Scriptorium 2

08 Sep 2019

Something Special

Natural Revelation is very important because it can be the beginning of a journey to God for some people as well as a confirmation for those who already have faith in God, but it doesn’t tell us all of what we need to know about him. In fact, it tells us that God must be so different from us that it would be impossible for us to begin to understand or know much about him on our own. God is farther above us than we are above bacteria, so it is impossible for us to begin to find God without divine help.

God does not leave us to our own devices. Instead, he comes down to our level and speaks to us in a way that we can understand. This is what we call special revelation. Here is a classic passage on the subject, the introduction to the Letter to the Hebrews.

In many and various ways God spoke of old to our fathers by the prophets; but in these last days he has spoken to us by a Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world. He reflects the glory of God and bears the very stamp of his nature, upholding the universe by his word of power (Hebrews 1:1-3a).

A lot is packed in less than three verses here. The author begins with how God used to speak to us through prophets. The Old Testament of the Bible preserves writings from some of the Hebrew prophets, stories of God’s interaction with the Hebrew people, and other Hebrew writings that were considered to somehow have an inspired, prophetic voice. The author of the letter goes on to say that in these last days, God has spoken to us by a Son, who “reflects the glory of God and bears the very stamp of his nature.” God came down to us and became an embryo in the womb of the Virgin Mary. He was born and given the name Jesus. He lived a rather normal human life until he began his public ministry at age 30. Jesus then chose twelve men (Apostles) to live with him on a daily basis during his three year ministry, revealing God to them through his life. These men became the foundation of the Church that continues to this day to transmit this revelation of God to the world.

The Catholic Church teaches that this revelation of Jesus through the Apostles comes to us through the Bible and through the tradition of worship and belief that the Church has carried for 2000 years. The Church also teaches that the bishops of the Church, who are the successors of the Apostles, in union with the Pope, who is the successor of the Apostle Peter, have authority and guidance from God to interpret this revelation. How this works is a deep subject that I cannot plumb here, but I want to mention it as the foundation of what I believe about God.

What this all boils down to is that my view of the meaning of life is rooted in the existence of God and his loving outreach to us through Jesus Christ as taught by the Catholic Church. The Bible and Church teaching are a constant touchstone for me as I try to understand my life and how I should live. Daily prayer and reception of the sacraments work alongside this teaching to move me beyond mere head knowledge to a transformed life. Because this is not the way a growing number of people today approach life, I find myself becoming more and more counter-cultural. Not only do I find my personal choices to be different from some, but I find the overall message and direction of our culture to be increasingly dangerous. My primary concern is not just the danger to myself and those I know and love, but danger to the welfare of everyone. This concern is motivating me to attempt to write about these things, hoping I can be a voice for a better way. I don’t believe I have exceptional influence or knowledge, but I believe I have a responsibility to share what I do know with those around me who might benefit.