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A Summary of Christian Doctrine | Paul Claudel | From I Believe In God: A Meditation on the Apostles' Creed

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1. God is the perfect Being, in whom all power is action, inaccessible to our senses, of whom we can only state what he is and what he is not.

2. How do we know a living being whom we cannot see? By the movement of which he is the cause. The, mole under the ground, the hare in the bush, the heart beneath the fingers. For we see that the whole universe is in movement. In this world all is movement, all bears witness to the divine restlessness of nature, always in a state of creation, incapable of existing by itself or in the presence of an unmoving Creator; everything betrays perpetual change.

3. Faith permits us to penetrate farther into the mystery of divine physiology and to distinguish three aspects or functions, roles or Persons: the Father who begets; the Son or Word or Reason who, by his existence, perpetually defines the Father to himself, the Holy Spirit, or Emanation or Love, which is the current running between the two, the Breath exhaled and inhaled.

4. God, being all-powerful, has created only good things. A thing is called good that is well suited to its function. A good pen, a good horse; more or less good because more or less suitable. God has only created things that are very good, that is, perfectly suited, according to their class, to bear him clear testimony, to clarify him. Imperfection in the work can, in fact, only be the result of some obstacle outside the will of the Creator.

5. We see, however, that at the present time things are in fact no longer very good, that is, perfectly suited to bear clear witness to their Creator. We no longer understand their language. And what are we to say if we turn to ourselves?

6. We live, then, in a state of disorder. There has been a corruption of the original order, of the order that charged all things to become visible; there has been a warping of certain wheels, which causes friction throughout the mechanism. The disorder cannot, by definition, be the work of the Creator, because everything that proceeds from him is, by definition, good. Therefore it can only be the work of the free creature, free to choose himself as an end, instead of God who has no end.

Difference, preference ... this false preference is the so-called original sin, which is the result of this original difference away from God in which the creature delights, and delights as an end in itself.

7. The consequence of original sin, by which the finite being chooses himself as end, is the End, either death or separation-separation for the rebel angels forever banned from life, death for man who loses his body, or the essential difference in which he delights.

8. By his sin, man withdraws from God his body and the service of his body, to which all nature is bound in solidarity. He is no longer "adjusted". What he robbed while in a state of grace he cannot now restore in a state of sin. God alone can restore God (or God's work) to himself by a sort of recreation or regeneration. "Fiat," says the Father, "voluntas mea". "Fiat voluntas tua," answers the Son.

9. After the fall, man hides, confesses, recognizes, and buries his origin and crime in the womb of woman: after the generations are accomplished, God emerges from the womb of Mary Immaculate.

10. Through the fall, man accepted the end, or death, or finitude, or separation; through the Cross, the Son of Man accepted the end, or death, or the destruction of finitude and separation.

11. The body of the faithful is restored to God in the visible unity of the Church, through our union with Christ, the Head of the Church. Communion with Christ is essential. To relate to the Head, there must be a single Body. We are the Body of the Church through our acceptance of her form, that is, the sacraments that are her arteries.

12. Christ is with us. He never ceases to be present to his Church, as teacher through the pope and the hierarchy, as doctor through the sacrament of Penance, as sustenance through the Eucharist.

13. Thus eternal joy is not far from us. It is not a dream or a morbid appetite; it is a fundamental, natural, and legitimate organic need. "The Kingdom of God is within us." It lies in a free act of our will, in our acceptance of the invitation of grace. Kingdom means submission to an accepted "order". It consists in the reestablished order of the creature in his proper place, obedient to his Creator, participating in his life. Fiat voluntas tua.

14. This is why Catholic truth is best apprehended, not theoretically, through the brain alone, but empirically, by placing our whole self in its proper order, like words in correct sequence, by orientation to our surroundings, and by service with the body. (Corr. Saurès, 204)

This classic work by the great French poet and writer, Paul Claude (1868-1955), is a soaring meditation on the profound Christian truths of the Apostle's Creed. Claudel, a deeply spiritual Catholic poet who meditated at length on what the Church taught him, is filled with ecstasy and wonder as he celebrates his faith, his hope and his love.

The reader will be captivated by the profundity of thought, the enthusiastic faith, the deep sense of joy, the fresh and vivid images, occasionally tinged with a delightful humor that is unforgettable. Claudel marvels at the goodness and love of God, at his work of creation and redemption, and at Christ and the Blessed Virgin. Along with Claudel's meditations and mystical insights, each chapter includes a brief statement of doctrine based on the Summa of St. Thomas and the Catechism, along with a few explanatory words showing the relation of this theology to Claudel's poetry.

“This book is a paean, a poetic statement of faith, presented in a form accessible to all, having a solidly constructed groundwork and resting on the twelve columns of the Christian faith, columns of indestructible granite: the twelve articles of the Catholic Credo which Claudel affirmed with an unshakable conviction throughout the thirty-odd prose works whose riches we have plundered.” — Henri de Lubac, in the Foreword

French poet, playwright, journalist, and diplomat, Paul Claudel (1868-1955) was a prominent figure in the French Catholic Renaissance of the early twentieth century. Claudel was elected to the Académie Francaise, and he was later honored by Pope Pius XII in an unprecedented public ceremony.

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