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The Fathers of the Church present this sacrament as ‘the second plank [of salvation] after the shipwreck which is the loss of grace.” (1446) As a Catholic, I was taught that Jesus was sacrificed on the altar at every Mass.“The sacrifice of Christ and the sacrifice of the Eucharist are one single sacrifice: ‘The victim is one and the same: the same now offers through the ministry of priests, who then offered himself on the cross; only the manner of offering is different; ‘In this divine sacrifice which is celebrated in the Mass, the same Christ who offered himself once in a bloody manner on the altar of the cross is contained and is offered in an unbloody manner.'” (1367) As a Catholic, I believed I was receiving infusions of Christ’s righteousness by participating in the Catholic sacramental system.

“‘The Catholic Church has always offered and still offers to the sacrament of the Eucharist the cult of adoration, not only during Mass, but also outside of it, reserving the consecrated hosts with the utmost care, exposing them to the solemn veneration of the faithful, and carrying them in procession.'” (1378) As a Catholic, I was taught that I was “born again” when I received the sacrament of baptism as an infant.

“Through Baptism we are freed from sin and reborn as sons of God; we become members of Christ, are incorporated into the Church and made sharers in her mission: ‘Baptism is the sacrament of regeneration through water and in the word.'” (1213) “Born with a fallen human nature and tainted by original sin, children also have need of the new birth in Baptism to be freed from the power of darkness and brought into the realm of the freedom of the children of God, to which all men are called.” (1250) As a Catholic, I was taught that I would achieve eternal life through life-long adherence to the sacramental system of Catholicism.

My understanding of the Who, What, Where, When, Why and How of Jesus would be completely altered. As a Catholic, I was taught that the bread and wine become Jesus’ body, blood, soul and divinity.

“For in the blessed Eucharist is contained the whole spiritual good of the Church, namely Christ himself.” (1324) “By the consecration of the bread and wine there takes place a change of the whole substance of the bread into the substance of the body of Christ our Lord and the whole substance of the wine into the substance of the blood.

“Those who, through no fault of their own, do not know the Gospel of Christ or his Church, but who nevertheless seek God with a sincere heart, and, moved by grace, try in their actions to do his will as they know it through the dictates of their conscience — those too may achieve eternal salvation.” (847) As a Catholic, I was taught that I could never be certain of my salvation.

There was always the possibility of the commission of a mortal sin. “The first commandment is also concerned with sins against hope, namely, despair and presumption.” (2091) “There are two kinds of presumption.I had to make satisfaction for my sin (usually by reciting a few “Hail Marys” and “Our Fathers”) through penance in order to restore my relationship with God.Venial sins could be remitted by participating in the sacrament of Holy Communion.Through these sacraments I could be restored to a “state of grace.” “Anyone who desires to receive Christ in Eucharistic communion must be in the state of grace.Anyone aware of having sinned mortally must not receive communion without having received absolution in the sacrament of penance.” (1415) “Mortal sin is a radical possibility of human freedom, as is love itself.In March I was visiting with a Catholic client to prepare taxes.