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Questions & Answers

Did God create the world?

Tags: Doctrine, Faith
Catechesis on creation is enormously important. It goes to the very foundations of human and Christian life. It gives the Christian faith’s answer to the basic questions asked by people of all times: “Where do we come from?” “Where are we going?” “What was our origin?” “What is our final end?” “Where does everything that exists come from, and where is it going?” Questions about our origin and our end are inseparable from one another. They are decisive for the meaning and direction of our lives and actions.

1. Where do we come from? What was our origin?

We believe that God created the world according to his wisdom. It is not the product of any necessity whatever, nor of blind fate or chance. We believe that it proceeds from God’s free will; he wanted to make his creatures share in his being, wisdom and goodness: “For you created all things, and by your will they existed and were created” (Apoc 4:11). Therefore the Psalmist exclaims: “O Lord, how manifold are your works! In wisdom you have made them all” (Ps 104:24).
(Catechism of the Catholic Church, no. 295).

Contemplating the mystery
Our lips should express a true desire on our part to correspond effectively to our Creator’s promptings, striving to follow out his plans with unshakeable faith, being fully convinced that he cannot fail us.
(Friends of God, 198)

2. Where are we going? What was the world created for?

Scripture and Tradition never cease to teach and celebrate this fundamental truth: “The world was made for the glory of God” (First Vatican Council, DS 3025). St. Bonaventure explains that God created all things “not to increase his glory, but to show it forth and to communicate it.” (...) This one, true God, of his own goodness and “almighty power”, (...) in order to manifest this perfection through the benefits which he bestows on creatures, with absolute freedom of counsel “and from the beginning of time, made out of nothing both orders of creatures, the spiritual and the corporeal”(DS 3002)
(Catechism of the Catholic Church, no. 293)

Contemplating the mystery
What is our purpose in the world? To love God with all our heart and all our soul and to spread this love to all. Does that seem little? God does not abandon any soul to a blind destiny. He has a plan for all and He calls each to a very personal and non-transferable vocation.
(Conversations, no. 106)

3. What is God’s glory?

The glory of God consists in the realization of this manifestation and communication of his goodness, for which the world was created. God made us “to be his sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace” (Eph 1:5-6). (...) The ultimate purpose of creation is that God “who is the creator of all things may at last become ‘all in all’ (1 Cor 15:28), thus simultaneously assuring his own glory and our beatitude” (Ad Gentes 2).
(Catechism of the Catholic Church, no. 294)

Contemplating the mystery
You and I belong to Christ’s family, for “he himself has chosen us before the foundation of the world, to be saints, to be blameless in his sight, for love of him, having predestined us to be his adopted children through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his Will.” We have been chosen gratuitously by Our Lord. His choice of us sets us a clear goal. Our goal is personal sanctity, as St Paul insistently reminds us, haec est voluntas Dei: sanctificatio vestra, “this is the Will of God: your sanctification.” Let us not forget, then, that we are in our Master’s sheepfold in order to achieve that goal.
(Friends of God, 2)

4. If God the Father almighty, the Creator of the ordered and good world, cares for all his creatures, why does evil exist?

To this question, as pressing as it is unavoidable and as painful as it is mysterious, no quick answer will suffice. Only Christian faith as a whole constitutes the answer to this question: the goodness of creation, the drama of sin and the patient love of God who comes to meet man by his covenants, the redemptive Incarnation of his Son, his gift of the Spirit, his gathering of the Church, the power of the sacraments and his call to a blessed life to which free creatures are invited to consent in advance, but from which, by a terrible mystery, they can also turn away in advance. There is not a single aspect of the Christian message that is not in part an answer to the question of evil.
(Catechism of the Catholic Church, no. 309)

Contemplating the mystery
Our Lord wants us to rely on him for everything: it is now glaringly evident to us that without him we can do nothing, whereas with him we can do all things. We confirm our decision to walk always in his presence.
With God enlightening our intellect, which seems to be inactive, we understand beyond any shadow of doubt that, since the Creator takes care of everyone, even his enemies, how much more will he take care of his friends! We become convinced that no evil or trouble can befall us which will not turn out to be for our good. And so, joy and peace become more firmly rooted in our spirit, and no merely human motive can tear them from us, because these “visitations” always leave us with something of himself, something divine. We find ourselves praising the Lord Our God, who has worked such great wonders in us, and understanding that God has made us capable of possessing an infinite treasure.
(Homily “Towards Holiness”, published in Friends of God, no. 305)

5. Why did God not create a world so perfect that no evil could exist in it?

With infinite power God could always create something better (St Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologica 1, q 25, a. 6). But with infinite wisdom and goodness God freely willed to create a world “in a state of journeying” towards its ultimate perfection. In God’s plan this process of becoming involves the appearance of certain beings and the disappearance of others, the existence of the more perfect alongside the less perfect, both constructive and destructive forces of nature. With physical good there exists also physical evil as long as creation has not reached perfection (cf. St Thomas Aquinas, Summa Contra Gentiles, 3, 71).
(Catechism of the Catholic Church, no. 310)

Contemplating the mystery
Suffering is part of God’s plans. This is the truth, however difficult it may be for us to understand it. It was difficult for Jesus Christ the man to undergo his passion: “Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me; nevertheless not my will, but yours be done.” In this tension of pleading and acceptance of the Father’s will, Jesus goes calmly to his death, pardoning those who crucify him.
This supernatural acceptance of suffering was, precisely, the greatest of all conquests. By dying on the cross Jesus overcame death. God brings life from death.
(Christ is Passing By, 168)

6. After creating the world, did God abandon his creatures?

With creation, God does not abandon his creatures to themselves. He not only gives them being and existence, but also, and at every moment, upholds and sustains them in being, enables them to act and brings them to their final end. Recognizing this utter dependence with respect to the Creator is a source of wisdom and freedom, of joy and confidence:
For you love all things that exist, and detest none of the things that you have made; for you would not have made anything if you had hated it. How would anything have endured, if you had not willed it? Or how would anything not called forth by you have been preserved? You spare all things, for they are yours, O Lord, you who love the living (Wisdom 11:24-26).
(Catechism of the Catholic Church, no. 301)

Contemplating the mystery
We must learn to recognize Christ when he comes out to meet us in our brothers, the people around us. No human life is ever isolated. It is bound up with other lives. No man or woman is a single verse; we all make up one divine poem which God writes with the cooperation of our freedom.
(Christ is Passing By, no. 111)

Everything may collapse and fail. Events may turn out contrary to what was expected and great adversity may come. But nothing is to be gained by being perturbed. Furthermore, remember the confident prayer of the prophet: “The Lord is our judge, the Lord gives us our laws, the Lord is our king; it is he who will save us.”
Say it devoutly every day, so that your behaviour may agree with the designs of Providence, which governs us for our own good.
(Furrow, 855)

7. If God is Lord of history and knows how it will end, are we predestined, and not free?

God is the sovereign master of his plan. But to carry it out he also makes use of his creatures’ co-operation. This use is not a sign of weakness, but rather a token of almighty God’s greatness and goodness. For God grants his creatures not only their existence, but also the dignity of acting on their own, of being causes and principles for each other, and thus of co-operating in the accomplishment of his plan.
(Catechism of the Catholic Church, no. 306)

Contemplating the mystery
Our Holy Mother the Church has always spoken out in favour of freedom and has always rejected fatalism, both in its ancient and more modern versions. She has pointed out that each soul is master of its own destiny, for good or ill: “and those who have been true to the good will go to eternal life; those who have committed evil, to eternal fire.” I have always been impressed by this awesome capacity which you and I have, which all of us have, a capacity which indeed reveals the nobility of our state. “So true is it that sin is a voluntary evil, that in no way would it be sin if it did not have its origin in the will. This affirmation is so evident that the few wise men and the many fools who inhabit the earth are agreed upon it.”
(Friends of God, 33)

The attitude of a child of God is not one of resignation to a possibly tragic fate; it is the sense of achievement of someone who has a foretaste of victory. In the name of this victorious love of Christ, we Christians should go out into the world to be sowers of peace and joy through everything we say and do. We have to fight — a fight of peace — against evil, against injustice, against sin. Thus do we serve notice that the present condition of mankind is not definitive. Only the love of God, shown in the heart of Christ, will attain the glorious spiritual triumph of men.
(Christ is Passing By, no. 168)

8. What does it mean to say that man is called to subdue the earth?

God thus enables men to be intelligent and free causes in order to complete the work of creation, to perfect its harmony for their own good and that of their neighbors. Though often unconscious collaborators with God’s will, they can also enter deliberately into the divine plan by their actions, their prayers and their sufferings (cf. Col 1:24) They then fully become “God’s fellow workers” and co-workers for his kingdom (1 Cor 3:9; 1 Thess 3:2; and Col 4:11).
(Catechism of the Catholic Church, no. 307)

The truth that God is at work in all the actions of his creatures is inseparable from faith in God the Creator. God is the first cause who operates in and through secondary causes: “For God is at work in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure” (Phil 2:13; cf. 1 Cor 12:6). Far from diminishing the creature’s dignity, this truth enhances it. Drawn from nothingness by God’s power, wisdom and goodness, it can do nothing if it is cut off from its origin, for “without a Creator the creature vanishes” (Gaudium et Spes, 36, 3). Still less can a creature attain its ultimate end without the help of God’s grace (cf. Mt 19:26; Jn 15:5; Phil 4:13).
(Catechism of the Catholic Church, no. 307)

Contemplating the mystery
You may think what you will about anything that Providence has left to the free and legitimate discussion of men. But in my case, my being a priest of Christ tells me I must work at a higher level and remind you that, whatever the situation, we are never exempt from practising justice, heroically if necessary.
(Friends of God, no. 170)

9. What is our final end? Where does everything come from, and where is it going?

We firmly believe that God is master of the world and of its history. But the ways of his providence are often unknown to us. Only at the end, when our partial knowledge ceases, when we see God “face to face” (1 Cor 13:12), will we fully know the ways by which - even through the dramas of evil and sin - God has guided his creation to that definitive sabbath rest (cf. Gen 2:2) for which he created heaven and earth.
(Catechism of the Catholic Church, no. 314)

Contemplating the mystery
“The kingdom of God is at hand; repent, and believe in the gospel!” (Mk 1:15)
“And all the crowd gathered about him, and he taught them” (Mk 2:13).
Jesus sees the boats on the shore and gets into one of them. How naturally Jesus steps into the boat of each and every one of us!
When you seek to draw close to our Lord, remember that he is always very close to you, that he is in you: regnum Dei intra vos est (Lk 17:21). The kingdom of God is within you. You will find him in your heart.
Christ should reign first and foremost in our soul. But in order for him to reign in me, I need his abundant grace. Only in that way can my every heartbeat and breath, my least intense look, my most ordinary word, my most basic feeling be transformed into a hosanna to Christ my king.
Duc in altum – Put out into deep water! Throw aside the pessimism that makes a coward of you, Et laxate retia vestra in capturam – And pay out your nets for a catch!
We have to place our trust in our Lord’s words: get into the boat, take the oars, hoist the sails and launch out into this sea of the world which Christ gives us as an inheritance.
Et regni eius non erit finis. His kingdom will have no end.
Doesn’t it fill you with joy to work for such a kingdom?
(Holy Rosary, Third mystery of light: the proclamation of the Kingdom and the call to repentance)