The Mass—from the Latin, Missa; in Greek, Leitourgos, meaning “the work of the people.” It is the most sacred and solemn action whereby heaven and earth meet. It is the place where Catholics find their weekly (even daily) sustenance before heading out anew to live and proclaim the Good News of Jesus Christ in whichever milieu we find ourselves. It is the holiest of hours.
One of the primary reasons there are in excess of 35,000 (and climbing daily) religious denominations is the great lack of central leadership. It seems that everyone is caught up in doing their own thing.
A Westerner imbibes the attitude that I can and should decide for myself what is right and wrong; that is why it is so difficult to embrace Catholicism for a person who has become highly secularized.
The process of conversion is a complex one that involves almost every aspect of a person’s life. This is the first article in a series of articles in which former Protestant pastor and seminary professor Dr. Kenneth Howell takes a deep look at “conversion.”
I believe that a careful study of the doctrine of the Church in the New Testament would lead any honest Christian to realize that the Church is necessary for salvation. The Church is necessary because of what Christ made it to be. Grace is necessary to be saved, and so he made the Church an instrument of grace.
St. Chromatius of Aquileia (ad 340–408), preached something about these Beatitudes that I had never heard, but which was understood by many of the early Doctors of the Church. In a sermon on Matthew, Chromatius wrote:
Our Lord, our savior, establishes extremely solid steps of precious stones, by which saintly souls and faithful can climb, can rise to this supreme good, which is the kingdom of heaven…. Brethren, before your eyes are the eight rungs of the gospel, constructed, as I have said, with precious stones. Behold Jacob’s ladder which starts on earth and whose top touches heaven. He who climbs it finds the gate of heaven, and having entered it, will have endless joy in the presence of the Lord, eternally praising Him with the holy angels.