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Catholicism 101: The Purpose of Man’s Existence

Our basic Catechism teaches us what we must know to gain heaven.  The study of our Catechism is more important than any other study we do at school (child or adult), so why is it that so many of us ignore this important detail?  Is it that we aren’t aware of its importance?  Stop blaming Father {insert last name} for not being strong enough and not teaching us enough, he should be but it is also up to you to learn these truths.  The things which God has made depend on Him to stay in existence because He is all goodness and perfection.  In this series entitled, Catholicism 101, I will attempt to explain some of these basic truths of out Catholic faith in very simple terms.  I am no expert or theologian but I am a mom and teacher and have been teaching this since I was 18, wow that’s 20 years {so maybe I do have *some* credibility}.  I will be using an old Baltimore Catechism first printed in 1941 as my source.  Nothing to fear the Faith doesn’t change, as God doesn’t change.

God is the Supreme Being, that is, He is above all things else in heaven and on earth.  The word Supreme Being means the highest and the greatest – above all.  He is infinitely perfect.  The words infinitely perfect refers to God who is perfect without any limit or measure.  He made everything.  Not a man or a woman, a tree or a bird, or anything could keep on existing unless God wills it.  He especially made you and me to show forth His goodness and to have us enjoy His everlasting happiness in heaven.  But to gain heaven we must know, love, and serve God in this world.  Jesus Christ, the Son of God, teaches us how to do this, through the Catholic Church.  In the Apostles’ Creed we find the chief truths which Jesus Christ teaches us.

Lets take a closer look at the Apostles’ Creed {with my notes in the parenthesis}:

Apostles’ {the twelve men chosen by Christ to be His first priests} Creed {a list of truths to be believed}  – This is the list of the most important truths about God which the apostles handed down to us.

I believe {to know as true, because God said so.} in God, the Father Almighty{having all power as God alone has}, Creator {God who made all things from nothing} of heaven and earth; and in Jesus Christ {the Son of God, the second Person of God, who became man and died for us},  His only Son, Our Lord {Jesus Christ, who is our King}; who was conceived {given life} by the Holy Ghost {the Holy Spirit, the third Person of God}born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate {the Roman Governor of Judea when Christ lived in the Holy Land}was crucified {nailed, hands and feet, to a cross}died and was buried.  He descended into hell {where God’s enemies live in the next life}{where God lives}, the third day He arose again from the dead; He ascended into heaven, sits at the right hand of God, the Father Almighty {having all power as God alone has}; from thence He shall come to judge the living and the dead.  I believe in the Holy Ghost, the  Holy Catholic Church {the one true Church Christ made}, the communion of saints {union of God’s friends in this life with God’s friends in the next life}, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection {coming back to life again} of the body, and life everlasting.  Amen.

Spirits are the highest form of beings in all existence.  They have no bodies.  A spirit is a being that has understanding and free will, but no body, and will never die.  God is a spirit, and the greatest Spirit because He is self-existing.  This means that He does not owe His existence to any other being.  God is eternal because He always was and always will be the same.  His perfections, good qualities, are infinite, without any limit.  This is why we say God is infinitely perfect.  Some of the perfections of God are:  God is eternal, all-good, all-knowing, all-present, and almighty.  When we say that God is all-good we mean that He is infinitely lovable in Himself, and that from His fatherly love every good comes to us.  When we say that God is all-knowing we mean that He knows all things, past, present, and future, even our most secret thoughts, words, and {gulp} actions.  When we say that God is all-present we mean that He is everywhere.  Although God is everywhere, we do not see Him because He is a spirit and cannot be seen; at least not with our eyes.  But God sees us and watches over us with loving care and that for us is called Divine Providence.  God is almighty because He can do all things.

The perfections of His creatures are finite, or limited.  They are merely sharing in the perfections of God.  We know by using our own mind, or natural reason, that the world could have been made only by an infinite God.  However, God Himself has revealed, or told, this, and much more about Himself, to us.  We find this supernatural, or above the natural, revelation, truths made known, by God in two sources:

1.  Sacred Scripture, the Holy Bible {yes, Catholics read the Bible every day!} and

2. Tradition, the holy teachings handed down and revealed by God Himself.

We know by our natural reason that there is a God, for natural reason tells us that the world we see about us could have been made by a self-existing Being, all-wise and almighty.  Just look at the details of basic biology; this could not be made by chance or explosions, only a careful loving Father could have taken such detail to all creation.  Besides knowing Him by our natural reason, we can also know Him from supernatural revelation, that is, from the truths.

Catholicism 101: Creator: Infinite Perfections

To recap, lets look at the illustration directly which basically demonstrates the following:
God knows all things,
can see all things,
can do all things,
He is everywhere but had no beginning.
He is all good,
all beautiful,
all just,
all holy,
all wise and all merciful.
He is infinite perfection.

We, his creatures, are finite perfections.  Made in His image and likeness, we too can be beautiful, just, good, holy, wise, merciful but we had a beginning, we are not everywhere {unless you’ve experienced the gift of bilocating, like the great saints}, we can do some things, and know somethings but only just so much and no more.  We need to study our Faith and Her Truths, by studying the Catechism which encompasses both Sacred Scriptures and Traditions. So what act or prayer do you specially say to show that you love God?  You trust God?  You believe in God?

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About Alessandra

Though I am a cradle Catholic, I was a little lost sheep for sometime. Thankfully, I found my way in December of my Junior year of High school. I now write from the NE USA, where I live with my husband, a convert, and five young children. I have a Master of Science in Reading Education. In 2008, after more than fifteen years in the education field, I “retired” to begin a new career as full time mommy and home educator--a world I felt so foreign to--but now have embraced it as a total lifestyle for my clan.

  • Richard E - Great writing, so timely as we have just started the Year of Faith. The CCC was a required text for almost everyone of my theology courses, hard to believe I graduated going on 10 years now, and refer to it often, and it was a mainstay when I was on my parish RCIA team. You cannot help others learn the Faith if you don’t know yourself and the CCC is one of the best resources.October 13, 2012 – 10:50 amReplyCancel

  • WEDNESDAY EVENING EDITION | Big Pulpit - […] Catholicism 101: The Purpose of Man’s Existence – Alessandra, Catholic Sistas Support Big Pulpit, Just Click on the Ad Below Please Can't Find What You're Looking For? […]October 17, 2012 – 6:59 pmReplyCancel

  • Mark - Hi, I think you make some really good points. One note of interest is that our Catechism teaches the two ways man comes to know God are: 1) in man ; 2) through the world. Our church Fathers affirm this. Remember, God revealed Himself LONG before there was a printed Bible or church tradition. God needs neither of those things to reveal Himself. After all God IS the Word. Jesus is the Word made flesh. He Apostles didn’t need Scripture or tradition to lead people to The Lord, they only needed their powerful testamonials, influence and of course love. If you can’t complellingly describe The Lord completely without a single Bible verse or church tradition, you need to spend more time with Him. CS Lewis is a great role model in the respect . His “theology” was built on love, self donation, morality, fellowship, the true Way. Our Catechism articulates this way better than I can:

    See section II: http://www.vatican.va/archive/ccc_css/archive/catechism/p1s1c1.htmOctober 17, 2012 – 9:34 pmReplyCancel

  • Randy Mueller - Alessandra,
    This was great.
    Since I’m overseeing the Religious Education ProgKeram at our Parish in Minnesota, I would love to know if you have developed any other lessons like this?
    Keep up the good work.
    Randy MuellerOctober 18, 2012 – 4:26 pmReplyCancel

  • Alessandra - Thanks for all the great comments. I should say that I will be posting a couple a month or so on this series Catholicism 101. This is the first of the series. Tomorrow, Saturday, October 20th, there will be a second one on the Trinity.

    Just to note that these are meant to be simple and to the point for those needing additional reinforcement in Catholicism and not meant to go into really deep theological discussions. One, I’m not a theologian as I stated in paragraph one and two, it’s meant to be kept simple. Think CCD/Faith Formation…simple and to the point. Our beautiful Faith is so deep and rich that I’m sure many of you can ADD tons to each of these posts and I appreciate that but that’s not the focus/point of these posts. Thank you.October 19, 2012 – 11:05 pmReplyCancel

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