卷一信仰的宣認-創造者/THE CREATOR

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第四節 創造者

279. 「在起初天主創造了天地」(創 1:1)。聖經就是用這幾句隆重的話開始的。信經也採用了同樣的話,承認全能的天父「創造天地萬物,無論有形與無形」。所以我們首先講論創造者,然後講論祂的創造,最後講論人類因犯罪而墮落,天主子耶穌基督就是因此前來救贖我們。

280. 創造是「天主一切救恩計劃」的基礎, 是「救恩史的開始」,在基督身上達到了巔峰。反過來說,基督的奧跡對創造的奧跡也有決定性的光照,它揭露了「在起初天主創造了天地」(創 1:1)的目的:從起初天主就想到了在基督內新創造的光榮。

281. 為此,逾越節晚上,慶祝在基督內新的創造時,讀經即以創世紀開始;同樣,在拜占廷的禮儀中,創世紀也是主的重大節日前夕的第一篇讀經。根據古人的見証,為慕道者受洗而安排的訓導也遵循同樣的步驟。

一、有關創造的教理講授

282. 有關創造的教理講授十分重要,它涉及人類和基督徒生活的基礎:事實上,它使基督徒信仰為每個時代的人所發出的基本問題,給予明確的答覆:「我們從哪裡 來?」「我們往哪裡去?」「我們的起源為何?」「我們的終向是甚麼?」「一切存在的東西將何去何從?」起源及歸宿這兩個問題,是不可分開的。它們對我們的 生活和行動,具有決定性的意義和方向。

283. 世界和人類的起源問題,曾是許多科學研究的對象,使我們對宇宙的年代與幅度、生物的變遷、人類的出現等知識充實了很多。這些發現促使我們更讚嘆造物主的偉 大,感謝祂的各項工程及賜予學者與研究者的聰明和智慧。他們可與撒羅滿同聲說道:「是祂把所有事物的正確知識賜給了我,使我明瞭世界的構造,和元素的能 量……因為教導我的,是造萬物的技師——智慧」(智 7:17-21)。

284. 對這些研究的濃厚興趣,乃發自另一層次的問題、超越自然科學本身的範圍。這問題並非只想知道物質宇宙何時及怎樣形成,人類何時出現,而是要發掘這種起源的 意義何在:它是發自巧合、盲目的命運、莫名的需要呢?抑或受制於一位超越的、聰明的、良善的、稱為天主的存有?如果這世界是來自天主的智慧和良善,那麼為 甚麼有邪惡呢?它從何而來?誰要對它負責?有沒有解脫?

285. 關於宇宙的起源問題,基督徒信仰一開始就要面對各種與自己不同的答案。事實上,在古老的宗教和文化中,可找到許多有關起源的神話。有些哲學家認為一切都是 神,世界就是神,世界的變化即是神的變化(泛神論)。有些則說世界是天主的一種必然流露,它由這根源發出,又回到祂那裡。另有一些人則主張有兩個永存的本 原:善與惡、光明與黑暗,兩者不斷在搏鬥 (二元論,摩尼派善惡二元論)。按照這些觀念的一些說法,世界 (至少物質世界)是壞的,是墮落的產品,故此應予排除或摒棄 (唯識論)。有些人承認世界是神所造,可是像一個鐘錶,造了以後,就讓它自生自滅 (自然神論)。最後,有些人不接受世界有任何超越的來源,而認為它純粹是一種永久存在的物質組合 (唯物論)。所有這些解釋都在說明萬物起源問題的持久性和普遍性,只有人類會探討這樣的問題。

286. 毫無疑問,人的智力已能對宇宙起源的問題找到答案。事實上,人的理智之光,透過天主所造的萬物,已確實地認識造物主天主的存在,縱使這種知識多次為錯誤所 隱蔽或歪曲。為這緣故,信德前來堅強及光照理智,好能正確地了解這些真理:「因著信德,我們知道普世是藉天主的話形成的,看得見的是由看不見的化成的」 (希 11:3)。

287. 創造的真理對整個人生如此重要,以致天主因其慈愛願意把一切有關創造的知識,為自己子民的得救而啟示給他們。除了每人可對造物主擁有的自然知識外,天主還 逐漸地把創造的奧跡啟示給以色列民。祂揀選了聖祖們,使以色列民離開埃及,在選拔以色列時,也創造和塑造了以色列;祂顯示自己就是那世上萬民和整個大地都 屬於祂的那位,而且是祂獨自「化成了天地」(詠 115:15; 124:8; 134:3)。

288. 如此創造的啟示,就跟唯一天主與其子民所訂盟約的啟示和實現是不可分的。創造的啟示是走向盟約的第一步,是天主全能的愛第一個和普遍性的見証。此外,創造的真理在先知們的預言、在聖詠和禮儀的祈禱、在選民的智慧反省中,越來越有力地表達出來。

289. 在聖經有關創造的所有文字中,創世紀的前三章佔著極為獨特的位置。從它們的文體去看,這些文章可能有不同的來源。受默感的作者們把它們放在聖經的開端,是 要用莊嚴的話,來表達創造的真理,即在天主內受造界的起源和歸宿、它的秩序和美善、人類的召喚、罪惡的悲劇以及得救的希望等。在基督的光照下,依照聖經的 統一性和教會的生活聖傳去閱讀,這些文字就成為解釋「起源」諸奧跡的教理講授的主要來源:就是創造、墮落、及救恩的許諾。

二、創造是天主聖三的工程

290. 「在起初天主創造了天地」(創 1:1)。這幾個聖經開首的字句,肯定了三件事:永遠的天主給了一切在祂以外存在的事物一個開端。唯獨祂是創造者(希伯來語 bara——創造,常以天主為主詞)。凡存在的一切(以「天地」的格式來表達)都屬於祂,祂給予它們存在。

291. 「在起初已有聖言……聖言就是天主……萬物是藉著祂而造成的,沒有一樣不是由祂而造成的」(若 1:1-3)。新約啟示天主藉著永遠的聖言、祂的愛子創造了一切。「天上和地上的一切,都是藉祂而造成的……一切都是藉著祂,並為了祂而受造的。祂在萬有 之先就有,萬有都賴祂而存在」(哥 1:16-17)。教會的信仰也承認聖神的創造行動:祂是「賦予生命者」、「造物者聖神」、「萬善的根源」。

292. 在創造中,子和神的行動與父的是一個不可分的整體行動,這在舊約中已有所暗示,在新約中啟示出來,被教會的信仰規範 (regula fidei)明確地肯定:「存在的只有一個天主……祂就是聖父、天主、造物者、創作者、安排者。祂由自己、即藉著祂的聖言和智慧,藉著子和神有如『自己的雙手』創造了一切」。創造是天主聖三的共同工程。

三 、「 世界是為了天主的光榮而受造」

293. 這是聖經和聖傳不斷教導和慶祝的基本真理:「世界是為了天主的光榮而受造」。聖文德解釋道:「天主創造了萬物,不是為增加自己的光榮,而是把這光榮顯示和 通傳出來」。因為天主除了祂的慈愛和良善外,並無其他創造的理由。「當愛的鑰匙一打開祂的手,萬物隨即出現」。梵蒂岡第一屆大公會議解釋道:

這唯一的真天主,以其慈善和全能,及其最自由的決定,在起初就從虛無中創造了精神和有形的兩種受造物,這並非為增加自己的幸福或獲得甚麼美善,而是透過祂所賜予受造物的美善,來顯示自己的美善。

294. 天主的光榮在於使祂的慈善得以顯示和通傳,世界就是因此而受造。天主使我們「藉著耶穌基督獲得義子的名分,這是祂慈愛計劃的決定,為頌揚祂恩寵的光榮」 (弗 1:5-6)。「因為天主的光榮就是活生生的人,而人的生命就是享見天主:如果天主透過創造的啟示,已能使世上的一切生物獲得生命,那顯示天父的聖言,更 能使那些看見天主的人獲得生命」。創造的最終目的,就是「創造萬物的天主,也成為萬物之中的萬有(格前 15:28),一面獲得祂的光榮,一面達致我們的幸福」。

四、創造的奧跡

天主以智慧和愛去創造

295. 我們相信世界是天主按照祂的智慧造成的,而非任何需要、盲目命運、或偶然的產物。我們相信世界是發自天主自由的意志,祂願使受造物分享祂的存在、祂的智慧 和祂的慈善:「祢創造了萬物,萬物都是因了祢的旨意而存在、而造成的」(默 4:11)。「上主,祢的化工,何其浩繁!全是祢以智慧所創造」(詠 104:24)。「上主對待萬有,溫和善良,對祂的受造物,仁愛慈祥」(詠 145:9)。

天主從無中創造
296.我們相信天主為了創造,並不需要任何預先存在的東西,也不需要任何援助。創造也並非天主實體的必然流露。天主自由地「從無中」創造。

聖德奧斐羅•安提約基,《向奧都利証道》:如果天主從已存在的物質中造出世界,那又有甚麼了不起呢?一個人類的技師,當你給他材料時,他也會製造他想製造的事物。反之,天主的能力正好在這一點上顯示出來,就是祂能從無中,創造祂所喜愛的一切。

297.天主「從無中」創造的信仰,可由聖經証明,是充滿許諾和希望的真理。那七個兒子的母親曾在他們殉道時這樣鼓勵說:

我不知道你們怎樣出現在我的腹中;不是我給了你們靈魂與生命,也不是我構成了你們每一個人的身體。世界的創造者,既然形成了最初的人,賜予萬物以起 源,也必仁慈償還你們的靈魂和生命,因為你們現在為愛護祂的法律捨生致命……我兒,請仰視天、俯視地,觀察天地間形形色色的事物!你該知道,這一切都是天 主從無中造成的,人類也是如此造成的 (加下 7:22-23,28)。

298. 既然天主能夠從無中創造,祂也能藉聖神賜予罪人靈性的生命,在他們內塑造一顆純潔的心,藉復活而賜予死去的人肉身的生命,祂是「叫死者復生,叫那不存在的 成為存在的那位」(羅 4:17)。祂既然藉著聖言能從黑暗中發出光明,祂也能把信德之光賜予那些不認識祂的人。

天主創造了和諧與美好的世界

299. 由於天主是以智慧創造,祂的化工是有秩序的:「祢處置一切,原有一定的尺度、數目和重量」(智 11:20)。在永遠的聖言內、並藉著祂、即「看不見的天主的肖象」(哥 1:15)而受造的萬物,是指向天主的肖象—— 人,並供人用,而人本身奉召與天主建立位際的關係。我們的理解力,由於分享天主的理智之光,可以明白天主透過造化對我們所說的話,雖然我們要用很大的努 力,謙恭地去面對造物主和祂的工程。萬物出自天主的美善,也分享這種美善(「天主看了認為好……很好」:創 1:4,10,12,18,21,31)。因為天主願意把創造作為禮物送給人,作為一種保留和託付給人的產業。教會曾多次須為創造的美善辯護,包括物質的 世界在內。

天主既超越又臨在受造界

300. 天主無限地大於自己所有的工程:「祂的威嚴遠比天高」(詠 8:2),「上主的偉大,不可測量」(詠 145:3)。由於祂是至高和自由的造物主,是萬有的第一因,祂深入地臨在於所有的受造物中:「我們生活、行動、存在,都在祂內」(宗 17:28)。依照聖奧思定所說的話,祂「比我最卓越的更卓越,比我最內在的更內在」。

天主保存和支持受造界

301. 天主創造了萬物後,並沒有置之不顧。祂不但賜給它們存在,還時時刻刻地保存著它們,給予它們活動的能力,引導它們達到自己的終向。承認這種對造物主的完全依賴性,乃智慧、自由、喜樂和信賴的根源:

的確,祢愛一切所有,不恨祢所造的;如果祢憎恨甚麼,祢必不會造它。如果祢不願意,甚麼東西能夠存在?如果祢不吩咐,甚麼東西能夠保全?愛護眾靈的主宰!只有祢愛惜萬物,因為都是祢的 (智 11:24-26)。

五、天主實現祂的計劃:天主的眷顧

302. 受造界有其本身的長處和美善,但從造物主手中出來時,並非全部完成的。它「在過程中」(in statu viae)受造,邁向天主為它指定的、仍須達成的最後的完美。天主引導受造物邁向這種完美的各項措施,我們稱之為天主的眷顧。

天主以祂的眷顧保護及掌管所創造的一切,「智慧施展威力,從地極直達地極,從容治理萬物」(智 8:1)。因為「萬物在祂眼前都是袒露敞開的」(希 4:13),包括受造物將要實現的自由行為在內。

303. 聖經的証據是一致的:天主的眷顧是具體直接的關懷,祂關心一切,由最細微的事以至世界和歷史的大事。聖經 極力強調天主對事件演變的絕對主權:「我們的天主在天上居住,祂創造了所喜愛的萬物」(詠 115:3);又談及基督說:「祂開了,無人能關;祂關了,無人能開」(默 3:7);「人在心中盡可策劃多端,實現的卻是上主的計劃」(箴 19:21)。

304. 我們可以發現,聖經的主要作者——聖神,多次把一些行為歸於天主,而不提及第二因。這並非一種原始的「說法」,而是一種深入的方式,來提醒人有關天主的至高權威,和祂對歷史和世界的絕對主權,從而教導我們對祂的信賴。聖詠的祈禱,就是教導這種信賴的偉大學校。

305. 耶穌要求我們對天父的眷顧懷有赤子般的信賴,祂對自己子女們的需要照顧得無微不至。「你們不要憂慮說:我們吃甚麼,喝甚麼,穿甚麼?……你們的天父原曉得你們需要這一切。你們先該尋求天主的國和祂的義德,這一切自會加給你們的」(瑪 6:31-33)。

眷顧與第二因

306. 天主是自己計劃的最高主宰。不過,在實施計劃時,祂也利用受造物的合作。這並不表示祂的無能,而是顯示出全能天主的偉大與慈善。因為天主不但賜予受造物存在,也賜予它們這種尊嚴,可以自主行動,彼此互為原因,從而合力完成祂的計劃。

307. 對於人,天主甚至讓他們能自由地參與祂的照顧,把「管理」和統治大地的責任託付給他們。這樣,天主使人運用其自由和理性,去完成創造的能刻意地進入天主的計劃。那時他們便全面地成了「天主的助手」(格前 3:9;得前 3:2)和天國的合作者。

308. 天主在受造物的所有行動中運作,這真理跟天主為造物主的信條分不開。祂是在第二因內及藉第二因而工作的第一因:「因為是天主在我們內工作,使我們願意,使 我們力行,為成就祂的善意」(斐 2:13)。這項真理並未削弱受造物的地位,反而予以加強。受造物既來自天主的大能、智慧和慈善,一離開它的根源便一無所能,因為「受造物無造物主,勢必 消失」;更不能沒有祂恩寵的助佑而達到自己最後的終向。

眷顧與惡的難題

309. 既然全能的天父,是美好與和諧的宇宙的創造者,悉心照顧所有的受造物,那麼,為甚麼會有邪惡存在?對這個如此迫切又不可避免、如此痛心而又深奧的問題,任 何倉卒的答案都是不足夠的。唯有整體地看基督徒信仰,才有這個問題的答案:創造的美好、罪惡的悲劇、天主耐心的慈愛。天主藉著各種盟約、祂聖子的降生救 贖、聖神的恩賜、教會的建立、聖事的力量,以及藉著幸福生活的召喚,來與人類接觸。對這幸福的生活,自由的受造物被邀事先同意,然而,由於一個可怕的奧 秘,他們也可事先迴避。基督徒的訊息中,,,沒有一點不對惡的問題部分地提出答案

310. 然而,天主為甚麼不創造一個沒有惡存在的完美世界呢?天主以祂無限的能力,常常可以創造更美好的事物。可是,天主以祂無限的智慧和慈愛,願意自由地創造一 個「在過程中」的世界,邁向它最終的完美。這種演變在天主的計劃中,會牽涉某些事物的出現及另一些事物的消失,有較為完美的,也有不甚完美的事物;有自然 界的成長,也有敗壞。因此,只要受造物尚未達致它的圓滿,有物質的善,也有物質的惡

311. 天使和人類,作為理性和自由的受造物,應該以自由的抉擇和高於一切的愛,走向他們終極的目標。因此,他們有誤入歧途的可能。事實上,他們確曾犯了罪。於是倫理的惡就進入了世界,就其嚴重性來說,它與物質的惡不能相比。無論直接或間接地,天主絕不是倫理惡的原因。不過,為了尊重受造物的自由,祂容許惡發生,並奇妙地從惡中引發出善:

聖奧思定,《信望愛三德彙論》:全能的天主……因為祂是至善的,絕不容許任何惡存在於自己的工程中,除非祂有充分的能力和仁愛,足以從惡本身引出善來。

312. 這樣,假以時日,我們可發現天主在祂的全能眷顧中,能由受造物所造成的惡果,甚至是倫理的惡果中,引出善來。若瑟對他的哥哥們說:「叫我到這裡來的並不是 你們,而是天主……你們原有意對我作的惡事,天主卻有意使之變成好事……挽救了許多人民的性命」(創 45:8; 50:20)。整就是基督的光榮和我們的救贖。可是,惡並不因此而變成善。

313.「天主使一切協助那些愛祂的人」(羅 8:28)。聖人們的見証不斷地証實了此項真理:
聖女加大利納•西恩那給「那些面對不幸的事而反感和抗拒的人」說:「一切都來自愛,一切都為使人得救而安排,天主所作的無非是為這個目的」。
聖多瑪斯•摩爾在殉道前安慰他的女兒說:「除非天主願意,甚麼事情也不會發生。我深信無論發生甚麼事,不管它外表看來是多麼的壞,實際上常是對我們最好的」。
朱利安•諾里奇也說:「我靠天主的恩寵學會要堅決地保守信德,……我應根據和熱切相信吾主在此刻所展示的—— 一切都會轉好」。

314. 我們堅決相信,天主是世界和歷史的主宰,但祂所眷顧的人間旅程卻往往不為人知。只有到了終點,當我們完結局部的知識、「面對面」地 (格前 13:12)看見天主時,我們才能完全認識這些道路,天主就是沿著這些道路,甚至經歷過壞事和罪惡的悲劇,要引導祂的受造物,抵達那最後的 安息的祥和中,天主正是為此而創造了天地。

撮要
315.天主在創世和造人時,已為祂全能的愛心和智慧留下初步和廣泛的痕跡,也初次宣布了祂的「慈愛計劃」,其目的是指向基督內的新創造。
316.雖然創世工程特別歸於聖父,然而父、子、聖神同是創世的唯一及不可分的本原,也同樣是信德的真理。
317.天主獨力創造,是祂自由地及直接地創造了宇宙,無需任何其他的協助。
318.任何受造物都沒有無限的能力,足以名正言順地「創造」事物,就是使那未存在過的存在(傳統稱之為「從無中創造」)。
319.天主創造了世界,是為顯示及通傳祂的光榮。使祂的受造物能分享祂的真理、祂的慈善、祂的美麗,天主正是為了這光榮而創世。
320.創造了宇宙的天主,藉著祂的聖言,「這以自己大能的話支撐萬有的聖子」(希 1:3),及藉著賦予生命的創造之神,繼續保持宇宙的存在。
321.天主的眷顧就是祂以智慧和慈愛,引導萬物達到自己最後終向的各項措施。

322. 基督勸我們要以赤子之情將自己交付給天父的眷顧,聖伯多祿宗徒也回應說:「將你們的一切掛慮都託給祂,因為祂必照顧你們」(伯前 5:7)。
323.天主的眷顧也透過受造物的行動而運作。天主賜給人類自由,使能與祂的計劃合作。

324. 天主容許物質惡和倫理惡,這是一個奧跡。天主藉其聖子耶穌基督予以闡明,聖子為了戰勝罪惡,死而復活。信德使我們肯定,天主不會容許惡發生,除非祂從惡中引發出善。至於祂所採取的途徑,我們只有在永生中才能完全得悉。



Paragraph 4. THE CREATOR

279 "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth."116 Holy Scripture begins with these solemn words. the profession of faith takes them up when it confesses that God the Father almighty is "Creator of heaven and earth" (Apostles' Creed), "of all that is, seen and unseen" (Nicene Creed). We shall speak first of the Creator, then of creation and finally of the fall into sin from which Jesus Christ, the Son of God, came to raise us up again.

280 Creation is the foundation of "all God's saving plans," the "beginning of the history of salvation"117 that culminates in Christ. Conversely, the mystery of Christ casts conclusive light on the mystery of creation and reveals the end for which "in the beginning God created the heavens and the earth": from the beginning, God envisaged the glory of the new creation in Christ.118

281 And so the readings of the Easter Vigil, the celebration of the new creation in Christ, begin with the creation account; likewise in the Byzantine liturgy, the account of creation always constitutes the first reading at the vigils of the great feasts of the Lord. According to ancient witnesses the instruction of catechumens for Baptism followed the same itinerary.119

I. CATECHESIS ON CREATION

282 Catechesis on creation is of major importance. It concerns the very foundations of human and Christian life: for it makes explicit the response of the Christian faith to the basic question that men of all times have asked themselves:120 "Where do we come from?" "Where are we going?" "What is our origin?" "What is our end?" "Where does everything that exists come from and where is it going?" the two questions, the first about the origin and the second about the end, are inseparable. They are decisive for the meaning and orientation of our life and actions.

283 The question about the origins of the world and of man has been the object of many scientific studies which have splendidly enriched our knowledge of the age and dimensions of the cosmos, the development of life-forms and the appearance of man. These discoveries invite us to even greater admiration for the greatness of the Creator, prompting us to give him thanks for all his works and for the understanding and wisdom he gives to scholars and researchers. With Solomon they can say: "It is he who gave me unerring knowledge of what exists, to know the structure of the world and the activity of the elements. . . for wisdom, the fashioner of all things, taught me."121

284 The great interest accorded to these studies is strongly stimulated by a question of another order, which goes beyond the proper domain of the natural sciences. It is not only a question of knowing when and how the universe arose physically, or when man appeared, but rather of discovering the meaning of such an origin: is the universe governed by chance, blind fate, anonymous necessity, or by a transcendent, intelligent and good Being called "God"? and if the world does come from God's wisdom and goodness, why is there evil? Where does it come from? Who is responsible for it? Is there any liberation from it?

285 Since the beginning the Christian faith has been challenged by responses to the question of origins that differ from its own. Ancient religions and cultures produced many myths concerning origins. Some philosophers have said that everything is God, that the world is God, or that the development of the world is the development of God (Pantheism). Others have said that the world is a necessary emanation arising from God and returning to him. Still others have affirmed the existence of two eternal principles, Good and Evil, Light and Darkness, locked, in permanent conflict (Dualism, Manichaeism). According to some of these conceptions, the world (at least the physical world) is evil, the product of a fall, and is thus to be rejected or left behind (Gnosticism). Some admit that the world was made by God, but as by a watch-maker who, once he has made a watch, abandons it to itself (Deism). Finally, others reject any transcendent origin for the world, but see it as merely the interplay of matter that has always existed (Materialism). All these attempts bear witness to the permanence and universality of the question of origins. This inquiry is distinctively human.

286 Human intelligence is surely already capable of finding a response to the question of origins. the existence of God the Creator can be known with certainty through his works, by the light of human reason,122 even if this knowledge is often obscured and disfigured by error. This is why faith comes to confirm and enlighten reason in the correct understanding of this truth: "By faith we understand that the world was created by the word of God, so that what is seen was made out of things which do not appear."123

287 The truth about creation is so important for all of human life that God in his tenderness wanted to reveal to his People everything that is salutary to know on the subject. Beyond the natural knowledge that every man can have of the Creator,124 God progressively revealed to Israel the mystery of creation. He who chose the patriarchs, who brought Israel out of Egypt, and who by choosing Israel created and formed it, this same God reveals himself as the One to whom belong all the peoples of the earth, and the whole earth itself; he is the One who alone "made heaven and earth".125

288 Thus the revelation of creation is inseparable from the revelation and forging of the covenant of the one God with his People. Creation is revealed as the first step towards this covenant, the first and universal witness to God's all-powerful love.126 and so, the truth of creation is also expressed with growing vigour in the message of the prophets, the prayer of the psalms and the liturgy, and in the wisdom sayings of the Chosen People.127

289 Among all the Scriptural texts about creation, the first three chapters of Genesis occupy a unique place. From a literary standpoint these texts may have had diverse sources. the inspired authors have placed them at the beginning of Scripture to express in their solemn language the truths of creation - its origin and its end in God, its order and goodness, the vocation of man, and finally the drama of sin and the hope of salvation. Read in the light of Christ, within the unity of Sacred Scripture and in the living Tradition of the Church, these texts remain the principal source for catechesis on the mysteries of the "beginning": creation, fall, and promise of salvation.

II. CREATION - WORK OF THE HOLY TRINITY

290 "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth":128 three things are affirmed in these first words of Scripture: the eternal God gave a beginning to all that exists outside of himself; he alone is Creator (the verb "create" - Hebrew bara - always has God for its subject). the totality of what exists (expressed by the formula "the heavens and the earth") depends on the One who gives it being.

291 "In the beginning was the Word. . . and the Word was God. . . all things were made through him, and without him was not anything made that was made."129 The New Testament reveals that God created everything by the eternal Word, his beloved Son. In him "all things were created, in heaven and on earth.. . all things were created through him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together."130 The Church's faith likewise confesses the creative action of the Holy Spirit, the "giver of life", "the Creator Spirit" (Veni, Creator Spiritus), the "source of every good".131

292 The Old Testament suggests and the New Covenant reveals the creative action of the Son and the Spirit,132 inseparably one with that of the Father. This creative co-operation is clearly affirmed in the Church's rule of faith: "There exists but one God. . . he is the Father, God, the Creator, the author, the giver of order. He made all things by himself, that is, by his Word and by his Wisdom", "by the Son and the Spirit" who, so to speak, are "his hands".133 Creation is the common work of the Holy Trinity.

III. "THE WORLD WAS CREATED FOR THE GLORY OF GOD"

293 Scripture and Tradition never cease to teach and celebrate this fundamental truth: "The world was made for the glory of God."134 St. Bonaventure explains that God created all things "not to increase his glory, but to show it forth and to communicate it",135 for God has no other reason for creating than his love and goodness: "Creatures came into existence when the key of love opened his hand."136 The First Vatican Council explains:

This one, true God, of his own goodness and "almighty power", not for increasing his own beatitude, nor for attaining his perfection, but in order to manifest this perfection through the benefits which he bestows on creatures, with absolute freedom of counsel "and from the beginning of time, made out of nothing both orders of creatures, the spiritual and the corporeal. . ."137

294 The glory of God consists in the realization of this manifestation and communication of his goodness, for which the world was created. God made us "to be his sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace",138 for "the glory of God is man fully alive; moreover man's life is the vision of God: if God's revelation through creation has already obtained life for all the beings that dwell on earth, how much more will the Word's manifestation of the Father obtain life for those who see God."139 The ultimate purpose of creation is that God "who is the creator of all things may at last become "all in all", thus simultaneously assuring his own glory and our beatitude."140

IV. THE MYSTERY OF CREATION

God creates by wisdom and love

295 We believe that God created the world according to his wisdom.141 It is not the product of any necessity whatever, nor of blind fate or chance. We believe that it proceeds from God's free will; he wanted to make his creatures share in his being, wisdom and goodness: "For you created all things, and by your will they existed and were created."142 Therefore the Psalmist exclaims: "O LORD, how manifold are your works! In wisdom you have made them all"; and "The LORD is good to all, and his compassion is over all that he has made."143 God creates "out of nothing"

296 We believe that God needs no pre-existent thing or any help in order to create, nor is creation any sort of necessary emanation from the divine substance.144 God creates freely "out of nothing":145

If God had drawn the world from pre-existent matter, what would be so extraordinary in that? A human artisan makes from a given material whatever he wants, while God shows his power by starting from nothing to make all he wants.146

297 Scripture bears witness to faith in creation "out of nothing" as a truth full of promise and hope. Thus the mother of seven sons encourages them for martyrdom:

I do not know how you came into being in my womb. It was not I who gave you life and breath, nor I who set in order the elements within each of you. Therefore the Creator of the world, who shaped the beginning of man and devised the origin of all things, will in his mercy give life and breath back to you again, since you now forget yourselves for the sake of his laws. . . Look at the heaven and the earth and see everything that is in them, and recognize that God did not make them out of things that existed. Thus also mankind comes into being.147

298 Since God could create everything out of nothing, he can also, through the Holy Spirit, give spiritual life to sinners by creating a pure heart in them,148 and bodily life to the dead through the Resurrection. God "gives life to the dead and calls into existence the things that do not exist."149 and since God was able to make light shine in darkness by his Word, he can also give the light of faith to those who do not yet know him.150

God creates an ordered and good world

299 Because God creates through wisdom, his creation is ordered: "You have arranged all things by measure and number and weight."151 The universe, created in and by the eternal Word, the "image of the invisible God", is destined for and addressed to man, himself created in the "image of God" and called to a personal relationship with God.152 Our human understanding, which shares in the light of the divine intellect, can understand what God tells us by means of his creation, though not without great effort and only in a spirit of humility and respect before the Creator and his work.153 Because creation comes forth from God's goodness, it shares in that goodness - "and God saw that it was good. . . very good"154- for God willed creation as a gift addressed to man, an inheritance destined for and entrusted to him. On many occasions the Church has had to defend the goodness of creation, including that of the physical world.155

God transcends creation and is present to it

300 God is infinitely greater than all his works: "You have set your glory above the heavens."156 Indeed, God's "greatness is unsearchable".157 But because he is the free and sovereign Creator, the first cause of all that exists, God is present to his creatures' inmost being: "In him we live and move and have our being."158 In the words of St. Augustine, God is "higher than my highest and more inward than my innermost self".159

God upholds and sustains creation

301 With creation, God does not abandon his creatures to themselves. He not only gives them being and existence, but also, and at every moment, upholds and sustains them in being, enables them to act and brings them to their final end. Recognizing this utter dependence with respect to the Creator is a source of wisdom and freedom, of joy and confidence:

 

For you love all things that exist, and detest none of the things that you have made; for you would not have made anything if you had hated it. How would anything have endured, if you had not willed it? Or how would anything not called forth by you have been preserved? You spare all things, for they are yours, O Lord, you who love the living.160

V. GOD CARRIES OUT HIS PLAN: DIVINE PROVIDENCE

302 Creation has its own goodness and proper perfection, but it did not spring forth complete from the hands of the Creator. the universe was created "in a state of journeying" (in statu viae) toward an ultimate perfection yet to be attained, to which God has destined it. We call "divine providence" the dispositions by which God guides his creation toward this perfection:

By his providence God protects and governs all things which he has made, "reaching mightily from one end of the earth to the other, and ordering all things well". For "all are open and laid bare to his eyes", even those things which are yet to come into existence through the free action of creatures.161

303 The witness of Scripture is unanimous that the solicitude of divine providence is concrete and immediate; God cares for all, from the least things to the great events of the world and its history. the sacred books powerfully affirm God's absolute sovereignty over the course of events: "Our God is in the heavens; he does whatever he pleases."162 and so it is with Christ, "who opens and no one shall shut, who shuts and no one opens".163 As the book of Proverbs states: "Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the LORD that will be established."164

304 And so we see the Holy Spirit, the principal author of Sacred Scripture, often attributing actions to God without mentioning any secondary causes. This is not a "primitive mode of speech", but a profound way of recalling God's primacy and absolute Lordship over history and the world,165 and so of educating his people to trust in him. the prayer of the Psalms is the great school of this trust.166

305 Jesus asks for childlike abandonment to the providence of our heavenly Father who takes care of his children's smallest needs: "Therefore do not be anxious, saying, "What shall we eat?" or "What shall we drink?". . . Your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things shall be yours as well."167

Providence and secondary causes

306 God is the sovereign master of his plan. But to carry it out he also makes use of his creatures' co-operation. This use is not a sign of weakness, but rather a token of almighty God's greatness and goodness. For God grants his creatures not only their existence, but also the dignity of acting on their own, of being causes and principles for each other, and thus of co-operating in the accomplishment of his plan.

307 To human beings God even gives the power of freely sharing in his providence by entrusting them with the responsibility of "subduing" the earth and having dominion over it.168 God thus enables men to be intelligent and free causes in order to complete the work of creation, to perfect its harmony for their own good and that of their neighbours. Though often unconscious collaborators with God's will, they can also enter deliberately into the divine plan by their actions, their prayers and their sufferings.169 They then fully become "God's fellow workers" and co-workers for his kingdom.170

308 The truth that God is at work in all the actions of his creatures is inseparable from faith in God the Creator. God is the first cause who operates in and through secondary causes: "For God is at work in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure."171 Far from diminishing the creature's dignity, this truth enhances it. Drawn from nothingness by God's power, wisdom and goodness, it can do nothing if it is cut off from its origin, for "without a Creator the creature vanishes."172 Still less can a creature attain its ultimate end without the help of God's grace.173

Providence and the scandal of evil

309 If God the Father almighty, the Creator of the ordered and good world, cares for all his creatures, why does evil exist? To this question, as pressing as it is unavoidable and as painful as it is mysterious, no quick answer will suffice. Only Christian faith as a whole constitutes the answer to this question: the goodness of creation, the drama of sin and the patient love of God who comes to meet man by his covenants, the redemptive Incarnation of his Son, his gift of the Spirit, his gathering of the Church, the power of the sacraments and his call to a blessed life to which free creatures are invited to consent in advance, but from which, by a terrible mystery, they can also turn away in advance. There is not a single aspect of the Christian message that is not in part an answer to the question of evil.

310 But why did God not create a world so perfect that no evil could exist in it? With infinite power God could always create something better.174 But with infinite wisdom and goodness God freely willed to create a world "in a state of journeying" towards its ultimate perfection. In God's plan this process of becoming involves the appearance of certain beings and the disappearance of others, the existence of the more perfect alongside the less perfect, both constructive and destructive forces of nature. With physical good there exists also physical evil as long as creation has not reached perfection.175

311 Angels and men, as intelligent and free creatures, have to journey toward their ultimate destinies by their free choice and preferential love. They can therefore go astray. Indeed, they have sinned. Thus has moral evil, incommensurably more harmful than physical evil, entered the world. God is in no way, directly or indirectly, the cause of moral evil.176 He permits it, however, because he respects the freedom of his creatures and, mysteriously, knows how to derive good from it:

For almighty God. . ., because he is supremely good, would never allow any evil whatsoever to exist in his works if he were not so all-powerful and good as to cause good to emerge from evil itself.177

312 In time we can discover that God in his almighty providence can bring a good from the consequences of an evil, even a moral evil, caused by his creatures: "It was not you", said Joseph to his brothers, "who sent me here, but God. . . You meant evil against me; but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive."178 From the greatest moral evil ever committed - the rejection and murder of God's only Son, caused by the sins of all men - God, by his grace that "abounded all the more",179 brought the greatest of goods: the glorification of Christ and our redemption. But for all that, evil never becomes a good.

313 "We know that in everything God works for good for those who love him."180 The constant witness of the saints confirms this truth:

St. Catherine of Siena said to "those who are scandalized and rebel against what happens to them": "Everything comes from love, all is ordained for the salvation of man, God does nothing without this goal in mind."181
St. Thomas More, shortly before his martyrdom, consoled his daughter: "Nothing can come but that that God wills. and I make me very sure that whatsoever that be, seem it never so bad in sight, it shall indeed be the best."182
Dame Julian of Norwich: "Here I was taught by the grace of God that I should steadfastly keep me in the faith... and that at the same time I should take my stand on and earnestly believe in what our Lord shewed in this time - that 'all manner (of) thing shall be well.'"183

314 We firmly believe that God is master of the world and of its history. But the ways of his providence are often unknown to us. Only at the end, when our partial knowledge ceases, when we see God "face to face",184 will we fully know the ways by which - even through the dramas of evil and sin - God has guided his creation to that definitive sabbath rest185 for which he created heaven and earth.

IN BRIEF

315 In the creation of the world and of man, God gave the first and universal witness to his almighty love and his wisdom, the first proclamation of the "plan of his loving goodness", which finds its goal in the new creation in Christ.

316 Though the work of creation is attributed to the Father in particular, it is equally a truth of faith that the Father, Son and Holy Spirit together are the one, indivisible principle of creation.

317 God alone created the universe, freely, directly and without any help.

318 No creature has the infinite power necessary to "create" in the proper sense of the word, that is, to produce and give being to that which had in no way possessed it to call into existence "out of nothing") (cf  DS 3624).

319 God created the world to show forth and communicate his glory. That his creatures should share in his truth, goodness and beauty - this is the glory for which God created them.

320 God created the universe and keeps it in existence by his Word, the Son "upholding the universe by his word of power" ( Heb 1:3), and by his Creator Spirit, the giver of life.

321 Divine providence consists of the dispositions by which God guides all his creatures with wisdom and love to their ultimate end.

322 Christ invites us to filial trust in the providence of our heavenly Father (cf Mt 6:26-34), and St. Peter the apostle repeats: "Cast all your anxieties on him, for he cares about you" ( I Pt 5:7; cf. Ps 55:23).

323 Divine providence works also through the actions of creatures. To human beings God grants the ability to co-operate freely with his plans.

324 The fact that God permits physical and even moral evil is a mystery that God illuminates by his Son Jesus Christ who died and rose to vanquish evil. Faith gives us the certainty that God would not permit an evil if he did not cause a good to come from that very evil, by ways that we shall fully know only in eternal life.

 

第五節 天與地

 

325.宗徒信經宣認天主是「天地的創造者」,尼西亞‧君士坦丁堡信經則闡述:「天地萬物,無論有形無形,都是祂所創造的」。

 

326. 在聖經上,「天地」二字指一切的存有,整個的受造界,也指在受造物之間的聯繫。聖經既把天地連接又將之區別:「地」是人的世界,「天」或「諸天」這些詞可 以指穹蒼,也可指天主自己的「地方」:所以,我們的「在天之父」(瑪 5:16)也可指末世的光榮「天堂」。最後,「天」字也指環繞天主左右的精神體受造物——天使所在的「地方」。

 

327. 拉特朗第四屆大公會議的信仰誓詞肯定說:「天主在時間的肇始,就從無中創造了精神的與物質的受造物,即天使和大地;其後,祂又造了人類,具有靈魂和肉體,好像是集二者之大成」。

 

一、天使

 

天使的存在是信仰的真理
328.沒有肉身的精神體受造物,聖經通常稱之為天使。他們的存在是信德的真理。聖經的証據一如聖傳的一致性同樣地明確。
天使是誰??

329. 聖奧思定論及天使說:「天使一詞是指職務,而非本性。如果問及這本性的名稱,則回答說是天神;如果問及職務,則回答說是天使。按著他的本性是天神,按著他 所執行的職務則是天使」。從他們的整個本質看來,天使是天主的侍從和使者。由於「他們時常看到在天之父的面」(瑪 18:10),他們是「執行祂命令的大能臣僕,又是服從上主聖言的聽命公侯」(詠 103:20)。

 

330. 他們由於是純粹精神體的受造物,具有理智和意志:是有位格和不死不滅的受造物。他們遠比一切有形的受造物完美。他們榮耀的光輝足可証明此事。
基督「「聯同祂所有的天使聯同祂所有的天使」

 

331. 基督是天使世界的中心。他們是「祂的天使」:「當人子在自己的光榮中,與祂的眾天使一同降來時……」(瑪 25:31)。天使們是祂的,因為他們是藉著祂並為了祂 而受造:「因為天上和地上的一切,可見的與不可見的,或是上座者、或是宰制者、或是率領者、或是掌權者、都是在祂內受造的;一切都是藉著祂,並為了祂而受 造」(哥 1:16)。他們更是祂的,因為祂使他們成為祂救恩計劃的使者:「他們豈不都是奉職的神,被派遣給那些要承受救恩的人服務嗎?」(希 1:14)。

 

332. 天使們自創造開始及在整個的救恩史中,都曾或多或少地傳報這救恩,並為實現天主的拯救計劃服務,如:關閉了樂園之門、保護羅特、拯救哈加爾及她的孩子、及 阻止亞巴郎下手祭子;法律是「藉天使的手」(宗 7:53) 而傳報,他們引導天主的子民,預告誕辰和使命,以及庇祐先知等等,以上只是略舉幾個例子而已。最後,是加俾額爾天使預告了前驅 (洗者若翰) 及耶穌本人的誕生。

 

333. 降生的聖言由誕生至升天, 一生都活在天使的朝拜和服侍中。「當天主引領首生子進入世界的時候,說:『天主的眾天使都要崇拜祂』」(希 1:6)。他們在基督誕生時所唱的讚頌歌,至今仍不斷地在教會的歌詠中迴響著:「天主在天受光榮……」(路 2:14)。他們保護了耶穌的童年,在曠野中侍候祂,在山園祈禱中安慰祂,那時耶穌大可讓天使從敵人手中將祂救出如同過去發生在以色列一般。此外,又是天 使們「傳播福音」(路 2:10),向人宣布基督誕生和復活的喜訊。當基督再次來臨時,由他們傳報並為祂的審判在旁侍候。

 

在教會生活中的天使 334.同樣,整個教會的生活都享有天使們的奇妙和有力的援助。

 

335.在禮儀中,教會聯同天使去崇拜「聖!聖!聖!」的天主;呼求天使們的助佑 (如追思禮儀中的「願天使導引你到天堂……」又或拜占廷禮儀中的「革魯賓之歌」),並特別慶祝某些天使的紀念日 (聖彌額爾、聖加俾厄爾、聖辣法厄爾、護守天使)。
336.人的生命由童年至死亡,常由天使所保護和代禱。「每個信徒都有一位天使在他身旁作為保護者和牧者,為引導他達到永生」。從此世開始,基督徒生活已藉信仰,參與結合於天主的天使和人類的真福團體。

 


二、有形可見的世界

 

337. 是天主創造了豐盈富庶、多采多姿及秩序井然的有形世界。聖經象徵式地把造物主的工程,描述成連續六天的神聖「工作」,而在第七天的「休息」中完成。聖經在 談及創造時,教導天主為拯救我們所啟示的真理,可使我們「認識整個造化工程的內在本性、價值及其光榮天主的目的」。

 

338. 一切都靠造物主天主存在。世界是天主藉其說話從無中創造時,才有了開始。一切存有、整個自然界、整個人類史,都奠基於這件開天闢地的大事:就是世界形成和時間肇始的原本起源。

 

339. 每個受造物都有自己的美善和優點。對「六天」內的每項工程都這麼說:「天主看了認為好」。「基於受造物的本質,萬物能都有 其穩定、真實、和美善的特性,也有自己的規律和秩序」。各樣受造物在它們的本性內,各以自己的方式反映出天主無限智慧和良善的一線光芒。為此,人該尊重每 個受造物的優點,以免濫用事物,從而輕視造物主,並為人類和他們的環境帶來可怕的後果。

 

340. 受造物的彼此依賴是天主所願意的。太陽、月亮、樹木、花草、老鷹、麻雀:種類的繁多與差別給我們說明,沒有一樣受造物是自給自足的,它們只能相互依存,好能互補不足、相輔相成。

 

341. 宇宙的美麗。從萬物的差異和它們相互的關係,產生了受造世界的秩序與和諧。人類逐漸發現這些關係並將之視為自然律。它們是學者們讚嘆的對象。受造物的美麗反映出造物主無限的美麗,應啟發人類理智和意志的尊重與服從。

 

342. 受造物的等級是由「六天」創造的次序來表達,從較不完美的到較完美的。天主愛祂的一切受造物,也照顧其中每一樣,甚至於麻雀。然而,耶穌說:「你們比許多麻雀尊貴多了」(路 12:6-7),又說:「人比羊貴重得多了!」(瑪 12:12)。

 

343.人是創造工程的巔峰。聖經的敘述,清楚地把人的創造跟其他事物的創造分開。
344.所有受造物息息相關,這是由於所有受造物都有同一個造物主,而且都是為祂的光榮而受造的。
聖方濟•亞西西,《太陽歌》:
我主,願祢因萬物而受讚頌,尤其是因太陽哥哥,它使白天出現,以它的光照耀我們。它是美麗的,光輝燦爛,並向我們談及祢,至高的上主。

 

我主,願祢因水妹妹而受讚頌,它很有用、謙虛、寶貴、和純潔…… 我主,願祢因我們的母親大地而受讚頌,她負載我們,滋養我們,出產許多果實及色彩繽紛的花草……

 

請你們歌頌和讚美我的天主,並謙虛地稱謝和事奉祂。

345.安息——「六天」工程的結束。聖經說:「到第七天,天主造物的工程已完成」,「這樣,天和地都完成了」;天主「就在第七天停止了所作的一切工程」,「天主降福了第七天,定為聖日」(創 2:1-3)。這些出自默感的話,充滿著有益的教訓:

346. 天主在創造時奠立了一個基礎和一些持久不變的法律,信徒可滿懷信心地依賴這些法律,因為它們是天主盟約忠誠不變的標誌和保証。在人方面,他該效忠這個基礎並尊重造物主刻於其上的法律。

347.萬物是為了安息, 也即是為了敬禮和崇拜天主而創造的。敬禮銘刻在創造的秩序中。聖本篤的會規說: 「別把任何事放在敬禮天主之前」,這指出人的操心應有的秩序。
348.安息是處於以色列法律的核心。遵守誡命就是符合天主在造化工程中所表達的智慧和意願。

349. 第八天。但為我們有了新的一天:就是基督復活的日子。第七天完成第一次的創造,第八天則開始了新的創造。這樣,創造的工程在更偉大的救贖工程上達到了巔峰。第一次的創造在基督內新的創造中,找到它的意義和巔峰,新創造的光輝比第一次創造的更勝一籌。

撮要
350.天使是精神體的受造物,他們不斷地光榮天主並執行祂對其他受造物的救恩計劃。「天使協助一切有益於我們的事」。
351.天使環繞著基督、他們的主,尤其在實現拯救眾人的使命上為祂效勞。
352.教會恭敬天使們,因為他們能在現世的旅途上協助教會,並保護所有的人。

353. 天主願意祂的受造物各不相同,各有所長,相輔相成,層次分明。祂預定所有物質的受造物以人類的利益為終向;整個受造界通過人和人一起以天主的光榮為依歸。

354.尊重那銘刻在受造物中的規律及來自事物本性方面的關係,乃明智的原則和道德的基礎。

 

Paragraph 5. HEAVEN AND EARTH

325 The Apostles' Creed professes that God is "creator of heaven and earth". the Nicene Creed makes it explicit that this profession includes "all that is, seen and unseen".

326 The Scriptural expression "heaven and earth" means all that exists, creation in its entirety. It also indicates the bond, deep within creation, that both unites heaven and earth and distinguishes the one from the other: "the earth" is the world of men, while "heaven" or "the heavens" can designate both the firmament and God's own "place" - "our Father in heaven" and consequently the "heaven" too which is eschatological glory. Finally, "heaven" refers to the saints and the "place" of the spiritual creatures, the angels, who surround God.186

327 The profession of faith of the Fourth Lateran Council (1215) affirms that God "from the beginning of time made at once (simul) out of nothing both orders of creatures, the spiritual and the corporeal, that is, the angelic and the earthly, and then (deinde) the human creature, who as it were shares in both orders, being composed of spirit and body."187

I. THE ANGELS

The existence of angels - a truth of faith

328 The existence of the spiritual, non-corporeal beings that Sacred Scripture usually calls "angels" is a truth of faith. the witness of Scripture is as clear as the unanimity of Tradition.

Who are they?

329 St. Augustine says: "'Angel' is the name of their office, not of their nature. If you seek the name of their nature, it is 'spirit'; if you seek the name of their office, it is 'angel': from what they are, 'spirit', from what they do, 'angel.'"188 With their whole beings the angels are servants and messengers of God. Because they "always behold the face of my Father who is in heaven" they are the "mighty ones who do his word, hearkening to the voice of his word".189

330 As purely spiritual creatures angels have intelligence and will: they are personal and immortal creatures, surpassing in perfection all visible creatures, as the splendour of their glory bears witness.190

Christ "with all his angels"

331 Christ is the centre of the angelic world. They are his angels: "When the Son of man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him. . "191 They belong to him because they were created through and for him: "for in him all things were created in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or authorities - all things were created through him and for him."192 They belong to him still more because he has made them messengers of his saving plan: "Are they not all ministering spirits sent forth to serve, for the sake of those who are to obtain salvation?"193

332 Angels have been present since creation and throughout the history of salvation, announcing this salvation from afar or near and serving the accomplishment of the divine plan: they closed the earthly paradise; protected Lot; saved Hagar and her child; stayed Abraham's hand; communicated the law by their ministry; led the People of God; announced births and callings; and assisted the prophets, just to cite a few examples.194 Finally, the angel Gabriel announced the birth of the Precursor and that of Jesus himself.195

333 From the Incarnation to the Ascension, the life of the Word incarnate is surrounded by the adoration and service of angels. When God "brings the firstborn into the world, he says: 'Let all God's angels worship him.'"196 Their song of praise at the birth of Christ has not ceased resounding in the Church's praise: "Glory to God in the highest!"197 They protect Jesus in his infancy, serve him in the desert, strengthen him in his agony in the garden, when he could have been saved by them from the hands of his enemies as Israel had been.198 Again, it is the angels who "evangelize" by proclaiming the Good News of Christ's Incarnation and Resurrection.199 They will be present at Christ's return, which they will announce, to serve at his judgement.200

The angels in the life of the Church

334 In the meantime, the whole life of the Church benefits from the mysterious and powerful help of angels.201

335 In her liturgy, the Church joins with the angels to adore the thrice-holy God. She invokes their assistance (in the Roman Canon's Supplices te rogamus. . .["Almighty God, we pray that your angel..."]; in the funeral liturgy's In Paradisum deducant te angeli. . .["May the angels lead you into Paradise. . ."]). Moreover, in the "Cherubic Hymn" of the Byzantine Liturgy, she celebrates the memory of certain angels more particularly (St. Michael, St. Gabriel, St. Raphael, and the guardian angels).

336 From infancy to death human life is surrounded by their watchful care and intercession.202 "Beside each believer stands an angel as protector and shepherd leading him to life."203 Already here on earth the Christian life shares by faith in the blessed company of angels and men united in God.

II. THE VISIBLE WORLD

337 God himself created the visible world in all its richness, diversity and order. Scripture presents the work of the Creator symbolically as a succession of six days of divine "work", concluded by the "rest" of the seventh day.204 On the subject of creation, the sacred text teaches the truths revealed by God for our salvation,205 permitting us to "recognize the inner nature, the value and the ordering of the whole of creation to the praise of God."206

338 Nothing exists that does not owe its existence to God the Creator. the world began when God's word drew it out of nothingness; all existent beings, all of nature, and all human history are rooted in this primordial event, the very genesis by which the world was constituted and time begun.207

339 Each creature possesses its own particular goodness and perfection. For each one of the works of the "six days" it is said: "and God saw that it was good." "By the very nature of creation, material being is endowed with its own stability, truth and excellence, its own order and laws."208 Each of the various creatures, willed in its own being, reflects in its own way a ray of God's infinite wisdom and goodness. Man must therefore respect the particular goodness of every creature, to avoid any disordered use of things which would be in contempt of the Creator and would bring disastrous consequences for human beings and their environment.

340 God wills the interdependence of creatures. the sun and the moon, the cedar and the little flower, the eagle and the sparrow: the spectacle of their countless diversities and inequalities tells us that no creature is self-sufficient. Creatures exist only in dependence on each other, to complete each other, in the service of each other.

341 The beauty of the universe: the order and harmony of the created world results from the diversity of beings and from the relationships which exist among them. Man discovers them progressively as the laws of nature. They call forth the admiration of scholars. the beauty of creation reflects the infinite beauty of the Creator and ought to inspire the respect and submission of man's intellect and will.

342 The hierarchy of creatures is expressed by the order of the "six days", from the less perfect to the more perfect. God loves all his creatures209 and takes care of each one, even the sparrow. Nevertheless, Jesus said: "You are of more value than many sparrows", or again: "of how much more value is a man than a sheep!"210

343 Man is the summit of the Creator's work, as the inspired account expresses by clearly distinguishing the creation of man from that of the other creatures.211

344 There is a solidarity among all creatures arising from the fact that all have the same Creator and are all ordered to his glory: May you be praised, O Lord, in all your creatures, especially brother sun, by whom you give us light for the day; he is beautiful, radiating great splendour, and offering us a symbol of you, the Most High. . .

May you be praised, my Lord, for sister water, who is very useful and humble, precious and chaste.
May you be praised, my Lord, for sister earth, our mother, who bears and feeds us, and produces the variety of fruits and dappled flowers and grasses. . .
Praise and bless my Lord, give thanks and serve him in all humility.212

345 The sabbath - the end of the work of the six days. the sacred text says that "on the seventh day God finished his work which he had done", that the "heavens and the earth were finished", and that God "rested" on this day and sanctified and blessed it.213 These inspired words are rich in profitable instruction:

346 In creation God laid a foundation and established laws that remain firm, on which the believer can rely with confidence, for they are the sign and pledge of the unshakeable faithfulness of God's covenant.214 For his part man must remain faithful to this foundation, and respect the laws which the Creator has written into it.

347 Creation was fashioned with a view to the sabbath and therefore for the worship and adoration of God. Worship is inscribed in the order of creation.215 As the rule of St. Benedict says, nothing should take precedence over "the work of God", that is, solemn worship.216 This indicates the right order of human concerns.

348 The sabbath is at the heart of Israel's law. To keep the commandments is to correspond to the wisdom and the will of God as expressed in his work of creation.

349 The eighth day. But for us a new day has dawned: the day of Christ's Resurrection. the seventh day completes the first creation. the eighth day begins the new creation. Thus, the work of creation culminates in the greater work of redemption. the first creation finds its meaning and its summit in the new creation in Christ, the splendour of which surpasses that of the first creation.217

IN BRIEF

350 Angels are spiritual creatures who glorify God without ceasing and who serve his saving plans for other creatures: "The angels work together for the benefit of us all" (St. Thomas Aquinas, STh I, 114, 3, ad 3).

351 The angels surround Christ their Lord. They serve him especially in the accomplishment of his saving mission to men.

352 The Church venerates the angels who help her on her earthly pilgrimage and protect every human being.

353 God willed the diversity of his creatures and their own particular goodness, their interdependence and their order. He destined all material creatures for the good of the human race. Man, and through him all creation, is destined for the glory of God.

354 Respect for laws inscribed in creation and the relations which derive from the nature of things is a principle of wisdom and a foundation for morality.

 

   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   

 

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