February 21, 2013

Faith: The Beginnings of Belief

Catechism Paragraphs 185 – 231

“This synthesis of faith was not made to accord with human opinions, but rather what was of the greatest importance was gathered from all the Scriptures, to present the one teaching of the faith in its entirety.  Such syntheses are called ‘professions of faith’ since they summarize the faith that Christians profess.  They are called ‘creeds’ on account of what is usually their first word in Latin, credo (‘I believe’).  187  The first profession of faith is made during Baptism.  Baptism is given ‘in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.’  189    The Creed is divided into three parts: the first part speaks of the first divine Person and the wonderful work of creation ; the next speaks of the second divine Person and the mystery of his redemption of men; and the final parts speaks of the third divine Person, the origin and source of our sanctification.  These are the three chapters of our baptismal seal.”  190  

“Among all the creeds, two occupy a special place in the Church’s life:  The Apostle’s Creed is so called because it is rightly considered to be a faithful summary of the apostles’ faith.  194  The Niceno-Constantinopolitan, or Nicene Creed draws its great authority from the fact that it stems from the first two ecumenical Councils (in 325 and 381).  It remains common to all the great Churches of both East and West to this day.  195    

I believe in one God  These are the words with which the Nicene Creed begins.  The confession of God’s oneness, which has its roots in the divine revelation of the Old Covenant, is inseparable from the profession of God’s existence.  200   Jesus himself affirms that God is ‘the one Lord’ whom you must love ‘with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength (Mk 12:29-30).’  At the same time Jesus gives us to understand that he himself is ‘the Lord.’ To confess that Jesus is Lord is distinctive of Christian faith.”  202 

“In revealing his mysterious name, YHWH (I AM HE WHO IS, I AM WHO AM, or I AM WHO I AM) God says who he is and by what name he is to be called (Ex 3:13-15).  This divine name is mysterious just as God is mystery.  206   God, who reveals his name as ‘I AM,’ reveals himself as the God who is always there, present to his people in order to save them.  207   Out of respect for the holiness of God, the people of Israel do not pronounce his name.  In the reading of Sacred Scripture, the revealed name (Yhwh) is replaced by the divine title ‘Lord’ (in Hebrew Adonai, in Greek Kyrios).  It is under this title that the divinity of Jesus will be acclaimed:  ‘Jesus is Lord’.  209  The divine name, ‘I Am’ or ‘He Is,’ expresses God’s faithfulness: despite the faithlessness of men’s sin and the punishment it deserves, he keeps steadfast love for thousands (Ex 34:7).  By going so far as to give us his own Son for us, God reveals that he is ‘rich in mercy’. (Eph 2:4)  By giving up his own Son for our sins, God manifests that his plan for us is one of benevolent love, prior to any merit on our part:  ‘In this is love, not that we loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the expiation for our sins.’ (1Jn 4:10)  God shows his love for us in that while we were yet sinners Christ died for us.  604   The revelation of the ineffib le name ‘I Am who Am’ contains then the truth that God alone IS.  The Church’s tradition (understands) the divine name in this sense:  God is the fullness of Being and of every perfection, without origin and without end.”  213

“God is Truth itself, whose words cannot deceive.  This is why one can abandon oneself in full trust to the truth and faithfulness of his word in all things.  The beginning of sin and of man’s fall was due to a lie of the tempter who induced doubt of God’s word, kindness, and faithfulness.  215   In the course of its history, Israel was able to discover that God had only one reason to reveal himself to them, a single motive for choosing them from among all peoples as his special possession:  his sheer gratuitous love.  Out of love, God never stopped saving them and pardoning their unfaithfulness and sins.  God’s love for Israel is compared to a father’s love for his son.  218   God’s love is everlasting: ‘For the mountains may depart and the hills be removed, but my steadfast love shall not depart from you.’ (Isa 54:10) 220   But St. John goes even further when he affirms that ‘God is love.’ (1Jn 4:8, 16)  God’s very being is love.  By sending his only Son and the Spirit of Love in the fullness of time, God has revealed his innermost secret:  God himself is an eternal exchange of love, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit and he has destined us to share in that exchange.  221   Indeed, God desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth, that is, God wills the salvation of everyone through the knowledge of the truth.  Salvation is found in the truth.”  851  

“Believing in one God has enormous consequences for our whole life.  It means coming to know God’s greatness and majesty: Behold, God is great.  Therefore, we must serve God first.  It means living in thanksgiving: everything we are and have comes from him.  It means knowing the unity and true dignity of all men: Everyone is made in the image and likeness of God.  It means making good use of created things:  To use everything that is not God only insofar as it brings us closer to him, and to detach ourselves from it insofar as it turns us away from him.  222-6  Even when he reveals himself, God remains a mystery beyond words: ‘If you understood him, it would not be God.’ (St. Augustine)” 230  

“Faith is a sheer gift of God.  Faith is incomplete unless it leads to active love.  Faith grows when we listen more and more carefully to God’s Word and enter a lively exchange with him in prayer.  Faith gives us even now a foretaste of the joy of heaven.  YOUCAT Q21  What should you do once you have come to know God?  Once you have come to know God, you must put him in the first place in your life.  And with that a new life begins.  You should be able to recognize Christians by the fact that they love even their enemies."  YOUCAT Q34

I found this whole section of the catechism on belief in God, faith, a good read --- but one which must be read more than once.  Faith is trust, and it is a trust not without reason.  Faith and reason go together.  I reflect on this somewhat often in my blog, Do Not Be Anxious, for trusting without seeing, without scientific proof as we know it, is sometimes a cause of anxiety.  Trust is sometimes going ahead without knowing what is in front of us.  Trust is sometimes accepting pain and suffering as a good thing, even thought every bone of our body screams: “This isn’t right!”  Faith is a hard thing, but as YOUCAT Q21 notes, faith grows.  Even if you find yours weak now, never give up.  Faith grows.


  1. I found your blog through St. Blog's Parish as one of the newest listings. Welcome to the Catholic Blogoshere!

    Also, based on your blog, please look into CatechismClass.com. I think you'd really benefit from their Adult Level Course.

  2. Thank you for dropping by, Matthew, and the invite, but I am not looking for a class. As I note, "This is not a site of teaching, but witness." I'm not reading the catechism to learn anything, but to be more open to God's work in me. I want to see the Unseen Truth, not know doctrines. I know doctrines already.

    This isn't about me learning the Church's doctrines. It's about learning God.

    I wish you well with your students.