November 23, 2010 // Uncategorized

As we take Holy Communion, we are given a taste of eternal life

Does taking Communion guarantee entrance into heaven? MH, Fort Wayne
The answer is yes and no. Certainly, we cannot take Holy Communion and then do whatever we want, morally speaking. Those who die in a state of grace go to heaven, and if we die in a state of mortal sin, unrepentant of our sins, then heaven is not open to us no matter how many Communions we may have taken.

On the other hand, the taking of Holy Communion is transformative for those in a state of grace. It is an antidote to the tendency to sin, and those who receive this heavenly food grow in the desire not to sin. It certainly does not take away our free will. We are still capable of mortal sin, but the grace of the Eucharist turns us from our selfishness and helps us to begin living a heavenly life even now.

As Jesus says in the Gospel of John, “He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day.” Notice that Jesus does not say “He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood will have eternal life … “but ‘He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood HAS eternal life ….’” So even now as we take Holy Communion, we are given a taste of eternal life, and once we have tasted eternal life, we want nothing else.

What is the difference between adoration (idolatry) and veneration regarding imagery including relics? Catholics in the Southwest celebrate festivals revering certain saints and have processions carrying figures related to the celebration. In Tucson, radical religious fundamentalists use crafty gimmicky schemes to challenge Catholics using such customs by condemning them for worshiping statues and thus winning converts. JG, Tucson
First it must be said clearly that we Catholics do not worship saints. We worship God alone. However, it is truly good and right to honor saints. By honoring the saints we honor God because we honor what God did in them to make them holy.

Statues and other images of saints are used to help us honor them. Humans communicate through the senses, and to have images of the saints helps us through our senses to bring to our minds and hearts the holiness of the saints and their continual intercession for us. To do this is to honor God who made them holy and who desires that they should continue to intercede for us. It is also clear that we as Catholics do not worship the statues themselves, as the pagans did with their many “gods.”

Finally, regarding relics, we believe that as we live the Christian life, God wishes to “divinize” us, as the early fathers of the Church put it, that is, that God wishes to make us like Himself. This process of divinization will be perfect when we get to heaven and will include our own bodies resurrected after the second coming of Jesus.

Divinization occurred in the saints to such a high degree even while they lived on earth that it permeated even their bodies. We venerate their remains as a sign of the high degree of heavenly life that permeated even their bodies. A sign of this to us from heaven is the fact that some saints’ bodies do not decay after death or sometimes parts of the bodies of saints do not decay, for example, the tongue of St. Anthony of Padua and the body of St. Catherine of Bologna.

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