Tuesday, August 17, 2010

An attempt to clear up some of the many misunderstandings I've been informed of recently, for those interested:
...The Eucharist ("bread from Heaven") is the spiritual equivalent to Manna, the "bread from Heaven" in the Old Testament/Torah, which served to sustain the flesh; the Eucharist serves to sustain the soul (that is, to keep it full of joy and to give us strength to live up to God's expectations so that we grow in joy and spread joy among others). The Eucharistic miracles coupled with the creation of Saints, who were able to remain joyful even while being tortured, support this fact. The Old Testament/Torah involves life on earth (Israel) and the New Testament involves life in eternity (Heaven; the spiritual aspect of our existence).
Because we are made up of body and spirit, this body and spirit theme that runs throughout the Old Testament/Torah and the New Testament makes sense. To name a few more:

(1) The wood from the tree in the Garden of Eden has a connection to the wood of the cross in the New Testament in that the cross redeemed the mistake surrounding the wood in the Garden of Eden in the Old Testament;

(2) The "10 commandments" and their connection to Israel (which involve life on earth) are like the "8 beatitudes" in the New Testament which have a connection to Heaven (which involves the spirit aspect of our lives);

(3) Christ, a 33 year old perfectly lived life/free of sin became the Passover lamb; since Christ was a sacrifice for the sins of the world (until the end of time), it makes sense that a 33 year old divine individual, without sin, was necessary to be sacrificed given the amount of sins he covered in order to balance the scales of justice- one pure lamb isn't sufficient for the sins of mankind. In the New Testament, we also read that the Romans pierced Christ's side while he was on the cross, to make sure he was dead, and that water followed the last drop of blood in him. This meant that he was literally, a perfect sacrifice; there was no blood left in his body. He shed every ounce of it, which is evidenced by the fact that water followed the last drop;

(4) Eve's (a non-virgin) "no" to God's will in the Torah/Old Testament became the Blessed Mother's/Mary's (a virgin) "yes" in the New Testament;

(5) The manner in which Adam (a non-virgin) used his free will in the Torah/Old Testament led to original sin... the same original sin that Christ's (a virgin) free will in the New Testament was used to redeem, etc.

(6) Synagogues and Catholic churches are set up the same way

(7) Brit Milah = Sacrament of Baptism

(8) Bat/Bar Mitzvah = Sacrament of Confirmation

(9) In the Torah/Old Testament, when someone inadvertently touched the ark, they died on the spot; in the New Testament, when crowds of people pushed, shoved, pulled and touched Jesus, rather than drop dead on the spot, they were healed.

A sacrifice was necessary due to our imperfect nature; we offend God throughout the day, but what's interesting is that offending God means offending ourselves and other people, whether our conduct results in an increase of broken hearts, hurt feelings, anger, jealousy, etc-- God wishes for us not to feel these feelings, ever, and this is why we're warned against conduct we all enjoy engaging in, but that of which ultimately proves to leave someone sad, hurt, angry, jealous, etc.
Christ said that our inclination to "sin" makes us ill/sick, because sins prevent us from spreading only love among one another; that is, love that doesn't create issues among one another. Very often we confuse genuine love with a selfish need for something.
With this in mind, it begs the following questions:
(1) Is God not great enough to give us physical means in our physical world for us (to choose) to take advantage of, to give us the strength to grow in selflessness and stay away from the things that prove to hurt us and other people?; and
(2) Is God not loving enough to give us those means, when he knows that our inclination to sin hurts us and others? No, of course not. Unfortunately, and I say this with all due love and respect, if we consider the amount of practicing Catholics we know (those who attend both regular Confession and Mass), it explains why more genuine love isn't spreading among one another; if we don't use the means God has so clearly given it's difficult for us to help contribute to the spread of selfless/sincere love among others.
We know that we can't grow to be purely lovingly selfless people on our own ("agape" is the term used for this level of love, which is the love God has for us); generally, it isn't our nature. In order to grow in "good works" built on a selfless love for one another, we need grace from God- if this weren't true, we wouldn't have as many problems among one another; problems among us begin with an individual's heart-- if we're feeling negative emotions, those feelings control our conduct in some way-- unless we've mastered the art of controlling ourselves perfectly, which isn't possible. Do we know anyone who smiles and proceeds to lend a helping hand within seconds after they've been provoked? I can't say that I do. This type of behavior doesn't seem natural for anybody.
Now Christ said he wouldn't leave us orphans; that is what the sacraments of Confession and the Eucharist ("bread from Heaven") are for. When used together, they are designed to give us the grace to be kinder toward one another, and to give us the strength not to miss the things we all enjoy doing but that prove not to be beneficial for ourselves and for others; the more we take advantage of them, the more joyful we become; they were also designed as a physical means in our physical world that offer people a means to remain consistently joyful. Clearly, they were designed out of love. If we find ourselves dreading Mass, we just haven't been taught that Mass was designed to serve as a "happy fix" for us. We aren't doing God any favors by going to Mass. Instead, He does us a favor by creating a means for us to access joy everyday. Missing Mass is said to be sinful because it's a deliberate "no" to the joy God is so willing to give. While we may use our free will as we wish, we are asked to use it in ways that will allow us to remain joyful in this life.
Further, even when we believe we're fulfilled, it is often short lived; we don't feel entirely fulfilled no matter what we're doing or what we've done. As CS Lewis wisely noted "If I discover within myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world."
Because God is perfectly good and just, when we do things that aren't perfectly good, we aren't choosing God. Because of this, coupled with the fact that God is justice itself (unjust things aren't "good," and thus, aren't coming from an all good and loving being), we don't deserve eternal joy in Heaven with God when this life is over. But God, being our savior and in order to remain who He is (a perfectly "just"/fair being), sent Christ as a sacrifice in order to balance out the scales of justice, so that our mistakes don't end up separating us from God, the source of goodness, for eternity.
It is clear that God's laws weren't designed to "burden our free will" (if that were true, we wouldn't have been given free will), or to add obligations to our already long list of them. God is not limited by time (the sciences reveal that time had a beginning), and as a result, it's safe to trust that He knows best what we should embrace and avoid in order to live in peace among one another. Because God is superior to us in nature, we can trust that there is no manipulation in our relationship with Him, but instead, only infinite love that He is always willing to give-- the problem is, we don't want His love as much as He wants to give it. We see God's love over and over again in the bible (and those who have heard that the Torah/Old Testament presents an angry God must read the context before proceeding in false belief; every emotion in connection to God was a result of His everlasting, Fatherly love for the Jewish people), but consider why God gave the Jewish people the 10 commandments. He gave them commandments out of love, to teach them how to live in peace among one another.
For those who believe God has abandoned us, we should consider that we have free will, and that He doesn't force Himself on us- we can choose to get to know Him or not-- to know Him is to adore Him, and those who seek him sincerely will find Him (Jeremiah 29:13).

Last, but certainly not least, it is through the Jewish people that we are made aware of these things. Much thanks and love to and for them, always.