I just wanted to thank those who encouraged me to keep commenting on the Catechism. I had gotten sidetracked doing other things at my other blogs here and here. This post is a summary of my previous two posts on the matter. You can find them under the category Catechism, also I am using the paragraph numbers to help you keep an order in mind.
Today I will cover the In Brief section of the Catechism. Let’s get into it
44 Man is by nature and vocation a religious being. Coming from God, going toward God, man lives a fully human life only if he freely lives by his bond with God.
This again is really super simple, but profound. That’s one thing I love about reading the Catechism, there’s a ton of depth, but a lot of simplicity.
The statement says that we are made to be and called to be religious beings. We are by nature religious, we are as Dr. Green, a former professor and continued friend says “the praying animals.” We are made to pray, to reflect God, and to echo the Divine Image.
Not only are we fashioned as such, we are called to be this. We are called into our self expression precisely by being the praying animals.
We come from God, and we echo God as we progress in this life we are moving towards their Triunity in the fullness of faith. We can only be truly human if we live in the covenant that God has established and invited us into. We can only be what we are meant to be, we can only be creatures in their total freedom and goodness, in relation to this limitation and agreement with God. To be without limitation and bond to God for the human is not freedom at all, but what we would call damnation. To be free of the basis for our own being is not to be free at all, but to steadily approach the end of our own existence.
46 When he listens to the message of creation and to the voice of conscience, man can arrive at certainty about the existence of God, the cause and the end of everything.
I think we covered this one and all the others sufficiently well. I just wanted to reiterate that the one thing I love about the Catechism and the Catholic Church is that God is knowable, not in the perfection of revelation, but even imperfectly through the light of human reason. What this does is, it establishes that humanity’s correspondence to the divine is still present in the fallen creature and that despite this, The Lord can still be known.
I think that too strong an emphasis on this paragraph against the other specifics of revelation can be dangerous. To use conscience as an alternative to the Holy Spirit is certainly mistaken, yet this is not what the Church is doing, she is affirming what the Psalmist says, that the whole earth is filled with the glory of the Lord and testifies to his goodness.
We can arrive at the certainty of the existence of God, but who this God is and what He does are not accessible simply from the standpoint of outside observer.
47 The Church teaches that the one true God, our Creator and Lord, can be known with certainty from his works, by the natural light of human reason (cf. Vatican Council I, can. 2 § 1: DS 3026)
The above speaks for itself.
48 We really can name God, starting from the manifold perfections of his creatures, which are likenesses of the infinitely perfect God, even if our limited language cannot exhaust the mystery.
I appreciate that at the end of all this, the Church affirms again that God is transcendent and that all our talk cannot exhaust the mystery. Sometimes the shape of general Western theology seems to affirm the idea that Dogma can exhaust the mystery, and sometimes our Western minds shaped as they are by Greek and Hellenistic concepts sometimes seem to overstate the case.
However, the Church corrects us again and again by informing us that we can really know God, we can know him through the echoes he has left in the creation. His majesty breaks through even our perceptions and reason which are under the power of sin, and yet His resplendent majesty pierces even this. Our language, our reason, cannot exhaust the mystery even if they can recognize it.