A Pilgrim's Catechism
The Occasional Thoughts of a 21st-Century Roman Catholic on Journey
Towards the Reign of God
Giralomo dai Libri: God the Father
Is it possible to prove the existence of God?
The Roman Catholic Church in its First Vatican Council declared that it is possible through reason to prove the existence of God. Nevertheless no proof has ever gained anywhere’s near universal acceptance. Some proofs, like the ontological argument of St. Anselm, have been openly mocked. Thomistic scholars remind us that Thomas Aquinas has left us, not five proofs, but five ways. Many argue that a”leap of faith” is always necessary.
The God whose existence we so often try to prove is the source of whatever else exists. He is at the origin of everything we are and everything we do. It is all gift. Even our knowledge of him is gift to be received and not the results of our effort.
God reveals himself to all who would listen in everything that is. He speaks within us in the innermost recesses of our being. He reveals himself through his Word in the power of the Holy Spirit calling us to himself. God is the absolute future that make sense out of the journey that is human life, ever calling us to let go of what we have become up to that moment, summoning us to listen more carefully to his Word spoken to us and to accept more fully the gift of life ever offered to us in the power of his Holy Spirit.
There is no need to prove the existence of God. We need only listen to his Word spoken to us in the moment, in every moment.
Francesco di Giorgio Martini: God the Eternal Father
How is God eternal?
Humans, as well as all created things, have their being in successessive moments. What we are now is not what we were a moment ago nor what we shall be in a moment hence. Not only are we distributed over space, extending here and there, but also over time. God just is. He is in total possession of himself in the moment. When we say that God is eternal it is not that he always has been and always will be. God’s eternity is not endless time without any beginning. God does not have a past or a future. He exists in an ever-present, unchanging now. Not a fleeting now as for created beings. Rather an eternal now.
Giovanni Domenico Tiepolo: The Creation of the Universe
Does God act?
God does act but not like created beings. He does not act here and there or now and then. Existing in the eternal now, in the one moment of eternity, God acts once and for all.
God’s being is his act and his act is his being.
Unlike created beings then God does not interact. He does not initiate activity nor does he respond. His act is one and fully expressive of his being.
Human created freedom involves choices. God is absolute freedom but he does not choose. God just does the good in his one, eternal act.
Voltaire was being ironic when he referred to this as the best of all possible worlds but God in his freedom does not choose one world rather than another. He simply and freely creates the best of all possible worlds.
God does not choose to create rather than not create, nor does he create out of compulsion. God is totally free. Whatever is done in God's one, eternal act is done freely.
Thomas Aquinas says that it is impossible to prove that the creative act is not eternal and it would seem to me that it must be eternal. There cannot be a time when God did not create and then created because there is no time in God. God creates, indeed does all, in the one act that his is being.
We respond to God but God does not respond to us. What we understand as response from God is rather our further response of growth in his life which he offers once and for all in everything that he is.
Andrei Rublev: The Trinity
How is God one and yet three?
God is one. Anything other than God that exists must be contained within God as effect is contained within its cause. And so there is only one God. God knows not only his creatures but himself. That knowledge of himself, the Word, is infinite and therefore the Word too is God. The Word is not created but is one with God in eternity. Since the Word is distinct from God who is the origin of the Word we say that Word or Son is begotten of God as Father. The Father loves not only his creatures but he loves his Word, the Son, and the Son loves the Father. This mutual Love of Father and Son is infinite and therefore this Love too is God. We call this Love the Holy Spirit.
The Father knows the Son and the Father and Son love one another in the Holy Spirit. In the Western Church we say that the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father and the Son (filioque); in the Eastern Church we say that the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father.
Father, Son and Holy Spirit are distinct from one another and yet are one. Historically we have therefore called them persons, three persons in one God.
Father, Son and Holy Spirit are not persons in the modern sense which denotes center of consciousness. If there were three centers of consciousness there would be three gods which is a contradiction.
God is one. His being is his act. As there is one being there is one act.
In referring to God’s act in creating, to aid our understanding, we have traditionally assigned aspects of God’s one act to each distinct person. Thus we say that God creates through the Word or Son in the power of the Holy Spirit, that God speaks or reveals himself through the Word, that God shares his divine life with us through the Word in the Holy Spirit. But, in truth, God is one. God’s act is one. It is not the Father, the Son or the Spirit acting outside of himself; it is the one God who acts ad extra.
Traditionally we have assigned the masculine pronoun to God and occasionally the feminine pronoun to the Spirit but God transcends gender. There is no male or female in God.