This article is not meant to give a dogmatic and intellectual approach to the teachings of the Catholic Church. The Church does state its position with authority and dogmatic grace. Yet, the Church knows all too well from ages what its purpose is. The Church was established by Christ to instruct man in the ways of happiness! Experience and the practicalities of life alone present the truth of life and meaning. A person can only look at the news and history to find out the source of man’s blessedness and despair.
In order for man to know what God wants for him to be happy in this life and for all eternity, He has given us the Church to be our guide. Chastity in all states of life is written in the Ten Commandments. Violation of one commandment is, in a way, a breach of all commandments. What the Church teaches is what God teaches.
Nature proves that relationships that go against holy and disciplined regard for sexual conduct will end in sorrow of some sort. Too often, man at the end of life, realizes only too late what the Church taught is true. Perhaps the biggest reason for divorce is an unchaste lifestyle, even within marriage. Self-dignity and self-worth are the highest regards that a human being values. The placement of the person in all respects of life–socially, politically and culturally–is without a doubt what each of us cherishes. A permissive environment will end up with a person feeling used, with a sense of lost self-esteem. The Catholic Church knows that God did not make man to disregard his laws on premarital sex and contraception. Man’s very nature–“made in the image and likeness of God”–will rebel against it in time. Children cannot be happy, let alone parents. The single person cannot serve God in the way He intended man to love Him either.
Therefore, regard for the sanctity of life at all stages, from “womb to tomb”, from natural conception until natural death is the highest dominion in all of God’s laws. God did not make man in the beginning only to allow man's own actions end his life. It would have been abnormal to his very “always was and always is” character. None of us want to be abandoned as worthless in any way, for life, above all other aspects, is what God respects most of all.
Christ set up the Church with the power of the keys. He demonstrated to St. Peter at Caesarea Philippi that he was the rock upon which He would build His Church. The “rock” was literally that spot in the temple that the Jews dreaded, for it was the seal to “the gates of hell”, and Jesus placed Peter on that spot as representative of the Old Testament prime minister who did the biding for the king when he was in another territory. Isaiah 22:22 shows this—“I will place the key of the House of David on his shoulder; when he opens, no one shall shut, when he shuts, no one shall open”. (In fact, the entire Chapter 22 of Isaiah is a type in the Old Testament of the New Testament antitype pointing to the pope.
The marvelous thing about type and antitype in the Bible is that a type in the Old Testament has to correspond to an antitype in the New Testament. If this is the case, then the relationship is true. Eve is a type of the antitype New Eve, Mary in the N.T.) And that other territory in the New Testament is when Jesus left the earth and ascended into heaven to be at the right hand of the Father. Before he left, he gave Peter and his successors the “keys”, as prime minister of his Church. And at that point when he gave Peter the “keys” of “binding” and “loosing”, Jesus for the first time used the word Church, saying to Peter, “upon this rock, I will build my church and the gates of hell will not prevail against it.”
The new King Jesus was handing over his kingdom, or church, to St. Peter. Community is what the church is all about. “Picking and choosing” what one thinks one likes is not God’s way. “We believe” together in community and each of us has to declare in decision that we are part of the People of God. The gift that Jesus gave to Peter was an extraordinary gift to a sinner–he was the only one who had this particular gift of infallibility, whereby the Holy Spirit gave him insight as “umpire”, to guard the People of God with the truth.
The history of the Catholic Church throughout the ages proves that there is need of one man to have this power from God. Look no further than the Arian heresy of the early centuries, when many followed their own “pope”, who taught that Jesus was not equal with the Father. Many fell away from the truth of the divinity of Jesus Christ. Another example would be the “whose faith, whose religion” motto of the princes of Germany after the time of Martin Luther, ruling for themselves as “popes”. Luther turned away from the true Catholic Church and said that each man was a “priest by himself”. This is a tragic moment in Catholic history when the state became supreme and so many turned away from Holy Mother Church.
During this Protestant Reformation time, a total disobedience to the truth about the Holy Eucharist, as stated in Chapter 6 of St. John, took place. No longer did people believe that “this is my Body, this is my Blood” and “unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you shall not have life in you. He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood will have life in him and I will raise him up on the last day.” The doctrine of transubstantiation was thrown aside by many during the Protestant Reformation. Jesus did not say to those who walked away that it was a symbol. If any passage in the Bible is literal, this is it.
Pope Pius IX infallibly declared in 1858 what Catholics had prayed about and believed for centuries–that Mary, the Mother of God, was “Immaculately Conceived” at that very moment when her parents came together as man and wife. If God allowed her to bring His Son, Jesus into the world, would he allow her to be stained with sin at any point before, during, or after she was born? The Church teaches us—definitely not! Nor would Mary have any other children besides Jesus. And in 1950, when Pope Pius XII proclaimed infallibly that Mary, the Mother of God was assumed into heaven body and soul, would there be a chance that God would have let her “who was without sin” die a mortal death? The Church said—definitely not!
And one of the most trying and perplexing teachings that many find hard to accept is that of a male being the only one permitted to be ordained. Without the priesthood, there can be no sacraments. There cannot be any new priests and bishops. There can be no Eucharist. Jesus was a man. He was the first priest. And he handed over his authority to men, to his apostles, by His power and his hands. Yes, this is the classic argument. And this small essay is not meant to be argumentative, but show the practicality of obeying the teachings of the Church. But in knowing the truth, one is obliged to be Catholic. It is a gift of faith from God.
The Church also has looked upon the priesthood as a celibate office, in order to imitate Jesus who was celibate. Even though the early centuries had clergy who were married, it later became necessary to make laws to support the beliefs of the Church, because of man’s lack of obedience. Obedience and study lead to understanding. Learning is important, but eventually in prayer, God will place the wisdom of the Catholic Church within one’s mind, heart, and soul. After all, God and His Catholic Church desire man to know the truth and live in happiness. Happiness is not the same as disregard for the cross. Happiness is internal joy of being with God in obedience to Him and Holy Mother Church. The only way to experience it is to try it.
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