Thursday, July 22, 2010

Something to Enter Into

The other night, I was hanging out with a couple of friends, and we started talking about our Catholic Faith. Somehow, we began to talk about the doctrine of The Resurrection of the Body - how at the Second Coming of Christ, the souls of all people will be reunited with their physical bodies. I've always felt that this one doctrine, which Christ Himself spoke of ("He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day" [Jn 6:54]) is often one that is misunderstood. Why would we get our bodies back?

The Church has never taught that we, as humans, HAVE bodies, or HAVE souls. It has always taught that we ARE bodies and ARE souls - a unity of spirit and flesh. And so, yes, once we die, we will be spiritually united with God in Heaven. But ultimately, we will again be united soul and body, this time without blemish, without suffering, without the flesh going opposite of the intellect and will. We will have a Spiritual Body that is glorified, like Christ's own after His Resurrection.

And as I explained this to my friends, one of them looked like she was thinking deeply, and she simply said, "hmm. I dunno. That sounds a bit hokey."

I want to be clear that I'm not ragging on a friend. In fact, in a way I'm happy she said that; it allowed us to gain greater understanding into our faith. Because Church Tradition, Catechism Teaching, and the Apostle's Creed aside, my friend is right. The Resurrection of the Body does sound hokey. The Fullness of the Catholic Faith can be a lot to swallow, and it is definitely not for one who clings only to what they can see, touch, and hear. The faith is full of things, that on the surface, "sound hokey." A short list includes:

The aforementioned Resurrection of the Body.

The Incarnation: Mary, while still being a virgin, conceived and bore a child who was at once both fully God and fully man.

The Immaculate Conception: Mary being born without the Stain of Original Sin.

The Resurrection: After being crucified, Christ rose from the dead three days later, and in doing so, broke the bonds of sin and death and opened the Gates of Heaven.

The Trinity: God has one nature, and yet that nature consists of three distinct persons. They all possess Divinity in its entirety, and yet are still one God. 

The Sacrament of Reconciliation: Forgiveness of Mortal Sins is attained through a Confession to a priest, who stands in persona Christi.

And of course, one of the biggest...

The Sacrament of the Eucharist: Through the power of the Holy Spirit, simple bread and wine are substantially transformed into the ACTUAL Body and Blood of Jesus.

Not too long ago, I went through a period where I just COULD NOT, for the life of me, sit comfortably with the teaching of The Eucharist. I spent hours at home, hours on the bus to and from school, just saying to myself, "What exactly happens during Transubstantiation? How does the bread and wine become the Body and Blood? How? HOW?" And not surprisingly, I didn't figure it out. After weeks of burning myself out, I told Daina about my dilemma, and she said, "well. Yeah. It IS kinda ridiculous." She wasn't doubting, she was just saying "that's Truth." I interpreted what she said as "Shut up and accept it, it's what God has done."

And so I did. I accepted it, and asked God for the Grace to be able to fall more deeply in love with the things He has done for us. And I entered more deeply into the mysteries of our faith. They are beautiful mysteries given to us from God, not to be studied with our minds, but to be cherished with our hearts.

In no way have I completely solved all the tendencies to think too much. But as I look back on the past nine years of my Catholic life, I feel very blessed that God has revealed all that He has to me - through Faith. It has been, and continues to be, a wonderful uphill journey, one that will hopefully end in the Eternal Kingdom, with a more enlightening revelation of all things that my finite mind has failed to grasp in this life.

May we all enter more deeply into the intricate, mystical, supernatural experiences of our Catholic Faith. If we ever doubt, if we ever hesitate, let us try to remember that it is the virtue of faith that can and will allow us to delve closer to Who God is.

"To one who has Faith, no explanation is necessary. To one without Faith, no explanation is possible." -St. Thomas Aquinas

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