God made it possible for us to live with Him

God made it possible for us to live with Him

Falling in love is the start of a journey

OBJECT OF CATECHESIS:

To foster recognition of the religious question as the summit of human experience as such. To be a man is to be identified with the question about the meaning of life, about the infinite. Every man responds in some way to this question. That is why all men are companions on the way.

SYNTHESIS:

  1. “To think of the infinite”: openness to the infinite is inscribed in man´s experience of life. Life and reality “open” permanently man´s horizon.
  2. Life is this desire for the infinite (we call it the “religious question”): that is why the tradition of the Church speaks of man -of every man- as capax Dei.
  3. The desire for the infinite, which constitutes man´s heart, starts him on the way. Religions and the unavoidable temptation of idolatry state clearly that to seek an answer to the religious questions is inevitable.
  4. When mature, the desire for the infinite becomes a prayer to the infinite itself to manifest itself: we are unable to satisfy our thirst by ourselves, that is why we pray.
  5. In this path of desire and prayer, the Christian is a companion of all men.

TEXT:

1. “To think of the infinite”

“Have you never found in your life a woman who has bewitched you for a moment and then has disappeared? These women are like stars that pass swiftly in nights lulled by the summer. Did you once find in a health resort , in a station, in a store, in a tram, one of those women whose look is like a revelation, a sudden and powerful flowering that rises from the depth. of your soul (.) I have often felt these indefinable sadnesses´ When I was a boy; in the summer I often went to the capital of the province and sat for long hours in health resorts, near the sea. And then I saw, and have since seen, some mysterious, suggestive women that, like the blue sea that expanded before my eyes, made me think of the Infinite”.

Azorin´s (Spanish writter) literary genius expresses very effectively an elemental experience that every man lives. There are circumstances that open wide the heart. They open it in the sense that they make present its true horizon, its “capacity for the infinite”. There are circumstance that enable us to discover who we are, which break all the reduced images of our being men, that tell us that nothing suffices. They are circumstances or experiences that describe the real nature and stature of life, of our being men. They are circumstances that, above all, tell us “what we are lacking”. and make present the intuition of the eternal for which we are made. One “thinks of the infinite” because the reality before one opens one wide, tells one that there is something more and that it must last forever.

Undoubtedly to love is one of these experiences. Every man lives the experience of love: in his family, with his friends, finding the woman with whom he will share his life, in virginity … In the face of the woman we begin to love -falling in love is the start of a journey!- our desire of the infinite is concentrated, the intuition that we are made for the eternal. The sadness or anguish we can feel before the idea of losing the person we love, is also a sign of this openness to the infinite.

An openness that can be described as desire and nostalgia, and that is born from the truest experiences of our life: in love, but also in the perception of beauty, in the passion for our liberty, in rebellion in face of injustice, in the mystery of suffering and pain, in the humiliation of the evil one does, in the passionate search for truth, in the joy of goodness.

In the experience of his own life, man perceives the presence of the infinite. That same infinite that proclaims itself in the world. In the immensity and overwhelming beauty of creation: from the mountains and oceans to the DNA´s genetic chain! “Man and the world attest that they do not have in themselves either their first beginning or their ultimate end, but that they participate in Him who is Being itself, without beginning and without end”.

2. Life is this desire

All men, regardless of age, race or culture experience this desire/intuition of the infinite which coincides with the most “evident” truth of life. We cannot deny it, we are this desire, our most authentic being is “to think of the infinite”.

This desire coincides with life. It is not something that arises in the heart in spring or when one is particularly melancholic! It is simply and frankly “life”.

That is why, to desire the infinite is to desire the fullness of life: not a dimension of life, but of life with all its letters. Because that desire is the principal theme that gives unity to each instant, to each situation, to each circumstance of our life. It is the chain that enables us to intuit the unity that exists between the love of parents and one´s desire to build, between anger before injustice and compassion before pain, between loving and being loved and the call to be fruitful. Without the unity that this desire engenders, which goes through every cell of one´s being, life would be a simple series of deeds and events, an accumulation of experiments, of hesitations, incapable of edifying one´s person.

In common parlance this search for the infinite is called the “religious question”. When there is talk of religion there is talk in fact of this: of the search for the infinite on the part of all men.

Every man, by the mere fact of living, perceives this desire in himself, this religious question — whether or not he is capable of expressing it — because the religious question is the question about life and its meaning, That is why every man, regardless of the answer he gives to this question, is “religious”. He cannot be otherwise, he cannot extricate from his heart the “thought of the infinite.”

Christian tradition has described this reality speaking of man as “capax Dei”: man, created in the image and likeness of God, is capable of God, desires Him and can find Him. “The Holy Church, our Mother, holds and teaches that God, beginning and end of all things, can be known with certainty, through the natural light of human reason, from created things” (Cc. Vatican I:

The Psalmist expressed it with great beauty using the image of thirst: “O God, thou art my God, I seek thee, my soul thirsts for thee; my flesh faints for thee, as in a dry and weary land where no water is” (Psalm 62).

3. On the way

A question, an intuition opens a way. Man, who thinks of the infinite, starts moving. The intuition of the infinite is the driving force of life, the reason why man loves and works.

The passionate adventure begins for man to seek the infinite, to know its face. It is an adventure in which all of us are involved. It is not something reserved for particularly “religious” temperaments.

It is possible to recognize the way of man in the search for the face of the infinite in two events that are within everyone´s reach.

The first is the verification of the existence of religions. Today, more than in the past, we are witnesses of the plurality of religious experiences lived by men. When everything seemed to proclaim a society without God, movements and religious sects, of a very different nature, have invaded the West and are beginning to share the social scene next to the established religions. They are concrete, historical expressions of the search for the infinite and, in this connection, they help man´s reason and liberty not to close his horizon, not to reduce himself to the burdensome space of the “finite”. Thus teaches Vatican Council II: “Men expect from the different religions the answer to the recondite enigmas of the human condition, which today as yesterday, profoundly move his heart. What is man, what is the meaning and end of his life, what is good and what is sin, what is the origin and the end of sorrow, the way to attain true happiness, what is death, judgment, the sanction after death? Finally, what is that ultimate and ineffable mystery that envelops our existence, from which we come and to which we are going?”.

To live with persons of other religions is the occasion to recognize the identity of the desire and of the questions that constitute their heart and ours. What at first glance might seem a difficulty, as the multiplicity of answers could engender confusion, is also an privileged occasion to recognize the unity between all men. The answers proffered are many, it is true, but the question is only one.

In the second place we can recognize our search for the infinite in an experience that we have all had: the identification of the infinite with something concrete. It can be one´s girlfriend, or professional career, or economic success, or the passion for power. How many times have we identified the infinite that we had intuited with something particular? What has been the result? Disappointment. In our search for the infinite a moment has come when we have paused and have thought that we could identify it with something to our measure.

It is called “idolatry” and it is a temptation that every man experiences personally. Instead of recognizing that the woman who has awakened in us the thought of the infinite, is a sign of the infinite, we expect from her that she will fulfill the desire awakened. When the sign is not recognized as such and it is confused with the fullness to which it refers, then it becomes an idol. But idols, we know from experience, let us down.
The Psalmist identified with great precision the tragedy of idolatry. It is the tragedy of an unfulfilled promise. It seems that they can respond, and yet they are incapable of everything: “Their idols are silver and gold, the work of men´s hands. They have mouths, but they do not speak;eyes, but do not see. They have ears, but do not hear; noses, but do not smell. They have hands, but do not feel; feet, but do not walk; and they do not make a sound in their throat. Those who make them are like them; so are all who trust in them” (Psalm 13).

“The work of men´s hands”: with a few words the Psalmist identifies the root of the idols´ inability to respond to our desire for the infinite. An idol is the fruit of my hands; it has, so to speak, my own dimensions: it is finite. That is why it will never be able to respond adequately to the desire that constitutes my life.

The multiplicity of answers -the religions- to the only question and the inability of the idols when it comes to fulfilling the desire for the infinite, make manifest in a still more keen way the “need” for a definitive answer. A man who lives his life seriously, who does not censure the intuition of the infinite which describes who he is, cannot give up.

4. Comes to meet us

If to give up is to abandon the adventure of life, what should one do? How can man persevere in the way of desire? How can he not pause in insufficient answers? It is not possible to think that the image of our life is the myth of Sisyphus, always condemned to begin the task again without ever finding its fulfillment or rest.

Life is this desire and, yet, all our attempts to satisfy it seem vain — our attempts, not the possibility of fulfillment.

In fact, our desire would be vain, absurd, if it was destined to remain eternally unsatisfied. But this does not means that we are the ones who satisfy it. We are “capable” of being satisfied, but not of satisfying ourselves.

The thirst that dries out man´s throat says that he is capable of drinking, not that man himself is the fresh and crystalline source that can satiate him. Thus, man is capable of the infinite, capax Dei, because he can receive Him if He comes out to meet him, not because he can construct by himself the infinite for which he longs.

When man recognizes himself capax Dei, his desire, his nostalgia, his longing are embraced by his liberty and become a prayer. And in this prayer man acquires his true stature. “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 5:3).

The poverty of spirit that Jesus blesses in the Beatitudes, and whose most eloquent expression is petition, prayer, constitutes the fullness of human experience. It is the moment in which man´s heart says to the Infinite he has intuited: “Come, manifest yourself! Every fiber of man´s being hopes and desires, asks and prays that the infinite will come to meet him. He wants to know his face, and prays: “´Thy face, Lord, do I seek.´ Hide not thy face from me” (Psalm 26).

And God has not left man´s prayer un-answered. “Through natural reason, man can know God with certainty from his works. But there is another order of knowledge that man can in no way attain by his own forces, that of divine Revelation (cf. Cc. Vatican I: DS 3015). By an entirely free decision, God reveals himself and gives himself to man. He does so by revealing his mystery, his benevolent plan that he established from eternity in Christ in favor of all men. He revels fully his plan by sending his beloved Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit”.

The prayers of the Psalms, the texts of the Eucharist, the season of Advent, the whole liturgy of the Church is a permanent education to live, in a conscious way and every day more willingly, this prayer of the Lord.
In the morning, at the beginning of the day, in the prayer of Lauds, the first words that the Church makes us recite are: “My God, come to my aid. Lord, make haste to help me”. In this way she educates us and helps us to understand that the desire is called to become a prayer.

5. Companions on the way of all men

In this prayer all of us men see ourselves as companions on the way.

To recognize the desire for the infinite which constitutes the heart of every man allows us to realize the unity that exists between all of us.

The expressions of this desire can be very different. Some of them can even be hard, offensive and violent. And, even thus, they are expression of the same search that lives in our heart.

Whoever recognizes he is searching knows that he is close to every man: nothing and no one is a stranger to him. For the Church there are no “far off ones”: because all men live, and question themselves and desire. All search. That is why the Christian is not afraid to speak about his search with everyone, including those who laugh at him, who label him a dreamer or a visionary.

An immense attraction to everything human accompanies him daily. Art, literature, music -everything that expresses man´s genius is, for the one searching, an occasion to recognize again the desire that constitutes him.

If one tries to speak about this with one´s classmates, one will realize that it is true.

The presence of the Catholic Church in the United States reaches back to the founding days of our country through the leadership of Archbishop John Carroll, the first Catholic bishop in the United States. His story, like other stories at the start of the chapters in the United States Catholic Catechism for Adults, gives us a glimpse into the lives of Catholics who lived out their faith throughout our country’s history. Each chapter in the United States Catholic Catechism for Adults includes stories, doctrine, reflections, quotations, discussion questions, and prayers to lead the reader to a deepening faith. The United States Catholic Catechism for Adults is an excellent resource for preparation of catechumens in the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults and for ongoing catechesis of adults.

The United States Catholic Catechism for Adults is an aid and a guide for individuals and small groups to deepen their faith. The online resources listed at the left provide suggestions on how to use the United States Catholic Catechism for Adults effectively in the home and parish.

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~ by superbowlnyc on February 23, 2011.

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