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Faith Formation

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This sequence introduces you to God's attributes. When we describe the attributes of someone, we can say that someone is strong, or very intelligent. But what are God's attributes? 

“The mystery of the Most Holy Trinity is the central mystery of Christian faith and life.” (CCC 234)

This sequence explores what it means to be human.

This sequence covers a basic introduction to the relationship between science and religion. It explores the Big Bang Theory, Evolution and the Flat Earth Theory.

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Sunday, April 30

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    The nature of human life is that man has a perishable body, but an immortal soul as one complete human person. Each human has an intellect that seeks truth, a will that seeks goodness and a heart that seeks love. The infinite horizon of the human mind means humans are open to the infinite and therefore religious by nature and so have a natural desire for God, who alone can fulfil humanity.

    “two fundamental truths should be kept in mind: first, that man is called to live in truth and love; and second, that everyone finds fulfilment through the sincere gift of self.” (John Paul II, Letter to Families)

    “Our hearts are restless until they rest in God” (St. Augustine)

    “There is a God shaped vacuum in the heart of every man which cannot be filled by any created thing, but only God, the Creator, made known through Jesus.” Blaise Pascal.

    "If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world." - C.S. Lewis

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    It is important to establish that since humanity has a natural desire for God this desire would be expressed collectively as religion. A religion is "a community organized around beliefs related to ultimate reality and the consequent beliefs, practices, principles and codes of behaviour." 

    Humanity's yearning for God has been expressed in various religions over the centuries. Since God is at work in everyone's lives, God has expressed truths to those who seek him. Ultimately God has revealed himself to humanity through Jesus. 

    We can come to some realisations about God by just thinking about it. This is called natural theology and is part of philosophy. 

    God also reveals himself to humanity through different people over the centuries, but ultimately through Jesus his Son. Judaism expresses the revelation and promises of God before Jesus and Christianity lives out the revelation of Jesus.

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    rjzaar created Humanity

    The human being has an intellect, will, heart which has a natural desire for God since he is immortal (will always exist).

    “But no darkness of error or of sin can totally take away from man the light of God the Creator. In the depths of his heart there always remains a yearning for absolute truth and a thirst to attain full knowledge of it. This is eloquently proved by man's tireless search for knowledge in all fields. It is proved even more by his search for the meaning of life. The development of science and technology, this splendid testimony of the human capacity for understanding and for perseverance, does not free humanity from the obligation to ask the ultimate religious questions. Rather, it spurs us on to face the most painful and decisive of struggles, those of the heart and of the moral conscience.” (Veritatis Splendor #1)

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    When I eat something good it lasts for only a short time and it is gone. In heaven I am face to face with God. I enjoy God himself. God is infinite so that enjoyment lasts an infinite 'amount of time' (time and heaven is a topic for later). The choice of choosing God is ultimately an infinite choice. I cannot enter into heaven for part of time since heaven is an infinite experience. I can ultimately either accept or reject heaven, there is no middle ground. Everyone in purgatory will eventually enter heaven. Purgatory has time. Heaven actually is an existence beyond time. So heaven is an infinite decision. If I accept heaven I will always be in heaven. If I reject heaven, I reject it forever. Once I am in heaven I have no desire to leave, or to sin since I will recognise that total ugliness and stupidity of sin. Heaven satisfies more than my every desire.

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    rjzaar created Good

    Good: “God is infinitely good and all his works are good.” (CCC 385)

    God is goodness itself. Everything God created is good because God is good. God never intended evil to happen, but since He created free will, He allowed it to happen. God is so good He can bring good from evil. But evil always remains evil.

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    1:49pm
    rjzaar created Good

    Everything good comes from God. God is goodness itself. Everything God created is good because God is good. God never intended evil to happen, but since He created free will, He allowed it to happen. God is so good he can bring good from evil. But evil always remains evil.

    “God is infinitely good and all his works are good.” (CCC 385)

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    Another word for Omnipotent is ‘almighty’ which means He is ‘all powerful’. This quote indicates that God must be omnipotent to create the world out of nothing. In the beginning, God made everything from nothing. To look at the universe, at the creation means there must be a creator. Mt 19:26, Lk 1:37, Jer 32:37, Ps 147:5, Job 42:2.

    Omnipresent: God is “present everywhere” (CCC 2671)

    Omnipresent means ‘all present’ or ‘present everywhere’. God who is transcendent is not removed from creation, but keeps creation in existence and therefore is mindful of every part of creation. (Pr 15:3, Jr 23:24, Ps 137:7-10, Mt 18:20.) Creation would cease to exist if God was not thinking of it. In other words this reality relies upon God for its continued existence. If God was not continuing to will its existence, it would cease to exist. 

    "God, who through the Word creates all things (see John 1:3) and keeps them in existence, gives men an enduring witness to Himself in created realities (see Rom. 1:19-20)." (DV 3)

     

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    “God is love” (1 Jn 4:8) (This phrase is repeated in 1 Jn 4:16) The definition of the Trinity as "Three persons in one God" misses out on the giving and love between each person. 

    The greatest act of love that someone can do for another is to die for them. In other words, to give of oneself totally. This is expressed in the definition of love as 'self-gift'. In the Trinity this is total. We have already learnt that God is infinite. This giving has no beginning nor end, just as each person has no beginning nor end. As a human being, we are a person and love is something we do, but we can also hate. ‘What’ I am, is a human being (body and soul). When it comes to God, God is always giving. The ‘whatness’ of God, what God IS, is pure infinite unconditional giving. The ‘whatness’ of God is self-gift, therefore, the ‘whatness’ of God is love, which is self gift. God IS love. Love is something we do, but love is what God is.

    The only way God can relate to us is by loving us.

    God does not need us since God is already infinite. Therefore God made us to share himself with us for our own sakes. God wants to share all of himself with us just as he shares all of himself with each divine person of the Trinity. God the Father loves us with the same love he has for God the Son, an infinite, total, unconditional love.

    For us to share in the love of the Trinity, we need to become like God and give all of ourselves to God and receive all that God is. The more we give of ourselves to God, the more we will be transformed to share more of God. What God most wants is our sin. He wants to enter into those places in our soul where he is not. Reconciliation is THE way we allow God to enter our sin and transform us. Baptism is the first time sacramentally we enter into God and God enters into us. We need to renew our self gift to God everyday. Daily prayer is the way we do that and allow ourselves to be gradually transformed by God's love.

    “God himself is an eternal exchange of love, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, and he has destined us to share in that exchange.” (CCC 221)

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    The other side of discovering our true identity is through the 'gift of self' to others. There are many ways this can occur such as friendship, serving the poor or just using your gifts for the sake of others. It could be part of your job, voluntary work, family life, or any number of ways. What is common to all these situations is service, particularly using your gifts for others. 

    The more we give of ourselves and engage our gifts and talents in what we do in service for others, the greater fulfilment we will achieve. Each of us being in the image and likeness of God express something unique of God that only we can express in creation. We yearn to live life to the full and only in giving ourselves to God and others can our natural gifts and talents be fulfilled. To discover our true vocation requires discernment. Only in that true vocation will we experience the greatest joy and have the greatest impact on the world for good. 

    Practically, one way to discover our talents is to use the [clifton scale: see Divine Renovation].

    Since we are made in the image and likeness of a Trinitarian God, only through giving of self can we achieve the fulfilment we yearn for. 

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    If God is not love but only knowledge, then it is difficult or impossible to see how human free will and divine predestination can both be true. But if God is love, there is a way.

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    The recent spate of neuroscientific and psychological literature claiming to show that free will is an illusion provides a case in point. Philosopher Alfred Mele’s new book, Free: Why Science Hasn’t Disproved Free Will (Oxford, 2015), is a brief, lucid, and decisive refutation of these arguments. Mele demonstrates that scientific evidence comes nowhere close to undermining free will, and that the reasoning leading some scientists to claim otherwise is amazingly sloppy.

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    Do you have free will?

    Most people would say 'yes' to that question. How can you have free will if your body just follows the laws of science? In your brain are brain cells (neurons) which follow the law of physics and chemistry. If there is the right conditions it fire off an electrical signal. Without the right conditions it wont. Since this is based on chemistry it is automatic. One thing causes another to occur. We call this causality and it is automatic. (Now there are some who use some advanced physics concepts such as Heidegger's uncertainty principle to debate this, but properly understood any of these concepts can't deny human free will. See some of the links to the right to explore these deeper questions.) If our bodies are just causal then we can't have free will. But any rational person knows we do. So how can we have free will if my body on its own can't have free will? 

    We must have a soul that gives us free will. Once we realise this we can have start to develop a proper understanding of the human person. The study of the human person is called anthropology. All humans have a body and a soul. Without a body and a soul we are not fully human. Materialists believe we only have a body. Some scientists don't believe we have a soul. Science itself is not capable of exploring the reality of the soul since you can't experiment on a soul, nor detect it. So to believe you don't have a soul is not science, but can be labelled scientism which is a philosophy that believes science can answer questions it is incapable of answering such as whether God exists or whether you have a soul or not.

    Really we have actually established two things, that you have a will and that it is free.

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    Claim your bit of formation glory. Help write some of the formation documentation.

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    Formation sequences are able to connect documents and books into a 'sequence' for formation.

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    This is a set of fact checks that goes into detail about any questionable content. For instance, if an article from a Catholic site seems to be different to the common understanding or what is written from a popular source, eg wikipedia, then this is the place where the truth is sought. Reliable sources are used to clarify the truth of the matter.

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    This is NASA image of the Helix Nebula called the "Eye of God". God is always watching you, with eyes of love.

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    Existence is good.

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    This is one of the best introductions to moral thought on the Internet. It will provide an excellent understanding of moral thought tracing its various concepts to their origins. It provides an framework and critique that is clear and consice. The audio version is for sale on audible and amazon.  You can download the zipped version of the book from Audible with this link. The notes are very similar to the actual audio, but it is so good to just listen to Kreeft himself explain it and it is so well put together.

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     I could be doing push-ups so I impress others, which is pride and vain glory (vices). I could be doing push-ups so I am fitter and thus more able to help others. In this case it would be to increase in the virtue of charity. The Church has recognised seven virtues which are divided into the theological virtues (faith, hope and love) and the cardinal virtues (temperance, fortitude, justice and prudence). Virtues develop through the help of grace but under the direction of the person though they can be prompted by grace. At baptism God gives the person seven gifts. “Thomas Aquinas says that four of these gifts (wisdom, understanding, knowledge, and counsel) direct the intellect, while the other three gifts (fortitude, piety, and fear of the Lord) direct the will toward God.”[1]

    It is not just about knowing the truth but living the truth that is so important. The two are intimately connected and one leads to the other, as St Thomas says,

    The intellect understands that the will wills, and the will wills the intellect to understand. In the same way good is contained in truth, inasmuch as it is an understood truth, and truth in good, inasmuch as it is a desired good.[2]

    Because of this intimate connection, morality must not be just understood, but lived and to live it is to better understand it. Hence we have focused on living the truth in this chapter through the sacraments which provides the means of grace to live the moral life. Contained in these sacraments are truths about God, us and our relationship with God. The fundamental truth is that we are loved unconditionally. Through the sacraments we live this unconditional love in a special way.

    Families

    The more you receive the more you get. The more you give, the more you will receive. “Love one another as I have loved you” is the basis for the Christian moral life. We now see that through the sacraments. From the Bible, the crucifix, the incredible gift of the Eucharist.

    As we give to others, we build up a ‘family’. From a wider perspective, families are the place where people are meant to experience unconditional love, since it is based on the unconditional love of the parents who receive their children unconditionally from God as gifts. This is the basis for a truly human society, since it is the place where people learn to love unconditionally. It is the foundation of society. When we from a group of friends and that friendship deepens to unconditional acceptance, it becomes a kind of family. We are all part of the universal family of man. As we love others through Christ we build family of one kind or another. It is through the intimacy of family that we work together to help build...

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