Isn't it enough to believe that God exists and to do good? Why have a religion, why complicate oneself with the obligation to fulfil its rites and ceremonies?
Author: Francisco Gallardo
Published in: 50 Questions on Faith, 21
Perhaps it would be reasonable to pose the first question in these terms if our relationship with God were one of strict justice, i.e. if we were in a position to refund what we receive from Him in an equal or at least similar amount.
Something similar happens in the relationship between children and their parents. For example: imagine that a fifteen-year-old son offers his mother a deal to fulfil his obligations as a student and also help with certain household chores (making the bed, setting the table on certain days...), but in such a way that they are "in peace" and his mother cannot "demand" more things from him, such as a kiss when he comes home, participating at certain times in the conversation at home...... We would conclude that he is a bad son, who is not aware that, no matter how much he does, he will never give everything he has received from his parents. What is more, he would probably not even be able to fulfil the tasks he has set himself.
In our relationship with God, the gap between what we have received and what we can give is even greater. If we are aware that God created us with a totally unselfish act of love plenary session of the Executive Council and that despite our rejection of him, he gave us his Son to save us, then there is no point in asking ourselves whether "it is enough...". Of course, believing in God and doing good is no small thing. But, on the other hand, whoever sincerely assumes this faith and this action with all its consequences, does not consider any limits. Benedict XVI illustrated this in one of the audiences at framework during the Year of Faith, when he said:
"Today many have a limited conception of the Christian faith, because they identify it with a mere system of beliefs and values, and not so much with the truth of a God who has revealed Himself in history, desiring to communicate with man on a one-to-one basis in a relationship of love with Him" (General Audience, 14.XI.12).
How can we reciprocate this love that is given to us without limits?
Of course, given our finite condition, this is not possible for us. In order to compensate in some way for this imbalance, as is also the case in human relationships, people have recourse to symbols, the more eloquent the better they express the desire for the totality of boundless love. In this respect, the Catechism of the Catholic Church notes:
"Man, being at the same time a corporeal and spiritual being, expresses and perceives spiritual realities through signs and symbols Materials (...). The same is true of his relationship with God" (n. 1146). In fact, "God speaks to man through visible creation. The material cosmos presents itself to man's intelligence so that he can see in it the traces of his Creator. Light and night, wind and fire, water and earth, tree and fruit speak of God, symbolising both his greatness and his proximity" (n. 1147).
The very realities Materials thus become signs of God's sublime gifts to us. It is therefore logical that man should also respond with the language of symbols, which enable him to relate to God.
These signs and symbols themselves are also limited and, depending on the case, have a greater or lesser conventional component. But this does not mean that their use can be subject to arbitrariness. In the field of human relations it is obvious: there are expressions of love, affection, courtesy, etc. that have been coined by tradition, and are different from one culture to another. For example, the handshake as a sign of friendship, which in some places is expressed in a different way (with a nod of the head). If someone offered me their hand and I withdrew it, it would be a sign of enmity, unless there was a reasonable reason behind it, which I should explain to avoid misunderstandings. In any case, the argument that it is the inner feeling of friendship that is important to me would not be accepted.
This reasoning can be applied in a similar way to religions. In any religious tradition, the individual and communal practice of certain rites or ceremonies does not come from an arbitrary external imposition, but has its basis in human nature, on which the signs are based. Thus, rites are originally the expression of a profound religious experience: a gesture of adoration, a desire for submission totality expressed by a sacrifice, which is both an external rite, individual or communal as the case may be, and an inner manifestation of a total gift of self. This is not solved by abandoning signs, certain actions, etc., but by renewing them, so that they once again become the authentic expression of what they signify.
These considerations allow us to grasp the basic reason why the third commandment of God's law is obligatory: to keep holy the feasts. Its scope is universal, valid for all people of all times, and it is fulfilled in different ways according to different religious traditions. Not fulfilling it means living in a way that is alien to one's own nature. Thus, to participate in the rites and ceremonies of a religion is not to complicate one's life, but rather to believe that God exists and to do good? Why have a religion, to complicate oneself with the obligation to fulfil its rites and ceremonies? 21 It is not enough to believe that God exists and to do good? Why have a religion, to complicate oneself with the obligation to fulfil its rites and ceremonies? rather the most plenary session of the Executive Council way to realise one's own life.
For Christians, this reality takes on a much deeper level. As Benedict XVI affirms in the audience already cited:
"In reality, the foundation of every doctrine or value is the event of meeting between man and God in Christ Jesus. Christianity, before being a morality or an ethic, is an event of love, it is to welcome the person of Jesus. For this reason, Christians and Christian communities must first of all look to Christ, the true Way that leads to God, and make them look to him".
This meeting with Jesus takes place first and foremost through the sacraments. They are efficacious signs of grace, which makes use of elements drawn from creation (water, wine, oil), so that they become channels through which Jesus Christ acts. And among these, the most exalted sacrament is the Eucharist, which contains Christ himself, who makes himself present on the altar. For Christians, therefore, the natural way of sanctifying the feasts is to participate in the Holy Mass, the very sacrifice of Christ who makes himself sacramentally present.