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Lesson 2   Revelation and Faith

(inspiring orchestral music) The Catholic Church claims
that the highest knowledge that we can have of God in
this life, is given to us through supernatural faith. Well, what do we mean by that
phrase, supernatural faith? The word supernatural means
“above or beyond nature,” something we can’t attain
by our own natural powers. Faith is a light given
to us from God by grace, which elevates our minds; so we begin to know who God is in himself, intimately and personally. Now by faith, we also mean that
act by which we believe God. Saying yes to the whole truth
that he’s revealed to us, and this is what leads to
an intimate relationship of trust. It’s something like when a
friend tells you a profound truth that’s very important to them,
and you believe that person because of who they are. So supernatural faith
creates a kind of friendship with God. Faith’s first and foremost a grace, and that means it’s a gift of God. It’s given to human beings
in our intellects, our minds, so that we can begin to
judge or perceive intuitively what the real mystery of God is. So when you and I receive
the grace of faith, we come to know that
Jesus Christ truly exists, that he’s real, that he’s
raised from the dead, that the Holy Trinity is the
reality and mystery of God. It’s obscure, but it’s concrete. We begin to know really who God is. When we read the Bible, we
perceive it no longer simply as a collection of human writings, but we perceive in it the voice of God. We really recognize this inspired book. And when we participate in the
life of the Catholic Church, we begin to perceive by faith that the Church is of divine origin. That’s to say it’s an institution
truly founded by Christ. We can’t produce all
this in ourselves merely by our natural learning
or our gut instincts. It’s a gift infused in
us by the Holy Spirit. And the principal way we
receive the grace of faith is through the Sacrament of Baptism. By baptism we’re incorporated
into life in Christ, and receive the grace of faith. Now at the same time, we
have to consent freely to this gift; it’s not forced on us. It’s sustained in us by
our commitment to Christ, and our commitment to life in the Church, and by our active search
for understanding. So faith is like a seed, it
can grow, and we can grow, and gain greater insight
into the mystery of God. If we’re faithful to God, to
do that, we need to adhere to what he reveals with hope
and trust, and confidence. And remain faithful to his teaching by actively living it out
in our baptismal life. Now, some would say belief
in things God has revealed is unwarranted, is irresponsible. But actually, belief in
God is not irrational or unwarranted. And the Catholic faith is
reasonable to believe in, even if it’s supernatural
and above reason. Actually, trust is just part of the way we learn things everyday. Every day, other people tell us things, and we learn truths from them. If you’re assembled together
with other people right now, it’s because you trusted
someone to tell you the time and place to assemble. Most of us have no firsthand knowledge of the planets of our solar system, we
haven’t been to Pluto, but we trust astronomers to
tell us that they are there, and maybe we correct our
learning through time, through science. We believe what people tell
us about what’s going on in the stock market in Japan. We learn a lot of things through trust. But in those cases, it’s fallible because there’s human beings teaching us and they’re doing their best,
or they could deceive us, but in this case, we trust in God, who is himself the truth. Who reveals himself to us in Christ. And God cannot deceive us, nor can his true revelation contain error. So we’re learning from
the greatest teacher, and we’re trusting in that teacher. Furthermore, God has given us
what the Catholic Church calls signs of credibility. These are signs that show
us the rational warrant for accepting the Catholic faith as an intellectually responsible act. These signs include
things like the miracles of Christ and the saints, the
enduring reality of the Church down through time, over
2,000 years, the consistency of her teaching and its
sensibleness, the holiness of her saints, and the moral
perfection of her teaching, which is challenging but beautiful. These are some of the signs that show us the rational
warrant for believing the faith. Now at the same time,
that doesn’t mean we, by faith, understand everything. The faith concerns mysteries
that remain hidden from view, partially manifest, partially hidden. Our mind doesn’t fully comprehend them. They’re above us; that’s good. We’re invited into something
greater than ourselves. So even though it’s reasonable
to believe in the mysteries, they are also filled with
a richness of truth content that we explore the whole of our lives. Truths like the divinity
of Christ, the reality of the Holy Trinity, they can’t
be proven by natural reason, they can’t be disproven by natural reason. They are embraced by the
supernatural light of faith, in which the believer enters
into something above himself that God has given us to know. Now what does faith believe or trust in? Well, the Church professes faith
in God’s Divine Revelation. That’s another interesting term. Revelation comes from a
Latin word, revelatio. That word means manifestation
or self-disclosure. The Divine Revelation is something where God tells us who he really is. he manifests himself as
Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. We could never come to know this, unless God revealed it to us,
and gave us the gift of faith to believe what he says. So, the Father says it to us, who he is, through his Word, his Son, whom he sent into the world as man, and who gives us the Holy Spirit. In sending the Son into the
world as man and becoming human, and in sending the Spirit
into the world from the Son, God has revealed to us who he truly is. he reveals himself, his own
inner mystery as Holy Trinity. Why do we insist on this? Well, because the heart of
Divine Revelation is personal. God wants us not only to know about him, to have information about him,
but to know him in person, and to enter into communion
with him by grace, even to share in the life of God. God has revealed himself to us principally through the inspired books
of the Old Testament, composed by the prophets and
scribes of ancient Israel, and by the New Testament,
consisting of the teachings of Jesus Christ and the apostles. There’s no authoritative
revelation after the time of the apostles. That is, there’s nothing
that one must believe, or should believe that comes
after the apostolic age. Jesus Christ is the fullness
of Divine Revelation, and the apostles bear witness to him, and hand on his teaching to us. The Bible, the Old and
New Testaments together, constitutes a storehouse of revealed wisdom. Its teaching concerns God above all. That’s to say, his identity. But it’s also concerned with his covenant with the people of Israel,
the moral law, the mystery of Christ as God made
man, the mystery of grace, the Church, the sacraments, and the life of Christian discipleship. The Catholic Church
teaches that the Scriptures are the only inspired Word of God. They have the Holy Spirit
for their principal author, even as they are also the
works of various human authors. So consequently, the
Bible is, we could say, wholly divine and wholly human. You’re never gonna find
a part of Scripture that isn’t written by a human author, and you’re never gonna
find a part of Scripture that isn’t composed
ultimately by the Holy Spirit. Now the Bible bears the marks
of various historical ages and cultures, but at the
same time it’s truly the Word of God. God has revealed in Scripture
all that he wishes us to know, for the sake of our salvation. So that we can come to a certain knowledge of the truth about God,
and a sure way of life that can conduct us safely
to eternal life with him. Now the Catholic Church teaches that the Church herself is
subordinate to Scripture, and bases her doctrines and
teachings on the authority of the Word of God. And, at the same time,
the Church recognizes the essential role of Sacred Tradition, for right interpretation of Scripture. Okay, so here’s another word, tradition. Tradition can be defined
in two distinct ways. As the apostolic tradition and
as post-apostolic tradition. The apostolic traditions are
those that existed prior to or at the time that the
New Testament was composed, what the apostles
themselves handed on to us. These traditions include
things like the celebration of the Eucharist and the other sacraments, which the apostles handed
down to the Church. The post-apostolic traditions are those doctrines and liturgical prayers, the canonical laws, and the pious customs that the Church has maintained
over the past 2,000 years in fidelity to the
apostolic Deposit of Faith. You might say it’s the way
the Church has received and codified the revelation
from the apostles, given to us in Scripture
and apostolic tradition. Now that tradition in
the Church is overseen and maintained especially by the bishops of the Catholic Church,
who are the true successors of the Apostles, as well
as the head of the college of bishops, who is the bishop of Rome, otherwise known as the successor
of Saint Peter, or the pope. The pope and the bishops
may not innovate or add to the New Testament or
the apostolic teachings. They don’t create new
revelation or doctrine outside of the Scriptures; they’re
faithful witnesses to Scripture. But what they do do is
identify or interpret rightly, the teaching of Scripture and the apostles with the help of the Holy Spirit. That’s to say the bishops,
in communion with the pope, have the charism or gift, in the Church, to identify over time what it is that the Scriptures truly teach, and what pertains authentically
to the apostolic teaching of the Church. This becomes especially important
in times of controversy. It’s the bishops, in
communion with the pope, who have the final
responsibility to clarify what it is the Church
believes and confesses in obedience to Scripture. In doing this, they assure
the unity of the Church, and her public witness to
the truth about Christ down through the ages. To do so, they can and must
clarify in doctrinal form the teaching of the
Church in regard to faith and the moral life. This is what we call dogmas and doctrines, which allow the whole Church
to grasp the truth content of the New Testament and
the revelation of God. When they do this, the
bishops of the Church exercise what is called the
Magisterium, or teaching office of the Church. In our next session, we’ll
be giving an introduction to prayer and the sacraments.

Jean Kelley