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St. Thomas Aquinas
Catechetical Instructions

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  • THE FIRST ARTICLE: "I Believe in One God."
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THE FIRST ARTICLE: "I Believe in One God."

 

Among all the truths which the faithful must believe, this is the first -

that there is one God. We must see that God means the ruler and provider of

all things. He, therefore, believes in God who believes that everything in

this world is governed and provided for by Him. He who would believe that

all things come into being by chance does not believe that there is a God.

No one is so foolish as to deny that all nature, which operates with a

certain definite time and order, is subject to the rule and foresight and

an orderly arrangement of someone. We see how the sun, the moon, and the

stars, and all natural things follow a determined course, which would be

impossible if they were merely products of chance. Hence, as is spoken of

in the Psalm, he is indeed foolish who does not believe in God: "The fool

hath said in his heart: There is no God."1

 

There are those, however, who believe that God rules and sustains all

things of nature, and nevertheless do not believe God is the overseer of

the acts of man; hence they believe that human acts do not come under God's

providence. They reason thus because they see in this world how the good

are afflicted and how the evil enjoy good things, so that Divine Providence

seems to disregard human affairs. Hence the words of Job are offered to

apply to this view: "He doth not consider our things; and He walketh about

the poles of heaven."2 But this is indeed absurd. It is just as though a

person who is ignorant of medicine should see a doctor give water to one

patient and wine to another. He would believe that this is mere chance,

since he does not understand the science of medicine which for good reasons

prescribes for one wine and for another water. So is it with God. For God

in His just and wise Providence knows what is good and necessary for men;

and hence He afflicts some who are good and allows certain wicked men to

prosper. But he is foolish indeed who believes this is due to chance,

because he does not know the causes and method of God's dealing with men.

"I wish that God might speak with thee, and would open His lips to thee,

that He might show thee the secrets of wisdom, and that His law is

manifold: and thou mightest understand that He exacteth much less of thee

than thy iniquity deserveth."3

 

We must, therefore, firmly believe that God governs and regulates not only

all nature, but also the actions of men. "And they said: The Lord shall not

see; neither shall the God of Jacob understand. Understand, ye senseless

among the people, and, you fools, be wise at last. He that planted the ear,

shall He not hear, He that formed the eye, doth He not consider? . . . The

Lord knoweth the thoughts of men."4 God sees all things, both our thoughts

and the hidden desires of our will. Thus, the necessity of doing good is

especially imposed on man since all his thoughts, words and actions are

known in the sight of God: "All things are naked and open to His eyes."5

 

We believe that God who rules and regulates all things is but one God. This

is seen in that wherever the regulation of human affairs is well arranged,

there the group is found to be ruled and provided for by one, not many. For

a number of heads often brings dissension in their subjects. But since

divine government exceeds in every way that which is merely human, it is

evident that the government of the world is not by many gods, but by one

only.6

 




1. Ps. xiii. 1.

 



2. Job, xxii. 14.

 



3. Job, xi. 5-6.

 



4. Ps. xciii. 7-11.

 



5. Heb., iv. 13.

 



6. "There is but one God, not many gods. We attribute to God the highest

goodess and perfection, and it is impossible that what is highest and

absolutely perfect could be found in many. If a being lack that which

constitutes supreme perfection, it is, therefore, imperfect and cannot have

the nature of God" ("Roman Catechism," "The Creed," First Article, 7).

 






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