The continuity of Jesus Christ through history has been shown in many examples all through the community. These are the people (who we learned this semester) who I consider maintained the teachings of Jesus Christ. Paul and Barnabus’s first missionary journey was to spread and preach the word of God, but was not warmly received by the Jews. Silas and Timothy joined Paul on his second missionary journey. Together Paul made three journeys around the eastern end of the Mediterranean Sea resulting in the establishment of numerous Christian Churches. The story of Blandina’s martyrdom, and her undeniable and courageous strength of faith in Christianity is another example of continuing the Christian tradition. St. Justin (d. 165 A.D.) was the first great Christian apologist known to us by works of any considerable lengths. He attempted to teach and write about the Christian faith, eventually coming to Rome, but was persecuted by his preaching. Athanasius was a great bishop of Alexandria, Egypt who was removed from office five different times but fought resolutely to preserve the truth about Jesus Christ against the Arians.
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I discovered the value of the major development and key persons in Church history. Some of the major developments were the disciples longing for the Messiah, which was Jesus, sent by God. The last supper was the ritual meal that was repeated in remembrance of him, Jesus showed the Apostles how they should serve one another and share the word of God. This was the coming-to-birth church, celebrating its first Eucharist. The Resurrection was the crucial event for the Church. Without it, the Apostles would have certainly disbanded, and Jesus would be forgotten. The Council of Jerusalem was the turning point of Christianity. The Christians in Jerusalem called a meeting about the question of the Gentiles’ not observing the Jewish Law. As a result Paul was able to preach, and utilize his freedom of speech. It was a turning point that eventually would enable the Church to spread throughout the world. By the end of the first century, the break between Christianity and Judaism became final and complete. Heresies began to erupt within the Church, thus the ramification cultivated into two beliefs. The Gnostics believed that everything, including the human body was evil and the Aranians denied Jesus’ divinity. The crusades were seen by most Christians at the time as a great act of faith. Yet is has been one of the sorriest chapters of Christian history. Monasticism was on the way during the fourth century. We extensively learned that it was the movement of men and women to shift way from the world to pursue holiness.
Early monasticism certainly had its scholars, such as Jerome, but the primary prominence of the ancient desert monks and nuns was not on “right thinking” but on “a right heart”. Two intellectual giants were giving further shape to what it means to be Christians. They were Augustine and Ambrose. Augustine is one of the most significant figures in Christian history and Ambrose was his studious mentor. His most well known sayings speaks a familiar truth to anyone who has ever searched with longing for fulfillment but come up empty over and over: “Our hearts are restless, O Lord, until they rest in you.” Leo the Great was known during his years as the pope that stands out as shaping the role of the papacy into a force for leadership of the Western world. He was famous for his short but eloquent sermons that packed churches. “Pontifex Maximus” was another title for he was a spiritual father, but also a powerful state official. The sources of new light for the church were two Benedictine monks who lived at approximately the same time: Boniface and Bede. Boniface, an untiring traveler, is remembered as “the Apostle of German”. Bede, who spent his childhood and entire adult life in one monastery, is known for his contribution to Christian scholarship and history. Martin Luther was a scholar who had studied the church fathers and the Bible. Luther’s famous Ninety-Five Theses initiated a radical change of history. Luther’s theses were statements about sin and its forgiveness, the meaning of indulgences, and the pope’s power to grant indulgences. Luther’s impact grew on many people to side with him and believe in Lutheranism, but fights also transpired between Lutherans and Catholics.
There are six ways of looking at the structure and the inner workings of the Church. First, the Church as Body of Christ or People of God-we profess the same catholic faith, we celebrate the same sacrament and we love one another and serve the poor. Second, the Church as Institution or hierarchical structure-structure includes certain roles and certain rules. Third, the Church as sacrament- Jesus is referred to as the Sacrament of God because he embodies and is a sign and cause of God’s loving action in the world. Fourth, the Church as Herald- trumpeting and proclaiming both equal the good news of God and bearing witness to the Gospel. Examples of the media of mass communication consist of TV and radio programs, church publications (bible and magazines) and Internet sites. Fifth, the Church as Servant- the image of Jesus washing the feet of the Apostles on the night before he died is an illustration. Examples of the Church serving needs human needs incorporate: Catholic schools, hospitals, orphanages, and nursing homes. Finally Sixth, the Church as community of Disciples- to be a discipleship of Jesus you must imply a change to be different and a willingness to accept the cost of discipleship…the suffering…. ridicule, economy disadvantage, and even martyrdom. The Church serves as an institution, such as, a college or a hospital, to promote a munificent nature towards society, just as the Church is doing to us. The Church is really our friend, because the relationship between friends is composed of reliance, reverence, and contentment. The Church acts on all this because of the presence of Jesus Christ is within the Church to satisfy the bond of the friendship with the Church and us. With the service of the Church also comes with love that we endure in our faith everyday.
After reviewing all of the great and important people who had an affect on Church history, the one person who stuck out for me was St. Paul. The life and faith St. Paul demonstrated can teach a great deal about life in Christ. The examples set by St. Paul can edify our desire to become stronger Christians. The characteristics that Paul of Tarsus beholds are he is very audacious, because no matter what the situation is he is not frightened of it. An example was that when he was on his first missionary journey at local synagogues through Asia Minor he was ignored, beaten, and even stoned. In my opinion, his faith in Christ must have been strong, because he endured suffering physical pain for his love of Christ. Wherever Paul went, he met many people that were cynical of him. This never changed his faith because he knew that the day he experienced the conversation with Jesus Christ that it was true. It teaches us to never doubt the teaching of the Church no matter what some people might say. He also teaches us to love our enemies, in any situation that we encounter. After reading about St. Paul, I realized how many obstacles he went through to serve God and not to be afraid to be more “Christian”.
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