Pope Benedict: Christ Founded The Church In Order To Bring Answers To All Mankind
contemporary Christendom, the notion that we need nothing but to know Jesus, read the Bible (sola scriptura; i.e., Scripture as the sole rule of faith) and pray is common. While the necessity of the Church is evident in what has been written above, it is also helpful to look at the Church from the human perspective. That is, what does the Church have to do with humanity and with living the life of a human being?
We Understand What It Means To Live As A Human Person Through The Church
As our Holy Father stated, our Lord and Savior founded the Church in order to, among other things, bring answers "to all mankind." Those answers include the truth about the human person, of which, given the effects of Original Sin and the fall of mankind, we are in dire need. Due to the sin of grave disobedience committed by our first parents (please read CCC articles 385-412), human nature is wounded; i.e., we suffer from concupiscence (the tendency to sin), the human intellect is darkened, the will is weakened (akrasia), and we are deprived of sanctifying grace (sanctifying grace is infused into the soul by God via Baptism and the other sacraments of the Church; it is the gift of participation in God's own supernatural life). That means, humanity is in a position of urgent need of truth, fortitude, forgiveness, grace and salvation. God offers through the Church not only the answers to the many questions we have about ourselves, but also the definitive solutions to our most pressing needs.
Through the Church of Jesus Christ, we learn of our Savior and the salvation he offers to all; we hear the words of truth and receive the sacraments of life; and we come to know and understand our human story. To listen to the Church is, then, to listen to what God has said about the reality of the human person and the reality in which humanity lives. The full truth of the human person, our origin, purpose, desires and goals, how we are to live in right moral relationship to the Creator, our destiny and our end, what it means to be an authentic disciple of Jesus Christ -- all of these and more -- is revealed in their full light through the Catholic Church.
Humankind, then, cannot know the full truth about God or about itself as God intended in isolation of the teaching of the Church. The dictum Amor veritatis est amor Ecclesiae, "love of truth is love of the Church," expresses the fact that we come to know the truth about ourselves, and the truth about Christ, which sets us free, through the Church. To willfully ignore or reject the teaching of the Church, is to be ignorant of the deposit of faith given by Christ to the apostles under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, which in turn is passed on to the Church by apostolic succession. Such a situation places one in ignorance of the "content of faith," as Pope Benedict phrased it in speaking to the bishops of France:
"One of the most formidable obstacles to our pastoral mission is ignorance of the content of faith. Indeed, this is a dual form of ignorance: the ignorance of Jesus Christ as a person and ignorance of the sublime nature of His teachings, of their universal and permanent value in the search for the meaning of life and happiness" (Benedict qtd. from Vatican Information Service).
Every single human person desires happiness. Ultimately, that is what being Catholic is about: it is about living the sacramental life of spiritual joy in the womb of the Church as a member of the divine family. In such a sublime life, we enter into the heaven of "now but not yet" as we are swept up into the very life of the Holy Trinity. There, in the arms of God, we are fitted with the best robe; a ring is placed on our hand and shoes on our feet (Lk 15:22). With great delight we sit in the shadow of the Beloved and taste his sweet fruit, for he has brought us into the banqueting house and covered us with his divine banner of gracious love (cf. Song of Solomon 2:3-4), that we may become one with his Body and share everlasting life with him.
F. K. Bartels is a Catholic writer who knows his Catholic Faith is one of the greatest gifts a man could ever receive. He is a contributing writer for Catholic Online. Visit him also at joyintruth.com
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Pope Benedict XVI's Prayer Intentions for January 2013
General Intention: The Faith of Christians. That in this Year of Faith Christians may deepen their knowledge of the mystery of Christ and witness joyfully to the gift of faith in him.
Missionary Intention: Middle Eastern Christians. That the Christian communities of the Middle East, often discriminated against, may receive from the Holy Spirit the strength of fidelity and perseverance.
Keywords: Pope Benedict XVI, France ad limina, the Catholic Church, Church, the fullness of truth, deposit of faith, the importance of the Church, truth about the human person, human nature, nature of person, F. K. Bartels
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