DAILY CATHOLIC    MONDAY     December 6, 1999     vol. 10, no. 231

APPRECIATING THE PRECIOUS GIFT OF OUR FAITH

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SECTION ONE and SECTION TWO and SECTION THREE
    INTRODUCTION
      Every day we present a short point that helps bring into focus the treasures of the Roman Catholic Church that comprise the great Deposit of Faith.

      It is no secret that over the past thirty years fewer and fewer know their Faith and it shows with the declining number of vocations, parish participation and attendance at Holy Mass. We have the new Catechism of the Catholic Church but for the common man, the one brought up on sound bites and instant gratification, it is more of a text book and that in itself prompts them to shy away from such a tome. So what's a loyal Catholic to do in evangelizing to fellow Catholics and understand their Faith? Our answer: go back to basics - to the great Deposit of Faith. We have the Baltimore Catechism which, for unknown and ridiculous reasons, was shelved after Vatican II. We have the Holy Bible but there are so many newer versions that the Douay-Rheims and Confraternity Latin Vulgate in English versions, the ones used for so long as the official Scriptural text authorized by the Church, seem lost in a maze of new interpretations that water down the Word. This is further complicated by the fact there are so few Douay-Rheims editions in circulation though it is available on the net at DOUAY-RHEIMS BIBLE. We have so many Vatican documents available at the Vatican web site and other excellent Catholic resource sites that detail Doctrine, Dogma and Canon Law. We have the traditions, and the means of grace but how do we consolidate all these sources into one where it is succinct and easy to understand? We have the perfect vehicle. It is called "My Catholic Faith", now out of print, that was compiled by Bishop Louis Laravoire Morrow and published by My Mission House. This work ties in Scriptural references, the Sacraments, Dogmas, Doctrines, Traditions, Church documents, Encyclical and Papal decrees to clearly illustrate the Faith in simple, solid and concise terms that all can understand and put into practice. We will quote from this work while adding in more recent events and persons when applicable since the book was written in the late forties during the pontificate of Pope Pius XII. We also quote from the Catholic Almanac published by Our Sunday Visitor for the Roman Curial offices.

    Nothing in Holy Mother Church's teaching has changed and therefore we feel confident that these daily "points of enlightenment" will help more Catholics better understand their faith, especially those who were not blessed with early formation of the faith in the home and their parish school. Regardless of where any Catholic is in his or her journey toward salvation, he or she has to recognize that the Faith they were initiated into at the Sacrament of Baptism is the most precious gift they have been given in life.

GOD THE SUPREME BEING

First Article of The Apostles Creed part one

        God created the world in six days. On the first day He made light and darkness, day and night. On the second day He made the sky and divided the waters. On the third day of Creation, God caused dry land to appear out of the waters, and bade plants to spring forth from the land. On the fourth day God made the sun, the moon, and the stars. On the fifth day He made creeping things, birds and fishes. On the six day God made beasts, and finally, man. Then on the seventh day God stopped working: He rested. "The Heavens show for the the glory of God" (Psalm 18:2).

        God is the Supreme Being, infinitely perfect, Who made all things and keeps them in existence. God made everything - men, beasts, plants, planets, stars, everything. Not only that; God keeps everything in existence. Were He to take away His hand from what He created, everything would disappear into nothingness quicker than thought. Without a cause, there could be no effects. Without God, could there be anything at all?

        "In Him we live and move and have our being" (Acts 17:28). "In Him were created all things" (Colossians 1:16). "It is He Who gives to all men life and breath and all things" (Acts 17:25).

        The traditions of all nations and races support the idea of the existence of God. All nations and peoples have an inner conviction of God's existence; their intellect supports their instinctive trust. Even among the wildest, most remote, and most degraded pagans there is invariably found the worship of some deity recognized as supreme, on whom man depends. There are savage peoples without ruler, laws, or even settlements, but never without some god that they worship with prayer and sacrifice.

        When we say that God is the Supreme Being, we mean that He is above all creatures, the self-existing and infinitely perfect Spirit. "I am the first and I am the last, and besides me there is no god" (Isaiah 44:6). 'I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end,' says the Lord God, 'Who is and Who was and Who is coming'" (Apocalypse/Revelation 1:18).

        A spirit is a being that has understanding and free will, but no body, and will never die. God is a pure spirit. As God has no body, when we speak of His eyes and His hands, we only speak in a figurative manner, in order to make ourselves more understandable according to our human way of speaking. Our Lord said to the Samaritan woman at the well: "God is spirit; and they who worship Him must worship in spirit and in truth" (John 4:24). Yet God has often taken on visible forms, in order to be seen by men. Thus He showed Himself in the form of a dove at the baptism of Jesus, and in the form of tongues of fire on Pentecost. God is neither a dove nor tongues of fire; He merely assumed those forms in order to be seen by mortal eyes.

        Angels and devils are pure spirits also. Men are only partly spiritual, because they have a body. Man's soul is a spirit, absolutely independent of matter, and by creatures indestructible. As spirits, God and man have this in common, though in different degrees; both have understanding, intellect, and free will. By his free will man can even defy his Creator, God.

        When we say that God is self-existing we mean that He does not owe His existence to any other being. God made us, but who made God? God said to Moses, "I Am Who Am" (Exodus 3:14). He exists of Himself, deriving His Being from no other. God is the First Cause. All other beings and things owe their existence to God. In comparison to Him, we are nothing.

        Man can never have a complete knowledge of God. Man is finite and cannot fully understand the infinite. A cup can contain the immensity of the ocean more easily than man can fully understand the Infinite God. We know God only partly, from the order, harmony, and existence of things, from our conscience, and from God's revelations to man.

        When we say that God is infinitely perfect, we mean that He has all perfections without limit. God is immense and eternal, "an ocean without shore or bottom," the unchangeable Being that only Himself can fully understand: "His greatness is unsearchable" (Psalm 144:3). God is so great and wonderful that He needs nothing to make Him greater or more wonderful. He possesses all perfections, countless, innumerable, illimitable, boundless, the cause of perfection in all.

        God cannot be better, more holy, or more perfect than He already is. He is at the acme of perfection, the uncreated, the Infinite. "Heaven and the Heaven of Heavens cannot contain thee" (3 Kings 8:27). So perfect is God that He is infinitely incomprehensible, incapable of being completely understood. Reason can verify the revelation that God made of Himself. But when we make our reason or our emotions the final authority, we make ourselves our own god, and shut the road to the supernatural, the Infinite.

        God alone can bridge the chasm that yawns between the finite and the infinite. When we take advantage of His grace to seek Him in loving trust, He holds our His hand, a Father calling to children, to cross the chasm safely to Him.

        The Creator is above all the created, though something of Him, some likeness of His Being, may be found in every creature. But even were all creaturs, from the most glorious seraphim to the lowliest of moss, to combine their powers and perfections, theirs would be a faint shadow of God's all-encompassing supremacy. Some of the perfections of God are: God is eternal, all-good, all knowing, all-present, and almighty.

        God's perfections do not exist separately in Him, but are one and identical with Himself. They are only various manifestations of His one nature and perfection. In God, for example, His goodness is one with His wisdom and power. His perfections, besides being one and the same in Him, are also identical with Him: that is, God Himself is infinity, wisdom, goodness, power.

      Tomorrow: The Perfections of God

December 6, 1999       volume 10, no. 231
GREAT DEPOSIT OF FAITH

DAILY CATHOLIC

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