FIRST CATECHISM
Fr. William Most
God made all things

Who is God? He is the One who made everything. . Was it hard for Him? No, He did not need a big computer or a lot of scientists. How did He make things? He just said: Let it be--and then it started to be.

What kind of things did He make? He made the sky and the land, and the oceans and lakes and rivers. . He made all the animals in the earth, and in the water, and in the sky. What kind of things did He make in the sky? All the birds. What did He make on the earth? Everything, from huge beasts, to tiny insects. What things in the waters? All kinds of fishes, large and small. What did He put in the sky? He put the sun and the moon and stars. Are the stars far out? Yes, they really are. Light runs so fast, it goes more than186, 000 miles per second, . But even so, it may take many years, even centuries for the light from some of the stars to come to us.

Did God need these things? No, He needed nothing. He is infinitely happy and good in Himself.

Where is God? He is everywhere, for He made everything, and He keeps all things in existence. If He did not keep on holding things in His hand, they would fall back into nothing. But He is specially in Heaven.

 

God made Adam and Eve

God made the first man and woman. , the Bible calls them Adam and Eve. Maybe they also used other names for themselves. But no matter--God made them all

Where did God put them? In a lovely garden with all sorts of fine fruits. No work needed, they just grew.

What did Adam & Eve have to pay for all that? Nothing. They got it because God, their Father, was and is good.

Why did God make humans? He did not need us humans. But He is so good , He wanted to have someone to receive His gifts.

God planned after their time in the garden to take them to His own home in the heavens, with even greater happiness. What did they have to pay for that? Again, nothing. They would get it because He, their Father, is good, not that they were good.

`They did not have to earn all this. No, God wanted to give, and so He made them to have someone to give to. But He gave them some sort of a test--the Bible says He told them not to eat of the fruit of one of the trees. That may have been just a way of saying He gave a command. To keep the command was not hard. But they listened to the tempter in the form of a snake, and so they lost what God had planned.

He planned too that they should give these good things to their children. But they threw the gifts away by sin, and so could not hand them on. So we say that we are born with original sin--that is, without that power to see God face to face in the next life. Since we did not inherit grace, we are a bit weak, and can more easily sin. To keep out of sin, we need God’s help--that help is called grace. This lack of grace in us is called original sin.

There is one who never had that original sin, Our Lady, Mary the Mother of Jesus God because of the future merits of her Son, gave her that grace in advance. And she never committed any sin at all. So she is able to be a most loving Mother to us. We thank Our Father for giving us such a Mother.

Even though we start life with original sin- that means, without sanctifying grace - Can we still get to go to His home in the heavens? Yes. Jesus earned that for us. We do not have to earn it--we just have to keep from blowing it by mortal sin, a big sin that displeases our Father greatly. There are also smaller sins, called venial sins. They displease Him, but they would not keep us from going home to His home after we die.

 

Children of the Father

We said that He is our Father. It is not just that He adopts us as His children- that is true. But there is much more. If Mr. & Mrs. Jones adopt a baby they will plan to give it many good things, just as if the baby were really a Jones. They would like to give the baby some of their own blood or genes--but they were not able But when our Father in heaven adopts us, He can do what they could not do. He makes us really have something of His own nature, by grace. That gives us the power to see Him face to face in the next life. Again, we do not have to earn it--but we have to keep from blowing it, losing it by sin.

 

Holy Trinity

Does God get lonely? No. There is only one God, but there are three Divine Persons in God-- Father, Son and Holy Spirit. We say: the Father is God, the Son is God, the Holy Spirit is God--but: one plus one plus one does not mean three Gods. There is only one God. This is a great mystery- a thing we cannot understand, but He told us it is so, it is true, and so we believe it. There is one God-- each Person is God- -but it adds up to only one God.

St. John in his Epistle told us that God IS love. When we talk about people, we can say that John or Mary HAS love. So there are two: John (or Mary) and his or her love. But that is not the way it is with God. He IS love.

We cannot understand it, but we know it is true: He revealed it. But we can start out a bit to understand. What is love? To love means willing or wanting good to another for the other’s sake. If you remember, God created things by just saying; Let it be. Before He said that, there was nothing, but now there is a creature which He created. But, infinitely greater, the Father wishes or wills the divine nature, divinity, to the Son- Then just as it was when God said: Let it be--so the Son IS, but the Son is not created. He simply IS, because the Father loves Him, and wants Him to be divine. . So the Son IS, and is love. From all eternity, just as the Father is not created, so the Son is not created. -- Father and Son together will divinity to the Holy Spirit. So the Spirit IS, and the Spirit is love. So God is all love.

We cannot understand it, but we know it is true for He revealed it. But we can start out a bit to understand. First, what is love?: loving means wishing or willing good to another-for the other’s sake. In the beginning, God created all things by just saying : Let it be. - Before he said that, there was nothing- But then there as a creature which He created. We could say He loved the things He created-- He wished or willed them to be, to be good. But they did not always exist. They had a beginning. However the Father from all eternity wished or willed divinity to the Son. We do not say that then the Son came into being. No. He IS from all eternity. We do not say was, for He simply IS. He IS from all eternity, just as the Father IS from all eternity. --But there is more: Father and Son, together, wish or will divinity to the Holy Spirit. Again, we do not say that then the Spirit began to be-- No. the Spirit simply IS, from all eternity. And He is because both Father and Son wished or willed divinity to Him. --So by this willing or wishing the Son and the Spirit ARE from all eternity, even as the Father IS from all eternity. So God is all love.

 

What does it mean to love God?

We just said this : to love means to will good to another for the other’s sake. We want him or her to be well off, to be happy. That works well if we are talking about loving anyone but God. But we could not will good to God: He IS infinite Goodness. He cannot get anything.

But there is a way to understand: Scripture says God is pleased if we obey, and displeased if we do not.

When we obey Him it does Him no good. But He is so good that He wants all to have good. And for that, people need to be open, to be able to take in what He offers. So if we obey, we let Him have that generous pleasure of giving to us- it would not please Him if He gave us something but we could not take it in. It would be like the water on the duck’s back. It does not get in.

 

Incarnation and Redemption

That sin of Adam and Eve was a great sin, it was mortal. And so many humans also commit mortal sins.

Since God is all good, He wanted things straightened out-- for goodness sake--and for our sake.

Even one mortal sin is so terrible, so crooked , that no human being could straighten things again. But Our Father loves us. And for goodness sake, and for our sake, He planned to make things right again. So He sent His only Begotten Son to become Man. Jesus is both divine and human. He has both natures. . But He still is only one Person, a divine Person, the Second Person of the Holy Trinity.

Since He was human, He could make things right again for humans. And because He was and is divine, what He did is infinite in value. And since He is both divine and human, what He did counts for all. He did that by the sacrifice of His death.

He took on our human nature from the most perfect human being, the Blessed Mother, who never had original sin, or any other sin. Since her Son is God, we call her the Mother of God.

What is a sacrifice? Whoever offers sacrifice does something that we can see, something outward. But what makes it so valuable is the heart, the interior, that is, His obedience to our Father. He hated to die, He hated to so in so painful a death. But His love for the Father and for us, led Him to be willing to do it anyway.

When the Archangel Gabriel came to Nazareth to ask her to be the Mother of the divine Redeemer, she quickly said: Yes, Fiat, let it be cone to me according to your word. His obedience to the Father is what gave His sacrifice its value. She was asked to join in that obedience, willing that He did, die then, die so terribly. In that way she as His associate in the redemption. He had always known what He was going to suffer-- for His human soul saw the vision of God from the first instant of His conception. She knew the prophecies of His suffering, especially chapter 53 of Isaiah. the prophet.

 

We are members of Christ, children of the Father:

We did not earn a place in our Father’s house" Jesus What does it mean to say we are "members of Christ"? It does not mean were are like so many arms or legs or other parts of His body. No. We are spiritually members of Christ. . Since we are members of Christ, in that way we get in on the claim He made to the Father’s house. St Paul says we are "heirs of God". A child is a heir, that is, it has a claim to inherit from the Father. simply because he is a child of the Father. In a usual human family, the children are heirs, that is, they can inherit good things from their Father when the Father dies. Our Father in Heaven of course does not die But He gave us a part or share in His own divine nature. that means, He gave us the power to see Him face to face in the next life. Only God, or someone that is partly God, could see Him face to face. It is tremendous, but that is what He gives us through grace.

A while ago, we said that when a sin has been committed, especially a mortals in, the Holiness of God wants it straightened out. Another way to say it is this: suppose we think of a two pan scale. A sinner takes from one pan what he has no right to take. So the scale is out of line, out of balance. The Holiness of God wants it straightened up. or rebalance. If he stole money, the sinner begins to rebalance by giving it back. If he stole a pleasure, . he begins to rebalance by giving up some other pleasure. We kept saying "begins" because the imbalance from even mortal sin is infinite-- an infinite Person is offended. So no mere human could rebalance-- but the God-man, Jesus, being both divine and human, could do it and did do it perfectly. In His suffering He gave up more than all sinners together had taken from the balance.

So then, Jesus by dying earned a place in our Father’s house. . We get in on that claim since we are members of Christ. St. Paul is so bold as to write: "Since one died, therefore all have died. That is, we did not physically die--Jesus did that--but we get in on what He earned since we are His members.

Furthermore, St. Paul also says that since Christ, our Head, rose, therefore His members-- we are that-- will rise too. so at Mass we often hear: "Dying He destroyed our death; rising He restored our life. "

But St Paul said this comes true "provided we suffer with Him, so we may also be glorified with Him’. We are members of the suffering Christ. It would be really odd to have a suffering Head with members just in comfort. So we need to accept from the loving hand of Our Father the difficulties and sufferings we meet in this life. In that way, no matter how what trouble or sufferings we may have, everything can be turned into eternal gold, since in that way we become more like Christ. The more like Him we are in this life, the more like Him in the life to come. Since we know that, we add to that giving up some things on our own. , that is, mortification, especially in Lent, but really, at other times too,

Suppose some members of Christ do not do all they should do. Then they do not share much if at all in straightening things out for their own sins. Yes, Christ did the great work, made the infinite payment, with His infinite sacrifice. But we need to do our part. Our Father is so good and so holy He wants us to take part in the sufferings of His Son. So St Paul wrote to the Colossians (1. 24):’Now I am glad over my sufferings for your sake. In my flesh I fill in what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions, for the sake of His body, which is, the Church. "

Of course Christ our Head, taken alone, did not lack any sufferings. But the whole Christ--Head and members--can be lacking. St. Paul was glad to be able to fill in.

In that way some who might have been lost in eternity can be saved- for then God will give an extraordinary kind of grace that can pull them through. Without it they might not have made it for they might have resisted His ordinary or regular graces. . For much sin can make a person hard, and blind, unable to see the light God tries to send in the usual way. So something extra-added is needed.

If a person does sin very, very much, that makes him hard or blind, so when God send a light to lead him the right way, he will be unable to receive it even if grace comes. It is like the water running off the duck’s back.

 

Mass and Priesthood:

The night before He died, Jesus had the Passover Supper with His apostles.  In it they ate the flesh of the sacrificed paschal lamb. The night before Moses left

Egypt, God told Moses to sacrifice a lamb, and put its blood on the door posts of the Israelites. Then when the angel of death came through, killing all the firstborn of the Egyptians, the angel would Passover them, would not strike them.

Jesus knew that He was the new paschal lamb, whose blood would keep the angel of death away from His brothers or followers. He took bread and said: This is my body. Then ::This is my blood. Of course if blood is separated from the body, the man is dead. This was His way of saying to the Father; Father, I know the command you have given me. I should die tomorrow. Very good, I turn myself over to death--expressed by this seeming separation of body and blood--I accept. I obey. " He made that pledge on Holy Thursday eve. He carried it out the next day, with the physical separation of His body and blood on the cross.

This action of His at the Last Supper was already a sacrifice. For we know that in a sacrifice there are two things-- outward sign, and interior dispositions The outward sign: the seeming separation of His body and blood. The interior; His obedience to the Father.

He wanted to repeat this sacrifice every day until the end of time. So He told His Apostles: Do this in memory of me. That meant He was making them priests, with power to say "This is my body. . . . This is my blood--and it would turn into His own body and blood. The purpose was to continue to express His obedience to the Father . Not that He would die over and over. But that on the altar this obedience would be expressed and continued, so that both priest and people could join the obedience of their hearts with the obedience of His Heart. There they should look back on the time since the previous Mass; What have I done in that time in obeying the will of the Father. If have done it well, that can be joined to the obedience of Jesus on the altar. If I have done some things badly, sinfully, they cannot be offered. they demand repentance. .

By doing this every day, we His followers should be learning to offer ourselves with Him. That does not really mean just saying or thinking; Lord, Lord, I offer thee. No. that could be completely empty. That really means we see if we have carried out the will of the Father up to then, so we can put it with His obedience. then---- if we remember that we are members of Christ--this offering would be that of the whole Christ, . Head and members. ,

We need to pray before and after receiving. . Pope John Paul II said if we don’t work at it, frequent Communion will give us a loss, not a gain.

On His very first visit to the Apostles after His resurrection. Jesus said: "Whose sins you shall forgive, they are forgiven them. -- He had just paid a great price for that forgiveness, so it seems He was eager to give it out. out. In this way He established the Sacrament of Penance.

Of course the priest cannot very well forgive if he does not know what he is forgiving--hence the need of telling sins. Only mortal sins that are certainly mortal, certainly not confessed need to be mentioned. But it is valuable to present venial sins too. That gives us a claim to added helps, as needed, to keep out of the same sort of thing in the future. (That is called Sacramental Grace--like a book of tickets, so we can tear one off and present it as needed).

The priest also assigns a penance-- really it is slight compared to what is needed to really make up for sins. So we should add other things on our own.

What sins are mortal? Here are some: missing Mass on Sundays without a good reason -- stealing something worth a lot. We not guilt of mortal sin unless we know at the time that it is mortal, and still mean to do it?

Smaller sins: Being just a little late for Mass on Sunday, laughing in Church, disobeying parents, fighting with the little people, getting angry or mad trying to get even, stealing something not worth much, calling others bad names, telling little lies.

The Holy Spirit came upon the Apostles on the first Pentecost. Another coming of that Spirit is what we receive in Confirmation. He came when we were baptized or received first grace even before that. But a spirit does not take up place-- we say a spirit is present- or a spirit comes--wherever He causes an effect. So if the Spirit in Confirmation produces more effects, we can see He comes then. That effect is to give us more strength to stand up for what is right in a world that is so far from the principles of Christ. Confirmation give also something like a book of tickets- -that is, a claim to ask for an get what we need to do what Confirmation calls for. each time we need it.

There is another wonderful sacrament- the anointing we get when in danger from sickness. It gives us special help to hold up in that danger, especially if we are close to death. Sometimes this sacrament even cures bodily sickness. In special cases it can even forgive sins-but if we can we should go to confession before the anointing. If we become suddenly unconscious from accident and still have in general sorrow for sin, then it can forgive sins. If we die then, no confession is needed. But if we recover, then we need too confess any mortal sins we had

The sacrament of matrimony gives us special help to be a good parent, and to get along well with our mate. .

The sacrament of Holy Orders makes men priests, so like Christ in power that they can say: "This is my body"--and it will become the body of Christ They can say: I absolve you -- and Christ absolves you.

Our Father is wonderfully kind and good to give us so many things to bring spiritual gain and help.


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