Symbolon #1: The Journey of Faith

We have now started the Symbolon series again. The 1st episode begins with the journey of faith that delves into the heart of the teachings of the Catholic faith. Some things we may already be familiar with but somethings may be very new. We start of with fundamentals like the Creed , the statement of belief that lies at the heart of the faith and the Trinity, the great mystery of the one God who exist as three persons.

“We pray that this journey be full of spiritual evolution and clarity and may we continue to grow stronger in our faith- Amen”

The longest journey begins with a single step- a step of faith.
Psalm 139

  • So how do we grow in faith ? The first thing is just relax.. No matter where you are in your spiritual life, God reveals His plan to you day to day . Trust that God knows where you are.
  • How do we trust God? It is a pilgrimage because there will be challenges in life. But the struggle must occur, the journey must begin with a step of faith.
  • God became one of us: we call this the incarnation. Treat God like a friend who you want to get close to and give to you- love, care , change, seeing things differently (conversion) , talking ,work hard at something , discipline – be a disciple. Community .

Who is God ? Why did he make us? He freely chose to create us to share in his blessed life. He made us from love and with love, the Holy Trinity, a communion of love. So we can share in his blessed life. At every moment he calls us to seek him and know him. God is love.

God is a Trinity of persons – the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. God is all knowing. God is love. Everything we share with him is faith.

“A good concrete illustration of the Blessed trinity is an equilateral triangle. Such a triangle has three sides equal in every way, and yet distinct from each other. There are three sides, but only one triangle. As we see in this illustration, each Divine Person is different from the other two, but all three are God. Each one is God, distinct from the two others, and yet one with them. The three Persons are equal in every way, with one nature and one substance: three Divine Persons, but only one God.”

  • The Father is God and the First Person of the Blessed Trinity. Omnipotence, and especially the work of creation, is attributed to God the Father.God the Father could have created millions of beings instead of you yourself; but He chose you out of a love wholly undeserved, saying, “I have loved thee with an everlasting love” (Jer. 31:3)
  • The Son is God and the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity. To God the Son we owe our redemption from sin and eternal death; by His death He gave us life.For us God the Son debased Himself, taking the form of a servant, … “becoming obedient to death, even to death on a cross” (Phil. 2:8). In Holy Communion we are united with Him, for He Himself said; “He who eats my flesh, and drinks my blood, abides in me and I in him” (John 6:57). In return we should be “other Christs,” and, as the Apostle urged, “walk even as He walked.”
  • The Holy Ghost is God and the Third Person of the Blessed Trinity. He manifests Himself in us particularly in our sanctification. The word “Ghost” applied to the Third Person means “Spirit.”At our Baptism God the Holy Ghost purifies us from all sin and fills our souls with divine grace, so that we become truly children of God, sons and heirs, and co-heirs with Jesus Christ. By Baptism we become living temples of the Holy Ghost: “Or do you not know that your members are the temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you?” (1 Cor. 6:19).In return for such benefits we should make our body the instrument for the glory of God, keeping it from all stain of sin, adorning it with virtues. “Glorify God and bear him in your body” (1 Cor. 6:20). Let us keep our souls a sanctuary for the Holy Spirit, that God may be happy to dwell in us.

What does “Catholic” Mean?
The Greek roots of the term “Catholic” mean “according to (kata-) the whole (holos),” or more colloquially, “universal.” At the beginning of the second century, we find in the letters of Ignatius the first surviving use of the term “Catholic” in reference to the Church. At that time, or shortly thereafter, it was used to refer to a single, visible communion, separate from others.

What Does “Symbolon” Mean?

When we go on a journey, we want to make sure we are going in the right direction. In our walk with God, how do we know that we are following what Jesus and his apostles really taught? The way the early Christians did this was by developing a short statement of faith called the Creed, which summed up core Christian beliefs that had been passed on to them.

This creed served as a sign of unity between believers, connecting them with the beliefs of the early Church. The Christians described their creed as a symbolon. Now, this term symbolon may seem ancient and somewhat mysterious, but I can’t think of another concept that more beautifully describes the importance of the Creed and what it means to us today.

The Greek word symbolon often described a clay seal that was broken in half and given to two people, serving as a sign of recognition between them. For example, if I left a valuable possession or made a financial deposit with a shopkeeper, we would break the seal and he would keep one half and I would take the other. When the two pieces were drawn together and matched up perfectly, it confirmed both my identity as the true owner and my relationship with the shopkeeper.

So when Christians described their creed as a symbolon, they meant that it was a sign of Christian identity and communion between all believers. When the creed you recited matched up with the Creed of the early Church, you could know with confidence that you were sharing in the same faith proclaimed by Jesus and the apostles.

What is Faith?
Belief is an aspect of faith . But faith is something supernatural and is a gift from God . Accepting from your intellect God’s revelation and teachings and carrying it out in the will both together is faith.

The Our Father

The Our Father is the only prayer that Jesus himself taught his disciples (Mt 6:9-13; Lk 11:2-4). It came about at the request of one of Jesus’ disciples, who saw his Master praying and wanted to learn from Jesus himself how to pray correctly. That is why the Our Father is also called “the Lord’s Prayer”. Christians of all Christian denominations pray it daily, both in the liturgy and privately. The conclusion, “For thine is the kingdom … ” is mentioned as early as the “Teaching of the Twelve Apostles” (Didache, ca. A.D. 150), and so it can be added to the Our Father.

The Our Father consists of seven petitions to our merciful Father in heaven which can be divided into 3 main sections:

1. Praise and thanksgiving: The first three petitions relate to God and the right way of serving him – Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name, thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.

The last four petitions present our basic human needs to our Father in heaven.
2. Supplication: Give us this day our daily bread..
3. Forgiveness: ….and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us; and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.

The Our Father is “the most perfect prayer” (St. Thomas Aquinas) and the “summary of the whole Gospel” (Tertullian). The Our Father is more than a prayer – it is a path that leads directly into the heart of our Father. The early Christians recited this original prayer of the Church, which is entrusted to every Christian at Baptism, three times a day. We, too, should not let a day pass without trying to recite the Lord’s Prayer with our lips, to take it to heart, and to make it come true in our lives.

What is love?

Love in its purest form gives itself and does not need to receive. The starting point of love is – truth. When love is devoid of truth it’s sentimental, it’s emotional and it’s a conspiracy. When you tell someone the truth without love, it’s arrogant. We are called to love the sinner but hate the sin. God who is infinitely perfect freely chose to create us out of his love and goodness so we can share in his precious life. Our hearts are restless until they rest in him.

In Cardinal Levada’s glossary, charity (or love) is defined as, “The theological virtue by which we love God above all things for his own sake, and our neighbor as ourselves for the love of God.” Paul tells us that love is the greatest of the theological virtues: “So faith, hope, love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love” (1 Cor. 13:13).

Our Sunday Visitor’s Catholic Encyclopedia entry on “Love” defines it as: Any strong affection, closeness, or devotion to things or persons. The Greeks distinguished four types of love: storge, philia, eros, and agape.

  • Storge, familial love, is a word for the bond that exists between one who loves and persons, animals, and the things that surround him. It is compatible with quite a bit of taken-for-grantedness or even of hatred at times.
  • Philia pertains to friends, freely chosen because of mutual compatibility and common values.
  • Eros is passion, not only of a sexual nature, but also of an aesthetic or spiritual nature, for what is conceived of as supremely beautiful and desirable.
  • Agapic love is manifested when one person has much to give to another more needy. It is generous self-donation without concern for reward.

Such distinctions become especially important in discernment about marriage, because the strength of eros love may blind one to the absence of the types of love needed to experience a good Christian bond that, with God’s grace, can endure “till death do us part.”

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