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BY KENNETH C. ALIMBA

About This Booklet

It can be easy to lose sight of the true meaning of things, especially when many people misinterpret or do things incorrectly. This booklet goes in-depth on what it truly means to be a Catholic and what the mission of the Church is. It is a great privilege to be called to this glorious, yet perilous, road to heaven. It is glorious because it guarantees a crown in the end, but it is also perilous as it is a road that is drenched in the blood of the Apostles and Jesus.

Warning

This is intended for print, so the language may show it.

Copyright

© 2023 Kenneth C. Alimba. No part of this booklet may be reproduced without the express permission of the author. I intend to spread the gospel, and I grant permission for reprinting but with conditions, so feel free to send us a message using the Contact Page.



How To Be A Real Catholic

THE ORIGIN OF THE CHURCH

The Catholic Church is the Church of the Apostles, founded on Peter, its first Pope. This is the Church founded by Jesus when He gave Peter the “Keys to the Kingdom of Heaven” with the power to “Bind and Loose” (cf Matthew 16:19).

There are many debates as to which Church is “the Church” from where others broke off into smaller groups, but the point should be to follow the journey of Peter himself. Seeing as he is the Prince of the Apostles, where ever he went, the Church of Christ went. And we know from history that Peter resided and died in Rome, as did most of the other Apostles, including Paul, who was beheaded outside its walls. Paul’s body rests at the Basilica of Saint Paul Outside The Walls in Rome.

And in the Basilica of St Peter in Rome is the Tomb of St Peter, the Church’s first Pope. There have been two hundred and sixty-six (266) Popes in the history of the Church, starting with St Peter to Pope Francis, the current Pope. This line of succession has gone unbroken till our day.

THE POWER OF CHRIST AND THE APOSTLES

When the Father sent the Son, He anointed him with the Holy Spirit – which is where the name “Christ” came from, meaning “The Anointed” (cf CCC 438 2nd Edition). With this commissioning, God sends His Son to speak and act in His name. Everything he did, he did in the name of the One who sent him, as indicated in many places (e.g. John 12:49). He was, in a sense, an Apostle of God the Father while still being Son.

When Jesus commissioned the Apostles, he gave them the Holy Spirit and sent them so that they, too, went to all the corners of the earth with His authority. This is the same authority he had received from the Father, which is why before his ascension, he said:

“All power in heaven and on earth has been given to me; therefore, go..” Matthew 28:18-19

In sending them, he made Apostles of them, as his Father did. And they are to act freely in his name. To perform even explicitly divine actions, which included the forgiveness of sin. 

“Jesus said to them again, ‘Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so, I am sending you.‘ And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you withhold forgiveness from any, it is withheld.'” John 20:21-23

He gave them mission and the power to confer mission. So, by their ordination and commissioning, the Apostles had the power to ordain and commission others to also act in the name of Christ. This power is so great it is meant to scandalize those who do not understand the plan of God as it did when Christ acted in the Father’s name, to the point of forgiving sins (cf Mark 2:5-12).

THE POINT OF THE CHURCH, ITS FUNCTION

The plan of God was always to live among men – to commune and to shape the world alongside his creatures. This is communicated in many ways throughout the scriptures:

“And let them make me a sanctuary, that I may dwell in their midst.” Exodus 25:8:

“I will make my dwelling among you. And I will walk among you and will be your God, and you shall be my people.” Leviticus 26:11-12

“I will make a covenant of Peace with them. It shall be an everlasting covenant with them.. and will set my sanctuary in their midst forevermore. My dwelling place shall be with them, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. Ezekiel 37:26-27

And to live inside us and make our bodies his temples. 

“Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone, in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord. In him, you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit” Ephesians 2:20-22

“Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you?” 1 Corinthians 3:16

“Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body” 1 Corinthians 6:19-20

Employing a few Analogies:

So, when the Father sent the Son, it was to build a new Ark, except this Ark would be Jesus himself. And we enter this Ark by the Sacrament of initiation, aka Baptism. And we also receive the Holy Spirit, and then we fully become a part of this Ark. But it is more than just this; we are also arks ourselves because the ‘stuff’ this Ark is made of is also inside of us. This is the Holy Spirit. So, being initiated in Jesus, in whom is the Spirit, we share in his Life too, and that is how we become Sons. However, we are not sons in isolation but part of this singular Ark (which is why we pray ‘OUR Father’). The head of which is Christ. In this Ark, there is a co-mingling of the nature of God and Man, and we are being reconciled with the Father again. So once you enter here, you have a new identity and mark. You are washed clean in Christ’s blood and given a new name. Your old self dies, and you become a new being. You become divine.

This Ark is divine since it is Christ himself, and it is built from the earth all the way up to heaven since Christ himself is already ascended. It has many illustrations. It can also be seen as the door or the narrow path. Since it is through this place that we are made friends with God again after our initial fall.

So, after his death and resurrection, Jesus ascended and took a part of us with him. So that our humanity becomes a part of God, anyone who remains in this Ark by staying alive in Grace will eventually be saved. Since their identity can be confirmed as part of the Body of Christ, as being washed in the blood of the Lamb, and their robes shall be white as wool. Mortal sin means one has chosen to exit this Ark and take their chances outside this vessel of Life.

This Ark is also the Church since it is the Body of Christ. Now the Church is Christ on earth. A perfect way for God to fulfil his wish to be with and among His people. So each person is the temple/Ark of God, having the Holy Spirit in them. And when we gather, we make one temple, too and not many. We are one body; we are also many, it is a lot, but it is worth considering.

“..so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another” (Romans 12:5)

So, you are no longer yours; you now belong to God – your Life, your smile, your walk, your sleep, everything you do is divine. “For the Son of God became man so that we might become God” (On the Incarnation by St Athanasius). This means that God has passed onto us the transferable aspects of his divinity, like love, holiness, purity, etc., not the incommunicable ones like omnipresence and absolute simplicity. It is the most beautiful gift we could’ve asked for; I wonder why we get obsessed with small, unimportant things in our relationship with God.

So the point of the Church is to stretch the physical presence of Christ till the end of time. Christ only was on earth in the flesh for thirty-three years and worked for three in his ministry. But through his Church, he has been alive and active in the world for more than 2000 years now. This is the point of the Church. 

So through this Church, we can enter into the safe building, into the Body of Christ, we can receive all we need for salvation, and we can have a hope that is alive, a Faith that is true and a love that is fiery as we move around the world and set it on fire with the love of God.

INITIATION INTO THE BODY OF CHRIST, WHAT IS THE POINT

Baptism is the first Sacrament every Christian must receive to enter the Life of Christ, be part of His body, and receive a new identity. It washes away every sin, both the guilt and all temporal and eternal punishments due to them. It is a uniquely miraculous gift that God has given his Church through Christ.

We were dead under original sin – the old order collapsed with the sin of Adam, who unwittingly declared war on God. The solution is to recreate the world rather than destroy it; God came up with a genius plan to save the children of Adam. It involves them entering the Body of Christ, who himself is not only justified but is obedient to the Father unto death. Whose sacrifice perfectly expiates for the sins of all who are in him. So, those who wish to enter the new Life in Christ are purchased with the coins of the blood of the sacrificial Lamb. These people then function as members of the Body of Christ the Church and keep this gift intact by remaining united in Grace, avoiding mortal sins and yielding good fruits.

So with the waters of Baptism, one is washed from all of their sins, and by the invocation of the Trinity, a new life is imparted in their souls. This new Life is the Life of Grace in Christ and is what we refer to when we say someone is in the ‘state of grace’. But this new Life needs to be nurtured because just because we have this Life doesn’t mean we’re healthy. Life means we are capable of great things, of being truly and fully alive – with strong heartbeats and strong bones and muscles, consuming solid foods and sprinting when needed. But many who have this Life are leprous and are severely ailing. Walking sluggishly and breathing hot air, unable to run or resist the most rudimentary of obstacles. Some exist at the bottom of the spectrum of Life, sharing a slim border with death.

OBEDIENCE AND THE MASS

Some months ago, while the Archbishop of Calabar was celebrating Mass, I had a profound realization. I am probably building it up too much, but it struck me when he stood before the Altar, backing the people as he raised his hands to incense the Tabernacle. This is an act of obedience – all of the Mass is one giant act of obedience to the Father through his Son. Seeing the Eucharist as one act of sacrifice gets confusing, but it is. All these things we do at Mass: people uniting in the recitation of prayers, gestures, sitting, standing, kneeling. Reading the Bible, listening, clapping, and singing, it’s one giant act of obedience with which we are uniting our wills with the will of the Son, who does the will of the Father. And obedience is the underlying sacrifice that makes the whole enterprise meaningful, powerful and life-changing.

But in the end, the celebrant says, “Go in peace to love and serve the Lord”, sending us forth to continue in our lives to offer God unreserved obedience in how we live. Some people would say that this is the most critical aspect of the Mass – it is so vital the entire Eucharistic celebration got its name, “Mass”, from the dismissal in Latin “Ite Missa Est”, which means “Go, you are sent”. The word Missa comes from the word “missio”, which is the root of the word “mission”. This shows that the lives of each person leaving the Mass is one of continuous sacrifice to God. The liturgy does not end with that Mass but is continued all over the place, with each person living the very Life of Jesus. We are all sent, as the disciples, to preach the word of God everywhere and to be signs of God’s presence in the world through our words and deed.

The Mass is not only supposed to fill the soul with vibrancy and Life, especially for those in the State of Grace who receive the Eucharist, but it is supposed to fill us with the zeal to go around and spread the fruits of this encounter with the Lord with everyone we meet. Like Andrew, we run and announce, “I have found the Saviour” (cf John 1:41-42).

LIVING THE LIFE OF CHRIST, A NEW CREATION

Being a Catholic means living a Christocentric life. A life centred on Christ and the will of the Lord before every action. But it is more than just that. To be a new creation means we have to die first. This death happened at Baptism, which is how we receive a new identity and is more than just a stamp on our old Life. It is a complete infusion of Divine Life, something brand new. The old passes away, and we get something new, a life in Christ. And it is literally inside Christ, and we receive the Holy Spirit too to be perfectly configured into the Life of Christ and grafted onto his body as part of this one organism.

So it is more than ‘hey, you have to act this way if you want to stay’, and it is in a sense. But it is more like if you are part of this body, the evidence will be in how you behave and live. So if you are still wilfully holding onto your mortally sinful Life, it is evidence you are not part of this body, at least not anymore. The proof of an alive branch is moisture, vitality, rich leaves and, most importantly, fruits. If this branch refuses to bear fruit, it is cut off. Even though, in a sense, we cut ourselves away by mortal sins and cast ourselves in the fire that is never extinguished, which is attempting to ‘live’ outside of Life itself, who is God.

Being alive in Christ means death in many ways. It means, first, we have died to our old ways. It also means that we are no longer focused on the world’s comforts, especially if they are illicit and opposed to the law of the Spirit of Christ. We enjoy comforts only when they conform with the commands of Christ’s Spirit. But, no threat of withdrawal of said comforts make us sin, and no threat against our lives or the lives of anyone we love makes us choose mortal sin that destroys the Life of Christ in us. Suppose we choose anything above God and this Life of Grace in us. In that case, we are displaying evidence that even though we are alive in God, our lives are as yet fickle and not yet fully aflame with the love of God. We, therefore, cannot set anything else on fire with the little sparks we have, which seem to be extinguished quickly by any threat or temptation.

But we fan into flame this little spark (cf 2 Timothy 1:6) so that it can become a wildfire that engulfs the world and is impossible to put out, as any attempt fans it into more heat. Because the soul is aflame with true devotion and has attained union with Christ, it is a beautiful and sweet love relationship; the soul becomes one with him. And every rejection of created goods, every endurance of insult in his name, every rejection of evil and the act of choosing good even in the face of death makes this soul even more united with the Sacred Heart of Jesus, the Living Flame of Love.

When we wake up in the morning, we think of the one we love – for many people, that is some man or woman. This is a good thing since even in the Love of Jesus, we also share a deep love with one person, a love which leads to a union of souls in marriage. But this disciple who has united their hearts with Jesus thinks of him in the morning and at night. He calls his name lovingly upon waking and falls asleep with the sweet name of Jesus on his lips. It is a love affair evidenced by the Life on fire that flames upward. Even in the event of fall into mortal sin, the rise is swift and immediate – ‘I shall arise, and return to my Father’ (Luke 15:18).

So their old self that wants to please other people above Jesus dies. Because when they are among friends, and they do evil, he does not keep quiet and condone sin. He counsels his friends to rethink their ways and shows them Christ’s light. When he sees a woman he is attracted to and is considering striking a relationship with her for marriage, he considers her spiritual Life. He maintains a pure relationship, allowing for a clear-eyed decision-making process unmarred by lust. And when asked to compromise his ethics, especially in severe matters for money, he chooses to walk away from it. He is dead to sin and the manipulations of the world, the devil, and the flesh. His spiritual food is the Eucharist, and his lifeblood is the Spirit of God, who lives in and animates the Church.

Being a Catholic means doing one’s job with dignity, diligence, love and devotion. It means caring for your wife and husband with the very love of Jesus, being faithful to them and your family and showing your Son how to be a man. And your daughter how to be a lady who reflects the character of Mary, the Mother of the Lord. It means using every created good the way God intended them and giving glory to God with your Life.

It also means finding your ministry – what is your way of doing something extraordinary to propagate the Gospel of Christ or further our culture? Promoting the good parts of culture is part of spreading good morals. So we remain vigilant against countercultural influences and inappropriate and indecent content. These elements are becoming more prevalent in the music industry, movies, and TV shows. An example is the Big Brother program, which many people are glued to. Does the show promote decency, family values, and even a decent image of dating and Life? I have seen how this show destroys families, as I have sat with the families of one of the contestants. How hurtful and destructive it can be, and how it attacks the message of Christ and even the values of our cultures. So, how conscious are we of these things? Our call includes finding enjoyment for ourselves and our families in wholesome programs. That entertains and still does not put our souls at risk.

The world rejected Jesus, but his union with the Father, being himself the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity, gave him all the strength he needed to stay on course. This rejection was a huge temptation on his part since conformity is part of our nature as human beings. That even the only clean one among a band of dirty people wouldn’t mind rolling in mud to appear ‘normal’. But Jesus encourages us not to be afraid of being weird and odd in people’s eyes. To be united with him and enjoy the company of the Saints in heaven who intercede for us and our friends on earth who are on the same journey with us with whom we can enjoy great friendships. We will be pointed at and laughed at and even feel powerless because the world will appear to win. They will likely even kill us in their majority because we choose justice.

The price for being a Christian isn’t money or prestige. It is death, at least if you do your job right. It might not be only literal death; it can be losing your job for standing up for the truth or losing your family.

The idea that the journey of the follower of Jesus is tinselled with diamonds and Roses is one from the devil himself. It does not conform with the Gospels at all.

The narrow, obscure road is red with blood.

Your master was hung naked on the cross! All his Apostles were brutally tortured, and most of them killed; their blood ran the roads you now walk. If this doesn’t make you afraid of your calling as another Jesus on earth, then you have no idea where you are.

You are called to be another Christ; you will speak the truth again, even when it’s dangerous and inconvenient. You may be beheaded or shot dead. But that is the ONLY road for anyone who has ears for the loving call of Jesus.

You must be a light to all in darkness and constantly reform your Life. You must turn down millions in evil money and forgo so many pleasures to be on this path. This is the narrow road that very few men find. 

If, like Jesus, you walk it till the end, a crown is waiting for you.

YOU WILL FAIL, MAYBE EVEN FAIL WOEFULLY MANY TIMES

You will falter in your journey uphill; this is why we have a place for you to receive healing frequently. I cannot imagine anything better than this. Let us consider a point about the Person of Christ.

With his death and resurrection, the work of redemption is completed. Christ, objectively speaking, has redeemed the world. And he acquires a universal character. Everything and everyone belongs with Jesus, and culture, arts etc., everything finds its expression in Christ and flows to him. “everything is made through him and for him.. and in him, all things consist” (cf Colossians 1:16-17).

Sin is never private since everything is interconnected. Even the private sins people do are not private. Harming yourself is harming not only the Body of Christ the Church, and it is. Not only damaging the temple of the Spirit, and it is. But it is also harming the human family and culture. So, in the Sacrament of penance, we are reconciled to God and the Church. It is kneeling in the face of God, the Church and, in fact, all of human family and culture. Because mortal sin weakens the human fabric, and we sometimes cause irreparable harm to our world because, in our sins, we give a horrible example. We endorse evil, and it spreads in the hearts of others; we lead other people to their spiritual deaths, making them too disposed to lead others to death. We weaken our character and sometimes become unable to stand for the truth when we are called to do so. Our moral stronghold becomes too weak to support us, and even after we have received absolution, we quickly fall back into old sinful habits.

Mortal sins destroy us and everything we touch. Even our families are ruined when we are dead to Grace. We are meant to remain in Christ so that we can bear good fruits, and ‘cut from him, we can do nothing’ (cf John 15:5). This ‘nothing’ means we cannot truly do good outside of this Life of Grace. We cannot bear good fruits or impart the Life of Grace to other family members. The very Life of Grace belongs to Christ, but God has willed that man can impart it in union with Christ to others. But the principle where this Life comes remains only Jesus himself. So when we are cut from him, nothing with lasting and true goodness can come from us. We ruin everything with our half-measures, cowardice, selfishness, lies, and secrecy. 

When we receive absolution, we are restored. If we are genuinely sorry for our sins, destroy our links to our sins, restore all we have destroyed with our sins and do penance. God forgives us and restores the Life of Christ in us. Then we can minister to others, and they receive Jesus through us through our actions, words, and forgiveness.

CONTENDING WITH EVIL

We then enter the world to not only minister forgiveness and healing, just as we have received forgiveness and healing from the infinite mercy of God and by the Grace of the Spirit alive in us. We also enter the world to remake it in the image of Christ by contending actively with evil. We have discussed what this looks like in the preceding passages, but this is so serious it bears repeating. We have become light of the world (cf Matthew 5:14), and we must set ourselves upon a standard and hold ourselves high through our practice of virtue so that we can shine upon the world. The job of light is to fight and dispel darkness, which is what we are to do if we want to remain attached to Christ. We cannot accept the ways of the world and accept culture without raising it up by Grace to become befitting of the children of God in Christ. 

We then seek purity in our relationships with others, in our dating culture. We will seek Peace with everyone we meet but with courage, ready to defend ourselves against the abuse of wicked men who take advantage of the weak. We will seek true, unmarred beauty in the arts we consume, music, movies, and everything and use them all in moderation. We are light, and this light must shine and should not be hidden but set upon a hill (cf Matthew 5:14).

In the process of these pursuits, we may become scared and run or become overwhelmed and falter. But we stand, more resolved to reenter the fight. Wash ourselves in the cleansing blood of Christ through the Sacrament of Penance.

My friend, being part of the Body of Christ and having access to salvation in the Sacraments is amazing. It is a beautiful thing. And we have to realize how lucky we are but also how foolish we will be if we do not utilize this gift to work out our salvation with fear and trembling. (cf Philippians 2:12).

CONCLUSION

We have all received different missions and tasks in the vineyard of Christ. Even those in politics, who seem to think their jobs have nothing to do with God, are also called to use their positions to seek the will of God. We are all called to be a light in our families, our positions in society, our jobs, and everywhere. To be a real Catholic who reflects the Eucharistic Jesus to the world. Let us rejoice in being chosen and be fearful of our negligence. But find hope and solace in the Sacrament of Penance, where we receive healing. 

I pray that someday, we will rejoice at the Wedding of the Lamb with other disciples of Jesus who have persevered until the end. 

God bless you and make your life bear good fruits.

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Kenneth C. Alimba

Kenneth C. Alimba is a Catholic who believes that the only RIGHT way to view the world is through the eyes of God - so he spends his life teaching people how to attempt to make this a habit as he tries to do the same.

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