A long long time ago I started posting a series on the catechism. This is a repost of the first of the series. I’m hoping beyond hope that I’ll start blogging regularly again and can make sharing the catechism a part of that.
Through an email conversation with a friend, I got the idea of going through the different parts of the Catechism here on the good old blog. The first part of the Catechism elaborates on the Apostle’s and Nicene Creeds and really emphasizes the nature of God. It is a good starting point, I think for dialogue with non-Catholics, because it can be easier to agree on the nature of God before we’ll agree on the nature of the Church. If that sounds silly it kind of is, because the Church is going to be a lot less difficult to grasp than the infinite God of the universe. At the same time, though, the Church’s identity is rolled up in Christ, the Eternal Lord, so it should really be just as difficult to grasp.
That aside, the first part of the catechism is the longest of four, and is about one-third of the entire document. The very beginning of this section acknowledges that the Church needs a creed to define who we are and what we believe, that is our faith response to God’s revelation to us.
CHAPTER 1: MAN’S CAPACITY FOR GOD
This first chapter of the the profession describes our affinity for God. Essentially the human heart is made by God and for God. In the depths of our heart, the name of God is written and so we desire him and search for him. This is evident within all of the world’s religions. No matter what theistic religion one belongs to, the rites, beliefs, ceremonies, and morals are an expression of our thirst for the God who created us. At the same time, it is possible and evident that men can forget God or even actively deny the existence of God. Sometimes this is because of the allure of the riches of the world or the bad example of the religious around him. Nevertheless God never ceases to call man towards him. In order for one to come to search for God, he must make every effort with his intellect, have a sound will, an upright heart, and the witness of others who teach him.
Man comes to know God in two fundamental ways, first being the world, or creation. The beauty and the complexities, the serenity and the chaos, the grand and the microscopic are all testimonies to the existence of and the glory of God. The second way is through man himself. His openness to truth and beauty, his moral compass, his longings for something greater are all beginnings of faith in God. It opens man up to the possibility of knowing God. The Church teaches that God can be known through reason, that right and wrong can be known naturally from man’s conscience. God can be known from his works and from the light shed by human reason.
Of course, no matter how deeply God has revealed himself to us, our language is limited in describing a limitless God. Yet, since all things resemble their Creator in a certain sense, we can begin to look at the perfections of certain natural things and apply them to God, though we know that they are incomplete at describing the nature of God.
In conclusion, man desires God for he was created by God. Man can know that God exists through his works and from reason. And although we can hardly describe the majesty of God with our words, we can begin to fathom certain attributes of God by looking at the perfections that exist in the world surrounding us.