Mar 18, 2013

God the Father, the Almighty, the Creator (Part I)

Pillar Focus Apostles' Creed "I believe in God the Father almighty, creator of heaven and earth" 

The first article of the Creed is packed full of theology. First, we profess our belief in God. Let's stop right there! Do we really believe that God exists? Why do you personally believe that God is an absolute reality?   ...reflect on this...

Belief in God is the foundation of all other religious beliefs. It is a gift from God, something we do not earn. But does that mean that human reason cannot play a role? If that were the case, then the great St. Thomas Aquinas, considered by many to be one of the top theologians of the Church, was wasting his time in his development of the "Five Proofs." Our gift of reason can and should be used to strengthen our gift of faith.

At the bottom of this entry are two articles that present arguments in support of God's existence.  They are short in length, but may require a little patience to understand. Not all arguments may "hit home," but all are worth deeply considering.

Now back to what this first article of the Creed professes: God is one, there are no other gods but him alone. Yet this one God reveals himself in three divine persons. One of these persons is a Father (which has multiple meanings, including the fact he is our Father). We believe that he is all powerful, yet allows us freedom (which could help explain the existence of evil)Also, he is the creator of all things seen and unseen. The Catechism goes on to teach the specifics of God's creation (heaven and earth, angels, and humans). Then it teaches about the fall in this creation, about the fall of man.

Since all this is a lot to take in, this week's entry will be part 1 of 2. Part 2 will be sent out next week.

From the Compendium:
36. Why does the Profession of Faith begin with the words, “I believe in God”?
The Profession of Faith begins with these words because the affirmation “I believe in God” is the most important, the source of all the other truths about man and about the world, and about the entire life of everyone who believes in God.

37. Why does one profess belief that there is only one God?
Belief in the one God is professed because he has revealed himself to the people of Israel as the only One when he said, “Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God is one Lord” (Deuteronomy 6:4) and “there is no other” (Isaiah 45:22). Jesus himself confirmed that God is “the one Lord” (Mark 12:29). To confess that Jesus and the Holy Spirit are also God and Lord does not introduce any division into the one God.

42. In what way does God reveal that he is love?
God revealed himself to Israel as the One who has a stronger love than that of parents for their children or of husbands and wives for their spouses. God in himself “is love” (1 John4: 8.16), who gives himself completely and gratuitously, who “so loved the world that he gave his only Son so that the world might be saved through him” (John 3:16-17). By sending his Son and the Holy Spirit, God reveals that he himself is an eternal exchange of love.

44. What is the central mystery of Christian faith and life?
The central mystery of Christian faith and life is the mystery of the Most Blessed Trinity. Christians are baptized in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.

48. How does the Church express her trinitarian faith?
The Church expresses her trinitarian faith by professing a belief in the oneness of God in whom there are three Persons: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. The three divine Persons are only one God because each of them equally possesses the fullness of the one and indivisible divine nature. They are really distinct from each other by reason of the relations which place them in correspondence to each other. The Father generates the Son; the Son is generated by the Father; the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father and the Son.

50. What does it mean to say that God is almighty?
God reveals himself as “the strong One, the mighty One” (Psalm 24:8), as the One “to whom nothing is impossible” (Luke 1:37). His omnipotence is universal, mysterious and shows itself in the creation of the world out of nothing and humanity out of love; but above all it shows itself in the Incarnation and the Resurrection of his Son, in the gift of filial adoption and in the forgiveness of sins. For this reason, the Church directs her prayers to the “almighty and eternal God” (“Omnipotens sempiterne Deus...”).

55. What is divine providence?
Divine Providence consists in the dispositions with which God leads his creatures toward their ultimate end. God is the sovereign Master of his own plan. To carry it out, however, he also makes use of the cooperation of his creatures. For God grants his creatures the dignity of acting on their own and of being causes for each other.

56. How do we collaborate with divine Providence?
While respecting our freedom, God asks us to cooperate with him and gives us the ability to do so through actions, prayers and sufferings, thus awakening in us the desire “to will and to work for his good pleasure” (Philippians 2:13).

57. If God is omnipotent and provident, why then does evil exist?
To this question, as painful and mysterious as it is, only the whole of Christian faith can constitute a response. God is not in any way - directly or indirectly - the cause of evil. He illuminates the mystery of evil in his Son Jesus Christ who died and rose in order to vanquish that great moral evil, human sin, which is at the root of all other evils.

58. Why does God permit evil?
Faith gives us the certainty that God would not permit evil if he did not cause a good to come from that very evil. This was realized in a wondrous way by God in the death and resurrection of Christ. In fact, from the greatest of all moral evils (the murder of his Son) he has brought forth the greatest of all goods (the glorification of Christ and our redemption).

Study the Catechism
part 1, section 2, chapter 1
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