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Wednesday, January 31, 2007

The Fullness of the Cake...uh...Faith

Tonight at RCIA, some people expressed discomfort with the idea that the Catholic faith was the "one true faith", feeling that it's almost elitist. It's an understandable feeling, especially given our culture of relativism. "What's true and good for you is not true and good for me." This idea has so pervaded everything that people are afraid to stand up and speak the simple truth for fear someone might disagree and call them a fascist.

As our discussion continued on from that general topic onto other paths, a thought came to me, and I wondered how to bring it up again, because their concern about the idea of "elitism" really hadn't been answered. Yet is is an honest concern, and deserves an honest answer.

One woman brought it up again, providing the opening for me to interject what had come to me as our topic of conversation had moved on.

Let's say I have this wonderful, glorious cake. It's huge, it's your favorite kind, it's made completely from scratch, no mixes, and I walk right up to you and offer this cake to you. The entire thing. Not because you merit the cake in any way, but "just because." Because you deserve to have a huge cake like this one, with ALL the trimmings, made from scratch.

So say you accept this wonderous cake. Do you just dig into it? Maybe, but more likely you realize that this is meant to be shared, and you'll enjoy it more if you share it, because it's fun to explore something with others who share the same enthusiasm. You see that there are other cakes around, similar to this one, and they are indeed cake, but they don't have the same quality in the cake you have. So you offer to share pieces of your cake with the others who also like cake.

Having this cake doesn't make YOU any better; you are simply the person it was given to, and you accepted it as a gift. And because it's so wonderful and wholesome, you are excited to share it even with those who might already have some cake, because yours has the whole package. They are free to refuse, and you are not offended if they do because you recognize them as fans of cake, so together you simply enjoy your different choice of cakes. We all have to respect the decisions of others, even when we know we have a better product.

But who's to say that the friend doesn't later come back and ask for some of your cake? Who's to say that your friend doesn't get tired of the dried out frozen version processed in a lab somewhere, and come hunting for the real thing?

Keep in mind this entire time; the cake was a free gift to you. You did nothing to merit it, and having ownership of the glorious cake doesn't make you better than anyone else. The CAKE is better, the quality is better than the other cakes, but maybe some people don't like the flavor you have, or maybe they don't want the frosting, or maybe they think they're allergic to some of the contents they think are inside the cake. Maybe they like cookies are are fundamentally suspicious of cake because they were raised without it and told it would only lead to health problems.

Each one of us is offered the gift of Each one of us in the Catholic Church has been called by God to join the Church, to find the fullness of this wonderous gift. And we are called to share it, even with others who might enjoy a different type of cake...or faith.

We don't warrant the gift we have been handed, but we don't look down on those who perhaps don't share our belief that our gift, our Faith, is the corrrect one, the fullness with EVERYTHING. Maybe they prefer Sara Lee, and maybe they're comfortable with that. Let them be; love them because they still love cake, too. They share our passion for the, that is. Let God call them, and focus on the gifts God is giving YOU, focus on where God is leading YOU, and just be open to sharing that gift with others.

We can recognize the truth for ourselves, but we also have to understand that our interior recognition doesn't come from us; it comes from God, and He has a plan. Just be careful, in your recognition of what the Catholic Church is, to not submit to spiritual pride. It is humility to recognize and speak the truth, but this can be done without giving in to the sin of pride, whioh would be like saying, "I'm better than you because I have a bigger cake and mine is made from scratch!".

Sure, it's a better cake...and it's ok to recognize quality. It's proper to admit that the Catholic Church has the fullness of the Christian faith. But it is not proper to suggest that others are less holy and have less merit because they happen to be enjoying the particular kind of cake they were given.

God has a plan for each and every one of us. In the Catholic Church, we have the ENTIRE cake made from scratch, that is, instituted by Jesus Christ himself. There are no artificial ingredients. The frosting is real frosting, and the cake is real cake. It's not frozen, it's not Betty Crocker or Sara Lee, and from the advent of cake to the end of time, there will ALWAYS be cakes made from fresh ingredients, not processed powder. Just as the Catholic Church has endured for 2,000 years, the teachings of faith and morals consistent in spite of the constant pressures of the world, internal and external, to change those teachings.

Other religions, other "cakes" have come and gone, some having more influence than others. But if you look throughout history, they have splintered, many are spintering now...and thus they will crumble like all the others. But the Catholic Church endures and will continue to endure, for the Lord put the seal of the Holy Spirit upon her, and called us to share in that annointing. To follow Jesus to the end of time, from the very beginning.

It IS proper to admit that the Catholic Church is the one true faith, but we have to remember other Christian faiths share many of the same fundamental elements; the belief in the Trinity, life after death, that Jesus Christ is our Lord and Savior, and we share our love of being Christians.

Yet I still offer this disclaimer; while I love my friends of Protestant faiths, and I respect that they have chosen to follow X faith, or enjoy X type of processed cake, I also will not budge in my knowledge that the Catholic Church is the One, Holy Apostolic faith and I want to share this wonderful gift with EVERYONE.

And further disclaimer; although I am Catholic,it does not make me holier than anyone else. I know many Protestants, whom I believe to be far holier than I. My only desire for them is to find the wealth the Church has to offer them and to one day stand weeping as they are recieved into the fold.

We all have a choice, we all have God-given free will. For myself...I thank God every day for offering me this glorious cake, for it has brought me to the foot of the cross and into the embrace of Jesus.

Now...who wants a slice? I've got forks to spare, and ice-cream on the side!

God bless you!


Anonymous said...

This post....takes the cake! (awww..groan...somebody had to say it!) But Adoro, seriously - what an excellent analogy!!!

Unknown said...

That is very good, Adoro. Yum!

You always might want to ask if Luther, Calvin, Zwingli and other protestant leaders since the 16th Century were apostles of Our Lord Jesus Christ?

Also, who assembled the Bible; and who decided that seven books weren't necessary?

Or was Jesus wrong and he allowed His Church to wallow in error for 1500 years until the right persons came along?

Or you could ask of them which of the 30,000 or so demoninations is the correct one? Or all they all correct, no matter what they believe or practice?

Jennifer @ Conversion Diary said...

Great point. I'll have to remember this analogy. It's hard for me to address that when people make that point becuase it's so far from the way I see it. To me, that mentality sounds like the all-too-common notion of choosing your denomination based on what's comfortable and what fits your personality as opposed to seeking truth.

To me, the Church considering itself the one true faith is no different than the Law of Gravity being the one true description of the force of attraction between masses. It's not elitist, just true. :)

Adoro said...

Thanks for your comments, everyone.

I just edited to clarify a few points, hope it works!

I have NO IDEA where the idea came from, but I liked it, too. It's actually clarified a few things for me, although I don't question this teaching on the basis of the theology I know.

I think that sometimes God just gives us the ideas we need when hard-core theology (which we don't always know or understand, anyway) won't work.

God is so good to us!

Sarah Reinhard said...

This is a great analogy, Adoro. You need to keep that "phone line" you've got going on with the Holy Spirit open...because you're great at expressing it. :)