In Catholic teaching, it is believed that the wording in the Bible comes directly through that of God, that it is divinely inspired, each and every word having its meaning, perfect in its structure. One can hear this being announced during mass and readings of the Bible “this is the word of the Lord” wording that has been taken from (Peter 1:25) “But the word of the Lord endures forever’. And this was the word that was preached to you”.The origin of this form can be traced back to the General Instruction of the Roman Missal. It is stressed that the process of the word of god, the divine truth was chosen to be delivered and put into word by select men “they made use of their powers and abilities, so that with Him acting in them and through them” to put the word into writings, to be delivered to the followers of the Catholic Church. Peter, a friend of Jesus wrote “Above all, you must understand that no prophecy in Scripture ever came from the prophets themselves, it was the Holy Spirit who moved the prophets to speak from God” (Peter,1:20-21)
However, the books and writings must be continuously interpreted, studied and examined as they are spoken from God as sacred scripture through the work of human men. In Sacred Scripture, God speaks to man in a human way. “To interpret Scripture correctly, the reader must be attentive to what the human authors truly wanted to affirm, and to what God wanted to reveal to us by their words” (CCC,109) Interpretation is emphasised and having an awareness that language, culture and the time can all have an effect on how it is interpreted, thus the reader must have an awareness not to take writings out of context, but studied as a whole. (CCC,76). When interpreting the Bible, one can interpret from an academic aspect, seeing the Bible as a historic artifact, or one can see it as sacred and inspired scripture, and that those who wrote it, wrote it through a spiritual connection, that connection is referred to as the holy spirit. If interpreting the Bible through the holy spirit then that is what differentiates the reader as of Christian faith.
Task two: Christology
The Last Supper is probably one of the most renowned and famous paintings of artist Leonardo da Vinci. It took three years to complete, starting in 1495. The Last Supper depicts Jesus just moments after declaring to his followers that he is to be betrayed. “Truly one of you will betray me” (Matthew 26:17-30) When looking at this from a perspective of Christology we have to take into account the role Jesus is portrayed in here. This painting is closely connected with the theme of The Passion, Death and Resurrection and is documented in all of the gospels. The painting can be seen as a work of art that shows emotions of the human form, how each person in the painting responds differently to the news Jesus has just declared. At the centre, however, Jesus remains calm and assertive, qualities of solid leadership. Da Vinci relied on various characteristics of each apostle from the Bible to portray them and their physical location in the painting. Jesus can also be seen as a teacher here, as he stated at The Last Supper “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me”. (John14:6)
The Pieta which is probably one of the words most famous pieces of art, sculpted by Michelangelo and is located in The Vatican City, inside St. Peters Basilica. The word Pieta is derived from the Latin word “pietas” which describes an eternal love, one that surpasses death. It is this love that is passed on in acts such as the Eucharist. Michelangelo has in this piece shown how Christ died in suffering and all that he persevered to bring eternal life. This is also reflected in the suffering of humans on Earth. “If anyone wishes to come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me” (Luke 9:23). Jesus tells his followers that suffering is universal and to be accepted, and with acceptance comes peace. This is resonated in the facial expressions of both figures in the sculpture, Mary portrayed quite peaceful, with an open palm representing compassion, with a sense of dignity captured in a moment of such suffering. The piece itself has no Literary source but is symbolic of the mourning and loss over Christ’s body.
TASK 3: Ecclesiology
The ‘Four Marks of the Church’ are four characteristics of the church that are inseparably linked together, “indicating essential features of the church and her mission”. (CCC 811)
The outward manifestations of the marks are there to be witnessed by all, however, it is through Catholic faith that one believes that such marks exist through the action of God. The Four Marks are; One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic.
One refers to unity in God, that there is one God and what unites people in the image of God is love, which is referred to as the bond of charity. This act of love and belief in one God is true Faith, which is strengthened by worship and the Sacraments. Worship and Sacraments are distributed by the hierarchy of the church, such as The Pope and clergy. In the book of Acts, it describes a community ‘faithful to the fellowship’ who are united in ‘heart and soul’. (Acts. 2:42) ” The church finds an understanding of Unity in the image of the body of Christ” (Franchi & McKinney, 2011)
The second mark is signified by ‘Holy, stating that the church itself is loved by God, which is in union with God and that she is united with Jesus Christ. Members are urged to use the sacraments to grow in holiness, “by the grace of God we acquire holiness.”(CCC 824) The church is seen that she has universal access through salvation in Christ, and what the church receives from Christ, can project that to the world.
The final mark of the Catholic Church is that it is Apostolic that the knowledge it has been given is one that it must pass on, ‘As the father sent me so am I sending you’ (John 20:21).
The book of Revelations states that the heavenly Jerusalem was built upon the foundation’s stones of the twelve apostles. “The wall of the city had twelve foundations bearing the name of the twelve apostles of the Lamb” (Revelations 21:14) The church takes the teachings that she received and pass it on to her followers, with the same concept of universality and consistency with the same teachings. Those who are responsible for the oversight of these teachings being passed on are the Bishops of the church, and the Pope, who guarantees the unity of the church.
TASK 4.: Sacraments
The Eucharist is humankind’s way of receiving and feeling Christs love first hand, this is the very essence of Catholicism and Christianity. This act is also known as Holy Communion or the Blessed Sacrament and it is a process which ties the believer to the savior. It is this act of love that resonates with the Catholic Churches teachings on Social Justice, which is equality and respect for all mankind, and through this act the believer is reminded of the mission of the church. “Taking part in the Eucharistic sacrifice, which is the fount and apex of the whole Christian life, they offer the Divine Victim to God, and offer themselves along with It”. (Lumen Gentium, 11.5)
The Eucharist is a way for Christians to experience a connection with Christ, and with this connection can continue to live in a manner expressed through Catholic teachings. By taking the Eucharist, Christians keep the value of social justice as a foundation of their daily life, “Human society, as we picture it, demands that men are guided by justice”( Pope John XIII, Pacem In Terris). The Eucharist is the body, blood, soul and divinity of Jesus Christ present through bread and wine, not merely symbolically, but really ,truly and substantially present. Thus the Catholic church, through its Council of Trent meetings wanted to emphasise the true presence of Christ at the Eucharist. Unlike Protestant reformers at the time which believed in the Eucharist being figurative, the bread signifying Christ’s body and his presence in virtue, the Catholic church declared that it was really , truly and substantially Jesus the Lord.