Year of Faith Catechism Study: CCC 192 – 197 – The Creeds (Part 2)

clock October 31, 2012 01:02 by author John |

Today, we continue the discussion on the creeds of the Catholic Faith in our Catechism sections. An excerpt from Rufinus’ “Commentary on the Apostles’ Creed” is the supporting material for today.

192 Through the centuries many professions or symbols of faith have been articulated in response to the needs of the different eras: the creeds of the different apostolic and ancient Churches,8 e.g., the Quicumque, also called the Athanasian Creed;9 The professions of faith of certain Councils, such as Toledo, Lateran, Lyons, Trent;10 or the symbols of certain popes, e.g., the Fides Damasi11 or the Credo of the People of God of Paul VI.12

193 None of the creeds from the different stages in the Church's life can be considered superseded or irrelevant. They help us today to attain and deepen the faith of all times by means of the different summaries made of it.

Among all the creeds, two occupy a special place in the Church's life:

194 The Apostles' Creed is so called because it is rightly considered to be a faithful summary of the apostles' faith. It is the ancient baptismal symbol of the Church of Rome. Its great authority arises from this fact: it is "the Creed of the Roman Church, the See of Peter the first of the apostles, to which he brought the common faith".13

195 The Niceno-Constantinopolitan or Nicene Creed draws its great authority from the fact that it stems from the first two ecumenical Councils (in 325 and 381). It remains common to all the great Churches of both East and West to this day.

196 Our presentation of the faith will follow the Apostles' Creed, which constitutes, as it were, "the oldest Roman catechism". The presentation will be completed however by constant references to the Nicene Creed, which is often more explicit and more detailed.

197 As on the day of our Baptism, when our whole life was entrusted to the "standard of teaching",14 let us embrace the Creed of our life-giving faith. To say the Credo with faith is to enter into communion with God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, and also with the whole Church which transmits the faith to us and in whose midst we believe:

This Creed is the spiritual seal, our heart's meditation and an ever-present guardian; it is, unquestionably, the treasure of our soul.15

Rufinus, an early Church Father writes in his “Commentary on the Apostles’ Creed”:

2. Our forefathers have handed down to us the tradition, that, after the Lord's ascension, when, through the coming of the Holy Ghost, tongues of flame had settled upon each of the Apostles, that they might speak diverse languages, so that no race however foreign, no tongue however barbarous, might be inaccessible to them and beyond their reach, they were commanded by the Lord to go severally to the several nations to preach the word of God. Being on the eve therefore of departing from one another, they first mutually agreed upon a standard of their future preaching, lest haply, when separated, they might in any instance vary in the statements which they should make to those whom they should invite to believe in Christ. Being all therefore met together, and being filled with the Holy Ghost, they composed, as we have said, this brief formulary of their future preaching, each contributing his several sentence to one common summary: and they ordained that the rule thus framed should be given to those who believe.

Footnotes

8 Cf. DS 1-64.
9 Cf. DS 75-76.
10 Cf. DS 525-541; 800-802; 851-861; 1862-1870.
11 Cf. DS 71-72.
12 Paul VI, CPG (1968).
13 St. Ambrose, Expl. symb. 7: PL 17, 1196.
14 ⇒ Rom 6:17
15 St. Ambrose, Expl. symb. I: PL 17, 1193.



Tuesday Ear Tickler: Bryan Cones' Promotion of the Culture of Death through Bad Theology

clock October 30, 2012 01:08 by author John |

The Tuesday Ear Tickler award is Solemn Charge’s weekly recognition of teachers who “Tickle the Ears” of those who “no longer endure sound doctrine”. In the spirit of 2 Timothy 4 2-4, this award serves to identify theological or doctrinal errors, dissent or hostility toward the Magisterium of the Catholic Church, or writing that undermines the purpose of each human soul – to know love and serve God so as to enjoy eternal happiness with Him in Heaven. I make no judgment of the writer’s intentions. Usually the winner of this award was raised in the 60’s so that right there is a mitigating factor toward their culpability for their actions. I do judge concrete actions and the quality of ideas, however…


Today’s winner is Bryan Cones, who showcases his bad theology in his article, “How many Christians share the bad theology behind Mourdock's political gaffe?”. Cones presents some typical liberal talking points while bring some of his belief into light which are very troubling.  (Cones’ comments in the red quote boxes, my comments in black.)

How many Christians share the bad theology behind Mourdock's political gaffe?

While pundits and Democrats can't make enough political fodder of GOP Indiana Senate candidate Richard Mourdock's comment that pregnancy as a result of rape is "something God intended," I have to wonder why there aren't more theologians and pastors roundly denouncing the theology behind it. I wonder if it isn't because many people hold this understanding of the way God's power works in the world, a variant of God "writing straight with crooked lines." It's just that no one wants to admit it when it comes to something as horrific as rape.

The pundits and Democrats that Cones speaks of are not quoting Mourdock word for word. They are making straw man arguments because the statement Mourdock made is not actually that shocking. Mourdock stated that every child is a gift from God regardless of how they were conceived. The reason there are not more theologians and pastors denouncing Mourdock is because what he said is in line with traditional Christian values.

Frankly, it's a big problem with the way we people of faith deal with evil: We want to insist God is in complete control--which perhaps makes our suffering a bit easier--but then we're forced to say that God has some ultimate good in mind when God "permits" terrible things to happen--think the Holocaust. But we wouldn't sanction immoral means to achieve a good end for human beings, so why would we absolve God for doing it?

Here’s the problem with Cones’ argument. What he said would be true if God were the one committing the evil action. We know that God does not commit evil actions; he only allows them as a consequence of our free will. Cones’ lack of understanding of basic Christian beliefs is rather astounding.

It seems to me sufficient to say that the rules of God's creation have made it so that, in the right conditions, when a human sperm and egg join in the right place and at the right time, human life is possible. Unfortunately, that can happen through an act of violence, which is also possible through the rules of God's creation expressed in human freedom. But to say God directly "intends" the creation of that life through such a profound perversion of human freedom is a theological step too far, and we people of faith should call out this kind of blasphemy--because that's what it is--especially when it comes from the mouth of another Christian.

If you want to get emotional, which is what Cones’ is doing here; we can take his argument to the logical conclusion. We can then say that the person created as a result of that act of violence is a person that God did not intend to exist. That of course is ridiculous because God loves us all as His children. He does not despise or regret anyone’s existence simply due to the mean by which they were conceived. Surely Cones’ is not insinuating that Mourdock thinks rape is something God intends. That would be dishonest.

That still leaves us with what Catholic tradition calls "the mystery of evil"; there is simply no good answer for the fact that something fundamentally good--human life--can result from an act of such diabolical evil--rape--which is finally why the issue of abortion in the case of rape is so fraught with moral difficulty. Some argue--and this would be most consistent with church teaching--that the objective good of the developing human life is sacrosanct, while others would respond that the pregnancy is a continuation of the objectively immoral assault on the woman who has been raped, and so an abortion in this instance would be morally permissible.

The issue of abortion in the case of rape is only fraught with moral difficulty because people like Mourdock have muddied the waters. Either an unborn child is a person or not. If abortion is not desirable for conventional pregnancies, then it cannot be desirable in cases of rape. This is essentially a failure of logic or a failure of honesty. You cannot have it any other way. So is Cones in favor of the view of the “others” who do not hold the view of the Church? Cones is basically saying that doing evil is OK as long as you have faulty logic. That is a severely morally-depraved conviction.

Those fine points of moral theology never get fair coverage in the press--we can hardly expect them to. But what Christians simply cannot allow, however, is permitting a frankly childish theological answer such as Mourdock's to stand without response.

We also cannot allow a childish rebuttal of a fundamentally sound theological statement to stand without response. I hereby award the Tuesday Ear Tickler award for Tuesday, October 30 to Bryan Cones.



Year of Faith Catechism Study: CCC 185 – 191 – The Creeds (Part 1)

clock October 30, 2012 01:01 by author John |

The catechism contains a section listing the Apostles Creed and the Nicene Creed before moving into the discussion of their details. Here are these creeds, followed by the normal Catechism sections for today, which deal with the explanation of the professions of faith we know as the creeds.

The Credo

The Apostles Creed

I believe in God the Father almighty, creator of heaven and earth.
I believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord.
He was conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit and born of the Virgin Mary
Under Pontius Pilate He was crucified, died, and was buried.
He descended to the dead.
On the third day he rose again.
He ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of the Father.
He will come again to judge the living and the dead.

I believe in the Holy Spirit,
the holy catholic Church,
the communion of saints,
the forgiveness of sins,
the resurrection of the body,
and the life everlasting.
Amen.

The Nicene Creed

We believe in one God, the Father, the Almighty,
maker of heaven and earth,
of all that is, seen and unseen.
We believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ,
the only Son of God, eternally begotten of the Father,
God from God, Light from Light, true God from true God,
begotten, not made, of one Being with the Father.
Through him all things were made.
For us men and for our salvation, he came down from heaven:
by the power of the Holy Spirit he was born of the Virgin Mary, and became man.
For our sake he was crucified under Pontius Pilate; he suffered died and was buried.
On the third day he rose again in fulfillment of the Scriptures;
he ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of the Father.
He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead,
and his kingdom will have no end.

We believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life,
who proceeds from the Father and the Son.
With the Father and the Son he is worshipped and glorified.
He has spoken through the Prophets.
We believe in one holy catholic and apostolic Church.
We acknowledge one baptism for the forgiveness of sins.
We look for the resurrection of the dead,
and the life of the world to come.
Amen.

SECTION TWO

I. THE CREEDS

185 Whoever says "I believe" says "I pledge myself to what we believe." Communion in faith needs a common language of faith, normative for all and uniting all in the same confession of faith.

186 From the beginning, the apostolic Church expressed and handed on her faith in brief formulae normative for all.1 But already very early on, the Church also wanted to gather the essential elements of her faith into organic and articulated summaries, intended especially for candidates for Baptism:

This synthesis of faith was not made to accord with human opinions, but rather what was of the greatest importance was gathered from all the Scriptures, to present the one teaching of the faith in its entirety. And just as the mustard seed contains a great number of branches in a tiny grain, so too this summary of faith encompassed in a few words the whole knowledge of the true religion contained in the Old and the New Testaments.2

187 Such syntheses are called "professions of faith" since they summarize the faith that Christians profess. They are called "creeds" on account of what is usually their first word in Latin: credo ("I believe"). They are also called "symbols of faith".

188 The Greek word symbolon meant half of a broken object, for example, a seal presented as a token of recognition. The broken parts were placed together to verify the bearer's identity. the symbol of faith, then, is a sign of recognition and communion between believers. Symbolon also means a gathering, collection or summary. A symbol of faith is a summary of the principal truths of the faith and therefore serves as the first and fundamental point of reference for catechesis.

189 The first "profession of faith" is made during Baptism. The symbol of faith is first and foremost the baptismal creed. Since Baptism is given "in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit",3 The truths of faith professed during Baptism are articulated in terms of their reference to the three persons of the Holy Trinity.

190 and so the Creed is divided into three parts: "the first part speaks of the first divine Person and the wonderful work of creation; the next speaks of the second divine Person and the mystery of his redemption of men; the final part speaks of the third divine Person, the origin and source of our sanctification."4 These are "the three chapters of our [baptismal] seal".5

191 "These three parts are distinct although connected with one another. According to a comparison often used by the Fathers, we call them articles. Indeed, just as in our bodily members there are certain articulations which distinguish and separate them, so too in this profession of faith, the name "articles" has justly and rightly been given to the truths we must believe particularly and distinctly."6 In accordance with an ancient tradition, already attested to by St. Ambrose, it is also customary to reckon the articles of the Creed as twelve, thus symbolizing the fullness of the apostolic faith by the number of the apostles.7

Here is the opening paragraph of St. Augustine’s “A Sermon to Catechumens on the Creed”:

1. Receive, my children, the Rule of Faith, which is called the Symbol (or Creed ). And when you have received it, write it in your heart, and be daily saying it to yourselves; before ye sleep, before ye go forth, arm you with your Creed. The Creed no man writes so as it may be able to be read: but for rehearsal of it, lest haply forgetfulness obliterate what care has delivered, let your memory be your record-roll: what you are about to hear, that are you to believe; and what you shall have believed, that are about to give back with your tongue. For the Apostle says, With the heart man believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. For this is the Creed which you are to rehearse and to repeat in answer. These words which you have heard are in the Divine Scriptures scattered up and down: but thence gathered and reduced into one, that the memory of slow persons might not be distressed; that every person may be able to say, able to hold, what he believes. For have ye now merely heard that God is Almighty? But ye begin to have him for your father, when you have been born by the church as your Mother.

Footnotes

1 Cf. ⇒ Rom 10:9; ⇒ I Cor 15:3-5, etc.
2 St. Cyril of Jerusalem, Catech. illum. 5, 12: PG 33, 521-524.
3 ⇒ Mt 28:19
4 Roman Catechism I, 1, 3.
5 St. Irenaeus, Dem. ap. 100: SCh 62, 170.
6 Roman Catechism I, I, 4.
7 Cf. St. Ambrose, Expl. symb. 8: PL 17, 1196.



Year of Faith Catechism Study: CCC 166-175 – We Believe – The Personal and Community Faith

clock October 29, 2012 01:02 by author John |

Today’s Catechism sections describe the personal and community aspects of the faith, including the unity of the faith.

Article 2

WE BELIEVE

166 Faith is a personal act - the free response of the human person to the initiative of God who reveals himself. But faith is not an isolated act. No one can believe alone, just as no one can live alone.

You have not given yourself faith as you have not given yourself life. the believer has received faith from others and should hand it on to others. Our love for Jesus and for our neighbor impels us to speak to others about our faith. Each believer is thus a link in the great chain of believers. I cannot believe without being carried by the faith of others, and by my faith I help support others in the faith.

167 "I believe" (Apostles' Creed) is the faith of the Church professed personally by each believer, principally during Baptism. "We believe" (Niceno-Constantinopolitan Creed) is the faith of the Church confessed by the bishops assembled in council or more generally by the liturgical assembly of believers. "I believe" is also the Church, our mother, responding to God by faith as she teaches us to say both "I believe" and "We believe".

I. "Lord, Look Upon the Faith of Your Church"

168 It is the Church that believes first, and so bears, nourishes and sustains my faith. Everywhere, it is the Church that first confesses the Lord: "Throughout the world the holy Church acclaims you", as we sing in the hymn Te Deum; with her and in her, we are won over and brought to confess: "I believe", "We believe". It is through the Church that we receive faith and new life in Christ by Baptism. In the Rituale Romanum, the minister of Baptism asks the catechumen: "What do you ask of God's Church?" and the answer is: "Faith." "What does faith offer you?" "Eternal life."54

169 Salvation comes from God alone; but because we receive the life of faith through the Church, she is our mother: "We believe the Church as the mother of our new birth, and not in the Church as if she were the author of our salvation."55 Because she is our mother, she is also our teacher in the faith.

II. The Language of Faith

170 We do not believe in formulae, but in those realities they express, which faith allows us to touch. "The believer's act [of faith] does not terminate in the propositions, but in the realities [which they express]."56 All the same, we do approach these realities with the help of formulations of the faith which permit us to express the faith and to hand it on, to celebrate it in community, to assimilate and live on it more and more.

171 The Church, "the pillar and bulwark of the truth", faithfully guards "the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints". She guards the memory of Christ's words; it is she who from generation to generation hands on the apostles' confession of faith.57 As a mother who teaches her children to speak and so to understand and communicate, the Church our Mother teaches us the language of faith in order to introduce us to the understanding and the life of faith.

III. Only One Faith

172 Through the centuries, in so many languages, cultures, peoples and nations, the Church has constantly confessed this one faith, received from the one Lord, transmitted by one Baptism, and grounded in the conviction that all people have only one God and Father.58 St. Irenaeus of Lyons, a witness of this faith, declared:

173 "Indeed, the Church, though scattered throughout the whole world, even to the ends of the earth, having received the faith from the apostles and their disciples. . . guards [this preaching and faith] with care, as dwelling in but a single house, and similarly believes as if having but one soul and a single heart, and preaches, teaches and hands on this faith with a unanimous voice, as if possessing only one mouth."59

174 "For though languages differ throughout the world, the content of the Tradition is one and the same. the Churches established in Germany have no other faith or Tradition, nor do those of the Iberians, nor those of the Celts, nor those of the East, of Egypt, of Libya, nor those established at the centre of the world. . ."60 The Church's message "is true and solid, in which one and the same way of salvation appears throughout the whole world."61

175 "We guard with care the faith that we have received from the Church, for without ceasing, under the action of God's Spirit, this deposit of great price, as if in an excellent vessel, is constantly being renewed and causes the very vessel that contains it to be renewed."62

St. Irenaeus describes the Unity of the Catholic Faith in his great work, “Against Heresies” (Book 1, Ch. 10):

Unity of the faith of the Church throughout the whole world.

1. The Church, though dispersed through our the whole world, even to the ends of the earth, has received from the apostles and their disciples this faith: [She believes] in one God, the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven, and earth, and the sea, and all things that are in them; and in one Christ Jesus, the Son of God, who became incarnate for our salvation; and in the Holy Spirit, who proclaimed through the prophets the dispensations of God, and the advents, and the birth from a virgin, and the passion, and the resurrection from the dead, and the ascension into heaven in the flesh of the beloved Christ Jesus, our Lord, and His [future] manifestation from heaven in the glory of the Father to gather all things in one, Ephesians 1:10 and to raise up anew all flesh of the whole human race, in order that to Christ Jesus, our Lord, and God, and Savior, and King, according to the will of the invisible Father, every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth, and that every tongue should confess Philippians 2:10-11 to Him, and that He should execute just judgment towards all; that He may send spiritual wickednesses, Ephesians 6:12 and the angels who transgressed and became apostates, together with the ungodly, and unrighteous, and wicked, and profane among men, into everlasting fire; but may, in the exercise of His grace, confer immortality on the righteous, and holy, and those who have kept His commandments, and have persevered in His love, some from the beginning [of their Christian course], and others from [the date of] their repentance, and may surround them with everlasting glory.

2. As I have already observed, the Church, having received this preaching and this faith, although scattered throughout the whole world, yet, as if occupying but one house, carefully preserves it. She also believes these points [of doctrine] just as if she had but one soul, and one and the same heart, and she proclaims them, and teaches them, and hands them down, with perfect harmony, as if she possessed only one mouth. For, although the languages of the world are dissimilar, yet the import of the tradition is one and the same. For the Churches which have been planted in Germany do not believe or hand down anything different, nor do those in Spain, nor those in Gaul, nor those in the East, nor those in Egypt, nor those in Libya, nor those which have been established in the central regions of the world. But as the sun, that creature of God, is one and the same throughout the whole world, so also the preaching of the truth shines everywhere, and enlightens all men that are willing to come to a knowledge of the truth. Nor will any one of the rulers in the Churches, however highly gifted he may be in point of eloquence, teach doctrines different from these (for no one is greater than the Master); nor, on the other hand, will he who is deficient in power of expression inflict injury on the tradition. For the faith being ever one and the same, neither does one who is able at great length to discourse regarding it, make any addition to it, nor does one, who can say but little diminish it.

3. It does not follow because men are endowed with greater and less degrees of intelligence, that they should therefore change the subject-matter [of the faith] itself, and should conceive of some other God besides Him who is the Framer, Maker, and Preserver of this universe, (as if He were not sufficient for them), or of another Christ, or another Only-begotten. But the fact referred to simply implies this, that one may [more accurately than another] bring out the meaning of those things which have been spoken in parables, and accommodate them to the general scheme of the faith; and explain [with special clearness] the operation and dispensation of God connected with human salvation; and show that God manifested longsuffering in regard to the apostasy of the angels who transgressed, as also with respect to the disobedience of men; and set forth why it is that one and the same God has made some things temporal and some eternal, some heavenly and others earthly; and understand for what reason God, though invisible, manifested Himself to the prophets not under one form, but differently to different individuals; and show why it was that more covenants than one were given to mankind; and teach what was the special character of each of these covenants; and search out for what reason God Romans 11:32 has concluded every man in unbelief, that He may have mercy upon all; and gratefully describe on what account the Word of God became flesh and suffered; and relate why the advent of the Son of God took place in these last times, that is, in the end, rather than in the beginning [of the world]; and unfold what is contained in the Scriptures concerning the end [itself], and things to come; and not be silent as to how it is that God has made the Gentiles, whose salvation was despaired of, fellow-heirs, and of the same body, and partakers with the saints; and discourse how it is that this mortal body shall put on immortality, and this corruptible shall put on incorruption; 1 Corinthians 15:54 and proclaim in what sense [God] says, That is a people who was not a people; and she is beloved who was not beloved; Hosea 2:23; Romans 9:25 and in what sense He says that more are the children of her that was desolate, than of her who possessed a husband. Isaiah 54:1; Galatians 4:27 For in reference to these points, and others of a like nature, the apostle exclaims: Oh! The depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God; how unsearchable are His judgments, and His ways past finding out! Romans 11:33 But [the superior skill spoken of] is not found in this, that any one should, beyond the Creator and Framer [of the world], conceive of the Enthymesis of an erring Æon, their mother and his, and should thus proceed to such a pitch of blasphemy; nor does it consist in this, that he should again falsely imagine, as being above this [fancied being], a Pleroma at one time supposed to contain thirty, and at another time an innumerable tribe of Æons, as these teachers who are destitute of truly divine wisdom maintain; while the Catholic Church possesses one and the same faith throughout the whole world, as we have already said.

Footnotes

54 Roman Ritual, Rite of Baptism of Adults.
55 Faustus of Riez, De Spiritu Sancto 1, 2: PL 62, II.
56 St. Thomas Aquinas, STh II-II, 1,2, ad 2.
57 ⇒ I Tim 3:15; Jude 3.
58 Cf. ⇒ Eph 4:4-6
59 St. Irenaeus, Adv. haeres. I, 10, 1-2: PG 7/1, 549-552.
60 St. Irenaeus, Adv. haeres. I, 10, 1-2: PG 7/1, 552-553.
61 St. Irenaeus, Adv. haeres. 5, 20, I: PG 7/2, 1177.
62 St. Irenaeus, Adv. haeres. 3, 24, I: PG 7/1, 966.



Year of Faith Catechism Study: CCC 161-165, 183 - 184 – The Characteristics of Faith Continued

clock October 28, 2012 01:02 by author John |

The Catechism sections for today continue the enumeration of the attributes of faith from yesterday. St. Thomas Aquinas makes another appearance today as well in the supporting material.

The necessity of faith

161 Believing in Jesus Christ and in the One who sent him for our salvation is necessary for obtaining that salvation.42 "Since "without faith it is impossible to please (God) " and to attain to the fellowship of his sons, therefore without faith no one has ever attained justification, nor will anyone obtain eternal life 'But he who endures to the end.'"]

Perseverance in faith

162 Faith is an entirely free gift that God makes to man. We can lose this priceless gift, as St. Paul indicated to St. Timothy: "Wage the good warfare, holding faith and a good conscience. By rejecting conscience, certain persons have made shipwreck of their faith."44 To live, grow and persevere in the faith until the end we must nourish it with the word of God; we must beg the Lord to increase our faith;45 it must be "working through charity," abounding in hope, and rooted in the faith of the Church.46

Faith - the beginning of eternal life

163 Faith makes us taste in advance the light of the beatific vision, the goal of our journey here below. Then we shall see God "face to face", "as he is".47 So faith is already the beginning of eternal life:

When we contemplate the blessings of faith even now, as if gazing at a reflection in a mirror, it is as if we already possessed the wonderful things which our faith assures us we shall one day enjoy.48

164 Now, however, "we walk by faith, not by sight";49 we perceive God as "in a mirror, dimly" and only "in part".50 Even though enlightened by him in whom it believes, faith is often lived in darkness and can be put to the test. the world we live in often seems very far from the one promised us by faith. Our experiences of evil and suffering, injustice and death, seem to contradict the Good News; they can shake our faith and become a temptation against it.

165 It is then we must turn to the witnesses of faith: to Abraham, who "in hope... believed against hope";51 to the Virgin Mary, who, in "her pilgrimage of faith", walked into the "night of faith"52 in sharing the darkness of her son's suffering and death; and to so many others: "Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus the pioneer and perfecter of our faith."53

IN BRIEF

183 Faith is necessary for salvation. the Lord himself affirms: "He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned" (⇒ Mk 16:16).

184 "Faith is a foretaste of the knowledge that will make us blessed in the life to come" (St. Thomas Aquinas. Comp. theol. 1, 2).

St. Thomas Aquinas describes the necessity of faith in the Summa Theologica (2,2,3).

Article 3. Whether it is necessary for salvation to believe anything above the natural reason?

Objection 1. It would seem unnecessary for salvation to believe anything above the natural reason. For the salvation and perfection of a thing seem to be sufficiently insured by its natural endowments. Now matters of faith, surpass man's natural reason, since they are things unseen as stated above (Question 1, Article 4). Therefore to believe seems unnecessary for salvation.

Objection 2. Further, it is dangerous for man to assent to matters, wherein he cannot judge whether that which is proposed to him be true or false, according to Job 12:11: "Doth not the ear discern words?" Now a man cannot form a judgment of this kind in matters of faith, since he cannot trace them back to first principles, by which all our judgments are guided. Therefore it is dangerous to believe in such matters. Therefore to believe is not necessary for salvation.

Objection 3. Further, man's salvation rests on God, according to Psalm 36:39: "But the salvation of the just is from the Lord." Now "the invisible things" of God "are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made; His eternal power also and Divinity," according to Romans 1:20: and those things which are clearly seen by the understanding are not an object of belief. Therefore it is not necessary for man's salvation, that he should believe certain things.

On the contrary, It is written (Hebrews 11:6): "Without faith it is impossible to please God."

I answer that, Wherever one nature is subordinate to another, we find that two things concur towards the perfection of the lower nature, one of which is in respect of that nature's proper movement, while the other is in respect of the movement of the higher nature. Thus water by its proper movement moves towards the centre (of the earth), while according to the movement of the moon, it moves round the centre by ebb and flow. On like manner the planets have their proper movements from west to east, while in accordance with the movement of the first heaven, they have a movement from east to west. Now the created rational nature alone is immediately subordinate to God, since other creatures do not attain to the universal, but only to something particular, while they partake of the Divine goodness either in "being" only, as inanimate things, or also in "living," and in "knowing singulars," as plants and animals; whereas the rational nature, in as much as it apprehends the universal notion of good and being, is immediately related to the universal principle of being.

Consequently the perfection of the rational creature consists not only in what belongs to it in respect of its nature, but also in that which it acquires through a supernatural participation of Divine goodness. Hence it was said above (I-II, 3, 8) that man's ultimate happiness consists in a supernatural vision of God: to which vision man cannot attain unless he be taught by God, according to John 6:45: "Every one that hath heard of the Father and hath learned cometh to Me." Now man acquires a share of this learning, not indeed all at once, but by little and little, according to the mode of his nature: and every one who learns thus must needs believe, in order that he may acquire science in a perfect degree; thus also the Philosopher remarks (De Soph. Elench. i, 2) that "it behooves a learner to believe."

Hence in order that a man arrive at the perfect vision of heavenly happiness, he must first of all believe God, as a disciple believes the master who is teaching him.

Reply to Objection 1. Since man's nature is dependent on a higher nature, natural knowledge does not suffice for its perfection, and some supernatural knowledge is necessary, as stated above.

Reply to Objection 2. Just as man assents to first principles, by the natural light of his intellect, so does a virtuous man, by the habit of virtue, judge aright of things concerning that virtue; and in this way, by the light of faith which God bestows on him, a man assents to matters of faith and not to those which are against faith. Consequently "there is no" danger or "condemnation to them that are in Christ Jesus," and whom He has enlightened by faith.

Reply to Objection 3. In many respects faith perceives the invisible things of God in a higher way than natural reason does in proceeding to God from His creatures. Hence it is written (Sirach 3:25): "Many things are shown to thee above the understandings of man."

Footnotes

42 Cf. ⇒ Mk 16:16; ⇒ Jn 3:36; ⇒ 6:40 et al.
44 ⇒ 1 Tim 1:18-19
45 Cf. ⇒ Mk 9:24; ⇒ Lk 17:5; ⇒ 22:32
46 ⇒ Gal 5:6; ⇒ Rom 15:13; cf. ⇒ Jas 2:14-26
47 ⇒ 1 Cor 13:12; ⇒ I Jn 3:2
48 St. Basil De Spiritu Sancto 15, 36: PG 32, 132; cf. St. Thomas Aquinas, STh II-II, 4, 1.
49 ⇒ 2 Cor 5:7.
50 ⇒ l Cor 13:12.
51 ⇒ Rom 4:18
52 LG 58; John Paul II, RMat 18.
53 ⇒ Heb 12:1-2. Article 2



The Myth of the One-Issue Voter (The Catholic Take)

clock October 27, 2012 03:18 by author John |

VotingIn the heat of the political season, you often hear the term, “single-issue voter” being bandied about, mostly from the left-of-center crowd. They use it to describe anyone that uses their faith as a reason to vote for or against a certain candidate. I propose we stop using that term. It has no real meaning.

Frequently, a person who is pro-life is described as a “single-issue voter”. While it is true that the pro-life stance can be summarized by a single phrase, it is disingenuous to assume that a person only cares about 1 issue, and is concurrently misrepresentative to equate those opposed to induced abortion with a pro-life view. A pro-life view includes advocating for life in all cases. This means standing against euthanasia, abortion, infanticide, homicide, suicide, and every other means of ending human life. It also means standing against contraception, sterilization, homosexual marriage, infidelity, adultery, promiscuity, inappropriate sex education, pornography, and in-vitro fertilization. These issues all attack the natural and proper origins of human life.

If a pro-life person can be called a single-issue voter, then by the same token, a person who advocates for the poor, “women’s rights”, peace, and entitlements can be called a single-issue social justice voter. It is all about terms. There are many aspects to the pro-life view, just as there are many aspects to the social justice view.

It is also disingenuous to assume that a person is a single-issue voter just because they believe one issue is more important than the others. A person who is pro-life doesn’t necessarily advocate for the starvation of the poor, but you would never know that by listening to the common rhetoric of the day. It seems if you take a pro-life stance, then you are labeled as “anti-poor”. Give me a break! This is nonsense, and I can’t imagine anyone with half a brain would believe it. Let’s just agree to stop labeling people as single-issue voters.

As a pro-life voter, I would be more actively involved in advocating for the poor if there wasn’t an even greater need to advocate for the unborn. I am not a single-issue voter. I just have a list of issues with life occupying the top spot.

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Year of Faith Catechism Study: CCC 153-160, 179 - 182 – The Characteristics of Faith

clock October 27, 2012 01:03 by author John |

Today’s Catechism topic is the characteristics of Faith. Supporting information provided by the Angelic Doctor himself – St. Thomas Aquinas.

III. The Characteristics of Faith

Faith is a grace

153 When St. Peter confessed that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God, Jesus declared to him that this revelation did not come "from flesh and blood", but from "my Father who is in heaven".24 Faith is a gift of God, a supernatural virtue infused by him. "Before this faith can be exercised, man must have the grace of God to move and assist him; he must have the interior helps of the Holy Spirit, who moves the heart and converts it to God, who opens the eyes of the mind and 'makes it easy for all to accept and believe the truth.'"25

Faith is a human act

154 Believing is possible only by grace and the interior helps of the Holy Spirit. But it is no less true that believing is an authentically human act. Trusting in God and cleaving to the truths he has revealed is contrary neither to human freedom nor to human reason. Even in human relations it is not contrary to our dignity to believe what other persons tell us about themselves and their intentions, or to trust their promises (for example, when a man and a woman marry) to share a communion of life with one another. If this is so, still less is it contrary to our dignity to "yield by faith the full submission of... intellect and will to God who reveals",26 and to share in an interior communion with him.

155 In faith, the human intellect and will co-operate with divine grace: "Believing is an act of the intellect assenting to the divine truth by command of the will moved by God through grace."27

Faith and understanding

156 What moves us to believe is not the fact that revealed truths appear as true and intelligible in the light of our natural reason: we believe "because of the authority of God himself who reveals them, who can neither deceive nor be deceived".28 So "that the submission of our faith might nevertheless be in accordance with reason, God willed that external proofs of his Revelation should be joined to the internal helps of the Holy Spirit."29 Thus the miracles of Christ and the saints, prophecies, the Church's growth and holiness, and her fruitfulness and stability "are the most certain signs of divine Revelation, adapted to the intelligence of all"; they are "motives of credibility" (motiva credibilitatis), which show that the assent of faith is "by no means a blind impulse of the mind".30

157 Faith is certain. It is more certain than all human knowledge because it is founded on the very word of God who cannot lie. To be sure, revealed truths can seem obscure to human reason and experience, but "the certainty that the divine light gives is greater than that which the light of natural reason gives."31 "Ten thousand difficulties do not make one doubt."32

158 "Faith seeks understanding":33 it is intrinsic to faith that a believer desires to know better the One in whom he has put his faith, and to understand better what He has revealed; a more penetrating knowledge will in turn call forth a greater faith, increasingly set afire by love. the grace of faith opens "the eyes of your hearts"34 to a lively understanding of the contents of Revelation: that is, of the totality of God's plan and the mysteries of faith, of their connection with each other and with Christ, the centre of the revealed mystery. "The same Holy Spirit constantly perfects faith by his gifts, so that Revelation may be more and more profoundly understood."35 In the words of St. Augustine, "I believe, in order to understand; and I understand, the better to believe."36

159 Faith and science: "Though faith is above reason, there can never be any real discrepancy between faith and reason. Since the same God who reveals mysteries and infuses faith has bestowed the light of reason on the human mind, God cannot deny himself, nor can truth ever contradict truth."37 "Consequently, methodical research in all branches of knowledge, provided it is carried out in a truly scientific manner and does not override moral laws, can never conflict with the faith, because the things of the world and the things of faith derive from the same God. the humble and persevering investigator of the secrets of nature is being led, as it were, by the hand of God in spite of himself, for it is God, the conserver of all things, who made them what they are."38

The freedom of faith

160 To be human, "man's response to God by faith must be free, and... therefore nobody is to be forced to embrace the faith against his will. the act of faith is of its very nature a free act."39 "God calls men to serve him in spirit and in truth. Consequently they are bound to him in conscience, but not coerced. . . This fact received its fullest manifestation in Christ Jesus."40 Indeed, Christ invited people to faith and conversion, but never coerced them. "For he bore witness to the truth but refused to use force to impose it on those who spoke against it. His kingdom... grows by the love with which Christ, lifted up on the cross, draws men to himself."41

IN BRIEF

179 Faith is a supernatural gift from God. In order to believe, man needs the interior helps of the Holy Spirit.

180 "Believing" is a human act, conscious and free, corresponding to the dignity of the human person.

181 "Believing" is an ecclesial act. the Church's faith precedes, engenders, supports and nourishes our faith. the Church is the mother of all believers. "No one can have God as Father who does not have the Church as Mother" (St. Cyprian, De unit. 6: PL 4, 519).

182 We believe all "that which is contained in the word of God, written or handed down, and which the Church proposes for belief as divinely revealed" (Paul VI, CPG # 20).

Here is Aquinas’ perspective on Faith as a grace from God and the act of human assent (Summa Theologica 2,2,6):

Article 1. Whether faith is infused into man by God?

Objection 1. It would seem that faith is not infused into man by God. For Augustine says (De Trin. xiv) that "science begets faith in us, and nourishes, defends and strengthens it." Now those things which science begets in us seem to be acquired rather than infused. Therefore faith does not seem to be in us by Divine infusion.

Objection 2. Further, that to which man attains by hearing and seeing, seems to be acquired by him. Now man attains to belief, both by seeing miracles, and by hearing the teachings of faith: for it is written (John 4:53): "The father . . . knew that it was at the same hour, that Jesus said to him, Thy son liveth; and himself believed, and his whole house"; and (Romans 10:17) it is said that "faith is through hearing." Therefore man attains to faith by acquiring it.

Objection 3. Further, that which depends on a man's will can be acquired by him. But "faith depends on the believer's will," according to Augustine (De Praedest. Sanct. v). Therefore faith can be acquired by man.

On the contrary, It is written (Ephesians 2:8-9): "By grace you are saved through faith, and that not of yourselves . . . that no man may glory . . . for it is the gift of God."

I answer that, Two things are requisite for faith. First, that the things which are of faith should be proposed to man: this is necessary in order that man believe anything explicitly. The second thing requisite for faith is the assent of the believer to the things which are proposed to him. Accordingly, as regards the first of these, faith must needs be from God. Because those things which are of faith surpass human reason, hence they do not come to man's knowledge, unless God reveal them. To some, indeed, they are revealed by God immediately, as those things which were revealed to the apostles and prophets, while to some they are proposed by God in sending preachers of the faith, according to Romans 10:15: "How shall they preach, unless they be sent?"

As regards the second, viz. man's assent to the things which are of faith, we may observe a twofold cause, one of external inducement, such as seeing a miracle, or being persuaded by someone to embrace the faith: neither of which is a sufficient cause, since of those who see the same miracle, or who hear the same sermon, some believe, and some do not. Hence we must assert another internal cause, which moves man inwardly to assent to matters of faith.

The Pelagians held that this cause was nothing else than man's free-will: and consequently they said that the beginning of faith is from ourselves, inasmuch as, to wit, it is in our power to be ready to assent to things which are of faith, but that the consummation of faith is from God, Who proposes to us the things we have to believe. But this is false, for, since man, by assenting to matters of faith, is raised above his nature, this must needs accrue to him from some supernatural principle moving him inwardly; and this is God. Therefore faith, as regards the assent which is the chief act of faith, is from God moving man inwardly by grace.

Reply to Objection 1. Science begets and nourishes faith, by way of external persuasion afforded by science; but the chief and proper cause of faith is that which moves man inwardly to assent.

Reply to Objection 2. This argument again refers to the cause that proposes outwardly the things that are of faith, or persuades man to believe by words or deeds.

Reply to Objection 3. To believe does indeed depend on the will of the believer: but man's will needs to be prepared by God with grace, in order that he may be raised to things which are above his nature, as stated above (2, 3).

Here is what the Dogmatic Constitution, Dei Filius has to say about faith:

Chap. 3. Faith

Since man is wholly dependent on God as his Creator and Lord, and since created reason is completely subject to uncreated truth, we are bound by faith to give full obedience of intellect and will to God who reveals. But the Catholic Church professes that this faith, which is the beginning of human salvation, is a supernatural virtue by which we, with the aid and inspiration of the grace of God, believe that the things revealed by Him are true, not because the intrinsic truth of the revealed things has been perceived by the natural light of reason, but because of the authority of God Himself who reveals them, who can neither deceive nor be deceived. For, "faith is," as the Apostle testifies, "the substance of things to be hoped for, the evidence of things that appear not" [Heb 11:1].

However, in order that the "obedience" of our faith should be "consonant with reason" [cf. Rom 12:1], God has willed that to the internal aids of the Holy Spirit there should be joined external proofs of His revelation, namely: divine facts, especially miracles and prophecies which, because they clearly show forth the omnipotence and infinite knowledge of God, are most certain signs of a divine revelation, and are suited to the intelligence of all. Wherefore, not only Moses and the prophets, but especially Christ the Lord Himself, produced many genuine miracles and prophecies; and we read concerning the apostles: "But they going forth preached everywhere: the Lord working withal and confirming the word with signs that followed" [Mk 16:20]. And again it is written: "And we have the more firm prophetical word: whereunto you do well to attend, as to a light that shineth in a dark place" [2Pet 1:19].

Moreover, although the assent of faith is by no means a blind movement of the intellect, nevertheless, no one can "assent to the preaching of the Gospel," as he must to attain salvation, "without the illumination and inspiration of the Holy Spirit, who gives to all a sweetness in consenting to and believing in truth" (Council of Orange). Wherefore, "faith" itself in itself, even if it "worketh not by charity" [cf. Gal 5:6], is a gift of God, and its act is a work pertaining to salvation, by which man offers a free obedience to God Himself by agreeing to, and cooperating with His grace, which he could resist.

Further, by divine and Catholic faith, all those things must be believed which are contained in the written word of God and in tradition, and those which are proposed by the Church, either in a solemn pronouncement or in her ordinary and universal teaching power, to be believed as divinely revealed.

But, since "without faith it is impossible to please God" [Heb 11:6] and to attain to the fellowship of His sons, hence, no one is justified without it; nor will anyone attain eternal life except "he shall persevere unto the end on it" [Mt 10:22; 24:13]. Moreover, in order that we may satisfactorily perform the duty of embracing the true faith and of continuously persevering in it, God, through His only-begotten Son, has instituted the Church, and provided it with clear signs of His institution, so that it can be recognized by all as the guardian and teacher of the revealed word.

For, to the Catholic Church alone belong all those many and marvelous things which have been divinely arranged for the evident credibility of the Christian faith. But, even the Church itself by itself, because of its marvelous propagation, its exceptional holiness, and inexhaustible fruitfulness in all good works; because of its catholic unity and invincible stability, is a very great and perpetual motive of credibility, and an incontestable witness of its own divine mission.

By this it happens that the Church as "a standard set up unto the nations" [Is 11:12], both invites to itself those who have not yet believed, and makes its sons more certain that the faith, which they profess, rests on a very firm foundation. Indeed, an efficacious aid to this testimony has come from supernatural virtue. For, the most benign God both excites the erring by His grace and aids them so that they can "come to a knowledge of the truth" [1Tim 2:4], and also confirms in His grace those whom "He has called out of darkness into his marvelous light" [1Pet 2:9], so that they may persevere in this same light, not deserting if He be not deserted. Wherefore, not at all equal is the condition of those, who, through the heavenly gift of faith, have adhered to the Catholic truth, and of those, who, led by human opinions, follow a false religion; for, those who have accepted the faith under the teaching power of the Church can never have a just cause of changing or doubting that faith. Since this is so, "giving thanks to God the Father, who hath made us worthy to be partakers of the lot of the saints in light" [Col 1:12], let us not neglect such salvation, but "looking on Jesus, the author and finisher of faith" [Heb 12:2], "let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering" [Heb 10:23].

Footnotes

24 ⇒ Mt 16:17; cf. ⇒ Gal 1:15; ⇒ Mt 11:25.
25 DV 5; cf. DS 377; 3010.
26 Dei Filius: 3: DS 3008.
27 St. Thomas Aquinas, STh II-II, 2, 9; cf Dei Filius 3; DS 3010.
28 Dei Filius: 3 DS 3008.
29 Dei Filius: 3 DS 3009.
30 Dei Filius: 3: DS 3008-3010; Cf. ⇒ Mk 16 20; ⇒ Heb 2:4
31 St. Thomas Aquinas, STh II-II 171, 5, obj. 3.
32 John Henry Cardinal Newman, Apologia pro vita sua (London Longman, 1878) 239.
33 St. Anselm, Prosl. prooem. PL 153 225A.
34 ⇒ Eph 1:18
35 DV 5.
36 St. Augustine, Sermo 43, 7, 9: PL 38, 257-258.
37 Dei Filius 4: DS 3017.
38 GS 36 # 1.
39 DH 10; cf. ⇒ CIC, can. 748 # 2.
40 DH 11.
41 DH 11; cf. ⇒ Jn 18:37; ⇒ 12:32.



Year of Faith Catechism Study: CCC 150-152, 178 – Faith in God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit

clock October 26, 2012 01:03 by author John |

The Catechism topic for today is faith in God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. There is some supporting information from the Summa Theologica as well.

II. "I Know Whom I Have Believed"16

To believe in God alone

150 Faith is first of all a personal adherence of man to God. At the same time, and inseparably, it is a free assent to the whole truth that God has revealed. As personal adherence to God and assent to his truth, Christian faith differs from our faith in any human person. It is right and just to entrust oneself wholly to God and to believe absolutely what he says. It would be futile and false to place such faith in a creature.17

To believe in Jesus Christ, the Son of God

151 For a Christian, believing in God cannot be separated from believing in the One he sent, his "beloved Son", in whom the Father is "well pleased"; God tells us to listen to him.18 The Lord himself said to his disciples: "Believe in God, believe also in me."19 We can believe in Jesus Christ because he is himself God, the Word made flesh: "No one has ever seen God; the only Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, he has made him known."20 Because he "has seen the Father", Jesus Christ is the only one who knows him and can reveal him.21

To believe in the Holy Spirit

152 One cannot believe in Jesus Christ without sharing in his Spirit. It is the Holy Spirit who reveals to men who Jesus is. For "no one can say "Jesus is Lord", except by the Holy Spirit",22 who "searches everything, even the depths of God. . No one comprehends the thoughts of God, except the Spirit of God."23 Only God knows God completely: we believe in the Holy Spirit because he is God.

The Church never ceases to proclaim her faith in one only God: Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

IN BRIEF

178 We must believe in no one but God: the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.

St. Paul writes of his belief in the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit in 2 Tim 1:12-14.

On this account I am suffering these things; but I am not ashamed, for I know him in whom I have believed and am confident that he is able to guard what has been entrusted to me until that day. Take as your norm the sound words that you heard from me, in the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. Guard this rich trust with the help of the holy Spirit that dwells within us.

St. Paul writes of his belief in the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit in 2 Tim 1:12-14.

On this account I am suffering these things; but I am not ashamed, for I know him in whom I have believed and am confident that he is able to guard what has been entrusted to me until that day. Take as your norm the sound words that you heard from me, in the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. Guard this rich trust with the help of the holy Spirit that dwells within us.

In the Summa Theologica by St. Thomas Aquinas (2, 2, 2), the great doctor of the Church explains that it is necessary to believe in the Trinity:

Article 8. Whether it is necessary for salvation to believe explicitly in the Trinity?

Objection 1. It would seem that it was not necessary for salvation to believe explicitly in the Trinity. For the Apostle says (Hebrews 11:6): "He that cometh to God must believe that He is, and is a rewarder to them that seek Him." Now one can believe this without believing in the Trinity. Therefore it was not necessary to believe explicitly in the Trinity.

Objection 2. Further our Lord said (John 17:5-6): "Father, I have manifested Thy name to men," which words Augustine expounds (Tract. cvi) as follows: "Not the name by which Thou art called God, but the name whereby Thou art called My Father," and further on he adds: "In that He made this world, God is known to all nations; in that He is not to be worshipped together with false gods, 'God is known in Judea'; but, in that He is the Father of this Christ, through Whom He takes away the sin of the world, He now makes known to men this name of His, which hitherto they knew not." Therefore before the coming of Christ it was not known that Paternity and Filiation were in the Godhead: and so the Trinity was not believed explicitly.

Objection 3. Further, that which we are bound to believe explicitly of God is the object of heavenly happiness. Now the object of heavenly happiness is the sovereign good, which can be understood to be in God, without any distinction of Persons. Therefore it was not necessary to believe explicitly in the Trinity.

On the contrary, In the Old Testament the Trinity of Persons is expressed in many ways; thus at the very outset of Genesis it is written in manifestation of the Trinity: "Let us make man to Our image and likeness" (Genesis 1:26). Therefore from the very beginning it was necessary for salvation to believe in the Trinity.

I answer that, It is impossible to believe explicitly in the mystery of Christ, without faith in the Trinity, since the mystery of Christ includes that the Son of God took flesh; that He renewed the world through the grace of the Holy Ghost; and again, that He was conceived by the Holy Ghost. Wherefore just as, before Christ, the mystery of Christ was believed explicitly by the learned, but implicitly and under a veil, so to speak, by the simple, so too was it with the mystery of the Trinity. And consequently, when once grace had been revealed, all were bound to explicit faith in the mystery of the Trinity: and all who are born again in Christ, have this bestowed on them by the invocation of the Trinity, according to Matthew 28:19: "Going therefore teach ye all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost."

Reply to Objection 1. Explicit faith in those two things was necessary at all times and for all people: but it was not sufficient at all times and for all people.

Reply to Objection 2. Before Christ's coming, faith in the Trinity lay hidden in the faith of the learned, but through Christ and the apostles it was shown to the world.

Reply to Objection 3. God's sovereign goodness as we understand it now through its effects, can be understood without the Trinity of Persons: but as understood in itself, and as seen by the Blessed, it cannot be understood without the Trinity of Persons. Moreover the mission of the Divine Persons brings us to heavenly happiness.

Footnotes

16 ⇒ 2 Tim 1:12
17 Cf. ⇒ Jer 17:5-6; ⇒ Pss 40:5; ⇒ 146:3-4
18 ⇒ Mk 1:11; cf. ⇒ 9:7
19 ⇒ Jn 14:1
20 ⇒ Jn 1:18.
21 ⇒ Jn 6:46; cf. ⇒ Mt 11:27
22 ⇒ I Cor 12:3
23 ⇒ I Cor 2:10-11.



Divine Grace and the Entitlement Mentality

clock October 25, 2012 07:46 by author John |
The Holy Spirit By Giaquinto Corrado
The Holy Spirit By Giaquinto Corrado
Grace is the result of the Holy Spirit working in our lives

In present American culture, the term “Entitlement” has a particularly strong connotation with social help programs, which provide support for many people in the lower economic rungs of our society. Many on the right side of the political spectrum associate entitlements with handouts that frequently are undeserved and wasteful. Those on the left equate entitlements with a lifeline, sustaining those who are unable to sustain themselves whether through disability or hard luck.

As humans, we are all part of a universal entitlement society, living hand-to-mouth on the Divine assistance of grace. Grace is the Divine handout, the result of the Holy Spirit working in our lives. In a sense, grace is the spiritual assistance which parallels the entitlements our government provides.

Grace is undeserved. By our nature as fallen humans who have rejected the loving plan of God from the very beginning, we could hardly fault God if He simply went along with our will of spiritual destruction. We made a choice which removed us from the relationship God intended for us. Through His perfect mercy and love for us, God did not allow us to languish and succumb to spiritual death. He intervened in our destiny, sending His Son to save us through His passion and death. He also intervened throughout our history to bring about positive outcomes to dire circumstances. Wars have been won, plagues overcome, and natural disasters averted through His loving involvement in our affairs. He has furthermore inserted good outcomes into each of our lives when surely those results were not deserved. His grace is abundant and freely given despite being utterly unmerited in due to our actions.

Grace is most often wasted by its recipients. Time and time again, Our Lord showers grace upon us and just as often, we derive some benefit from it, but after a while, we turn away from the life of grace and fall into depravity. The abundant gift of grace is forgotten, ignored and rejected more often than it is embraced and utilized. Nevertheless, God comes back to us. He gives us this gift of grace even after we have consistently rejected or squandered it.

Grace sustains us when we are unable to sustain ourselves. Without the gift of grace, we would scarcely be able to function as a society. Without the continual intervention in our lives and events, we would descend into thoroughly selfish and prideful behavior. Every time we receive an infusion of grace, we are called back from sinfulness to reestablish a loving relationship with God. You can see the good that is done when grace is given and eagerly accepted.

Grace can be refused and frequently is. The effects of rejected grace echo throughout the world. Sin is the result of the rejection of grace. Wars, terrorism, abortion, prostitution, pornography, infidelity, promiscuity, secularism, atheism, theft, greed, sloth are all the product of our fallen nature devoid of the life of grace in our soul. Just as a person living in poverty would struggle unnecessarily without public assistance, so too do we when we turn down the help of God.

Grace is necessary for our salvation and in fact for the proper functioning of our society. We can grow in holiness through the undeserved gifting of this Divine assistance. Our fallen nature at times inclines us to turn away from this grace, so it is important for us to consciously look for the infusion of grace, beg and plead God for it, accept it when it is given and build on it in order to perfect our lives and realize the end to which we are all called: Heaven.



Year of Faith Catechism Study: CCC 142-149, 176-177 – Man's Response to God and the Obedience of Faith

clock October 25, 2012 01:02 by author John |

Today’s Catechism sections discuss faith, Man’s response to God, specifically the obedience of faith. Happy reading!

CHAPTER THREE

MAN'S RESPONSE TO GOD

142 By his Revelation, "the invisible God, from the fullness of his love, addresses men as his friends, and moves among them, in order to invite and receive them into his own company."1 The adequate response to this invitation is faith.

143 By faith, man completely submits his intellect and his will to God.2 With his whole being man gives his assent to God the revealer. Sacred Scripture calls this human response to God, the author of revelation, "the obedience of faith".3

Article 1

I BELIEVE

I. The Obedience of Faith

144 To obey (from the Latin ob-audire, to "hear or listen to") in faith is to submit freely to the word that has been heard, because its truth is guaranteed by God, who is Truth itself. Abraham is the model of such obedience offered us by Sacred Scripture. The Virgin Mary is its most perfect embodiment.

Abraham - "father of all who believe"

145 The Letter to the Hebrews, in its great eulogy of the faith of Israel's ancestors, lays special emphasis on Abraham's faith: "By faith, Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to a place which he was to receive as an inheritance; and he went out, not knowing where he was to go."4 By faith, he lived as a stranger and pilgrim in the Promised Land.5 By faith, Sarah was given to conceive the son of the promise. And by faith Abraham offered his only son in sacrifice.6

146 Abraham thus fulfills the definition of faith in Hebrews 11:1: "Faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen":7 "Abraham believed God, and it was reckoned to him as righteousness."8 Because he was "strong in his faith", Abraham became the "father of all who believe".9

147 The Old Testament is rich in witnesses to this faith. The Letter to the Hebrews proclaims its eulogy of the exemplary faith of the ancestors who "received divine approval".10 Yet "God had foreseen something better for us": the grace of believing in his Son Jesus, "the pioneer and perfecter of our faith".11

Mary - "Blessed is she who believed"

148 The Virgin Mary most perfectly embodies the obedience of faith. By faith Mary welcomes the tidings and promise brought by the angel Gabriel, believing that "with God nothing will be impossible" and so giving her assent: "Behold I am the handmaid of the Lord; let it be [done] to me according to your word."12 Elizabeth greeted her: "Blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her from the Lord."13 It is for this faith that all generations have called Mary blessed.14

149 Throughout her life and until her last ordeal15 when Jesus her son died on the cross, Mary's faith never wavered. She never ceased to believe in the fulfillment of God's word. And so the Church venerates in Mary the purest realization of faith.

IN BRIEF

176 Faith is a personal adherence of the whole man to God who reveals himself. It involves an assent of the intellect and will to the self-revelation God has made through his deeds and words.

177 "To believe" has thus a twofold reference: to the person, and to the truth: to the truth, by trust in the person who bears witness to it.

Here is what the Dogmatic Constitution, Dei Verbum expresses about the “obedience of faith”:

5. "The obedience of faith" (Rom. 13:26; see 1:5; 2 Cor 10:5-6) "is to be given to God who reveals, an obedience by which man commits his whole self freely to God, offering the full submission of intellect and will to God who reveals," (4) and freely assenting to the truth revealed by Him. To make this act of faith, the grace of God and the interior help of the Holy Spirit must precede and assist, moving the heart and turning it to God, opening the eyes of the mind and giving "joy and ease to everyone in assenting to the truth and believing it." (5) To bring about an ever deeper understanding of revelation the same Holy Spirit constantly brings faith to completion by His gifts.

St. Thomas Aquinas in his Summa Theologica (2, 2, 4) discusses the relationship between faith and obedience:

Article 2. Whether faith resides in the intellect?

Objection 1. It would seem that faith does not reside in the intellect. For Augustine says (De Praedest. Sanct. v) that "faith resides in the believer's will." Now the will is a power distinct from the intellect. Therefore faith does not reside in the intellect.

Objection 2. Further, the assent of faith to believe anything, proceeds from the will obeying God. Therefore it seems that faith owes all its praise to obedience. Now obedience is in the will. Therefore faith is in the will, and not in the intellect.

Objection 3. Further, the intellect is either speculative or practical. Now faith is not in the speculative intellect, since this is not concerned with things to be sought or avoided, as stated in De Anima iii, 9, so that it is not a principle of operation, whereas "faith . . . worketh by charity" (Galatians 5:6). Likewise, neither is it in the practical intellect, the object of which is some true, contingent thing, that can be made or done. For the object of faith is the Eternal Truth, as was shown above (Question 1, Article 1). Therefore faith does not reside in the intellect.

On the contrary, Faith is succeeded by the heavenly vision, according to 1 Corinthians 13:12: "We see now through a glass in a dark manner; but then face to face." Now vision is in the intellect. Therefore faith is likewise.

I answer that, Since faith is a virtue, its act must needs be perfect. Now, for the perfection of an act proceeding from two active principles, each of these principles must be perfect: for it is not possible for a thing to be sawn well, unless the sawyer possess the art, and the saw be well fitted for sawing. Now, in a power of the soul, which is related to opposite objects, a disposition to act well is a habit, as stated above (I-II, 49, 4, ad 1,2,3). Wherefore an act that proceeds from two such powers must be perfected by a habit residing in each of them. Again, it has been stated above (2, 1,2) that to believe is an act of the intellect inasmuch as the will moves it to assent. And this act proceeds from the will and the intellect, both of which have a natural aptitude to be perfected in this way. Consequently, if the act of faith is to be perfect, there needs to be a habit in the will as well as in the intellect: even as there needs to be the habit of prudence in the reason, besides the habit of temperance in the concupiscible faculty, in order that the act of that faculty be perfect. Now, to believe is immediately an act of the intellect, because the object of that act is "the true," which pertains properly to the intellect. Consequently faith, which is the proper principle of that act, must needs reside in the intellect.

Reply to Objection 1. Augustine takes faith for the act of faith, which is described as depending on the believer's will, in so far as his intellect assents to matters of faith at the command of the will.

Reply to Objection 2. Not only does the will need to be ready to obey but also the intellect needs to be well disposed to follow the command of the will, even as the concupiscible faculty needs to be well disposed in order to follow the command of reason; hence there needs to be a habit of virtue not only in the commanding will but also in the assenting intellect.

Reply to Objection 3. Faith resides in the speculative intellect, as evidenced by its object. But since this object, which is the First Truth, is the end of all our desires and actions, as Augustine proves (De Trin. i, 8), it follows that faith worketh by charity just as "the speculative intellect becomes practical by extension" (De Anima iii, 10).

Footnotes

1 DV 2; cf. ⇒ Col 1:15; ⇒ I Tim 1:17; ⇒ Ex 33:11; ⇒ Jn 15:14-15; Bar 3:38 (Vulg.).
2 Cf. DV 5.
3 Cf. ⇒ Rom 1:5; ⇒ 16:26
4 ⇒ Heb 11:8; cf. ⇒ Gen 12:1-4.
5 Cf. ⇒ Gen 23:4
6 Cf. ⇒ Heb 11:17
7 ⇒ Heb 11:1
8 ⇒ Rom 4:3; cf. ⇒ Gen 15:6
9 ⇒ Rom 4:11, ⇒ 18; ⇒ 4:20; cf. ⇒ Gen 15:5.
10 ⇒ Heb 11:2, ⇒ 39
11 ⇒ Heb 11:40; ⇒ 12:2
12 ⇒ Lk 1:37-38; cf. ⇒ Gen 18:14
13 ⇒ Lk 1:45
14 Cf. ⇒ Lk 1:48
15 Cf. ⇒ Lk 2:35