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WHY CONFESSION? – SIN IS AN OFFENCE AGAINST GOD, AND ALSO DAMAGES ONE’S COMMUNION WITH CHRIST’S BODY, THE CHURCH, OF WHICH CHRIST IS THE HEAD

WHY CONFESSION? – SIN IS AN OFFENCE AGAINST GOD, AND ALSO DAMAGES ONE’S COMMUNION WITH CHRIST’S BODY, THE CHURCH, OF WHICH CHRIST IS THE HEAD

VI. 1440. Sin is before all else an offence against God, a rupture of communion with him. At the same time it damages communion with the Church. For this reason conversion entails both God’s forgiveness and reconciliation with the Church, which are expressed and accomplished liturgically by the sacrament of Penance and Reconciliation.

Only God forgives sin

1441. Only God forgives sins. (Mk 2:7) Since he is the Son of God, Jesus says of himself, “The Son of man has authority on earth to forgive sins” and exercises this divine power: “Your sins are forgiven.” (Mk 2:5, 10; Lk 7:48) Further, by virtue of his divine authority he gives this power to men to exercise in his name. (cf. Jn 20:21-23)

1442. Christ has willed that in her prayer and life and action his whole Church should be a sign and instrument of the forgiveness and reconciliation that he acquired for us at the price of his blood. But he entrusted the exercise of the power of absolution to the apostolic ministry which he charged with the “ministry of reconciliation.” (2Cor 5:18) The apostle is sent out “on behalf of Christ” with “God making his appeal” through him and pleading: “Be reconciled to God.” (2Cor 5:20)

Reconciliation with the Church

1443. During his public life Jesus not only forgave sins, but also made plain the effect of this forgiveness: he reintegrated forgiven sinners into the community of the People of God from which sin had alienated or even excluded them. A remarkable sign of this is the fact that Jesus receives sinners at his table, a gesture that expresses in an astonishing way both God’s forgiveness and the return to the bosom of the People of God. (cf. Lk15; 19:9)

1444. In imparting to his apostles his own power to forgive sins the Lord also gives them the authority to reconcile sinners with the Church. The ecclesial dimension of their task is expressed most notably in Christ’s solemn words to Simon Peter: “I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.” (Mt16:19; cf. Mt 18:18; 28:16-20) The office of binding and loosing which was given to Peter was also assigned to the college of the apostles united to its head. (LG 22 para 2)

1445. The words bind and loose mean: whomever you exclude from your communion, will be excluded from communion with God; whomever you receive anew into your communion, God will welcome back into his. Reconciliation with the Church is inseparable from reconciliation with God.

The sacrament of forgiveness

1446. Christ instituted the sacrament of Penance for all sinful members of his Church: above all for those who, since Baptism, have fallen into grave sin, and have thus lost their baptismal grace and wounded ecclesial communion. It is to them that the sacrament of Penance offers a new possibility to convert and to recover the grace of justification. The Fathers of the Church present this sacrament as “the second plank [of salvation] after the shipwreck which is the loss of grace.” (Tertullian, De Pænit. 4, 2: PL 1, 1343; cf. Council of Trent (1547): DS 1542.

– From: The Catechism of the Catholic Church

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WHAT IS THE PRINCIPLE OF LIFE, THE SECRET ORIGIN OF EXISTENCE?

One and the same unseen spiritual principle

“This then is the special glory of the Christian Church, that its members do not depend merely on what is visible, they are not mere stones of a building, piled one on another, and bound together from without, but they are one and all the births and manifestations of one and the same unseen spiritual principle or power, ‘living stones’, internally connected, as branches from a tree, not as parts of a heap. They are members of the Body of Christ. That divine and adorable form, which the Apostles saw and handled, after ascending into heaven became a principle of life, a secret origin of existence to all who believe, through the gracious ministration of the Holy Ghost… So that in a true sense it may be said, that from the day of Pentecost to this hour there has been in the Church but one Holy One, the King of kings, and Lord of lords himself, who is in all believers, and through whom they are what they are; their separate persons being but as separate developments, vessels, instruments, and works of him who is invisible.”

(Bl. John Henry Newman; from ‘We are members of Christ and members one of another’, P.S. IV, 170)

 

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“TAKE A LARGE VIEW OF THE FAITH OF CHRISTIANS BEFORE CONSTANTINE ESTABLISHED THEIR RELIGION”

“Take a large view of the faith of Christians during the centuries before Constantine established their religion. Is there any family likeness in it to Protestantism? Look at it as existing during that period in different countries, and is it not one and the same, and a reiteration of itself, as well as singularly unlike Reformed Christianity? Hermas with his visions, Ignatius with his dogmatism, Irenaeus with his praise of tradition and of the Roman See, Clement with his allegory and mysticism, Cyprian with his ‘Out of the Church is no salvation’, and Methodius with his praise of virginity, all of them writers between the first and fourth centuries, and witnesses of the faith of Rome, Africa, Gaul, Asia Minor, Syria, and Egypt, certainly do not represent the opinions of Luther and Calvin. They stretch over the whole of Christendom; they are consistent with each other; they coalesce into one religion; but it is not the religion of the Reformation.
– Bl. John Henry Newman; The Catholic Church is fundamentally unchanged. H.S. I, 402-3

“[In] the Catholic Church … I recognised at once a reality which was quite a new thing with me. Then I was [aware] that I was not making for myself a Church by an effort of thought; I needed not to make an act of faith in her; I had not painfully to force myself into a position, but my mind fell back upon itself in relaxation and in peace, and I gazed at her almost passively as a great objective fact. I looked at her; – at her rites, her ceremonial, and her precepts; and I said, ‘This IS a religion’.”
– Cardinal Newman’s reaction on becoming a Catholic. Apo., 339-40

 

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THE BIBLE AND THE LITURGY OF HOLY MASS OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH

IN THE HOLY CHURCH, MASS IS CELEBRATED EVERY WEEKDAY AT LEAST ONCE, APART FROM THE SATURDAY EVENING (VIGIL) MASS AND SUNDAY MASSES. THE LITURGY IS THE SAME ALL OVER THE WORLD, IN LATIN OR THE VERNACULAR, BECAUSE WE PRAISE GOD IN UNITY AS ONE BODY COMPOSED OF MEMBERS. APART FROM AT LEAST THREE BIBLE READINGS WHICH VARY FROM DAY TO DAY, BELOW IS THE ORDER OF THE MASS CELEBRATED EACH DAY.

“Scripture in the order of the Mass:

Nearly everything we say at Mass has its roots in Sacred Scripture… Catholics quote scripture all the time, and their actions are deeply scriptural. After all, scripture flowed out of the early Church. The Church came first, the New Testament and the canon of scripture second.

THE ORDER OF MASS:

Greeting

Priest: In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. (Matt. 28:19)
People: Amen (1 Chr 16:36)
Priest: The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all. (2 Cor 13:13)
People: And with your spirit.

Liturgy of the Word

Penitential Rite

All: I confess to almighty God and to you, my brothers and sisters, that I have greatly sinned, (Jas 5:16) in my thoughts and in my words (Jas 3:6) in what I have done and in what I have failed to do, (Rom. 12:16) through my fault, through my fault, through my most grievous fault; therefore I ask blessed Mary ever-Virgin, all the Angels and Saints, and you, my brothers and sisters, to pray for me to the Lord our God.(1Thess 5:25)

Priest: May almighty God have mercy on us, forgive us our sins, and bring us to everlasting life. (1 John 1:9)

People: Amen (1 Chr 16:36)

All: Lord have mercy. (Tb 8:4) Christ have mercy. (1 Tim 1:2) Lord have mercy.

Gloria

All: Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to people of good will. (Luke 2:14)
We praise you, we bless you, we adore you, we glorify you,
we give you thanks for your great glory, (Rev 7:12)
Lord God, heavenly King, O God, almighty Father (Rev 19:6)
Lord Jesus Christ, Only Begotten Son, (2 John 3)Lord God, Lamb of God, Son of the Father, you take away the sins of the world, have mercy on us; (John 1:29) you take away the sins of the world, receive our prayer; you are seated at the right hand of the Father, have mercy on us. (Rom 8:34) For you alone are the Holy One, (Luke 4:34)
you alone are the Lord, you alone are the Most High, Jesus Christ, (Luke 1:32) with the Holy Spirit, in the glory of God the Father, Amen (John 14:26)

[The Liturgy of the Word consists of four readings from Scripture: the first is typically from the Old Testament, the second a psalm, followed by a reading from one of the epistles. Finally, the Gospel is proclaimed during which the people stand out of respect for the Word. The chosen readings change daily.]

A Sermon on the readings follows. (2 Tim 4:1-2)

Profession of Faith:

All: I believe in one God, the Father Almighty, maker of heaven and earth, (Gen 14:19) of all things visible and invisible. (Col 1:16) I believe in one Lord Jesus Christ, the only Begotten Son of God, (Luke 1:35) born of the Father before all ages, God from God, Light from Light, True God from True God, begotten not made, consubstantial with the Father; (Heb 1:3) through him all things were made. (John 1:2-3) For us men and for our salvation he came down from heaven: (John 3:13) and by the power of the Holy Spirit he was incarnate of the Virgin Mary, (Matt 1:18) and became man. For our sake he was crucified under Pontius Pilate, (John 19:16) he suffered death and was buried, and rose again on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures. (1 Cor 15:3-4) He ascended into heaven (Luke 24:51) and is seated at the right hand of the Father. (Col 3:1) He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead (2 Tim 4:1) and his kingdom will have no end. (Luke 1:33) I believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of Life, (Acts 2:17) who proceeds from the Father and the Son, (John 14:16) who with the Father and Son is worshiped and glorified. He has spoken through the prophets. (1 Peter 1:10-11) I believe in one holy, catholic and apostolic Church. (Rom 12:5) I confess one baptism for the forgiveness of sins (Acts 2:38) and I look forward to the resurrection of the dead and the life of the world to come. (Rom 6:5) Amen

Liturgy of the Eucharist

[The gifts are brought to the altar. These include the bread and wine and the offering collected from the people.] (Malachi 3:10)

Priest: Blessed are you, Lord, God of all creation. Through your goodness we have this bread to offer, which earth has given and human hands have made. (Eccl. 3:13) It will become for us the bread of life. (John 6:35)
People: Blessed be God forever. (Ps 68:36)
Priest: Blessed are you, Lord, God of all creation. Through your goodness we have this wine to offer, fruit of the vine and work of human hands. It will become our spiritual drink. (Luke 22:17-18)
People: Blessed be God forever. (Ps 68:36)
Priest: Pray, brethren, that our sacrifice may be acceptable to God, the almighty Father. (Heb. 12:28)
People: May the Lord accept the sacrifice at your hands for the praise and glory of his name, for our sake and the good of all his holy Church. (Ps 50:23)
Priest: The Lord be with you.
People: And with your spirit.
Priest: Lift up your hearts.
People: We lift them up to the Lord. (Lam 3:41)
Priest: Let us give thanks to the Lord our God. (Col 3:17)
People: It is right and just. (Col 1:3)

Preface Acclamation

All: Holy, holy, holy Lord, God of hosts. Heaven and earth are full of your glory. (Is 6:3) Hosanna in the highest. Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord. Hosanna in the highest. (Mark 11:9-10)

Eucharistic prayer [There are four of these, based on ancient prayers of the Church. Eucharistic Prayer Two follows as an example:]

Priest: You are Holy indeed, O Lord the fount of all holiness. (2 Macc. 14:36) Make holy, therefore, these gifts, we pray, by sending down your Spirit upon them like the dewfall, so that they may become the body and blood of our Lord Jesus Christ. At the time he was betrayed and entered willingly into his Passion (John 10:17-18) he took bread and, giving thanks, broke it, and gave it to his disciples, saying: Take this all of you, and eat of it: For this is my body which will be given up for you. In a similar way, when supper was ended, he took the chalice and, once more giving thanks, he gave the it to his disciples, saying: Take this, all of you, and drink from it: For this is the chalice of my blood, the blood of the new and eternal covenant. Which will be poured out for you and for many for the forgiveness of sins. Do this is memory of me. (Mark 14:22-25) Let us proclaim the mystery of faith.
All: When we eat this Bread and drink this Cup, we proclaim your Death, O Lord, until you come again. (1Cor 11:26)
Priest: Therefore, as we celebrate the memorial of his Death and Resurrection, we offer you, Lord, the Bread of life and the Chalice of salvation, (John 6:51) giving thanks that you have held us worthy to be in your presence and minister to you. Humbly we pray that, partaking of the Body and Blood of Christ, we may be gathered into one by the Holy Spirit. (1 Cor.10:17) Remember, Lord, your Church spread throughout the world; bring her to the fullness of charity, together with our Pope and our bishop, and all the clergy. Remember our brothers and sisters who have fallen asleep and all who have died in your mercy: welcome them into the light of your face. (2 Macc 12:45-46) Have mercy on us all, we pray, that with the blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of God, with the apostles and with all the saints who have pleased you throughout the ages, may we merit to be co-heirs to eternal life, and may praise and glorify you through your Son, Jesus Christ. (2 Thes 1:4-5) Through him, with him, in him, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, all glory and honor is yours, almighty Father, for ever and ever.

All: Amen. (Rom 11:36)

Communion Rite

The Lord’s Prayer:

All: Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread and forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. (Matt 6:9-13)

Priest: Deliver us, Lord, we pray, from every evil, graciously grant peace in our days that by the help of your mercy, we may be always free from sin and safe from all distress, as we await the blessed hope and the coming of our Saviour, Jesus Christ. (John 17:15)

All: For the kingdom the power and the glory are yours, now and forever. Amen

Priest: Lord Jesus Christ, you said to your apostles; I leave you peace, my peace I give to you. (John 14:27) Look not on our sins, but on the faith of your Church, and grant us the peace and unity of your kingdom where you live forever and ever.

Priest: The peace of the Lord be with you always! (John 20:19)

People: And with your spirit!

[The priest then directs the people to exchange a sign, such as a handshake or a kiss, or a word of God’s peace to one another.]

Breaking of the Bread

All: Lamb of God, you take away the sins of the world: have mercy on us. Lamb of God, you take away the sins of the world: have mercy on us. Lamb of God, you take away the sins of the world, grant us peace. (John 1:29)

Communion

Priest: Behold the Lamb of God, behold him who takes away the sins of the world. Blessed are those who are called to the supper of the Lamb. (Rev. 19:9)

People: Lord, I am not worthy that you should enter under my roof, but only say the word and my soul shall be healed. (Matt 8:8)

[Communion is distributed to the faithful at the altar by the priest
and lay ministers.]

Dismissal

Priest: Blessed be the name of the Lord. Now and forever. (Dan 2:20) May almighty God bless you, the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit. (Luke 24:51) Go in peace (Luke 7:50) to love and serve the Lord. (2 Chr 35:3) [During the blessing the people make the Sign of the Cross, the traditional sign of the baptized and a public sign of their belief in the power of God.]
People: Thanks be to God. (2 Cor 9:15)”
– by Trisha Thacker

 
 

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THE CHURCH, THE MYSTICAL BODY OF CHRIST

“…[T]he Church is clearly not being considered as coming from an aggregative natural process, but as being ‘an aggregation directed and determined by grace.”

THE CHURCH, THE PEOPLE OF GOD

“‘You shall be my people,’ we read in Lev 26:12. The ancient people of God were constituted through the blood of sacrificial victims; as such the new people of God, the Church, was born of the blood of the Lamb, sacramentally sacrificed on Holy Thursday and effectively sacrificed the next day upon the hill of Calvary. This theological language which depicts the Church as the people of God is neither strange, nor unfounded, nor poetic. It is biblical.

IT IS BIBLICAL

The Old Testament speaks of the ‘people of Yahweh’ and by this indicates that people which was singled out in a unique way in preference to all other peoples. A special, divine election descended upon this people and it is precisely for this reason that they are said to be OF GOD.

But the new election and covenant characterise the Incarnation of the Word and His work whereby He generated a new people, the Church, as the new people of God. This ‘people of God’ was no longer a people chosen among many; it was not a tribe or a nation; rather it was the immense family made up of all those whom God had called to follow Him through choosing them from every race, language and culture.

Rising to such a dignity, this people, considered generically, is not just a random assembly of persons, but is that people brought into unity upon the axis of a common origin, language and goal. The consciousness of their proper origins being in Christ, their proper language and law being that of fraternal love, and their common destination as being eternity are the basis of being the new people of God.

Furthermore, this name must be rightly. Understood. There is a specifying complement – ‘of God’ – which infinitely transcends the particular notion – ‘people.’ The accent, therefore, should not fall upon the notion, but upon the defining adjective. Readily, then, one grasps that the formula ‘people of God’ does not present to us a natural aggregative process, but an aggregation which is directed and determined by grace.

Thus in order to understand what the Church is, one has to look not so much at the concept of ‘people’ as to the specification ‘of God’. It is the latter which takes the vague notion of people and determines it as being in relation to God: from God, in fact, and only from Him the Church is brought forth, gathered and unified. This is the result of a divine initiative which is made concrete in this very special people convoked from all the ends of the earth and across history, a people which is not determinable in a merely sociological key because they are gifted with a pre-eminently and supremely theological relevance.

THE CHURCH, THE MYSTICAL BODY OF CHRIST

The relevance of the Church as the Body of Christ is this: a most unique patristic-theological conception which, firmly rooted in the New Testament (and markedly so by the Apostle Paul) represents the Church not only as the Mystical Body of Christ, but even as an unfolding process of identification unto its fullness. Obviously I say ‘fullness’ not to propose the hypothesis of a growth in Christ, who possesses the fullness of the divine life itself, but in reference to the whole of the Christian people who make up Christ’s Body and in whom we find fluctuating the divine presence – stronger in some and weaker in others. An analysis of Col 2:10 and Eph 3:19 clearly shows a growth ‘unto all the fullness of God’ which, while it does not pertain to Christ in Himself, speaks of the fullness of the divine life of Christ in the Church. In so far as she is His Body, she is subject to a relative growth (and can unfortunately also be subject to shrinking due to our sins).

Given this profile, it is important that we never separate Paul’s message about the Church-Body of Christ from his other message – the ‘pleroma’ – which regards the ‘fullness of life’ which is not always reflected upon as it should be (in part due to certain exegetical difficulties). The latter, in fact, crowns the vision of the Church-Body and makes it more comprehensible. The Church, in reality, does not lose any of Her social or institutional constitution, but in actual fact draws Her vital nourishment from Her relationship with Christ and She becomes entirely one in Him, the Head of the Mystical Body. In order to illustrate such a profound unity, the truth of the mystical espousals comes to our aid; from this perspective the Church is seen as the Bride of Christ and the reason for this is drawn from the unity which I mentioned.”
– The above is an excerpt of an article by Brunero Gherardini entitled “Ecclesiological Synthesis” published in “De Vita Contemplativa” (Monthly Magazine for Monasteries) Year VII – Number 3 March 2013.

 
 

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“O PRECIOUS AND WONDERFUL BANQUET, THAT BRINGS US SALVATION AND CONTAINS ALL SWEETNESS!”

NO ONE CAN FULLY EXPRESS THE SWEETNESS OF THIS SACRAMENT…

“Since it was the will of God’s only-begotten Son that human beings should share in His Divinity, He assumed our nature in order that by becoming human He might make humans gods. Moreover, when He took our flesh He dedicated the whole of its substance to our salvation.

He offered His Body to God the Father on the altar of the cross as a sacrifice for our reconciliation. He shed His Blood for our ransom and purification, so that we might be redeemed from our wretched state of bondage and cleansed from all sin.

But to ensure that the memory of so great a gift would abide with us forever, He left His Body as food and His Blood as drink for the faithful to consume in the form of bread and wine. O precious and wonderful banquet, that brings us salvation and contains all sweetness! Could anything be of more intrinsic value? Under the old law it was the flesh of calves and goats that was offered, but here Christ Himself, the true God, is set before us as our food. What could be more wonderful than this?

NO OTHER SACRAMENT HAS GREATER HEALING POWER

No other Sacrament has greater healing power; through it sins are purged away, virtues are increased, and the soul is enriched with an abundance of every spiritual gift. It is offered in the Church for the living and the dead, so that what was instituted for the salvation of all may benefit all.

Yet, in the end, no one can fully express the sweetness of this Sacrament, in which spiritual delight is tasted at its source, and in which we renew the memory of that surpassing love for us which Christ revealed in His Passion.

It was to impress the vastness of this love more firmly upon the hearts of the faithful that our Lord instituted this Sacrament at the Last Supper. As He was on the point of leaving the world to go to the Father, after celebrating the Passover with His disciples, He left it as a perpetual Memorial of His Passion.

It was the fulfilment of ancient figures and the greatest of all His miracles, while for those who were to experience the sorrow of His departure, it was destined to be a unique and abiding consolation.”
– St Thomas Aquinas

 

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