This lesson is based on the text, Life in Christ: A Catholic Catechism for Adults, by Rev. Gerard Weber and Rev. James Killgallon (Acta Publications, 1995). The question in bold type is followed by a short answer taken from the text. The text in italics is another answer from the RCIA teacher, Jim Collins. Hyperlinks in red will direct you to documents or websites related to the topic. The entire sequence of lessons forms a comprehensive approach to basic RCIA instruction.
Preparation: Opening Prayer
Song: Blest Be the Lord
Blest be the Lord: blest be the Lord, the God of mercy, the God who saves. I shall not fear the dark of night, nor the arrow that flies by day. He will release me from the nets of sinful men. He will protect me from their wicked hands. Beneath the shadow of His wings I will rejoice to find a dwelling place secure. I need not shrink before the terrors of the night, nor stand alone before the light of day. No harm shall come to me, no arrow strike me down, no evil settle in my soul. Although a thousand men have fallen at my side, I'll not be shaken with the Lord at hand. His faithful love is all the armor that I need to wage my battle with the foe.
Proclamation: Scripture: John: 14:6-7, 9-11
OUR FATHER PRAYER EXPLAINED
How can we speak of God? In human (inadequate) language. God transcends all creatures and our language is imperfect—limited, too imaginative, too imperfect—to express the mystery of God.
Why is God called “the Father”? He is the Father of all human persons. Gn 1:27
What does it mean to call God “Father”? This is the language of faith. He is neither male nor female. Is 66 and Ps 131 express the female traits of God. He shows us His parental love when: (1) He provides for the needs of his children; (2) He loves us so much that he sent his Son to save us; (3) He has shared his life with all people.
How do we know that God exists? From our observation of the world around us and by the use of reason. (1) Observation: To explain the beauty and magnificence of nature. We conclude that only a living, intelligent being could have created the universe; (2) Reason: The call of our own consciences lead us to reason that there is more to our existence and to life in general than meets the eye.
Has God told us of his existence? In the Bible, the Sacred Scriptures: Adam and Eve, Noah, Abraham, Moses, Jesus.
What has God revealed about himself? He is spirit: one limitless, almighty, all-knowing spirit who cares for and sustains all things which he has created. From the Bible we see that: (a) God is love (1 Jn 4:16); (b) God is all good (creation, sharing his happiness); (c) God shares his divine life with us (Jn 17:23); (d) God loves all people and wills that we be saved (Jn 3:16 God so loved the world…); (e) God is all-merciful: crucifixion, resurrection; (f) God is all knowing Heb 4:13 …everything is naked and exposed to the eyes of him..; (g) God is just: Rm 2:7-8…eternal life to those who persevere in good works…; (h) God is infinite: Ps 93.. you are from everlasting; (i) God is unchangeable (Jas 1:17…no shadow caused by change); (j) God is eternal: Jn 8:58…before Abraham came to be, I AM…; (k) God is all-powerful: creation; (l) God is everywhere: Ps 139…if I ascend to the heavens, you are there…
What about Matthew 3:9: "And call no man your father on earth, for you have one Father, who is in heaven." Jesus uses hyperbole to post a warning that no one should pridefully desire honorific titles. His words are not meant literally. The new Testament writers elsewhere use father for natural fathers (Heb 12:7-11) and spiritual fathers in the Church (1 Cor 4:15; Philem 10). The spiritual fatherhood of New Covenant priests is an extension of its application to Old Covenant priests (Judg 17:10; 18:19) [from Ignatius Catholic Study Bible, New Testament, p. 48]
THE GIFT OF DIVINE LIFE
What does God want for us? For us to be happy, sharing the divine life.
Does the divine life make us divine? In the sense that we share in the divine life.
Why is the ultimate happiness called supernatural? Because we cannot merit or earn it—above natural.
How does a sinner gain such happiness? Through the grace of the Holy Spirit we are justified. Justification takes away sin and sanctifies the entire person. God invites the sinner to be made holy. (St. Dismas)
What does “adopted child” of God mean? We are made in the image and likeness of God (intellect, free will). By God’s grace our interior is transformed into the likeness of God.
What is the grace of the Holy Spirit? Grace is a gift (favor) freely given by God. It is a participation in God’s very life, our sharing in the intimacy of the Trinity. It is the source of our becoming holy or sanctified.
Does that mean we have no choice about being holy? Our free will is needed for it to be effective.
How do Christians experience the mystery of grace? In the sacramental life of the Church and in special gifts (charisms) of the Spirit.
Are we able to know whether we “have grace”? We can never be certain of grace except by observing our own good actions and those of others.
Prayer: Hail, Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee; blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death. Amen.