Kitchen Catechism: Featured Articles
"Great Truths" are Catholic beliefs explained in the language and style that I pass them on to my children or friends as we have conversations in the comfort of home. They fit perfectly into the "Kitchen Catechism" section of our Web Site. Thinking of the great truths of our faith in the manner or fashion I have expressed them here works for me and I hope it's helpful for you.
There is an enormous abyss - so great - so wide - so deep - that the mind of man cannot even imagine it. This abyss is the divide between the divine intellect of God and that of even the most intelligent human who has or ever will exist. If you understand this abyss and you understand the all encompassing, unconditional love God has for each of us, you will be able to understand the most difficult truths of God relegated to the Catholic Church and preserved in their Magisterium.
Because God is so incomprehensible to us humans and yet loves each of us so tenderly, so all encompassing, so uniquely He has made it easy for us to understand His' 'great truths'. He's made it so even very young children can learn and grasp His truths. He's done this by inspiring ancients, first orally and then in writing, to pass on stories, legends and what even seem like fairytales to us, His children.
So drop all your sophistication, all of what the world regards as the ultimate of knowledge and become as a little child open to belief. Use your best reasoning, combined with your faith then open your heart and listen to the intricate design God has for you and for the entire universe and the way He has chosen to reveal it.
Petals Pealed Away
Now I'm going to tell you a tale - a story - so interesting it will keep you mesmerized and so filled with excitement and drama that if it were a 3D animated movie it would keep you glued to your seat. And wonder of wonders, it is like a beautiful flower blossom and as you peal away each petal more and more is revealed and you understand more and more until you get to the very core and therein lies the total, implicit truth.
My story begins with the one - true - almighty - eternal God who is Lord and Master of all that exists. He is all supreme, all powerful, all loving and all good. He always was and He always will be. Without Him there would be nothing only emptiness, incomprehensible nothingness. For you see He created everything there is. The earth, all the vegetation that covers it. He made the oceans, the rivers, the lakes. The mountains, the valleys, the deserts every little thing in nature He made.
He created the heavens, all the universe and then he created something that He made more like Himself. He created angels. He made them very beautiful, intuitive and intelligent, endowed with many of His own attributes or abilities. Then one among them He deemed highest of all the other angels and to be only under Him. This angel was named Lucifer - meaning light. Lucifer was so beautiful and handsome he was admired by all the other angels. Right under Lucifer, in the order of angels, was Michael and he was handsome, courageous, strong and forthright. Then God created more. He created Humans. He created them in His image and to be ranked right under the Angels in God's great design.
First he created a man, named Adam, and from Adam's rib he created a companion for him named Eve and as Eve came from Adam she was ranked a little under him in God's scheme of things. All of God's creation was designed to be in perfect complementarity and harmony. At this point God revealed there was to be even more to His plan. He would create a woman and she would be so perfect and pleasing to Him that she would rank right under God Himself and above all the angels and humans. This revelation greatly perturbed Lucifer.
He was furious and consumed with vile jealousy over this new creature. How could God put someone higher then him - not another angel - not man - but a woman made after man and seemingly even lower than man in the heavenly rankings. He was not going to take this. He would rebel. Get all the angels with him and attack and topple God and he would sit on the highest throne and be in charge of all things. Some of the angels joined with him but the angel Michael said: "Who is like to God?", and he defied Lucifer and declared himself to be on the side of God. Many other angels joined Michael to be on God's side.
Lucifer's followers became known as the bad angels and Michael's as the good angels. Lucifer hence became known as Satan or the Devil. The division of the angels and the animosity between them resulted in a great, cataclysmic battle between Lucifer and his bad angels and Michael and the good angels. A mighty conflict roared in heaven with great flashes of fire and unbelievable upheaval. It was nothing like anything that has ever occurred on earth but eventually Michael and his angels wore down Lucifer and his demons and they were forced out of heaven and plunged down a precipice into a bottomless, flaming pit.
That pit is called hell and to this day and for all eternity it will be the abode of Lucifer/Satan and the bad angels/demons. What God wants us to learn from this story is the importance of the Blessed Virgin Mary to our salvation and about evil - what it is and how it came into the world. He wants us to understand the tremendous hate Lucifer, the Devil, has towards Mary and anyone who is on her or God's side. You see, when God revealed that a woman would be born who would be above all the angels and humans, and only under God, that woman was Mary.
The reason Mary needed to be in such an exalted position is that she was to be the channel through which God Himself would pass to dwell among us humans. Mary's womb would be the receptacle in which God would grow, for nine months, and be born to the world. In the great and intricate design of God's plan the receptacle which would bare Him needed to be perfect, immaculate, free from any stain of sin. Nothing evil must never even come close to staining it.
So God created Mary free from even original sin, that stain that effects all the rest of us and makes us weak and susceptible to the temptations that Satan so wants us to yield to. All of what I have just enumerated helps us know why Mary enters into the plan for our salvation and why we honor her under the title "Queen of the Angels". "Our Lady Queen of the Angels" is a title of great prestige and power because of how it came about and how it factors into our gaining entrance into heaven.
To petition Mary, as Queen of the Angels to intercede for you to God, you can have total confidence that your request will get straight to God. He will hear it. He will answer it. The answer might not be how you want it answered but it will be, in the long run, what is best for you or anyone you are praying for.
This is very hard to understand but I have always found that ten years, maybe more, maybe less , down the road you realize how bad it would have been if it turned out your way and how brilliant was God's way. God knows and sees all things. What will happen in the future and maybe even some undercurrents that are happening right whilst you pray completely unbeknownst to you. Now, I want you to read something written by a mystic and awesome woman who lived over a thousand years ago:
St Bridget of Sweden (1302-1373) Quote from her Angelic Sermon (Revelationes XI):
"God so loved Mary, the Mother of His Son,
even before the creation of the world,
and before her creating,
that He gave to those He had specially chosen as His
friends some foreknowledge of her, for their consolation.
First to the Angels
then to Adam,
and then to the Patriarchs,
the creation of Mary was a thing of wonder and joy.
That seed of life was ready,and at God's chosen moment, life began
as He infused into it a living soul.
We see the bees in summer,
busy making flowers for honey;
led by instinct to their sweetness,
they seem often to wait for the buds to open.
God foresaw, as He foresees all things,
the birth of Mary, and He waited with joy as she lay
hidden in her mother's womb,
for He knew that none ever of those to be born
would equal her in holiness.
None would so make known to men His infinite love.
The infusing of Mary's soul in the womb of Blessed Anne
was more beautiful than the dawn of the most beautiful day.
As we so often long for the dawn,
so Angels and men longed for her birth.
Where the nights are short in summer,
so that there is little darkness,
people do not notice the dawn;
they wait for the sun itself,
thinking of their crops and their fruits.
Where the nights are quite long even in summer
the dawn is watched for and welcomed,
not only for the coming of the sun to the fields,
but because men weary of the night and the darkness"
At this point, I want to talk to you about things of God that, no matter what, you just can't fathom. We call them 'mysteries'. One comes up for me in the story of the bad angels rebellion and God's creating Adam and Eve and their fall from grace. The bible tells us God created Adam and then from Adam's rib He created Eve to be a companion for him. Satan, symbolized as a serpent, came and tempted Eve to eat an apple from the tree of good and evil.
Concept of Time - Time is such an abstract concept. You can't see it, you can't hear it, you can't touch it but you know it's there, you know it's happening because of all the changes you see around you. The sun comes up and it's light and it warms up the world. Then it sets and it gets dark and cold and we see the moon. The flowers and foliage bloom and die and then repeat this cycle and we know time has passed and continues to move forward. Time's progression is especially noticeable in humans and most especially in babies. Babies change so much from day to day that everyone is astonished to see the changes if they haven't been around them for awhile.
Personally, I have an ingrained internal clock that keeps me solidly based in the earth's timetable more than most people. I have a terrible problem with the twice yearly time changes. Mostly with - am I getting an hour more sleep or an hour less. That's because I think of time with a starting point and then going on and on forever and don't realize for the 'time change' purpose it can only be calculated in 24 hour cycles. Oh well, your probably smarter than me and have no problem but I told you this because time is one of God's mysteries to man.
With God, I believe, there is no such thing as measured time. Everything is, all at once, in the present and in the past and in the future. It boggles the mind to think that everything that has ever happened, everything that is happening now and everything that will ever happen is in the present right now. That's how it is with God but He knows how hard that is for us to understand and so He makes it easy by giving us measured time. He gives us the cycles of the seasons and the sun and moon. He's sent prophets and He's divinely inspired them to pass on to us His mysteries in a manner that we can understand. One such example follows:
In the Bible when God spoke to Moses from the burning bush and Moses asked who should I say you are? God answered: "I Am Who Am". To explain this we must know that to translate "I Am - Who Am" from the Hebrew, in which it has come down to us, is awkward, it doesn't translate well but the clear meaning is - I Am everything that came before - I Am everything that is in the present - I Am everything in the future. As the Church teaches: God is everything. God is everywhere. God always was and always will be.
Concept of Place - Place is another thing, in relation to God, that becomes a mystery to human minds. It's hard for us to think that someone or something can be in more than one place at a time. Place, as opposed to time, might be even harder to understand. With time we have the explanatory words 'infinity and eternity'. We don't have a similar word concept with place but the Church teaches "God is everywhere all at once" and we have good reason to believe all that the Church teaches under her magisterial authority.
(TO BE CONTINUED)