Q: How did God create our universe?
A: Before we proceed in answering this question, may I recommend our readers to read the 1994 publication of “The Interpretation of the Bible in the Church” by the Pontifical Biblical Commission. This document is very helpful in our delving into sacred Scripture from the Book of Genesis to the Book of Revelation.
We learn from the Book of Genesis that God alone created the universe out of nothing. God’s work was a loving act in the universe and for all of humanity. In the Catechism of the Catholic Church (beginning with Paragraph 290), we are instructed that the creation of the universe is the work of the Holy Trinity. The eternal God gave the beginning to all that exists outside of himself, for he alone is the creator.
While your question may have been focused on a visible description, which is presently debated among many in the scientific community, what is most important is for us to recognize Who is the source of the universe and why God created the universe in the first place. As the catechism explains further: “The world was created for the glory of God,” and “in the mystery of creation God creates by wisdom and love.” In other words, our universe is not a result of an accident but a deliberate act of love.
Q: How does the Church explain God flooding almost everybody in the Noah’s Ark story, and then telling Moses to write, “Thou shall not kill,” in the Bible?
A: Hopefully, we all have had an opportunity to read, reflect and meditate on the story of the flood in the Book of Genesis (Chapter 7). Much drama occurred prior to, during and after the flood for the Bible story has the making of a movie or two, or three (as we have seen over the years by the contemporary media). What we do know is of a very violent culture, not God-fearing, nor neighbor-loving, in the time of Noah, except for just a handful of people, namely, members of Noah’s family. The story itself illustrates how a people’s destruction inevitably occurs, resulting from the lack of love and respect for God and neighbor.God himself is justified in everything he does.
On the other hand, as we learn from the Decalogue, or the Ten Commandments, we are not always justified by what we do, just because something “feels good” does not mean it is right and just. The very commandment of “Thou Shalt not Kill” (Exodus, Chapter 20, Verse 13) underscores the fact that we communicate our love of God by the manner in which we love and respect our neighbor. God has provided the Chosen People with the guidelines by which they keep their covenant with him. Each commandment is not arbitrary, but is essential to the integrity of the covenant God strikes with his people. We can even envision the Ten Commandments as a question with God asking, “You know how much I love you by how I have delivered you from oppression. How much do you love me?” We answer this question affirming that each human life is sacred.
Q: What is the white square priests wear on their collar? What does it stand for?
A: Over the past two millennia we have witnessed first-hand the Church’s missionary work to share the Good News of Jesus Christ with a world so desirous to hear Christ’s gift of eternal hope. The manner by which we believers exercise this apostolic work is conditioned by the respective cultures and time periods in which the Lord has placed us.
The white square or “tab collar” to which you refer, finds its source through a series of wardrobe modifications over the centuries that may be traced back even to the middle of the first millennium of Christianity. Not unlike other religious communities, the clergy differentiated itself through clerical attire in different eras and cultures. In the beginning, the clerical attire was much more simple and, of course, in our present time, we have a number of vestitures such as religious habits. The tab collar is related to the Roman collar, but is much more recent in its arrival on the vestiture scene. The tab collar identifies a cleric, such as deacons, priests, bishops and cardinals. Men who have received candidacy, that is, formal acceptance by their bishop to prepare for ordination may wear the collar at specific times.
As a believing community, we are fortunate to have a plethora of ways in which we identify ourselves as ministers and sharers of the eternal hope in Jesus Christ. May God continue to bless our clergy and consecrated men and women as they bear witness to their undying faith in Jesus Christ, as well as their selfless attitude to share his love in an ever-changing world.
May God bless you and your family in this Easter Season in which we celebrate our Lord Jesus Christ’s resurrection.
To “Ask the Bishop,” direct questions to, Diocese of Steubenville Office of Christian Formation and Schools – P.O. Box 969, Steubenville, OH 43952; (740) 282-3631.
The "Ask the Bishop Question Form" can be found here.