Dear Father Angelo,
Hi, how are you doing? First of all I’m very happy to tell you that on 10th June (2018) my brother and I will be confirmed.
However, I have some perplexities that I would like to disclose to you. I have a good basic theological preparation, perhaps even too much, and for this very reason I realize that during catechism very little is taught. The function of catechism is now reduced to a formal preparation for the First Communion and Confirmation, but there is very little catechesis; so, were it not for the fact that one must attend it to obtain the two Sacraments, it would be totally useless. In fact, I asked other guys who attend the confirmation course what they think, and they are quite disappointed because they feel unprepared and more confused than before. We learn about contemporary testimonies of faith such as Matteo Farina, but we do not even know the dogma of the Trinity, the Gospel or Scripture in general. It is as if the great Christian thinkers such as Saint Augustine had never existed and the Saints are a relic of the past.
It’s like making pasta without salt: it’s good for nothing. After all, I prepared myself by reading church documents and the Bible; no catechism course has taught me anything. If I were the catechist, I would make people study the catechisms of Pope Pius X and John Paul II and in this way I would be confident that true soldiers of Christ would come out, able to face anything and any heresy. Let’s not even talk about social debates such as the issue of homosexuality. We feel like justifying it, but this is to be expected without a good basic preparation.
To the point that I would like to volunteer to “catechize” my companions myself, including my brother, at the end of the confirmation course. I would be happy and honored about this, because the Truth must be taught in its entirety and not partially or watered down.
Do you also share this perplexity of mine? (…).
I also have two other questions, of an eschatological nature, even if I think I already know the answers.
1) Beatific vision: I would like to ask you if in the Beatific Vision man will really see God “as He is” (1 Jn. 3, 2), since we must not forget His infinity and that He “dwells in an inaccessible light” (1 Tim. 6:16), so not only no man has ever seen Him (in the past) but cannot see Him (in the future, including beatific eternity), “my face you cannot see” (Ex. 33, 20).
2) whether the new heavens and the new earth will be the renewal of the Earth alone or of the entire universe. I presume there will be a renewal of the entire universe, because we will be entering the eternal and infinite dimension of God.
Thanks and best regards
1. Unfortunately, I am responding very late. At the time of writing, 8 months have passed since your email and 7 from the Confirmation that you have now received along with your brother.
First of all, I must point out that what you are saying about a certain way of doing the Catechism is unfortunately true.
But that’s not the case everywhere, thank God.
2. Now, however, I will focus on the most beautiful part of your email.
You are so enthusiastic about the doctrine of the Gospel and the Grace of the Sacraments that you write: “To the point that I would like to volunteer to “catechize” my companions myself, including my brother, at the end of the confirmation course. I would be happy and honored about this, because the Truth must be taught in its entirety and not partially or watered down.”
I hope that, after receiving Confirmation, you have gone to your parish priest or the Bishop to tell him that you are “volunteering to catechize”.
And maybe that you have gone there together with your brother.
It would have been a very beautiful Grace for your Church!
3. This desire of yours made me think of Beato Angelico, whose Baptismal name was John, and his brother Benedetto: they were both painters and they presented themselves to the Dominican convent of Fiesole (Florence) to make themselves available to the Lord to be able to preach also with the art of the brush.
Their preaching, especially that of the first, still lasts in the Church for six centuries now.
Admiring a painting by Fra Angelico (stolen in Italy by Napoleon and brought to Paris), a young man named Albert Lagrange felt a vocation to the Dominican Order, and later became the founder of the famous Biblical School of Jerusalem.
The cause for the beatification of Father Lagrange is currently well underway.
I’m not saying this because you have to become a Dominican. It is necessary to be called to this vocation by the Lord.
But how beautiful it would be if you and your brother, catechized by you, together presented yourselves to the Church to be catechists forever and wherever there is a great need!
4. I now come to the two theological questions you asked me.
Regarding the first: yes, we will see God as He is. We will see Him all, but not totally.
In a previous answer I wrote: “St. Thomas recalls that God is seen by the blessed in everything and with all their strength (Deus videtur a beatis totus et ex toto), but not totally (sed non totaliter), because the cognitive capacity of the creature is finite, and varies from one to another, while God’s knowability is infinite.
Only God knows himself fully, with all his strength and totally (totum, ex toto sui, and totaliter) “(s. Ramirez, De hominis beatitudine, t. V, p. 186)”.
5. Regarding the second question, I also wrote in another answer: The new heavens and the new earth prophesied by Isaiah consist in the messianic kingdom brought by Jesus where “the wolf shall be a guest of the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid; The calf and the young lion shall browse together, with a little child to guide them. The cow and the bear shall be neighbors, together their young shall rest; the lion shall eat hay like the ox. The baby shall play by the cobra’s den, and the child lay his hand on the adder’s lair.” (Is 11,6-8).
The Jerusalem Bible notes: “The Messianic kingdom is a kingdom of peace. This peace extends to the animal kingdom, up to the serpent, responsible for the first sin: the messianic era is here described symbolically as a return to heavenly peace”.
Even St. Paul seems to refer to a renewal of creation when he says that it “awaits with eager expectation the revelation of the children of God” (Rom 8:19).
Hence the Jerusalem Bible comments: “As the body of man is destined for glory, so too the world will be the object of redemption and will participate in the freedom of the glorious state” (note to Rom 8:19).
One may wonder how creation will participate in the glorious state. The Second Vatican Council replies: “We do not know the time for the consummation of the earth and of humanity, nor do we know how all things will be transformed. As deformed by sin, the shape of this world will pass away;(16) but we are taught that God is preparing a new dwelling place and a new earth where justice will abide, and whose blessedness will answer and surpass all the longings for peace which spring up in the human heart.” (Gaudium et spes, 39).
Therefore, even if we are certain that we too will rise again in the risen Christ, and with us, in some way, also all of creation will rise again, it is appropriate to humbly conclude together with the Council: “We do not know how all things will be transformed”.
I wish you all the best, especially for your future. I remind you to the Lord and I bless you.