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At our Sunday Mass in the Senior school chapel for the Athelstone Eucharistic community, one of our Year 4 students shared what she wrote during Mass. A few weeks ago, she had considered “What is the mass?” This time she thought about “Who is God?” Again, her reflections are very profound.

Who is God? God is unique and special to each person. Some see God as a divine being whom they believe in and worship. Others view God as an intimate presence, someone who knows them better than even their closest friend, a source they can turn to for assistance, for themselves or others. God has a strong, beautiful, and personal connection with us, enabling us to grow into the best versions of ourselves. Since nobody is perfect, God guides us to be truthful and accepting of ourselves, so we can grow and become better people.

As Siena reminds us, the way people experience God is deeply personal and can differ significantly from person to person. For many, it's a very personal encounter felt through moments of wonder in nature, acts of kindness, or during meditation and prayer. In her wise words, Siena shares how God is a relationship. Faith filled people share an intimacy with the One who created all things and who holds our destiny in the fullness of love. Our search for God is an encounter with the most real and the most mysterious. Fundamentalism would reduce that mystery to what we can control rather than draw us into and open us to the fullness of reality itself. Atheism would caste a false image of God that logically ought be rejected.

In religious settings, God is often felt through rituals, sacred texts, and communal worship, creating a sense of divine presence and connection with others. Mystical experiences also offer intimate encounters with the divine, often described as a feeling of unity with the universe. Some find God through self-reflection, while others see the divine in art, music, or acts of kindness. The experience of God is diverse, influenced by beliefs, culture, and individual spirituality, creating a beautiful tapestry of ways in which people seek and find the divine.

The concept of God is deeply rooted in human history and culture. Fundamentally, God is often seen as a supreme, all-powerful being responsible for creating and maintaining the universe. God often provides hope, moral guidance, and a sense of purpose. People turn to God in times of happiness, sadness, and uncertainty, seeking comfort, direction, and a sense of belonging. Ultimately, understanding God remains a profoundly personal experience, shaping the beliefs, values, and practices of individuals and communities worldwide.

Certain philosophies and spiritual traditions view God as an abstract, formless energy or consciousness, emphasizing the interconnectedness of all living beings. Some belief systems, like Hinduism, embrace a polytheistic approach, acknowledging multiple deities or forms of God, each representing different aspects of the divine. In monotheistic faiths such as Christianity, Islam, and Judaism, God is singular, infinite, and the ultimate source of moral guidance. These faiths emphasize a personal relationship with God through prayer, worship, and obedience to religious precepts.

In Christianity, God is perceived as the supreme and eternal being, the creator of the universe and everything in it. Christians believe in the Holy Trinity, consisting of God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Central to Christianity is the belief in God's incarnation in Jesus Christ, considered the Son of God and humanity's saviour. Christians worship God through prayer, scripture (the Bible), and communal gatherings. God is seen as loving, just, and merciful, embodying qualities of being all-knowing, all-powerful, and ever-present. The Christian God is viewed as a forgiving deity, offering redemption and eternal life to those who believe in Jesus Christ and follow his teachings, which highlight the virtues of love, compassion, and forgiveness.

Catholicism stands out for its rich history, beautiful ceremonies, and strong adherence to tradition. The Pope serves as the spiritual leader of the faithful. The sacraments, especially the Eucharist, hold great importance, symbolizing the spiritual presence of Christ. Catholicism emphasizes social justice, ethics, and charitable work, evident through global humanitarian efforts and advocacy for marginalized communities. The veneration of saints and the sacraments foster a profound sense of devotion among believers. The Catholic Church's significant influence on art, education, and culture throughout history distinguishes it, shaping the worldview of millions worldwide.

Fr Peter Hosking SJ

From the Parents and Friends
College Calendar 2023