Why Believe?

In every soul, there is a deep thirst for God. In the lifelong search for happiness, love, and truth, the ultimate answer is found only in God. This quest for God is universal, expressed in one form or another, throughout the history of humanity. Whether recognized or not, we are created as spiritual beings by and for God. "It is He who gives to everyone life and breath and everything… so that people might seek God, even perhaps grope for Him and find Him, though indeed He is not far from any one of us. For 'In him we live and move and have our being'." (Acts 17.25,27,28)

The evidence of God's existence is all around us and within us. God's signature is present in the intricate order and beauty of all of His creation, and particularly in humanity, which has been created "in His image" (Genesis 1.26). The natural law, the instinctive sense of what is right and true for those with a clear conscience, gives testimony to the existence of the higher moral order of God. The realization that each of us participates in a larger spiritual reality, without beginning or end, becomes apparent through reason and experience.

The natural understanding of the mortal being is limited by what the senses can perceive and is constrained within the finite bounds of time in which it exists. We know that "no one has ever seen God" (1 John 4.12) and that He is not constrained by time, as He said: "I am God, yes, from eternity I am He." (Isaiah 43.12-13) It is only by the gift of faith, which is freely bestowed on us by His Spirit, that we are able to believe in Him whom we cannot see. St. Paul explained: "We look not to what is seen but to what is unseen; for what is seen is transitory, but what is unseen is eternal." (2 Corinthians 4.18)

Man is capable of coming to some knowledge of the existence of God through the natural power of human reasoning. However, human reason is limited by its finite capacity to perceive the Infinite God. Language and knowledge - products of human reason - are by nature limited in their ability to express the mystery of the Infinite God. Out of love for His creatures, God chose to reveal Himself to us gradually through history, ultimately revealing Himself fully in the Person of Jesus Christ through the power of the Holy Spirit. At the moment of the Incarnation of Jesus Christ, the Infinite became finite and the Unseen became visible flesh, that humanity may see and know the Living Word of God. "And the Word became flesh and made His dwelling among us, and we saw His glory, the glory as of the Father's only Son, full of grace and truth." (John 1.14)

The history of God's revelation to His people is recorded in the Scriptures. The Spirit inspired the authors of the Scriptures, and the Word is interpreted under the inspiration of the same Spirit. St Paul explains: "We have not received the spirit of the world but the Spirit that is from God, so that we may understand the things freely given us by God. And we speak about them not with words taught by human wisdom, but with words taught by the Spirit, describing spiritual realities in spiritual terms." (1 Corinthians 2.12-13)

The living Tradition of faith, as initially transmitted through the example and teaching of the Apostles to the early Church, has been entrusted to the Church through all generations until the end of time. The responsibility of stewardship for this sacred Tradition includes the proper interpretation of sacred Scripture as guided by the Holy Spirit. St. Peter explains: "Know this first of all, that there is no prophecy of scripture that is a matter of personal interpretation, for no prophecy ever came through human will; but rather human beings moved by the Holy Spirit spoke under the influence of God." (2 Peter 1.20-21) Tradition and Scripture flow from the same Spirit and together they reveal God to His people. Over time, the people of God grow in their degree of understanding Him, penetrating ever more deeply into the knowledge of His infinite mysteries.

This poem expresses the search for God and His revelation to His people.

He Is Revealed

Within each soul, a deep yearning
For love and truth is firmly placed;
Through one's reason and discerning,
God's existence can be embraced.

Yet how can the finite reason
Of frail creatures purely perceive
The truth of God - Infinite One,
Or render the means to believe?

God chooses to Himself reveal
His presence to those who will hear;
His Spirit of Truth will appeal
To our spirits as we draw near.

Through Scripture, the inspired Word,
And Tradition of faith that's shared,
The seeds of faith in God's conferred
To hearts whom the Spirit's prepared.

From carnal creatures, He's concealed;
In Spirit and truth, He's revealed.

Holy Spirit, open our eyes
And minds to see that truth and love
Converge in Christ, and to realize
Our existence flows from above. Amen.


New American Bible - Catholic Edition

Catechism of the Catholic Church,
Paragraphs 26 - 54, 65 - 100

Pope Benedict XVI, Introduction to Christianity,
© 2004 Ignatius Press, San Francisco, p. 50-54

prepared by:

Paul Buis

(c) Paul Buis, 2005