Thursday, January 10, 2013

Catholics and the Dance of Salvation, Part III

The Bride Analogy

The Catholic Church sees itself as the Bride and Christ the groom. And since the early church was begun with the Hebrews, their culture affected the beliefs of the church. So the Catholic Church retains the marriage traditions of those times for itself as the Bride.

You see, the Israelite male would make a covenant with a woman’s family and he would be betrothed to his bride. (This is not an engagement period as the covenant is the legal beginning--a real “forsaking all others.” ) After the betrothal, the groom would go off for a period of time and prepare a home for her. Then when the groom’s father approved of the son’s home, the father would tell his son to go get his bride. The woman would be surprised by her groom showing up and she is to be prepared. The wedding feast lasted for seven days and after that the groom brought his bride home and the consummation and they would then be “one flesh.” 

The Catholic Church, the Bride, was legally, formally and eternally wedded to Christ at the Cross. She is preparing herself to meet her Bridegroom at the second coming and then for the wedding supper and final consummation. This is not simply a legal contract but a covenant of love. 

Catholics see the Church as His Bride already. We each enter this same covenant of love which we all enter into the Catholic Church at baptism. We are part of the Bride signed sealed and forever. Because Christ said that what God has joined together let no man tear asunder...the Catholic Church believes God can never, ever forsake His Church and hence because of these words Catholic do not believe in divorce.  That eternal marriage covenant serves as a promise to the Bride that Christ will never leave her.  

We, as Catholics, await the Second Coming and we already have a hint of the Marriage Supper of the Lamb each week at mass as we partake of the Eucharist.   In one sense, we are already with our husband, in a grand dance awaiting the consummation.

The Protestant view is one of seeing the marriage covenant in the future. When they have a born-again experience they see it as a guarantee of being the future bride, more like a promise ring. When they see Catholics struggling to be pure and holy, a Bride preparing for her husband and the wedding, they only see a slave girl dancing to keep from being sold to a worse master.

Yet Catholics see themselves as the Bride in a sealed covenant of love. We are in His arms, following His lead, trying to learn to dance a perfect dance. We are watching His eyes and His movements trying to keep in perfect rhythm... the perfect dance. There is no fear that He will take off the ring if we falter. We will not be thrown out as His wife if we do not dance well. He is teaching us as we await the door of the Bridegroom’s chamber and becoming one flesh.

My challenge is to read the New Testament through with the Catholic worldview in mind. All of a sudden everything absolutely makes so much sense you will be shocked you didn’t see it before. 

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