickness, suffering and tragedies that now invade our lives. Christ entered suffering and death with us so as to rise again for us, and make of them a new path to eternal life, happiness and peace through Him.
[b] We believe that when people suffer serious illness no effort is to be spared to bring about relief from anxiety and pain -but without killing the person (we are to eliminate problems, not people). Those who suffer in any way, health or social oppression, are seen as sharing in the cross of Christ and as such, bringing great graces into the world that help and sustain us all. As St Paul says, we make up in our flesh that which is lacking in Christ’s afflictions (Col.1v24). What lacks is nothing intrinsic to His sufferings, but our participation in them, so that by sharing His Good Friday we can also share His Easter Sunday.
[c] On the Person of God, while Hollywood says “The Force be with you”, Catholics say “The Lord be with you”, for we know the living life-force of the universe to be the Living God. Further, the Living Life-Force (whom we call ‘God’ for want of a better word) has told us He is a Trinity: one God in three equal Persons; God the Father; God the Son and God the Holy Spirit (Matthew 28v19). Each of these Persons is fully God, a bit like an equilateral triangle has three equal sides -only in God each Person is the complete God whereas in the triangle each side is not the whole triangle.
[d] Catholics believe the God the Son became one of us -became Jesus Christ- (Jn 1v1-4; 11) so that by dying with us then rising for us, He could make death the door to Heaven for all who will follow Him (Jn1v12).
[e] We believe Jesus Christ is God because He claimed to be God (John.5v23 & 10v30) and proved it by rising from the dead. We believe in His Resurrection from the dead because those who witnessed it (His disciples) died torturous deaths rather than deny it.
We believe that Christians on earth, the holy souls in Purgatory and the saints in Heaven (Rev.7v9;14) form the ‘Mystical Body of Christ’ (Rom,12v4-5), those in heaven being ‘a great cloud of witnesses’ spurring us on (Heb.11v39-12v1) and praying for us (Rev.7v14).
[f] We believe the Supreme Saint is the Blessed Virgin Mary, for she is
the enemy of the devil (Gen.3v15);
the Mother God in His Human Incarnation (Lk.1v43);
sinless (Immaculate) from her conception in her mother’s womb: full of grace (Lk.1v28);
the spiritual mother of Christ’s disciples (Jn.19v27; Rev.12v17)
our intercessor (Jn.2v3);
blessed above all women (Lk.1v41)
and Queen of Heaven (Rev.12v1 -it was always the mother of Israel’s kings who reigned as their Queen, 1 Kings 2:10-25, not one of their [many!] wives).
[g] We believe in Heaven and Hell because Christ spoke of them (Matt.25v46), and because there has to be a place in eternity for those who have chosen God and for those who have rejected God.
[h] Heaven is the enjoyment of God’s eternal life, love, happiness and peace; hell is all opposites: a situation of eternal hatred, turmoil and despair. That said, we believe God does not ‘send anyone to hell’; those who go to Hell are those who reject God by choosing to live contrary to His Ten Commandments. God’s judgement is the ratification of a decision they made by their ‘lifestyle choices’ -their refusal to conform their character to His.
[i] We believe grace is the indwelling of God in the human soul (1,Jn.2v24); that it is an intimate, spiritual union with Him. Grace is built by the Sacraments, prayer, purity and good deeds; sin is built by self-direction and by ungodly entertainments which feed the mind on promiscuity, vulgarity, violence, the occult etc. Prayer is essential because it is our conversation with God: we cannot be on good terms with someone to whom we do not speak.