I read in my local Catholic newspaper that 45 years ago this fall, Pope Paul VI created the Nostra Aetate in an attempt to encourage inter-faith dialogue. I read this just in time to remind myself to be very open this semester, as many of the members want me to try their churches just for the experience alone (no conversions as promised haha). I am weary, but if I let this hold me back, what use am I to the Kingdom of God? I need to be willing and excited to open dialogue! As someone said on my comments, they were Protestant in college and by the example of a Catholic peer, they converted. *Not* that I want to convert anyone, that is definitely not my goal. I simply want to bring down the walls between us, as one of them expressed concern with the Catholic dogma. I want to prove their misconceptions wrong and bring them to a level of comfort with other Catholics...that they won't just dismiss us as "wrong".
So one of my friends from the group asked me to prepare a little list as to why I believe certain dogmas, and he would make a list of why he finds them to be false. (and he reads a lot of Reformist literature...something I never even thought to read, so ahh! nervous haha) But the main issue he had was *drum roll* the Eucharist and of course Mary/saints/rosary, but I'll just focus on my questions for you on his question...for...me...hahaha.
Ok! So this young man is concerned that I take the Eucharist as more than a symbol. I started by quoting the mass/Luke 22 "This is my blood, the blood of the new and ever lasting covenant, which will be shed so that sins may be forgiven...do this in memory of me". This alone was not significant to him, he said that the disciples did not take a bite out of God then and there, thus Jesus was not being literal, he did speak in parables after all. This made me think hard, because a lot of the Bible isn't literal. So why this part? All I had was this feeling in my heart that he was severely wrong, and I longed for him to know Jesus in the Eucharist so badly.
This brought me to my next point: If we trust that God made Jesus in the first place, why can't we believe that He can bring Jesus to us in the Eucharist? My friend said that Jesus is risen, no longer on earth, He has no place/business here until the second coming. (This made my flash back to another debate I had with the woman on the boardwalk: my Jesus is raised!)
I think this is where our differences stem on this issue: Is Jesus raised and out of our lives here on earth until the second coming? Does His cross still have relevance in our worship of Him? Or is that not how we should view Him since He conquered death? An old MJ friend would not wear crucifixes because she felt they portrayed Jesus in a way He wasn't anymore.
I was driven nuts by this discussion for hours after it had ended because I wanted to give him a better answer. I just kept singing this song from mass, but didn't pay much attention to it. The next morning I was yet again singing this tune and I was curious as to why I was singing it, so I ran through it again, this time letting the words hit me "When we eat this bread, when we drink this cup, we proclaim your death Lord Jesus, until you come in glory"
Wow moment! I was like, duh that's the answer right? Catholic worship is almost centered entirely on the crucifixion because that passion was the saving act that covered all humanity's sins. Why shouldn't that be a vital aspect? Yes, Christ has been raised, but our sin has not stopped. We all crucified Jesus that day, and continue through further sinning, yet He readily gave Himself up to a painful death. God's grace doesn't end because the crucifixion itself has ended. Jesus' death was an intimate sacrifice for us, it was personal and individually tailored to each of us who believe & trust in Him. And while yes He is indeed risen, we could not have been saved without first having received His death. Thus, Catholics will remember and proclaim this event to remind us of His purpose in our own lives...until He comes again! We're not going to ignore His human life until He returns to us here on earth...because His sacrifice is always present.
53Jesus said to them, "I tell you the truth, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. 54Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. 55For my flesh is real food and my blood is real drink. 56Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me, and I in him. 57Just as the living Father sent me and I live because of the Father, so the one who feeds on me will live because of me. 58This is the bread that came down from heaven. Your forefathers ate manna and died, but he who feeds on this bread will live forever." 59He said this while teaching in the synagogue in Capernaum.60On hearing it, many of his disciples said, "This is a hard teaching. Who can accept it?" -John 6:53-60
So we read here that the Israelites, who physically ate the manna in the desert, died. Jesus says He is the new manna...God miraculously sent down the original manna from heaven, so we cannot reason that that was a metaphor. Jesus states He has been sent from heaven (and any Christian does agree that miraculously, God sent us Jesus through Mary). And He tells us that we will need to eat & drink his blood, just as the Israelites ate the manna in the desert. The disciples were obviously shocked by this teaching and even questioned it.
I know I don't have all the answers, but this is just what I have reasoned thus far through study & googling for common Catholic responses to this problem between us. Please leave your comments/opinions/further reasoning here so we can all learn a little bit about the Catholic faith and stance, and about our other differing beliefs.
If you're a Protestant/Christian, what is your most difficult Catholic concept or dogma? It may help me in making my list for my friend and for doing my part in the Nostra Aetate.
And I am sorry if these topics bore you! I know I post on the Eucharist a lot...I just love the topic and the experience itself. And I love my new friends and have such a respect for their faith in Jesus alone that I want to understand their qualms a little better.
So thanks guys! Love you lots,