March 26, 2013

Angels; Man in the Image of God

Catechism paragraphs 325 – 384

“The Apostles’ Creed professes that God is ‘Creator of heaven and earth.’  The Nicene Creed makes it explicit that this profession includes ‘all that is seen and unseen.’  325   The profession of faith of the Fourth Lateran Council (1215) affirms that God ‘from the beginning of time made at once out of nothing both orders of creatures, the spiritual and the corporeal, that is, the angelic and the earthly, and then the human creature, who as it were shares in both orders, being composed of spirit and body.’”  327


“The existence of the spiritual, non-corporeal beings that Sacred Scripture usually calls ‘angels’ is a truth of faith.  328   St. Augustine says: ‘Angel’ is the name of their office, not of their nature.  If you seek the name of their nature, it is ‘spirit;’ if you seek the name of their office, it is ‘angel’:  from what they are, ‘spirit,’ from what they do, ‘angel.’  With their whole beings the angels are servants and messengers of God.  329   Christ is the center of the angelic world.  They are his angels.  They belong to him because they were created through and for him: ‘for in him all things were created in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or authorities – all things were created through him and for him.’ (Col 1:16) 331   In her liturgy, the Church joins with the angels to adore the thrice-holy God.  She invokes their assistance.  Moreover, in the ‘Cherubic Hymn’ of the Byzantine Liturgy, she celebrates the memory of certain angels more particularly (St. Michael, St. Gabriel, St. Raphael, and the guardian angels).  335   From infancy to death human life is surrounded by their watchful care and intercession.  Beside each believer stands an angel as protector and shepherd leading him to life.”  336


Nothing exists that does not owe its existence to God the Creator.  The world began when God’s word drew it out of nothingness; existent beings, all of nature, and all human history are rooted in this primordial event.  338   Each creature possesses its own particular goodness and perfection.  ‘And God saw that it was good.’ 339   God wills the interdependence of creatures.  No creature is self-sufficient.  Creatures exist only in dependence on each other, to complete each other, in the service of each other.  340   The beauty of the universe: The order and harmony of the created world results from the diversity of beings and from the relationships which exist among them.  Man discovers them progressively as the laws of nature.  The beauty of creation reflects the infinite beauty of the Creator and ought to inspire the respect and submission of man’s intellect and will.  341   Man is the summit of the Creator’s work, as the inspired account expresses by clearly distinguishing the creation of man from that of the other creatures. 343   The eighth day.  But for us a new day has dawned: the day of Christ’s Resurrection.  The seventh day completes the first creation.  The eighth day begins the new creation.  Thus, the work of creation culminates in the greater work of redemption.”  349

(I like that last paragraph, linking creation to Redemption.  It all fits together as part of God’s Plan.)


“Man occupies a unique place in creation: (I) he is ‘in the image of God’; (II) in his own nature he unites the spiritual and material worlds; (III) he is created ‘male and female’; (IV) God established him in his friendship.  355   Of all visible creatures only man is ‘able to know and love his creator.’  He is ‘the only creature on earth that God has willed for its own sake,’ and he alone is called to share, by knowledge and dignity. 356   Being in the image of God the human individual possesses the dignity of a person, who is not just something, but someone.  He is capable of self-knowledge, of self-possession and of freely giving himself and entering into communion with other persons.  357   Because of its common origin the human   race forms a unity.”  360  

“In Sacred Scripture the term ‘soul’ often refers to human life or the entire human person.  But ‘soul’ also refers to the innermost aspect of man, that which is of greatest value in him, that by which he is most especially in God’s image: ‘soul’ signifies the spiritual principle in man.  363   The unity of soul and body is so profound that one has to consider the soul to be the ‘form’ of the body: i.e., it is because of its spiritual soul that the body made of matter becomes a living, human body; spirit and matter, in man, are not two natures united, but rather their union forms a single nature.  365   The Church teaches that every spiritual soul is created immediately by God --- it is not ‘produced’ by the parents --- and also that it is immortal:  it does not perish when it separates from the body at death, and it will be united with the body at the final Resurrection.”  366  


“Man and woman have been created, which is to say, willed by God: on the one hand, in perfect equality as human persons; on the other, in their respective beings as man and woman.  369   In no way is God in man’s image.  He is neither man nor woman.  God is pure spirit in which there is no place for the difference between the sexes.  370   Man and woman were made ‘for each other’ --- not that God left them half-made and incomplete: he created them to be a communion of persons, in which each can be ‘helpmate.’  By transmitting human life to their descendents, man and woman as spouses and parents cooperate in a unique way in the Creator’s work.”  372 

“The first man was not only created good, but was also established in friendship with his Creator and in harmony with himself and with the creation around him.  374   The Church, interpreting the symbolism of biblical language in an authentic way, in the light of the New Testament and Tradition, teaches that our first parents, Adam and Eve, were constituted in an original ‘state of holiness and justice.’  This grace of original holiness was ‘to share in divine life.’  375   As long as he remained in the divine intimacy, man would not have to suffer or die.  (cf Gen 2:17, 3:16, 19) 376   The ‘mastery’ over the world that God offered man from the beginning was realized above all within man himself: mastery of self.  The first man was unimpaired and ordered in his whole being because he was free from the triple concupiscence that subjugates him to the pleasures of the senses, covetousness for earthly goods, and self-assertion, contrary to the dictates of reason.  377   The entire harmony of original justice, foreseen for man in God’s plan, will be lost by the sin of our first parents.”  379

Which I will read and write about next time …

We are not some casual and meaningless product of evolution.  Each of us is the result of a thought of God.  Each of us is willed, each of us is loved, each of us is necessary.   Pope Benedict XVI, 4/24/05

Why does the Book of Genesis depict creation as “the work of six days”?  From the symbolism of ‘the work of six days’ we can derive important principles: (1) Nothing exists that was not called into being by the Creator.  (2) Everything that exists is good in its own way.  (3) Something that has become bad still has a good core.  (4) Created beings and things are interrelated and interdependent.  (5) Creation in its order and harmony reflects the surpassing goodness and beauty of God.  (6) In creation there is an order of complexity: man is superior to an animal, an animal is superior to a plant, a plant is superior to inanimate matter.  (7) Creation is heading for the great celebration when Christ will bring the world home and God will be everything to everyone.  YOUCAT Q46          

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