Year of Faith Catechism Study: CCC 997-1005, 1015-1016 – Resurrection of the Dead, Risen with Christ

clock February 7, 2013 01:02 by author John |

Today’s Catechism sections discuss the resurrection of the dead and rising to new life with Christ. Supporting material comes from St. Irenaeus’ “Against Heresies”.

How do the dead rise?

997 What is "rising"? In death, the separation of the soul from the body, the human body decays and the soul goes to meet God, while awaiting its reunion with its glorified body. God, in his almighty power, will definitively grant incorruptible life to our bodies by reuniting them with our souls, through the power of Jesus' Resurrection.

998 Who will rise? All the dead will rise, "those who have done good, to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil, to the resurrection of judgment."550

999 How? Christ is raised with his own body: "See my hands and my feet, that it is I myself";551 but he did not return to an earthly life. So, in him, "all of them will rise again with their own bodies which they now bear," but Christ "will change our lowly body to be like his glorious body," into a "spiritual body":552

But someone will ask, "How are the dead raised? With what kind of body do they come?" You foolish man! What you sow does not come to life unless it dies. And what you sow is not the body which is to be, but a bare kernel ....What is sown is perishable, what is raised is imperishable.... the dead will be raised imperishable.... For this perishable nature must put on the imperishable, and this mortal nature must put on immortality.553

1000 This "how" exceeds our imagination and understanding; it is accessible only to faith. Yet our participation in the Eucharist already gives us a foretaste of Christ's transfiguration of our bodies:

Just as bread that comes from the earth, after God's blessing has been invoked upon it, is no longer ordinary bread, but Eucharist, formed of two things, the one earthly and the other heavenly: so too our bodies, which partake of the Eucharist, are no longer corruptible, but possess the hope of resurrection.554

1001 When? Definitively "at the last day," "at the end of the world."555 Indeed, the resurrection of the dead is closely associated with Christ's Parousia:

For the Lord himself will descend from heaven, with a cry of command, with the archangel's call, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first.556

Risen with Christ

1002 Christ will raise us up "on the last day"; but it is also true that, in a certain way, we have already risen with Christ. For, by virtue of the Holy Spirit, Christian life is already now on earth a participation in the death and Resurrection of Christ:

And you were buried with him in Baptism, in which you were also raised with him through faith in the working of God, who raised him from the dead .... If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God.557

1003 United with Christ by Baptism, believers already truly participate in the heavenly life of the risen Christ, but this life remains "hidden with Christ in God."558 The Father has already "raised us up with him, and made us sit with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus."559 Nourished with his body in the Eucharist, we already belong to the Body of Christ. When we rise on the last day we "also will appear with him in glory."560

1004 In expectation of that day, the believer's body and soul already participate in the dignity of belonging to Christ. This dignity entails the demand that he should treat with respect his own body, but also the body of every other person, especially the suffering:

The body [is meant] for the Lord, and the Lord for the body. And God raised the Lord and will also raise us up by his power. Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ? .... You are not your own; .... So glorify God in your body.561

IN BRIEF

1015 "The flesh is the hinge of salvation" (Tertullian, De res. 8, 2: PL 2, 852). We believe in God who is creator of the flesh; we believe in the Word made flesh in order to redeem the flesh; we believe in the resurrection of the flesh, the fulfillment of both the creation and the redemption of the flesh.

1016 By death the soul is separated from the body, but in the resurrection God will give incorruptible life to our body, transformed by reunion with our soul. Just as Christ is risen and lives forever, so all of us will rise at the last day.

St. Irenaeus discusses the resurrection in “Against Heresies” (4,18,5).

5. Then, again, how can they say that the flesh, which is nourished with the body of the Lord and with His blood, goes to corruption, and does not partake of life? Let them, therefore, either alter their opinion, or cease from offering the things just mentioned. But our opinion is in accordance with the Eucharist, and the Eucharist in turn establishes our opinion. For we offer to Him His own, announcing consistently the fellowship and union of the flesh and Spirit. For as the bread, which is produced from the earth, when it receives the invocation of God, is no longer common bread, but the Eucharist, consisting of two realities, earthly and heavenly; so also our bodies, when they receive the Eucharist, are no longer corruptible, having the hope of the resurrection to eternity.

Footnotes

550 ⇒ Jn 5:29; cf. ⇒ Dan 12:2.
551 ⇒ Lk 24:39.
552 Lateran Council IV (1215): DS 801; ⇒ Phil 3:21; 2 Cor 15:44.
553 ⇒ 1 Cor 15:35-37, ⇒ 42, ⇒ 52, ⇒ 53.
554 St. Irenaeus, Adv. haeres. 4, 18, 4-5: PG 7/1, 1028-1029.
555 ⇒ Jn 6: 39-40, ⇒ 44, ⇒ 54; ⇒ 11:24; LG 48 # 3.
556 ⇒ 1 Thess 4:16.
557 ⇒ Col 2:12; ⇒ 3:1.
558 ⇒ Col 3:3; cf. ⇒ Phil 3:20.
559 ⇒ Eph 2:6.
560 ⇒ Col 3:4.
561 ⇒ 1 Cor 6:13-15, ⇒ 19-20.



Year of Faith Catechism Study: CCC 992-996 – The Progressive Revelation of the Resurrection

clock February 6, 2013 01:02 by author John |

Today’s Catechism sections discuss the “progressive revelation of the Resurrection. Supporting material comes from St. Augustine’s “Expositions on the Psalms”.

I. Christ's Resurrection and Ours

The progressive revelation of the Resurrection

992 God revealed the resurrection of the dead to his people progressively. Hope in the bodily resurrection of the dead established itself as a consequence intrinsic to faith in God as creator of the whole man, soul and body. The creator of heaven and earth is also the one who faithfully maintains his covenant with Abraham and his posterity. It was in this double perspective that faith in the resurrection came to be expressed. In their trials, the Maccabean martyrs confessed:

The King of the universe will raise us up to an everlasting renewal of life, because we have died for his laws.538 One cannot but choose to die at the hands of men and to cherish the hope that God gives of being raised again by him.539

993 The Pharisees and many of the Lord's contemporaries hoped for the resurrection. Jesus teaches it firmly. To the Sadducees who deny it he answers, "Is not this why you are wrong, that you know neither the scriptures nor the power of God?"540 Faith in the resurrection rests on faith in God who "is not God of the dead, but of the living."541

994 But there is more. Jesus links faith in the resurrection to his own person: "I am the Resurrection and the life."542 It is Jesus himself who on the last day will raise up those who have believed in him, who have eaten his body and drunk his blood.543 Already now in this present life he gives a sign and pledge of this by restoring some of the dead to life,544 announcing thereby his own Resurrection, though it was to be of another order. He speaks of this unique event as the "sign of Jonah,"545 The sign of the temple: he announces that he will be put to death but rise thereafter on the third day.546

995 To be a witness to Christ is to be a "witness to his Resurrection," to "[have eaten and drunk] with him after he rose from the dead."547 Encounters with the risen Christ characterize the Christian hope of resurrection. We shall rise like Christ, with him, and through him.

996 From the beginning, Christian faith in the resurrection has met with incomprehension and opposition.548 "On no point does the Christian faith encounter more opposition than on the resurrection of the body."549 It is very commonly accepted that the life of the human person continues in a spiritual fashion after death. But how can we believe that this body, so clearly mortal, could rise to everlasting life?

St. Augustine comments on the resurrection in his “Expositions on the Psalms” (88, 5).

4. Free among the dead Psalm 87:5. In these words our Lord's Person is most clearly shown: for who else is free among the dead but He who though in the likeness of sinful flesh is alone among sinners without sin? Romans 8:3 ...He therefore, free among the dead, who had it in His power to lay down His life, and again to take it; from whom no one could take it, but He laid it down of His own free will; who could revive His own flesh, as a temple destroyed by them, at His will; who, when all had forsaken Him on the eve of His Passion, remained not alone, because, as He testifies, His Father forsook Him not; John 8:29 was nevertheless by His enemies, for whom He prayed, who knew not what they did, ...counted as one who has no help; like them that are wounded, and lie in the grave. But he adds, Whom thou dost not yet remember: and in these words there is to be remarked a distinction between Christ and the rest of the dead. For though He was wounded, and when dead laid in the tomb, Matthew 27:50, 60 yet they who knew not what they were doing, or who He was, regarded Him as like others who had perished from their wounds, and who slept in the tomb, who are as yet out of remembrance of God, that is, whose hour of resurrection has not yet arrived. For thus the Scripture speaks of the dead as sleeping, because it wishes them to be regarded as destined to awake, that is, to rise again. But He, wounded and asleep in the tomb, awoke on the third day, and became like a sparrow that sits alone on the housetop, that is, on the right hand of His Father in Heaven: and now dies no more, death shall no more have dominion over Him. Romans 6:9 Hence He differs widely from those whom God has not yet remembered to cause their resurrection after this manner: for what was to go before in the Head, was kept for the Body in the end. God is then said to remember, when He does an act: then to forget, when He does it not: for neither can God forget, as He never changes, nor remember, as He can never forget. I am counted then, by those who know not what they do, as a man that has no help: while I am free among the dead, I am held by these men like them that are wounded, and lie in the grave. Yet those very men, who account thus of Me, are further said to be cut away from Your hand, that is, when I was made so by them, they were cut away from Your hand; they who believed Me destitute of help, are deprived of the help of Your hand: for they, as he says in another Psalm, have dug a pit before me, and are fallen into the midst of it themselves. I prefer this interpretation to that which refers the words, they are cut away from Your hand, to those who sleep in the tomb, whom God has not yet remembered: since the righteous are among the latter, of whom, even though God has not yet called them to the resurrection, it is said, that their souls are in the hands of God, Wisdom 3:1 that is, that they dwell under the defence of the Most High; and shall abide under the shadow of the God of Heaven. But it is those who are cut away from the hand of God, who believed that Christ was cut off from His hand, and thus accounting Him among the wicked, dared to slay Him.

Footnotes

538 ⇒ 2 Macc 7:9.
539 ⇒ 2 Macc 7:14; cf. ⇒ 7:29; ⇒ Dan 12:1-13.
540 ⇒ Mk 12:24; cf. In 11:24; ⇒ Acts 23:6.
541 ⇒ Mk 12:27.
542 ⇒ Jn 11:25.
543 Cf. ⇒ Jn 5:24-25; ⇒ 6:40, ⇒ 54.
544 Cf. ⇒ Mk 5:21-42; ⇒ Lk 7:11-17; ⇒ Jn 11.
545 ⇒ Mt 12:39.
546 Cf. ⇒ Mk 10:34; ⇒ Jn 2:19-22.
547 ⇒ Acts 1:22; ⇒ 10:41; cf. ⇒ 4:33.
548 Cf. ⇒ Acts 17:32; ⇒ 12Cor 15:12-13.
549 St. Augustine, En. in Ps. 88, 5: PL 37, 1134.



Year of Faith Catechism Study: CCC 988-991 – The Resurrection of the Body

clock February 5, 2013 01:02 by author John |

Today’s Catechism sections discuss the resurrection of the body. Supporting material comes from Tertullian’s “On the Resurrection of the Flesh”.

Article 11

"I BELIEVE IN THE RESURRECTION OF THE BODY"

988 The Christian Creed - the profession of our faith in God, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, and in God's creative, saving, and sanctifying action - culminates in the proclamation of the resurrection of the dead on the last day and in life everlasting.

989 We firmly believe, and hence we hope that, just as Christ is truly risen from the dead and lives forever, so after death the righteous will live forever with the risen Christ and he will raise them up on the last day.532 Our resurrection, like his own, will be the work of the Most Holy Trinity:

If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will give life to your mortal bodies also through his Spirit who dwells in you.533

990 The term "flesh" refers to man in his state of weakness and mortality.534 The "resurrection of the flesh" (the literal formulation of the Apostles' Creed) means not only that the immortal soul will live on after death, but that even our "mortal body" will come to life again.535

991 Belief in the resurrection of the dead has been an essential element of the Christian faith from its beginnings. "The confidence of Christians is the resurrection of the dead; believing this we live."536
How can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ has not been raised; if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain.... But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who have fallen asleep.537

The following excerpt comes from Tertullian’s “On the Resurrection of the Flesh”.

The resurrection of the dead is the Christian's trust. By it we are believers. To the belief of this (article of the faith) truth compels us— that truth which God reveals, but the crowd derides, which supposes that nothing will survive after death. And yet they do honour to their dead, and that too in the most expensive way according to their bequest, and with the daintiest banquets which the seasons can produce, on the presumption that those whom they declare to be incapable of all perception still retain an appetite. But (let the crowd deride): I on my side must deride it still more, especially when it burns up its dead with harshest inhumanity, only to pamper them immediately afterwards with gluttonous satiety, using the selfsame fires to honour them and to insult them. What piety is that which mocks its victims with cruelty? Is it sacrifice or insult (which the crowd offers), when it burns its offerings to those it has already burnt? But the wise, too, join with the vulgar crowd in their opinion sometimes. There is nothing after death, according to the school of Epicurus. After death all things come to an end, even death itself, says Seneca to like effect. It is satisfactory, however, that the no less important philosophy of Pythagoras and Empedocles, and the Plantonists, take the contrary view, and declare the soul to be immortal; affirming, moreover, in a way which most nearly approaches (to our own doctrine), that the soul actually returns into bodies, although not the same bodies, and not even those of human beings invariably: thus Euphorbus is supposed to have passed into Phythagoras, and Homer into a peacock. They firmly pronounced the soul's renewal to be in a body, (deeming it) more tolerable to change the quality (of the corporeal state) than to deny it wholly: they at least knocked at the door of truth, although they entered not. Thus the world, with all its errors, does not ignore the resurrection of the dead.

Footnotes

532 Cf. ⇒ Jn 6:39-40.
533 ⇒ Rom 8:11; cf. ⇒ 1 Thess 4:14; ⇒ 1 Cor 6:14; ⇒ 2 Cor 4:14; ⇒ Phil 3:10-11.
534 Cf. ⇒ Gen 6:3; ⇒ Ps 56:5; ⇒ Isa 40:6.
535 ⇒ Rom 8:11.
536 Tertullian, De res, 1,1: PL 2, 841.
537 ⇒ 1 Cor 15:12-14.



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 362-368, 382 – The Unity of Body and Soul

clock November 22, 2012 01:01 by author John |

The Catechism sections for today discuss the unity of human body and soul. Supplemental material comes from St. Gregory Thaumaturgus’ “On the Soul”.

II. "BODY AND SOUL BUT TRULY ONE"

362 The human person, created in the image of God, is a being at once corporeal and spiritual. The biblical account expresses this reality in symbolic language when it affirms that "then the LORD God formed man of dust from the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being."229 Man, whole and entire, is therefore willed by God.

363 In Sacred Scripture the term "soul" often refers to human life or the entire human person.230 But "soul" also refers to the innermost aspect of man, that which is of greatest value in him,231 that by which he is most especially in God's image: "soul" signifies the spiritual principle in man.

364 The human body shares in the dignity of "the image of God": it is a human body precisely because it is animated by a spiritual soul, and it is the whole human person that is intended to become, in the body of Christ, a temple of the Spirit:232

Man, though made of body and soul, is a unity. Through his very bodily condition he sums up in himself the elements of the material world. Through him they are thus brought to their highest perfection and can raise their voice in praise freely given to the Creator. For this reason man may not despise his bodily life. Rather he is obliged to regard his body as good and to hold it in honor since God has created it and will raise it up on the last day 233

365 The unity of soul and body is so profound that one has to consider the soul to be the "form" of the body:234 i.e., it is because of its spiritual soul that the body made of matter becomes a living, human body; spirit and matter, in man, are not two natures united, but rather their union forms a single nature.

366 The Church teaches that every spiritual soul is created immediately by God - it is not "produced" by the parents - and also that it is immortal: it does not perish when it separates from the body at death, and it will be reunited with the body at the final Resurrection.235

367 Sometimes the soul is distinguished from the spirit: St. Paul for instance prays that God may sanctify his people "wholly", with "spirit and soul and body" kept sound and blameless at the Lord's coming.236 The Church teaches that this distinction does not introduce a duality into the soul.237 "Spirit" signifies that from creation man is ordered to a supernatural end and that his soul can gratuitously be raised beyond all it deserves to communion with God.238

368 The spiritual tradition of the Church also emphasizes the heart, in the biblical sense of the depths of one's being, where the person decides for or against God.239

IN BRIEF

382 "Man, though made of body and soul, is a unity" (GS 14 # 1). the doctrine of the faith affirms that the spiritual and immortal soul is created immediately by God.

St. Gregory Thaumaturgus’ treatise, “On the Soul” has an excellent discussion of the immortality of the soul:

6. Whether Our Soul is Immortal

It follows, in my opinion, as a necessary consequence, that what is simple is immortal. And as to how that follows, hear my explanation: Nothing that exists is its own corrupter, else it could never have had any thorough consistency, even from the beginning. For things that are subject to corruption are corrupted by contraries: wherefore everything that is corrupted is subject to dissolution; and what is subject to dissolution is compound; and what is compound is of many parts; and what is made up of parts manifestly is made up of diverse parts; and the diverse is not the identical: consequently the soul, being simple, and not being made up of diverse parts, but being uncompound and indissoluble, must be, in virtue of that, incorruptible and immortal.

Besides, everything that is put in action by something else, and does not possess the principle of life in itself, but gets it from that which puts it in action, endures just so long as it is held by the power that operates in it; and whenever the operative power ceases, that also comes to a stand which has its capacity of action from it. But the soul, being self-acting, has no cessation of its being. For it follows, that what is self-acting is ever-acting; and what is ever-acting is unceasing; and what is unceasing is without end; and what is without end is incorruptible; and what is incorruptible is immortal. Consequently, if the soul is self-acting, as has been shown above, it follows that it is incorruptible and immortal, in accordance with the mode of reasoning already expressed.

And further, everything that is not corrupted by the evil proper to itself, is incorruptible; and the evil is opposed to the good, and is consequently its corrupter. For the evil of the body is nothing else than suffering, and disease, and death; just as, on the other hand, its excellency is beauty, life, health, and vigour. If, therefore, the soul is not corrupted by the evil proper to itself, and the evil of the soul is cowardice, intemperance, envy, and the like, and all these things do not despoil it of its powers of life and action, it follows that it is immortal.

Footnotes

229 ⇒ Gen 2:7.
230 Cf. ⇒ Mt 16:25-26; ⇒ Jn 15:13; ⇒ Acts 2:41
231 Cf. ⇒ Mt 10:28; ⇒ 26:38; ⇒ Jn 12:27; ⇒ 2 Macc 6 30.
232 Cf. ⇒ I Cor 6:19-20; ⇒ 15:44-45.
233 GS 14 # 1; cf. ⇒ Dan 3:57-80.
234 Cf. Council of Vienne (1312): DS 902.
235 Cf. Pius XII, Humani generis: DS 3896; Paul VI, CPC # 8; Lateran Council V (1513): DS 1440.
236 1 Th 5:23.
237 Cf. Council of Constantinople IV (870): DS 657.
238 Cf. Vatican Council I, Dei Filius: DS 3005; GS 22 # 5; Humani generis: DS 3891.
239 Cf. ⇒ Jer 31:33; Dt 6:5; 29:3; ⇒ Is 29:13; ⇒ Ezek 36:26; ⇒ Mt 6:21; ⇒ Lk 8:15; ⇒ Rom 5:5.