By Dallas Carter, MPT
Understanding Catholic Theology may be a life-time task. It is Important , however, to equip ourselves with a template of Christian theology, or a ‘landscape of reality’ as my favorite Theologian Frank Sheed coins it, that prepares each young catholic for that life-time task of contemplation and constant theological reflection.
So where does Catholic Theology start? Where does it come from? All of it must start from a Christian explanation of who God is and how he relates to mankind from the very beginning. God’s plan starts from the very beginning of creation which was done as a sheer act of goodness. As the Catechism states: “God, infinitely blessed in Himself, in a plan of sheer goodness freely created man to make him share in His own blessed life.” (CCC1). So God, out of His love created us to share in the innermost blessed life of the trinity. He created all things and disclosed the call to worship. He created the angelic spirits in aveternity, then he created the material realm (in time), the created order, in which the human person is on top. He created humans in His image and likeness (Gen1:27) and blessed them with the powers of the mind: memory, intellect, and Will. This blessing granted mankind to be able to have the desire to share in God’s blessed life and the ability to either choose or even reject this life.
So God called our first parents (Adam and Eve) into this intimate communion with him and by their original sin they shattered this unity. God however, promised a redemption of humanity and sought to save humanity part by part. This part of God’s plan was worked in the Old Testament in the Magnalia Dei that God blessed mankind with. It was manifested in acts like the Exodus, the gift of the promise land, the birth of Isaac, the election of David, etc. God constantly sought to bring his people back to Him, but each time they fell away. These great works and the fullness of the revelation of His very self to mankind , and his plan for mankind, culminated in the life, death, and resurrection of His Son, Jesus Christ Christ’s life, death and resurrection, discloses God;s plan of bringing us to Himself. Jesus discloses mystery of the plan of salvation in the Old Testament. Christ “bought us back” the ability to once again share in the innermost blessed life of the Trinity. Jesus is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. In his coming he discloses the Way to the Father in the fullness of the Truth that lie in him, and he shows us the Life we ought to lead on our way back to the Father.
Christ, in teaching us the Way to the Father and showing us the Life, institutes the Church, which is the “sacrament of Salvation” (CCC740). Through the Church, Christ makes it possible for us to participate in the life of grace. Through baptism we are granted the theological virtues of Faith, Hope and Love. We strive to live out these virtues through the Christian life set forth by the Church. By participating in the sacramental and prayer life of the Church we participate in the worship of Christ through the exercise of our memory (anamnesis); we live the truth of the Creed in fulfillment of our intellect, and we follow the Code through the Will by the Holy Spirit. By participating in this graced life through the sacraments, we engage our very selves into the plan of salvation, on our way to the blessed life of the Trinity.
(Picture from flickr.com ,a 'Matt Mcgee' photo)