Posts Tagged ‘church’

The need for Advent

December 10, 2013

THE NEED FOR ADVENT.
Every year when enter the “ember” months, most people (including yours sincerely) start earnestly planning for Christmas. As the mad rush and hectic plans for Christmas goes on, poor old advent just gets ignored and run past as if it doesn’t exist or is not relevant. After the celebration of Christ the King in the last week of November, we just jump to Xmas leaving the poor season of advent alone, cold and lonely. From 1st December the Christmas carols blare out and drown out the penitence of advent, while the faithful start wishing each other a merry Christmas in advance! A pertinent question must be asked: is advent relevant in the life of a Christian?
The Catholic Church, the mother and teacher of all Christians in her infinite wisdom calls her faithful, during this beautiful liturgical season to live in anticipation of a new beginning, a new coming of the Lord. St Bernard a renowned Doctor of the Church explains it clearly in one of his advent homilies:
“We know that there are three comings of the Lord. The 3rd lies between the other two. It is invisible while the other two are visible. In the first coming he was seen on Earth, dwelling among men; in the final coming all flesh will see the salvation of God and they will look upon him that they pierced. The intermediate coming is a hidden one, in it only the elect see the Lord within their own selves, and they are saved. In his first coming our Lord came in our flesh and our weakness, in the middle coming he comes in spirit and in power; in the final coming he will be seen in glory and majesty. Because this coming lies between the other two, it is a road on which we travel from the first coming to the last.”
Advent therefore is a period of joyful anticipation of the final coming of Jesus which comes after his first coming, which Christmas commemorates. This is the heart of the message which Christians must bring to an age often staggering in existential and materialistic sadness which are the horrid after effects of the dictatorship of relativism. At advent we are called to look inwards and discover our true essence and to remember that the lord is always coming for those who look for him in truth. It is a season in which Christians are invited by the church to get ready, to make a place for the lord in our lives, relationships, families and homes to anticipate his comings. The O come, O come Emmanuel hymns will serve for us a call to “make straight in the desert a highway for the Lord” (cf Isaiah 40).
The purple color of Advent is a sign of repentance and expectation; two key actions and attitudes at the heart and spirit of the season. We are called at advent to repent from sin and vice and renounce all our choices that are at variance with divine and ecclesial law. It is a time not for shopping, but of emptying ourselves of the clutter of our daily idolatry and renouncing the disordered self love that squeezes God’s grace out of our lives.
May God give us the grace to tap into the spirit of advent as we await in joyful hope the coming of our Lord and savior Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns with the Father and Holy Spirit World without end.
We also wait with Mary, who prefigured advent after receiving the angelic message and waited nine months in hope and prayer for the delivery of he who would be great and called son of the most High God (cf Luke 1 vs 32).
Have a blessed advent!
NB
Christmas season begins with Christmas vigil on the 24th of December and ends on the epiphany of the Lord which falls around 6th of January.
Namse Udosen

Christian Faith As A divine gift

December 3, 2013

The introduction of the Motu Proprio data “Porta Fidei” of Pope Benedict XVI is a good starting point to fully understand this topic. “The door of faith is always open for us, ushering us into a life of communion with God and offering entry into his church.’

What then is Faith?

Faith starts with the willingness to recognize and question the core mysteries at the heart of existence: why we exist at all and how to make meaning out of our existence. Over the ages Philosophers have sough to discover the essence of human existence. Schools of thought like Satre’s Existentialism which posited that existence and actuality come first and essence is derived afterwards. Kierkegaard posited that man’s essence came from man. Before them Plato and Aristotle had come up with philosophies of Human existence. St Augustine gives the perfect thesis when he proclaimed; “you are great, O lord, and greatly to be praised… you have made us for your self and our heart is restless until it rests in you. From this it can be deducted that the ultimate essence of man can be found only in relation to Divinity.

 Faith, the Catholic Encyclopedia notes, is the virtue “by which the intellect is perfected by a supernatural light,” allowing the intellect to assent “firmly to the supernatural truths of Revelation.” Faith is, as Saint Paul says in the Letter to the Hebrews, “the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen” (Hebrews 11:1). It is, in other words, a form of knowledge that extends beyond the natural limits of our intellect, to help us grasp the truths of divine revelation, truths that we cannot arrive at purely by the aid of natural reason. In Lumen Genitum, the Fathers of the Second Vatican council posit that “by faith Man commits his entire life to God, making the full submission of his intellect and will who reveals… and willingly assenting to the revelation given by him. According to the CCC compendium “Faith is the Theological virtue by which we believe in God and all that he has revealed to us and that the Church proposes for our belief because God is truth it self.

What is a Theological virtue?

Unlike the cardinal virtues, which can be practiced by anyone, the theological virtues are gifts of God through grace. Like all other virtues, the theological virtues are habits; the practice of the virtues strengthens them. Because they aim at a supernatural end, however—that is, they have God as “their immediate and proper object” (in the words of the Catholic Encyclopedia of 1913)—the theological virtues must be supernaturally infused into the soul. Thus faith is not something that one can simply begin to practice, but something beyond our nature. The Theological virtues are the pledge of the presence and action of the holy spirit in the faculties of the human being.

What does God reveal to man?

Over history God has revealed himself first of all to Adam and eve, Noah and in a special way to Abraham our father in faith. However the full and definitive stage of God’s revelation is accomplished in Jesus, the word made flesh. The deposit of faith which Christ has left behind through his Apostles comprises of the Dogmatic tradition and sacred scripture. The both are so closely united that one of them cannot stand without the other. It must be noted however that Christian Faith is not a “religion of the book”, but of the word of God – not a written and mute word, but incarnate and living. The bible doesn’t contain the whole of Jesus’ teaching or Christianity (mk 4:33, lk 24; 15-16. Jn 16:12, 20:30)

Sins against faith

 The first commandment requires us to nourish and protect our faith with prudence and vigilance, and to reject everything that is opposed to it. There are various ways of sinning against faith:

Voluntary doubt about the faith disregards or refuses to hold as true what God has revealed and the Church proposes for belief. Involuntary doubt refers to hesitation in believing, difficulty in overcoming objections connected with the faith, or also anxiety aroused by its obscurity. If deliberately cultivated doubt can lead to spiritual blindness.

 Incredulity is the neglect of revealed truth or the willful refusal to assent to it. “Heresy is the obstinate post-baptismal denial of some truth which must be believed with divine and catholic faith, or it is likewise an obstinate doubt concerning the same; apostasy is the total repudiation of the Christian faith; schism is the refusal of submission to the Roman Pontiff or of communion with the members of the Church subject to him.”

 Indifferentism – This is the belief that one religion is as good as another. In other words, the Catholic faith is equal to the Anglican, ECWA or Pentecostal faith. This rejects the truth that the Catholic Church is the Mother Church.

 

How to preserve the gift from God; Faith.

Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI in Porta Fidei proclaims that the year of faith is an opportunity for the whole church to reappropriate the exact knowledge of faith so as to reinvigorate it, purify it, confirm it and confess it so as to live it.

1.     Faith come by perception: reading catholic literature especially Papal documents Roms 3:8

2.     Study the lives of the saints

3.     Avoid listening to charlatans.

4.     Prayers and sincere reception of the sacraments.

Namse Udosen

Bibliography and further reading

·        Catechism of the Catholic Church: The compendium

·        Porta Fidei: Apostolic exhortation by Pope Benedixt XVI

·        Lumen Fidei: Papal Encyclical of Pope Francis

·        www.catholicencyclopedia.com

n


%d bloggers like this: