The Family Picnic & Catechesis this afternoon was blessed with fine weather and a good score of children. Lunch was followed for the little ones with making figures of various saints for an edifying puppet show.
Meanwhile the catechism sessions investigated the proofs for the existence of God, the fact that we can know with certainty that God exists, and that thanks to His Self-Revelation we can gain knowledge of Who He Is. These topics are summarised in the Catechism of the Catholic Church, paragraphs 44 - 49 (Vatican link: CCC 44 - 49).
Fr Mawdsley delivered a 30 minute talk for the under-18s, and then a further 30 minutes for adults going deeper into the same topics. Fascinated that the Church teaches we can indeed have philosophical certainty about God's Existence and His Attributes, some expressed a thirst for recommended reading. So here is a short list:
Aristotle--Nicomachean Ethics. If you are new to philosophy, please do not be scared off by the ancient name of Aristotle or the strange name of his book. Reading this is like spending a few hours listening to a genius slowly explaining the way of the world and people in it. He is patient and witty and you are left in no doubt that the Greeks of thousands of years ago are no more and no less human than all of us here now. The purpose of recommending this book is so we may grow in respect and love for Aristotle, who might then take us further into metaphysics, without which theology as science is all but impossible.
St Thomas--Five Ways to Demonstrate the Existence of God. The blog linked gives introductions to St Thomas' demonstrations. About St Thomas, Pope Leo XIII wrote: "Among the Scholastic Doctors, the chief and master of all towers Thomas Aquinas, who, as Cajetan observes, because 'he most venerated the ancient doctors of the Church, in a certain way seems to have inherited the intellect of all.' The doctrines of those illustrious men, like the scattered members of a body, Thomas collected together and cemented, distributed in wonderful order, and so increased with important additions that he is rightly and deservedly esteemed the special bulwark and glory of the Catholic faith. With his spirit at once humble and swift, his memory ready and tenacious, his life spotless throughout, a lover of truth for its own sake, richly endowed with human and divine science, like the sun he heated the world with the warmth of his virtues and filled it with the splendor of his teaching. Philosophy has no part which he did not touch finely at once and thoroughly; on the laws of reasoning, on God and incorporeal substances, on man and other sensible things, on human actions and their principles, he reasoned in such a manner that in him there is wanting neither a full array of questions, nor an apt disposal of the various parts, nor the best method of proceeding, nor soundness of principles or strength of argument, nor clearness and elegance of style, nor a facility for explaining what is abstruse." (Pope Leo XIII, Aeterni Patris, §17) See also Pope Pius XI's encyclical recommending St Thomas for students of philosophy & theology. He is the only saint mentioned by name in canon law as a special teacher for seminarians (Can. 251-252, Code of Canon Law).
Vatican Council I--Dei Filius. The First Vatican Council produced dense documents, to be read slowly, but immensely rewarding. Many people today would be outraged by what the Church teaches here as certain. But if one takes the time to study why the Church teaches these things, and follow her reasoning, and in humility pray for understanding, then the documents become life-giving. In the canons Vatican I decreed: "If anyone shall say that the One True God, our Creator and Lord, cannot be certainly known by the natural light of human reason through created things; let him be anathema." By reason we know God exists; by faith we come to know Who He Is, and this faith is the foundation of hope and love.
All families are welcome on 18th August to attend the next Family Picnic & Catechism here at St Mary's Shrine (which are generally held on the 3rd Thursday of the month). Holy Mass is at 12:10pm, bring a picnic lunch for afterwards, with the catechism running approximately 2-3pm, and games continue afterwards if the weather permits.
The topic for next month's family catechism will be Revelation (summarised in CCC 68 - 73).