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The Postmodern Catholic

Unit I Notes Our Relationship With God
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Sacred Paths
Homeworks and Outline: Sacred Paths
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Unit One Notes: Our Relationship with God

Mr. King

Religion I; Introduction to Catholicism


Images of God: The Catechism of the Catholic Church #199-204

  • The First Affirmation of Apostles Creed: “I believe in God”
  • Nicene/Constantinople Creeds: This God is One and unique.
  • This oneness has its roots in Jewish tradition and the Old Testament
  • This God is believed to have revealed himself/herself to Israel; the Chosen People
  • Jesus affirmed that God is “the one Lord”
  • Jesus also seems to identify himself as the One Lord: “I and the Father are One” (Gospel of John)
  • The Catholic Church claims proclaiming Jesus as the One Lord does not contradict belief in one God.
  • Nor does belief in the Holy Spirit as “Lord and giver of life” lead to any division of the one God 

Catechism: God’s Name Revealed

  • In ancient time (and today), a name expresses the person’s essence and identity
  • To disclose one’s name is to make one’s self known; to make oneself accessible
  • This God is thought to have revealed himself/herself gradually through the Jewish Patriarchs, the prophets, and most fully in the person of Jesus of Nazareth, the Christ
  • God revealed name to Moses at Sinai
  • This name is a paradox: a non-name (?)
  • The Hebrew name is “YHWH”, or Yahweh, which means “I am who I am”, or “My name is ‘I am’”.
  • Meaning?
  • The Name of God is beyond all names, suggesting God is beyond all description;
  • A name of Mystery
  • This mysterious God at Sinai reveals him/herself as the God of past (God of your Fathers); God of the Future (“I will always be there for you”); and God of the present (I am who is).
  • Note that the name Yahweh seems to emphasize that God is present in the present,


Characteristics of this God

  • Holy, Perfect, All-Knowing
  • Also fierce, angry, yet merciful, gentle, forgiving
  • Apparently, very human
  • He/She agrees to “walk among an unfaithful people”
  • The name of God “I am” expresses God’s faithfulness despite the faithlessness of people’s sinful lives. (?)
  • (S)He transcends the world and history (?)
  • (S)He made heaven and earth (Creator)
  •  There is “no variation, or shadow due to change” (?)
  • The name YHWH suggests that God alone, truly IS. Is the “Ground of all Being”
  • All creatures  receive what they are from this God

Humanity, God, and Creation

  • Human beings occupy a unique place in God’s creation
  • Humans believed to be created in the “image of God? Meaning?
  • In our way, we unite the spiritual and material
  • “Man is the only creature able to know and love his creator” (?)
  • Being in the “image of God” human individuals possess a certain dignity and deserve a certain level of treatment and respect
  • We are capable of self knowledge
  • We are called to Covenant with the Creator
  • St. Paul says human beings take their origin from two men: Adam and Jesus Christ
  • Adam became a living soul
  • Christ a life-giving spirit (Meaning?)
  • What of Eve? Of woman? 
  • The human person is thought to consist equally of a material body and spiritual soul
  • Body and Soul, both corporal (bodily), and spiritual
  • The human body shares in the dignity as an “image of God”
  • Much of this comes from Greek philosophy: form and substance
  • The soul is the ideal form, the body its substance
  • While the body is temporal (subject to death) the soul is immortal
  • Created by God in “perfect equality” (?)
  • Man and woman both possess same dignity and both are in the image of God
  • Still, ….hard to justify given the history of the Church’s treatment of women, its gender-exclusive language, and its refusal to allow women to be priests
  • Still, together, male and female make a single whole
  • Meant to be a communion of persons where each can help the other
  • Theory of Complimentarity: idea that the masculine and feminine compliment each other
  • They are meant to be united in marriage and made “one flesh”
  • For last few decades in much of West, these gender roles have been in flux
  • How men are masculine, how women are feminine have changed drastically. 
  • Socially, is more variety
  • Church struggles with much of this

Humanity and Creation

  • According to Catechism, men and women have the vocation of “subduing” the Earth.
  • Stewardship of Earth




  • God calls each of us to relationship, or covenant
  • Our response to God’s call is prayer
  • This call is a call to love
  • We pray to uncover God’s will for us
  • For Catholics, prayer begins and ends with the sign of the cross

The Lord’s Prayer

  • Called the Lord’s Prayer because it comes from Jesus himself and sums up the whole gospel
  • Directed toward the Father to highlight our reliance on Him
  • Prayer is the beginning of a relationship with God
  • Jesus is shown praying before every decisive moment of his ministry
  • Prayer is about Metanoia: a change of heart; a turning back towards God
  • It is a conversion of heart
  • Catholics are called to pray collectively on Sundays and holy days,
  • They are especially called to participate in the highest form of prayer, the Eucharist


Expressions of Prayer

  • Vocal: simple conversation with God
  • Meditation: prayer of understanding.  Quiet listening for God’s voice, or will for us
  • Contemplation: quiet resting in God’s presence:  Is a wordless prayer
  • “Do not worry so much about who or what you are or God is.  Know only that you are and that God is” (Anonymous Author, The Cloud of Unknowing 

Forms of Prayer

  • Adoration: worshipping and praising God
  • Thanksgiving: prayer of gratitude
  • Contrition: prayer of sorrow for our sins and sins of others
  • Petition: prayer of requesting what is needed for salvation

Difficulties in Prayer

  • Prayer is hard
  • It requires faith
  • Set a regular time for prayer
  • Try not to be discouraged when prayer seems dry or empty
  • Good habits make prayer easier


Doctrine of the Trinity

  • Origins of the Trinity are found in the early history of the church.
  • For the first three hundred plus years, the central question was : “Who was Jesus?
  • Was he divine?  Was he human?
  • If he was divine, was he equal to God the Father (Creator), or less than (semi-divine)?
  • Christians have a unique way of talking about God.
  • The name of the Christian God?
  • Trinity (F, S, HS)
  • God was one nature, three persons
  • Meaning?  All three were different forms, but the same essence, or nature
  • God the Father: creator
  • God the Son: The Incarnated Word
  • God the Spirit: The Love that exists between the two
  • Problem:  The Doctrine became meaningless and confusing in the West
  • Would like to suggest there is no more practical way of talking about God
  • When re-imagined and re-discovered, it can be a practical model for everyday Christian life
  • The Trinity: is a doctrine of relationships (?)
  • It is a metaphor that shows us God is found in relationship.  In relationship to what?
  • Everything!
  • Early Christian communities had come to experience God as a three-fold, living presence within their communities.
  • It was grounded in experience



Sin and Salvation: Original Sin

  • The Roman Catholic Church believes that Original Sin exists and that it is passed on from generation to generation
  • This original sin was caused by Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden
  • It represented a rebellion against God’s will and God’s love
  • How the Story of The Fall is interpreted varies


Original Sin

  • Some see it as the most horrible of sins ever committed: that it holds within it all the sins to come
  • Others view it as two innocent children who sinned out of their own innocence: here, the Original Sin is seen as part of the Divine Plan
  •  Either way, it is a metaphorical tale to explain how evil entered the world
  • The rest of human history up to Jesus the Christ is a story of sin, betrayal, and death
  • The Hebrew Covenant was passed on from generation to generation, continually made, broken, and restored
  • Christians believe that it is in the person of Jesus of Nazareth that a New Covenant was made, that overcame the original sin of Adam and Eve, and leads to new and everlasting life


Doctrine of Grace

  • Closely linked with the Doctrine of Sin
  • Belief in the redemptive love of God the Father, through Christ’s sacrifice, overcomes our sinful nature
  • Central to the doctrine of grace is belief in the divine sonship of Jesus the Christ


  • Refers to the death, resurrection, and Ascension of Jesus the Christ.
  • It is in this Paschal sacrifice that all of humanity is believed to be redeemed, or “made worthy” of new life with God the father in Heaven
  • This is the Salvation of all Humanity


The Paschal Mystery

  • Refers to the death, resurrection, and Ascension of Jesus the Christ.
  • It is in this Paschal sacrifice that all of humanity is believed to be redeemed, or “made worthy” of new life with God the father in Heaven
  • This is the Salvation of all Humanity

Lessons of the Paschal Mystery

  • the incredible love of God for all of us
  • The reality of sin and our need to accept Christ as Savior
  • Other lessons:
  • The Paschal Mystery can be a practical model for how to live our lives


The Paschal Mystery as Model for Us

  • The Paschal Mystery begins with?
  • Death!
  • Meaning?
  • That we all need to die to our old selves if we are to allow the spirit of new life in
  • Examples?
  • Whenever we face new, sometimes challenging changes or setbacks, we have to learn to accept so we can better recognize God’s will for us

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D. “The more I am able to affirm others, to say ‘yes” to them in myself, by discovering them in myself and myself in them, the more real I am. I am fully real if my own heart says yes to everyone” Thomas Merton