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

Original Sin

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

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

The Fall of our original parents resulted in a separation between God and the human race; not just in a physical manifestation, but also in a spiritual abyss as our kind had once had a close relationship with Him. They had disobeyed God's one proclamation in the Garden, that they could not eat of the fruit of The Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil; alas, they gave into the temptation of Satan, to become "like God". This Original Sin was an outright rejection of God's holiness, goodness, and his will for mankind as a whole; it was an attempted usurpation of God's authority. It is important to ask oneself the seriousness of a committed sin. As God was the offended one, in the case of Original Sin, and his dignity is infinite then the seriousness of sin must be infinite as it managed to offend God. This resulted in quite a conundrum as reparation could not have been made by a finite being as sin is infinite.

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

The Word became flesh, in order to display the immensity of God's love for man; so we would not serve him out of fear, rather out of love. As God is entirely perfect he has no true need for a man, as he does not need anything; however, as a manifestation of his love he created the human race to share in his happiness. Although Adam and Eve sinned, God did not simply discard them as a result, but devised a plan of redemption. Part of this entailed becoming a man and share in the human experience; to reveal his great love. In this, God actually bore and suffered for the sins of all people; his love was perfectly demonstrated in the Passion and Death on the Cross.

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 Word became flesh so as to set an example of the holiness and the dignity of the human person; how, with grace, we may overcome temptations, the Devil, and the nature of our own flesh. Thus the life us Christ is an inspiration for mankind, as he shows the potential of man. Without the quintessence of Christ's life to imitate, we could never had hoped to meet their spiritual and moral calling. In the Sermon on the Mount, Christ gave all of his disciples the Beatitudes, a manual to achieve spiritual greatness. Likewise, the Gospels are not only intended to be studied but to be lived and carried out. One of Christ's objective, was through his teachings to instruct how to live saintly lives; both his life and teachings coincide with this idea.

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

Shockingly, one of the reasons God became man was to experience and participate in his own divine life. The Gospels call on mankind to share in God's infinite love and divine life through Jesus Christ and by the powers of the Holy Spirit; this participation is only possible through the sanctifying graces Christ bestowed us with through His redemption.

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

As Christ possessed both a human and divine nature, every word and action had infinite supernatural value, merits, and grace. This includes why God became flesh to show us the truth and suffer and die for Man's salvation and to atone for our sins; which was confirmed through Christ's resurrection. From the earliest Christian onward to present day, the Paschal Mystery, has been referred to as the Passion, Death, and Resurrection of Jesus Christ. These are the culmination of the redemptive mission, which began at Christ conception; although the plan for redemption was put into place immediately after Original Sin was committed. This took place in his suffering and Death on the Cross, after which He rose again; a clear victory of Christ over death and the workings of Satan.

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

The Virtue of Faith is inserted into soul, by God, at Baptism to assist in the acceptance of the truth He has revealed to the Church. This virtue is a person's belief in God and the application of one's heart and soul to the adherence to God's Revelation. This requires a person to accept the truths guaranteed by God's all encompassing authority. Faith cannot be contradicted by human reason, because by definition, it is based on God's truth; instead, it enables a person to believe and wholly understand the truths beyond the scope of human understanding.

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

As God loves all of His creation both freely and unconditionally, without limits or requirements; so does Charity allow a person to love God above all other things. Since God is our Creator, Father, and Savior every person should find it rather natural to love God, as he had first loved us. The greatest fruit we received through Christ's redemption was the ability to love as Christ loved, through the virtue of Charity. Every virtue is at the service of the fulness of charity. Therefore, as charity is practiced or one puts into use the other virtues, one may grow like Christ in the ability to love God and Thy neighbor.

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.

Prayer

A relationship is formed by forming bonds with friends, through mutual communication and dialogue. Likewise, prayer is simply a dialogue with God, or an inner communion or conversation, and as we pray we further deepen or relationship with God; just as regular communication with friends strengthens a friendship. With prayer comes spiritual nourishment, and as a natural consequence, God becomes more and more present in our lives.

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

Holiness is attained through Christ and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit; likewise, the Church is holy in that she was founded by Christ and through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. This holiness comes solely and completely from God.

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

Although, in present day, the word "Catholic" is typically used in a similar way as a denomination term, which refers to a specific or limited group of Christians; however, this is exactly the opposite of its true meaning and purpose. The word actually comes from the Greek word Katholikos, which means "universal" or "pertaining to the whole".

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 fourth mark pertains primarily to Christ's selection of the Twelve Apostles as the foundation of His Church. These men were chosen not only to be the foundation of His Church, but also to be witnesses to his Resurrection, and ambassadors to the entire world. They chosen as the symbolic rulers of the Twelve Tribes of Israel, and were entrusted with Christ's authority to teach, sanctify, and govern the Church.

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

The Church can most easily be described as the divinely instituted institution that seeks the salvations of the souls of all mankind. Furthermore, immediately at death the soul leaves the body and is immediately judged by and before God, which is also known as the Particular Judgement. Conversion to the faith is no longer possible and one will go consequently to either Heaven, Hell, or Purgatory.

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

Although the New Testament primarily refers to judgement as that of the final meeting with Christ when He comes again; there are also references within the Sacred Scripture of the judgement that is encountered immediately after death. This judgement is a form retribution as a consequence either of one's faith or deeds while amongst the living.

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 state at which we attain everlasting life in that we get to see God, become like Him in His glory, and enjoy eternal happiness. All souls who are in Heaven have an immediate vision of God, they have either made up their sins on earth or in purgatory. Although there are various degrees of love and friendship in Heaven through cooperation with His grace, each person receives the full measure of happiness that is desired similar to jars filled to the brim.

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

Hell is the definite state of those who, in life, by their choice alone have rejected God's infinite love and salvation. As we can only be united with God if we freely choose to love Him; therefore, we cannot love him if we sin wickedly or grievously against Him, our neighbor, or our own selves.

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.

Parousia

Parousia, is a Greek word that means "apparition" or "presence"; this term is used in reference for the coming of the Lord. At this moment Christ will appear in his infinite power and majesty as judge and establish his kingdom in complete fulness. At this General Judgement, God's goodness will shine and allow all to see Jesus Christ's final victory on Earth. It will be revealed to us why God sometimes allows for the good to suffer and the bad to prosper, we will see all of the good and bad effects of human actions. Souls will be reunited with their now immortal bodies in the resurrection. This the point at which the good will come to Heaven while sending the wicked into Hell.

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.