Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Faith 101 or How to Bake A Cake

Today we say au revoir, adios, arrivederci, sayonara, and goodbye to 2008. Tomorrow is the Feast of the Solemnity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Mother of God and the time we ring in 2009. My prayer to all who read this now and each and everyday is that you are blessed with the loving touch of God's grace. This is the day that we get all the recaps of the big events of the past year. When we read of the horrible and not so horrible things that happened. We will reflect on the celebrity, politician, artist,or world leader who passed away, whether tragically or not. One thing that is a common denominator from a plumber to a prince, from a high school student to a nursing home patient, from a rapist to a grandmother, from a soldier to a baby, from friends of mine to friends of yours, there will come a day maybe even in 2009 when somebody will wake up on a given day and end up breathing their last breath on earth. Their eyes will close for one final time and their heart will no longer beat. It will happen to me and it will happen to you. One may be aware its coming and another may have no clue. Death will show up at your doorstep that is a certainty. There is a choice that we all have. There is no escaping this choice. We either believe that when we breathe our last breath that it is over, that we will fade into an abyss of nothingness. We will be like the last page of a good book when the cover is closed. End of story, end of us. Most people on this planet do not think that way. Why is that? Why do we hope? What logical, intellectual reason can you give that explains why we hope? It is a choice and don't give me that agnostic " I don't know" nonsense. You have to believe one way or another, it is like breathing you have to. Anyway, if you are the majority and are hopeful, I would like to make a case for Catholicism. We have to start with some presumptions, first belief in God and next that God became man, and that Jesus Christ was God, and finally that He died for our salvation. Basic premises of Christianity. Now this is what I hear from some believers, "I have a relationship with God, why do I need the Church"? While I don't believe in sola fide, that is, it is faith alone and only faith alone that is necessary for salvation. I do believe in the same vehicle for salvation that the Protestants believe in " we are saved by one and only one thing - God's grace". Contrary to some of your misguided beliefs or misrepresented propaganda, that is what Catholics believe. Salvation cannot be attained without God's help. God gives us the gift of Faith but we are insufficient in of ourselves. But don't despair for Jesus Christ left us the Church. What Church you ask? The one He started and has remain constant since its inception over 2000 years ago. The one that has followed the traditions of the Apostles, the one that most resemble what the Early Church looked like. For any Protestants out there get a copy of any of the Early Church Fathers, Justin Martyr, Ignatius of Antioch, Irenaeus, Clement, and many more and see what beliefs they held. You will find the Mass, the Holy Eucharist as it is today, in the belief in the real presence of Jesus, the priesthood, the universality of the Church, the papacy and on and on. I have thought of this corny analogy while taking my morning walk. Faith is like a cake, or rather the idea of a cake. God has implanted in your heart this idea of a cake. You know the concept of it, you know what it looks like, you may even know what it taste like, what you don't know is how to make it. Salvation is making your own cake. You go to your cupboard and start pulling out ingredients in the hope you can put a cake together. The Church is a Bakery that contains on it's shelf the Divine Cookbook with cake recipes (grace from the Sacraments), the Saints are master chefs, doing good works leads to attaining tips on better cake making, sin is misplacing the cookbook, mortal sin is throwing away the cookbook, confession is ordering a new cookbook. Without the Church you will use too little flour or none at all. Without the Church your cake will be hard as a rock or taste like a pin cushion. Faith (the concept of the cake) is necessary, without it you couldn't make a cake, but your chances of baking one worthy of salvation requires God's grace. The Catholic Church, founded by the Holy Baker Himself , through a sacramental life gives you the means. It is a treasure waiting for you. God Bless.

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