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Browsing Fr. Joel Hastings

BASICS OF CATHOLICISM: 5. CREATION AND THE ANGELS.

Part 1:  God’s Work of Creation

                       God is Almighty:  The Supreme Being above all other beings.  Likewise, God is the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit:  A Trinity of Persons and one God.  In all of His interior attributes, God is perfect within Himself, lacking in nothing.  In His interior life of love, God also wills to bring about other beings through His creative power that are outside of Himself, creating every other being that exists.  How does He create? In the next two installments, we will look at God’s creative work, considering how He creates and sustains what He creates, continuing on to consider visible and invisible creatures.

            As we have already covered, all that exists does so in relation to God.  Only God is eternal – without beginning or end.  All other beings have a beginning; most have an end.  Since God is the one, supreme and eternal being, nothing else exists except in Him.

            Accordingly, when we consider the stories of creation in Genesis 1-2, a fundamental truth that is to be believed is that God creates from nothing.  Whereas you and I “craft” things from other material things that already exist (like when we build, cook, or do works of art), God has the power to bring about what previously did not exist, bringing into “being” what previously was not.  How does God carry out such creating from nothing?  God creates through His “Word.”  Yes, simply by “speaking,” (just as in Genesis 1), God brings about that which previously did not exist.  What is more, God remains present to His creative work, sustaining it, that what He has made may exist and be led toward its proper end – which for we human beings is the sharing of His eternal life in His presence.

            Through each and every being that He creates, God reveals something of His glory.  No creature fully reveals the glory of God; however, every created being (even those which you and I may find less appealing) reveals at least something of the glory of God.  Some of what God creates is visible to our eyes; other creatures are invisible and purely spiritual.  Whatever the case, each and every one of God’s creatures is willed by God, who brings it into being from nothing, as an expression of His own glory.  Accordingly, creation is an act of love – wherein God expresses his own inner life of love, sharing it already with what he creates, opening to it a greater share in His inner life.  It is always necessary to keep in mind that God had no necessity to create (as He was perfect within Himself, lacking in nothing). That God creates is a pure expression of God’s love going outside of Himself for others.

            As He is the one who brings about and sustains creation, God is clearly above all that is created and infinitely so.  Just as He brings it into being, so too He guides it and brings it to completion.  We call this guiding of creation His “providence,” both in giving it what is for its true benefit and in allowing it to be according to its nature – which includes our freedom to say “yes” to God or “no” to Him.  Therefore, while all that God does of His nature is good and perfect, not all that happens in creation is perfect nor good as it is subject to our freedom to choose what God has willed or to choose against it (which as we will see later is where sin entered creation).

            In our next installment, we will focus more directly on the “invisible” creatures – what are rightly called “angels.”

 For further reading:  In the Catechism of the Catholic Church, paragraphs 279-324 give a detailed overview of the manner of God’s creative work, with particular focus upon the visible creation of God and the way he guides and sustains all that He has created.  Paragraphs 337-349 speak of how creation comes into being and is connected.

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