Year of Faith Catechism Study: CCC 210 – 217, 228 – 231 – Attributes of God Continued

clock November 3, 2012 01:02 by author John |

In today’s Catechism sections, we continue reading about the attributes of God, including His eternity and His perfection of Truth. St. Thomas Aquinas provides the supplementary material from his Summa Theologica.

"A God merciful and gracious"

210 After Israel's sin, when the people had turned away from God to worship the golden calf, God hears Moses' prayer of intercession and agrees to walk in the midst of an unfaithful people, thus demonstrating his love.18 When Moses asks to see his glory, God responds "I will make all my goodness pass before you, and will proclaim before you my name "the LORD" [YHWH]."19 Then the LORD passes before Moses and proclaims, "YHWH, YHWH, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness"; Moses then confesses that the LORD is a forgiving God.20

211 The divine name, "I Am" or "He Is", expresses God's faithfulness: despite the faithlessness of men's sin and the punishment it deserves, he keeps "steadfast love for thousands".21 By going so far as to give up his own Son for us, God reveals that he is "rich in mercy".22 By giving his life to free us from sin, Jesus reveals that he himself bears the divine name: "When you have lifted up the Son of man, then you will realize that "I AM"."23

God alone IS

212 Over the centuries, Israel's faith was able to manifest and deepen realization of the riches contained in the revelation of the divine name. God is unique; there are no other gods besides him.24

He transcends the world and history. He made heaven and earth: "They will perish, but you endure; they will all wear out like a garment....but you are the same, and your years have no end."25

In God "there is no variation or shadow due to change."26 God is "HE WHO IS", from everlasting to everlasting, and as such remains ever faithful to himself and to his promises.

213 The revelation of the ineffable name "I AM WHO AM" contains then the truth that God alone IS. The Greek Septuagint translation of the Hebrew Scriptures, and following it the Church's Tradition, understood the divine name in this sense: God is the fullness of Being and of every perfection, without origin and without end. All creatures receive all that they are and have from him; but he alone is his very being, and he is of himself everything that he is.


214 God, "HE WHO IS", revealed himself to Israel as the one "abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness".27 These two terms express summarily the riches of the divine name. In all his works God displays, not only his kindness, goodness, grace and steadfast love, but also his trustworthiness, constancy, faithfulness and truth. "I give thanks to your name for your steadfast love and your faithfulness."28 He is the Truth, for "God is light and in him there is no darkness"; "God is love", as the apostle John teaches.29

God is Truth

215 "The sum of your word is truth; and every one of your righteous ordinances endures forever."30 "and now, O LORD God, you are God, and your words are true";31 this is why God's promises always come true.32 God is Truth itself, whose words cannot deceive. This is why one can abandon oneself in full trust to the truth and faithfulness of his word in all things. The beginning of sin and of man's fall was due to a lie of the tempter who induced doubt of God's word, kindness and faithfulness.

216 God's truth is his wisdom, which commands the whole created order and governs the world.33 God, who alone made heaven and earth, can alone impart true knowledge of every created thing in relation to himself.34

217 God is also truthful when he reveals himself - the teaching that comes from God is "true instruction".35 When he sends his Son into the world it will be "to bear witness to the truth":36 "We know that the Son of God has come and has given us understanding, to know him who is true."37


228 "Hear, O Israel, the LORD our God is one LORD..." (⇒ Dt 6:4; ⇒ Mk 12:29). "The supreme being must be unique, without equal. . . If God is not one, he is not God" (Tertullian, Adv. Marc., 1, 3, 5: PL 2, 274).

229 Faith in God leads us to turn to him alone as our first origin and our ultimate goal, and neither to prefer anything to him nor to substitute anything for him.

230 Even when he reveals himself, God remains a mystery beyond words: "If you understood him, it would not be God" (St. Augustine, Sermo 52, 6, 16: PL 38, 360 and Sermo 117, 3, 5: PL 38, 663).

231 The God of our faith has revealed himself as HE WHO IS; and he has made himself known as "abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness" (⇒ Ex 34:6). God's very being is Truth and Love.

Aquinas discusses the eternal aspect of God in the Summa Theologica (1, 10).

Article 2. Whether God is eternal?

Objection 1. It seems that God is not eternal. For nothing made can be predicated of God; for Boethius says (De Trin. iv) that, "The now that flows away makes time, the now that stands still makes eternity;" and Augustine says (Octog. Tri. Quaest. qu. 28) "that God is the author of eternity." Therefore God is not eternal.

Objection 2. Further, what is before eternity, and after eternity, is not measured by eternity. But, as Aristotle says (De Causis), "God is before eternity and He is after eternity": for it is written that "the Lord shall reign for eternity, and beyond [Douay: 'for ever and ever']" (Exodus 15:18). Therefore to be eternal does not belong to God.

Objection 3. Further, eternity is a kind of measure. But to be measured belongs not to God. Therefore it does not belong to Him to be eternal.

Objection 4. Further, in eternity, there is no present, past or future, since it is simultaneously whole; as was said in the preceding article. But words denoting present, past and future time are applied to God in Scripture. Therefore God is not eternal.

On the contrary, Athanasius says in his Creed: "The Father is eternal, the Son is eternal, the Holy Ghost is eternal."

I answer that, The idea of eternity follows immutability, as the idea of time follows movement, as appears from the preceding article. Hence, as God is supremely immutable, it supremely belongs to Him to be eternal. Nor is He eternal only; but He is His own eternity; whereas, no other being is its own duration, as no other is its own being. Now God is His own uniform being; and hence as He is His own essence, so He is His own eternity.

Reply to Objection 1. The "now" that stands still, is said to make eternity according to our apprehension. As the apprehension of time is caused in us by the fact that we apprehend the flow of the "now," so the apprehension of eternity is caused in us by our apprehending the "now" standing still. When Augustine says that "God is the author of eternity," this is to be understood of participated eternity. For God communicates His eternity to some in the same way as He communicates His immutability.

Reply to Objection 2. From this appears the answer to the Second Objection. For God is said to be before eternity, according as it is shared by immaterial substances. Hence, also, in the same book, it is said that "intelligence is equal to eternity." In the words of Exodus, "The Lord shall reign for eternity, and beyond," eternity stands for age, as another rendering has it. Thus it is said that the Lord will reign beyond eternity, inasmuch as He endures beyond every age, i.e. beyond every kind of duration. For age is nothing more than the period of each thing, as is said in the book De Coelo i. Or to reign beyond eternity can be taken to mean that if any other thing were conceived to exist for ever, as the movement of the heavens according to some philosophers, then God would still reign beyond, inasmuch as His reign is simultaneously whole.

Reply to Objection 3. Eternity is nothing else but God Himself. Hence God is not called eternal, as if He were in any way measured; but the idea of measurement is there taken according to the apprehension of our mind alone.

Reply to Objection 4. Words denoting different times are applied to God, because His eternity includes all times; not as if He Himself were altered through present, past and future.

Also in the Summa Theologica, St. Thomas Aquinas discusses God as Truth. (1, 16)

Article 5. Whether God is truth?

Objection 1. It seems that God is not truth. For truth consists in the intellect composing and dividing. But in God there is not composition and division. Therefore in Him there is not truth.

Objection 2. Further, truth, according to Augustine (De Vera Relig. xxxvi) is a "likeness to the principle." But in God there is no likeness to a principle. Therefore in God there is not truth.

Objection 3. Further, whatever is said of God, is said of Him as of the first cause of all things; thus the being of God is the cause of all being; and His goodness the cause of all good. If therefore there is truth in God, all truth will be from Him. But it is true that someone sins. Therefore this will be from God; which is evidently false.

On the contrary, Our Lord says, "I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life" (John 14:6).

I answer that, As said above (Article 1), truth is found in the intellect according as it apprehends a thing as it is; and in things according as they have being conformable to an intellect. This is to the greatest degree found in God. For His being is not only conformed to His intellect, but it is the very act of His intellect; and His act of understanding is the measure and cause of every other being and of every other intellect, and He Himself is His own existence and act of understanding. Whence it follows not only that truth is in Him, but that He is truth itself, and the sovereign and first truth.

Reply to Objection 1. Although in the divine intellect there is neither composition nor division, yet in His simple act of intelligence He judges of all things and knows all things complex; and thus there is truth in His intellect.

Reply to Objection 2. The truth of our intellect is according to its conformity with its principle, that is to say, to the things from which it receives knowledge. The truth also of things is according to their conformity with their principle, namely, the divine intellect. Now this cannot be said, properly speaking, of divine truth; unless perhaps in so far as truth is appropriated to the Son, Who has a principle. But if we speak of divine truth in its essence, we cannot understand this unless the affirmative must be resolved into the negative, as when one says: "the Father is of Himself, because He is not from another." Similarly, the divine truth can be called a "likeness to the principle," inasmuch as His existence is not dissimilar to His intellect.

Reply to Objection 3. Not-being and privation have no truth of themselves, but only in the apprehension of the intellect. Now all apprehension of the intellect is from God. Hence all the truth that exists in the statement--"that a person commits fornication is true"--is entirely from God. But to argue, "Therefore that this person fornicates is from God", is a fallacy of Accident.

Article 6. Whether there is only one truth, according to which all things are true?

Objection 1. It seems that there is only one truth, according to which all things are true. For according to Augustine (De Trin. xv, 1), "nothing is greater than the mind of man, except God." Now truth is greater than the mind of man; otherwise the mind would be the judge of truth: whereas in fact it judges all things according to truth, and not according to its own measure. Therefore God alone is truth. Therefore there is no other truth but God.

Objection 2. Further, Anselm says (De Verit. xiv), that, "as is the relation of time to temporal things, so is that of truth to true things." But there is only one time for all temporal things. Therefore there is only one truth, by which all things are true.

On the contrary, it is written (Psalm 11:2), "Truths are decayed from among the children of men."

I answer that, In one sense truth, whereby all things are true, is one, and in another sense it is not. In proof of which we must consider that when anything is predicated of many things univocally, it is found in each of them according to its proper nature; as animal is found in each species of animal. But when anything is predicated of many things analogically, it is found in only one of them according to its proper nature, and from this one the rest are denominated. So healthiness is predicated of animal, of urine, and of medicine, not that health is only in the animal; but from the health of the animal, medicine is called healthy, in so far as it is the cause of health, and urine is called healthy, in so far as it indicates health. And although health is neither in medicine nor in urine, yet in either there is something whereby the one causes, and the other indicates health. Now we have said (1) that truth resides primarily in the intellect; and secondarily in things, according as they are related to the divine intellect. If therefore we speak of truth, as it exists in the intellect, according to its proper nature, then are there many truths in many created intellects; and even in one and the same intellect, according to the number of things known. Whence a gloss on Psalm 11:2, "Truths are decayed from among the children of men," says: "As from one man's face many likenesses are reflected in a mirror, so many truths are reflected from the one divine truth." But if we speak of truth as it is in things, then all things are true by one primary truth; to which each one is assimilated according to its own entity. And thus, although the essences or forms of things are many, yet the truth of the divine intellect is one, in conformity to which all things are said to be true.

Reply to Objection 1. The soul does not judge of things according to any kind of truth, but according to the primary truth, inasmuch as it is reflected in the soul, as in a mirror, by reason of the first principles of the understanding. It follows, therefore, that the primary truth is greater than the soul. And yet, even created truth, which resides in our intellect, is greater than the soul, not simply, but in a certain degree, in so far as it is its perfection; even as science may be said to be greater than the soul. Yet it is true that nothing subsisting is greater than the rational soul, except God.

Reply to Objection 2. The saying of Anselm is correct in so far as things are said to be true by their relation to the divine intellect.


18 Cf. ⇒ Ex 32; ⇒ 33: 12-17
19 ⇒ Ex 33:18-19.
20 ⇒ Ex 34:5-6; cf. ⇒ 34:9
21 ⇒ Ex 34:7
22 ⇒ Eph 2:4
23 Jn 8:28 (Greek).
24 Cf. ⇒ Is 44:6
25 ⇒ Ps 102:26-27
26 ⇒ Jas 1:17
27 ⇒ Ex 34:6
28 ⇒ Ps 138:2; cf. ⇒ Ps 85:11
29 ⇒ I Jn 1:5; ⇒ 4:8
30 ⇒ Ps 119:160
31 ⇒ 2 Sam 7:28
32 Cf. ⇒ Dt 7:9
33 Cf ⇒ Wis 13:1-9.
34 Cf ⇒ Ps 115:15; ⇒ Wis 7:17-21.
35 ⇒ Mal 2:6.
36 ⇒ Jn 18:37.
37 ⇒ I Jn 5:20; cf. ⇒ Jn 17:3.

Confession - Your Soul will Thank You!

clock November 2, 2012 11:09 by author John |

PenanceToday is the commemoration of the Faithful departed, commonly known as All Souls Day. We remember and pray for all of those souls who have died yet are awaiting the reward of Heaven still because they have not fulfilled the temporal debt due to them for their sins. You also have the added bonus of a plenary indulgence if you visit a cemetery and pray for the departed and complete the other requirements for a plenary indulgence (confession, communion, prayer for the intentions of the pope and freedom from attachment to sin). This is a great chance to wipe the slate clean and get that new soul smell back. Go to confession. Just do it. No excuses. Get a fresh start.

Most parishes offer confession on Saturdays, some offer it on Fridays as well.

Here are some resources if you would like to learn more about the sacrament of penance or you have some reservations about it:

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)

What is All Souls Day? (The Catholic Meaning)

clock November 2, 2012 10:47 by author John |

All Souls DayAll Souls Day is a Commemoration of all the Faithful Departed

All Souls Day is a commemoration of all the souls who having faith in God departed this life and now suffer in Purgatory. The Church holds that souls who have died and have not been cleansed of the temporal punishment due to them as a result of their sins or who have retained attachment to sin cannot enter the Kingdom of Heaven without first being sanctified. These souls can be helped toward the reward of Heaven through the prayer and sacrifices of the Church Militant, that is to say, the faithful who are still living in the world.

All Souls Day is not a Holy Day of Obligation (but You Should Go to Mass Anyway)

In the ordinary form of the Roman Rite, All Souls Day is celebrated on November 2nd. In the extraordinary form, the feast is normally on November 2nd, but if the 2nd falls on a Sunday, the feast is transferred to November 3rd. It is not a holy day of obligation, but you should go to mass anyway, since our prayers, (particularly the mass) are efficacious for the poor souls in Purgatory. Our prayers and sacrifices for them help them reach the reward of Heaven more expediently. Those souls in Purgatory, grateful for our aid will pray for us as well.

Origin of All Souls Day

All Souls Day was originally commemorated during the Easter season. The feast was moved to October by the 10th century and eventually St. Odilo of Cluny ordered that it be commemorated on November 2nd in every Benedictine monastery under his direction. Eventually all of the Benedictines and also the Carthusians followed suit. This was then adopted by the Church as a whole in the 13th century.

Indulgence for Visiting a Cemetery

In her mercy, the Church has established a plenary indulgence (removal of all the temporal punishment due for your sins) for visiting a cemetery between November 1 - November 8 and a partial indulgence the rest of the year. To obtain the plenary indulgence on November 1-November 8, you must meet the following conditions:

1. Visit a cemetery and pray for the departed (even if only mentally)
2. Receive Communion on the day in which the indulgence is to be gained
3. Make a sacramental Confession within a the week of the indulgence
4. Rid yourself of all attachment to sin
5. Pray for the intentions of the Pope (one Our Father and one Hail Mary) on the day in which the indulgence is to be gained


Articles you may like

What is Mortal Sin?

What is Venial Sin?

Litany for the Poor Souls in Purgatory

Offering of the Precious Blood (Prayer for the Souls in Purgatory)

Eternal Rest Prayer


Year of Faith Catechism Study: CCC 203-209 – God Reveals His Name

clock November 2, 2012 01:04 by author John |

Today’s catechism section deals with the name of God. The supporting material comes from St. Irenaeus’ “Against Heresies” and Aquinas’ Summa Theologica.


203 God revealed himself to his people Israel by making his name known to them. A name expresses a person's essence and identity and the meaning of this person's life. God has a name; he is not an anonymous force. To disclose one's name is to make oneself known to others; in a way it is to hand oneself over by becoming accessible, capable of being known more intimately and addressed personally.

204 God revealed himself progressively and under different names to his people, but the revelation that proved to be the fundamental one for both the Old and the New Covenants was the revelation of the divine name to Moses in the theophany of the burning bush, on the threshold of the Exodus and of the covenant on Sinai.

The living God

205 God calls Moses from the midst of a bush that bums without being consumed: "I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob."9 God is the God of the fathers, the One who had called and guided the patriarchs in their wanderings. He is the faithful and compassionate God who remembers them and his promises; he comes to free their descendants from slavery. He is the God who, from beyond space and time, can do this and wills to do it, the God who will put his almighty power to work for this plan.

"I Am who I Am"

Moses said to God, "If I come to the people of Israel and say to them, 'The God of your fathers has sent me to you', and they ask me, 'What is his name?' what shall I say to them?" God said to Moses, "I AM WHO I AM." and he said, "Say this to the people of Israel, 'I AM has sent me to you'. . . this is my name for ever, and thus I am to be remembered throughout all generations."10

206 In revealing his mysterious name, YHWH ("I AM HE WHO IS", "I AM WHO AM" or "I AM WHO I AM"), God says who he is and by what name he is to be called. This divine name is mysterious just as God is mystery. It is at once a name revealed and something like the refusal of a name, and hence it better expresses God as what he is - infinitely above everything that we can understand or say: he is the "hidden God", his name is ineffable, and he is the God who makes himself close to men.11

207 By revealing his name God at the same time reveals his faithfulness which is from everlasting to everlasting, valid for the past ("I am the God of your father"), as for the future ("I will be with you").12 God, who reveals his name as "I AM", reveals himself as the God who is always there, present to his people in order to save them.

208 Faced with God's fascinating and mysterious presence, man discovers his own insignificance. Before the burning bush, Moses takes off his sandals and veils his face in the presence of God's holiness.13 Before the glory of the thrice-holy God, Isaiah cries out: "Woe is me! I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips."14 Before the divine signs wrought by Jesus, Peter exclaims: "Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord."15 But because God is holy, he can forgive the man who realizes that he is a sinner before him: "I will not execute my fierce anger. . . for I am God and not man, the Holy One in your midst."16 The apostle John says likewise: "We shall. . . reassure our hearts before him whenever our hearts condemn us; for God is greater than our hearts, and he knows everything."17

209 Out of respect for the holiness of God, the people of Israel do not pronounce his name. In the reading of Sacred Scripture, the revealed name (YHWH) is replaced by the divine title "LORD" (in Hebrew Adonai, in Greek Kyrios). It is under this title that the divinity of Jesus will be acclaimed: "Jesus is LORD."

St. Irenaeus writes about the names of God in his great work, “Against Heresies” (Book 2, Ch. 35):

3. If, however, any object that, in the Hebrew language, diverse expressions [to represent God] occur in the Scriptures, such as Sabaoth, Eloë, Adonai, and all other such terms, striving to prove from these that there are different powers and gods, let them learn that all expressions of this kind are but announcements and appellations of one and the same Being. For the term Eloë in the Jewish language denotes God, while Elōeim and Eleōuth in the Hebrew language signify that which contains all. As to the appellation Adonai, sometimes it denotes what is nameable and admirable; but at other times, when the letter Daleth in it is doubled, and the word receives an initial guttural sound— thus Addonai— [it signifies], One who bounds and separates the land from the water, so that the water should not subsequently submerge the land. In like manner also, Sabaoth, when it is spelled by a Greek Omega in the last syllable [Sabaōth], denotes a voluntary agent; but when it is spelled with a Greek Omicron — as, for instance, Sabaŏth— it expresses the first heaven. In the same way, too, the word Jaōth, when the last syllable is made long and aspirated, denotes a predetermined measure; but when it is written shortly by the Greek letter Omicron, namely Jaŏth, it signifies one who puts evils to flight. All the other expressions likewise bring out the title of one and the same Being; as, for example, The Lord of Powers, The Father of all, God Almighty, The Most High, The Creator, The Maker, and such like. These are not the names and titles of a succession of different beings, but of one and the same, by means of which the one God and Father is revealed, He who contains all things, and grants to all the boon of existence.

Aquinas addresses the name God communicates to Moses in his “Summa Theologica” (1, 13):

Article 11. Whether this name, HE WHO IS, is the most proper name of God?

Objection 1. It seems that this name HE WHO IS is not the most proper name of God. For this name "God" is an incommunicable name. But this name HE WHO IS, is not an incommunicable name. Therefore this name HE WHO IS is not the most proper name of God.

Objection 2. Further, Dionysius says (Div. Nom. iii) that "the name of good excellently manifests all the processions of God." But it especially belongs to God to be the universal principle of all things. Therefore this name "good" is supremely proper to God, and not this name HE WHO IS.

Objection 3. Further, every divine name seems to imply relation to creatures, for God is known to us only through creatures. But this name HE WHO IS imports no relation to creatures. Therefore this name HE WHO IS is not the most applicable to God.

On the contrary, It is written that when Moses asked, "If they should say to me, What is His name? what shall I say to them?" The Lord answered him, "Thus shalt thou say to them, HE WHO IS hath sent me to you" (Exodus 3:13-14). Therefore this name HE WHO IS most properly belongs to God.

I answer that, This name HE WHO IS is most properly applied to God, for three reasons:

First, because of its signification. For it does not signify form, but simply existence itself. Hence since the existence of God is His essence itself, which can be said of no other (3, 4), it is clear that among other names this one specially denominates God, for everything is denominated by its form.

Secondly, on account of its universality. For all other names are either less universal, or, if convertible with it, add something above it at least in idea; hence in a certain way they inform and determine it. Now our intellect cannot know the essence of God itself in this life, as it is in itself, but whatever mode it applies in determining what it understands about God, it falls short of the mode of what God is in Himself. Therefore the less determinate the names are, and the more universal and absolute they are, the more properly they are applied to God. Hence Damascene says (De Fide Orth. i) that, "HE WHO IS, is the principal of all names applied to God; for comprehending all in itself, it contains existence itself as an infinite and indeterminate sea of substance." Now by any other name some mode of substance is determined, whereas this name HE WHO IS, determines no mode of being, but is indeterminate to all; and therefore it denominates the "infinite ocean of substance."

Thirdly, from its consignification, for it signifies present existence; and this above all properly applies to God, whose existence knows not past or future, as Augustine says (De Trin. v).

Reply to Objection 1. This name HE WHO IS is the name of God more properly than this name "God," as regards its source, namely, existence; and as regards the mode of signification and consignification, as said above. But as regards the object intended by the name, this name "God" is more proper, as it is imposed to signify the divine nature; and still more proper is the Tetragrammaton, imposed to signify the substance of God itself, incommunicable and, if one may so speak, singular.

Reply to Objection 2. This name "good" is the principal name of God in so far as He is a cause, but not absolutely; for existence considered absolutely comes before the idea of cause.

Reply to Objection 3. It is not necessary that all the divine names should import relation to creatures, but it suffices that they be imposed from some perfections flowing from God to creatures. Among these the first is existence, from which comes this name, HE WHO IS.


9 ⇒ EX 3:6
10 ⇒ EX 3:13-15
11 Cf. ⇒ Is 45:15; ⇒ Judg 13:18
12 ⇒ EX 3:6, ⇒ 12
13 Cf. ⇒ EX 3:5-6
14 ⇒ Is 6:5
15 ⇒ Lk 5:8
16 ⇒ Hos 11:9
17 ⇒ I Jn 3:19-20

What is All Saints Day (The Catholic Meaning)

clock November 1, 2012 11:02 by author John |

All Saints DayAll Saints Day is a Holy Day of Obligation

The Feast of All Saints (All Saints Day) is a holy day of obligation for Catholics in most countries. In the United States, the feast is abrogated (moved to Sunday) if it falls on a Saturday or Monday. If it falls on any other day of the week, attendance at mass is required unless a serious reason exists preventing the person from attending (such as illness).

All Saints Day honors all saints known and unknown. It is a feast for remembering all the holy men and women who have attained the reward of Heaven. While the Catholic Church recognizes thousands of saints officially, there are undoubtedly many more saints who are in Heaven, enjoying the beatific vision, but who are not known to be in Heaven. While many saints have their own feast days, the feast of All Saints gives the due honor to all the saints who have done so much good in their lives for Christ and His Church.

Our Connection with the Saints

There is a special connection between the souls in purgatory (the “Church Suffering”), those in heaven (the “Church triumphant”), and the faithful who are still living in the world (the “Church militant”). The mutual prayers of the Church Triumphant, Suffering, and Militant are a channel of many graces for the Church, both living and suffering. We build each other up, praying for one another so that one day we may all enjoy the reward of Heaven.

History of the Feast of All Saints

The Christians in the early years of the Church would celebrate the anniversary of a martyr’s death by observing an all-night vigil, and then celebrating mass over their tomb or the shrine at their place of martyrdom. In the 300s, Christians began to share in the celebration of martyrs from neighboring areas. During the great persecutions, so many martyrs arose that they could not each be given their own feast day. A common feast day was appointed for all martyrs, which was celebrated as early as the year 270. The origin of the festival of All Saints celebrated in the West dates to the year 609 or 610, when Pope Boniface IV consecrated the Pantheon at Rome to the Blessed Virgin and all the martyrs; the feast of the dedicatio Sanctae Mariae ad Martyres has been celebrated in Rome ever since.

The feast of All Saints, on its current date, began with the dedication by Pope Gregory III (731–741) of an oratory in St. Peter's for the relics "of the holy apostles and of all saints, martyrs and confessors, of all the just made perfect who are at rest throughout the world", with the day moved to 1 November and the 13 May feast suppressed. It was made a holy day of obligation throughout the Frankish empire in 835, by a decree of Louis the Pious, issued "at the instance of Pope Gregory IV and with the assent of all the bishops", which confirmed its celebration on 1 November. The octave was added by Pope Sixtus IV (1471–1484).


Articles you may like:

Litany of the Saints

What is the Year of Faith?

The Story of St. Faustina, the Apostle of Divine Mercy

Year of Faith Catechism Study: CCC 199-202, 228 – I Believe in One God

clock November 1, 2012 01:03 by author John |

Today’s catechism section deals with the “oneness” of God. A study of the attributes of God wouldn’t be complete without the words of St. Thomas Aquinas, who provides today’s supporting material.

Article 1


Paragraph 1. I BELIEVE IN GOD

199 "I believe in God": this first affirmation of the Apostles' Creed is also the most fundamental. The whole Creed speaks of God, and when it also speaks of man and of the world it does so in relation to God. The other articles of the Creed all depend on the first, just as the remaining Commandments make the first explicit. The other articles help us to know God better as he revealed himself progressively to men. "The faithful first profess their belief in God."2


200 These are the words with which the Niceno-Constantinopolitan Creed begins. The confession of God's oneness, which has its roots in the divine revelation of the Old Covenant, is inseparable from the profession of God's existence and is equally fundamental. God is unique; there is only one God: "The Christian faith confesses that God is one in nature, substance and essence."3

201 To Israel, his chosen, God revealed himself as the only One: "Hear, O Israel: the LORD our God is one LORD; and you shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your might."4 Through the prophets, God calls Israel and all nations to turn to him, the one and only God: "Turn to me and be saved, all the ends of the earth! For I am God, and there is no other... To me every knee shall bow, every tongue shall swear. 'Only in the LORD, it shall be said of me, are righteousness and strength.'"5

202 Jesus himself affirms that God is "the one Lord" whom you must love "with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength".6 At the same time Jesus gives us to understand that he himself is "the Lord".7 To confess that Jesus is Lord is distinctive of Christian faith. This is not contrary to belief in the One God. Nor does believing in the Holy Spirit as "Lord and giver of life" introduce any division into the One God:

We firmly believe and confess without reservation that there is only one true God, eternal infinite (immensus) and unchangeable, incomprehensible, almighty and ineffable, the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit; three persons indeed, but one essence, substance or nature entirely simple.


228 "Hear, O Israel, the LORD our God is one LORD..." (⇒ Dt 6:4; ⇒ Mk 12:29). "The supreme being must be unique, without equal. . . If God is not one, he is not God" (Tertullian, Adv. Marc., 1, 3, 5: PL 2, 274).

The Angelic Doctor, Thomas Aquinas explains the “oneness” of God in his Summa Theologica (1, 11):

Article 3. Whether God is one?

Objection 1. It seems that God is not one. For it is written "For there be many gods and many lords" (1 Corinthians 8:5).

Objection 2. Further, "One," as the principle of number, cannot be predicated of God, since quantity is not predicated of God; likewise, neither can "one" which is convertible with "being" be predicated of God, because it imports privation, and every privation is an imperfection, which cannot apply to God. Therefore God is not one.

On the contrary, It is written "Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God is one Lord" (Deuteronomy 6:4).

I answer that, It can be shown from these three sources that God is one.

First from His simplicity. For it is manifest that the reason why any singular thing is "this particular thing" is because it cannot be communicated to many: since that whereby Socrates is a man, can be communicated to many; whereas, what makes him this particular man, is only communicable to one. Therefore, if Socrates were a man by what makes him to be this particular man, as there cannot be many Socrates, so there could not in that way be many men. Now this belongs to God alone; for God Himself is His own nature, as was shown above (Question 3, Article 3). Therefore, in the very same way God is God, and He is this God. Impossible is it therefore that many Gods should exist.

Secondly, this is proved from the infinity of His perfection. For it was shown above (Question 4, Article 2) that God comprehends in Himself the whole perfection of being. If then many gods existed, they would necessarily differ from each other. Something therefore would belong to one which did not belong to another. And if this were a privation, one of them would not be absolutely perfect; but if a perfection, one of them would be without it. So it is impossible for many gods to exist. Hence also the ancient philosophers, constrained as it were by truth, when they asserted an infinite principle, asserted likewise that there was only one such principle.

Thirdly, this is shown from the unity of the world. For all things that exist are seen to be ordered to each other since some serve others. But things that are diverse do not harmonize in the same order, unless they are ordered thereto by one. For many are reduced into one order by one better than by many: because one is the "per se" cause of one, and many are only the accidental cause of one, inasmuch as they are in some way one. Since therefore what is first is most perfect, and is so "per se" and not accidentally, it must be that the first which reduces all into one order should be only one. And this one is God.

Reply to Objection 1. Gods are called many by the error of some who worshipped many deities, thinking as they did that the planets and other stars were gods, and also the separate parts of the world. Hence the Apostle adds: "Our God is one," etc.

Reply to Objection 2. "One" which is the principle of number is not predicated of God, but only of material things. For "one" the principle of number belongs to the "genus" of mathematics, which are material in being, and abstracted from matter only in idea. But "one" which is convertible with being is a metaphysical entity and does not depend on matter in its being. And although in God there is no privation, still, according to the mode of our apprehension, He is known to us by way only of privation and remotion. Thus there is no reason why a certain kind of privation should not be predicated of God; for instance, that He is incorporeal and infinite; and in the same way it is said of God that He is one.

Article 4. Whether God is supremely one?

Objection 1. It seems that God is not supremely "one." For "one" is so called from the privation of division. But privation cannot be greater or less. Therefore God is not more "one" than other things which are called "one."

Objection 2. Further, nothing seems to be more indivisible than what is actually and potentially indivisible; such as a point and unity. But a thing is said to be more "one" according as it is indivisible. Therefore God is not more "one" than unity is "one" and a point is "one."

Objection 3. Further, what is essentially good is supremely good. Therefore what is essentially "one" is supremely "one." But every being is essentially "one," as the Philosopher says (Metaph. iv). Therefore every being is supremely "one"; and therefore God is not "one" more than any other being is "one."

On the contrary, Bernard says (De Consid. v): "Among all things called one, the unity of the Divine Trinity holds the first place."

I answer that, Since "one" is an undivided being, if anything is supremely "one" it must be supremely being, and supremely undivided. Now both of these belong to God. For He is supremely being, inasmuch as His being is not determined by any nature to which it is adjoined; since He is being itself, subsistent, absolutely undetermined. But He is supremely undivided inasmuch as He is divided neither actually nor potentially, by any mode of division; since He is altogether simple, as was shown above (Question 3, Article 7). Hence it is manifest that God is "one" in the supreme degree.

Reply to Objection 1. Although privation considered in itself is not susceptive of more or less, still according as its opposite is subject to more or less, privation also can be considered itself in the light of more and less. Therefore according as a thing is more divided, or is divisible, either less or not at all, in the degree it is called more, or less, or supremely, "one."

Reply to Objection 2. A point and unity which is the principle of number, are not supremely being, inasmuch as they have being only in some subject. Hence neither of them can be supremely "one." For as a subject cannot be supremely "one," because of the difference within it of accident and subject, so neither can an accident.

Reply to Objection 3. Although every being is "one" by its substance, still every such substance is not equally the cause of unity; for the substance of some things is compound and of others simple.


2 Roman Catechism I, 2, 2.
3 Roman Catechism I, 2, 2.
4 Dt 6:45.
5 Is 45:22-24; cf. ⇒ Phil 2:10-11.
6 ⇒ Mk 12:29-30
7 Cf. ⇒ Mk 12:35-37.