Story of Christianity
As told by the Gospels and Estel Reeves
The Original State of Man
Before the fall, when Adam and Eve committed the act of Original Sin, they possessed a clear awareness of God's presence and were allowed to experience a special relationship with him. They were destined for a seemingly perfect life in paradise. This perfect state is also known as original justice.
Our original parents were created to share in God's love and friendship. For this they were gifted with preternatural virtues and his supernatural grace, with these gifts came the capacity for knowledge and love, which are indispensable for their participation in divine life. These preternatural gifts included the following: immunity from sickness, suffering, and death as well as freedom from inapriopate passion and appetites.
So long as they remained close to God through a commitment to his will they would not suffer, become sick, or die. This is because God did not create us to live through a cycle of life followed by death, but to have an eternal relationship with Him and the rest of creation.
In this state of holiness, perfection, and justice; work was not a burden, but rather a rewarding activity. Without fatigue they were able to cultivate the earth as stewards of God. In this time of peace and prosperity, it is and was obvious that God intended for both Man and Woman to find pleasure in every aspect of creation.
Original Sin and It's Consequences
God intended for Man to have a special bond with Him; they were placed in the Garden of Eden to cultivate it, just as they were made to cultivate a relationship with their heavenly creator. They had dominion over all of creation and possessed complete and utter freedom to roam amid this perfect garden. The only stipulation was that they could not eat of the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil; as this sin of disobedience with result not only in their death but the death of all their predecessors.
We do not know specifically how long they remained in a state of pure holiness, however, we do know that they eventually gave into the temptation the serpent offered; to be like God.
The consequences were immediate, as soon as they tasted of the fruit of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil it was as if they had signed not only their death warrant, but the death of all mankind. They lost not only their state of original holiness and perfection, but also their relationship with God; they were consequently kicked out of paradise, or the Garden of Eden.
This transgression not only affected them, but also the entirety of mankind. Now, not only would they know of illness, suffering, death, and the death to the soul (sin), but their predecessors would experience the consequences of Original Sin as well. However, ultimately, the worst consequence of Original Sin was the divide it created between Man and God. The human intellect was now clouded and could not fully discern God's laws, the result of this damaged mind was that we could no longer fully comprehend the difference between good and evil. This led to self-interest, or for the human person to look towards themselves, but not to God; this simply alienated us further from our Heavenly Creator.
The wounds caused by Original Sin are as follows: Malice, Ignorance, Weakness, and Concupiscence.
The Word Became Flash for Expiation, Reconciliation, and Restoration
Human beings, therefore could never had hoped to repair the damage of Original Sin. No human effort of in prayer, sacrifice, or good moral behavior would have any effect on the rift between God and man. God could not simply repair the damage of Original Sin by a mere word, because in his infinite perfection he also desires justice; since man had brought sin into the world, he must atone for it. The only sacrifice that was capable of reconciling us with God had to be of infinite value. Thus we were in need of savior who possessed the natures of both God and man. Only Christ could satisfy this need as the God-man; only he was born with both natures.
The Word Became Flesh to Manifest God's Love
Out of the many plans God could have used in our redemption, he chose to suffer and die as the means to save us from the consequences of Original Sin. In doing this, he revealed his great love for us. Therefore, as one of the many effects of His passion, for the atonement of sin, was to grace us with the depth of His infinite love.
The Word Became Flesh To Offer a Model of Holiness
The Passion teaches Charity, Humility, Obedience, and prayer. Throughout this entire ordeal, Christ maintained both his humanity and His divine natures and is therefore a perfect model for human behavior and how we should conduct ourselves. As He is a model of holiness and the way to the Father, by meditation on his teachings, each person may discover God's will in the sacred humanity of Christ.
The Word Became Flesh to Allow a Share in Divine Life
The Seven Sacraments are the primary way to receive these sanctifying graces as well as actual graces. The first sacrament, necessary to achieve participation in divine life is Baptism. In this sacrament, a person is cleaned of all sin, is incorporated into the Church, and receives all the merits won in Christ's redemption. Through the sanctifying grace one attains in Baptism, he or she share in the life of Christ. The dwelling of the Blessed Trinity in the soul is a gratuitous gift of God granted at Baptism. This requires conforming one's life to words and actions of Christ; and attempting to imitate His divine perfection.
One cannot become Christlike through his or her will alone, but only through the graces of Christ's redemption. This enables a person to love one's neighbor with Christ's own love, just as He had commanded of us in Christ's New Commandment.
The Paschal Mystery
One can only fully understand the true perfection of the Paschal Mystery through the first Passover. The paschal lamb whose blood had saved the Israelites from slavery in Egypt, was simply a reflection or foreshadowing of Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God, whose blood saved all people from sin. Thus the events of the Paschal Mystery are a manifestation of God's infinite love and achieved redemption.
The Theological Virtue of Faith
Truths includes things such as God as a trinity of persons, Jesus Christ as a divine person with two natures, and and that Christ is truly presented in the Eucharist. As a natural consequence, once our limited human nature and understanding accepts these as facts, it will attempt to defend them. This may be fully understood as faith seeking understanding, which is the role of theological studies.
As Faith is a great gift from God, and is given to all who ask for it; however, it may be lost if neglected. In order to prevent this, one must live in Faith.
The Theological Virtue of Hope
"Hope is not the theological virtue by which we desire the kingdom of heaven and eternal life as our happiness, placing our our trust in Christ's promises and relying not on our own strengths, but on the help of the grace of the Holy Spirit" (CCC 1817-1818).
This virtue is the confident expectation that God will give us what is required to respond to His everlasting love, in order to attain a life of true sanctity. We are enabled, through Hope, to rely on the graces of God and to trust in his promises of both salvation and eternal life in Heaven.
Although every person is called to a life of holiness, this cannot be achieved solely by human strength; rather, it is necessary to ask for God's assistance. Hope is the reliance on the knowledge that God will give all the graces necessary to return His love and follow His will throughout the entirety that is life.
Like all of the other virtues, Hope must be nourished; this may be achieved through prayer. However, it can also be nurtured in others by reminding them of God's love and mercy and by praying for them.
The Theological Virtue of Charity
Sadly as a consequence of Original Sin, the call to love God may be thwarted or difficult; sins cause further separation from God. One will always fall short in love of God, however, with the virtue of Charity one will be able to respond to both God's love and be able to love thy neighbor as thy self.
The Lord's prayer, or the Our Father, and it is a model for all christian prayer; it is also considered the perfect prayer, as it summarizes the entire Gospel of Jesus Christ. It not only perfect for that reason, but also because Christ himself gave it so us as an example of how to pray to our heavenly Father as he had prayed it himself. However, we have a slight modification, we adress God as "Our Father"; whereas, Christ called him "My Father."
The following are expressions of prayer: Vocal, Meditative, and Contemplative.
The following are different forms of prayer: Blessing and Adoration, Petition, Intercession, Thanksgiving, Praise, and Contrition.
The First Mark: The Church is One
"We believe in One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church."
Through the profession of the Nicene Creed, at Sunday Mass, it is proclaimed we believe in the four marks of the Church. The first mark, the Church is One, is the foundation of the Church; just as we believe in one God, not many, so do Catholics believe that there was only one divinely instated church, not many.
When it is said that, "The Church is One", we are acknowledging the uniqueness and singularity of the Church. The Church is unique and singular in her origin, that she was founded by Christ. As Christ himself did say that he is only way to achieve salvation; in founding the Church on Earth, Christ gives all mankind the chance ti be fully united to Him, by becoming part of the Mystical Body of Christ. Lastly, it is also a sign of the strength and solidarity of the Church and her members.
The Second Mark: The Church is Holy
Christ has sanctified and fills her with so much grace, that she becomes sanctifying herself. The Church's holiness traces itself back to her origin in that she is united with Christ, that she is holy because her whole goal is simply to glorify God, and also because her purpose is to lead men to salvation and communion with God.
Although the Church is made up of the faithful, who are inherently sinful, we must remember that at her essence she is the "Mystical Body of Christ"; which, by that logic, completely and wholly perfect. Like Christ, the Church is amongst sinners and does not become sinful herself, rather her holiness transforms her members.
Also the Church consists of all its members including the members of the pilgrim Church, those in Purgatory, and those in Heaven.
The Third Mark: The Church is Catholic
The Church is Catholic in two seperate ways, firstly, in that she is whole and complete, has been fully united with Christ and received all of His holiness; secondly, she has received ultimate and total authority from Christ to fulfill her universal mission.
No single nation, ethnicity, or language can claim the Church as theirs alone, because like Christ she is for the whole of mankind.
The Fourth Mark: The Church is Apostolic
The Church is founded on the Apostles in the following threefold senses: Apostolic Foundation, Apostolic Faith, and Apostolic Succession.
Furthermore, it is the body of the shepherds, or the members of the Church, who receive both their mission and powers from the apostles.
The Last Thing: Death
However, the surest way to die a happy death is to live a good christian life, and to guarantee your place in Heaven or Paradise.
The Last Thing: Judgement
Thus, immediately after death, each man receives his immortal soul and his eternal placement in the Particular Judgement. Then on, he will either go to purgatory to receive further purification while awaiting Heaven, Heaven, or to eternity in Hell. This transformation from life into the definite state would not be possible without this judgement, where one is placed before the judgement seat of Christ and receives either rewards or punishments for deeds accomplished while in the flesh.
This judgement is an act of which God opens the eyes of the soul and allows them to see with perfect clarity, so that he or she cannot dispute Him. By this act, the soul may understand its state of either union or separation from God.
The Last Thing: Heaven
The essential happiness in Heaven is that we have the immediate vision of God, of creatures in God, and the infinite joy of their vision. This joy and happiness in Heaven is completed as other souls enter Heaven, as loved ones still on Earth progress in their spiritual life, and as one's apostolic efforts bear fruit with the passage of time on Earth. This is completed when the glorification of one's own body at the Last Judgement.
The Last Thing: Hell
Death in mortal sin, without seeking either repentance or refuge in God's love for us, implies that one will be permanently separated from God for all eternity as a consequence of our free choice.
Ultimately, Hell is the eternal self-exclusion from the communion of God and the blessed in Heaven as a consequence or means of our own volition or free choice. Ironically the souls of Hell continually thirst for God all awhile hating Him.
From this perception, this marks the definite triumph of Christ over sin, death, and Satan. It was manifested in Christ's Resurrection and Ascension and can be fully shared through cooperation with His graces; however, it is completely manifested at this second coming, or at the end of the world.
Lastly, the Church Triumphant will reach her overflowing perfection and plentitude at this final moment of history, when Christ shall come to judge the world.