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Engaging Faith: Practical lesson ideas and activities for Catholic Educators

September 8, 2009

Begin the Year with "Who Is God?"

In his engaging and and reflective article in the current America magazine, "God and the Teenage Mind," Brad Rothrock, a theology teacher, at St. Mary's High School in Lynn, Massachusetts reminds us to gauge what teens know and what they don't know and why it never hurts to begin any course with a discussion that starts with "Who is God?"

Chapter 1 of the text Catholic Essentials does begin with a reminder that we humans are made with a basic desire for God. Prior to a discussion of the mystery of the Holy Trinity, the text lays out nine attributes named by St. Thomas Aquinas that tell us about God's nature:

1. God is eternal. He has no beginning and no end. Or, to put it another way, God always was, always is, and always will be.

2. God is unique. God is the fullness of being and perfection. God is the designer of a one and only world. Even the people he creates are one of a kind.

3. God is infinite and omnipotent. There are no limits to God. Omnipotence is a word that refers to God’s supreme power and authority over all of creation.

4. God is omnipresent. This reminds us of a lesson we learned early in life: God sees everything. God has no space limitations. He is everywhere. You can never be away from God.

5. God contains all things. All of creation is under God’s care and jurisdiction.

6. God is immutable. God does not evolve. God does not change. God is the same God now as he always has been and always will be.

7. God is pure spirit. Though God has been described with human attributes (e.g., a wise old man with a long beard), God is not a material creation. God’s image cannot be made. God is a pure spirit who cannot be divided into parts. God is simple but complex.

8. God is alive. We believe in a living God, a God who acts in the lives of people. Most concretely, he came to this world in the incarnate form of Jesus Christ.

9. God is holy. God is pure goodness. God is pure love.

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