Article 34 – Catechism of the Catholic Church Series
Creation – Work of the Holy Trinity for the Glory of God
Father John G. Hillier
Back in high school there was a huge banner hanging on the inside wall of our school chapel that read, “Creation Waits, Come O Lord, Come.” I read and reread these words throughout my high school years, seeking to understand their meaning, as I entered and left the chapel for daily Mass and other spiritual exercises. I eventually concluded that the phrase referred, not only to the destiny of creation itself, but to our responsibility to be good stewards of God’s creation as we await the Second Coming of Christ.
This section of the Catechism teaches us that creation is the “work of the Holy Trinity.” The Book of Genesis tells us, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth,” thus affirming three things: 1. God gave a beginning to all that exists, 2. he alone is Creator, and 3. everything that exists depends on the One who brings it into existence (ccc 290).
The next paragraph of the Catechism introduces the Second and Third Persons of the Holy Trinity. It tells us, “in the beginning was the Word. . . and the Word was God” (ccc 291). In other words, we are told that the eternal Word of God (Jesus Christ) is God. The Catechism explains: “God created everything by the eternal Word, his beloved Son” (ccc 291). Then we are told that creation likewise depends on “the creative action of the Holy Spirit, the giver of life, … the source of every good” (ccc 291). “Creation is the common work of the Holy Trinity” (ccc 292). It is as if the Son and the Spirit are God the Father’s hands in the work of creation.
This community of the Trinity does not abandon creation and God “does not abandon his creatures” (ccc 301). In fact, the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, “the giver of life” (ccc 291), at all times, “upholds and sustains them in being, enables them to act and brings them to their final end” (ccc 301). In short, if the Holy Spirit went on vacation or otherwise stopped acting (or if the Father or Son did likewise), everything we know would fall apart. God is present to his creatures always and in all ways: “In him we live and move and have our being” (Acts 17:28).
The inspired Word of God in Sacred Scripture bears witness to the truth that God created “freely out of nothing” (ccc 296). In the Second Book of Maccabees we hear the words of the mother of seven sons encouraging them as they prepared for martyrdom that God “in his mercy [would] give life … to [them] again in the afterlife: I do not know how you came into being in my womb. It was not I who gave you life and breath, nor I who set in order the elements within each of you. Therefore the Creator of the world, who shaped the beginning of man and devised the origin of all things, will in his mercy give life and breath back to you again, since you now forget yourselves for the sake of his laws. . . Look at the heaven and the earth and see everything that is in them, and recognize that God did not make them out of things that existed. Thus also mankind comes into being” (2 Maccabees 7:22-21,28).
The Word of God in “Scripture and Tradition never cease to teach and celebrate this fundamental truth: ‘The world was made for the glory of God’” (ccc 293). St. Bonaventure explains that God created all things “not to increase his glory, but to show it forth and to communicate it.” Why? Because, as the Catechism tells us, “God has no other reason for creating than his love and goodness” (ccc 293).
In summary, we learn that just as “God could create everything out of nothing” (ccc 298), in the beginning “when God created the heavens and the earth” (Genesis 1:1), so he can also “give spiritual life to sinners by creating a pure heart in them, and bodily life to the dead through the Resurrection” (ccc 298).
The ultimate purpose of creation is that God “who is the creator of all things may at last become ‘all in all,’ thus simultaneously assuring his own glory and our beatitude” (ccc 294). In other words, God created the world and all that is in it for His own glory and because He desired to share His life with us.
With creation, God does not abandon his creatures to themselves. “He not only gives them being and existence, but also, and at every moment, upholds and sustains them in being, enables them to act and brings them to their final end” (ccc 301).
As such, with St. Paul we consider the destiny of the created world to be linked with the future that belongs to us believers:
“For creation awaits with eager expectation the revelation of the children of God … that creation itself would be set free from slavery to corruption and share in the glorious freedom of the children of God …We know that all creation is groaning in labor pains even until now” (Romans 8:19-22).
“Creation Waits, Come O Lord, Come!”
Father John G. Hillier, Ph.D., serves as Assistant Chancellor to the Bishop and the bishop’s liaison to persons with disabilities.