CONTINUED.....We believe in one God, the Father, the Almighty.
God reveals himself to humanity not only as Creator and Almighty Ruler Pantocrater of the world but also as Father and Saviour of his people. The history of humankind is a sacred history inasmuch as God himself appears and acts within it. God realizes his plan of salvation within history by deeds and words, which have an inner unity. The deeds wrought by God manifest and confirm the teaching expressed through his words, while the words proclaim the deeds and clarify the mystery contained in them. The fullness of truth about God and the salvation of humanity are made clear to us in Christ, who simultaneously is the mediator and the fullness of all Revelation.
God revealed to Adam and Eve, and through them to all humankind, their vocation to continue the work of creation:
Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth and subdue it (Gn 3:15). When our first parents fell away from God because of their sin, God did not abandon humankind but promised to send a Saviour:
he [the offspring of the woman, Jesus Christ] will strike your [the serpent’s] head (Gn 3:15).
Even having lost the knowledge of God because of the fall, a human being does not stop seeking the One who is the origin of all things. Speaking about this search to the inhabitants of Athens, the apostle Paul said:
Athenians, I see how extremely religious you are in every way. For as I went through the city and looked carefully at the objects of your worship, I found among them an altar with the inscription,
To an unknown God. What therefore you worship as unknown, this I proclaim to you. The God who made the world and everything in it, he who is Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in shrines made by human hands (Acts 17:22-24).
Among those who
search for God and perhaps grope for him and find him (Acts 17:27), God reveals himself to Abraham, calling him to become the father of all believers, he grants him the promise of offspring and land. God confirms this promise by giving Abraham a son, Issac, and to him – Jacob. And so , appearing to Moses in the burning bush in order to call him to lead his people out of Egypt, the house of slavery, the God-Who- Is reveals himself as
the God of Abraham, the God of Issac, and the God of Jacob (Ex 3:15). By leading the Israelites across the Red Sea, by giving them his commandments on Mount Sinai, and by leading them into the Promised Land, God shows that he not only enters into the history of his people, he also calls them to fullness of life in him.
And I will walk among you, and will be your God, and you shall be my people (Lv 26:12).
To David, who wished to build a house for God, a temple, God promises that he himself will build him a
house. He will bring forth from his loins an offspring, the Christ, and his kingdom shall have no end (see 2 Sm 7:11-16). The Church sees this promise fulfilled in Jesus Christ:
And the Lord God will give to him the throne of his ancestor David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end (Lk 1:32-33).
In the New Testament, the fullness of revelation is attained in the Only-Begotten Son, who from all eternity is within the bosom of the Father and reveals the Father (see Jn 1:18). Jesus himself emphasizes:
Whoever has seen me has seen the Father (Jn 14:9). Jesus thus confirms that he and the Father are one (see Jn 10:30). As the
image of the invisible God (Col 1:15), Christ brings the fullness of Revelation. Christ, true God and true man, also reveals himself the image of a perfect human being.
The Church believes that there is only one unique Revelation of God to humankind, the fullness of which was brought to us and given by Jesus Christ, so that no other Revelation exists. God’s Revelation continues to be transmitted by the Church, the Body of Christ, so that we may continue to grow in faith and knowledge of God.
In her worship life, the Church unites the calendar year with the liturgical year – historical time with the sacred time of salvation. In liturgical celebration, the historical events of the earthly life of the Saviour become for us saving mysteries. In this way, God continues to act in history, until its final consummation in the second coming of Jesus Christ. While in the Old Testament, God revealed himself to chosen individuals –the patriarchs, prophets, and kings – in the New Testament, all the members of Christ’s Church receive his Revelation.
Next month – In one Lord Jesus Christ.
Quoted from - Christ, Our Pascha.
We believe in God, the Father, the Almighty.
The faith of the Church is founded on God’s Revelation. By this Revelation the invisible God, from the fullness of his love, speaks to human beings to make himself known to them and to call them to communion with him:
In his goodness and wisdom God chose to reveal himself and to make known to us the purpose of his will (see Eph 1:9) by which humankind might have access in the Holy Spirit to the Father and come to share in the divine nature through Christ, the Word made flesh (see Eph 2:18; 2 Pt 1:4). Vatican Council II Dei Verbum
dwells in unapproachable light, whom no one has ever seen or can see (1 Tm 6:16; see Jn 1:8; 1 Jn 4:12),
came clothed in flesh ... so that both the living and the dead might know of his visitation and of the coming of the Lord. Ilarion, Metropolitan of Kyiv
By revealing himself, God, who in his essence is unknowable,
wishes to make people capable of responding to him, and of knowing him, and of loving him far beyond their own natural capacity. Catechism of the Catholic Church, 53
God’s Revelation is realised simultaneously by deeds and words, which are intrinsically bound up with each other and shed light on each other. It involves a specific divine pedagogy, In that God communicates himself to humanity gradually, preparing it in stages for the reception of the Revelation of his own self, culminating in the fullness of this Revelation in the person and activity of the incarnate Word, Jesus Christ.
Long ago God spoke to our ancestors in many and various ways by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by a Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, through whom he also created the worlds (Heb 1:1-2). Only in his incarnate Word, which was from the beginning (see Jn 1:1), that is, in Jesus Christ, does God reveal himself in all fullness; for in him, together with human nature,
the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily (Col 2:9).
In the Old Testament, God manifested himself to Moses on Mount Sinai as The-One- Who-Is, I AM WHO AM (Ex 3:14), revealing to Moses not something about himself, but his very Self. The name The-One- Who-Is points to the personal nature of God, who possesses being in his very Self and who is the Source of all existence and life. In the New Testament, God, who is first to go out to meet humankind (see Jn 3:16; 1 Jn 4:19), reveals himself as Father through his incarnate Son, Jesus Christ, and in the Holy Spirit (see Mt 11:27).
Only God exists from all eternity, and it is he who has brought all creation from non-being into being. Only he possesses the fullness of life; whereas the world, having been created, owes its existence to him. God creates everything by his Word:
All things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being (Jn 1:3; see Gn 1). Nature, created by God, and nature’s laws proceed the Word:
For the voice ... and command were as natural and permanent law for the earth; it gave fertility and the power to produce fruit for all ages to come. Basil the Great
The Word of God provides the norm, or law, as well as meaning to all creation: the phrase
God said means that a wise and creative word has been imparted to every substance or nature. In the contemplation of nature, its established laws and harmony, we come to know the wisdom of the Creator and the beauty of his plan. All creation praises God, his majesty, his glory and wisdom:
The heavens are telling the glory of God; and the firmament proclaims his handiwork (Ps 18 :2);
Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth! (Ps 8:2).
By means of the world, as God’s creation, we come to know the Creator:
Ever since the creation of the world, his eternal power and divine nature, invisible though they are, have been understood and seen through the things he has made (Rom 1:20). The Fathers of the Church have often compared the world to a book through which we discover its Author. By coming to know God through his creation, we simultaneously acquire experience of being in the presence of God, and we become capable of glorifying him
in all places of his dominion (Ps 102 :22).
Continued next month.
Quoted from - Christ, Our Pascha.
The Church believes and teaches that there exists a close connection and communication between Holy Tradition and Holy Scripture, for both of them, flowing from the same divine wellspring, tend toward the same end. For Holy Scripture is the Word of God because it was written under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, while the Holy Tradition takes the Word of God entrusted by Christ the Lord and the Holy Spirit to the apostles, and hands it on to their successors in its full purity, so that led by the light of the Spirit of truth, they may in proclaiming it preserve this Word of God faithfully, explain it, and make it more widely known. From Vatican Council II, Dei Verbum.
On the basis of the Holy Scriptures, the Church establishes the truth of tradition, which in turn interprets the Holy Scriptures. This tradition is expressed through the Fathers, especially at Ecumenical and local Councils. The Church urges us to receive with faith and to respect both Holy Scripture and Holy Tradition.
In his providence, God envisaged the transmission of his revelation also in written form. This would give the opportunity to preserve his Revelation unchangeable, and to transmit it from generation to generation throughout human history. People inspired by God transcribed God’s Word forming the Bible (from the Greek Biblia, meaning books), which we call Holy or Sacred Scripture.
“All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful...”2 Tm 3:16. Holy Scripture is the Word of God addressed to every human being. Therefore it is relevant in every time and place. The Holy Scriptures are a collection of books, written under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit by holy people, which the Church of Christ has received and preserves as the Word of God. These books comprise the canon of Holy Scripture, which the Church has identified in the light of Apostolic Tradition. This canon includes 47 books of the Old Testament and 27 books of the New Testament.
The Old Testament contains the Revelation which God gave to humankind from the beginning of the world to the coming of the Saviour. It includes the Pentateuch, the Historical books, the Poetic books, the Prophetic books, and the Psalms of David.
The New Testament contains the Revelation which God has given to humanity through his only begotten Son, Jesus Christ, and his apostles. It consists of the Four Gospels which announce the earthly life and teaching of Christ. The Acts of the Apostles, which describe the growth of Christ’s Church, especially the service and preaching of the chief apostles Peter and Paul. The 14 epistles of the Apostle Paul, written to the early Churches and individuals. The 7 universal epistles, written by other apostles to various Christian communities; and the Revelation of St John.
The fullness of God’s Revelation is Jesus Christ, the God-man, in whom along with a human nature “the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily” Col 2:9. As the divine and human natures are united inseparably in Christ, so in the Holy Scriptures the Divine Word of God is transmitted to us by human language. God’s words, expressed in human words, adapted themselves to human language, just as the Word of the eternal Father, when he took upon himself the flesh of human weakness, lived just like a human being. In the words of Augustine, “The Word of God permeates all of Holy Scripture. That one Word resounds from the mouths of all the holy ministers; that Word which was with God from the beginning does not require syllables because that Word is not dependent upon time.”
In reading and interpreting Holy Scripture, the Church always takes into account two important dimensions: the divine and the human. Neglect of the human dimension in Holy Scripture leads to literalism, where human forms of transmitting the Word of God are given a divine character. On the other hand, rejection of the divine dimension reduces Holy Scripture to a mere historical literary work.
From the earliest of times, the Church has studiously preserved the richness of the Old Testament, regarding it as her heritage. “The unity of the two Testaments proceeds from the unity of God’s plan and his Revelation. The Old Testament prepares for the New, and the New Testament fulfils the Old; the two shed light on each other; both are true Word of God”. Catechism of the Catholic Church, 140. At first, God chose Israel to receive and carry the truth of Revelation; then in the New Testament, this truth is received by the Church, which is called the New Israel.
The first Christian communities preserved and transmitted the apostolic teaching; they preached the word of God and lived by it (see Phil 2:6-11), continually abiding in “the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, [devoting themselves] to the breaking of bread and the prayers” (see Acts 2:42). Especially in the “breaking of bread”, Christians recognise the fulfilment of the Gospel and the presence of Christ among them (see Lk 24:31). At the same time, they announced the arrival of the coming age. They did so while living in the world, yet not being “of the world” (see Jn 15:19; 17:14). These words can be fully applied to the Church today, which maintains within herself the Apostolic Tradition.
God, the inspirer and author of the books of both Testaments, wisely arranged that the New Testament be hidden in the Old, and the Old be manifested in the New. For although Christ established the New Covenant in his blood (see Lk 22:20; I Cor 11:25), all the same, the books of the Old Testament were thoroughly absorbed into the proclamation of the Gospel; they attain and reveal their full meaning in the New Testament (see Mt 5:17; Lk 24:27; Rom 16:25-26; 2 Cor 3:14-16). In turn, they shed light on the New Testament and explain it.
In the light of Apostolic Tradition, the Church uses typology to illustrate the unity of God’s plan of salvation in both Testaments. Typology is a manner of reading Holy Scripture that allows us to discern in the works that God performed in Old Testament times, prefigurations of what he accomplished in the fullness of time in the person of his incarnate Son. In the persons and events of the Old Testament, the Fathers saw the prefigurations and icons of events from the life of Christ and his Church. Therefore, Christians reading the Old Testament in light of the Paschal Mysteries discover its deeper meaning.
Saint Jerome teaches that “ignorance of the Scriptures is ignorance of Christ.” Therefore, to know Christ one must read Holy Scripture, which in the words of Saint Paul, “is inspired by God and useful for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, so that everyone who belongs to God may be proficient, equipped for every God work” (2 Tm 3:16-17). One must read the Holy Scriptures daily. This reading should become people’s daily nourishment.
The Word of God is received in faith, and faith comes from what is heard (see Rom 10:17). To understand Holy Scripture, it is necessary to join reading the Word of God with hearing that Word in homilies and catechesis. The Fathers of the Church not only read the Holy Scriptures, they also encouraged all the faithful to read them. Following the tradition of the Fathers, Metropolitan Andrey Sheptytsky refers to Holy Scripture as “the word of God Most High, spoken to us useless sinners, whom the Most High calls to the dignity of being his children. It is therefore an inexhaustible treasury of all heavenly blessings, a source of heavenly light, infallible truth, and of living water, flowing unto eternal life and the salvation of the human race. And so let us understand what medicine for the soul, what strength for life, and what a most wonderful gift from heaven is every word of Holy Scripture.”
The content of Holy Scripture is discerned most fully in the light of Holy Tradition, by virtue of which the Holy Scriptures always remain relevant and living. To understand Holy Scripture is to discern within it the deepest content and meaning of Revelation as the history of salvation. This is possible only in the Church, where it was born. The best guide to understanding Holy Scripture is the prayer of the Church, the Liturgy, both in the Mass, and the Divine Office – the hours of prayer. By the work of the Holy Spirit, Holy Scripture is revealed to us as the Word of God. Christ appears to us in the Word, just as he does in the bread and wine of the Eucharist. For this reason the Fathers talk about two tables – the table of the Word of God, and the table of the bread of life – from which the faithful partake during Mass.
Inasmuch as Holy Scripture is the Word of God expressed in human words, the efforts of the human mind alone are insufficient for its interpretation. It is necessary to read and explain it by the Spirit, by whom it was written. Therefore, to discern the true meaning of the sacred text it is necessary to pay attention to the content and unity of all Scripture, taking into account the living Tradition of the Church. Saint Athanasius warns us that quoting individual passages, torn from the wholeness of Holy Scripture with no regard for the general context, can lead one astray.
The criterion for understanding the Word of God is the reading and interpretation of the Holy Scriptures by the Church: “First of all you must understand this, that no prophecy of scripture is a matter of one’s own interpretation, because no prophecy ever came by human will, but men and women moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God” (2 Pt 1:20-21). Christ entrusted the Church with the authentic interpretation of Holy Scripture in her teaching ministry of God’s Word. “This teaching office is not above the Word of God, but serves it, teaching only what has been handed on ... it draws from this one deposit of faith everything which it presents for belief as divinely revealed.” Vatican Council II Dei Verbum
Taken from Christ, Our Pascha.
Next Month – We believe in one God, the Father, the Almighty.
God the Father, who has revealed himself through his Son in the Holy Spirit, offers his life to the faithful through the Church. The gracious action of the Holy Spirit, who reveals truth – and life in that truth – to all who live in communion with God, we call Holy Tradition.
God, “who desires everyone to be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth” (1 Tm 2:4), that is to the knowledge of Jesus Christ, reveals to humanity “what has been hidden since the foundation of the world” (Mt 13:35). His word remains firm and unchangeable: “In his gracious goodness, God has seen to it that what he had revealed for the salvation of all nations, would abide perpetually in its full integrity and be handed on to all generations.” (Vatican Council II, Dogmatic Constitution on Divine Revelation.) Therefore, Christ is to be preached to all nations, so that God’s Revelation may reach the ends of the earth.
According to Saint Irenaeus of Lyons, the essence of Holy Tradition is this – that all Christians share one and the same faith, by which they become partakers of God’s life:
“All receive one and the same God the Father, and believe in the same dispensation regarding the incarnation of the Son of God, and are cognisant of the same gift of the Spirit, and are conversant with the same commandments, and preserve the same form of ecclesiastical constitution, and expect the same advent of the Lord, and await the same salvation of the complete man, that is of the soul and the body”.
According to the testimony of Saint Basil the Great, Holy Tradition is that which “the Lord himself taught us, what the apostles preached, what the Fathers held fast, and what the martyrs confirmed.”It includes all that was transmitted to us by Christ himself, as well as the teaching of the apostles and faith of the Church.
Christ entrusts the word of Revelation to his apostles “...for the words that you [Father] gave to me I have given to them, and they have received them...I have given them your word” (Jn 17:8, 14). The Church continues the apostolic mission in the transmission of God’s Revelation. She is called to preach and to interpret it. To fulfil this, Christ gave his Church the Holy Spirit, who leads her into all truth (see Jn 16:13). The Church transmits God’s Revelation in two ways, first orally – “by the apostles who by their preaching, example, and by observances handed on what they had received from the lips of Christ, from living with him, and from what he did, or what they had learned through the prompting of the Holy Spirit,” and second in writing – “by those apostles and apostolic men who under the inspiration of the same Holy Spirit committed the message of salvation to writing.” (Vatican II Dogmatic Constitution on Divine Revelation)
Christ chooses his apostles and sends them to preach the Word: “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations...teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you” (Mt 28:19-20). Having received this commission at Christ’s Ascension and then receiving the power of the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost, the apostles began to preach Christ and witness to him: “This Jesus God raised up, and of that all of us are witnesses” (Acts 2:32). Following the example of Christ the Teacher, the apostles transmit his gospel to their own disciples through the living word of preaching, calling upon all to preserve it: “Guard the good treasure entrusted to you, with the help of the Holy Spirit living in us” (2 Tm 1:14).
The apostles have entrusted us with “all that Jesus did and taught from the beginning” (Acts 1:1). The apostle Paul testifies to this when he writes to the faithful in Thessalonica: “So then, brothers and sisters, stand firm and hold fast to the traditions which you were taught by us, either by word of mouth or by letter” (2 Thes 2:15). The Church has always called upon Christians to remain faithful to the teachings of the apostles, and thus, she has preserved the immutability of Holy Tradition, and by this token, her faithfulness to Jesus Christ. Holy Tradition is unchangeable because its content is Jesus Christ, who is the same yesterday and today and forever (see Heb 13:8).
The unbroken continuity of Tradition is realized in the liturgical life of the Church, and in the teachings of the Holy Fathers, whose witness to the Truth is based not on human recollections, but on a living and uninterrupted experience of the Holy Spirit. The constancy of this experience within the Christian community is the safeguard of our faithfulness to the apostles’ teaching, to the heritage of the Holy Fathers, and to the teaching of the Church, which strengthened our hope in the promise of the coming age. Faithfulness to Tradition is faithfulness to Christ, which has been transmitted by the Holy Spirit to the apostles, and from them to the bishops, the presbyters, the deacons, and all the faithful!
The first Christian communities preserved and transmitted the apostolic teaching; they preached the word of God and lived by it (see Phil 2:6-11), continually abiding in “the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, [devoting themselves] to the breaking of bread and the prayers” (Acts 2:42). Especially in the “breaking of bread”, Christians recognise the fulfilment of the Gospel and the presence of Christ among them (see Lk 24:31). At the same time, they announced the arrival of the coming age. They did so while living in the world, yet not being “of the world” (see Jn 15:19; 17:14). These words can be fully applied to the Church today, which maintains within herself the Apostolic Tradition.
Following the example of Peter, the Church unceasingly calls all people to repentance and baptism, by which they receive the gift of the Holy Spirit: “For the promise is for you and for your children, and for all who are far away, everyone who the Lord our God calls to him”( Acts 2:39). The faithful receive a foretaste of these events and of the coming of the kingdom of God in the Eucharist, where the encounter and communion of God and humankind is realized. This is the content of Tradition by which the Church lived in apostolic times, by which she lives today, and by which she will live in the age to come.
Taken from, “Christ - Our Pascha” Catechism of the Ukrainian Catholic Church.
Next month – Holy Scripture.