Saturday, April 18, 2009

Preparation for Adult Confirmation -- Class Two

“You will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you will be my witnesses.” (Acts 1:8)
Preparation for Adult Confirmation - Outline and Extended Notes

Class Outline for April 18, 2009

II. Jesus Christ – Redeemer of Mankind – Complete Revelation of God

A. Existence and Nature of Jesus - Who and What is Jesus?

1. Tried for blasphemy – “I AM”

  • guilty as charged, not guilty by reason of insanity, fictional character, or Son of God?
2. The Word (Logos)
  • “Emmanuel,” God with us
  • only begotten Son of God, consubstantial with the Father, through whom all things were made
  • fulfillment of the Law and the Prophets
  • Light of the World, Bread of Life
  • the Way, the Truth, and the Life
  • Judge of the living and the dead
3. Fully God and Fully Human

  • God incarnate, God become man – one divine person with two complete natures, both human and divine, and two wills
  • like us in all ways except for sin, with fully human freedom, frailties, and limitations
  • the Son of God became a man to sanctify us, to make us partakers of His divine nature; that is, Jesus assumed our nature so that He, made man, might make men gods
4. Savior of the World
  • “Jesus,” Yeshua, God saves
  • the Messiah King, the “Christ,” anointed one
  • Son of Man
  • the Suffering Servant
  • the Lamb of God, sacrificed in atonement for sin, reconciles mankind with God
B. The Life and Ministry of Jesus – Healer, Teacher, and Testifier to the Truth

1. Early Life of Jesus
  • adoration of shepherds and Epiphany
  • circumcision and presentation in the Temple
  • slaughter of innocents, flight into Egypt, and departure out of Egypt
  • teaching in the Temple
  • hidden family life in Nazareth
2. Signs, Miracles, and Healings
  • bearing witness to who He is and to the fact that the Kingdom of God is present within Him
3. Master Teacher
  • utilizes different methods
  • teaching on a variety of topics, including --
    • testifying to Truth and to Love
    • revealing who God the Father is, revealing who He is, revealing who the Holy Spirit is
    • revealing who we are as human persons
    • instructing us how to pray and how to serve God
    • revealing the Kingdom of God, of heaven, of the last things
    • giving us assurance and trustworthy hope to overcome all hardship
    • commanding us to love God and love one another, to be perfect in love and truth, just as our heavenly Father is perfect, including giving of ourselves and being merciful
C. The Cross and Resurrection – the Paschal Mystery and the Transformative Power of Love

1. Perpetually Crucified, Eternally Resurrected
  • the Crucifixion and Resurrection stand at the crossroads and center of human history
  • God transcends time and space, so that specific points in human time, including the Crucifixion and Resurrection, continue to exist forever in His "present"
  • the Passion of Jesus is an on-going event, He is eternally being scourged and crucified
  • sin is a reality in the world, with real consequences – in the Passion and Crucifixion of Jesus, the truth of that reality and those consequences are made manifest in His flesh
  • we are the ones who crucify Him - every sin of ours is another lash on His flesh, another pound of the hammer driving nails into His hands and feet
  • through the Cross, by His eternal, on-going Resurrection, He “makes all things new”
2. The Lamb of God, Who Takes Away the Sins of the World
  • Jesus is Divine Mercy, who gives His life in forgiveness of mankind
  • Jesus freely offers His life as an expiatory sacrifice, that is, He makes reparation for our sins out of love for God and mankind, so as to reconcile them and repair the rift that had been caused by man’s infidelity and rejection of God
  • rather than conferring forgiveness by simply denying the reality of sin or pretending that it did not happen, and ignoring its consequences, Jesus freely offers His life as a sacrifice in justice and witness to the truth of the real and destructive effects of sin in the world
  • by sin, we are held captive to sin and death, by the Cross, Jesus pays our ransom
  • Jesus takes the sins of mankind upon Himself, not merely taking them upon Himself spiritually, much less philosophically, but He takes the sins of mankind upon Himself in the totality of His being, that is, upon His Body as well
  • the spotless Passover Lamb, who is sacrificed by the high priests for the sins of the people, and who blood is sprinkled so that death would pass over, and we would be lead from the bondage of sin and death to freedom and life
3. The Compassion of Jesus
  • Jesus offers Himself as ransom and accepts death on the Cross out of love for us
  • as fully man, with all the frailties of humanity, Jesus, God Himself, profoundly knows what it means to suffer horrible pain, fear, and anguish – as such, He suffers with us (com-passion) in all of our own individual hardships
  • His joining in our human suffering allows us to join in His suffering, thereby to give meaning to our suffering and to join in His redemptive purpose, our agonies can be transformed and overcome
4. The Destruction of Death and Restoration of Our Life
  • the Resurrection is the crowning truth of the Faith
  • the Resurrection is the work of the Trinity – Father manifesting His power, Son taking up again the life which He freely offered, and the Holy Spirit bringing that life and glorification
  • Love is stronger than death
  • death could not be destroyed by simply avoiding it, death could only be destroyed by descending into it and transforming it
  • in His resurrected and glorified Body, Jesus carries the wounds of His Passion and Crucifixion
D. The Eucharist – Source and Summit of the Faith

1. Real and Substantial Presence
  • Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity of Jesus Christ
  • transubstantiation – genuine transformation of the whole fundamental substance of bread and wine into the substance of His actual flesh and blood, while still remaining under the appearance of bread and wine
  • instituted to perpetuate the sacrifice of the Cross, and be a memorial of His death and Resurrection
  • recalls the unleavened bread of the Passover meal
  • rightly called “Eucharist,” from the Greek for “thanksgiving”
  • Blessed Sacrament, Holy Communion, the Lord’s Supper
  • recalling the multiplication of the loaves and fishes, Jesus is fully present in each part even in the breaking of the bread
2. Fullness of Communion
  • intimately receiving Him in the entirety of our being, body and spirit
  • unites us to His Glorified Resurrected Body and Blood
  • as in His Incarnation, when Jesus united Himself with humanity, the Eucharist unites God to man and His Creation by utilizing bread and wine, materials that are taken from the earth, but into which man has put a part of himself in his labors by changing grain and grape to bread and wine
  • a sign of unity – communion, joining as one with Him in the entirety of our being, joins us in communion with all the faithful on earth and in purgatory and the saints in heaven
3. One Mass, One Sacrifice
  • Crucifixion and Resurrection transcend time, such that those moments continue in perpetuity
  • in the Eucharistic sacrifice in the Mass, Christ is not sacrificed again and again, rather, the Crucifixion and Resurrection are re-presented, that is, made present again
  • At Mass, the bread and wine are consecrated and transubstantiation is brought about in the Eucharistic prayer through the efficacy of the word of Jesus and by the action of the Holy Spirit
    • bread and wine are made Body and Blood in the same manner as the creation of the universe, when God said “Let there be light” – by the Breath and Word of God
    4. The Fruits of Holy Communion
    • the Eucharist is “the medicine of immortality, the antidote for death, and the food that makes us live forever in Jesus Christ” (St. Ignatius of Antioch)
    • reception of the Eucharist preserves and renews the life of grace and makes us grow in love of neighbor while strengthening us in charity, wiping away venial sin, and giving grace to live a virtuous and holy life
    E. Christ the Bridegroom and His Bride, the Church

    1. Jesus Established the Church
    • Jesus promised that He would be with us always, until the end of the age
    • Jesus established the Church as His Holy Bride, two become one
    • being one with Her Bridegroom Christ, the Church is also the Body of Christ
      • to be in communion with the Church is to be one with Christ
    • the word “church” is derived from the Greek word “kyriake,” meaning “what belongs to the Lord,” which is also called an “ecclesia” in Latin, “an assembly set apart”
    • Jesus called His Apostles – the word “Apostle” is from the Greek for “emissary”
      • the Apostles given special authority and power to act in persona Christi
      • authority to teach
      • authority to confer the Sacraments
      • to build up and govern the Church
      • the Apostle Peter, the first pope, was given a special supreme authority
    2. Mission of the Church - Jesus Calls All His Disciples to be His Witnesses
    • Jesus said to love God and love others as He has loved us
    • Jesus has instructed us to go and make disciples of all nations
    • the mission of the Church is to proclaim the Good News of Jesus Christ to the world
      • to testify to truth and to love
      • to serve Him and help Him in the reconciliation of man with God and the salvation of mankind
    • all of the faithful, the people of God who make up the Church, are called by Jesus to be a light to the world
    3. Jesus Promises to Send the Holy Spirit
    • the institution of a New Covenant, with an outpouring of the Holy Spirit, had been announced by the prophets Jeremiah and Joel
    • Jesus fulfilled the scriptures in promising to send the Holy Spirit to the Church and faithful
      • to guide and protect the Church
      • to sanctify and make men and women more like God
      • to confer the grace and power to be holy and perfect in love and truth, as God is perfect
    • Jesus told us in the Sermon on the Mount that we should be perfect, just as our heavenly Father is perfect

    Adult Confirmation Class Two - Extended Notes

    Jesus Christ – God become man (CCC 422-682)

    Just as the question of whether or not God exists is unavoidable, so too are the questions of who is Jesus? What is Jesus?

    At His trial, Jesus was asked if He is the Messiah, the son of the Blessed One? In response, Jesus echoed the words of God in telling Moses His name, “I AM.” (Mk 14:53-64) On other occasions, Jesus similarly declared “I AM.” (e.g. Jn. 8:58)

    With these words, there are only three possibilities -- either (1) Jesus was rightfully condemned as a criminal for committing blasphemy by wrongfully taking the Lord’s name in vain and equating Himself with God; (2) Jesus was delusional and insane, thereby mitigating His alleged blasphemy; or (3) He is, in fact, the “I am,” that is, God.

    Faith informs us that Jesus is the Christ, which is Greek for “the anointed one,” the one anointed by God. Jesus is the Son of God – God Himself – the Word (Logos) made flesh through whom the world was made. He is not only God in a spiritual sense, He is God incarnate, God become man. Fully God, yet fully human, united in one. He is one divine person with two complete natures, both human and divine, and two wills, with fully human freedom. Like us in all ways except for sin. He is Emmanuel, meaning “God with us.” (Mt. 2:23) He is not merely a pleasant story, he is not merely a nice philosophical idea, but an actual historical event. He is God entering into time and taking tangible physical and bodily form. And, as fully man, Jesus knows fully our human pain, suffering, fear, anguish, and sadness.

    Why did He do this? Because God is Love and God is Truth.

      (a) Because He loves us, as the name Emmanuel suggests, He wanted to be “with us,” like us, and among us – not only at a single point in time, but always and forever.

      (b) He wanted to teach us, to give us a deposit of faith, and be a Light for us -- the Way, the Truth, and the Life.

      (c) He wanted to “save” us -- to redeem us and repair the rift. Indeed, the Greek name “Jesus” (Yeshua or Joshua in Hebrew) means “God saves.” As the Son, consubstantial with the Father, Jesus wanted to reconcile Fallen Man to God, to bridge the gap that man had created and reunite us. Jesus is the culmination of salvation history.

      (d) He wanted to sanctify us, to make us sharers in His divinity. Jesus assumed our nature so that He, made man, might make men gods.

    The Transfiguration, which gave the Apostles a glimpse of His glorification, shows that Jesus is the fulfillment of the Law and the Prophets.

    And after fully revealing God’s love and truth, Jesus, the Son of God, gave us the grace of salvation and eternal life by becoming the spotless lamb who was sacrificed for sins, and whose blood would be sprinkled so that death would pass over, and we would be led from the bondage of sin and death to freedom and life. He is the innocent righteous man, the suffering servant, upon whom the Spirit of the Lord has descended, who is pierced for our iniquities, and who pays the ransom with His own life. By the transformative power of His love on the Cross and His resurrection, Jesus, the Son of Man, has defeated suffering and death and established His kingdom of salvation.

    Because God transcends time and space, for Him specific points in time continue to exist forever. The Passion and Crucifixion were not isolated events in some distant past. Rather, His sacrifice is an on-going event. He is not crucified again and again, but is one sacrifice. He is perpetually being scourged, eternally on the Cross. Every sin of ours is another lash on His flesh, it is another pound of the hammer, driving nails deeper into His hands.

    At the same time, to be one with Jesus means to be one with Him on the Cross. Although Jesus is fully man, and thus suffered greatly, He is also united with the Father of Love -- as He calls us all to be, and as we all can be -- and so that fully human and excruciating pain and suffering are transformed and overcome, and therefore made bearable. Through the Cross, even death is overcome, and He makes all things new. By uniting our sufferings with His, by offering them up to Him on the Cross, they obtain redemptive meaning. The martyrs could truly smile in joy amidst the flames and beasts that tore at their bodies because they too were one with Him, and so their agonies were transformed by love.

    God’s plan for man does not stop at his redemption and salvation, that is, reconciling man to God, but continues toward our sanctification, that is, making men more like God. Jesus calls us to be holy and perfect in love and truth, just as His Father in heaven is perfect. He calls us to be true to the purpose for which we are made, to love and be loved in truth. To love God and love one another as Jesus has loved us, including extending forgiveness and mercy to others. And to help us attain that perfection, to help us love in truth, Jesus, promising to be with us always, to the end of the age, has established His Church and sent us His Holy Spirit.

    Jesus Christ and His Bride, the Church (CCC 748-962; 1113-1134)

    Jesus said that He is the Way, the Truth, and the Life, that no one could come to the Father except through Him. (Jn. 11:25-26; 14:6) Jesus not only taught, He established the Church as His Holy Bride, two become one, and He gave us the sacraments, which are administered by the Church, so as to help us come to the Father and be redeemed and sanctified.

    Man was created as a social creature, intended to exist in relationship, not in solitude. Thus, Christ also established the Church so that we might fulfill our purpose of being in communion with each other, as well as Him. To be one with Jesus means to be one with the one holy Church, which is also the Body of Christ. Accordingly, we see that Jesus Christ and the Church are absolutely necessary for salvation.

    In establishing the Church, from the Greek word Kyriake, meaning “what belongs to the Lord,” which is also called an ecclesia in Latin, “an assembly set apart,” Jesus called certain men as apostles, from the Greek for “emissary.” To the Apostle Peter, who was the first Pope, Jesus gave a special supreme authority. The original Apostles later appointed successors, whom we know today as bishops, and assistants, such as priests, who have the authority and power of teaching and administering the sacraments in persona Christi. Each bishop is the spiritual shepherd for a specific area, which is called a diocese, and he in turn delegates certain authority to pastors over a smaller area, which is called a parish.

    The Eucharist

    Before ascending to heaven, Jesus said that He would be with us always, to the end of the age. In the most obvious sense, Jesus is with us in the Eucharist. (Lk 22:19-20; Jn 6:48-58) The Eucharist is the source (beginning) and summit (end) of the Faith, inasmuch as this Blessed Sacrament is the Real Presence of the Body and Blood of Jesus, even though under the appearance of bread and wine. In the Eucharist, the substance is transformed, that is to say, the fundamental basis of its being. This genuine transformation is called transubstantiation. As described by Pope Benedict, Christ takes possession of the bread and the wine, and He lifts them up out of the setting of their normal existence into a new order. Even if, from a purely physical point of view, they remain the same, they have become profoundly different.

    Through the Eucharist in the one Mass, according to His Word, Jesus is with us, not merely spiritually or theoretically or as a philosophy, but physically, such that we, as bodily creatures who experience things through our senses, can be united with Him bodily as well as spiritually.

    In a profoundly intimate way, we take His glorified Body and Blood into our bodies. The encounter with Jesus in the Eucharist is not the encounter of a friend or a mentor or a teacher. It is a parental and spousal encounter. It is because the Eucharist is the Real Presence that such an encounter is the most intimate of intimate touchings. The person literally takes Christ within him- or herself both bodily and spiritually, so as to become one with Him in a mystical fashion, as in marriage, which also involves entering into another bodily and spiritually so as to become one in a communion of persons (unitive) and so as to receive life (procreative).

    Only in this way is the totality of our person, body and spirit, able to be one with Him, Body and Spirit, fully and completely. Again, because we are creatures of both spirit and body, to receive Him in the entirety of our person, it is essential that we also experience the Body and Blood of Christ, which can be received only at Mass, in addition to His Spirit, which can be experienced at home. In this way, the Eucharist can truly be called Holy Communion.

    The consecration of the bread and wine at Mass to become the Blessed Sacrament is not a re-sacrificing of Jesus. There is only One Mass, and there is only One Sacrifice, which is re-presented, that is, presented again. Remember, God transcends time and space, so that, not only does He extend across our concept of linear time, but for Him, specific points in time continue to exist forever. Thus, the Passion and Crucifixion were not isolated events in some distant past. Rather, His sacrifice is an on-going event. He is not crucified again and again, but is one sacrifice. He is perpetually being scourged, eternally on the Cross. In the Mass, in some mystical but true way, we transcend space and time and are made present at the Last Supper, we are made present at the foot of the Cross. And because we partake of His glorified Resurrected Body and Blood, so too are we made present at the Resurrection, and made One with He who rose to eternal life.

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