National Catholic Register

Commentary

What Faith in the Father Should Mean

BY Ellen Wilson Fielding

August 15-21, 1999 Issue | Posted 8/15/99 at 2:00 PM

 

“God the Father Almighty, Creator of Heaven and Earth” (The Catholic Faith, July/August 1999)

Jesuit Father John A. Hardon, executive editor of The Catholic Faith magazine, writes: “In the opening of the Apostles' Creed, we profess our faith in one God, the Father, the Almighty, Creator of heaven and earth, of all that is seen and unseen.”

Father Hardon looks at “the spiritual consequences of our faith in God our Father and Creator. … The first spiritual implication … is humility. … As you read the great saints and mystics of Catholic history, men like St. John of the Cross or women like Catherine of Siena — you are sometimes startled at how little, how unimportant they considered themselves in their own eyes. Well they might, because, whatever else the saints realized, they knew more clearly than most people that once we admit that, of ourselves, we were and would be nothing, it becomes (I do not hesitate saying) psychologically impossible to indulge in one passing moment of pride.

“Our second implication is gratitude. Why did God create us? Very simply because He loved us. … Do we mean that God loved us before He made us? Sure! Otherwise we would not exist. … How grateful then we should be to God who in His goodness wants us to imitate His generosity. We are not to look for profit in giving ourselves to others as an expression of our gratitude to God.

“The third implication of our faith in God's creation is confidence. Seeing what God has given us, all that He has done for us from the moment of our first existence to the present, can we possibly doubt His power and His goodness in the future?

“Our hope is grounded on our faith. We believe that everything we have and possess and enjoy and, let me add, endure, is a gift from God. You mean that pain is a blessing? Are you serious? I could not be more serious. How dare we be anxious or worried. We must be confident that we shall receive from the same God who has been so good in the past all that we need to remain faithful to Him until death, and then confident that the moment we cross the threshold from time into eternity, this God will be there waiting for us.”

Father Hardon then turns to a fourth implication, dealing with the human preoccupation with being accepted by others. He urges us instead to learn from God the Creator that we should care instead for “divine respect.” “There is no single practical recommendation that I can give you other than to encourage you to daily examine your conscience on giving in to human respect. How many temptations and, as a consequence, how many sins, come from our fear of what others will say or think of us. … In the profoundest sense of the word, we have no one to be afraid of — no creature. It is only the Creator whom we should fear.

“Our fifth implication is peaceful reliance. … We have nothing to fear from God, provided we are faithful to His will. The reason we become anxious is because we are so pathetically aware of our own weakness. We know how stupid we are and, under the pressure of trial and temptations, how weak we are. That is why our grateful faith in creation is the single most effective remedy for anxiety and worry.”

Finally, the “[s]ixth implication is adoration. God is to be adored for His greatness, His power and His majesty. … Every creature should be an impulse to adoration, which means to give loving recognition of the beauty and excellence of God.

“There is one more practical application of our faith in the mystery of creation. It is the practice of charity … God has put inequality in the world to inspire us to cooperate with Him in, dare I say it, His ongoing creation of the world. We have things that others lack. That is part of God's plan to inspire those who have [the goods of this world] to share with those who need.”

Ellen Wilson Fielding writes from Davidson, Maryland.