June 04, 2008

The Creed - God, the Father

My friends,
We recite a Creed at each Mass. The creeds are succinct statements of beliefs - the central beliefs of a church. If we state our core beliefs each week, we should understand what we are professing. Let's take some time to think about each section of the first creed - the Apostle's Creed:
I believe in God, the Father Almighty, Creator of heaven and earth;

Jesus gets the most time in the Creed, but it starts (as all good things do) with God the Father. We'll start there as well. The first line of the Creed describes God in three ways - as a Father, as Almighty, and as the Creator.

God is a father in many ways. He gives us life. He dictates our gender (as father's do, by supplying an X or Y chromosome). He guides and disciplines us. God puts the training wheels on our bikes, and He knows (even though we think otherwise), when to let go and see how far we ride.

Almighty means "having absolute power; all-powerful" (American Heritage Dictonary). When we call God almighty, we're stating that He can do absolutely anything. There are some classic Sunday school stumpers, like "can God create something so heavy that He can't lift it?" The question may seem silly, but there's a real, Catholic answer to it. If God can't create that thing, then there's something He can't do. If God creates something He can't lift, then there's still something He can't do. It seems, at first, like God can't escape from that question with his omnipotence ("all-powerful-ness") intact, however there is a third option.

If we say that "a dog can't be a cat", we're not describing something lacking in the dog. We're simply stating the dog's nature - it cannot be a cat because it cannot stop being a dog, it is a dog. God is God. (Remember His response of "I am"?) God cannot create something He cannot lift not because of something lacking, but because that is His nature. There is nothing God cannot lift. Why? Because He is almighty.

Last, in the Creed we state our belief that God made the earth. That doesn't mean we have to believe in a literal six-day period of creation. Six days to God may be something much different than to us; the idea of six days may be an analogy, a tool to help the readers of the time "get" the process of creation. This is one of the beauties of being Catholic - freedom! You can believe any one of many variations on this idea; you just have to believe that God made the earth, not that He made it on a particular timetable.

It is worth noting that we believe that God made heaven. Not "the heavens" as in "outer space" (that falls under creation of the earth) but "heaven" as in the domain of God and the angels. There's something very powerful implied there - that God pre-existed heaven. You can't make a bed while you're laying in it. God just is (and was and ever shall be) - before the big bang, before heaven, before the angels, and before our very souls existed.

There's so little we know about God. Those two sentences, though, pack a lot into few words.

almighty. (n.d.). The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition. Retrieved June 06, 2008, from Dictionary.com website: http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/almighty

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