Last week, Jeff talked about “setting your face like flint” and not leaving the Church and the sacraments because of the sins of men. This week, Jeff continues his discussion on why we should remain Catholic and delves into divine revelation using paragraphs 27-100 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC).
Snippet from the Show
Just because there’s a couple bad eggs doesn’t mean that the truth is gone and we throw the baby out with the bathwater. Just because there’s been a 50 percent divorce rate in America doesn’t mean that marriage isn’t valid and beautiful and fruitful and wonderful. It just means that people failed. But it is not an excuse for you to leave the Eucharist.
Man’s Capacity For God: Invitation to Human Happiness
Everyone is searching for happiness. As the CCC says in paragraph 27, the “desire for God is written in the human heart … Only in God will [man] find the truth and happiness he never stops searching for.”
Philosophers have developed four levels of happiness. They are:
- Instant Gratification
- Personal Achievement
- Investing Beyond Self
- Union with God
What are some contenders for human happiness? Look at Adam & Eve and the nature of sin. Choosing natural happiness and forfeiting supernatural life did not work out for them.
The Catechism presents the human journey to God not as an externally imposed command from God, but as an internal imperative for living a full life. The command of God, if it can be called that, comes not from outside us but from within us, from our very nature. We aren’t just made by God, but for God.
We are never satisfied with the first three levels of happiness, we always want more. We desire something greater than ourselves, we desire the top level of happiness, union with God. We could say the Catechism’s invitation to the journey says to us, “This will make you happy!” Read paragraphs 28, 30 and 33 for more.
Ways of Coming To Know God
Paragraphs 31 – 38 talk about how people can come to know that God exists:
- The world: “The world’s order and beauty, one can come to a knowledge of God as the origin and the end of the universe” (CCC 32).
- The human person: “With his openness to truth and beauty, his sense of moral goodness, his freedom and the voice of his conscience, with his longings for the infinite and for happiness, man questions himself about God’s existence. In all this he discerns signs of his spiritual soul … Thus, in different ways, man can come to know that there exists a reality which is the first cause and final end of all things, a reality ‘that everyone calls God’” (CCC 33).
- Reason: “Man’s faculties make him capable of coming to a knowledge of the existence of a personal God. But for man to be able to enter into real intimacy with him, God willed both to reveal himself to man and to give him the grace of being able to welcome this revelation in faith” (CCC 35).
But each of these ways of coming to know God is limited. In paragraph 27, the Catechism says, “In the historical conditions in which he finds himself, however, man experiences many difficulties in coming to know God by the light of reason alone.”
For this reason, we need revelation. “We stand in need of being enlightened by God’s revelation, not only about those things that exceed his understanding, but also about those religious and moral truths which of themselves are not beyond the grasp of human reason” (CCC 38).
God Comes To Meet Man: Divine Revelation
Paragraphs 50-73 in the Catechism describe how God reveals himself to us.
God reveals himself gradually, in stages of supernatural revelation that is to culminate in the person and mission of Christ. His will was that men should have access to the Father, through Christ, and become sharers in the divine nature. God wants to adopt us and make us capable of responding to him, loving him and knowing him far beyond our own capacity. This divine revelation is revealed little by little through the covenants.
- The Fall
- Covenant with Noah
- Covenant with Abraham
- Covenant with Israel (Moses)
- Covenant with David
- The New Covenant in Christ
The New Covenant surpasses all others and applies to all people. There will be no new public revelation after Christ. As it says in Hebrews 1:1, “In many and various ways God spoke of old to our fathers by the prophets; but in these last days he has spoken to us by a Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world.”
While divine revelation is complete, it is not completely explicit. Over the centuries we come to grasp its significance more fully.
Transmission of Divine Revelation
How do we receive divine revelation? This is discussed in paragraphs 74-100 of the Catechism.
God established a plan to reach all peoples. This plan starts with Apostolic Tradition. Matthew 28:19 states, “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, to the close of the age.”
The Lord commanded them to hand on the Gospel in two ways:
- Orally: Through preaching, their example, and the institutions they established. They preached what they received, whether from the lips of the Lord, from his way of life or from the Holy Spirit.
- Writing: Those who wrote under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit.
In order to preserve the “deposit of faith” (see CCC 84) the apostles left bishops as their successors who gave to the next generation their own position of teaching authority. This living transmission of the faith, accompanied by the Holy Spirit is what we call Tradition. In her doctrine, life, and worship, the Church perpetuates and transmits to every generation all that she is and believes.
Tradition and Scripture are bound together and communicate one with the other. They come from the same well-spring and form one thing. This is one way that the Lord fulfills his promise in Matthew 28:20 to “remain with us always.”
Both Sacred Scripture and Tradition make up the Word of God and both must be accepted and honored with equal devotion and reverence. (CCC 82)
Who interprets the deposit of faith which has been handed down?
Paragraph 85 of the Catechism says, “The task of giving an authentic interpretation of the Word of God, whether in its written form or in the form of Tradition, has been entrusted to the living, teaching office of the Church alone.”
In other words, the Magisterium of the Church is entrusted with the teachings of the Faith. The Magisterium is not superior to the Word of God, but is its servant.
Our response to the Magisterium is one of obedience. Jesus said to the apostles in Luke 10:16, “He who hears you, hears me.”