Catholic Basics · Catholic stuff

Catholic Basics – Knowing God.

For Francis (St Francis of Assisi) religion was not a thing like a theory but a thing like a love affair.
– G.K. Chesterton


Moretto Brescia – The Holy Family

Love God, know God, obey God, serve God and one another.    This is the sum of Christian theology.   It seems most common that those coming into the faith rarely do so because they were first intellectually convinced.  It is most commonly that they had some experience that led them to love God and then they found themselves desiring to know God.  Something draws the soul to God and the the relationship must be built from there.

Our relationship with God is in many ways like any other relationship.  It takes time, effort and understanding  to develop the deep and satisfying relationship with God that we desire.  There will be times, as there are in any relationship, where you are more or less on autopilot.  And there may even be times where you are separated from God or where communication is difficult but the relationship goes on and reunion is perfect and beautiful.  

Here are a few of the ways in which we met God allow us to more fully know Him.

Nature, Art, Music and Beauty  The beauty of the creator is reflected in creation.  Music and Art that stirs the soul and lifts our thoughts to God.  God whispers His love to us in the beauty of every face around us.  Each little flower, each blade of grass act in a symphony of life that hums constantly with the joy of being.   If we take the time to savor life we see God in the world around us.

Prayer There are so many kinds of prayer.  Each person has their own favored ways of praying.  Communal prayer, meditative prayer, Rosaries, Chaplets, Psalms the list could go on and on and I would undoubtedly  miss something.  Speak to God and spend some prayer time listening. 

Scriptures The scriptures are God’s gift to us in them we learn about God’s teaching and commandments, His nature and His earthly life.  We see the example of those who served God before us.  I always find it rather funny when someone has the impression that Catholics do not use the Bible.  We do, every single mass has multiple readings from scripture.   We use Scripture to learn about and to draw closer to God.

Catechism Whenever there is a question about what the Church teaches I go to the catechism.  Our Catechism is a rich resource containing the wisdom and teachings of 2000 years distilled into a rather manageable text.  By learning the catechism we learn about God, his lover for us and the commandments He would have us live.

The Sacraments Any of the sacraments bring us closer to God.  Our Baptism, the Holy Eucharist, Confession – they all draw us closer to God and allow us to know him more fully.  There is such love an peace contained in the Eucharist.  The reception of the Eucharist, Eucharistic adoration and confession bring us close to God in very special ways.  They heal us from our self-inflicted wounds and allow us to glimpse the reality that love is sacrifice.

Writings of the Saints and others  Reading the writings of Christians who have come before us and reading about their lives bring us closer to God in a special way.  Sort of like family get togethers where we all share stories about our love ones.  We learn more about God by learning how others have experienced His love.

The Lives of Others  We all shine like the sun to God.  By recognising the beauty and humanity in the lives of others we learn a great deal about the nature of God and what it means to be Christian.  We are not supposed to start out perfect, we are perfected in Christ. 

Our Service to Others “It is in giving that we receive”.  When we act on Christ’s behalf for others we see Christ more clearly and allow His glory to shine through us into the lives of others.

Catholic Basics · My world

Catholic Basics – God loves you.

“Always remember, my dear young friend, that Almighty God loves you very much: for love of you He created the world, the sun, the stars, and everything else that exists.  He made your parents; He made you; He gave you your soul and your body.

Therefore, your most important duty is to know God, to serve God, and to love God with all your heart.”

Bishop Morrow —  My Friend, published 1949


Bernhard Plockhorst — The Good Shephard

I have always noted that in the dystopia literary works (Brave New World, 1984 and the like) that human relationship, human love is suppressed or redirected in some way.  A people comfortable and confident in their love for one another and their love of God and of God’s love for them are not easily led away from what is good.  We are made to love God and to love one another.  The catechism itself begins with the exhortation to love and serve God.  It is in this act that we find the expression of who we are, who we are meant to be, why we are here.  All those pressing questions are answered so succinctly we are here, made, born, fashioned and formed to love and serve God.   The life of every Saint points to this inevitable conclusion: nothing is more worth living or dieing for than the love of God and service to Him.

This is the most elemental, the most basic tenant of Catholic life.  I don’t say that to exclude non-Catholic Christians or even non-Christians.  The Church teaches that God has written the natural law in all human hearts, it is our natural state to long for what is good.  But the Catholic expression has a fullness that exists no where else.  We have the Sacraments instituted by Christ.  We have the Eucharist.

The Eucharist is a miracle.  It exists outside of time and space.  It exists wholly and completely in the supernatural realm.  It is a tangible expression for us to be able to partake in the divine love of God’s self-sacrifice over and over, it reconciles the beautiful impossibility of Christ being anointed the priest who sacrifices and the lamb that is sacrificed and the fruit of the earth feeding our body and the fruit of the spirit feeding our souls.  All this bathed in love.  For God so loved the world.

God became one of us, lives in all of us, we serve Him when we serve one another and when we fail to serve each other we fail to serve Him.   He takes upon us each of our sins when we let Him.  And it is this that makes it impossible for us not to be willing to forgive others when they harm us.  How can I not forgive my fellow man when Christ has paid for those wrongs with His own blood?   It is one of the mysteries of the Passion.  When Christ paid for all my sins He paid for all my enemy’s sins as well.  To hold those hurts against me against my fellow man is to hold them against Jesus Himself.  Thus Christ redeems us not only for ourselves, but heals the hurts we have between one another allowing us to love without limit.