St. Wulfric of Haselbury
Feast of St. Wulfric of Haselbury

Have You Been To Confession Lately?

clock November 30, 2012 08:49 by author John |

Go to confessionHave you been to confession lately? Advent is quickly approaching. Are you ready for it? Why not enter the season of Advent with a clean slate and a spotless soul? Head over to confession this weekend. Most parishes offer confession on Saturdays and some even on Fridays.

Here is some material for you to read up on if you are unfamiliar with confession or you have been away for a while.
 

How To Make a Good Catholic Confession

A Thorough Catholic Examination of Conscience

What is Mortal Sin (The Catholic Definition)

What is Venial Sin (The Catholic Definition)

The Act of Contrition

Top 10 Emotional Reasons People Don't Go to Confession (and Why You Should Consider it Anyway)



Year of Faith Catechism Study: CCC 430-435 – The Name of Jesus

clock November 30, 2012 01:02 by author John |

In today’s Catechism sections, we read about the Name of Jesus. St. Bernard of Clairvaux provides the supporting material from his “Sermon on the Song of Songs”.

ARTICLE 2

"AND IN JESUS CHRIST, HIS ONLY SON, OUR LORD"

I. Jesus

430 Jesus means in Hebrew: "God saves." At the annunciation, the angel Gabriel gave him the name Jesus as his proper name, which expresses both his identity and his mission.18 Since God alone can forgive sins, it is God who, in Jesus his eternal Son made man, "will save his people from their sins".19 in Jesus, God recapitulates all of his history of salvation on behalf of men.

431 In the history of salvation God was not content to deliver Israel "out of the house of bondage"20 by bringing them out of Egypt. He also saves them from their sin. Because sin is always an offence against God, only he can forgive it.21 For this reason Israel, becoming more and more aware of the universality of sin, will no longer be able to seek salvation except by invoking the name of the Redeemer God.22

432 The name "Jesus" signifies that the very name of God is present in the person of his Son, made man for the universal and definitive redemption from sins. It is the divine name that alone brings salvation, and henceforth all can invoke his name, for Jesus united himself to all men through his Incarnation,23 so that "there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved."24

433 The name of the Saviour God was invoked only once in the year by the high priest in atonement for the sins of Israel, after he had sprinkled the mercy seat in the Holy of Holies with the sacrificial blood. The mercy seat was the place of God's presence.25 When St. Paul speaks of Jesus whom "God put forward as an expiation by his blood", he means that in Christ's humanity "God was in Christ reconciling the world to himself."26

434 Jesus' Resurrection glorifies the name of the Saviour God, for from that time on it is the name of Jesus that fully manifests the supreme power of the "name which is above every name".27 The evil spirits fear his name; in his name his disciples perform miracles, for the Father grants all they ask in this name.28

435 The name of Jesus is at the heart of Christian prayer. All liturgical prayers conclude with the words "through our Lord Jesus Christ". The Hail Mary reaches its high point in the words "blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus." the Eastern prayer of the heart, the Jesus Prayer, says: "Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner." Many Christians, such as St. Joan of Arc, have died with the one word "Jesus" on their lips.

In his “Sermon on the Song of Songs” (#15), St. Bernard of Clairvaux professes the power of the Name of Jesus:

6. How shall we explain the world-wide light of faith, swift and flaming in its progress, except by the preaching of Jesus' name? Is it not by the light of this name that God has called us into his wonderful light, that irradiates our darkness and empowers us to see the light? To such as we Paul says: "You were darkness once, but now you are light in the Lord." This is the name that Paul was commanded to present before kings and pagans and the people of Israel; a name that illumined his native land as he carried it with him like a torch, preaching on all his journeys that the night is almost over, it will be daylight soon -- let us give up all the things we prefer to do under cover of the dark; let us arm ourselves and appear in the light. Let us live decently as people do in the day-time. To every eye he was a lamp on its lamp-stand; to every place he brought the good news of Jesus, and him crucified. What a splendor radiated from that light, dazzling the eyes of the crowd, when Peter uttered the name that strengthened the feet and ankles of the cripple, and gave light to many eyes that were spiritually blind! Did not the words shoot like a flame when he said: "In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, arise and walk"? But the name of Jesus is more than light, it is also food. Do you not feel increase of strength as often as you remember it? What other name can so enrich the man who meditates? What can equal its power to refresh the harassed senses, to buttress the virtues, to add vigor to good and upright habits, to foster chaste affections? Every food of the mind is dry if it is not dipped in that oil; it is tasteless if not seasoned by that salt. Write what you will, I shall not relish it unless it tells of Jesus. Talk or argue about what you will, I shall not relish it if you exclude the name of Jesus. Jesus to me is honey in the mouth, music in the ear, a song in the heart.

Again, it is a medicine. Does one of us feel sad? Let the name of Jesus come into his heart, from there let it spring to his mouth, so that shining like the dawn it may dispel all darkness and make a cloudless sky. Does someone fall into sin? Does his despair even urge him to suicide? Let him but invoke this life-giving name and his will to live will be at once renewed. The hardness of heart that is our common experience, the apathy bred of indolence, bitterness of mind, repugnance for the things of the spirit -- have they ever failed to yield in presence of that saving name? The tears damned up by the barrier of our pride -- how have they not burst forth again with sweeter abundance at the thought of Jesus' name? And where is the man, who, terrified and trembling before impending peril, has not been suddenly filled with courage and rid of fear by calling on the strength of that name? Where is the man who, tossed on the rolling seas of doubt, did not quickly find certitude by recourse to the clarity of Jesus' name? Was ever a man so discouraged, so beaten down by afflictions, to whom the sound of this name did not bring new resolve? In short, for all the ills and disorders to which flesh is heir, this name is medicine. For proof we have no less than his own promise: "Call upon me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you shall glorify me." Nothing so curbs the onset of anger, so allays the upsurge of pride. It cures the wound of envy, controls unbridled extravagance and quenches the flame of lust; it cools the thirst of covetousness and banishes the itch of unclean desire. For when I name Jesus I set before me a man who is meek and humble of heart, kind, prudent, chaste, merciful, flawlessly upright and holy in the eyes of all; and this same man is the all-powerful God whose way of life heals me, whose support is my strength. All these re-echo for me at the hearing of Jesus' name. Because he is man I strive to imitate him; because of his divine power I lean upon him. The examples of his human life I gather like medicinal herbs; with the aid of his power I blend them, and the result is a compound like no pharmacist can produce.

Footnotes

18 Cf. ⇒ Lk 1:31.
19 ⇒ Mt 1:21; cf. ⇒ 2:7.
20 Dt 5:6.
21 Cf. ⇒ Ps 51:4, ⇒ 12.
22 Cf. ⇒ Ps 79:9.
23 Cf. ⇒ Jn 3:18; ⇒ Acts 2:21; ⇒ 5:41; ⇒ 3 ⇒ Jn 7; ⇒ Rom 10:6-13.
24 ⇒ Acts 4:12; cf. ⇒ 9:14; ⇒ Jas 2:7.
25 Cf. Ex 25:22; ⇒ Lev 16:2,15-16; ⇒ Num 7:89; ⇒ Sir 50:20; ⇒ Heb 9:5,7.
26 ⇒ Rom 3:25; ⇒ 2 Cor 5:19.
27 ⇒ Phil 2:9-10; cf. ⇒ Jn 12:28.
28 Cf. ⇒ Acts 16:16-18; ⇒ 19:13-16; ⇒ Mk 16:17; ⇒ Jn 15:16.



Year of Faith Catechism Study: CCC 422-429 Introduction to Catechesis on Jesus Christ

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

Today’s Catechism sections provide an introduction to the catechesis on Jesus Christ. Supplemental material comes from Pope John Paul II’s Apostolic Exhortation, “Catechesi Tradendae”.

CHAPTER TWO

I BELIEVE IN JESUS CHRIST, THE ONLY SON OF GOD

The Good News: God has sent his Son

422 'But when the time had fully come, God sent forth his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons.'1 This is 'the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God':2 God has visited his people. He has fulfilled the promise he made to Abraham and his descendants. He acted far beyond all expectation - he has sent his own 'beloved Son'.3

423 We believe and confess that Jesus of Nazareth, born a Jew of a daughter of Israel at Bethlehem at the time of King Herod the Great and the emperor Caesar Augustus, a carpenter by trade, who died crucified in Jerusalem under the procurator Pontius Pilate during the reign of the emperor Tiberius, is the eternal Son of God made man. He 'came from God',4 'descended from heaven',5 and 'came in the flesh'.6 For 'the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, full of grace and truth; we have beheld his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father. . . and from his fullness have we all received, grace upon grace.'7

424 Moved by the grace of the Holy Spirit and drawn by the Father, we believe in Jesus and confess: 'You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.'8 On the rock of this faith confessed by St. Peter, Christ built his Church.9

"To preach. . . the unsearchable riches of Christ"10

425 The transmission of the Christian faith consists primarily in proclaiming Jesus Christ in order to lead others to faith in him. From the beginning, the first disciples burned with the desire to proclaim Christ: "We cannot but speak of what we have seen and heard."11 It and they invite people of every era to enter into the joy of their communion with Christ:

That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon and touched with our hands, concerning the word of life - the life was made manifest, and we saw it, and testify to it, and proclaim to you the eternal life which was with the Father and was made manifest to us - that which we have seen and heard we proclaim also to you, so that you may have fellowship with us; and our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ. And we are writing this that our joy may be complete.12

At the heart of catechesis: Christ

426 "At the heart of catechesis we find, in essence, a Person, the Person of Jesus of Nazareth, the only Son from the Father. . .who suffered and died for us and who now, after rising, is living with us forever."13 To catechize is "to reveal in the Person of Christ the whole of God's eternal design reaching fulfilment in that Person. It is to seek to understand the meaning of Christ's actions and words and of the signs worked by him."14 Catechesis aims at putting "people . . . in communion . . . with Jesus Christ: only he can lead us to the love of the Father in the Spirit and make us share in the life of the Holy Trinity."15

427 In catechesis "Christ, the Incarnate Word and Son of God,. . . is taught - everything else is taught with reference to him - and it is Christ alone who teaches - anyone else teaches to the extent that he is Christ's spokesman, enabling Christ to teach with his lips. . . Every catechist should be able to apply to himself the mysterious words of Jesus: 'My teaching is not mine, but his who sent me.'"16

428 Whoever is called "to teach Christ" must first seek "the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus"; he must suffer "the loss of all things. . ." in order to "gain Christ and be found in him", and "to know him and the power of his resurrection, and (to) share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, that if possible (he) may attain the resurrection from the dead".17

429 From this loving knowledge of Christ springs the desire to proclaim him, to "evangelize", and to lead others to the "yes" of faith in Jesus Christ. But at the same time the need to know this faith better makes itself felt. To this end, following the order of the Creed, Jesus' principal titles - "Christ", "Son of God", and "Lord" (article 2) - will be presented. The Creed next confesses the chief mysteries of his life - those of his Incarnation (article 3), Paschal mystery (articles 4 and 5) and glorification (articles 6 and 7).

The following excerpt from the Apostolic Exhortation, “Catechesi Tradendae” highlights the Christocentricity of catechesis:

Putting Into Communion With the Person of Christ

5. The fourth general assembly of the synod of Bishops often stressed the Christocentricity of all authentic catechesis. We can here use the word "Christocentricity" in both its meanings, which are not opposed to each other or mutually exclusive, but each of which rather demands and completes the other.

In the first place, it is intended to stress that at the heart of catechesis we find, in essence, a Person, the Person of Jesus of Nazareth, "the only Son from the Father...full of grace and truth,"(9) who suffered and died for us and who now, after rising, is living with us forever. It is Jesus who is "the way, and the truth, and the life,"(10) and Christian living consists in following Christ, the sequela Christi.

The primary and essential object of catechesis is, to use an expression dear to St. Paul and also to contemporary theology, "the mystery of Christ." Catechizing is in a way to lead a person to study this mystery in all its dimensions: "to make all men see what is the plan of the mystery...comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth ...know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge...(and be filled) with all the fullness of God."(11) It is therefore to reveal in the Person of Christ the whole of God's eternal design reaching fulfillment in that Person. It is to seek to understand the meaning of Christ's actions and words and of the signs worked by Him, for they simultaneously hide and reveal His mystery. Accordingly, the definitive aim of catechesis is to put people not only in touch but in communion, in intimacy, with Jesus Christ: only He can lead us to the love of the Father in the Spirit and make us share in the life of the Holy Trinity.

Transmitting Christ's Teaching

6. Christocentricity in catechesis also means the intention to transmit not one's own teaching or that of some other master, but the teaching of Jesus Christ, the Truth that He communicates or, to put it more precisely, the Truth that He is.(12) We must therefore say that in catechesis it is Christ, the Incarnate Word and Son of God, who is taught - everything else is taught with reference to Him - and it is Christ alone who teaches - anyone else teaches to the extent that he is Christ's spokesman, enabling Christ to teach with his lips. Whatever be the level of his responsibility in the Church, every catechist must constantly endeavor to transmit by his teaching and behavior the teaching and life of Jesus. He will not seek to keep directed towards himself and his personal opinions and attitudes the attention and the consent of the mind and heart of the person he is catechizing. Above all, he will not try to inculcate his personal opinions and options as if they expressed Christ's teaching and the lessons of His life. Every catechist should be able to apply to himself the mysterious words of Jesus: "My teaching is not mine, but his who sent me."(13) St. Paul did this when he was dealing with a question of prime importance: "I received from the Lord what I also delivered to you."(14) What assiduous study of the word of God transmitted by the Church's magisterium, what profound familiarity with Christ and with the Father, what a spirit of prayer, what detachment from self must a catechist have in order that he can say: "My teaching is not mine!"

Footnotes

1 ⇒ Gal 4:4-5.
2 ⇒ Mk 1:1.
3 ⇒ Mk 1:11; cf. ⇒ Lk 1:5, ⇒ 68.
4 ⇒ Jn 13:3.
5 ⇒ Jn 3:13; ⇒ 6:33.
6 ⇒ 1 Jn 4:2.
7 ⇒ Jn 1:14,16.
8 ⇒ Mt 16:16.
9 Cf. ⇒ Mt 16:18; St. Leo the Great, Sermo 4 3: PL 54,150 - 152; 51,1: PL 54, 309B; 62, 2: PL 54, 350-351; 83, 3: PL 54, 431-432.
10 ⇒ Eph 3:8.
11 ⇒ Acts 4:20.
12 1 ⇒ Jn 1:1-4.
13 CT 5.
14 CT 5.
15 CT 5.
16 CT 6; cf. ⇒ Jn 7:16.
17 ⇒ Phil 3:8-11.



Year of Faith Catechism Study: CCC 410-412, 420-421 – Redeemed by Christ’s Death

clock November 28, 2012 01:01 by author John |

Today’s Catechism sections discuss the redemption won for us by Christ’s death on the cross and the preservation of Mary from the stain of original sin. Supplemental material comes from St. Leo the Great’s “Sermo 73”.

IV. "YOU DID NOT ABANDON HIM TO THE POWER OF DEATH"

410 After his fall, man was not abandoned by God. On the contrary, God calls him and in a mysterious way heralds the coming victory over evil and his restoration from his fall.304 This passage in Genesis is called the Protoevangelium ("first gospel"): the first announcement of the Messiah and Redeemer, of a battle between the serpent and the Woman, and of the final victory of a descendant of hers.

411 The Christian tradition sees in this passage an announcement of the "New Adam" who, because he "became obedient unto death, even death on a cross", makes amends superabundantly for the disobedience, of Adam.305 Furthermore many Fathers and Doctors of the Church have seen the woman announced in the "Proto-evangelium" as Mary, the mother of Christ, the "new Eve". Mary benefited first of all and uniquely from Christ's victory over sin: she was preserved from all stain of original sin and by a special grace of God committed no sin of any kind during her whole earthly life.306

412 But why did God not prevent the first man from sinning? St. Leo the Great responds, "Christ's inexpressible grace gave us blessings better than those the demon's envy had taken away."307 and St. Thomas Aquinas wrote, "There is nothing to prevent human nature's being raised up to something greater, even after sin; God permits evil in order to draw forth some greater good. Thus St. Paul says, 'Where sin increased, grace abounded all the more'; and the Exsultet sings, 'O happy fault,. . . which gained for us so great a Redeemer!'"308

IN BRIEF

420 The victory that Christ won over sin has given us greater blessings than those which sin had taken from us: "where sin increased, grace abounded all the more" (⇒ Rom 5:20).

421 Christians believe that "the world has been established and kept in being by the Creator's love; has fallen into slavery to sin but has been set free by Christ, crucified and risen to break the power of the evil one. . ." (GS 2 # 2).

St. Leo the Great in his “Sermo 73” stated the grace we received through Christ’s death was greater than that which we lost in the fall:

IV. Christ's ascension has given us greater privileges and joys than the devil had taken from us
Accordingly, dearly-beloved, throughout this time which elapsed between the Lord's Resurrection and Ascension, God's Providence had this in view, to teach and impress upon both the eyes and hearts of His own people that the Lord Jesus Christ might be acknowledged to have as truly risen, as He was truly born, suffered, and died. And hence the most blessed Apostles and all the disciples, who had been both bewildered at His death on the cross and backward in believing His Resurrection, were so strengthened by the clearness of the truth that when the Lord entered the heights of heaven, not only were they affected with no sadness, but were even filled with great joy. And truly great and unspeakable was their cause for joy, when in the sight of the holy multitude, above the dignity of all heavenly creatures, the Nature of mankind went up, to pass above the angels' ranks and to rise beyond the archangels' heights, and to have Its uplifting limited by no elevation until, received to sit with the Eternal Father, It should be associated on the throne with His glory, to Whose Nature It was united in the Son. Since then Christ's Ascension is our uplifting, and the hope of the Body is raised, whither the glory of the Head has gone before, let us exult, dearly-beloved, with worthy joy and delight in the loyal paying of thanks. For today not only are we confirmed as possessors of paradise, but have also in Christ penetrated the heights of heaven, and have gained still greater things through Christ's unspeakable grace than we had lost through the devil's malice. For us, whom our virulent enemy had driven out from the bliss of our first abode, the Son of God has made members of Himself and placed at the right hand of the Father, with Whom He lives and reigns in the unity of the Holy Spirit, God for ever and ever. Amen.

Footnotes

304 Cf. ⇒ Gen 3:9, ⇒ 15.
305 Cf. ⇒ I Cor 15:21-22, ⇒ 45; ⇒ Phil 2:8; ⇒ Rom 5:19-20.
306 Cf. Pius IXs Ineffabilis Deus: DS 2803; Council of Trent: DS 1573.
307 St. Leo the Great, Sermo 73, 4: PL 54, 396.
308 St. Thomas Aquinas, STh III, I, 3, ad 3; cf. ⇒ Rom 5:20.



Tuesday Ear Tickler – John McCarthy Spills Liberal Tripe Across the Page at the National Catholic Reporter

clock November 27, 2012 03:05 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 John McCarthy, an Obama surrogate and member of the oxymoronic group, “Catholics for Obama”. This week, McCarthy came out swinging against the bishops for defending the freedom of religion and against the magisterium as a whole for upholding the sanctity of the marital act. Leading off with the title, “Can Birth Control be Pro-Life?”, he conveys his lack of exposure to both science and the Catholic faith. Apparently, campaigning for Obama leaves little time for reading authentic Catholic teaching such as the “Theology of the Body”. (McCarthy’s comments in the red quote boxes, my comments in black.)

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently released numbers that said abortion rates have dropped 5 percent between 2008 and 2009 -- an all-time low. For so many of us in the faith community, we have to ask: Why the decrease?

I'd love to say that the answer was because of our swift economic recovery and that women finally have the resources they need to bring children into the world. Unfortunately, this isn't yet the reality. The Washington Post finds an important correlation: "At the same time the abortion rate took a big drop, use of more effective contraceptives had recently increased."

Let’s make this clear since McCarthy doesn’t get it. Surgical abortions decreased because chemical abortions increased. The numbers he quotes look only at surgical abortions. They cannot however track abortions caused by the “more effective” birth control methods which cause implantation abortions. I’m going to chalk this up to ignorance, but that is an assumption on my part. I like to presume the best of people, and therefore I will not assume that he prefers one type of abortion over another.

The bishops aren't going to be moving anytime soon on the relationship between abortions and birth control -- probably because they're still fighting for religious freedom or something -- but the laity needs to start thinking more seriously about the issue.

Here we see a rather childish dig at the bishops of this country who courageously defend our religious liberty from the blatant frontal assault launched by the president and his administration. McCarthy feigns ignorance on the subject, with his “or something” remark, but the joke is on him. Clearly he doesn’t understand the issue, the rights and freedoms involved, or the enormity of the suffering inflicted on the Church and its members throughout the course of history by wicked governments. McCarthy, working for Obama of course would side with the President rather than the Catholic Church. The fact that a newspaper purportedly serving that Church would publish his liberal tripe is offensive and telling of the mentality that exists at the Reporter.

Is it more moral for a woman to use birth control than have an abortion? I certainly think most members of the laity (about 97 percent of who use birth control) would resoundingly agree. If it lowers the rate of abortions, should the church more actively advocate for prayerful use of birth control in family planning?

While these are certainly just a series of questions, the new information is important for the laity to consider as we tackle these larger issues. What are your thoughts?

Well, since he asked, I have a few thoughts on the matter. The first is that the end does not justify the means. This is not a matter of simply choosing the lesser of two evils as if one or the other of them is unavoidable. Surely McCarthy is not a moral theologian, but he should have been informed on this subject at some point by some faithful Catholic in his life. With his logic, we could simply forcibly sterilize everyone. Abortions would completely cease if that was the case. Is it more moral to sterilize than to abort? The Church is not concerned with the abortion rate. The Church is concerned with the salvation of souls. Abortion is murder. It is gravely sinful and destroys the light of Christ in the soul of the abortionist, the mother, and anyone who willingly cooperates with the abortion.

Here is the third option that liberals like McCarthy do not even acknowledge: self-control. Rather than throwing up our hands and assuming that people are unable to control their sexual impulses like rabbits, the Church in her wisdom preaches self-control. The will is not subordinate to the urges. There is a method of family planning that is both effective and moral: NFP. It requires self-control for a few days each month. Are we that devoid of willpower that we cannot control ourselves for a few days a month? Is it better that we violate the dignity of marriage and chemically abort children than we practice a little self-control?

I hereby award the Tuesday Ear Tickler Award for Tuesday November 27, 2012 to John McCarthy.

Ear Tickler Award for John McCarthy



Year of Faith Catechism Study: CCC 402-409, 419 – The Consequences of the Fall of Man

clock November 27, 2012 01:01 by author John |

Today’s Catechism sections discuss the consequences of the first sin – our struggle between good and evil. The supplemental material comes from the Pastoral Constitution, “Guadium et Spes”.

The consequences of Adam's sin for humanity

402 All men are implicated in Adam's sin, as St. Paul affirms: "By one man's disobedience many (that is, all men) were made sinners": "sin came into the world through one man and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all men sinned."289 The Apostle contrasts the universality of sin and death with the universality of salvation in Christ. "Then as one man's trespass led to condemnation for all men, so one man's act of righteousness leads to acquittal and life for all men."290

403 Following St. Paul, the Church has always taught that the overwhelming misery which oppresses men and their inclination towards evil and death cannot be understood apart from their connection with Adam's sin and the fact that he has transmitted to us a sin with which we are all born afflicted, a sin which is the "death of the soul".291 Because of this certainty of faith, the Church baptizes for the remission of sins even tiny infants who have not committed personal sin.292

404 How did the sin of Adam become the sin of all his descendants? The whole human race is in Adam "as one body of one man".293 By this "unity of the human race" all men are implicated in Adam's sin, as all are implicated in Christ's justice. Still, the transmission of original sin is a mystery that we cannot fully understand. But we do know by Revelation that Adam had received original holiness and justice not for himself alone, but for all human nature. By yielding to the tempter, Adam and Eve committed a personal sin, but this sin affected the human nature that they would then transmit in a fallen state.294 It is a sin which will be transmitted by propagation to all mankind, that is, by the transmission of a human nature deprived of original holiness and justice. And that is why original sin is called "sin" only in an analogical sense: it is a sin "contracted" and not "committed" - a state and not an act.

405 Although it is proper to each individual,295 original sin does not have the character of a personal fault in any of Adam's descendants. It is a deprivation of original holiness and justice, but human nature has not been totally corrupted: it is wounded in the natural powers proper to it, subject to ignorance, suffering and the dominion of death, and inclined to sin - an inclination to evil that is called concupiscence". Baptism, by imparting the life of Christ's grace, erases original sin and turns a man back towards God, but the consequences for nature, weakened and inclined to evil, persist in man and summon him to spiritual battle.

406 The Church's teaching on the transmission of original sin was articulated more precisely in the fifth century, especially under the impulse of St. Augustine's reflections against Pelagianism, and in the sixteenth century, in opposition to the Protestant Reformation. Pelagius held that man could, by the natural power of free will and without the necessary help of God's grace, lead a morally good life; he thus reduced the influence of Adam's fault to bad example. The first Protestant reformers, on the contrary, taught that original sin has radically perverted man and destroyed his freedom; they identified the sin inherited by each man with the tendency to evil (concupiscentia), which would be insurmountable. The Church pronounced on the meaning of the data of Revelation on original sin especially at the second Council of Orange (529)296 and at the Council of Trent (1546).297

A hard battle. . .

407 The doctrine of original sin, closely connected with that of redemption by Christ, provides lucid discernment of man's situation and activity in the world. By our first parents' sin, the devil has acquired a certain domination over man, even though man remains free. Original sin entails "captivity under the power of him who thenceforth had the power of death, that is, the devil".298 Ignorance of the fact that man has a wounded nature inclined to evil gives rise to serious errors in the areas of education, politics, social action299 and morals.

408 The consequences of original sin and of all men's personal sins put the world as a whole in the sinful condition aptly described in St. John's expression, "the sin of the world".300 This expression can also refer to the negative influence exerted on people by communal situations and social structures that are the fruit of men's sins.301

409 This dramatic situation of "the whole world [which] is in the power of the evil one"302 makes man's life a battle:

The whole of man's history has been the story of dour combat with the powers of evil, stretching, so our Lord tells us, from the very dawn of history until the last day. Finding himself in the midst of the battlefield man has to struggle to do what is right, and it is at great cost to himself, and aided by God's grace, that he succeeds in achieving his own inner integrity.303

IN BRIEF

419 "We therefore hold, with the Council of Trent, that original sin is transmitted with human nature, "by propagation, not by imitation" and that it is. . . 'proper to each'" (Paul VI, CPG # 16).

The Pastoral Constitution, “Guadium et Spes” (13) discusses the inclination man has toward sin and his struggle between good and evil:

13. Although he was made by God in a state of holiness, from the very onset of his history man abused his liberty, at the urging of the Evil One. Man set himself against God and sought to attain his goal apart from God. Although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, but their senseless minds were darkened and they served the creature rather than the Creator.(3) What divine revelation makes known to us agrees with experience. Examining his heart, man finds that he has inclinations toward evil too, and is engulfed by manifold ills which cannot come from his good Creator. Often refusing to acknowledge God as his beginning, man has disrupted also his proper relationship to his own ultimate goal as well as his whole relationship toward himself and others and all created things.

Therefore man is split within himself. As a result, all of human life, whether individual or collective, shows itself to be a dramatic struggle between good and evil, between light and darkness. Indeed, man finds that by himself he is incapable of battling the assaults of evil successfully, so that everyone feels as though he is bound by chains. But the Lord Himself came to free and strengthen man, renewing him inwardly and casting out that "prince of this world" (John 12:31) who held him in the bondage of sin.(4) For sin has diminished man, blocking his path to fulfillment.

The call to grandeur and the depths of misery, both of which are a part of human experience, find their ultimate and simultaneous explanation in the light of this revelation.

Footnotes

288 GS 13 # 1.
289 ⇒ Rom 5:12, ⇒ 19.
290 ⇒ Rom 5:18.
291 Cf. Council of Trent: DS 1512.
292 Cf. Council of Trent: DS 1514.
293 St. Thomas Aquinas, De malo 4, I.
294 Cf. Council of Trent: DS 1511-1512
295 Cf. Council of Trent: DS 1513.
296 DS 371-372.
297 Cf. DS 1510-1516.
298 Council of Trent (1546): DS 1511; cf. ⇒ Heb 2:14.
299 Cf. John Paul II, CA 25.
300 ⇒ Jn 1:29.
301 Cf. John Paul II, RP 16.
302 I ⇒ Jn 5:19; cf. ⇒ I Pt 5:8.
303 GS 37 3 2.



St. Leonard of Port Maurice – Powerful Preacher and Missionary

clock November 26, 2012 12:22 by author John |

St. Leonard of Port MauriceNovember 26 is the feast of St. Leonard of Port Maurice. He was a preacher and ascetic writer, born on December 20, 1676, at Porto Maurizio, in present day Italy. He was the son of Domenico Casanova and Anna Maria Benza. He joined the Jesuits in Rome. On October 2, 1697, he received the habit, and after making his novitiate at Ponticelli in the Sabine mountains, he completed his studies at the principal house of the Riformella, S. Bonaventura on the Palatine at Rome. After his ordination he remained there as a professor, and expected to be sent as a missionary to China, but in 1704, he became so ill that he was sent to his native area of Porto Maurizio, where there was a monastery of the Franciscan Observants. After four years he regained his health, and began to preach in Porto Maurizio and the vicinity. Leonard later began to give missions to the people in Tuscany, which were marked by many extraordinary conversions and great results. His colleagues and he always practiced the greatest austerities and most severe penances during these missions. In 1710 he founded the monastery of Icontro, on a peak in the mountains about four miles from Florence, where he and his assistants could retire from time to time after missions, and devote themselves to spiritual renewal and fresh austerities.

In 1720 he began preaching in Central and Southern Italy, and his missions were received with much enthusiasm and produced many great fruits. Pope Benedict XIV called him to Rome and held him in high esteem. Everywhere Leonard went, he made produced many conversions, being forced to preach in the open, as the churches could not contain the crowds who came to listen.

He founded many pious societies and confraternities, and was particularly devoted to the Stations of the Cross, promoting it frequently. He promoted the devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, the perpetual adoration of the Most Blessed Sacrament, and devotion to the Immaculate Conception. He wanted to see the Immaculate Conception defined as a dogma of faith by the Holy See. He erected nearly 600 stations throughout Italy, including the one at the Coliseum in Rome.

In November, 1751, while preaching in Bologna, Benedict XIV called him to Rome, as already there were indications of his rapidly approaching end. The strain of his missionary labors and his corporal mortifications had completely exhausted his body. He arrived on the evening of November 26, 1751, at the monastery of St. Bonaventura on the Palatine in Rome, and died on the same night at eleven o'clock at the age of seventy-five. His body is partly incorrupt. Pius VI pronounced his beatification on 19 June, 1796, and Pius IX his canonization on 29 June, 1867. His feast day is celebrated on November 26.

The numerous writings of St. Leonard of Port Maurice include many sermons, letters, ascetic treatises, and books of devotion for the use of the faithful and of priests, especially missionaries. Many of his writings have been translated into many languages and republished: including his "Via Sacrea spianata ed illuminata" (the Way of the Cross simplified and explained), "Il Tesoro Nascosto" (on the Holy Mass); his celebrated "Proponimenti", or resolutions for the attainment of higher Christian perfection. One of his most famous sermons, “The Little Number of Those Who Are Saved” is a powerful reflection on the great numbers of people that fall into Hell and the reason they do so – their own sinfulness. These are some of his words from this eye-openning homily:

God did not create anyone to damn him; but whoever is damned, is damned because he wants to be.

Ungrateful sinner, learn today that if you are damned, it is not God who is to blame, but you and your self-will.

I am speaking to you who live in the habit of mortal sin..., and who are getting closer to hell each day. Stop, and turn around.

I ask You not for wealth, honor or prosperity; I ask you for one thing only, to save my soul.

Weep over past sins, make a good confession, sin no more in the future, and you will all be saved.

 



Year of Faith Catechism Study: CCC 396-401, 415-418 – Original Sin and Concupiscence

clock November 26, 2012 01:02 by author John |

Original sin and concupiscence are the themes for today’s Catechism sections. An excerpt from one of John Paul II’s Audiences on the Theology of the Body provides the supporting material.

III. ORIGINAL SIN

Freedom put to the test

396 God created man in his image and established him in his friendship. A spiritual creature, man can live this friendship only in free submission to God. The prohibition against eating "of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil" spells this out: "for in the day that you eat of it, you shall die."276 The "tree of the knowledge of good and evil"277 symbolically evokes the insurmountable limits that man, being a creature, must freely recognize and respect with trust. Man is dependent on his Creator, and subject to the laws of creation and to the moral norms that govern the use of freedom.

Man's first sin

397 Man, tempted by the devil, let his trust in his Creator die in his heart and, abusing his freedom, disobeyed God's command. This is what man's first sin consisted of.278 All subsequent sin would be disobedience toward God and lack of trust in his goodness.

398 In that sin man preferred himself to God and by that very act scorned him. He chose himself over and against God, against the requirements of his creaturely status and therefore against his own good. Created in a state of holiness, man was destined to be fully "divinized" by God in glory. Seduced by the devil, he wanted to "be like God", but "without God, before God, and not in accordance with God".279

399 Scripture portrays the tragic consequences of this first disobedience. Adam and Eve immediately lose the grace of original holiness.280 They become afraid of the God of whom they have conceived a distorted image - that of a God jealous of his prerogatives.281

400 The harmony in which they had found themselves, thanks to original justice, is now destroyed: the control of the soul's spiritual faculties over the body is shattered; the union of man and woman becomes subject to tensions, their relations henceforth marked by lust and domination.282 Harmony with creation is broken: visible creation has become alien and hostile to man.283 Because of man, creation is now subject "to its bondage to decay".284 Finally, the consequence explicitly foretold for this disobedience will come true: man will "return to the ground",285 for out of it he was taken. Death makes its entrance into human history.286

401 After that first sin, the world is virtually inundated by sin. There is Cain's murder of his brother Abel and the universal corruption which follows in the wake of sin. Likewise, sin frequently manifests itself in the history of Israel, especially as infidelity to the God of the Covenant and as transgression of the Law of Moses. And even after Christ's atonement, sin raises its head in countless ways among Christians.287Scripture and the Church's Tradition continually recall the presence and universality of sin in man's history:

What Revelation makes known to us is confirmed by our own experience. For when man looks into his own heart he finds that he is drawn towards what is wrong and sunk in many evils which cannot come from his good creator. Often refusing to acknowledge God as his source, man has also upset the relationship which should link him to his last end, and at the same time he has broken the right order that should reign within himself as well as between himself and other men and all creatures.288

IN BRIEF

415 "Although set by God in a state of rectitude man, enticed by the evil one, abused his freedom at the very start of history. He lifted himself up against God, and sought to attain his goal apart from him" (GS 13 # 1).

416 By his sin Adam, as the first man, lost the original holiness and justice he had received from God, not only for himself but for all human beings.

417 Adam and Eve transmitted to their descendants human nature wounded by their own first sin and hence deprived of original holiness and justice; this deprivation is called "original sin".

418 As a result of original sin, human nature is weakened in its powers, subject to ignorance, suffering and the domination of death, and inclined to sin (this inclination is called "concupiscence").

In his general audience on May 28, 1980, John Paul II explained the concupiscence and shame that resulted from the fall and original sin:

1. We are reading again the first chapters of Genesis, to understand how—with original sin—the "man of lust" took the place of the "man of original innocence." The words of Genesis 3:10, "I was afraid, because I was naked, and I hid myself," provide evidence of the first experience of man's shame with regard to his Creator—a shame that could also be called "cosmic".

However, this "cosmic shame"—if it is possible to perceive its features in man's total situation after original sin—makes way in the biblical text for another form of shame. It is the shame produced in humanity itself. It is caused by the deep disorder in that reality on account of which man, in the mystery of creation, was God's image. He was God's image both in his personal "ego" and in the interpersonal relationship, through the original communion of persons, constituted by the man and the woman together.

That shame, the cause of which is in humanity itself, is at once immanent and relative. It is manifested in the dimension of human interiority and at the same time refers to the "other." This is the woman's shame with regard to the man, and also the man's with regard to the woman. This mutual shame obliges them to cover their own nakedness, to hide their own bodies, to remove from the man's sight what is the visible sign of femininity, and from the woman's sight what is the visible sign of masculinity.

The shame of both was turned in this direction after original sin, when they realized that they were naked, as Genesis 3:7 bears witness. The Yahwist text seems to indicate explicitly the sexual character of this shame. "They sewed fig leaves together and made themselves aprons." However, we may wonder if the sexual aspect has only a relative character, in other words, if it is a question of shame of one's own sexuality only in reference to a person of the other sex.

Relative character of original shame

2. Although in the light of that one decisive sentence of Genesis 3:7, the answer to the question seems to support especially the relative character of original shame, nevertheless reflection on the whole immediate context makes it possible to discover its more immanent background. That shame, which is certainly manifested in the "sexual" order, reveals a specific difficulty in perceiving the human essentiality of one's own body. Man had not experienced this difficulty in the state of original innocence. The words, "I was afraid, because I was naked," can be understood in this way. They show clearly the consequences in the human heart of the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.

Through these words a certain constitutive break within the human person is revealed, which is almost a rupture of man's original spiritual and somatic unity. He realizes for the first time that his body has ceased drawing upon the power of the spirit, which raised him to the level of the image of God. His original shame bears within it the signs of a specific humiliation mediated by the body. It conceals the germ of that contradiction, which will accompany historical man in his whole earthly path, as St. Paul writes: "For I delight in the law of God, in my inmost self, but I see in my members another law at war with the law of my mind" (Rom 7:22-23).

Footnotes

276 ⇒ Gen 2:17.
277 ⇒ Gen 2:17.
278 Cf. ⇒ Gen 3:1-11 ; ⇒ Rom 5:19.
279 St. Maximus the Confessor, Ambigua: PG 91, 1156C; cf. ⇒ Gen 3:5.
280 Cf. ⇒ Rom 3:23.
281 Cf. ⇒ Gen 3:5-10.
282 Cf. ⇒ Gen 3:7-16.
283 Cf. ⇒ Gen 3:17, ⇒ 19.
284 ⇒ Rom 8:21.
285 ⇒ Gen 3:19; cf. ⇒ 2:17.
286 Cf. ⇒ Rom 5:12.
287 Cf. ⇒ Gen 4:3-15; ⇒ 6:5, ⇒ 12; ⇒ Rom 1:18-32; ⇒ I Cor 1-6; ⇒ Rev 2-3.



Year of Faith Catechism Study: CCC 385-395, 413-414 – The Fall of Man and the Fallen Angels

clock November 25, 2012 01:01 by author John |

Today’s Catechism sections discuss the fall of man and the fallen angels. Supporting material comes from a general audience of Pope Benedict XVI and “City of God” by St. Augustine.

Paragraph 7. THE FALL

385 God is infinitely good and all his works are good. Yet no one can escape the experience of suffering or the evils in nature which seem to be linked to the limitations proper to creatures: and above all to the question of moral evil. Where does evil come from? "I sought whence evil comes and there was no solution", said St. Augustine,257 and his own painful quest would only be resolved by his conversion to the living God. For "the mystery of lawlessness" is clarified only in the light of the "mystery of our religion".258 The revelation of divine love in Christ manifested at the same time the extent of evil and the superabundance of grace.259 We must therefore approach the question of the origin of evil by fixing the eyes of our faith on him who alone is its conqueror.260

I. WHERE SIN ABOUNDED, GRACE ABOUNDED ALL THE MORE

The reality of sin

386 Sin is present in human history; any attempt to ignore it or to give this dark reality other names would be futile. To try to understand what sin is, one must first recognize the profound relation of man to God, for only in this relationship is the evil of sin unmasked in its true identity as humanity's rejection of God and opposition to him, even as it continues to weigh heavy on human life and history.

387 Only the light of divine Revelation clarifies the reality of sin and particularly of the sin committed at mankind's origins. Without the knowledge Revelation gives of God we cannot recognize sin clearly and are tempted to explain it as merely a developmental flaw, a psychological weakness, a mistake, or the necessary consequence of an inadequate social structure, etc. Only in the knowledge of God's plan for man can we grasp that sin is an abuse of the freedom that God gives to created persons so that they are capable of loving him and loving one another.

Original sin - an essential truth of the faith

388 With the progress of Revelation, the reality of sin is also illuminated. Although to some extent the People of God in the Old Testament had tried to understand the pathos of the human condition in the light of the history of the fall narrated in Genesis, they could not grasp this story's ultimate meaning, which is revealed only in the light of the death and Resurrection of Jesus Christ.261 We must know Christ as the source of grace in order to know Adam as the source of sin. The Spirit-Paraclete, sent by the risen Christ, came to "convict the world concerning sin",262 by revealing him who is its Redeemer.

389 The doctrine of original sin is, so to speak, the "reverse side" of the Good News that Jesus is the Savior of all men, that all need salvation and that salvation is offered to all through Christ. The Church, which has the mind of Christ,263 knows very well that we cannot tamper with the revelation of original sin without undermining the mystery of Christ.

How to read the account of the fall

390 The account of the fall in Genesis 3 uses figurative language, but affirms a primeval event, a deed that took place at the beginning of the history of man.264 Revelation gives us the certainty of faith that the whole of human history is marked by the original fault freely committed by our first parents.265

II. THE FALL OF THE ANGELS

391 Behind the disobedient choice of our first parents lurks a seductive voice, opposed to God, which makes them fall into death out of envy.266 Scripture and the Church's Tradition see in this being a fallen angel, called "Satan" or the "devil".267 The Church teaches that Satan was at first a good angel, made by God: "The devil and the other demons were indeed created naturally good by God, but they became evil by their own doing."268

392 Scripture speaks of a sin of these angels.269 This "fall" consists in the free choice of these created spirits, who radically and irrevocably rejected God and his reign. We find a reflection of that rebellion in the tempter's words to our first parents: "You will be like God."270 The devil "has sinned from the beginning"; he is "a liar and the father of lies".271

393 It is the irrevocable character of their choice, and not a defect in the infinite divine mercy, that makes the angels' sin unforgivable. "There is no repentance for the angels after their fall, just as there is no repentance for men after death."272

394 Scripture witnesses to the disastrous influence of the one Jesus calls "a murderer from the beginning", who would even try to divert Jesus from the mission received from his Father.273 "The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil."274 In its consequences the gravest of these works was the mendacious seduction that led man to disobey God.

395 The power of Satan is, nonetheless, not infinite. He is only a creature, powerful from the fact that he is pure spirit, but still a creature. He cannot prevent the building up of God's reign. Although Satan may act in the world out of hatred for God and his kingdom in Christ Jesus, and although his action may cause grave injuries - of a spiritual nature and, indirectly, even of a physical nature - to each man and to society, the action is permitted by divine providence which with strength and gentleness guides human and cosmic history. It is a great mystery that providence should permit diabolical activity, but "we know that in everything God works for good with those who love him."275

IN BRIEF

413 "God did not make death, and he does not delight in the death of the living. . . It was through the devil's envy that death entered the world" (⇒ Wis 1:13; ⇒ 2:24).

414 Satan or the devil and the other demons are fallen angels who have freely refused to serve God and his plan. Their choice against God is definitive. They try to associate man in their revolt against God.

Pope Benedict XVI gave a great reflection on Original Sin in his general audience on December 3, 2008:

However, as people of today we must ask ourselves: what is this original sin? What does St Paul teach, what does the Church teach? Is this doctrine still sustainable today? Many think that in light of the history of evolution, there is no longer room for the doctrine of a first sin that then would have permeated the whole of human history. And, as a result, the matter of Redemption and of the Redeemer would also lose its foundation. Therefore, does original sin exist or not? In order to respond, we must distinguish between two aspects of the doctrine on original sin. There exists an empirical aspect, that is, a reality that is concrete, visible, I would say tangible to all. And an aspect of mystery concerning the ontological foundation of this event. The empirical fact is that a contradiction exists in our being. On the one hand every person knows that he must do good and intimately wants to do it. Yet at the same time he also feels the other impulse to do the contrary, to follow the path of selfishness and violence, to do only what pleases him, while also knowing that in this way he is acting against the good, against God and against his neighbor. In his Letter to the Romans St Paul expressed this contradiction in our being in this way: "I can will what is right, but I cannot do it. For I do not do the good I want, but I do the evil I do not want" (7: 18-19). This inner contradiction of our being is not a theory. Each one of us experiences it every day. And above all we always see around us the prevalence of this second will. It is enough to think of the daily news of injustice, violence, falsehood and lust. We see it every day. It is a fact.

In his great work, “City of God” (Book 22), St. Augustine comments on the fallen angels and the gift of free will to His creatures:

For it is He who in the beginning created the world full of all visible and intelligible beings, among which He created nothing better than those spirits whom He endowed with intelligence, and made capable of contemplating and enjoying Him, and united in our society, which we call the holy and heavenly city, and in which the material of their sustenance and blessedness is God Himself, as it were their common food and nourishment. It is He who gave to this intellectual nature free-will of such a kind, that if he wished to forsake God, i.e., his blessedness, misery should immediately result. It is He who, when He foreknew that certain angels would in their pride desire to suffice for their own blessedness, and would forsake their great good, did not deprive them of this power, deeming it to be more befitting His power and goodness to bring good out of evil than to prevent the evil from coming into existence. And indeed evil had never been, had not the mutable nature— mutable, though good, and created by the most high God and immutable Good, who created all things good— brought evil upon itself by sin. And this its sin is itself proof that its nature was originally good. For had it not been very good, though not equal to its Creator, the desertion of God as its light could not have been an evil to it. For as blindness is a vice of the eye, and this very fact indicates that the eye was created to see the light, and as, consequently, vice itself proves that the eye is more excellent than the other members, because it is capable of light (for on no other supposition would it be a vice of the eye to want light), so the nature which once enjoyed God teaches, even by its very vice, that it was created the best of all, since it is now miserable because it does not enjoy God. It is he who with very just punishment doomed the angels who voluntarily fell to everlasting misery, and rewarded those who continued in their attachment to the supreme good with the assurance of endless stability as the meed of their fidelity. It is He who made also man himself upright, with the same freedom of will,— an earthly animal, indeed, but fit for heaven if he remained faithful to his Creator, but destined to the misery appropriate to such a nature if he forsook Him. It is He who when He foreknew that man would in his turn sin by abandoning God and breaking His law, did not deprive him of the power of free-will, because He at the same time foresaw what good He Himself would bring out of the evil, and how from this mortal race, deservedly and justly condemned, He would by His grace collect, as now He does, a people so numerous, that He thus fills up and repairs the blank made by the fallen angels, and that thus that beloved and heavenly city is not defrauded of the full number of its citizens, but perhaps may even rejoice in a still more overflowing population.

Footnotes

257 St. Augustine, Conf. 7, 7, 11: PL 32, 739.
258 2 Th 2:7; I Tim 3:16.
259 Cf. ⇒ Rom 5:20.
260 Cf. ⇒ Lk 11:21-22; ⇒ Jn 16:11; ⇒ I Jn 3:8.
261 Cf. ⇒ Rom 5:12-21.
262 ⇒ Jn 16:8.
263 Cf. ⇒ I Cor 2:16.
264 Cf. GS 13 # 1.
265 Cf. Council of Trent: DS 1513; Pius XII: DS 3897; Paul VI: AAS 58 (1966), 654.
266 Cf. ⇒ Gen 3:1-5; Wis 2:24.
267 Cf ⇒ Jn 8:44; ⇒ Rev 12:9.
268 Lateran Council IV (1215): DS 800.
269 Cf. ⇒ 2 Pt 2:4.
270 ⇒ Gen 3:5.
271 ⇒ I Jn 3:8; ⇒ Jn 8:44.
272 St. John Damascene, Defide orth. 2, 4: PG 94, 877.
273 ⇒ Jn 8:44; cf. ⇒ Mt 4:1-11.
274 I ⇒ Jn 3:8.
275 ⇒ Rom 8:28.



Year of Faith Catechism Study: CCC 374-379, 284 – Man in Paradise

clock November 24, 2012 01:03 by author John |

God created man in Paradise before the fall. This is the topic for today’s Catechism sections. St. Thomas Aquinas provides us with the supporting material today from his “Summa Theologica”.

IV. MAN IN PARADISE

374 The first man was not only created good, but was also established in friendship with his Creator and in harmony with himself and with the creation around him, in a state that would be surpassed only by the glory of the new creation in Christ.

375 The Church, interpreting the symbolism of biblical language in an authentic way, in the light of the New Testament and Tradition, teaches that our first parents, Adam and Eve, were constituted in an original "state of holiness and justice".250 This grace of original holiness was "to share in. . .divine life".251

376 By the radiance of this grace all dimensions of man's life were confirmed. As long as he remained in the divine intimacy, man would not have to suffer or die.252 The inner harmony of the human person, the harmony between man and woman,253 and finally the harmony between the first couple and all creation, comprised the state called "original justice".

377 The "mastery" over the world that God offered man from the beginning was realized above all within man himself: mastery of self. The first man was unimpaired and ordered in his whole being because he was free from the triple concupiscence254 that subjugates him to the pleasures of the senses, covetousness for earthly goods, and self-assertion, contrary to the dictates of reason.

378 The sign of man's familiarity with God is that God places him in the garden.255 There he lives "to till it and keep it". Work is not yet a burden,256 but rather the collaboration of man and woman with God in perfecting the visible creation.

379 This entire harmony of original justice, foreseen for man in God's plan, will be lost by the sin of our first parents.

IN BRIEF

384 Revelation makes known to us the state of original holiness and justice of man and woman before sin: from their friendship with God flowed the happiness of their existence in paradise.

St. Thomas Aquinas discusses paradise and man’s relationship with it in the “Summa Theologica” (1, 102):

Article 2. Whether paradise was a place adapted to be the abode of man?

Objection 1. It would seem that paradise was not a place adapted to be the abode of man. For man and angels are similarly ordered to beatitude. But the angels from the very beginning of their existence were made to dwell in the abode of the blessed--that is, the empyrean heaven. Therefore the place of man's habitation should have been there also.

Objection 2. Further, if some definite place were required for man's abode, this would be required on the part either of the soul or of the body. If on the part of the soul, the place would be in heaven, which is adapted to the nature of the soul; since the desire of heaven is implanted in all. On the part of the body, there was no need for any other place than the one provided for other animals. Therefore paradise was not at all adapted to be the abode of man.

Objection 3. Further, a place which contains nothing is useless. But after sin, paradise was not occupied by man. Therefore if it were adapted as a dwelling-place for man, it seems that God made paradise to no purpose.

Objection 4. Further, since man is of an even temperament, a fitting place for him should be of even temperature. But paradise was not of an even temperature; for it is said to have been on the equator--a situation of extreme heat, since twice in the year the sun passes vertically over the heads of its inhabitants. Therefore paradise was not a fit dwelling-place for man.

On the contrary, Damascene says (De Fide Orth. ii, 11): "Paradise was a divinely ordered region, and worthy of him who was made to God's image."

I answer that, As above stated (97, 1), Man was incorruptible and immortal, not because his body had a disposition to incorruptibility, but because in his soul there was a power preserving the body from corruption. Now the human body may be corrupted from within or from without. From within, the body is corrupted by the consumption of the humors, and by old age, as above explained (97, 4), and man was able to ward off such corruption by food. Among those things which corrupt the body from without, the chief seems to be an atmosphere of unequal temperature; and to such corruption a remedy is found in an atmosphere of equable nature. In paradise both conditions were found; because, as Damascene says (De Fide Orth. ii, 11): "Paradise was permeated with the all-pervading brightness of a temperate, pure, and exquisite atmosphere, and decked with ever-flowering plants." Whence it is clear that paradise was most fit to be a dwelling-place for man, and in keeping with his original state of immortality.

Reply to Objection 1. The empyrean heaven is the highest of corporeal places, and is outside the region of change. By the first of these two conditions, it is a fitting abode for the angelic nature: for, as Augustine says (De Trin. ii), "God rules corporeal creatures through spiritual creatures." Hence it is fitting that the spiritual nature should be established above the entire corporeal nature, as presiding over it. By the second condition, it is a fitting abode for the state of beatitude, which is endowed with the highest degree of stability. Thus the abode of beatitude was suited to the very nature of the angel; therefore he was created there. But it is not suited to man's nature, since man is not set as a ruler over the entire corporeal creation: it is a fitting abode for man in regard only to his beatitude. Wherefore he was not placed from the beginning in the empyrean heaven, but was destined to be transferred thither in the state of his final beatitude.

Reply to Objection 2. It is ridiculous to assert that any particular place is natural to the soul or to any spiritual substances, though some particular place may have a certain fitness in regard to spiritual substances. For the earthly paradise was a place adapted to man, as regards both his body and his soul--that is, inasmuch as in his soul was the force which preserved the human body from corruption. This could not be said of the other animals. Therefore, as Damascene says (De Fide Orth. ii, 11): "No irrational animal inhabited paradise"; although, by a certain dispensation, the animals were brought thither by God to Adam; and the serpent was able to trespass therein by the complicity of the devil.

Reply to Objection 3. Paradise did not become useless through being unoccupied by man after sin, just as immortality was not conferred on man in vain, though he was to lose it. For thereby we learn God's kindness to man, and what man lost by sin. Moreover, some say that Enoch and Elias still dwell in that paradise.

Reply to Objection 4. Those who say that paradise was on the equinoctial line are of opinion that such a situation is most temperate, on account of the unvarying equality of day and night; that it is never too cold there, because the sun is never too far off; and never too hot, because, although the sun passes over the heads of the inhabitants, it does not remain long in that position. However, Aristotle distinctly says (Meteor. ii, 5) that such a region is uninhabitable on account of the heat. This seems to be more probable; because, even those regions where the sun does not pass vertically overhead, are extremely hot on account of the mere proximity of the sun. But whatever be the truth of the matter, we must hold that paradise was situated in a most temperate situation, whether on the equator or elsewhere.

Footnotes

250 Cf. Council of Trent (1546): DS 1511.
251 Cf. LG 2.
252 Cf. ⇒ Gen 2:17; ⇒ 3:16, ⇒ 19.
253 Cf. ⇒ Gen 2:25.
254 Cf. I ⇒ Jn 2:16.
255 Cf. ⇒ Gen 2:8.
256 ⇒ Gen 2:15; cf. ⇒ 3:17-19