The Christian faith was revealed to us by Jesus, the Son of God and at over two thousand years old, it has incredibly rich traditions and truths that have been passed on from generation to generation. But, what is it fundamentally about? There’s a famous verse from the Bible that sums it up well.
‘For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.’ John 3:16
This truth is what is referred to as the gospel, meaning ‘good news’. The good news is that God loves us as we are, but wants to call us into the fullness of life. The Catechism of the Catholic Church tells us that:
‘God ... in a plan of sheer goodness freely created man to make him share in his own blessed life. For this reason, at every time and in every place, God draws close to man. He calls man to seek him, to know him, to love him with all his strength.’ CCC 1:1
As such, the Christian life cannot be a life of going through the motions, or something that is abstract. As author G.K. Chesterton put it, ‘Let your religion be less of a theory and more of a love affair.’ Christianity is fundamentally a relationship of love between God and mankind
In the Diocese of Arundel & Brighton, we want to help guide everyone on this lifelong journey of growing deeper into the fullness of life that the gospel offers us. There are three main ways we do this.
Prayer is the bedrock of our relationship with God, formation helps us to grow as Christians and our mission is the work that Jesus has called us to in this life.
Prayer is the raising of one's heart and mind to God, or the requesting of good things from God.Visit Page
By learning this art of living from Jesus, we become formed into his likeness and can better love those in our lives.Visit Page
Christians are a people who have a mission - Jesus has given us a work to do.Visit Page
As part of this lifelong journey, the Church sustains us with the Sacraments. The sacraments manifest God’s love for us, from the day of our birth, throughout our lives and all the way to the hour of our death. The seven sacraments are Baptism, Confirmation, Holy Communion, Reconciliation, the Anointing of the Sick, Holy Orders and Marriage.
At the Last Supper, “Jesus took bread and when he had said the blessing, he broke it and gave it to the disciples. “Take it and eat;’ he said, ‘this is my body.’ Then he took a cup and when he had returned thanks, he gave it to them. ‘Drink all of you from this,’ he said, ‘for this is my blood the blood of the covenant, which is to be poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.’”
Jesus takes bread and wine – simple things used in the Passover Meal that had been celebrated since Moses led the people of Israel out of Egypt – and something new and wonderful happens. These are new words, they are not the words of the Passover celebration. “This is my body…this is my blood.” Jesus gives us Himself. “I am the bread of life. Anyone who eats this bread will live forever, and the bread that I shall give is my flesh for the life of the world.”
The Eucharist, given to us by Jesus at the Last Supper, is the high-point of the life of the Church. It is the greatest prayer we have, the most wonderful celebration possible in this world.
When we celebrate the Eucharist, we give thanks (“Eucharist” means “Thanksgiving”). The Eucharist is Sacrifice – Jesus Himself acting through the ministry of the priest, Himself offers the Eucharistic Sacrifice and makes Himself truly present. The word ‘transubstantiation’ explains that Jesus Himself changes the very substance of bread and wine into His Body and Blood. The Eucharist is more than a reminder – Jesus is active and truly present.
When Communion is received we are one with Jesus. Because we are one with Him, we are one with our brothers and sisters who share in the “one bread and the one cup.” We are also at one with the Church in heaven, with Mary and the Saints who have “gone before us with the sign of faith.”
The Eucharist is also about our Mission – the word “Mass” comes from our being sent out from the celebration on the mission that God has given to us. We give thanks and are fed with the Body and Blood of Jesus, enabling us to go out into the world to be His people and bring Him to others.
By Bishop Richard Moth
‘I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.’