One quote I think about often:
There are not one hundred people in the United States who hate The Catholic Church, but there are millions who hate what they wrongly perceive the Catholic Church to be.
—Fulton J. Sheen
Catholics, if we are enacting something that we have defined and instituted in our own church via the revelation of the Lord, and with the purpose of his glory and the worship of him, and consistent with our proclaimed belief in the reality of transubstantiation (truly, we say, the Lord is present during the Mass in his Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity), can be trusted to say that we do not, in fact, re-kill Jesus at each Mass.
The Church declares it:
Jesus does not offer himself to God as a bloody, dying sacrifice in the Mass, but as we offer ourselves, a "living sacrifice" (Rom. 12:1). As this passage indicates, the offering of sacrifice does not require death or the shedding of blood. If it did, we could not offer ourselves as living sacrifices to God. Jesus, having shed his blood once for all on the cross, now offers himself to God in a continual, unbloody manner as a holy, living sacrifice on our behalf. (source)But let's take a step back from Catholicism for a moment. Let's talk about the nature of religion. The nature of God.
How sure can we be that everything we've seen, read, heard, experienced lends itself to an accurate . . . how to say it? . . . date source for answering certain questions with major repercussions: Does God exist? Does a god exist? Multiple gods? How does the universe function? Who am I? What kind of possession can I maintain of myself? Can I know the world around me?
Catholicism, again for example, teaches, one, that God is infinitely greater than the human mind can grasp—to Pseudo-Dionysius, for example, he is ineffable, and that ineffability reveals itself in a dichotomy of affirmations and negations of his nature—and, two, that one inherent characteristic of the Christian spiritual life is a breaking down and rebuilding of the person's understanding of God, a movement away from knowledge via the physical senses alone to the reality of God as spirit who communicates in the end not to the mind but to the soul.
One of my greatest frustrations lies in the complete unconcern on behalf of so many people for what lies outside of our minds. If my religious studies professor can live in a world in which she believes an untruth as the one aforementioned—one that is fundamentally in opposition to and in conflict with what the Catholic Church represents—is it not possible that the remainder of us are greatly deceived about aspects of our reality, too?
This yields one of the greatest, age-old questions: How can we know what is true? Is anything true? How do we discern between two "truths"—or, better yet, what do we do when someone, some body, makes a claim on truth in the midst of a world in which no other such claims exist?
I'll soon make a stab at the question of truth. But one thing I've realized is that everything about our life, our framework for living, our reasons and our intellects, and our senses of being and identity, point to something particular: There is a natural tendency towards knowing.
Somewhere, at some point, we must begin with an assumption. I assume that I can know, and that I can know in part by experience. Others assume they cannot—and they often drive themselves into absurd, unsustainable, lifeless philosophies (that are also often contenting and natural). To what degree can we trust ourselves? How do we deal with things like Christian revelation? Is it possible, if perhaps I step out of my framework of thought, to understand why certain religions orient themselves towards the divine?
All of these questions to mull over! And they all stem from the threshold of knowing. Do we know things? Can we know things? Do we choose not to know more, or to be open to a challenge to what we know, because of things we have come to know already?