Friday, April 04, 2008

A Short Catechism

The word "catechesis" is a Greek word which means "to make resound like an echo." The word was adopted by the early Church as part of implementing its duty to make disciples of all nations. In transmitting the Good News, the Church has a constant "memory" of the events of salvation history and makes them known, so as to provoke an "echo" of the faith in the mind and in the heart of the listeners, and thereby transform all their life. This echoing of the faith includes narration of the wonderful deeds of God and the awaiting of the coming of Christ, who is the culmination and center of salvation history, and of His return have always accompanied the exposition of the mysteries of faith.

The word "education" comes from the Latin "educare", meaning to draw out. Catholic education, then, seeks to draw out the student from his or her self and toward God, the source of all truth.

Class One --

On the Existence of God (CCC 26-50; 198-278)

The unavoidable question of life is whether or not God exists. To arrive at a correct answer to that mystifying question, one must, of course, have a proper conception of whom or what God is. It is quite easy to reject any belief in God if all you know is a caricature of Him, rather than the reality. Moreover, while the existence of God is knowable by reason, reason is limited by what is already known or can be imagined, thus, revelation assists reason by helping to have that proper concept of God.

Revelation enlightens our reason and helps us to know who and what it is that we seek, at least to the extent that we can comprehend. Also, when one simply "takes it on faith" that He exists, then it all starts making sense. As St. Augustine discovered, belief leads to understanding, which in turn leads to greater belief. Once we simply flip the switch of faith, the light comes on, and we can see, thereby confirming that we were right to trust.

So, who is God? What is God? God told Moses that He is the “I am.” (Ex. 3:13-15) What does this reveal about God? It means that God, as the “I am,” is the Ultimate Reality; He is Being itself and is therefore Truth itself. Indeed, if something lacks truth, it lacks reality and existence. This Truth is the first principle, from which all else follows. He is not merely philosophical truth, not merely a cosmic force, but a personal being. God, that is to say, Jesus Christ, is also the Word, that is, Logos (Creative Reason), and as such, is again Truth itself from which everything that exists proceeds. (Jn. 1:1-5) And yet again, He is the Alpha and Omega, the beginning and end of all things. In Him, all things are made new. (Rev. 21:1-7)

Truth exists independently of man and is merely discovered by him by reason and/or revelation; man cannot create truth himself. And when the Lord commanded us to have no other gods, that means there is only one God, and thus, One Truth, which is eternal and transcendent, not bounded by time or space. That is, He exists beyond and outside of space - the physical universe – and because time is a measurement of changes in space, He exists outside of time. He is pure, infinite, unbounded spirit. For God, time is not linear, as for humans, but is a singularity and a totality – all moments exist simultaneously and each moment exists in perpetuity. As a result, He transcends the universe and is eternal.

However, God is not merely Truth, He is also Love. (1 Jn. 4:8) This is demonstrated again and again in salvation history. Now, love is by its very nature relational. Love does not exist in a vacuum. Accordingly, God is not one-dimensional, but exists as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit – a Holy Trinity, three distinct persons in one undivided divine nature, substance, and essence. Each possesses the fullness of the other, and each has always existed. In God, there is an everlasting exchange of love between the persons of the Father and Son, and this love is not merely a sentiment, but is a person as well, namely, the Holy Spirit.

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