USCCA Highlights
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USCCA Highlights, Chapter 5

     Chapter  5
The Role Model:  Orestes Brownson,  a convert from Unitarianism and Transcendentalism
Orestes Brownson was born in Stockbridge, Vermont in 1803.  His father died when he was quite young and because of poverty, his mother was forced to put him in foster homes.  He grew up, memorizing large portions of Scripture and eventually became a preacher in the Universalist Church.  He married Sally Healy when he was 24 years old, and was attracted to the transcendental outlooks of such men as Henry David Thoreau and Ralph Waldo Emerson.   They held that God was immanent in nature and in the human soul, but it was in his searching for direction that he discovered the Catholic Church.  He later wrote that the intelligent Catholic mind is served best by the teaching authority of the Church in the same way that a seafarer is guided by maps and charts.  What a wonderful role model for today, and a good reminder to all Catholics that the Magisterium or the teaching office of the Church exists as a time tested guide for us who are on this planet for only a short time.  Modern man or woman often thinks we know more than the Church, and we forget the centuries and millennium of wisdom is that is amassed in an office guided by the Holy Spirit.  A good rule of thumb might be to consult the teaching office of the Church when we do have significant faith questions.  Have they already answered our question? And what were their reasons?  What a wonderful resource!
The Teaching: God is Mystery.  God is One.  God is Trinity.  God is Truth.  God is Creator
The lesson for Chapter 5 of the USCCA is substantial.  We already learned that we are incomplete without God and that God has fashioned us in such a way that we are always searching for that completion.  We are called to share that Good News and be obedient to faith.  Faith is a gift, and God will give us the grace to accept it.  This month, we begin learning of the attributes of God and God’s action in the world.  The Catechism tells us that God is mystery, but not the mystery of a detective story or a science puzzle.  God is a mystery to be reverenced.  God is a reality too great for our finite minds to grasp, so we reverence the mystery that is beyond our grasp.  This lesson then goes on to insist that God is one through the familiar prayer of old, the Shema: “Hear, O Israel!  The Lord, our God, is one Lord” (Dt. 6:4; Mark 12:29).  In the very next breath, the Church tells us however, that there are three persons or dimensions to God: Father, Son and Spirit, and that each of these persons is distinct from the other and related to the other.  It then goes on to show us how all three persons were involved in creation: God the Father by creating the material world ex nihilo or out of nothing, God the Son through each of God’s commands, God’s WORD (or Bara in Hebrew), and that God the Holy Spirit (or Ruah in Hebrew) breathed life over the waters, guiding creation.  And God saw that it was good!  Creation reflects God’s goodness and wisdom.
The creations stories (both of them) are part of the first chapters of Genesis and are largely considered mythological by Scripture scholars today.  That does not mean they are untrue or fairy tales, but rather it means that they are stories that point to greater truths, answering greater questions, in this case: Who are we? What are our origins? How did we get here?  Where are we going?   The answers are just as true, but the stories are merely stories used to get at the truth.
Angels exist as spiritual creatures with intelligence and will and are immortal, but they are not God.  They glorify God and work for our salvation.  God’s Providence sees forward and guides us to salvation, and God uses secondary causes like science and physics and biology to work in cooperation with our intellect and will.  Evil exists, however, and questions of theodicy then arise: how can such a good God permit evil to exist, but we learn that God permits evil out of respect for the gift of our freedom, with which he has endowed his creatures. 
American Modern Culture and its Challenges:
The stories of creation are often challenged buy those who might literally read the Bible and suggest that Adam and Eve, for instance, are real historical people and the Garden of Eden is a real garden complete with its apple trees and snakes.  Issues of faith and science may seem to be on a collision course if one tries to read the Bible as a history book or as a science text.  It is neither.  It is a book of faith and a book about the story of a people, and God’s love for those people.   Science and faith are not incompatible, but as the words of wisdom from “Gaudium et spes,” a document of Vatican II, states: “methodological research in all branches of knowledge, provided it is carried out in a truly scientific manner and does not override moral laws, can never conflict with the faith, because the things of the world and the things of faith derive from the same God.” (GS, 36).  The Catholic Church sees no intrinsic conflict between science and religion.  In an earlier document, "Humani Generis" of 1950 from Pope Pius XII, applied that principle to evolution: “The [Magisterium] of the Church does not forbid that, in conformity with the present state of human sciences and sacred theology, research and discussion on the part of [people] experienced in both fields, take place with regard to the doctrine of evolution in as far as it inquires into the origins of the human body as coming from pre-existent and living matter” (no. 36).  At the same time, Pope Pius XII reiterated the doctrine that each human soul is immortal and created by God. 
USCCA Reflection Question:
What are some practical ways you would reply to creationists, who often hold a materialist creation in which creatures are created from other matter,  and atheistic evolutionists?  Why is the dialogue between religion and science necessary and valuable?
Doctrinal Statements:
* God is a holy Mystery.
* God is One.
* God is Trinity: Father, son and Holy Spirit.
* God is Truth.
* God is Creator, creating all things ex nihilo (from nothing) and creating all things good.
Meditation and Prayer:
An Act of Faith
O my God, I firmly believe that you are one God
In three persons: Father, Son and Holy Spirit;
I believe that your divine Son became man and died for our sins,
and that he will come to judge the living and the dead.
I believe these and all truths which the Holy Catholic Church teaches,
because You have revealed them, who can neither deceive nor be deceived.   Amen.