At the very core of the Catholic faith is the belief in God. Without the belief in God there is no belief in the rest of the Catholic faith. You either believe in God or you don’t – it’s the foundational argument of our religion.
But who is God? From where did God come? We’ll explore those questions by taking a look at our profession of faith that we recite each time we are at Mass, the Nicene Creed. I’m willing to bet that you have this whole thing memorized, but never really stopped to take a good look at what you’re saying during Mass. Chances are you’re worried about saying all the words right so you don’t sound stupid to the person next to you during Mass.
All right, so not everyone is like that, but there are many people who go through the motions and never take a moment to reflect on what it is they are actually saying or the reasons they are really at Mass.
At the beginning of the Nicene Creed we profess that “We believe in one God.” God is the only god in which we believe and follow as Christians. There is no other god besides God even though we sometimes fail to recognize God as the ruler of our lives. As it pertains to the faith we only worship the one God, not anyone or anything else. God is at the center of our faith (or at least he should be).
The Creed continues “the Father, the Almighty, maker of heaven and earth, of all that is seen and unseen.” God is the divine being from which all things come ‘ even the things we cannot see or do not know. God made heaven, earth, angels, saints, our bodies, our souls, everything!
This part of the Creed also tells us that there is a physical realm that we can see and that there is a spiritual realm that we cannot see. God created it all. So, who is God? He is our Heavenly Father who formed us and everything else. We share in all both parts of this creation because we have both a body and a soul.
That is just the first four lines of the Nicene Creed and they sure are packed with some juicy stuff about our Creator. One question remains, however ‘ from where did God come? Well, we believe that God always existed and, in fact, God did not come from anything! Everything came from God. This is stated in our belief that God is the “maker of heaven and earth, of all that is seen and unseen.”
This isn’t all that Catholics believe about God though. There is even more! We believe that there is one God, but is manifested in three persons. We call this the Mystery of the Trinity. In short, there is God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit, each having distinct personalities.
Belief in God is necessary for salvation. No one can essentially prove that God exists by using methods of science or other means. Believing in God is an act of faith.
How can I come to know God?
Say a magic little prayer and…no, just kidding.
Coming to know God is life’s most precious joys because you enter into a relationship with your Creator ‘ the one who created you out of love and desires for you to share with him all his glory. The Church believes that people desire God and only in God will they find the truth and happiness that we constantly seek. God is always pouring out his love for us and it’s up to us to turn to God. He will never stop loving you!
Knowing God takes all one’s heart, mind and soul. It also can take time. Knowing God is not one of having scientific proof that God exists, but by the seeking out of God one’s heart becomes more and more convinced that God exists. It requires patience and weeding out the distractions in your life. Often times we spend much of our lives with a complete lack of silence ‘ always having the radio or the TV on. Just take a moment to pause in silence and listen for God. He is there.
What about all the needless suffering?
A popular argument against God is that if he really loves us so much then why is there all the suffering and pain in the world. There are a few responses to that question. One is that there is pain and suffering in the world not due to God, but due to sin that humanity brought into the world.
It is humankind that has chosen to separate itself from God and therefore causing the pain and suffering that was not in the initial plan of Creation as outlined in the story of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. God made everything wonderful and perfect for us, but by the sin of Adam we now suffer.
Another response, and one that fits well into the first one, is that through pain and suffering we find God, we finally see the need to seek God and thereby form a closer relationship with him. Have you ever had an experience where you were really injured and you have a lot of free time while recovering you started to read the Bible more? Chances are you have not, but that is just one example of how suffering brings people closer to God.
Our lives can be filled with many distractions that take away our time from God and suffering and hardships in this world remind us that we cannot do it alone ‘ we need the love and grace of God which we seek and he freely gives. Jesus reminds us that even though we may be suffering now it is later that we will get our reward (Mt. 5:3-12). We should not be angry with God for suffering, but use it as a chance to seek him and develop a closer relationship with him.