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Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Catechism of the Catholic Church - Man's Capacity for God - CCC #26-49

Catechism of the Catholic Church*

The Profession Faith
Chapter 1 Man's Capacity for God
CC #26 - 49 A Study
"For you have made us for yourself,
and our heart is restless until it rests in you
(Saint Augustine, Confessions; CCC #30)
Chapter 1 of the Catechism reflects on our response to God through faith, our desire to know God above all things and how and where we come to find him.

Man's Response to God
"We begin our profession of faith by saying: "I believe" or "We believe."  Before expounding the Church's faith...we must first ask what "to believe" means.  Faith is man's response to God, who reveals himself and gives himself to he [man] searches for the ultimate meaning of his life." (#26)
 Man's Desire for God
"The desire for God is written
in the human heart,
because man is created
by God and for God;
and God never ceases
to draw man to himself.
Only in God will he find the truth
and happiness he
never stops searching for
." (CCC #27)

All humanity is created in the image and likeness of God, (Genesis 1:27) created by God and for God (#27). Without the Creator, the creature vanishes. (#49) We are intimately bonded to God. But this bond can be "forgotten, overlooked, or even explicity rejected by man." (#29) Yet "although man can forget God or reject him, He [God] never ceases to call every man to seek him, so as to find life and happiness." (#30)
"Man is by nature and vocation a religious being.  Coming from God, going toward God...Man is made to live in communion with God in whom he finds happiness." (#44-45)
"As the deer longs for streams of water,
so my soul longs for you, O God." (Psalms 42:2)
Ways of Coming to Know God

How do we know God exists?   "Created in God's image and called to know and love him, the person who seeks God discovers certain ways of knowing him.  These are also called proofs for the existence of the sense of converging and convincing arguments...These "ways" of approaching God from creation have a twofold point of departure:  the physical world and the human person." (#31)
Through Creation

"Ever since the creation of the world,
his invisible attributes of eternal power and
divinity have been able to be understood and
perceived in what he has made
."  (Romans 1:20)
Saint Thomas Aquinas laid out the "converging and convincing arguments," in his Summa Theologiae which I attempted to summarize in Aquinas Five Proofs.

The Catechism summarizes this in one sentence, "The world: starting from movement, becoming, contingency, and the world's order and beauty, one can come to a knowledge of God as the origin and the end of the universe." (#32)
Through the Human Person
The second way of approaching God is through our personhood, "With his openness to truth and beauty, his sense of moral goodness...with his longings for the infinite and for happiness, man questions himself about God's existence.  In all this he discerns signs of his spiritual soul...[which] can have its origin only in God." (#33)

Together, "The world and man, attest that they contain within themselves neither their first principle nor their final end, but rather that they participate in [the] Being itself, which is without origin or end...the first cause and final end of all things, [is] a reality that everyone calls God." (#34)
"When he listens to the message of creation and to the voice of conscience, man can arrive at certainty about the existence of God, the cause and the end of everything." (#46)
"Every human person seeks to know the truth and to experience goodness.  Moral goodness appeals to us.  We treasure our freedom and strive to maintain it.  We hear the voice of our conscience and want to live by it.  We long for absolute happiness. 
These experiences make us aware of our souls and our spiritual nature.  The more we become aware of these truths, the more we are drawn to the reality of God who is the Supreme Good.  These are the seeds of eternity within us that have their origins only in God."**
If it is true that the desire for God is written in our heart, why have so many not turned to God as Savior, partner and friend?  There are many reasons for our lack of awareness or interest in God.  The amount of suffering and pain we see daily in the news might move us to rebel against the idea of an omnipotent God who would let this happen.  The immoral behavior of believers, especially those in authority such as our priests, might cause us to leave the Church.  Our own sinful conduct, our "Achilles' heel", which many times weakens our ability to assume responsibility for our own actions might cause us to attempt to hide from God. What about the times when our lives become so chaotic that we just don't have one spare moment for God?  Or possibly no one bothered to share with us the Good News of God's salvation and mercy.  
We all have our "excuse" for not responding to the desire written in our heart. For not responding "I believe," and really mean it.  For not responding with faith, faith in God, who daily reveals himself to us.  Yet although we forget or reject God for some reason or another, He never ceases daily to call every man to seek him, so as to find the ultimate meaning for our life and our ultimate happiness.
I Believe in God
The next time I find myself pondering the grand philosophical questions of life: Who am I?  Where did I come from?  Why do I exist now?  What is my purpose for living? I hope to remind myself that the one who created me has all the answers and put my life in His Hands. I also hope to hold this saying of Saint Augustine close to my heart, "God loves each one of us as if there
were only one of us to love.
Questions to Reflect Upon***
Where do I look for happiness apart from God? (CCC #29)
How do I know that my search for true happiness is a search for union with God? (CCC #27-30)
Where will I find evidence of God's desire for my happiness?  (CCC #31-35)
Where did I find you, that I came to know you?  You were not within my memory before I learned of you.  Where, then, did I find you before I came to know you, if not within yourself, far above me?...
Late have I love you, O Beauty ever ancient, ever new, late have I loved you!...Created things kept me from you; yet if they had not been in you they would not have been at all.  O eternal truth, true love and beloved eternity.  You are my God. To you I sigh day and night...You were with me but I was not with you.  Created things kept me from you; yet if they had not been in you they would not have been at all.  You called, you shouted, and you broke through my deafness.  You flashed, you shone, and you dispelled my blindness.  You breathed your fragrance on me; I drew in breath and now I pant for you.  I have tasted you; now I hunger and thrist for more.  You touched me, and I burn for your peace.  Saint Augustine, The Confessions book 10, chapter 26, 27.37

Next: The Profession of Faith
Chapter 2 God Comes to Meet Man - CCC #50-141
God Reveals His Holy Name - CCC#50 - 73

Art  and Credits
Michelangelo - Creation of Adam - Sistine Chapel
God the Son - Viktor Vasnetsov
Creation of the Animals - Christoph Unterberger - Raphael Loggias Hermitage, Saint Petersburg
God the Father - Pompeo Batoni
Adam and Eve - Peter Paul Rubens
Christ the Good Shepherd - Philippede Champaigne
*Cathechism of the Catholic Church (CCC) - Vatican site
**United States Catholic Catechism for Adults, USCCB, pg. 4
***Study Guide for the U.S. Adult Catholic Catechism, Jem Sullivan, Ph.D., pg. 11
Original Post of Catechism of the Catholic Church with index


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