Baltimore Catechism 3

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The Purpose of Man's Existence


 * Q. 1. Who made us?
A. God made us.


 * Reason unaided by revelation can prove that God exists. It knows that this vast universe could not have come into being by its own powers. The movement of creatures and their dependence upon one another, the various degrees of perfection found in them, the fact that they come into being and cease to be, and, finally, the marvelous order in the universe, demand the existence of an almighty power and the wisdom of an eternal intelligent cause that we call God.

 * > "In the beginning God created heaven and earth ... And God created man to his own image" (Genesis 1:1, Genesis 1:27).

 * > "God, who made the world and all that is in it ... from one man he has created the whole human race" (Acts 17:24-26).


 * Q. 2. Who is God?
A. God is the Supreme Being, infinitely perfect, who made all things and keeps them in existence.


 * This universe did not always exist; it came into existence at the beginning of time. All things depend on God; they begin and continue to exist by the power of God.

 * > "Great is the Lord and greatly to be praised, and his greatness is unsearchable" (Psalm 144:3).

 * > "It is he who gives to all men life and breath and all things" (Acts 17:25).

 * > "In him we live and move and have our being" (Acts 17:28).


 * Q. 3. Why did God make us?
A. God made us to show forth His goodness and to share with us His everlasting happiness in heaven.


 * By creating the world God did not increase His own happiness, since He was infinitely happy from all eternity, but He did manifest His glory externally by sharing His goodness. All creatures by their very existence show forth the glory of God, for all depend on God for their existence.

 * God created man to manifest His glory in a special way. He gave man an intellect and a will that he might know, praise, and love his Creator. In the service of God man finds his true, though imperfect, happiness in this life. Perfect happiness has been promised in the next life as a reward for the merits man acquires here on earth. Thus, the happiness of man is also a purpose of creation.

 * The happiness of heaven consists in the direct vision, love, and enjoyment of God. This reward so far exceeds man's nature that without the supernatural help of God it could not possibly be attained. In heaven God gives us the light of glory, which enables us to see Him face to face. During our life on earth God gives us His grace, which enables us to live a supernatural life and to perform the actions that can earn this reward.

 * The happiness of the blessed in heaven varies according to the merits of their lives on earth. All in heaven are perfectly happy, but one person may have a greater degree of happiness than another because he has more capacity for happiness, by reason of a more virtuous life on earth.

 * > "The heavens declare the glory of God, and the firmament proclaims the work of his hands" (Psalm 18:2).

 * > "He set his eye upon their hearts to show them the greatness of his works: That they might praise the name which he hath sanctified, and glory in his wondrous acts: that they might declare the glorious things of his works" (Ecclesiasticus 17:7-8).

 * > "And every one that calleth upon my name, I have created him for my glory: I have formed him and made him" (Isaias 43:7).

 * > "For the Son of Man is to come with his angels in the glory of his Father, and then he will render to everyone according to his conduct" (Matthew 16:27).


 * > "What does it profit a man, if he gain the whole world, but suffer the loss of his own soul?" (Mark 8:36).

 * > "In my Father's house there are many mansions" (John 14:2).

 * > "Eye has not seen nor ear heard, nor has it entered into the heart of man, what things God has prepared for those who love him" (1 Corinthians 2:9).

 * > "Now he who plants and he who waters are one, yet each will receive his own reward according to his labor" (1 Corinthians 3:8).

 * > "We see now through a mirror in an obscure manner, but then face to face" (1 Corinthians 13:12).


 * Q. 4. What must we do to gain the happiness of heaven?
A. To gain the happiness of heaven we must know, love, and serve God in this world.


 * Man must know, love, and serve God in a supernatural manner in order to gain the happiness of heaven. Man is raised to the supernatural order only by grace, a free gift of God.

 * Man cannot be perfectly happy in this world, for nothing created can satisfy his desire for complete happiness. History and experience show that neither riches, nor honors, nor glory, nor reputation, nor power, nor pleasure, nor knowledge, nor any other worldly goods can fully satisfy man's longing for happiness.

 * Man's earthly, imperfect happiness is in proportion to his approach to God-the final goal of his life. The more closely man approaches God by the practice of virtue under the influence of God's grace, the greater will be his happiness. Worldly goods and pleasures may satisfy man for a time, but of themselves they cannot make him fully happy. Man may enjoy the innocent pleasures and reasonable comforts of life as long as they do not lead him away from God.

 * > "Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' shall enter the kingdom of heaven; but he who does the will of my Father in heaven shall enter the kingdom of heaven" (Matthew 7:21).

 * > "And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with thy whole heart, and with thy whole soul, and with thy whole mind, and with thy whole strength" (Mark 12:30).

 * > "If you love me, keep my commandments" (John 14:15).

 * > "Now this is everlasting life, that they may know thee, the only true God, and him whom thou hast sent, Jesus Christ" (John 17:3).


 * Q. 5. From whom do we learn to know, love, and serve God?
A. We learn to know, love, and serve God from Jesus Christ, the Son of God, who teaches us through the Catholic Church.


 * In order to be saved, all persons who have attained the use of reason must believe explicitly that God exists and that He rewards the good and punishes the wicked; in practice they must also believe explicitly in the mysteries of the Blessed Trinity and the Incarnation.

 * The supernatural happiness of heaven and such mysteries as the Holy Trinity, the Incarnation, and the Redemption are beyond anything man can know by his unaided powers of reason; they can be learned only through God's revelation.

 * > "All power in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you; and behold, I am with you all days, even unto the consummation of the world" (Matthew 28:18-20).

 * > "He who hears you, hears me" (Luke 10:16).

 * > "And without faith it is impossible to please God. For he who comes to God must believe that God exists and is a rewarder to those who seek him" (Hebrews 11:6).


 * Q. 6. Where do we find the chief truths taught by Jesus Christ through the Catholic Church?
A. We find the chief truths taught by Jesus Christ through the Catholic Church in the Apostles' Creed.


 * A creed is a summary of the principal articles of faith. Since the Church received Christ's mandate to teach His way of salvation to all men in all ages, it was necessary to formulate at least the most important doctrines. To preserve unity of faith, it was first necessary to have the belief itself quite clearly stated. Thus, there are records from the earliest times of a set profession of faith required of converts before their Baptism.

 * With the spread of Christianity various erroneous teachings regarding the doctrines of faith were proclaimed. It thus became necessary to define the truths of revelation more explicitly. The Apostles' Creed underwent modification, not by the introduction of new doctrines but by an expression of the traditional belief in terms that left no room for error or misunderstanding. The principal creeds of the Church are the Apostles' Creed, the Athanasian Creed, and the Nicene Creed.


 * Q. 7. What are the words of the Apostles' Creed.
A. I believe in God, the Father Almighty, Creator of heaven and earth; and in Jesus Christ, His only Son, Our Lord; who was conceived by the Holy Ghost, born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried. He descended into hell; the third day He arose again from the dead; He ascended into heaven, sitteth at the right hand of God, the Father Almighty; from thence He shall come to judge the living and the dead. I believe in the Holy Ghost, the Holy Catholic Church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and life everlasting. Amen.


 * This collection of revealed truths is called the "Apostles' Creed" because it contains a summary of the principal truths handed down by the apostles and was in use from the earliest ages as the mark of a Christian.

 * The twelve articles of the Creed contain the mystery of one God in three distinct Persons, Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, and the operations that are, for a particular reason, attributed to each Person.

 * In the three main parts of the Apostles' Creed the doctrine of the mystery of the Trinity is so set forth that the first part tells of the first Person and the work of creation; the next, of the second Person and the work of redemption; and the third, of the third Person and the work of our sanctification, begun on earth by grace and completed in heaven by glory.




 * No human being can live properly unless he knows the purpose of life. The present lesson tells us this purpose. We have been created by God in order to glorify Him and to merit eternal happiness with Him in heaven. Our own reason tells us that we have a spiritual soul; and a spirit is immortal - that is, it will never die. Reason also assures us that we can find perfect happiness only in God, for the desire for happiness in every human heart is unlimited, and hence no created good can fully satisfy it. As St. Augustine said: "The heart of man is made for Thee, O God, and it is restless till it rests in Thee."

 * God has revealed to us that the happiness to which He invites us in the next life is a share of His own happiness. It consists in seeing God directly in all His goodness and beauty, in loving Him, and in enjoying His presence for all eternity. This happiness, which is called the beatific vision, is a privilege to which human beings naturally have no strict right. It is true that, because of the spiritual and immortal nature of our soul, we have a right to everlasting happiness in the life to come if we serve God faithfully in this world. We have no claim, however, to the supernatural possession of God such as is given in the beatific vision. In order to merit this supernatural happiness God gives us while we are on earth sufficient grace to live a supernatural life and to perform the actions necessary to earn this reward.

 * The Sacred Scriptures, God's own word, frequently refer to the happiness prepared for us in heaven, and urge us to strive to attain it. God has called all men to this happiness, but some do not attain it because they commit mortal sin and die without repenting of it. These souls are cast into hell, and will never possess God. Hence, it is the most important duty of our lives to fulfill the conditions necessary to merit eternal happiness. These conditions are to know, to love, and to serve God in a supernatural manner.

 * The first condition is to know God in a supernatural manner -that is, by faith. To do this we must learn the truths He has revealed to us and become familiar with the duties we owe Him. Without such a knowledge it is impossible to love and to serve God as we should. The most important of the truths He has revealed are four: 1) that God exists, 2) that He rewards the good and punishes the wicked, 3) that there are three Persons in the one God, and 4) that the Son of God became man and died for our salvation. However, we should not be content with knowing these four truths, but should study the doctrines of revelation.

 * Catholics have no difficulty in knowing God in a supernatural manner, for the Catholic Church was established by Jesus Christ, the Son of God, to act as His representative in teaching men about God. The chief truths taught by Jesus Christ through the Catholic Church are found in the Apostles' Creed. There are also some important truths revealed by God which are not found in the Apostles' Creed, such as the Real Presence of Our Lord in the Holy Eucharist and the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Moreover, other Creeds besides the Apostles' Creed are used in the Church, particularly the Nicene Creed which is recited in the Mass; it was composed at the Council of Nicaea, in 325 A.D. There is also the Athanasian Creed, named after St. Athanasius, a bishop of the fourth century.

 * Nowadays when it is so easy to procure books and pamphlets explaining the teachings of the Catholic Church, every Catholic able to read can acquire a thorough knowledge of the Catholic faith. Catholic programs on the radio are also a means of increasing our knowledge of the Church's teachings.

 * Catholic boys and girls should strive to learn their lessons in Catechism faithfully and thoroughly. They should always remember that in studying their religion they are preparing themselves to gain the happiness of heaven, for they are fulfilling the first condition of meriting that happiness - to know God. They must remember, however, that the knowledge of God does not consist in merely reciting the answers of the Catechism by memory. They must try to grasp the meaning of these answers, and apply to their own lives the truths they contain.




 * Resolve that during your entire life you will continue to study the truths of your Catholic religion, and thus by ever knowing God better and better, constantly prepare yourself for the happiness of heaven, which is the great goal of your life.

 * Complete Exercises For Lesson 1





 * (Check each of the following statements as either true or false. The correct answers can be found in the previous portions of this lesson.)


 * We can prove by reason without the help of revelation that there is a God.

 * We can learn by our own reason the doctrine of the Holy Trinity.

 * Because we have a spiritual soul we are destined to live forever.

 * Because we have a spiritual soul we have a right to supernatural happiness, or the beatific vision.

 * All the souls in heaven enjoy equal happiness.

 * All the souls in heaven are perfectly happy.

 * God became happier when He created the universe.

 * The Athanasian Creed is recited in the Mass.

[THE LESSONS 1:19-66]

 * The Apostles' Creed contains twelve articles.

 * A Catholic knows God sufficiently if he can recite the answers in the Catechism from memory.





 * (Answer the questions orally or write them as your teacher may direct):


 * Fabian, a Catholic Boy Scout, has a keen interest in wild flowers. Why did God create wild flowers?

 * Name two other creeds besides the Apostles' Creed that are recited in the Catholic Church. From which century do these creeds date?

 * Atlee, a Communist, wants his heaven here upon earth. He claims there is no future life. Is it possible for Atlee to be perfectly happy here on earth? Explain your answer in a paragraph of less than 100 words.

 * Edna is asked the following question: "Why are we placed here on this planet?" She is confused by the wording of the question, and does not answer because she cannot remember a question in the Catechism being worded that way. What is your answer to this question?

 * Timothy's religious training has been neglected by his careless Catholic parents. Explain briefly to him what is meant by the expression that occurs so frequently in this lesson: "the happiness of heaven."

 * would like to know what price must be paid for this happiness. Tell her.

 * We live in an age of highly organized efforts. Even journeys are sponsored by travel agencies, tour organizations, etc. Is there any agency or organization here on earth that will guide us through life to the happiness of heaven? Name it and its organizer.

 * In the Apostles' Creed there are 109 words. Increase the number of words about 50% to 75% and express the same doctrines.

 * Within 40 to 50 words show how some one or more of God's creatures promoted your happiness yesterday.

 * Arthur, the youngest pupil in the seventh grade of St. Mary's school, has a perfect knowledge of this lesson in the Catechism. Why is it true that the young lad is really wiser than a world-famed, proud university professor who denies the existence of God?

 * Orville made a beautiful crib for Christmas, and it gave him great happiness to realize that his skill had produced so fine a work. He remarks to his mother: "God must have been much happier after He made the world than He was before". Is Orville correct in his statement?

 * Count the number of Catholic programs that you can get on your radio every week. To how many of these programs do you listen?

 * Lorraine, who is poorly instructed in religion, wonders how God who is so good can send souls to the everlasting pains of hell. Explain to her that this is not opposed to God's goodness or justice.


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