Friday, May 16, 2008

Compendium, 1, 1, 1: "Man's Capacity for God," (2)

“You are great, O Lord, and greatly to be praised [...] You have made us for yourself and our heart is restless until it rests in you.” (Saint Augustine)

2. Why does man have a desire for God?

(cf. Catechism 27-30, 44-45)
God himself, in creating man in his own image, has written upon his heart the desire to see him. Even if this desire is often ignored, God never ceases to draw man to himself because only in God will he find and live the fullness of truth and happiness for which he never stops searching. By nature and by vocation, therefore, man is a religious being, capable of entering into communion with God. This intimate and vital bond with God confers on man his fundamental dignity.

Let me make a disclaimer about my profundity. It ain't. Don't expect it, because I don't. Many of these posts are simply quick reflections, some will let the text stand as it is. Some posts won't let the text alone, but would have been better had they done so. I'm just saying. They're more chats than essays.

In this section, Chapter 1 of the Compendium, we begin with a favorite quote from St Augustine: "You have made us for yourself and our heart is restless until it rests in you." We are religious beings, bent ever God-ward, toward his service and toward worship, like wax impressed with his seal. We are restless creatures who seek happiness and justice and truth in all manner of created things. And though they are there for our good and our pleasure, our hearts remain unsatisfied without God. Sometimes they even remain unsatisfied with God because our union with him is imperfect.

As I said in the last post, God wants to share his life with us. He made us capable of communion with him. He made us like him, to some extent. We are created "in his image." All people bear God's image, and it is this that gives us our basic dignity - even when our sin muddies it. Our enemies bear God's image. Our friends. Our children. Our spouses.

And then this wonderful truth: "God never ceases to draw man to himself." Thanks be to God.

I have a friend who left the faith, seeing it as unnecessary to love and life. He is now an atheist, but remains a reader of this blog. (Only, I'm sure, because I entertain the hell out of him.) We've been having a slow conversation about atheistic morality and I agree with much that he says about it. His morality and mine, however, and we'd disagree at this point, rises from the same source - from this imago Dei impressed upon us both alike. It is what we call "natural law," morality written in the fabric of man's being - the degree of which is arguable. (Some, for instance, have no compunction against eating other people. But not even a cannibal thinks that killing indiscriminately is right - rather, if you will, he engages in nutritiously beneficial jingoism.) It is the Catholic's (Christian's) contention that natural law rises up from that which the Compendium is speaking of in this section. During his recent journey to the U.S., the Holy Father spoke on this very topic in an address to the U.N. You can read his speech here.

1 comment:

Scott Lyons said...

Some 'splainin': "Compendium, 1, 1, 1" means "Compendium, Part 1, Section 1, Chapter 1."