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God the Father Almighty, Creator of Heaven and Earth
My purpose is to discuss how we are to put our faith in God's love as the One who created us and continues to create. This is the first article of faith of the Apostles' Creed: I Believe in God the Father Almighty, Creator of heaven and earth. My plan, therefore, is to briefly explain this profession of faith, and then share with you what I consider the single most important spiritual implication of this first article of the Apostles' Creed.
Deity
Among the religions of the world, the concept of the deity differs considerably. One of the main objects of the study of comparative religion has been to clarify the different ideas of God or the deity professed by the major religious cultures of mankind.
God the Creator
This article on "God the Creator" will be unusual. It will consist of nearly twenty paragraphs. Each paragraph will be introduced by a one-sentence statement. These statements will summarize the content of each paragraph. Taken together, they will form a synthesis of the Catholic Church’s teaching on the basic truth about God as the Creator of the universe. No successive statements will be related. But they are all statements of the Church’s infallible teaching about God as the One who created the universe.
VI. The Grace of God
Among the mysteries of Catholicism, none is more practically important for our personal lives than the doctrine of grace. It is the very heart of Christianity on its human side, since it describes the panorama of God’s dealing with each one of us in the depths of our souls.
God the Author of Nature and the Supernatural - Introduction
There are two ways of studying the relationship between God and the world. One is to begin with the world and rise to God, the other is to begin with God and descend to the world. The first method is proper to philosophy, which investigates the visible universe with its variety and grades of being, reflects on the created perfections in man and outside of man, and thus comes to a knowledge of God the Creator, who alone can explain the world and rationally account for its existence. This method is not only valid, but has been solemnly defined by the Vatican Council, that "God, the origin and end of all things, can be known with certainty by the natural light of human reason from the things that He created, 'for since the creation of the world, His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood through the things that are made' (Romans 1:20)." The second method, which is theological rather than philosophical, admits the foregoing but prescinds from it. Granting the need for proving the existence of God to give faith a solid foundation, the treatise on God the Author of Nature and the Supernatural does not ask what the world may teach us about God, but what God, the Maker of the world, has revealed about all that He created. Immediately we see how the present treatise differs from the study of the Trinity, where we inquire what God says about Himself, His nature and personality. It also differs from the treatise on grace, which examines the means we use to attain our supernatural destiny. Finally it differs from both courses in prescinding from the supernatural end as such, which is the beatific vision, and concentrates on the world itself, as created by God, preserved by Him and directed by His providence to the supernatural end for which it is destined.
God the Author of Nature and the Supernatural - Part One: Creation as a Divine Act: Thesis I
THESIS I: God Alone Created the World, In Time and with Perfect Freedom
Just as deity describes the intimate nature of God, so the whole cosmos or everything which is not God depends entirely on Him as its first and ultimate cause. The world, therefore, otherwise than God is not self-sufficient but contingent on God. Its dependence comprehends all things, from the dawn of creation to the consummation of the present order, and for spiritual beings - along with such bodily things as God will sustain - continues for eternity. Although expressed in a single proposition, the present thesis makes three assertions: that the world is not self-existent but was created by God alone, that creation has not gone on forever but took place in time, and that God was not constrained to create but made the world out of nothing by His own sovereignly free will.
God the Author of Nature and the Supernatural - Part One: Creation as a Divine Act: Thesis II
THESIS II: God Keeps the World in Existence Positively, Directly and Immediately
The present thesis is the next logical step after seeing that God created the world out of nothing. By itself, creation implies only that the world was brought into being by divine omnipotence, without further saying how the once created world is kept in existence. Hence the question and our answer, that except for God's sustaining hand, the world would lapse into the nothingness from which it came.
God the Author of Nature and the Supernatural - Part One: Creation as a Divine Act: Thesis III
THESIS III: God's Ultimate Purpose in Creating is His Own Goodness
When the Vatican Council in the first chapter of its Dogmatic constitution on the Catholic Faith defined the purpose that God had in creating the world, and in its fifth canon on the subject further declared that the world was made for the glory of its Creator, it merely confirmed by solemn decree what the Church had always believed. There was a special need for the Vatican declaration, however, which is no less urgent now than it was in the last century. Philosophers in the rationalist tradition scoffed at the Catholic teaching that the glory of God was the purpose of creation, as though God made the world out of vanity or pride to have creatures give Him praise. Even some Catholic theologians, notably Hermes and Gunther, favored the critics and claimed that if we suppose the first reason for creation was the divine glory, we present God as ambitious and proud. To avoid this conclusion, they said, we must subordinate God's glory to the welfare and happiness of rational beings, so that beatitude in creatures and not the divine praise is the last end of creation.
God the Author of Nature and the Supernatural - Part Two: Creation as a Divine Fact: Thesis IV
THESIS IV: There Exists Angels, Who Are Pure Spirits
In the present thesis we seek to establish and explain six distinct propositions of faith: that God created an angelic world, composed of beings that are pure spirits; that among these some remained faithful to God and reached their supernatural destiny in the beatific vision, while others, though gifted with grace, lost it and were thereby condemned to eternal punishments in hell; that it is part of God’s ordinary providence to have the heavenly spirits minister to man’s needs and assist him to reach heaven; and correspondingly it is part of divine permissive providence to allow demons, or the spirits of evil, to try and tempt mankind into sin in order to keep us from our eternal destiny.
God the Author of Nature and the Supernatural - Part Two: Creation as a Divine Fact: Thesis V
THESIS V: In Man There is One Rational Soul, Which is Immortal and Imediately Created by God Alone
We shall examine three principal aspects of man's soul in the present thesis: how many souls are there in a human being, prove there is only one, and show that this soul is not material but spiritual and rational; see whether this soul is destined to pass away, by death if that were possible or otherwise by annihilation; and finally deal with the origin of the soul, as soul, while proving that it must always be immediately created by God, and by Him alone, for infusion into a predisposed human body. As an extension of the thesis we shall briefly review the dogmatic position on the nature of man as composite of body and soul, with special reference to the soul as essentially the form of the human body.
God the Author of Nature and the Supernatural - Part Two: Creation as a Divine Fact: Thesis VI
THESIS VI: The Body of Adam was Made by an Immediate Operation of God
The object of inquiry in this thesis is the origin of the body of the first man. In view of the preceding analysis, we can easily conclude that the soul of Adam must have been immediately created by God. For if the souls of men in general must be created by divine power, the soul of the first man could have been no exception. Otherwise we should have to postulate an origin either by emanation from the divine essence or by transformism from pure matter, neither of which is theologically or philosophically tenable. Even St. Augustine who had doubts about creationism, assumed it was certain that God directly created the soul of Adam. Consequently our study is concerned only with the body of Adam. Unquestionably God might have immediately created not only the soul but also the body of the first man. But relying on the biblical narrative, theologians commonly hold that God utilized pre-existing matter to form Adam's body. And according to St. Thomas this was more consonant than immediate creation because man was thus seen to be the bond of union between the world of pure spirits and the cosmos of pure matter.
God the Author of Nature and the Supernatural - Part Two: Creation as a Divine Fact: Thesis VII
THESIS VII: Adam was an Individual Man, From Whom the Whole Human Race Derives Its Origin
The present thesis is a bridge which spans our investigation of the first human being and the rest of mankind. Its importance, however, is more than to state a historical fact, that the human race descended from one man by natural generation. In fact we are not directly concerned with proving monogenism from palaeontology or other scientific data, but rather to establish the unitary origins of humanity on dogmatic grounds - and with dogmatic ends in view. Derivation of all existing men from Adam has manifold implications in the social order. If we are commonly descended from our first parents, we are natural brothers and sisters in the flesh, with consequences that affect human relations on every level of society.
God the Author of Nature and the Supernatural - Part Two: Creation as a Divine Fact: Thesis VIII
THESIS VIII: Before the Fall, Adam Possessed Sanctifying Grace and the Preternatural Gifts of Integrity, Immortality and Infused Knowledge
Having studied the nature of man according to his nature, his origin in soul by an immediate creation of God and in body by some special agency directed by God, we are now in a position to examine into the moral and religious phase of human kind. Our immediate concern will be with the first man, Adam, as the father of his race; and our scope of inquiry will be twofold: to establish the fact that he was possessed of original justice or sanctity, covered by the term "sanctifying grace," and of certain additional gifts that followed on this supernatural orientation, namely, in his mind, and body and relation to the external world.
God the Author of Nature and the Supernatural - Part Two: Creation as a Divine Fact: Thesis IX
THESIS IX: Adam Lost Original Justice by Sinning Gravely
There are two principal parts to the present thesis: the fact of Adam's sin, and the existence of original sin, derived from Adam by natural propagation. And although the Pelagian errors in the Patristic period evoked several major condemnations about original sin, the locus classicus for this thesis (as for the whole subject of original sin) is the Council of Trent. The Reformation concepts of sin and man’s fallen nature were so at variance with traditional Christianity that every aspect of this doctrine had to be explored and, if necessary, defined to settle once and for all what the Church wants her faithful to believe.
God the Author of Nature and the Supernatural - Part Two: Creation as a Divine Fact: Thesis X
THESIS X: Original Sin Essentially Consists in the Privation of Sanctifying Grace.
The scope of our thesis is twofold: to show that privation of grace constitutes the essence of original sin, and that through its causal relation to the sin of Adam, it involves guilt on the part of all who are affected by it. Corollary to the aspect of original sin as voluntary in us, we give a theory to explain how this is possible. Two elements, therefore, constitute the essence of original sin: privatio gratiae and ratio voluntarii - or as theologians prefer, these elements are necessarily included in the concept of original sin. The explanation of how our original sin can be voluntary is a speculative question tied in with the second element.
The Divine Attributes Retreat: The Attributes of God – An Introduction
By way of introduction, I wish to say that the retreat we are beginning, I call a theological retreat - no less - and the retreat will be on the Divine Attributes. First, only God can make us happy. Second, why should we concentrate on knowing who is God? Third, where can we learn - where should we learn more about God? Fourth, what do we mean by the Attributes of God? And finally, what is our planned procedure for all the conferences in the retreat?
The Divine Attributes Retreat: The Attributes of God – The Unity of God
In the Nicene Creed, we begin our profession of faith with the words "We believe in One God." Most of us I think do not realize that behind that simple faith affirmation are four thousand years of struggle, conflict - the deepest conflict in the world between those who believe there is only one true God and those who do not believe. Everything (and the word is Everything) in Christianity depends on the Truth of there being only one God -- not many gods, not several gods, not even two gods -- only One.
The Divine Attributes Retreat: The Attributes of God – God is a Pure Spirit
What the Church however means by simplicity is that there are no parts. Something or someone is simple when they are not divisible. In other words, (and I am presuming on a lot of theology), in other words, because God is absolutely Simple, He is a Pure Spirit because whatever else a spirit has, it has no divisions or parts.
The Divine Attributes Retreat: The Attributes of God – The Holy Trinity (Part 1)
We begin first by asking ourselves, "Isn't there a contradiction? Is God One, or is God Three." And more pointedly, "How can God Who is Absolutely Unique, be also (what we are affirming), He is also a Plurality. Indeed, how can God who is Absolutely One be also a Community."
The Divine Attributes Retreat: The Attributes of God – The Holy Trinity - In Our Spiritual Lives (Part 2)
We have seen something of the meaning of the Holy Trinity as the basic mystery of Christianity. All other mysteries derive from the Trinity or lead to the Trinity. Our purpose (and I wish to see) how this mystery is INDISPENSABLE (that's the word - indispensable), for our spiritual life. There are numerous lessons that this Divine Mystery is meant to teach Us. But I believe especially three; we'll first identify then elaborate.
The Divine Attributes Retreat: The Attributes of God – God the Creator
Our purpose in this meditation, we're going to see, what the Church infallibly teaches about Creation. Then, examine more closely what we may call the "When," "How," and "Why" of Creation. And in the following conference, look specifically and practically on how our Faith in the mystery (it is a mystery), of Creation is to be lived out in our own daily spiritual lives.
The Divine Attributes Retreat: The Attributes of God – The Mystery of Creation
Before we go into examining the spiritual implications of our Faith in God's creating the world and us out of nothing, it will be useful to remind ourselves that God not only CREATED, He is CREATING. Each of us when we came to the world, was conceived and born, with a body and a soul. The body we received from our parents. The soul for each one of us was individually, distinctly, separately and immediately created by God.
The Divine Attributes Retreat: The Attributes of God – The Infinity of God
The achievement of the mind is to realize that God is beyond anything we can conceive. We might paraphrase that by saying that the greatest achievement of the human mind, the deepest and the highest thing we can know is to realize that God is beyond anything that we can conceive. It is impossible to exaggerate the importance of realizing the greatness of God compared with the littleness, the smallness, the insignificance of everything which God has made. We tend to appreciate only what we can comprehend.
The Divine Attributes Retreat: The Attributes of God – The Providence of God (Part 1)
God as Creator is closely related to God as Provider; in other words, creation and providence are closely interrelated. Creation answers the question where do we come from; providence tells us where we are going. Needless to say, we had better know both. What then is divine providence as the Catholic Church understands it?
The Divine Attributes Retreat: The Attributes of God – The Providence of God (Part 2)
However, there are two sides to divine providence. The one we have seen. Providence is the foundation of our virtue of hope. We are confident that because God loves us he will provide whatever we need to do his will, provided we honestly want to do it. Providence on that first level is trustful confidence on our part that the Lord will provide all the means we need on earth to reach heaven in the life to come. However providence is not only the foundation of our hope. It is also the foundation of our faith, our faith as lived out in this world.
The Divine Attributes Retreat: The Attributes of God – The Unchangeable God
The bedrock of human civilization is faith in an unchangeable God. And the main reason for the cosmic instability in the world today is its widespread loss of faith in an unchangeable God.
The Divine Attributes Retreat: The Attributes of God – The Knowledge and Wisdom of God
Our focus in this meditation is first of all on the knowledge of God: what God knows in his intellect or mind but also on the wisdom of God. And between the two is this difference. The knowledge of God is what the mind of God, in our terrible human language, contains, what the intellect of God comprehends. The wisdom of God is how God, using his mind, puts his knowledge into practice.
The Divine Attributes Retreat: The Attributes of God – The Love and Goodness of God
We are, therefore, doing now in our reflections on the will of God what we have so far done in meditating on the mind of God. We may say to shore up the introduction that the love of God is what belongs to God as God; the goodness of God is how he shows his love toward the creatures he has made. In each case as we have been doing, we will first reflect on the love of God, and then see its implications in our own moral and spiritual lives, and then repeat the process for the goodness of God.
The Divine Attributes Retreat: The Attributes of God – The Omnipresence of God
However, before going into our prayerful reflection on God's 'everywhereness', I think we had better distinguish among the three different ways in which God is now in the world. The first way: God is present everywhere and his presence we call natural. It is called his omnipresence. It is also a universal presence in all creatures, rational and irrational, in heaven, on earth, in the stiller regions, and even in hell. In the second way God is present and we call that his supernatural presence. It is more properly and technically called the divine indwelling. It is the way that God is present in the souls of those who on earth are in the state of sanctifying grace: the divine indwelling of the Holy Trinity in the just. The third way God is present in the world and we call it the Real Presence. It is his presence as the God-Man, it is his corporeal or bodily presence in the Holy Eucharist.
The Divine Attributes Retreat: The Attributes of God – The Glory of God
Our purpose in this meditation will be to see four things. First, what do we mean by glory, 'doxa' in the Greek of the revealed text of St. Luke's gospel? Second, how is God glorified? Thirdly, how can we increase the glory of God? And finally, how does our peace on earth depend on our glorifying God?
The Divine Attributes Retreat: The Attributes of God – The Indwelling of the Holy Trinity
The Church commonly teaches distinguishing between God's presence and his indwelling. The indwelling, unlike the omnipresence, is not natural but super - beyond natural. The indwelling is not universal but particular, very particular. The indwelling is not merely the presence of God in the world but it is the special way in which the Holy Trinity dwells in the souls of those who are in sanctifying grace.
The Divine Attributes Retreat: The Attributes of God – The Real Presence
My purpose in this meditation is first to look at the revealed foundations for our faith in the Real Presence; next, what do we mean by what we believe; and then, somewhat summarily, applications.
The Divine Attributes Retreat: The Attributes of God – The True Divinity of Jesus Christ
At this point of the retreat we make a transition. We continue reflecting on God and his divine attributes but we shall now consider God and his perfections as he revealed himself in the person of Jesus Christ. There are several good reasons for making what we call the transition, from reflecting on God as God to meditating on God become Man.
The Divine Attributes Retreat: The Attributes of God – The Humility of God
We begin with what must seem like an unlikely attribute of the Creator of heaven and earth: the humility of God. I plan to cover the following aspects of this oceanic subject: first, the Incarnation as the humiliation of God; then, the humility of Christ himself as he practiced during his stay on earth; third, Christ's teaching on the virtue and practice of humility; finally with all this breathtaking panorama about the humility of God, what is our responsibility?
The Divine Attributes Retreat: The Attributes of God – The Patience of God
Our scope in this meditation will be first of all to look at the meaning of patience, especially as this has been developed through centuries of reflection by the Church on the patience practiced by Christ who is the Son of God.
The Divine Attributes Retreat: The Attributes of God – The Justice of God
Our plan is to reflect on four areas of our subject. First, what is justice? Then, how was the justice of God revealed under the Old Law? Then, how has God's justice been revealed since the coming of Christ as found in the New Testament? And finally, what are some very painfully practical implications for our spiritual life?
The Divine Attributes Retreat: The Attributes of God – The Mercy of God
Our scope in this conference is to cover three areas of a subject which is as vast as our faith. First, what does the Church understand by mercy? Then, how is Christ really incarnate divine mercy? And then very pertinently, how do we not only have the option but the obligation of responding to the profound mystery of the mercy of God who became Man out of love for us?
The Divine Attributes Retreat: The Attributes of God – The Holiness of God
Our main focus in this meditation is to go behind our holiness, and ask ourselves the harder question: not what is our holiness, but how is God holy? Why is this important? Because if our holiness consists in God-likeness, we then become more holy as we strive with his grace to become more and more like him. On the practical, down-to-earth, day by day level, we can become holy, theologically expressed, by following in the footsteps of Jesus Christ. As little as thirty years ago it didn't quite occur to me that I would even give a meditation on this subject to my theological students and entitle it "De Sanctitate Dei". But much has happened in thirty years. You see, it is not just Christianity that is now on trial, it is God.
The Divine Attributes Retreat: The Attributes of God – The Faithfulness of God
In order to better understand what we mean by the faithfulness or fidelity of God, we should look at the profound mystery of God's fidelity both on God's side toward us and on our side toward him. Let's first look at the Old Testament, because there are so many passages, so many occasions of God having first chosen those who became his chosen people: he promised them. And then in the New Testament God made a covenant or an agreement with the new Israel, which of course is ourselves.
The Divine Attributes Retreat: The Attributes of God – The Worship of God With Our Minds
To worship God means to honor God; it means to adore God; it means to pay God the homage that he deserves and the veneration he demands as a condition for our possession of God in the life to come. We believe in God now, we hope to see God in heaven. The bridge between believing in God now and seeing him in eternity is our worshiping God here on earth.
The Divine Attributes Retreat: The Attributes of God – The Worship of God With Our Wills
How do we worship God with our wills? We shall examine how the fact that we must worship God is of the very essence of our faith, better, it is of the very essence of our reason; that's why God made us: to worship him. How are we to give God the great gift of honoring him not only with our minds but also with our wills? There are many ways but the following are the most prominent in divine revelation.
The Divine Attributes Retreat: The Attributes of God – The Worship of God With Our Bodies
Our scope in this meditation will be to see two things: what Sacred Scripture tells us about honoring God with our bodies and, second, how we are to worship God with our bodies by the right use of our bodily senses especially by the right use of our eyes and ears, of our touch and our tongue.





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