THE EXISTENCE OF GOD

"Everyone that shall confess Me before men, I will also confess him before My Father who is in heaven. But he that shall deny Me before men, I will also deny him before My Father who is in heaven" " (Matt. 10:32). --

"Without faith it is impossible to please God: for he that cometh to God must believe that He is, and is a rewarder to them that seek Him" (Heb.11:6)..

A few years ago (October 12, 1924), there died in Tours, France, a popular writer and scholar of international fame. His name is Anatold France (Thibault). We are told that at the moment of his death, he turned to his wife and made this startling statement: "I will never see you again." What a shocking and despairing utterance from the dying lips of a so-called great man, a man of undoubted intellectual abilities! He had lived without faith and hope in God, and died, as he had lived, in doubt and despair. For Anatole France, as well as for all others who do not believe in God and His revealed Truths, future life after death is but a bare, bleak blank of black vacuity or nothingness. For, 

"Tis faith that soars above the skies

Through dome of azure blue;

"Tis hope, sweet hope, that points the way

To heaven, our immortal due.

You, my friends, who have accompanied me through the vestibule of faith, know what we mean by the word faith. It consists in the adherence of our intellect and will to all religious truths acquired either through conscience, reason, or by direct revelation communicated to us by God through the Sacred Scriptures or Tradition. We enumerated the qualities our faith must possess. The symbol of our faith as expressed by the sign of the cross was also stressed. And, once the mind is imbued with a given subject, it is but natural for man to express outwardly and before others what motivates his thoughts and actions from within. In religion we call it a profession of faith. This profession of faith we propose to consider today, and show why we begin with the words: "I believe in God."

(O Jesus, assist us with Thy grace!)

Recently, a very good friend of mine asked this question: "If a non-Catholic wishes to join your Church, what is required of him before he is admitted?"  My answer was, that we proceed in the same manner as Christ and His Apostles did. They understood the psychology of the human mind very well. Hence, before anyone is received into the Church, he enters upon a preliminary course of religious instruction. Before studying the Commandments, Grace or the Sacraments, he must first possess a fundamental belief in God from Whom all religious truths have their origin. From God we proceed to the mystery of the Holy Trinity, the Creation, Incarnation, the life of Christ and His works on earth, the Holy Spirit and His operations in and by the Church. All these divine truths are summed up under the one symbol of our faith, commonly known to all as the Apostles' Creed. This method of procedure is in agreement with the instructions of St. Paul's Epistle to the Hebrews wherein he declares: "Without faith it is impossible to please God; for he that cometh to God must believe that He is, and is a rewarder to them that seek Him" (Heb.11:6).

St. Augustine tells us that before the Apostles, obedient to the command of the Savior, separated to announce the word of God to all nations, they resolved, under the inspiration of the Holy Ghost, to condense and summarize the Christian Faith into a short formula which would enable them to impress the essential truths all the more easily and forcibly upon the minds of the faithful. This, he says, was the origin of the Apostles' Creed. It is called a creed, from the first word, "Credo", which means, "I believe."

Article I.--I believe in God," therefore, are the opening words of the first article of the Apostles' Creed. We admit that, if we rely upon our senses alone, it is easier not to believe in God than to believe in Him. For, as we contemplate the world of sense around us, there are no visible signs of His presence. We may study the stars through a telescope, or we may inspect the lowest forms of plant and animal life through a microscope, but we shall find no traces of a Divine Being. And if we turn to contemporary history, there appears to be no compelling evidence that God is intervening in the affairs of men and of nations in the development of commerce, the conduct of wars, and the deliberation of national leaders in determining the destinies of their subjects.

But, my friends, this is true only as far as our senses go. To the thinking man, unbelief, or the denial of the existence of a God, is not so simple after all. And the advancement in modern science and invention makes the belief in the existence of God even more easy. For somehow, the more we look about us, something seems to suggest a power greater than the senses can perceive. Everything seems to be in motion. And the plaguing question arises again and again: "Who, or what, makes everything move?"  Then there are manifestations of life, light and love. To look at the vast universe thus and not see God, is like looking at man without perceiving the animating principle of his body, which is the soul.  The soul, of course, is invisible as God is invisible. But we judge the invisible man from his visible actions. For, the works of man proceed from his soul, which is the motivating force which makes a living body different from a corpse. 

In like manner, the works of God are visible everywhere in this vast universe. From them too we learn something of God's nature, from the tiniest flower or insect, as well as from the splendor of the setting sun. In this light do we understand the words of St. Paul when he tells us: "The invisible things of Him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made. His eternal power also and divinity" (Rom.1:20).

From Creation.-- The book of creation, then, is written in such large and glaring letters over sky and earth that learned and unlearned, young and old, can read alike. The very world at our feet points to the existence of a God. As we behold it, immediately the question arises: "Whence has all this vast creation come from? Has it made itself?" That is impossible. No house, no watch, no machine could come into being by itself, by its own motive power. When we look at the house we live in, or the objects that we see about us, we at once conclude that there must have been an architect, a carpenter, a sculptor,  a designer, tools and material that entered into the construction of them all. "Every house is built by some man," says St. Paul, "but he that created all things is God" (Heb.3:4).

In nature about us we observe the blades of grass, the flowers, the trees, all so many distinct evidences of God's existence. Suppose we admire the majestic oak tree and ask ourselves: "Whence has it come?" The answer is: "From the acorn." Where did the acorn come from? The answer is: "From the tree." We go back, back, until we come either to the first oak-tree or the first acorn which could not make itself. Only He who can make something out of nothing can do this. And He is known to us all by that familiar name, God.

Then let us lift our eyes towards the heavens above us. Everywhere we find existing a preconceived plan, aim and purpose in all things, from the greatest to the smallest. Casting our eyes aloft to the starry heavens, we observe a countless array of celestial bodies, almost everyone of which is vaster than our earth. The sun, moon and the numerous stars steadily pursue their regular course, none interfering or colliding with its neighbor. All is law, order and harmony. By means of accurate calculations of astronomers, we know the exact dimensions of many, the millions of miles distant the stellar bodies are from the earth, and the distance of one from the other. The position of the sun in relation to the earth determines the days and nights as they follow each other in regular order. Likewise, summer, fall, winter and spring follow each other successively as days come and go.

Next, we turn to the animal kingdom, and what a wonderful variety we discover there! The living things vary in form and shape and size. Every insignificant insect is a perfect work of art, whose entire make-up is most harmoniously formed.  By the aid of the microscope man can detect in the tiniest insect, invisible to the naked eye, the most perfect organic system of life. Each butterfly is distinct from the other in beauty and variety of color.  Whether we contemplate the birds in the air, the fishes in the deep, or the animals on earth, with man the crowning king of them all, who alone has been endowed with understanding and free will, everywhere we must pause in awe and admiration before the Architect that made them all. For, as we read in the Acts of the Apostles (17:25-28): "It is He who giveth to all life, breath and all things; and hath made of one all mankind, to dwell upon the whole face of the earth, determining appointed times and the  limits of their habitation: that they should seek God  . . . . For in Him we live, and move and are; as some also of your own poets said: 'For we are also His offspring.' " Yes, with King David we can enthusiastically exclaim: "Praise ye the Lord from the heavens; praise ye Him, O sun and moon; praise Him, all ye stars and lights; praise Him, ye heavens of heavens, and let all the waters that are above the heavens praise the name of the Lord; let all creatures praise the Lord, for He spoke and they were made.  He commanded and they were created" (Ps.148).

Conscience.--Yes, my friends, we have a voice within us called conscience that testifies to the existence of a God. Each and every one of us feels within himself, from the dawn of reason, a law which tells him what is right and what is wrong; what is good and what is bad; what he should do and what he should not do. We call this inborn law, conscience. It shows itself in the child and in the adult, in the poor and in the rich, in the good and the bad alike.  Only long years of crime and sin can dull the power of conscience, which wakes and reacts ever and anon, through life and especially at death, with frightful remorse. 

Even a child may lock himself in the darkest room where he is seen by no one; but the moment wrong is committed, his conscience within admonishes him that the unseen God has been witness to the deed.  Here I ask you: "Whence comes this moral law of nature of right and wrong?" Man could not have given it to himself. It exists independent of his will, and only too often alas! against the will and desire of the man. Hence, only a God could implant this innate sense of right and wrong in the hearts of men. Therefore, we say, God exists. There must be a God who made all things and directs all things.

Universal Belief.--So generally and so universally has this common concept of the existence of God prevailed that there is no surviving record in history of any nation or people among whom some belief in God did not exist.  Less than one hundred years after Christ, the historian Plutarch wrote: "You may find cities without ramparts, houses, colleges, laws, and with no knowledge of finances or commerce, but no one ever saw a nation without God, without prayer, without the knowledge of an oath, without religious usages, without sacrifices." And Cicero, who lived before the Christian era, says: "There is no people so rude and wild as not to have a belief in a god, though they may not understand his nature." Even St. Paul, when he came to Athens to preach the Gospel of Christ to the Athenians, found in the pagan temple there an altar erected in honor of the "Unknown God." And finally, Livingstone, in his day, said of the tribes of the Dark Continent: "Degraded as they may be, it is not necessary to speak to them of the existence of God, nor of the future life. Those two truths are universally acknowledged in Africa."

Conclusion.--From all this there can be but one logical conclusion; that is, there must be a God who governs the world and rules the ultimate destiny of nations, who is the Creator and Sustainer of all things. It is true that, like Anatole France, whom we mentioned in the beginning, there are still numerous individuals in the world even today who boast of their knowledge and scientific achievement, who still call themselves infidels, or free-thinkers, who deny the existence of God and a future life. But we answer such with the words of the royal prophet, David, who said: "Only the fool saith in his heart:'There is no God' " (Ps.13:1). No matter what these individuals may say,, their exception only confirms the universal rule of belief in God all the more. They may call it only a beautiful dream, but,

If my faith be only a beautiful dream,

My hope only a fragile, vapory thing;

Much better by far they both do seem

Than the song of despair that atheists sing.

Sad, indeed, that there should even be a few who, possessing great intellects given them by a loving God, should use them only to doubt the loving Giver, to give the lie to God's just decrees, and to ignore His very existence. But, forgetting these few, I turn to the glorious early morning sun as it casts its silvery light and glowing heat upon the farthest reaches of the earth. At night I behold the beautiful moon as it marks its path of beauty across the heavens. Upon earth I behold the little chirping, feathery birds, which from flowery bowers or among the trees' green foliage call to me each morning in sweetest song. The flowers that shed their sweet fragrance on the balmy air, the very breath I inhale, and every heart beat in this breast of mine, all proclaim, in accents beyond all doubt, that God reigns; that in His eternal goodness He has provided for me in the eternal years, if only I be worthy, a haven of delights which "eye hath not seen, nor ear heard." There await me a beauty and glory which is beyond the power of finite mind to conceive. When I contemplate God in this light, then I am forced to exclaim with the great St. Paul: "O the depths of the riches of the wisdom and of the knowledge of God! How incomprehensible are His judgments, and how unsearchable His ways! For who hath known the mind of the Lord? Or who hath been His counsellor? Or who hath first given to Him, and in Him, are all things; to Him be glory and honor for ever" (Rom. 11:36-36). Amen.