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

Year of Faith Catechism Study: CCC 683 – 688 – I Believe in the Holy Spirit

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

Today’s Catechism sections are the introduction to the catechesis on the Holy Spirit. Supporting material comes from St. Ambrose’s “On the Holy Spirit”.

CHAPTER THREE

I BELIEVE IN THE HOLY SPIRIT

683 "No one can say 'Jesus is Lord' except by the Holy Spirit."1 "God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, 'Abba! Father!"'2 This knowledge of faith is possible only in the Holy Spirit: to be in touch with Christ, we must first have been touched by the Holy Spirit. He comes to meet us and kindles faith in us. By virtue of our Baptism, the first sacrament of the faith, the Holy Spirit in the Church communicates to us, intimately and personally, the life that originates in the Father and is offered to us in the Son.

Baptism gives us the grace of new birth in God the Father, through his Son, in the Holy Spirit. For those who bear God's Spirit are led to the Word, that is, to the Son, and the Son presents them to the Father, and the Father confers incorruptibility on them. And it is impossible to see God's Son without the Spirit, and no one can approach the Father without the Son, for the knowledge of the Father is the Son, and the knowledge of God's Son is obtained through the Holy Spirit.3

684 Through his grace, the Holy Spirit is the first to awaken faith in us and to communicate to us the new life, which is to "know the Father and the one whom he has sent, Jesus Christ."4 But the Spirit is the last of the persons of the Holy Trinity to be revealed. St. Gregory of Nazianzus, the Theologian, explains this progression in terms of the pedagogy of divine "condescension":

The Old Testament proclaimed the Father clearly, but the Son more obscurely. The New Testament revealed the Son and gave us a glimpse of the divinity of the Spirit. Now the Spirit dwells among us and grants us a clearer vision of himself. It was not prudent, when the divinity of the Father had not yet been confessed, to proclaim the Son openly and, when the divinity of the Son was not yet admitted, to add the Holy Spirit as an extra burden, to speak somewhat daringly.... By advancing and progressing "from glory to glory," the light of the Trinity will shine in ever more brilliant rays.5

685 To believe in the Holy Spirit is to profess that the Holy Spirit is one of the persons of the Holy Trinity, consubstantial with the Father and the Son: "with the Father and the Son he is worshipped and glorified."6 For this reason, the divine mystery of the Holy Spirit was already treated in the context of Trinitarian "theology." Here, however, we have to do with the Holy Spirit only in the divine "economy."

686 The Holy Spirit is at work with the Father and the Son from the beginning to the completion of the plan for our salvation. But in these "end times," ushered in by the Son's redeeming Incarnation, the Spirit is revealed and given, recognized and welcomed as a person. Now can this divine plan, accomplished in Christ, the firstborn and head of the new creation, be embodied in mankind by the outpouring of the Spirit: as the Church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting.

ARTICLE 8

"I BELIEVE IN THE HOLY SPIRIT"

687 "No one comprehends the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God."7 Now God's Spirit, who reveals God, makes known to us Christ, his Word, his living Utterance, but the Spirit does not speak of himself. The Spirit who "has spoken through the prophets" makes us hear the Father's Word, but we do not hear the Spirit himself. We know him only in the movement by which he reveals the Word to us and disposes us to welcome him in faith. The Spirit of truth who "unveils" Christ to us "will not speak on his own."8 Such properly divine self-effacement explains why "the world cannot receive (him), because it neither sees him nor knows him," while those who believe in Christ know the Spirit because he dwells with them.9

688 The Church, a communion living in the faith of the apostles which she transmits, is the place where we know the Holy Spirit:
- in the Scriptures he inspired;
- in the Tradition, to which the Church Fathers are always timely witnesses;
- in the Church's Magisterium, which he assists;
- in the sacramental liturgy, through its words and symbols, in which the Holy Spirit puts us into communion with Christ;
- in prayer, wherein he intercedes for us;
- in the charisms and ministries by which the Church is built up;
- in the signs of apostolic and missionary life;
- in the witness of saints through whom he manifests his holiness and continues the work of salvation.

The following excerpt comes from St. Ambrose’s “On the Holy Spirit” (Book I):

22. Now let us establish by evidence what we have said. The first point in the discussion is that all things serve. Now it is clear that all things serve, since it is written: All things serve You. This the Spirit said through the prophet. He did not say, We serve, but, serve You, that you might believe that He Himself is excepted from serving. So, then, since all things serve, and the Spirit does not serve, the Holy Spirit is certainly not included among all things.

23. For if we say that the Holy Spirit is included among all things, certainly when we read that the Spirit searches the deep things of God, 1 Corinthians 2:10 we deny that God the Father is over all. For since the Spirit is of God, and is the Spirit of His mouth, how can we say that the Holy Spirit is included among all things, seeing that God, Whose is the Spirit, is over all, possessing certainly fullness of perfection and perfect power.

25. But lest the objectors should think that the Apostle was in error, let them learn whom he followed as his authority for his belief. The Lord said in the Gospel: When the Paraclete has come, Whom I will send to you from My Father, even the Spirit of Truth which proceeds from the Father, He shall bear witness of Me. John 15:26 So the Holy Spirit both proceeds from the Father, and bears witness of the Son. For the witness Who is both faithful and true bears witness of the Father, than which witness nothing is more full for the expression of the Divine Majesty, nothing more clear as to the Unity of the Divine Power, since the Spirit has the same knowledge as the Son, Who is the witness and inseparable sharer of the Father's secrets.

26. He excludes, then, the fellowship and number of creatures from the knowledge of God, but by not excluding the Holy Spirit, He shows that He is not of the fellowship of creatures. So that the passage which is read in the Gospel: For no man has seen God at any time, save the Only-begotten Son Who is in the bosom of the Father He has declared Him, also pertains to the exclusion of the Holy Spirit. For how has He not seen God Who searches even the deep things of God? How has He not seen God Who knows the things which are of God? How has He not seen God Who is of God? So, since it is laid down that no one has seen God at any time, whereas the Holy Spirit has seen Him, clearly the Holy Spirit is excepted. He, then, is above all Who is excluded from all.

Footnotes

1 ⇒ 1 Cor 12:3.
2 ⇒ Gal 4:6.
3 St. Irenaeus, Dem. ap. 7: SCh 62, 41-42.
4 In 17:3.
5 St. Gregory of Nazianzus, Oratio theol., 5, 26 (= Oratio 31, 26): PG 36, 161-163.
6 Nicene Creed; see above, par. 465.
7 ⇒ 1 Cor 2:11.
8 ⇒ Jn 16:13.
9 ⇒ Jn 14:17.



Year of Faith Catechism Study: CCC 675-679, 682 – The Second Coming and Judgment

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

Today’s Catechism sections explore the Second Coming and the Judgment of the living and the dead. Supporting material comes from St. Clement of Rome.

The Church's ultimate trial

675 Before Christ's second coming the Church must pass through a final trial that will shake the faith of many believers.573 The persecution that accompanies her pilgrimage on earth574 will unveil the "mystery of iniquity" in the form of a religious deception offering men an apparent solution to their problems at the price of apostasy from the truth. The supreme religious deception is that of the Antichrist, a pseudo-messianism by which man glorifies himself in place of God and of his Messiah come in the flesh.575

676 The Antichrist's deception already begins to take shape in the world every time the claim is made to realize within history that messianic hope which can only be realized beyond history through the eschatological judgement. The Church has rejected even modified forms of this falsification of the kingdom to come under the name of millenarianism,576 especially the "intrinsically perverse" political form of a secular messianism.577

677 The Church will enter the glory of the kingdom only through this final Passover, when she will follow her Lord in his death and Resurrection.578 The kingdom will be fulfilled, then, not by a historic triumph of the Church through a progressive ascendancy, but only by God's victory over the final unleashing of evil, which will cause his Bride to come down from heaven.579 God's triumph over the revolt of evil will take the form of the Last Judgement after the final cosmic upheaval of this passing world.580

II. To Judge the Living and the Dead

678 Following in the steps of the prophets and John the Baptist, Jesus announced the judgement of the Last Day in his preaching.581 Then will the conduct of each one and the secrets of hearts be brought to light.582 Then will the culpable unbelief that counted the offer of God's grace as nothing be condemned.583 Our attitude to our neighbour will disclose acceptance or refusal of grace and divine love.584 On the Last Day Jesus will say: "Truly I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brethren, you did it to me."585

679 Christ is Lord of eternal life. Full right to pass definitive judgement on the works and hearts of men belongs to him as redeemer of the world. He "acquired" this right by his cross. The Father has given "all judgement to the Son".586 Yet the Son did not come to judge, but to save and to give the life he has in himself.587 By rejecting grace in this life, one already judges oneself, receives according to one's works, and can even condemn oneself for all eternity by rejecting the Spirit of love.588

IN BRIEF

682 When he comes at the end of time to judge the living and the dead, the glorious Christ will reveal the secret disposition of hearts and will render to each man according to his works, and according to his acceptance or refusal of grace.

St. Clement of Rome speaks of the Second Coming of Christ in his work entitled, “Recognitions”…

Chapter 49. Two Comings of Christ.

His coming, therefore, was predicted by Moses, who delivered the law of God to men; but by another also before him, as I have already informed you. He therefore intimated that He should come, humble indeed in His first coming, but glorious in His second. And the first, indeed, has been already accomplished; since He has come and taught, and He, the Judge of all, has been judged and slain. But at His second coming He shall come to judge, and shall indeed condemn the wicked, but shall take the pious into a share and association with Himself in His kingdom. Now the faith of His second coming depends upon His first. For the prophets— especially Jacob and Moses— spoke of the first, but some also of the second. But the excellency of prophecy is chiefly shown in this, that the prophets spoke not of things to come, according to the sequence of things; otherwise they might seem merely as wise men to have conjectured what the sequence of things pointed out.

Footnotes

573 Cf. ⇒ Lk 18:8; ⇒ Mt 24:12.
574 Cf. ⇒ Lk 21:12; ⇒ Jn 15:19-20.
575 Cf. ⇒ 2 Th 2:4-12; ⇒ I Th 5:2-3; 2 ⇒ Jn 7; ⇒ I Jn 2:1 8, ⇒ 22.
576 Cf. DS 3839.
577 Pius XI, Divini Redemptoris, condemning the "false mysticism" of this "counterfeit of the redemption of the lowly"; cf. GS 20-21.
578 Cf. ⇒ Rev 19:1-9.
579 Cf ⇒ Rev 13:8; ⇒ 20:7-10; ⇒ 21:2-4.
580 Cf. ⇒ Rev 20:12 ⇒ 2 Pt 3:12-13.
581 Cf. ⇒ Dan 7:10; ⇒ Joel 3-4; ⇒ Mal 3: 19; ⇒ Mt 3:7-12.
582 Cf ⇒ Mk 12:38-40; ⇒ Lk 12:1-3; ⇒ Jn 3:20-21; ⇒ Rom 2:16; ⇒ I Cor 4:5.
583 Cf. ⇒ Mt 11:20-24; ⇒ 12:41-42.
584 Cf. ⇒ Mt 5:22; ⇒ 7:1-5.
585 ⇒ Mt 25:40.
586 ⇒ Jn 5:22; cf. ⇒ 5:27; ⇒ Mt 25:31; ⇒ Acts 10:42; ⇒ 17:31; ⇒ 2 Tim 4:1.
587 Cf. ⇒ Jn 3:17; ⇒ 5:26.
588 Cf. ⇒ Jn 3:18; ⇒ 12:48; ⇒ Mt 12:32; ⇒ I Cor 3:12-15; ⇒ Heb 6:4-6; ⇒ 10:26-31.



Year of Faith Catechism Study: CCC 668 – 674, 680-681 – Jesus Will Come Again in Glory

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

Today’s Catechism sections discuss the Second Coming of Jesus. Supporting material comes from the Dogmatic Constitution, “Lumen Gentium”.

Article 7

"FROM THENCE HE WILL COME AGAIN TO JUDGE THE LIVING AND THE DEAD"

I. He Will Come Again in Glory

Christ already reigns through the Church. . .

668 "Christ died and lived again, that he might be Lord both of the dead and of the living."548 Christ's Ascension into heaven signifies his participation, in his humanity, in God's power and authority. Jesus Christ is Lord: he possesses all power in heaven and on earth. He is "far above all rule and authority and power and dominion", for the Father "has put all things under his feet."549 Christ is Lord of the cosmos and of history. In him human history and indeed all creation are "set forth" and transcendently fulfilled.550

669 As Lord, Christ is also head of the Church, which is his Body.551 Taken up to heaven and glorified after he had thus fully accomplished his mission, Christ dwells on earth in his Church. The redemption is the source of the authority that Christ, by virtue of the Holy Spirit, exercises over the Church. "The kingdom of Christ (is) already present in mystery", "on earth, the seed and the beginning of the kingdom".552

670 Since the Ascension God's plan has entered into its fulfilment. We are already at "the last hour".553 "Already the final age of the world is with us, and the renewal of the world is irrevocably under way; it is even now anticipated in a certain real way, for the Church on earth is endowed already with a sanctity that is real but imperfect."554 Christ's kingdom already manifests its presence through the miraculous signs that attend its proclamation by the Church.555
. . . until all things are subjected to him

671 Though already present in his Church, Christ's reign is nevertheless yet to be fulfilled "with power and great glory" by the King's return to earth.556 This reign is still under attack by the evil powers, even though they have been defeated definitively by Christ's Passover.557 Until everything is subject to him, "until there be realized new heavens and a new earth in which justice dwells, the pilgrim Church, in her sacraments and institutions, which belong to this present age, carries the mark of this world which will pass, and she herself takes her place among the creatures which groan and travail yet and await the revelation of the sons of God."558 That is why Christians pray, above all in the Eucharist, to hasten Christ's return by saying to him:559 Maranatha! "Our Lord, come!"560

672 Before his Ascension Christ affirmed that the hour had not yet come for the glorious establishment of the messianic kingdom awaited by Israel561 which, according to the prophets, was to bring all men the definitive order of justice, love and peace.562 According to the Lord, the present time is the time of the Spirit and of witness, but also a time still marked by "distress" and the trial of evil which does not spare the Church563 and ushers in the struggles of the last days. It is a time of waiting and watching.564

The glorious advent of Christ, the hope of Israel

673 Since the Ascension Christ's coming in glory has been imminent,565 even though "it is not for you to know times or seasons which the Father has fixed by his own authority."566. This eschatological coming could be accomplished at any moment, even if both it and the final trial that will precede it are "delayed".567

674 The glorious Messiah's coming is suspended at every moment of history until his recognition by "all Israel", for "a hardening has come upon part of Israel" in their "unbelief" toward Jesus.568 St. Peter says to the Jews of Jerusalem after Pentecost: "Repent therefore, and turn again, that your sins may be blotted out, that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord, and that he may send the Christ appointed for you, Jesus, whom heaven must receive until the time for establishing all that God spoke by the mouth of his holy prophets from of old."569 St. Paul echoes him: "For if their rejection means the reconciliation of the world, what will their acceptance mean but life from the dead?"570 The "full inclusion" of the Jews in the Messiah's salvation, in the wake of "the full number of the Gentiles",571 will enable the People of God to achieve "the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ", in which "God may be all in all".572

IN BRIEF

680 Christ the Lord already reigns through the Church, but all the things of this world are not yet subjected to him. The triumph of Christ's kingdom will not come about without one last assault by the powers of evil.

681 On Judgment Day at the end of the world, Christ will come in glory to achieve the definitive triumph of good over evil which, like the wheat and the tares, have grown up together in the course of history.

The Dogmatic Constitution, “Lumen Gentium” (48) discusses the Second Coming of Christ:

48. The Church, to which we are all called in Christ Jesus, and in which we acquire sanctity through the grace of God, will attain its full perfection only in the glory of heaven, when there will come the time of the restoration of all things.(237) At that time the human race as well as the entire world, which is intimately related to man and attains to its end through him, will be perfectly reestablished in Christ.(238)

Christ, having been lifted up from the earth has drawn all to Himself.(239) Rising from the dead(240) He sent His life-giving Spirit upon His disciples and through Him has established His Body which is the Church as the universal sacrament of salvation. Sitting at the right hand of the Father, He is continually active in the world that He might lead men to the Church and through it join them to Himself and that He might make them partakers of His glorious life by nourishing them with His own Body and Blood. Therefore the promised restoration which we are awaiting has already begun in Christ, is carried forward in the mission of the Holy Spirit and through Him continues in the Church in which we learn the meaning of our terrestrial life through our faith, while we perform with hope in the future the work committed to us in this world by the Father, and thus work out our salvation.(241)

Already the final age of the world has come upon us (242) and the renovation of the world is irrevocably decreed and is already anticipated in some kind of a real way; for the Church already on this earth is signed with a sanctity which is real although imperfect. However, until there shall be new heavens and a new earth in which justice dwells,(243) the pilgrim Church in her sacraments and institutions, which pertain to this present time, has the appearance of this world which is passing and she herself dwells among creatures who groan and travail in pain until now and await the revelation of the sons of God.(244)

Joined with Christ in the Church and signed with the Holy Spirit "who is the pledge of our inheritance",(245) truly we are called and we are sons of God(246) but we have not yet appeared with Christ in glory,(247) in which we shall be like to God, since we shall see Him as He is.(248) And therefore "while we are in the body, we are exiled from the Lord (249) and having the first-fruits of the Spirit we groan within ourselves(250) and we desire to be with Christ"'.(251) By that same charity however, we are urged to live more for Him, who died for us and rose again.(252) We strive therefore to please God in all things(253) and we put on the armor of God, that we may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil and resist in the evil day.(254) Since however we know not the day nor the hour, on Our Lord's advice we must be constantly vigilant so that, having finished the course of our earthly life,(255) we may merit to enter into the marriage feast with Him and to be numbered among the blessed(256) and that we may not be ordered to go into eternal fire(257) like the wicked and slothful servant,(258) into the exterior darkness where "there will be the weeping and the gnashing of teeth".(259) For before we reign with Christ in glory, all of us will be made manifest "before the tribunal of Christ, so that each one may receive what he has won through the body, according to his works, whether good or evil"(260) and at the end of the world "they who have done good shall come forth unto resurrection of life; but those who have done evil unto resurrection of judgment".(261) Reckoning therefore that "the sufferings of the present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory to come that will be revealed in us",(262) strong in faith we look for the "blessed hope and the glorious coming of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ"(263) "who will refashion the body of our lowliness, conforming it to the body of His glory(264), and who will come "to be glorified in His saints and to be marveled at in all those who have believed"(265).

Footnotes

548 ⇒ Rom 14:9.
549 ⇒ Eph 1:20-22.
550 ⇒ Eph 1:10; cf. ⇒ 4:10; ⇒ 1 Cor 15:24, ⇒ 27-28.
551 Cf. ⇒ Eph 1:22.
552 LG 3; 5; cf. ⇒ Eph 4:11-13.
553 I ⇒ Jn 2:18; cf. ⇒ I Pt 4:7.
554 LG 48 # 3; cf. ⇒ I Cor 10:11.
555 Cf. ⇒ Mk 16:17-18, ⇒ 20.
556 ⇒ Lk 21:27; cf. ⇒ Mt 25:31.
557 Cf. ⇒ 2 Th 2:7.
558 LG 48 # 3; cf. ⇒ 2 Pt 3:13; ⇒ Rom 8:19-22; ⇒ I Cor 15:28.
559 Cf. ⇒ I Cor 11:26; ⇒ 2 Pt 3:11-12.
560 ⇒ 1 Cor 16:22; ⇒ Rev 22:17, ⇒ 20.
561 Cf. ⇒ Acts 1:6-7.
562 Cf. ⇒ Is 11:1-9.
563 Cf. ⇒ Acts 1:8; ⇒ I Cor 7:26; ⇒ Eph 5:16; ⇒ I Pt 4:17.
564 Cf. ⇒ Mt 25:1, 13; ⇒ Mk 13:33-37; I ⇒ I Jn 2:18; ⇒ 4:3; ⇒ I Tim 4:1.
565 Cf. ⇒ Rev 22:20.
566 ⇒ Acts 1:7; Cf. ⇒ Mk 13:32.
567 Cf. ⇒ Mt 24:44; ⇒ I Th 5:2; ⇒ 2 Th 2:3-12.
568 ⇒ Rom I 1:20-26; cf. ⇒ Mt 23:39.
569 ⇒ Acts 3:19-21.
570 ⇒ Rom 11:15.
571 ⇒ Rom 11:12, ⇒ 25; cf. ⇒ Lk 21:24.
572 ⇒ Eph 4:13; ⇒ I Cor 15:28.



Year of Faith Catechism Study: CCC 665-667 – The Ascension, Christ as Mediator

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

Today’s Catechism sections are just three paragraphs, since we are a few paragraphs ahead of the pace for completing the entire Catechism in a year. Enjoy the light day of reading and focus on the joy of Christmas. Supporting material comes from Pope Pius XII’s encyclical, “Mediator Dei”

IN BRIEF

665 Christ's Ascension marks the definitive entrance of Jesus' humanity into God's heavenly domain, whence he will come again (cf ⇒ Acts 1:11); this humanity in the meantime hides him from the eyes of men (cf ⇒ Col 3:3).

666 Jesus Christ, the head of the Church, precedes us into the Father's glorious kingdom so that we, the members of his Body, may live in the hope of one day being with him for ever.

667 Jesus Christ, having entered the sanctuary of heaven once and for all, intercedes constantly for us as the mediator who assures us of the permanent outpouring of the Holy Spirit.

Pope Pius XII discusses Christ as the “Mediator between God and Men” in his encyclical on the Sacred Liturgy, “Mediator Dei”.

MEDIATOR BETWEEN GOD and men and High Priest who has gone before us into heaven, Jesus the Son of God quite clearly had one aim in view when He undertook the mission of mercy which was to endow mankind with the rich blessings of supernatural grace. Sin had disturbed the right relationship between man and his Creator; the Son of God would restore it. The children of Adam were wretched heirs to the infection of original sin; He would bring them back to their heavenly Father, the primal source and final destiny of all things. For this reason He was not content, while He dwelt with us on earth, merely to give notice that redemption had begun, and to proclaim the long-awaited Kingdom of God, but gave Himself besides in prayer and sacrifice to the task of saving souls, even to the point of offering Himself, as He hung from the cross, a Victim unspotted unto God, to purify our conscience of dead works, to serve the living God. Thus happily were all men summoned back from the byways leading them down to ruin and disaster, to be set squarely once again upon the path that leads to God. Thanks to the shedding of the blood of the Immaculate Lamb, now each might set about the personal task of achieving his own sanctification, so rendering to God the glory due to Him.

2. But what is more, the divine Redeemer has so willed it that the priestly life begun with the supplication and sacrifice of His mortal body should continue without intermission down the ages in His Mystical Body which is the Church. That is why He established a visible priesthood to offer everywhere the clean oblation which would enable men from East to West, freed from the shackles of sin, to offer God that unconstrained and voluntary homage which their conscience dictates.

3. In obedience, therefore, to her Founder's behest, the Church prolongs the priestly mission of Jesus Christ mainly by means of the sacred liturgy. She does this in the first place at the altar, where constantly the sacrifice of the cross is represented and with a single difference in the manner of its offering, renewed. She does it next by means of the sacraments, those special channels through which men are made partakers in the supernatural life. She does it, finally, by offering to God, all Good and Great, the daily tribute of her prayer of praise. "What a spectacle for heaven and earth," observes Our predecessor of happy memory, Pius XI, "is not the Church at prayer! For centuries without interruption, from midnight to midnight, the divine psalmody of the inspired canticles is repeated on earth; there is no hour of the day that is not hallowed by its special liturgy; there is no state of human life that has not its part in the thanksgiving, praise, supplication and reparation of this common prayer of the Mystical Body of Christ which is His Church!"



Year of Faith Catechism Study: CCC 659-664 – Jesus Ascended into Heaven

clock December 27, 2012 01:02 by author John |

Today’s Catechism sections discuss the Ascension of Jesus and His place “at the Right Hand of the Father”. Supporting material comes from St. Leo the Great’s “Sermon on the Ascension”

Article 6

"HE ASCENDED INTO HEAVEN AND IS SEATED AT THE RIGHT HAND OF THE FATHER"

659 "So then the Lord Jesus, after he had spoken to them, was taken up into heaven, and sat down at the right hand of God."531 Christ's body was glorified at the moment of his Resurrection, as proved by the new and supernatural properties it subsequently and permanently enjoys.532 But during the forty days when he eats and drinks familiarly with his disciples and teaches them about the kingdom, his glory remains veiled under the appearance of ordinary humanity.533 Jesus' final apparition ends with the irreversible entry of his humanity into divine glory, symbolized by the cloud and by heaven, where he is seated from that time forward at God's right hand.534 Only in a wholly exceptional and unique way would Jesus show himself to Paul "as to one untimely born", in a last apparition that established him as an apostle.535

660 The veiled character of the glory of the Risen One during this time is intimated in his mysterious words to Mary Magdalene: "I have not yet ascended to the Father; but go to my brethren and say to them, I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God."536 This indicates a difference in manifestation between the glory of the risen Christ and that of the Christ exalted to the Father's right hand, a transition marked by the historical and transcendent event of the Ascension.

661 This final stage stays closely linked to the first, that is, to his descent from heaven in the Incarnation. Only the one who "came from the Father" can return to the Father: Christ Jesus.537 "No one has ascended into heaven but he who descended from heaven, the Son of man."538 Left to its own natural powers humanity does not have access to the "Father's house", to God's life and happiness.539 Only Christ can open to man such access that we, his members, might have confidence that we too shall go where he, our Head and our Source, has preceded us.540

662 "and I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to myself."541 The lifting up of Jesus on the cross signifies and announces his lifting up by his Ascension into heaven, and indeed begins it. Jesus Christ, the one priest of the new and eternal Covenant, "entered, not into a sanctuary made by human hands. . . but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God on our behalf."542 There Christ permanently exercises his priesthood, for he "always lives to make intercession" for "those who draw near to God through him".543 As "high priest of the good things to come" he is the center and the principal actor of the liturgy that honors the Father in heaven.544

663 Henceforth Christ is seated at the right hand of the Father: "By 'the Father's right hand' we understand the glory and honor of divinity, where he who exists as Son of God before all ages, indeed as God, of one being with the Father, is seated bodily after he became incarnate and his flesh was glorified."545

664 Being seated at the Father's right hand signifies the inauguration of the Messiah's kingdom, the fulfillment of the prophet Daniel's vision concerning the Son of man: "To him was given dominion and glory and kingdom, that all peoples, nations, and languages should serve him; his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom one that shall not be destroyed."546 After this event the apostles became witnesses of the "kingdom [that] will have no end".547

The following excerpt comes from St. Leo the Great’s “Sermon on the Ascension II”:

The Son of Man and Son of God, therefore, dearly-beloved, then attained a more excellent and holier fame, when He betook Himself back to the glory of the Father's Majesty, and in an ineffable manner began to be nearer to the Father in respect of His Godhead, after having become farther away in respect of His manhood. A better instructed faith then began to draw closer to a conception of the Son's equality with the Father without the necessity of handling the corporeal substance in Christ, whereby He is less than the Father, since, while the Nature of the glorified Body still remained the faith of believers was called upon to touch not with the hand of flesh, but with the spiritual understanding the Only-begotten, Who was equal with the Father. Hence comes that which the Lord said after His Resurrection, when Mary Magdalene, representing the Church, hastened to approach and touch Him: Touch Me not, for I have not yet ascended to My Father (John 20:17): that is, I would not have you come to Me as to a human body, nor yet recognize Me by fleshly perceptions: I put you off for higher things, I prepare greater things for you: when I have ascended to My Father, then you shall handle Me more perfectly and truly, for you shall grasp what you cannot touch and believe what you cannot see. But when the disciples' eyes followed the ascending Lord to heaven with upward gaze of earnest wonder, two angels stood by them in raiment shining with wondrous brightness, who also said, You men of Galilee, why do you stand gazing into heaven? This Jesus Who was taken up from you into heaven shall so come as you saw Him going into heaven (Acts 1:11) . By which words all the sons of the Church were taught to believe that Jesus Christ will come visibly in the same Flesh wherewith He ascended, and not to doubt that all things are subjected to Him on Whom the ministry of angels had waited from the first beginning of His Birth. For, as an angel announced to the blessed Virgin that Christ should be conceived by the Holy Ghost, so the voice of heavenly beings sang of His being born of the Virgin also to the shepherds. As messengers from above were the first to attest His having risen from the dead, so the service of angels was employed to foretell His coming in very Flesh to judge the world, that we might understand what great powers will come with Him as Judge, when such great ones ministered to Him even in being judged.

Footnotes

531 ⇒ Mk 16:19.
532 Cf ⇒ Lk 24:31; ⇒ Jn 20:19, ⇒ 26.
533 Cf. ⇒ Acts 1:3; ⇒ 10:41; ⇒ Mk 16:12; ⇒ Lk 24:15; ⇒ Jn 20:14-15; ⇒ 21:4.
534 Cf. ⇒ Acts 1:9; ⇒ 2:33; ⇒ 7:56; ⇒ Lk 9:34-35; ⇒ 24:51; ⇒ Ex 13:22; ⇒ Mk 16:19; ⇒ Ps 110:1.
535 ⇒ 1 Cor 15:8; cf. ⇒ 9:1; ⇒ Gal 1:16.
536 ⇒ Jn 20:17.
537 Cf. ⇒ Jn 16:28.
538 ⇒ Jn 3:13; cf. ⇒ Eph 4:8-10.
539 ⇒ Jn 14:2.
540 Missale Romanum, Preface of the Ascension: sed ut illuc confideremus, sua membra, nos subsequi quo ipse, caput nostrum principiumque, praecessit.
541 ⇒ Jn 12:32.
542 ⇒ Heb 9:24.
543 ⇒ Heb 7:25.
544 ⇒ Heb 9:11; cf. ⇒ Rev 4:6-11.
545 St. John Damascene, Defide orth. 4, 2: PG 94, 1104C.
546 ⇒ Dan 7:14.
547 Nicene Creed.



Year of Faith Catechism Study: CCC 648-655, 658 – The Resurrection – A Work of the Trinity

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

Today’s Catechism sections discuss the Resurrection as a work of the Trinity. Supporting material comes from St. Leo the Great.

II. THE RESURRECTION - A WORK OF THE HOLY TRINITY

648 Christ's Resurrection is an object of faith in that it is a transcendent intervention of God himself in creation and history. In it the three divine persons act together as one, and manifest their own proper characteristics. The Father's power "raised up" Christ his Son and by doing so perfectly introduced his Son's humanity, including his body, into the Trinity. Jesus is conclusively revealed as "Son of God in power according to the Spirit of holiness by his Resurrection from the dead".514 St. Paul insists on the manifestation of God's power515 through the working of the Spirit who gave life to Jesus' dead humanity and called it to the glorious state of Lordship.

649 As for the Son, he effects his own Resurrection by virtue of his divine power. Jesus announces that the Son of man will have to suffer much, die, and then rise.516 Elsewhere he affirms explicitly: "I lay down my life, that I may take it again. . . I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again."517 "We believe that Jesus died and rose again."518

650 The Fathers contemplate the Resurrection from the perspective of the divine person of Christ who remained united to his soul and body, even when these were separated from each other by death: "By the unity of the divine nature, which remains present in each of the two components of man, these are reunited. For as death is produced by the separation of the human components, so Resurrection is achieved by the union of the two."519

III. THE MEANING AND SAVING SIGNIFICANCE OF THE RESURRECTION

651 "If Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain."520 The Resurrection above all constitutes the confirmation of all Christ's works and teachings. All truths, even those most inaccessible to human reason, find their justification if Christ by his Resurrection has given the definitive proof of his divine authority, which he had promised.

652 Christ's Resurrection is the fulfillment of the promises both of the Old Testament and of Jesus himself during his earthly life.521 The phrase "in accordance with the Scriptures"522 indicates that Christ's Resurrection fulfilled these predictions.

653 The truth of Jesus' divinity is confirmed by his Resurrection. He had said: "When you have lifted up the Son of man, then you will know that I am he."523 The Resurrection of the crucified one shows that he was truly "I AM", the Son of God and God himself. So St. Paul could declare to the Jews: "What God promised to the fathers, this he has fulfilled to us their children by raising Jesus; as also it is written in the second psalm, 'You are my Son, today I have begotten you.'"524 Christ's Resurrection is closely linked to the Incarnation of God's Son, and is its fulfillment in accordance with God's eternal plan.

654 The Paschal mystery has two aspects: by his death, Christ liberates us from sin; by his Resurrection, he opens for us the way to a new life. This new life is above all justification that reinstates us in God's grace, "so that as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life." Justification consists in both victory over the death caused by sin and a new participation in grace.526 It brings about filial adoption so that men become Christ's brethren, as Jesus himself called his disciples after his Resurrection: "Go and tell my brethren."527 We are brethren not by nature, but by the gift of grace, because that adoptive filiation gains us a real share in the life of the only Son, which was fully revealed in his Resurrection.

655 Finally, Christ's Resurrection - and the risen Christ himself is the principle and source of our future resurrection: "Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who have fallen asleep. . . For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive."528 The risen Christ lives in the hearts of his faithful while they await that fulfillment. In Christ, Christians "have tasted. . . the powers of the age to come"529 and their lives are swept up by Christ into the heart of divine life, so that they may "live no longer for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised."530

IN BRIEF

658 Christ, "the first-born from the dead" (⇒ Col 1:18), is the principle of our own resurrection, even now by the justification of our souls (cf ⇒ Rom 6:4), and one day by the new life he will impart to our bodies (cf ⇒ Rom 8:11).

The following comes from St. Leo the Great’s “Surmon on the Lord’s Resurrection”:

Accordingly, since the Apostle says, the first man is of the earth earthy, the second man is from heaven heavenly. As is the earthy, such also are they that are earthy; and as is the heavenly, such also are they that are heavenly. As we have borne the image of the earthy, so let us also bear the image of Him Who is from heaven , we must greatly rejoice over this change, whereby we are translated from earthly degradation to heavenly dignity through His unspeakable mercy, Who descended into our estate that He might promote us to His, by assuming not only the substance but also the conditions of sinful nature, and by allowing the impassibility of Godhead to be affected by all the miseries which are the lot of mortal manhood. And hence that the disturbed minds of the disciples might not be racked by prolonged grief, He with such wondrous speed shortened the three days' delay which He had announced, that by joining the last part of the first and the first part of the third day to the whole of the second, He cut off a considerable portion of the period, and yet did not lessen the number of days. The Saviour's Resurrection therefore did not long keep His soul in Hades, nor His flesh in the tomb; and so speedy was the quickening of His uncorrupted flesh that it bore a closer resemblance to slumber than to death, seeing that the Godhead, Which quitted not either part of the Human Nature which He had assumed, reunited by Its power that which Its power had separated.

Footnotes

514 ⇒ Rom I 3-4; cf. ⇒ Acts 2:24.
515 Cf. ⇒ Rom 6:4; ⇒ 2 Cor 13:4; ⇒ Phil 3:10; ⇒ Eph 1:19-22; ⇒ Heb 7:16.
516 Cf. ⇒ Mk 8:31; ⇒ 9:9-31; ⇒ 10:34.
517 ⇒ Jn 10:17-18.
518 ⇒ I Th 4:14.
519 St. Gregory of Nyssa, In Christi res. Orat. I: PG 46, 617B; cf. also DS 325; 359; 369.
520 ⇒ I Cor 15:14.
521 Cf. ⇒ Mt 28:6; ⇒ Mk 16:7; ⇒ Lk 24:6-7, ⇒ 26-27, ⇒ 44-48.
522 Cf. ⇒ I Cor 15:3-4; cf. the Nicene Creed.
523 ⇒ Jn 8:28.
524 ⇒ Acts 13:32-33; cf. ⇒ Ps 2:7[ETML:C/].
526 Cf. ⇒ Eph 2:4-5; ⇒ I Pt 1:3.
527 ⇒ Mt 28:10; ⇒ Jn 20:17.
528 ⇒ I Cor 15:20-22.
529 ⇒ Heb 6:5.
530 ⇒ 2 Cor 5:15; cf. ⇒ Col 3:1-3.



Year of Faith Catechism Study: CCC 638-647, 656-657 - The Resurrection of Jesus

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

Today's Catechism sections discuss the Resurrection. Supporting material comes from St. Justin Martyr.

Paragraph 2. ON THE THIRD DAY HE ROSE FROM THE DEAD

638 "We bring you the good news that what God promised to the fathers, this day he has fulfilled to us their children by raising Jesus."488 The Resurrection of Jesus is the crowning truth of our faith in Christ, a faith believed and lived as the central truth by the first Christian community; handed on as fundamental by Tradition; established by the documents of the New Testament; and preached as an essential part of the Paschal mystery along with the cross:

Christ is risen from the dead!
Dying, he conquered death;
To the dead, he has given life.489

I. THE HISTORICAL AND TRANSCENDENT EVENT

639 The mystery of Christ's resurrection is a real event, with manifestations that were historically verified, as the New Testament bears witness. In about A.D. 56 St. Paul could already write to the Corinthians: "I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the scriptures, and that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the Twelve. . ."490 The Apostle speaks here of the living tradition of the Resurrection which he had learned after his conversion at the gates of Damascus.491

The empty tomb

640 "Why do you seek the living among the dead? He is not here, but has risen."492 The first element we encounter in the framework of the Easter events is the empty tomb. In itself it is not a direct proof of Resurrection; the absence of Christ's body from the tomb could be explained otherwise.493 Nonetheless the empty tomb was still an essential sign for all. Its discovery by the disciples was the first step toward recognizing the very fact of the Resurrection. This was the case, first with the holy women, and then with Peter.494 The disciple "whom Jesus loved" affirmed that when he entered the empty tomb and discovered "the linen cloths lying there", "he saw and believed".495 This suggests that he realized from the empty tomb's condition that the absence of Jesus' body could not have been of human doing and that Jesus had not simply returned to earthly life as had been the case with Lazarus.496

The appearances of the Risen One

641 Mary Magdalene and the holy women who came to finish anointing the body of Jesus, which had been buried in haste because the Sabbath began on the evening of Good Friday, were the first to encounter the Risen One.497 Thus the women were the first messengers of Christ's Resurrection for the apostles themselves.498 They were the next to whom Jesus appears: first Peter, then the Twelve. Peter had been called to strengthen the faith of his brothers,499 and so sees the Risen One before them; it is on the basis of his testimony that the community exclaims: "The Lord has risen indeed, and has appeared to Simon!"500

642 Everything that happened during those Paschal days involves each of the apostles - and Peter in particular - in the building of the new era begun on Easter morning. As witnesses of the Risen One, they remain the foundation stones of his Church. The faith of the first community of believers is based on the witness of concrete men known to the Christians and for the most part still living among them. Peter and the Twelve are the primary "witnesses to his Resurrection", but they are not the only ones - Paul speaks clearly of more than five hundred persons to whom Jesus appeared on a single occasion and also of James and of all the apostles.501

643 Given all these testimonies, Christ's Resurrection cannot be interpreted as something outside the physical order, and it is impossible not to acknowledge it as an historical fact. It is clear from the facts that the disciples' faith was drastically put to the test by their master's Passion and death on the cross, which he had foretold.502 The shock provoked by the Passion was so great that at least some of the disciples did not at once believe in the news of the Resurrection. Far from showing us a community seized by a mystical exaltation, the Gospels present us with disciples demoralized ("looking sad"503) and frightened. For they had not believed the holy women returning from the tomb and had regarded their words as an "idle tale".504 When Jesus reveals himself to the Eleven on Easter evening, "he upbraided them for their unbelief and hardness of heart, because they had not believed those who saw him after he had risen."505

644 Even when faced with the reality of the risen Jesus the disciples are still doubtful, so impossible did the thing seem: they thought they were seeing a ghost. "In their joy they were still disbelieving and still wondering."506 Thomas will also experience the test of doubt and St. Matthew relates that during the risen Lord's last appearance in Galilee "some doubted."507 Therefore the hypothesis that the Resurrection was produced by the apostles' faith (or credulity) will not hold up. On the contrary their faith in the Resurrection was born, under the action of divine grace, from their direct experience of the reality of the risen Jesus.

The condition of Christ's risen humanity

645 By means of touch and the sharing of a meal, the risen Jesus establishes direct contact with his disciples. He invites them in this way to recognize that he is not a ghost and above all to verify that the risen body in which he appears to them is the same body that had been tortured and crucified, for it still bears the traces of his Passion.508 Yet at the same time this authentic, real body possesses the new properties of a glorious body: not limited by space and time but able to be present how and when he wills; for Christ's humanity can no longer be confined to earth, and belongs henceforth only to the Father's divine realm.509 For this reason too the risen Jesus enjoys the sovereign freedom of appearing as he wishes: in the guise of a gardener or in other forms familiar to his disciples, precisely to awaken their faith.510

646 Christ's Resurrection was not a return to earthly life, as was the case with the raisings from the dead that he had performed before Easter: Jairus' daughter, the young man of Naim, Lazarus. These actions were miraculous events, but the persons miraculously raised returned by Jesus' power to ordinary earthly life. At some particular moment they would die again. Christ's Resurrection is essentially different. In his risen body he passes from the state of death to another life beyond time and space. At Jesus' Resurrection his body is filled with the power of the Holy Spirit: he shares the divine life in his glorious state, so that St. Paul can say that Christ is "the man of heaven".511

The Resurrection as transcendent event

647 O truly blessed Night, sings the Exsultet of the Easter Vigil, which alone deserved to know the time and the hour when Christ rose from the realm of the dead!512 But no one was an eyewitness to Christ's Resurrection and no evangelist describes it. No one can say how it came about physically. Still less was its innermost essence, his passing over to another life, perceptible to the senses. Although the Resurrection was an historical event that could be verified by the sign of the empty tomb and by the reality of the apostles' encounters with the risen Christ, still it remains at the very heart of the mystery of faith as something that transcends and surpasses history. This is why the risen Christ does not reveal himself to the world, but to his disciples, "to those who came up with him from Galilee to Jerusalem, who are now his witnesses to the people."513

IN BRIEF

656 Faith in the Resurrection has as its object an event which as historically attested to by the disciples, who really encountered the Risen One. At the same time, this event is mysteriously transcendent insofar as it is the entry of Christ's humanity into the glory of God.

657 The empty tomb and the linen cloths lying there signify in themselves that by God's power Christ's body had escaped the bonds of death and corruption. They prepared the disciples to encounter the Risen Lord.

The following excerpt comes from St. Justin Martyr’s “On the Resurrection”.

If He had no need of the flesh, why did He heal it? And what is most forcible of all, He raised the dead. Why? Was it not to show what the resurrection should be? How then did He raise the dead? Their souls or their bodies? Manifestly both. If the resurrection were only spiritual, it was requisite that He, in raising the dead, should show the body lying apart by itself, and the soul living apart by itself. But now He did not do so, but raised the body, confirming in it the promise of life. Why did He rise in the flesh in which He suffered, unless to show the resurrection of the flesh? And wishing to confirm this, when His disciples did not know whether to believe He had truly risen in the body, and were looking upon Him and doubting, He said to them, You have not yet faith, see that it is I; Luke 24:32, etc. and He let them handle Him, and showed them the prints of the nails in His hands. And when they were by every kind of proof persuaded that it was Himself, and in the body, they asked Him to eat with them, that they might thus still more accurately ascertain that He had in verity risen bodily; and He ate honey-comb and fish. And when He had thus shown them that there is truly a resurrection of the flesh, wishing to show them this also, that it is not impossible for flesh to ascend into heaven (as He had said that our dwelling-place is in heaven), He was taken up into heaven while they beheld, Acts 1:9 as He was in the flesh. If, therefore, after all that has been said, any one demand demonstration of the resurrection, he is in no respect different from the Sadducees, since the resurrection of the flesh is the power of God, and, being above all reasoning, is established by faith, and seen in works.

Footnotes

488 ⇒ Acts 13:32-33.
489 Byzantine Liturgy, Troparion of Easter.
490 ⇒ I Cor 15:3-4.
491 Cf. ⇒ Acts 9:3-18.
492 ⇒ Lk 24:5-6.
493 Cf. ⇒ Jn 20:13; ⇒ Mt 28:11-15.
494 Cf. ⇒ Lk 24:3, ⇒ 12, ⇒ 22-23.
495 ⇒ Jn 20:2, 6, 8.
496 Cf. ⇒ Jn 11:44; ⇒ 20:5-7.
497 ⇒ Mk 16:1; ⇒ Lk 24:1; ⇒ Jn 19:31, ⇒ 42.
498 Cf ⇒ Lk 24:9-10; ⇒ Mt 28:9-10; ⇒ Jn 20:11-18.
499 Cf I Cor 15:5; ⇒ Lk 22:31-32.
500 ⇒ Lk 24:34, ⇒ 36.
501 ⇒ I Cor 15:4-8; cf. ⇒ Acts 1:22.
502 Cf. ⇒ Lk 22:31-32.
503 1 ⇒ Lk 24:17; cf. ⇒ Jn 20:19.
504 ⇒ Lk 24:11; cf. ⇒ Mk 16:11, ⇒ 13.
505 ⇒ Mk 16:14.
506 ⇒ Lk 24:38-41.
507 Cf ⇒ Jn 20:24-27; ⇒ Mt 28:17.
508 Cf. ⇒ Lk 24:30, ⇒ 39-40, ⇒ 41-43; ⇒ Jn 20:20, ⇒ 27; ⇒ 21:9, ⇒ 13-15.
509 Cf. ⇒ Mt 28:9, ⇒ 16-17; ⇒ Lk 24:15, ⇒ 36; ⇒ Jn 20:14, ⇒ 17, ⇒ 19, ⇒ 26; ⇒ 21:4.
510 Cf. ⇒ Mk 16:12; ⇒ Jn 20:14-16; ⇒ 21:4, 7.
511 Cf. ⇒ 1 Cor 15:35-50.
512 O vere beata nox, quae sola meruit scire tempus et horam, in qua Christus ab inferis resurrexit!
513 ⇒ Acts 13:31; cf. ⇒ Jn 14:22.



Year of Faith Catechism Study: CCC 631 – 637 – Jesus’ Descent into Hell

clock December 24, 2012 01:02 by author John |

Today’s Catechism sections discuss Jesus’ decent into Hell. Supporting material comes from St. Augustine’s Letter to Evodius.

Article 5

"HE DESCENDED INTO HELL. ON THE THIRD DAY HE ROSE AGAIN"

631 Jesus "descended into the lower parts of the earth. He who descended is he who also ascended far above all the heavens."475 The Apostles' Creed confesses in the same article Christ's descent into hell and his Resurrection from the dead on the third day, because in his Passover it was precisely out of the depths of death that he made life spring forth:

Christ, that Morning Star, who came back from the dead, and shed his peaceful light on all mankind, your Son who lives and reigns for ever and ever. Amen.476

Paragraph 1. CHRIST DESCENDED INTO HELL

632 The frequent New Testament affirmations that Jesus was "raised from the dead" presuppose that the crucified one sojourned in the realm of the dead prior to his resurrection.477 This was the first meaning given in the apostolic preaching to Christ's descent into hell: that Jesus, like all men, experienced death and in his soul joined the others in the realm of the dead. But he descended there as Savior, proclaiming the Good News to the spirits imprisoned there.478

633 Scripture calls the abode of the dead, to which the dead Christ went down, "hell" - Sheol in Hebrew or Hades in Greek - because those who are there are deprived of the vision of God.479 Such is the case for all the dead, whether evil or righteous, while they await the Redeemer: which does not mean that their lot is identical, as Jesus shows through the parable of the poor man Lazarus who was received into "Abraham's bosom":480 "It is precisely these holy souls, who awaited their Savior in Abraham's bosom, whom Christ the Lord delivered when he descended into hell."481 Jesus did not descend into hell to deliver the damned, nor to destroy the hell of damnation, but to free the just who had gone before him.482

634 "The gospel was preached even to the dead."483 The descent into hell brings the Gospel message of salvation to complete fulfillment. This is the last phase of Jesus' messianic mission, a phase which is condensed in time but vast in its real significance: the spread of Christ's redemptive work to all men of all times and all places, for all who are saved have been made sharers in the redemption.

635 Christ went down into the depths of death so that "the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear will live."484 Jesus, "the Author of life", by dying destroyed "him who has the power of death, that is, the devil, and [delivered] all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong bondage."485 Henceforth the risen Christ holds "the keys of Death and Hades", so that "at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth."486

Today a great silence reigns on earth, a great silence and a great stillness. A great silence because the King is asleep. The earth trembled and is still because God has fallen asleep in the flesh and he has raised up all who have slept ever since the world began. . . He has gone to search for Adam, our first father, as for a lost sheep. Greatly desiring to visit those who live in darkness and in the shadow of death, he has gone to free from sorrow Adam in his bonds and Eve, captive with him - He who is both their God and the son of Eve. . . "I am your God, who for your sake have become your son. . . I order you, O sleeper, to awake. I did not create you to be a prisoner in hell. Rise from the dead, for I am the life of the dead."487

IN BRIEF

636 By the expression "He descended into hell", the Apostles' Creed confesses that Jesus did really die and through his death for us conquered death and the devil "who has the power of death" (⇒ Heb 2:14).

637 In his human soul united to his divine person, the dead Christ went down to the realm of the dead. He opened heaven's gates for the just who had gone before him.

St. Augustine in his Letter to “Evodius”, writes on the descent of Jesus into Hell.

3. It is established beyond question that the Lord, after He had been put to death in the flesh, descended into hell; for it is impossible to gainsay either that utterance of prophecy, You will not leave my soul in hell, — an utterance which Peter himself expounds in the Acts of the Apostles, lest any one should venture to put upon it another interpretation—or the words of the same apostle, in which he affirms that the Lord loosed the pains of hell, in which it was not possible for Him to be holden. Who, therefore, except an infidel, will deny that Christ was in hell? As to the difficulty which is found in reconciling the statement that the pains of hell were loosed by Him, with the fact that He had never begun to be in these pains as in bonds, and did not so loose them as if He had broken off chains by which He had been bound, this is easily removed when we understand that they were loosed in the same way as the snares of huntsmen may be loosed to prevent their holding, not because they have taken hold. It may also be understood as teaching us to believe Him to have loosed those pains which could not possibly hold Him, but which were holding those to whom He had resolved to grant deliverance.

4. But who these were it is presumptuous for us to define. For if we say that all who were found there were then delivered without exception, who will not rejoice if we can prove this? Especially will men rejoice for the sake of some who are intimately known to us by their literary labors, whose eloquence and talent we admire—not only the poets and orators who in many parts of their writings have held up to contempt and ridicule these same false gods of the nations, and have even occasionally confessed the one true God, although along with the rest they observed superstitious rites, but also those who have uttered the same, not in poetry or rhetoric, but as philosophers: and for the sake of many more of whom we have no literary remains, but in regard to whom we have learned from the writings of these others that their lives were to a certain extent praiseworthy, so that (with the exception of their service of God, in which they erred, worshipping the vanities which had been set up as objects of public worship, and serving the creature rather than the Creator) they may be justly held up as models in all the other virtues of frugality, self-denial, chastity, sobriety, braving of death in their country's defense, and faith kept inviolate not only to fellow citizens, but also to enemies. All these things, indeed, when they are practiced with a view not to the great end of right and true piety, but to the empty pride of human praise and glory, become in a sense worthless and unprofitable; nevertheless, as indications of a certain disposition of mind, they please us so much that we would desire those in whom they exist, either by special preference or along with the others, to be freed from the pains of hell, were not the verdict of human feeling different from that of the justice of the Creator.

5. These things being so, if the Savior delivered all from that place, and, to quote the terms of the question in your letter, emptied hell, so that now from that time forward the last judgment was to be expected, the following things occasion not unreasonable perplexity on this subject, and are wont to present themselves to me in the meantime when I think on it. First, by what authoritative statements can this opinion be confirmed? For the words of Scripture, that the pains of hell were loosed by the death of Christ, do not establish this, seeing that this statement may be understood as referring to Himself, and meaning that he so far loosed (that is, made ineffectual) the pains of hell that He Himself was not held by them, especially since it is added that it was impossible for Him to be holden of them. Or if any one [objecting to this interpretation] ask the reason why He chose to descend into hell, where those pains were which could not possibly hold Him who was, as Scripture says, free among the dead, in whom the prince and captain of death found nothing which deserved punishment, the words that the pains of hell were loosed may be understood as referring not to the case of all, but only of some whom He judged worthy of that deliverance; so that neither is He supposed to have descended there in vain, without the purpose of bringing benefit to any of those who were there held in prison, nor is it a necessary inference that what divine mercy and justice granted to some must be supposed to have been granted to all.

Footnotes

475 ⇒ Eph 4:9-10.
476 Roman Missal, Easter Vigil 18, Exsultet.
477 ⇒ Acts 3:15; ⇒ Rom 8:11; ⇒ I Cor 15:20; cf. ⇒ Heb 13:20.
478 Cf. ⇒ I Pt 3:18-19.
479 Cf. ⇒ Phil 2:10; ⇒ Acts 2:24; ⇒ Rev 1:18; ⇒ Eph 4:9; ⇒ Pss 6:6; ⇒ 88:11-13.
480 Cf. ⇒ Ps 89:49; ⇒ I Sam 28:19; ⇒ Ezek 32:17-32; ⇒ Lk 16:22-26.
481 Roman Catechism 1, 6, 3.
482 Cf. Council of Rome (745): DS 587; Benedict XII, Cum dudum (1341): DS 1011; Clement VI, Super quibusdam (1351): DS 1077; Council of Toledo IV (625): DS 485; ⇒ Mt 27:52-53.
483 ⇒ I Pt 4:6.
484 ⇒ Jn 5:25; cf. ⇒ Mt 12:40; ⇒ Rom 10:7; ⇒ Eph 4:9.
485 ⇒ Heb 2:14-15; cf. ⇒ Acts 3:15.
486 ⇒ Rev 1:18; ⇒ Phil 2:10.
487 Ancient Homily for Holy Saturday: PG 43, 440A, 452C; LH, Holy Saturday, OR.



Year of Faith Catechism Study: CCC 624-630 – Jesus Christ was Buried

clock December 23, 2012 01:02 by author John |

Today’s Catechism sections discuss the burial of Jesus. Supporting material comes from St. John of Damascus.

Paragraph 3. JESUS CHRIST WAS BURIED

624 "By the grace of God" Jesus tasted death "for every one".459 In his plan of salvation, God ordained that his Son should not only "die for our sins"460 but should also "taste death", experience the condition of death, the separation of his soul from his body, between the time he expired on the cross and the time he was raised from the dead. The state of the dead Christ is the mystery of the tomb and the descent into hell. It is the mystery of Holy Saturday, when Christ, lying in the tomb,461 reveals God's great Sabbath rest462 after the fulfilment463 of man's salvation, which brings peace to the whole universe.464

Christ in the tomb in his body

625 Christ's stay in the tomb constitutes the real link between his passible state before Easter and his glorious and risen state today. The same person of the "Living One" can say, "I died, and behold I am alive for evermore":465

God [the Son] did not impede death from separating his soul from his body according to the necessary order of nature, but has reunited them to one another in the Resurrection, so that he himself might be, in his person, the meeting point for death and life, by arresting in himself the decomposition of nature produced by death and so becoming the source of reunion for the separated parts.466

626 Since the "Author of life" who was killed467 is the same "living one [who has] risen",468 The divine person of the Son of God necessarily continued to possess his human soul and body, separated from each other by death:

By the fact that at Christ's death his soul was separated from his flesh, his one person is not itself divided into two persons; for the human body and soul of Christ have existed in the same way from the beginning of his earthly existence, in the divine person of the Word; and in death, although separated from each other, both remained with one and the same person of the Word.469

"You will not let your Holy One see corruption"

627 Christ's death was a real death in that it put an end to his earthly human existence. But because of the union his body retained with the person of the Son, his was not a mortal corpse like others, for "divine power preserved Christ's body from corruption."470 Both of these statements can be said of Christ: "He was cut off out of the land of the living",471 and "My flesh will dwell in hope. For you will not abandon my soul to Hades, nor let your Holy One see corruption."472 Jesus' Resurrection "on the third day" was the proof of this, for bodily decay was held to begin on the fourth day after death.473

"Buried with Christ. . ."

628 Baptism, the original and full sign of which is immersion, efficaciously signifies the descent into the tomb by the Christian who dies to sin with Christ in order to live a new life. "We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life."474

IN BRIEF

629 To the benefit of every man, Jesus Christ tasted death (cf ⇒ Heb 2:9). It is truly the Son of God made man who died and was buried.

630 During Christ's period in the tomb, his divine person continued to assume both his soul and his body, although they were separated from each other by death. For this reason the dead Christ's body "saw no corruption" (⇒ Acts 13:37).

St. John of Damascus discusses the death of Christ in relation to the Hypostatic Union in Book III of his work, “Exposition of the Orthodox Faith” (27):

Since our Lord Jesus Christ was without sin (for He committed no sin, He Who took away the sin of the world, nor was there any deceit found in His mouth ) He was not subject to death, since death came into the world through sin. (Romans 5:12) He dies, therefore, because He took on Himself death on our behalf, and He makes Himself an offering to the Father for our sakes. For we had sinned against Him, and it was meet that He should receive the ransom for us, and that we should thus be delivered from the condemnation. God forbid that the blood of the Lord should have been offered to the tyrant. Wherefore death approaches, and swallowing up the body as a bait is transfixed on the hook of divinity, and after tasting of a sinless and life-giving body, perishes, and brings up again all whom of old he swallowed up. For just as darkness disappears on the introduction of light, so is death repulsed before the assault of life, and brings life to all, but death to the destroyer.

Wherefore, although He died as man and His Holy Spirit was severed from His immaculate body, yet His divinity remained inseparable from both, I mean, from His soul and His body, and so even thus His one hypostasis was not divided into two hypostases. For body and soul received simultaneously in the beginning their being in the subsistence of the Word, and although they were severed from one another by death, yet they continued, each of them, having the one subsistence of the Word. So that the one subsistence of the Word is alike the subsistence of the Word, and of soul and body. For at no time had either soul or body a separate subsistence of their own, different from that of the Word, and the subsistence of the Word is for ever one, and at no time two. So that the subsistence of Christ is always one. For, although the soul was separated from the body topically, yet hypostatically they were united through the Word.

Footnotes

459 ⇒ Heb 2:9.
460 ⇒ I Cor 15:3.
461 Cf. ⇒ Jn 19:42.
462 Cf. ⇒ Heb 4:7-9.
463 Cf. ⇒ Jn 19:30.
464 Cf ⇒ Col 1: 18-20.
465 ⇒ Rev 1:18.
466 St. Gregory of Nyssa, Orat. catech. 16: PG 45, 52D.
467 ⇒ Acts 3:15.
468 ⇒ Lk 24:5-6.
469 St. John Damascene, De fide orth. 3, 27: PG 94, 1097.
470 St. Thomas Aquinas, STh III, 51, 3.
471 ⇒ Is 53:8.
472 ⇒ Acts 2:26-27; cf. ⇒ Ps 16:9-10.
473 Cf. ⇒ I Cor 15:4; ⇒ Lk 24:46; ⇒ Mt 12:40; ⇒ Jon 2:1; ⇒ Hos 6:2; cf. ⇒ Jn 11:39.
474 ⇒ Rom 6:4; cf. ⇒ Col 2:12; ⇒ Eph 5:26.



Year of Faith Catechism Study: CCC 612-618, 623 – Jesus’ Agony in the Garden and Crucifixion

clock December 22, 2012 01:02 by author John |

Today’s Catechism sections discuss Jesus’ agony in the Garden and His crucifixion. Supporting material comes from St. Leo the Great.

The agony at Gethsemani

612 The cup of the New Covenant, which Jesus anticipated when he offered himself at the Last Supper, is afterwards accepted by him from his Father's hands in his agony in the garden at Gethsemani,434 making himself "obedient unto death". Jesus prays: "My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me. . ."435 Thus he expresses the horror that death represented for his human nature. Like ours, his human nature is destined for eternal life; but unlike ours, it is perfectly exempt from sin, the cause of death.436 Above all, his human nature has been assumed by the divine person of the "Author of life", the "Living One".437 By accepting in his human will that the Father's will be done, he accepts his death as redemptive, for "he himself bore our sins in his body on the tree."438

Christ's death is the unique and definitive sacrifice

613 Christ's death is both the Paschal sacrifice that accomplishes the definitive redemption of men, through "the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world",439 and the sacrifice of the New Covenant, which restores man to communion with God by reconciling him to God through the "blood of the covenant, which was poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins".440

614 This sacrifice of Christ is unique; it completes and surpasses all other sacrifices.441 First, it is a gift from God the Father himself, for the Father handed his Son over to sinners in order to reconcile us with himself. At the same time it is the offering of the Son of God made man, who in freedom and love offered his life to his Father through the Holy Spirit in reparation for our disobedience.442

Jesus substitutes his obedience for our disobedience

615 "For as by one man's disobedience many were made sinners, so by one man's obedience many will be made righteous."443 By his obedience unto death, Jesus accomplished the substitution of the suffering Servant, who "makes himself an offering for sin", when "he bore the sin of many", and who "shall make many to be accounted righteous", for "he shall bear their iniquities".444 Jesus atoned for our faults and made satisfaction for our sins to the Father.445

Jesus consummates his sacrifice on the cross

616 It is love "to the end"446 that confers on Christ's sacrifice its value as redemption and reparation, as atonement and satisfaction. He knew and loved us all when he offered his life.447 Now "the love of Christ controls us, because we are convinced that one has died for all; therefore all have died."448 No man, not even the holiest, was ever able to take on himself the sins of all men and offer himself as a sacrifice for all. The existence in Christ of the divine person of the Son, who at once surpasses and embraces all human persons, and constitutes himself as the Head of all mankind, makes possible his redemptive sacrifice for all.

617 The Council of Trent emphasizes the unique character of Christ's sacrifice as "the source of eternal salvation"449 and teaches that "his most holy Passion on the wood of the cross merited justification for us."450 And the Church venerates his cross as she sings: "Hail, O Cross, our only hope."451

Our participation in Christ's sacrifice

618 The cross is the unique sacrifice of Christ, the "one mediator between God and men".452 But because in his incarnate divine person he has in some way united himself to every man, "the possibility of being made partners, in a way known to God, in the paschal mystery" is offered to all men.453 He calls his disciples to "take up [their] cross and follow (him)",454 for "Christ also suffered for (us), leaving (us) an example so that (we) should follow in his steps."455 In fact Jesus desires to associate with his redeeming sacrifice those who were to be its first beneficiaries.456 This is achieved supremely in the case of his mother, who was associated more intimately than any other person in the mystery of his redemptive suffering.457 Apart from the cross there is no other ladder by which we may get to heaven.458

IN BRIEF

623 By his loving obedience to the Father, "unto death, even death on a cross" (⇒ Phil 2:8), Jesus fulfils the atoning mission (cf ⇒ Is 53:10) of the suffering Servant, who will "make many righteous; and he shall bear their iniquities" (⇒ Is 53:11; cf. ⇒ Rom 5:19).

St. Leo the Great comments on the redemptive nature of Jesus’ Passion in his “Sermon 67”.

V. Christ's Passion was for our Redemption by mystery and example

The fact, therefore, that at the time appointed, according to the purpose of His will, Jesus Christ was crucified, dead, and buried was not the doom necessary to His own condition, but the method of redeeming us from captivity. For the Word became flesh in order that from the Virgin's womb He might take our suffering nature, and that what could not be inflicted on the Son of God might be inflicted on the Son of Man. For although at His very birth the signs of Godhead shone forth in Him, and the whole course of His bodily growth was full of wonders, yet had He truly assumed our weaknesses, and without share in sin had spared Himself no human frailty, that He might impart what was His to us and heal what was ours in Himself. For He, the Almighty Physician, had prepared a two-fold remedy for us in our misery, of which the one part consists of mystery and the other of example, that by the one Divine powers may be bestowed, by the other human weaknesses driven out. Because as God is the Author of our justification, so man is a debtor to pay Him devotion.

Footnotes

434 Cf. ⇒ Mt 26:42; ⇒ Lk 22:20.
435 ⇒ Phil 2:8; ⇒ Mt 26:39; cf. ⇒ Heb 5:7-8.
436 Cf. ⇒ Rom 5:12; ⇒ Heb 4:15.
437 Cf. ⇒ Acts 3:15; ⇒ Rev 1:17; ⇒ Jn 1:4; ⇒ 5:26.
438 2 Pt 224; cf. ⇒ Mt 26:42.
439 ⇒ Jn 1:29; cf. ⇒ 8:34-36; ⇒ 1 Cor 5:7; ⇒ 2 Pt 1:19.
440 ⇒ Mt 26:28; cf. ⇒ Ex 24:8; ⇒ Lev 16:15-16; ⇒ 2 Cor 11:25.
441 Cf. ⇒ Heb 10:10.
442 Cf. ⇒ Jn 10:17-18; ⇒ 15:13; ⇒ Heb 9:14; ⇒ 1 Jn 4:10.
443 ⇒ Rom 5:19.
444 ⇒ Is 53:10-12.
445 Cf. Council of Trent (1547): DS 1529.
446 ⇒ Jn 13:1.
447 Cf. ⇒ Gal 2:20; ⇒ Eph 5:2, ⇒ 25.
448 ⇒ 2 Cor 5:14.
449 ⇒ Heb 5:9.
450 Council of Trent: DS 1529.
451 LH, Lent, Holy Week, Evening Prayer, Hymn Vexilla Regis.
452 1 Tim 2:5.
453 GS 22 # 5; cf. # 2.
454 ⇒ Mt 16:24.
455 I Pt 2:21.
456 Cf ⇒ Mk 10:39; ⇒ Jn 21:18-19; ⇒ Col 1:24.
457 Cf. ⇒ Lk 2:35.
458 St. Rose of Lima: cf. P. Hansen, Vita mirabilis (Louvain, 1668).