Divine Masterplan For Life
Introduction

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Glory To The Father
 

Our life on earth is an uninterrupted chain of initiatives from God encouraging us to respond to his ever-present love.  We are invited to accept and respond to our lover through our thoughts, words and actions.  His sends His invitation to love him through daily circumstances, our surroundings, persons of his choosing and the events and circumstances in our life.

We know God loves us since He made us.

Being formed in our mother's womb is proof enough that our intended future is one with him in heaven.  Without the reward of heaven, our life is meaningless and the trials we endure merely become a cruel joke.

God does not force us to love him.  He who has created the earth heavens from nothing has not removed himself from its workings to allow humans to follow their own pleasures.  He does not demand unquestioning obedience through a reign of terror imposed on all whom a self-proclaimed despot may choose. 

God is not one of the gods of unbelievers.

He is a loving God, and we are his children not his equal.  He does not require or force us to love him.  Our love is not necessary for him to exist.  Our love adds nothing to him, nor completes him in his divinity.  He is total and complete perfection in all things.

Then why have we been formed in the womb and allowed to live on earth?

Our purpose in life is to share in his life, his love, his happiness.  By learning of him, loving him, and doing what he asks of us, we prove that we love him.  When we die faithful to his love, he welcomes us into his eternal presence never again to taste death.

Has God intended everyone to share in eternal life with him?

Yes!  The reason we are born is that we now have the opportunity to prove we love God.

But some say there is no God and there is no real evidence this supreme being exists.  Is there proof for the existence of God?

How Do We Know There Is A God.

The place of science and all disciplines is to discover God as the source and summit of all creation, both spiritually and materially.  At times we are like children who believe when we discovered something previously unexplained, we are responsible for its very existence.  In reality, the whole process of its creation, structure and its nature has not come from the fact of our discovering its existence, but from the fact of the existence of an uncreated superior being who exists before creation. Therefore, this superior being is the first cause for all other causes.   

In our world there are things which have not existed, but now do, and will in turn pass out of existence, such as plants and animals.  These material things will die, there must be a superior being which does not depend upon others for its existence.  It must have always existed. 

The things of nature contain within themselves a certain perfection, which when studied more carefully, reveals a wonderful perfection limited to that particular object.  While we rightly admire the particular beauty of a flower, a vista of nature, or the boundless complexity of the human person, we at the same time must realize that these particular perfections must reside completely and totally in a superior being with an intelligence far beyond our own. 

Finally, useful things are designed for a purpose which is conceived by their designer.  The parts of a car individually do not make up a car, but when they function properly together, we say a car has been created.  The human being with his intelligence is not the source of all intelligence.  There must exist a superior being whose intelligence was not acquired from another and which is far beyond our own.   

Paul says in the Acts of the Apostles, "The God who made the world and all that is in it, the Lord of heaven and earth, does not dwell in sanctuaries made by human hands, nor is he served by human hands because he needs anything.  Rather, it is he who gives to everyone life and breath and everything.  He made from one the whole human race to dwell on the entire surface of the earth, and he fixed the ordered seasons and the boundaries of their regions, 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." (Acts 17:24-27)

There are two fundamental views of reality.  One view centers upon God, the other centers upon matter.  The God-centered view is based upon the Bible accounts which tell the reader there is but one God who is creator.  The Bible accounts draw certain basic conclusions from the fact there is one creator God and not multiple gods.  These are:

●  God alone created the world, not a demiurge; the world did not emanate from God by a natural process; it is not identical with Him in nature.

● 
By His spirit and His word God called the world into existence; He alone is almighty and omniscient.

●  God existed prior to the world, and its beginning.

●  Stars, plants and animals may not be offered veneration as divine since they too were created.

●  The visible things about us are part of God's great plan of salvation; they are "good".

●  Man is the crown of creation because he bears the divine likeness within him.

●  God first made one man and one woman and destined them for monogamous marriage.
      -  Woman is sexually different from man
      -  Woman is equal in status with man
      -  Man and woman should be joined to one another in love
      -  Marriage is by nature monogamous and can never be dissolved
      -  Man is the head of the family

●  The earth was made and equipped for man's benefit, he owes God gratitude and acts as its steward.

●  Man is duty bound to sanctify the Sabbath by abstaining from work.

●  Satan is opposed to man.

The second view places the power to create upon matter and conjectures that over a long period of time matter has evolved from simple structures into the more complex we experience today. 

Since we know that God exists, has he revealed something about his nature and our future?

Yes he has, what he has revealed is found in The Deposit of Faith.

The Deposit of Faith contains the religious truths contained in the Old Testament and those given by Christ to the Apostles and passed through their successors.  The Deposit of Faith is composed of three parts.

Part One of the Deposit of Faith - Scripture

Scripture is divided into two time periods:  The Old Testament which was in writing at the time of the Apostles, and the New Testament which was written by them.  Both of these parts of Scripture are found in one source called the Bible.

The Bible is. . .

. . . the Catholic Church's official list of sacred writings in the Old and New Testaments.  These writings have been collected into 73 books which reveal God's plan to draw all people to himself in heaven.  While they were written by men in their own styles, the religious messages they contain were inspired by the Holy Spirit and therefore free from religious error.

. . . not a book of scientific matters.  It never crosses over into the field of science to make statements on scientific aspects relating to the origin of living beings, even of men.  But one thing is clear, man is man because of his mind, not his body.  It was spirit which transformed the living organism into a rational being.  To date, no significant links have been found which bridge the gap between man and animals to give clear evidence that the human body is the last phase in a long evolutionary process.  The human race is clearly begun with Adam, the first formed father of the world, and Eve, the mother of all the living.  Science generally agrees that the human race appeared with uniform characteristics at a specific time and in a definite place, and the Bible makes no reference to pre-Adamites.

Various ways to read and interpret the Bible

The Fundamentalist Approach

A popular way to read the Bible today is called the fundamentalist, or word-for-word literalistic approach.  Those who adhere to this view insist on taking every phrase, description and text of the Bible literally; that is, word for word as they appear in the text.  This approach often gains favor when a society increases in complexity; people tend to look for easy solutions to difficult problems.  Possibly, this approach misunderstands the concept of “word of God.”  Certainly, this approach creates more problems than it solves.

Those who read the Bible using the fundamentalist approach often fail to take into account the changes that language undergoes through usage.  For example, the word “nice” has generally pleasant connotations to us today, but in the Middle English usage (the 12th to the 15th centuries) it meant “foolish.”  Besides, the idea to be communicated is more important than the words chosen to express it.  Consider the account in the beginning of the Book of Genesis which describes the creation of the world.  Who was physically present to record all the events if we are to follow the creation account literally?

In the 1940s’, Pope Pius XII condemned fundamentalism as a refusal to understand the Scriptures.  “It is possible,” he said, “that people using this approach will limit rather seriously their depth of understanding of the Scriptures, and may end up with more questions than answers.”

The Historical Approach

Some try to read the Old Testament as they would a book of history, expecting that the historical information can be accurately proven by the science of archeology.  But the Bible deals with oral accounts of creation, and the beginnings of humanity for which the Church takes no binding position outside of the belief in a supreme transcendent God who made something from nothing.  Even some Bible accounts of dates and locations of early battles have been found to conflict with each other.  Still, the accounts should not be dismissed because of these apparent errors since the oral traditions themselves contain religious truths which are to be understood. 

Finally, archeology which studies past human life as revealed by relics and the artifacts used by earlier peoples, often provides new evidence which supports the religious message of the account.    

The Scientific Approach

While this is not really an approach to the study of Scripture at all, the scientific approach tries to understand one’s life and environment by using observable measurable data.  This view says that whenever science and the Bible contradict one another, preference must be given to the scientific explanation.  One obvious problem to this approach is that an investigation into the meaning of the scriptural passage in question is ignored. 

This approach sets up an unfair comparison between two different studies, like comparing apples and oranges.  While someone may reject a biblical view in favor of a scientific approach in order to eliminate some of the biblical problems, it does nothing to solve them.  If someone were to read the creation account from this point of view, he would reject the entire account found in the Bible.

The Critical/ Literal Approach

This attempts to take the Bible on its own terms instead of those we create for it.    The people who use the critical approach try to get behind the written records in an attempt to study the politics, cultures, and circumstances surrounding the formation of the biblical account.  They try to discern the many oral traditions that predate the written account, and how the various strands of tradition were woven together and edited into a section of a biblical story.

Those who wrote the Bible thought of their readers as people of their own time and culture.  Those who utilize the critical/literal approach try to determine what the biblical authors were saying to the people of their own time.  When we find  what that message was, we will better understand how that message applies to our lives and conditions today.  This is one approach endorsed by the Catholic Church.

The Bible is a book of religious truths, not scientific ones.  It is here that we find God's revelations about himself, and his plan to draw everyone into his presence. 

The Deposit of Faith contains the religious truths contained in the Old Testament and those given by Christ to the Apostles and passed through their successors.  It is composed of three parts.

The Old Testament

The first 46 books of the Old Testament in the Bible records events occurring before the birth of Christ.  These divinely inspired writings record how God gathered the Jewish people through whom his promises were completed.  When seen in the light of Christ's redemption message in the New Testament, the meaning of the Old Testament is fully revealed.

Commandments (Ten Words)

God spoke directly to Moses, and gave his chosen people certain rules for life which were pleasing to him:

I.          I am the Lord your God, you shall not have strange gods before me.

II.         You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain.

III.        Remember to keep holy the Sabbath Day.

IV.       Honor your father and your mother.

V.        You shall not kill.

VI.       You shall not commit adultery.

VII.      You shall not steal.

VIII.     You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.

IX.       You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife.

X.        You shall not covet your neighbor’s goods.

The  New Testament

The first 27 books of the New Testament in the Bible records how God's promises were completed through the life, death and resurrection of the Messiah, Jesus Christ.  These divinely inspired books set down the word of God as was revealed to the prophets and apostles by the Holy Spirit.  They preach the Gospel, increase faith in Jesus Christ and gather the Church together.  In the New Testament, the message contained in the Old Testament is made clear.  

Part Two of the Deposit of Faith - Tradition

Tradition

Includes all doctrine revealed in Scripture taught by Christ to the Apostles, passed through their successors and explained in the teaching of the Church.  It may be found in dogmas, declarations, encyclicals, sermons and writings.  Divine revelation is presented in the Bible and is interpreted through Tradition.  Tradition is the sum of the teachings of the Catholic Church.

Evidence which shows the Gospel accounts are accurate

  1. Events were witnessed by many people and accepted as true by all.
  2. The Christian leaders were convinced of its truth and were martyred for their faith.  Non-Christians converted, suffered persecution and even died for their faith.
  3. Pagan authorities tried to destroy the original documents.
  4. The Apostolic Fathers, (disciples and students of the apostles living between years 70 – 150) often quoted from the original Gospel accounts.
  5. The content is the same today as when originally written.

Part Three of The Deposit of Faith - Magisterium

Magisterium is the authority given by Christ to the apostles and their successors to teach and judge orthodoxy free from error.

Church

An assembly of people, whom God’s word has called, when nourished with the Body of Christ, becomes the Body of Christ.  It is the primary guardian of the truths revealed by God the Father and Christ.  Using the authority given to it by Christ to teach, it presents to us both the revealed truths found in the Scriptures, and those passed faithfully through the Apostles to their successors.

1.  Authority given to the pope as successor of Peter and head of the Church.

2.  To the bishops as successors of the Apostles acting in conformity with the pope as head of the Church. 

3.  The bishops are assisted in their work by theologians, priests, religious, lay teachers and all Church members by their good example.

4.  The Pope speaks infallibly (Unable to error in matters of faith and morals) in four areas.

            Extra-Ordinary

                        a.  Ex Cathedra – pope speaks on his own authority as head of the Church.

                        b.  Universal bishops in union with the pope – councils.

            Ordinary

                        a.  Encyclicals – papal letters.

                        b.  Frequently repeating the same doctrine – as teacher.

-   Six steps to show the Church was founded by Christ and that it teaches his message.

Test #1  Did Christ really exist?
Evidence:  Many references exist written by disinterested non-Christian witnesses.  These tell of the birth, life, mission and death of the person called the Christ.             

Test #2  He claimed to be divine.
Evidence:  First, based upon the Gospel accounts which have been shown to be accurate, Christ repeated told his followers, "I am the Father are one."  Second, his claim of divinity was recognized on the evening of his trial by the high priest who declared, "You have now heard the blasphemy; .... He deserves to die!" (Mat 27:65-66)

Test #3  He proved he was divine.
Evidence: Numberless miracles (setting aside the laws of nature to cause a healing), restoring sight to the blind (Jn 9:1-41), curing leprosy (Mk 1:40-42), calming the sea (Mk 4:37-40), raising the paralytic (Mt 9:2-6), forgiving sins (Mt 9:2-6), feeding the crowds of his followers (Lk 9:12-17), restoring life to the dead (Lk 7:13-16; Jn11:38-44), and himself rising from the dead (Mt 28:1-10).

Test #4  He gathered an inner circle of followers.
Evidence:  Appointed and named his 12 apostles. (Mk 3:13-19)

Test #5  He told them to teach all nations.
Evidence:  "Baptize and teach what I have commanded you." (Mt 28:16-20) 

Test #6  He told them he would send the Holy Spirit who would guide them in all spiritual matters.
Evidence:  Then he opened their minds to understand the scriptures." (Lk 24:45-49)

We know God loves us since he made us.  We show God that we love him when we give him our love.  But we are his children not his equal, and God does not require or force us to love him.  Our love is not necessary for God to exist.  It does not build him up or make him more perfect since by nature God is total and completely perfect.  Our love adds nothing to his greatness because he is perfect in all ways.   

Then why have we been created? 
To prove to God that we love him.

Why must we prove to God that we love him? 

We have been given a free will which allows us to make choices.  When our choices are motivated by love for God and in accord with His commands, we cooperate with His love.  We have been promised eternal life when we die faithful to God's love.

II.  Life as a Child of God
W
hen in the state of grace (son-ship with God), we increase in grace (God’s life), through:
a.  Prayer – to lift the heart and mind to God privately or with others.
b.  Good works – performed desiring the well-being of another.
c.  Valid reception and cooperation with the graces of the Sacraments, especially Holy Eucharist.

            Sacraments were instituted by Christ’s sanctified words and actions.
                The life of God earned for us by Christ’s Redemptive act comes to us through the Church’s Sacraments. 
                The Sacraments strengthen us and build up the Body of Christ.

            Sacraments act ex opere operato (by the action being performed).
            The Sacraments form three groups as determined by their nature and effect.
                Initiation – The person enter more intimately into the life of Christ.
                    Baptism
                    -     Removes Original Sin.
                    -
     A permanent mark is placed on the soul.
                    -
     The person may receive the other sacraments.
                    Holy Eucharist
                    -     The actual Body and Blood of Christ.
                    -
     The person enters into an Intimate union with Christ.
                    -
     The person is strengthened physically and spiritually.
                    Confirmation
                    -     The person receives the Holy Spirit and full membership in Christ's church.
                Healing –  The person is strengthened spiritually and physically.
                    Reconciliation (Penance)
                    -     Cleanses the soul of sin and its punishment.
                    Anointing the Sick
                    -     Strength in times of emotional or physical need.
                 Service - Strength is given to carry out one’s particular state in life.
                    Matrimony
                    -     Helps one to fulfill the duties of married life to the spouse, children and family.
                    Holy Orders
                    -     Helps one to fulfill their duties as servant to all God’s people.

Proper use of the Sacramentals - Meaning

Sacramentals are part of the sign language of the Church’s liturgy (worship), and are available to us to increase our holiness.  The holy prayer of the Church is always pleasing to God.  When we join ourselves to these prayers we profit according to our generosity.

Sacramentals prepare us to receive and apply the sanctifying effects of the Sacraments.  Sacramentals are signs instituted by the Church through which the Church obtains grace for us because of her priestly intercession to God.  Sacramentals signify favors obtained through the Church’s intercession ex opera operantes ecclesia (by the action of the Church’s prayer).           

Through the Sacramentals, the Church brings all created things into the orbit of God’s blessing, and touches everything with the grace merited through Christ’s Redemption, making material things and persons instruments and channels of the grace of God.

A.   Increase in the Life of God - Virtues
       Natural Virtues -
Ways of acting which we can accomplish ourselves for our own physical and mental well-being.
         1)   Physical Skills -  For a sound body.
         2)   Mental Skills -  For a sound mind.
       Supernatural Virtues -  Are helps for acting in ways not possible using the Natural Virtues alone.
                                           -  These are gifts from God for our spiritual well-being.
        1)   Theological Virtues - These are gifts from God for our spiritual well-being.
              
Habits of thought and action which have God as their object.  Through the perfecting power of God’s grace, we are motivated toward    
               attitudes above those which are merely natural.  God’s supernatural life encourages us toward actions inspired by:
              a)   Faith - To firmly believe all the truths God has revealed, on the Word of God revealing them, because he can neither deceive nor be
                                deceived.
              b)   Hope - To trust that God will provide the means for our salvation.
              c)  Charity - Completed through the Corporal and Spiritual works of Mercy.
                                 -
To love God with your whole heart and mind, our neighbor as ourselves out of love for God.
                   (1)   Corporal Works of Mercy - Works of Charity for my neighbor’s physical well-being. 
                           I must feed the hungry.
                           I must give drink to the thirsty.
                           I must clothe the naked.
                           I must shelter the homeless.
                           I must visit the sick.
                           I must visit the imprisoned.
                           I must bury the dead.
                   (2)   Spiritual Works of Mercy - Spiritual Works of Mercy for my neighbor’s spiritual well-being.
                           I must counsel the doubtful.
                           I must instruct the ignorant.
                           I must admonish the sinner.
                           I must comfort the sorrowful.
                           I must forgive injuries.
                           I must bear wrongs patiently.
                           I must pray for the living and the dead.
        2)   Moral Virtues (Cardinal – most important)
              
We deal with other persons and things as directed by our love of God, in cooperation with his grace, and according to his will.
               a)   Prudence
                    
Helps a person decide what is truly good.
               b)   Justice
                    
Helps a person give each person what he is due.
               c)   Fortitude
                    
Helps a person overcome difficulties in doing good and avoiding evil.
               d)  Temperance
                    
Helps me to be moderate in the use of food, drink and legitimate pleasures.
               e)  Additional Virtues
                    
Patriotism - the love of one's country.
                     Filial Piety - respect as a child of God to God the Father, our parents, those in authority.
                     Obedience - respect for legitimate authority.
                     Veracity - truthfulness
                     Liberality - generosity
                     Patience - self control
                     Humility - appreciation of and external expression of one's true position with respect to God and one's neighbor.
                     Purity - to avoid indulgence in and voluntary pleasure stemming from the sexual appetite among single persons, and right reason
                                 in the case of married persons.

2.   Gifts of the Holy Spirit
      G
iven to us as He dwells in our soul prompting us to be holy.
      a.   Wisdom
           
Helps a person find joy in the things of God and judge everything according to God’s standards.
      b.   Understanding
           
Helps a person grasp and appreciate the mysteries of God’s love for us.
      c.   Counsel
           
Helps a person see what is best for the glory of God, for his and his neighbor’s salvation.   It is Supernatural common sense.
      d.   Fortitude
           
Strengthens a person face the evils he dreads.
      e.   Knowledge
           
Helps a person recognize the value of created things as they point toward God.
      f.    Piety
           
Helps a person love and respect God out of love rather than duty.
      g.   Fear of the Lord
           
Helps a person respect and follow God’s laws rather than out of fear.

3.   Fruits of the Holy Spirit
      A
ttitudes resulting from cooperating with the Gifts of the Holy Spirit which encourage us to practice:
      Charity – helps a person perform actions driven by love for God and neighbor.
      Joy - helps a person serve God cheerfully.
      Peace - keeps the mind untroubled in the face of spiritual or worldly trials.
      Patience - helps a person bear the trials of this life instead of giving way to sadness.
      Benignity - kindness.
      Goodness - perfects the person since he reflects the love of God.
      Long-suffering - helps a person patiently endure the spirituals and worldly trials of life.
      Mildness - gentleness but not involving softness.
      Faith - reliance upon the truth of God's revelations.
      Modesty - temperance and moderation according to the circumstances as approved by a pure heart.
      Continency - restraining from strong sexual desires.
      Chastity - control of the sexual appetite in the case of single persons and according to right reason between married persons.

4.   Beatitudes
      C
hrist told us how we are to act in order to show our love for him and thus gain the Kingdom of Heaven.
      a.   Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven.
      b.   Blessed are the meek, for they shall possess the land.
      c.   Blessed are they that mourn, for they shall be comforted.
      d.   Blessed are they that hunger and thirst after justice, for they shall be filled.
      e.   Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy.
      f.    Blessed are the clean of heart, for they shall see God.
      g.   Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the children of God.
      h.   Blessed are they that suffer persecution for justice sake, for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven.

B.  Decrease in the Life of God
     1.   Original Sin     
           S
een in our present human condition.
           a.   Origin
                
The result of our first parent’s original sin of pride.
           b.   Effects
                
Suffering, Ignorance, Strong inclination to sin, Death.
           c.   Removal
                
Through the Sacrament of Baptism.
     2.   Actual Sins
           A
ny willful thought, desire, word, action or omission which rejects God’s love.
           a.   Capital Sins
                
The chief kinds of Actual Sins we are tempted to commit.
                  1)   Pride – Overly high opinion of oneself.
                  2)   Covetousness – Desire for more than one needs or deserves.
                  3)   Lust – Desire to overly please and gratify one’s body’s senses.
                  4)   Anger – The emotion caused by belief of a person wronged, or failure by others to respect one’s person or property for selfish reasons.                    5)   Gluttony – To eat more than one needs for good health.
                  6)   Envy – Feeling of ill will or hatred because of another’s seeming advantages or possessions.
                  7)   Sloth – To be satisfied with inaction, to do no work, or exert any effort.
           b.   Venial Sin
                  1)   Cause
                           G
od’s love is rejected and his law broken in a less serious way. 
                           Without full knowledge of the seriousness or without full consent of the will.
                  2)   Effect
                           D
ecreases God’s grace love (life) in our soul.
                           Weakens our resistance to more serious sins.
                           Causes a debt of punishment which must be removed either now on earth or in purgatory before we are invited into God’s     
                                presence in heaven.
                  3)   Removal
                          R
eception of Holy Eucharist, Confession, Prayer, Fasting, Good works.
           c.    Mortal Sin
                  1)   Cause
 
                         An evil thought, desire, word, deed or omission which is:
                          a)  Seriously wrong.
                          b)  The person must know it is seriously wrong.
                          c)  The person must fully consent to the wrong.
                    2)   Effects
                          a)  Removes God’s presence (love and life) from the soul.
                          b)  Takes away the merits of all good actions.
                          c)  Prevents us from gaining new merit for heaven.
                          d)  If a mortal sin is consciously and freely committed, and there is no remorse or sorrow for the action,
                               at the time of one's death, the person's choice to reject God is honored for eternity.
                    3)   Removal
                               Catholic - V
alid reception of the Sacrament of Reconciliation (Penance).
                               Non-Catholic - True sorrow for the wrong committed and the desire to make reparation.