Editor’s note: Throughout the Year of Faith, Rev. Mr. Christopher Seibt will offer a series of columns based on the reflection series “Catholicism Today” that he gave during First Friday devotions at St. James Church while on pastoral year.
God: The greatest mystery at which we can only marvel
“I Believe — We Believe”
By Rev. Mr. Christopher R. Seibt
Sun contributing writer
“In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. No one has ever seen God. The only Son, God, who is at the Father’s side, has revealed him.”
— John 1:1
Recently, a religious education teacher walked into a classroom of tenth grade Confirmation students, held up the Catechism of the Catholic Church, and said, “Brace yourselves, it’s going to be a heck of a ride!” Her students, she said, simply sat in front of her with their eyes wide open and she began what she, and they, have agreed has been a “wild ride of faith” so far.
You and I are now going to begin the “wild ride of faith” during this Year of Faith. Perhaps our eyes are wide open, too, at the thought of going through the whole Catechism. Yet, I promise you that when we are finished we will not only have learned, or relearned, the facts about our faith, we will have rediscovered the very journey of our faith that begins in the Heart of Jesus.
Before we begin, let us take a look at the structure of the Catechism of the Catholic Church. It is divided into four main parts: “The Profession of Faith,” “The Celebration of the Christian Mystery,” “Life in Christ” and “Christian Prayer.” It is in this order that we will begin first by examining what it is we believe. Then, we will consider how we celebrate all of this in the liturgy and sacraments of the Church. After doing so, we will reflect on how we live what we believe. And finally, we will contemplate how all of what we believe, celebrate, and live comes together and alive in the prayer we offer.
So, let us begin! The first half of the section of the Catechism called, “The Profession of Faith” asks a pretty basic question: “How do we know that there is a God?” Many of us have asked ourselves this question, at one time or another. Or, perhaps others who watch us practice our faith have posed this question to us.
The Catechism teaches us that we have an ability to know God that is natural to us (CCC, 36). All we have to do is to look around and see the beauty of creation or experience the sacredness of human life. When we do this we come to know that there is “something” out there that gives existence and being to everything we experience around us. What you and I soon begin to realize through our natural human reason is that we are not that “something!” It is God, who is for us the greatest mystery at which we can only marvel.
The Catechism also teaches us that we come to know God through revelation. This is a gift that God gives to us by which he tells us about himself and his plan for us and this gift is ultimately his Son, Jesus Christ. Through him God entered into our world and into all of creation. In a real and personal way he took on our human nature, becoming one with us, so that he could bring us back to himself and to eternal glory — with all our pain, struggles, and imperfections (CCC, 50ff.).
This is what St. John tells us when he says, “In the beginning was the Word.” This is what being devoted to the Sacred Heart of Jesus calls us first to recognize — that he is the very Son of God who came to reveal the Father’s love for us, take away our sins, and make it possible for us to experience a life that never ends.
Yes, God exists and he is a great mystery to you and to me. But, he is a mystery that has revealed himself to us in his Word, whom we know as Jesus Christ. He has done so in the Sacred Scriptures and through the Tradition of the Church. And God continues to do so by the power of the Holy Spirit, who leads and guides our Church in receiving and handing on the fullness of truth, our faith (CCC, 74-141).
At our baptism you and I, often through our parents, said “Yes, I believe!” in response to all of this. Today, we as members of the Church continue to say “Yes, we believe!” in response to God and his loving plan for us. In our next reflection, we will reflect on the response of one woman in particular, [Bl.] Marianne Cope, a woman of faith and a beacon of hope. But for now let us ask the Lord to direct our hearts back to the center of our faith — his own Heart — where, on our “wild ride,” we will rediscover God, who is for us the greatest mystery at which we can only marvel!
Rev. Mr. Christopher Seibt is a transitional deacon for the Diocese of Syracuse. He is originally from St. Daniel Parish. Currently, Deacon Seibt is a seminarian at Theological College in Washington D.C., studying at the Catholic University of America.