Blog # 315 Catholic Theology # 2
The current series of blogs entitled Catholic Theology will be concerned with some very important Catholic theology that had become misunderstood, neglected, and even denied by some Catholic theologians over the past thirty or forty years. It focuses upon the identity authentic Catholic theology gives by faith to the death of Jesus on Calvary, the identity of SACRIFICE. In logical sequence of this identity we treat the identity of the Last Supper, the Sacrifice of the Mass, the priesthood of the laity, the identity of Baptism, and the Church identified as the Mystical Body of Christ with Jesus as her Head.
The problem that helped me be motivated to write these blogs was a gradual movement among authors of articles in reputable and popular theological magazines that emphasized the experience of Jesus on Calvary primarily and almost exclusively as an act of atonement making up
to God for sins. As the movement grew in its influence upon people in the pews, the experience of the Last Supper with the command of Jesus to do what He had done with them that evening before He died began to be seen primarily as a holy meal shared by those whose sins had been forgiven on the Cross rather than the experience of the same sacrifice as that of Calvary, anticipated and experienced in a different mode.
THE MOST FUNDAMENTAL QUESTION
I am convinced the most fundamental and important question we can ask ourselves as free intelligent human beings is the question of our relationship with God. A professed atheist, in
denying the very existence of any god at all, would deny any relationship with a god of any kind. "I have no relationship with any god and desire not to have any relationship with any god." That decision expresses his or her relationship, unknown and unchosen but real, with God the Father of all, Who knows us, though we may not know Him. An agnostic answers questions about his or her relationship with God by saying "I don't know". Those of us who relate to God by faith relate to God primarily through prayer, with prayer being defined as a lifting up of our minds and hearts to God.
Four goals or purposes of prayer are given as: worship, thanksgiving, reparation for sin, and petition for the gifts and graces we need and desire to help us carry out God's will for us. These goals can be achieved or expressed in thoughts and words, but also in actions , as for example taking a kneeling position, with hands folded, or raised and extended toward Heaven, making the sign of the Cross, etc. For my purpose here, which is to establish a claim for an identity of sacrificial worship for the action-prayer of Jesus dying on the Cross, I will focus upon references in the Gospel of St. John concerning the occasion of the Last Supper the night before Jesus died. Particular emphasis will be given to the prayers of Jesus offered on that occasion.