Year of Faith Catechism Study: CCC 2616-2619, 2622 – Jesus Hear our Prayer and the Prayer of the Virgin Mary

clock August 25, 2013 01:02 by author John |

Today’s Catechism sections discuss Jesus hearing our prayer and praying to the Blessed Mother. Supporting material comes from the “Summa Theologica”.

Jesus hears our prayer

2616 Prayer to Jesus is answered by him already during his ministry, through signs that anticipate the power of his death and Resurrection: Jesus hears the prayer of faith, expressed in words (the leper, Jairus, the Canaanite woman, the good thief)84 or in silence (the bearers of the paralytic, the woman with a hemorrhage who touches his clothes, the tears and ointment of the sinful woman).85 The urgent request of the blind men, "Have mercy on us, Son of David" or "Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!" has-been renewed in the traditional prayer to Jesus known as the Jesus Prayer: "Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner!"86 Healing infirmities or forgiving sins, Jesus always responds to a prayer offered in faith: "Your faith has made you well; go in peace."

St. Augustine wonderfully summarizes the three dimensions of Jesus' prayer: "He prays for us as our priest, prays in us as our Head, and is prayed to by us as our God. Therefore let us acknowledge our voice in him and his in us."87

The prayer of the Virgin Mary

2617 Mary's prayer is revealed to us at the dawning of the fullness of time. Before the incarnation of the Son of God, and before the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, her prayer cooperates in a unique way with the Father's plan of loving kindness: at the Annunciation, for Christ's conception; at Pentecost, for the formation of the Church, his Body.88 In the faith of his humble handmaid, the Gift of God found the acceptance he had awaited from the beginning of time. She whom the Almighty made "full of grace" responds by offering her whole being: "Behold I am the handmaid of the Lord; let it be [done] to me according to your word." "Fiat": this is Christian prayer: to be wholly God's, because he is wholly ours.

2618 The Gospel reveals to us how Mary prays and intercedes in faith. At Cana,89 The mother of Jesus asks her son for the needs of a wedding feast; this is the sign of another feast - that of the wedding of the Lamb where he gives his body and blood at the request of the Church, his Bride. It is at the hour of the New Covenant, at the foot of the cross,90 that Mary is heard as the Woman, the new Eve, the true "Mother of all the living."

2619 That is why the Canticle of Mary,91 The Magnificat (Latin) or Megalynei (byzantine) is the song both of the Mother of God and of the Church; the song of the Daughter of Zion and of the new People of God; the song of thanksgiving for the fullness of graces poured out in the economy of salvation and the song of the "poor" whose hope is met by the fulfillment of the promises made to our ancestors, "to Abraham and to his posterity for ever."

IN BRIEF

2622 The prayers of the Virgin Mary, in her Fiat and Magnificat, are characterized by the generous offering of her whole being in faith.

In the “Summa Theologica” (Secunda Secundæ Partis, 83, 4), St. Thomas Aquinas discusses prayer to God and to the Saints.

Article 4. Whether we ought to pray to God alone?

Objection 1. It would seem that we ought to pray to God alone. Prayer is an act of religion, as stated above (Article 3). But God alone is to be worshiped by religion. Therefore we should pray to God alone.

Objection 2. Further, it is useless to pray to one who is ignorant of the prayer. But it belongs to God alone to know one's prayer, both because frequently prayer is uttered by an interior act which God alone knows, rather than by words, according to the saying of the Apostle (1 Corinthians 14:15), "I will pray with the spirit, I will pray also with the understanding": and again because, as Augustine says (De Cura pro mortuis xiii) the "dead, even the saints, know not what the living, even their own children, are doing." Therefore we ought to pray to God alone.

Objection 3. Further, if we pray to any of the saints, this is only because they are united to God. Now some yet living in this world, or even some who are in Purgatory, are closely united to God by grace, and yet we do not pray to them. Therefore neither should we pray to the saints who are in Paradise.

On the contrary, It is written (Job 5:1), "Call . . . if there be any that will answer thee, and turn to some of the saints."

I answer that, Prayer is offered to a person in two ways: first, as to be fulfilled by him, secondly, as to be obtained through him. On the first way we offer prayer to God alone, since all our prayers ought to be directed to the acquisition of grace and glory, which God alone gives, according to Psalm 83:12, "The Lord will give grace and glory." But in the second way we pray to the saints, whether angels or men, not that God may through them know our petitions, but that our prayers may be effective through their prayers and merits. Hence it is written (Apocalypse 8:4) that "the smoke of the incense," namely "the prayers of the saints ascended up before God." This is also clear from the very style employed by the Church in praying: since we beseech the Blessed Trinity "to have mercy on us," while we ask any of the saints "to pray for us."

Reply to Objection 1. To Him alone do we offer religious worship when praying, from Whom we seek to obtain what we pray for, because by so doing we confess that He is the Author of our goods: but not to those whom we call upon as our advocates in God's presence.

Reply to Objection 2. The dead, if we consider their natural condition, do not know what takes place in this world, especially the interior movements of the heart. Nevertheless, according to Gregory (Moral. xii, 21), whatever it is fitting the blessed should know about what happens to us, even as regards the interior movements of the heart, is made known to them in the Word: and it is most becoming to their exalted position that they should know the petitions we make to them by word or thought; and consequently the petitions which we raise to them are known to them through Divine manifestation.

Reply to Objection 3. Those who are in this world or in Purgatory, do not yet enjoy the vision of the Word, so as to be able to know what we think or say. Wherefore we do not seek their assistance by praying to them, but ask it of the living by speaking to them.

Footnotes

83 ⇒ Jn 16:24.
84 Cf. ⇒ Mk 1:40-41; ⇒ 5:36; ⇒ 7:29; Cf. ⇒ Lk 23:39-43.
85 Cf. Mk 25; ⇒ 5:28; ⇒ Lk 7:37-38.
86 ⇒ Mt 9:27, ⇒ Mk 10:48.
87 St. Augustine, En. in Ps. 85, 1: PL 37, 1081; cf. GILH 7.
88 Cf. ⇒ Lk 1:38; ⇒ Acts 1:14.
89 Cf. ⇒ Jn 2:1-12.
90 Cf. ⇒ Jn 19:25-27.
91 Cf. ⇒ Lk 1:46-55.



Year of Faith Catechism Study: CCC 2607-2615, 2621 – Jesus Teaches Us how to Pray

clock August 24, 2013 01:02 by author John |

Today’s Catechism sections discuss the instructive prayer that Jesus gives us. Supporting material comes from Tertullian’s “On Prayer”.

Jesus teaches us how to pray

2607 When Jesus prays he is already teaching us how to pray. His prayer to his Father is the theological path (the path of faith, hope, and charity) of our prayer to God. But the Gospel also gives us Jesus' explicit teaching on prayer. Like a wise teacher he takes hold of us where we are and leads us progressively toward the Father. Addressing the crowds following him, Jesus builds on what they already know of prayer from the Old Covenant and opens to them the newness of the coming Kingdom. Then he reveals this newness to them in parables. Finally, he will speak openly of the Father and the Holy Spirit to his disciples who will be the teachers of prayer in his Church.

2608 From the Sermon on the Mount onwards, Jesus insists on conversion of heart: reconciliation with one's brother before presenting an offering on the altar, love of enemies, and prayer for persecutors, prayer to the Father in secret, not heaping up empty phrases, prayerful forgiveness from the depths of the heart, purity of heart, and seeking the Kingdom before all else.64 This filial conversion is entirely directed to the Father.

2609 Once committed to conversion, the heart learns to pray in faith. Faith is a filial adherence to God beyond what we feel and understand. It is possible because the beloved Son gives us access to the Father. He can ask us to "seek" and to "knock," since he himself is the door and the way.65

2610 Just as Jesus prays to the Father and gives thanks before receiving his gifts, so he teaches us filial boldness: "Whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you receive it, and you will."66 Such is the power of prayer and of faith that does not doubt: "all things are possible to him who believes."67 Jesus is as saddened by the "lack of faith" of his own neighbors and the "little faith" of his own disciples68 as he is struck with admiration at the great faith of the Roman centurion and the Canaanite woman.69

2611 The prayer of faith consists not only in saying "Lord, Lord," but in disposing the heart to do the will of the Father.70 Jesus calls his disciples to bring into their prayer this concern for cooperating with the divine plan.71

2612 In Jesus "the Kingdom of God is at hand."72 He calls his hearers to conversion and faith, but also to watchfulness. In prayer the disciple keeps watch, attentive to Him Who Is and Him Who Comes, in memory of his first coming in the lowliness of the flesh, and in the hope of his second coming in glory.73 In communion with their Master, the disciples' prayer is a battle; only by keeping watch in prayer can one avoid falling into temptation.74

2613 Three principal parables on prayer are transmitted to us by St. Luke:
- The first, "the importunate friend,"75 invites us to urgent prayer: "Knock, and it will be opened to you." To the one who prays like this, the heavenly Father will "give whatever he needs," and above all the Holy Spirit who contains all gifts.
- The second, "the importunate widow,"76 is centered on one of the qualities of prayer: it is necessary to pray always without ceasing and with the patience of faith. "and yet, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?"
- The third parable, "the Pharisee and the tax collector,"77 concerns the humility of the heart that prays. "God, be merciful to me a sinner!" the Church continues to make this prayer its own: Kyrie eleison!

2614 When Jesus openly entrusts to his disciples the mystery of prayer to the Father, he reveals to them what their prayer and ours must be, once he has returned to the Father in his glorified humanity. What is new is to "ask in his name."78 Faith in the Son introduces the disciples into the knowledge of the Father, because Jesus is "the way, and the truth, and the life."79 Faith bears its fruit in love: it means keeping the word and the commandments of Jesus, it means abiding with him in the Father who, in him, so loves us that he abides with us. In this new covenant the certitude that our petitions will be heard is founded on the prayer of Jesus.80

2615 Even more, what the Father gives us when our prayer is united with that of Jesus is "another Counselor, to be with you for ever, even the Spirit of truth."81 This new dimension of prayer and of its circumstances is displayed throughout the farewell discourse.82 In the Holy Spirit, Christian prayer is a communion of love with the Father, not only through Christ but also in him: "Hitherto you have asked nothing in my name; ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full."8

IN BRIEF

2621 In his teaching, Jesus teaches his disciples to pray with a purified heart, with lively and persevering faith, with filial boldness. He calls them to vigilance and invites them to present their petitions to God in his name. Jesus Christ himself answers prayers addressed to him.

The following excerpt comes from Tertullian’s “On Prayer” (1).

The Spirit of God, and the Word of God, and the Reason of God— Word of Reason, and Reason and Spirit of Word— Jesus Christ our Lord, namely, who is both the one and the other, — has determined for us, the disciples of the New Testament, a new form of prayer; for in this particular also it was needful that new wine should be laid up in new skins, and a new breadth be sewn to a new garment. Besides, whatever had been in bygone days, has either been quite changed, as circumcision; or else supplemented, as the rest of the Law; or else fulfilled, as Prophecy; or else perfected, as faith itself. For the new grace of God has renewed all things from carnal unto spiritual, by superinducing the Gospel, the obliterator of the whole ancient bygone system; in which our Lord Jesus Christ has been approved as the Spirit of God, and the Word of God, and the Reason of God: the Spirit, by which He was mighty; the Word, by which He taught; the Reason, by which He came. So the prayer composed by Christ has been composed of three parts. In speech, by which prayer is enunciated, in spirit, by which alone it prevails, even John had taught his disciples to pray, but all John's doings were laid as groundwork for Christ, until, when He had increased— just as the same John used to fore-announce that it was needful that He should increase and himself decrease John 3:30 — the whole work of the forerunner passed over, together with his spirit itself, unto the Lord. Therefore, after what form of words John taught to pray is not extant, because earthly things have given place to heavenly. He who is from the earth, says John, speaks earthly things; and He who is here from the heavens speaks those things which He has seen. John 3:31-32 And what is the Lord Christ's— as this method of praying is— that is not heavenly? And so, blessed brethren, let us consider His heavenly wisdom: first, touching the precept of praying secretly, whereby He exacted man's faith, that he should be confident that the sight and hearing of Almighty God are present beneath roofs, and extend even into the secret place; and required modesty in faith, that it should offer its religious homage to Him alone, whom it believed to see and to hear everywhere. Further, since wisdom succeeded in the following precept, let it in like manner appertain unto faith, and the modesty of faith, that we think not that the Lord must be approached with a train of words, who, we are certain, takes unsolicited foresight for His own. And yet that very brevity— and let this make for the third grade of wisdom— is supported on the substance of a great and blessed interpretation, and is as diffuse in meaning as it is compressed in words. For it has embraced not only the special duties of prayer, be it veneration of God or petition for man, but almost every discourse of the Lord, every record of His Discipline; so that, in fact, in the Prayer is comprised an epitome of the whole Gospel.

Footnotes

65 Cf. ⇒ Mt 7:7-11, ⇒ 13-14.
66 ⇒ Mk 11:24.
67 ⇒ Mk 9:23; cf. ⇒ Mt 21:22.
68 Cf. ⇒ Mk 6:6; ⇒ Mt 8:26.
69 Cf. ⇒ Mt 8:10; ⇒ 15:28.
70 Cf. ⇒ Mt 7:21.
71 Cf. ⇒ Mt 9:38; ⇒ Lk 10:2; ⇒ Jn 4:34.
72 ⇒ Mk 1:15.
73 Cf. ⇒ Mk 13; ⇒ Lk 21:34-36.
74 Cf. ⇒ Lk 22:40, ⇒ 46.
75 Cf. ⇒ Lk 11:5-13.
76 Cf. ⇒ Lk 18:1-8.
77 Cf. ⇒ Lk 18:9-14.
78 ⇒ Jn 14:13.
79 ⇒ Jn 14:6.
80 Cf. ⇒ Jn 14:13-14.
81 ⇒ Jn 14:16-17.
82 Cf. ⇒ Jn 14:23-26; ⇒ 15:7, ⇒ 16; ⇒ 16:13-15; ⇒ 16:23-27.



Year of Faith Catechism Study: CCC 2598-2606, 2620 – Jesus’ Prayer

clock August 23, 2013 01:02 by author John |

Today’s Catechism sections discuss Jesus’s prayers. Supporting material comes from the “Summa Theologica”.

Article 2

IN THE FULLNESS OF TIME

2598 The drama of prayer is fully revealed to us in the Word who became flesh and dwells among us. To seek to understand his prayer through what his witnesses proclaim to us in the Gospel is to approach the holy Lord Jesus as Moses approached the burning bush: first to contemplate him in prayer, then to hear how he teaches us to pray, in order to know how he hears our prayer.

Jesus prays

2599 The Son of God who became Son of the Virgin learned to pray in his human heart. He learns to pray from his mother, who kept all the great things the Almighty had done and treasured them in her heart.41 He learns to pray in the words and rhythms of the prayer of his people, in the synagogue at Nazareth and the Temple at Jerusalem. But his prayer springs from an otherwise secret source, as he intimates at the age of twelve: "I must be in my Father's house."42 Here the newness of prayer in the fullness of time begins to be revealed: his filial prayer, which the Father awaits from his children, is finally going to be lived out by the only Son in his humanity, with and for men.

2600 The Gospel according to St. Luke emphasizes the action of the Holy Spirit and the meaning of prayer in Christ's ministry. Jesus prays before the decisive moments of his mission: before his Father's witness to him during his baptism and Transfiguration, and before his own fulfillment of the Father's plan of love by his Passion.43 He also prays before the decisive moments involving the mission of his apostles: at his election and call of the Twelve, before Peter's confession of him as "the Christ of God," and again that the faith of the chief of the Apostles may not fail when tempted.44 Jesus' prayer before the events of salvation that the Father has asked him to fulfill is a humble and trusting commitment of his human will to the loving will of the Father.

2601 "He was praying in a certain place and when he had ceased, one of his disciples said to him, 'Lord, teach us to pray."'45 In seeing the Master at prayer the disciple of Christ also wants to pray. By contemplating and hearing the Son, the master of prayer, the children learn to pray to the Father.

2602 Jesus often draws apart to pray in solitude, on a mountain, preferably at night.46 He includes all men in his prayer, for he has taken on humanity in his incarnation, and he offers them to the Father when he offers himself. Jesus, the Word who has become flesh, shares by his human prayer in all that "his brethren" experience; he sympathizes with their weaknesses in order to free them.47 It was for this that the Father sent him. His words and works are the visible manifestation of his prayer in secret.

2603 The evangelists have preserved two more explicit prayers offered by Christ during his public ministry. Each begins with thanksgiving. In the first, Jesus confesses the Father, acknowledges, and blesses him because he has hidden the mysteries of the Kingdom from those who think themselves learned and has revealed them to infants, the poor of the Beatitudes.48 His exclamation, "Yes, Father!" expresses the depth of his heart, his adherence to the Father's "good pleasure," echoing his mother's Fiat at the time of his conception and prefiguring what he will say to the Father in his agony. The whole prayer of Jesus is contained in this loving adherence of his human heart to the mystery of the will of the Father.49

2604 The second prayer, before the raising of Lazarus, is recorded by St. John.50 Thanksgiving precedes the event: "Father, I thank you for having heard me," which implies that the Father always hears his petitions. Jesus immediately adds: "I know that you always hear me," which implies that Jesus, on his part, constantly made such petitions. Jesus' prayer, characterized by thanksgiving, reveals to us how to ask: before the gift is given, Jesus commits himself to the One who in giving gives himself. The Giver is more precious than the gift; he is the "treasure"; in him abides his Son's heart; the gift is given "as well."51

The priestly prayer of Jesus holds a unique place in the economy of salvation.52 A meditation on it will conclude Section One. It reveals the ever present prayer of our High Priest and, at the same time, contains what he teaches us about our prayer to our Father, which will be developed in Section Two.

2605 When the hour had come for him to fulfill the Father's plan of love, Jesus allows a glimpse of the boundless depth of his filial prayer, not only before he freely delivered himself up (“Abba . . . not my will, but yours."),53 but even in his last words on the Cross, where prayer and the gift of self are but one: "Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do",54 "Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise",55 "Woman, behold your son" - "Behold your mother",56 "I thirst.";57 "My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?"58 "It is finished";59 "Father, into your hands I commit my spirit!"60 until the "loud cry" as he expires, giving up his spirit.61

2606 All the troubles, for all time, of humanity enslaved by sin and death, all the petitions and intercessions of salvation history are summed up in this cry of the incarnate Word. Here the Father accepts them and, beyond all hope, answers them by raising his Son. Thus is fulfilled and brought to completion the drama of prayer in the economy of creation and salvation. The Psalter gives us the key to prayer in Christ. In the "today" of the Resurrection the Father says: "You are my Son, today I have begotten you. Ask of me, and I will make the nations your heritage, and the ends of the earth your possession."62

The Letter to the Hebrews expresses in dramatic terms how the prayer of Jesus accomplished the victory of salvation: "In the days of his flesh, Jesus offered up prayers and supplications, with loud cries and tears, to him who was able to save him from death, and he was heard for his godly fear. Although he was a Son, he learned obedience through what he suffered, and being made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation to all who obey him."63

IN BRIEF

2620 Jesus' filial prayer is the perfect model of prayer in the New Testament. Often done in solitude and in secret, the prayer of Jesus involves a loving adherence to the will of the Father even to the Cross and an absolute confidence in being heard.

In the Summa Theologica, (Tertia Pars, 21 ,1), Jesus’ prayer is discussed.

Article 1. Whether it is becoming of Christ to pray?

Objection 1. It would seem unbecoming that Christ should pray. For, as Damascene says (De Fide Orth. iii, 24), "prayer is the asking for becoming things from God." But since Christ could do all things, it does not seem becoming to Him to ask anything from anyone. Therefore it does not seem fitting that Christ should pray.

Objection 2. Further, we need not ask in prayer for what we know for certain will happen; thus, we do not pray that the sun may rise tomorrow. Nor is it fitting that anyone should ask in prayer for what he knows will not happen. But Christ in all things knew what would happen. Therefore it was not fitting that He should ask anything in prayer.

Objection 3. Further, Damascene says (De Fide Orth. iii, 24) that "prayer is the raising up of the mind to God." Now Christ's mind needed no uplifting to God, since His mind was always united to God, not only by the union of the hypostasis, but by the fruition of beatitude. Therefore it was not fitting that Christ should pray.

On the contrary, It is written (Luke 6:12): "And it came to pass in those days, that He went out into a mountain, and He passed the whole night in the prayer of God."

I answer that, As was said in the II-II, 83, 1,2, prayer is the unfolding of our will to God, that He may fulfill it. If, therefore, there had been but one will in Christ, viz. the Divine, it would nowise belong to Him to pray, since the Divine will of itself is effective of whatever He wishes by it, according to Psalm 134:6: "Whatsoever the Lord pleased, He hath done." But because the Divine and the human wills are distinct in Christ, and the human will of itself is not efficacious enough to do what it wishes, except by Divine power, hence to pray belongs to Christ as man and as having a human will.

Reply to Objection 1. Christ as God and not as man was able to carry out all He wished, since as man He was not omnipotent, as stated above (13, 1). Nevertheless being both God and man, He wished to offer prayers to the Father, not as though He were incompetent, but for our instruction. First, that He might show Himself to be from the Father; hence He says (John 11:42): "Because of the people who stand about I have said it" (i.e. the words of the prayer) "that they may believe that Thou hast sent Me." Hence Hilary says (De Trin. x): "He did not need prayer. It was for us He prayed, lest the Son should be unknown." Secondly, to give us an example of prayer; hence Ambrose says (on Luke 6:12): "Be not deceived, nor think that the Son of God prays as a weakling, in order to beseech what He cannot effect. For the Author of power, the Master of obedience persuades us to the precepts of virtue by His example." Hence Augustine says (Tract. civ in Joan.): "Our Lord in the form of a servant could have prayed in silence, if need be, but He wished to show Himself a suppliant of the Father, in such sort as to bear in mind that He was our Teacher."

Reply to Objection 2. Amongst the other things which He knew would happen, He knew that some would be brought about by His prayer; and for these He not unbecomingly besought God.

Reply to Objection 3. To rise is nothing more than to move towards what is above. Now movement is taken in two ways, as is said De Anima iii, 7; first, strictly, according as it implies the passing from potentiality to act, inasmuch as it is the act of something imperfect, and thus to rise pertains to what is potentially and not actually above. Now in this sense, as Damascene says (De Fide Orth. iii, 24), "the human mind of Christ did not need to rise to God, since it was ever united to God both by personal being and by the blessed vision." Secondly, movement signifies the act of something perfect, i.e. something existing in act, as to understand and to feel are called movements; and in this sense the mind of Christ was always raised up to God, since He was always contemplating Him as existing above Himself.

Footnotes

41 Cf. ⇒ Lk 1:49; ⇒ 2:19; ⇒ 2:51.
42 ⇒ Lk 2:49.
43 Cf. ⇒ Lk 3:21; ⇒ 9:28; ⇒ 22:41-44.
44 Cf. ⇒ Lk 6:12; ⇒ 9:18-20; ⇒ 22:32.
45 ⇒ Lk 11:1.
46 Cf. ⇒ Mk 1:35; ⇒ 6:46; ⇒ Lk 5:16.
47 Cf. ⇒ Heb 2:12, ⇒ 15; ⇒ 4:15.
48 Cf. ⇒ Mt 11:25-27 and ⇒ Lk 10:21-23.
49 Cf. ⇒ Eph 1:9.
50 Cf. ⇒ Jn 11:41-42.
51 ⇒ Mt 6:21, ⇒ 33.
52 Cf. ⇒ Jn 17.
53 ⇒ Lk 22:42.
54 ⇒ Lk 23:34.
55 ⇒ Lk 23:43.
56 ⇒ Jn 19:26-27.
57 ⇒ Jn 19:28.
58 ⇒ Mk 15:34; cf. ⇒ Ps 22:2.
59 ⇒ Jn 19:30.
60 ⇒ Lk 23:46.
61 Cf. ⇒ Mk 15:37; ⇒ Jn 19:30b.
62 ⇒ Ps 2:7-8; cf. ⇒ Acts 13:33.
63 ⇒ Heb 5:7-9.
64 Cf. ⇒ Mt 5:23-24, ⇒ 44-45; ⇒ 6:7, ⇒ 14-15, ⇒ 21, ⇒ 25, ⇒ 33.



The Catholic Meaning of Good Friday

clock March 29, 2013 02:02 by author John |

The Crucifixion of Jesus of NazarethGood Friday is the solemn commemoration of the passion and death of Jesus Christ. This day is the most sorrowful of any day in the history of the world for Christians. Jesus, innocent and without sin, freely offered His life for the redemption of the sins of the entire world.

How is this possible? How can the sacrifice of one man be enough to redeem the gruesome sins of mankind? The sacrifice on the cross was the offering of God Himself. God, the almighty and infinite master of the universe made an infinite offering by His sacrifice on the cross. Our sins, though many and serious are finite. They are limited, though they are numerous. We cannot count them. They are too many, but God, knowing and seeing all knows all of our sins.

His sacrifice is an eternal one, by which we receive an eternal reward. By our sins beginning in the Garden of Eden and continuing throughout the history of humanity, we sentenced ourselves to separation from God for eternity. God is perfect, and through our sins, we blemished ourselves such that we could not be united with God in Heaven.

God, however, is compassionate and gave us a redemption from our sins. The death of Jesus on the Cross is the eternal sacrifice. It was "Christ reconciling the world to himself" (2 Cor. 5:19). Christ in His mercy opened the Gates of Heaven for us.

There are many who freely choose to reject this gift. There are also many who accept it. Regardless of our response to this offering of His life, the gift was generously offered for the redemption of all. This gift is the manifestation of perfect love. Jesus was innocent of all sin. He gave the most precious gift that anyone could give: His Life. For, as it says in the Gospel of John, “No one has greater love than this, to lay down one's life for one's friends.” (John 15:13).

This is the day when that famous verse, quoted in all corners of the world, written on signs at sporting events, and written on the hearts of all mankind came to fulfillment. John 3:16 tells us, “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life.”

Let us not forget this amazing gift. Let us not reject this gift whether outright or through our sinfulness. Our Lord spared no pain, retained no shred of human dignity. He was scourged, crowned with thorns, spat upon, made to carry a cross through the streets, filled with a hostile crowd, nailed to a cross and killed for our sins. There is no sacrifice we can make that can even compare to His. For though we suffer, we are sinful. Our Lord was perfect and was tortured and killed for us.

We must conform our lives to goodness. We must sacrifice the pleasures of sinfulness so that we may be united with Him in Heaven. For though He died to redeem our sins, we must still accept this gift in our lives. We must live for Christ.



Year of Faith Catechism Study: CCC 797 – 801, 809-810 – The Church is the Temple of the Holy Spirit

clock January 13, 2013 01:02 by author John |

Today’s Catechism sections discuss the Holy Spirit at work in the Mystical Body of Christ, which is the Catholic Church. Supporting material comes from Pope Pius XII’s encyclical, “Mystici Corporis Christi”.

III. THE CHURCH IS THE TEMPLE OF THE HOLY SPIRIT

797 "What the soul is to the human body, the Holy Spirit is to the Body of Christ, which is the Church."243 "To this Spirit of Christ, as an invisible principle, is to be ascribed the fact that all the parts of the body are joined one with the other and with their exalted head; for the whole Spirit of Christ is in the head, the whole Spirit is in the body, and the whole Spirit is in each of the members."244 The Holy Spirit makes the Church "the temple of the living God":245

Indeed, it is to the Church herself that the "Gift of God" has been entrusted.... In it is in her that communion with Christ has been deposited, that is to say: the Holy Spirit, the pledge of incorruptibility, the strengthening of our faith and the ladder of our ascent to God.... For where the Church is, there also is God's Spirit; where God's Spirit is, there is the Church and every grace.246

798 The Holy Spirit is "the principle of every vital and truly saving action in each part of the Body."247 He works in many ways to build up the whole Body in charity:248 by God's Word "which is able to build you up";249 by Baptism, through which he forms Christ's Body;250 by the sacraments, which give growth and healing to Christ's members; by "the grace of the apostles, which holds first place among his gifts";251 by the virtues, which make us act according to what is good; finally, by the many special graces (called "charisms"), by which he makes the faithful "fit and ready to undertake various tasks and offices for the renewal and building up of the Church."252

Charisms

799 Whether extraordinary or simple and humble, charisms are graces of the Holy Spirit which directly or indirectly benefit the Church, ordered as they are to her building up, to the good of men, and to the needs of the world.

800 Charisms are to be accepted with gratitude by the person who receives them and by all members of the Church as well. They are a wonderfully rich grace for the apostolic vitality and for the holiness of the entire Body of Christ, provided they really are genuine gifts of the Holy Spirit and are used in full conformity with authentic promptings of this same Spirit, that is, in keeping with charity, the true measure of all charisms.253

801 It is in this sense that discernment of charisms is always necessary. No charism is exempt from being referred and submitted to the Church's shepherds. "Their office (is) not indeed to extinguish the Spirit, but to test all things and hold fast to what is good,"254so that all the diverse and complementary charisms work together "for the common good."255

IN BRIEF

809 The Church is the Temple of the Holy Spirit. The Spirit is the soul, as it were, of the Mystical Body, the source of its life, of its unity in diversity, and of the riches of its gifts and charisms.

810 "Hence the universal Church is seen to be 'a people brought into unity from the unity of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit'" (LG 4 citing St. Cyprian, De Dom. orat. 23: PL 4, 553).

In his encyclical, “Mystici Corporis Christi”, Pope Pius XII discusses the workings of the Holy Spirit in the Church (57,58).

57. To this Spirit of Christ, also, as to an invisible principle is to be ascribed the fact that all the parts of the Body are joined one with the other and with their exalted Head; for He is entire in the Head, entire in the Body, and entire in each of the members. To the members He is present and assists them in proportion to their various duties and offices, and the greater or less degree of spiritual health which they enjoy. It is He who, through His heavenly grace, is the principle of every supernatural act in all parts of the Body. It is He who, while He is personally present and divinely active in all the members, nevertheless in the inferior members acts also through the ministry of the higher members. Finally, while by His grace He provides for the continual growth of the Church, He yet refuses to dwell through sanctifying grace in those members that are wholly severed from the Body. This presence and activity of the Spirit of Jesus Christ is tersely and vigorously described by Our predecessor of immortal memory Leo XIII in his Encyclical Letter Divinum Illud in these words: "Let it suffice to say that, as Christ is the Head of the Church, so is the Holy Spirit her soul."

58. If that vital principle, by which the whole community of Christians is sustained by its Founder, be considered not now in itself, but in the created effects which proceed form it, it consists in those heavenly gifts which our Redeemer, together with His Spirit, bestows on the Church, and which He and His Spirit, from whom come supernatural light and holiness, make operative in the Church. The Church, then, no less than each of her holy members can make this great saying of the Apostle her own: "And I live, now not I; but Christ liveth in me."

Footnotes

243 St. Augustine, Sermo 267, 4: PL 38, 1231D.
244 Pius XII, encyclical, Mystici Corporis: DS 3808.
245 ⇒ 2 Cor 6:16; cf. ⇒ 1 Cor 3:16-17; ⇒ Eph 2:21.
246 St. Irenaeus, Adv. haeres. 3, 24, 1: PG 7/1, 966.
247 Pius XII, encyclical, Mystici Corporis: DS 3808.
248 Cf. ⇒ Eph 4:16.
249 ⇒ Acts 20:32.
250 Cf. ⇒ 1 Cor 12:13.
251 LG 7 # 2.
252 LG 12 # 2; cf. AA 3.
253 Cf. ⇒ 1 Cor 13.
254 LG 12; cf. 30; ⇒ 1 Thess 5:12, ⇒ 19-21; John Paul II, Christifideles Laici, 24.
255 ⇒ 1 Cor 12:7.



Year of Faith Catechism Study: CCC 787-796, 805-808 – The Church – Body of Christ

clock January 12, 2013 01:02 by author John |

Today’s Catechism sections discuss the Church as the Body of Christ. Supporting material comes from the Dogmatic Constitution, “Lumen Gentium”.

II. THE CHURCH - BODY OF CHRIST

The Church is communion with Jesus

787 From the beginning, Jesus associated his disciples with his own life, revealed the mystery of the Kingdom to them, and gave them a share in his mission, joy, and sufferings.215 Jesus spoke of a still more intimate communion between him and those who would follow him: "Abide in me, and I in you.... I am the vine, you are the branches."216 and he proclaimed a mysterious and real communion between his own body and ours: "He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him."217

788 When his visible presence was taken from them, Jesus did not leave his disciples orphans. He promised to remain with them until the end of time; he sent them his Spirit.218 As a result communion with Jesus has become, in a way, more intense: "By communicating his Spirit, Christ mystically constitutes as his body those brothers of his who are called together from every nation."219

789 The comparison of the Church with the body casts light on the intimate bond between Christ and his Church. Not only is she gathered around him; she is united in him, in his body. Three aspects of the Church as the Body of Christ are to be more specifically noted: the unity of all her members with each other as a result of their union with Christ; Christ as head of the Body; and the Church as bride of Christ.

"One Body"

790 Believers who respond to God's word and become members of Christ's Body, become intimately united with him: "In that body the life of Christ is communicated to those who believe, and who, through the sacraments, are united in a hidden and real way to Christ in his Passion and glorification."220 This is especially true of Baptism, which unites us to Christ's death and Resurrection, and the Eucharist, by which "really sharing in the body of the Lord, . . . we are taken up into communion with him and with one another."221

791 The body's unity does not do away with the diversity of its members: "In the building up of Christ's Body there is engaged a diversity of members and functions. There is only one Spirit who, according to his own richness and the needs of the ministries, gives his different gifts for the welfare of the Church."222 The unity of the Mystical Body produces and stimulates charity among the faithful: "From this it follows that if one member suffers anything, all the members suffer with him, and if one member is honored, all the members together rejoice."223 Finally, the unity of the Mystical Body triumphs over all human divisions: "For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus."224

"Christ is the Head of this Body"

792 Christ "is the head of the body, the Church."225 He is the principle of creation and redemption. Raised to the Father's glory, "in everything he (is) preeminent,"226 especially in the Church, through whom he extends his reign over all things.
793 Christ unites us with his Passover: all his members must strive to resemble him, "until Christ be formed" in them.227 "For this reason we . . . are taken up into the mysteries of his life, . . . associated with his sufferings as the body with its head, suffering with him, that with him we may be glorified."228

794 Christ provides for our growth: to make us grow toward him, our head,229 he provides in his Body, the Church, the gifts and assistance by which we help one another along the way of salvation.

795 Christ and his Church thus together make up the "whole Christ" (Christus totus). The Church is one with Christ. The saints are acutely aware of this unity:

Let us rejoice then and give thanks that we have become not only Christians, but Christ himself. Do you understand and grasp, brethren, God's grace toward us? Marvel and rejoice: we have become Christ. For if he is the head, we are the members; he and we together are the whole man.... the fullness of Christ then is the head and the members. But what does "head and members" mean? Christ and the Church.230

Our redeemer has shown himself to be one person with the holy Church whom he has taken to himself.231

Head and members form as it were one and the same mystical person.232

A reply of St. Joan of Arc to her judges sums up the faith of the holy doctors and the good sense of the believer: "About Jesus Christ and the Church, I simply know they're just one thing, and we shouldn't complicate the matter."233

The Church is the Bride of Christ

796 The unity of Christ and the Church, head and members of one Body, also implies the distinction of the two within a personal relationship. This aspect is often expressed by the image of bridegroom and bride. The theme of Christ as Bridegroom of the Church was prepared for by the prophets and announced by John the Baptist.234 The Lord referred to himself as the "bridegroom."235 The Apostle speaks of the whole Church and of each of the faithful, members of his Body, as a bride "betrothed" to Christ the Lord so as to become but one spirit with him.236 The Church is the spotless bride of the spotless Lamb.237 "Christ loved the Church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her."238 He has joined her with himself in an everlasting covenant and never stops caring for her as for his own body:239

This is the whole Christ, head and body, one formed from many . . . whether the head or members speak, it is Christ who speaks. He speaks in his role as the head (ex persona capitis) and in his role as body (ex persona corporis). What does this mean? "The two will become one flesh. This is a great mystery, and I am applying it to Christ and the Church."240 and the Lord himself says in the Gospel: "So they are no longer two, but one flesh."241 They are, in fact, two different persons, yet they are one in the conjugal union, . . . as head, he calls himself the bridegroom, as body, he calls himself "bride."242

IN BRIEF

805 The Church is the Body of Christ. Through the Spirit and his action in the sacraments, above all the Eucharist, Christ, who once was dead and is now risen, establishes the community of believers as his own Body.

806 In the unity of this Body, there is a diversity of members and functions. All members are linked to one another, especially to those who are suffering, to the poor and persecuted.

807 The Church is this Body of which Christ is the head: she lives from him, in him, and for him; he lives with her and in her.

808 The Church is the Bride of Christ: he loved her and handed himself over for her. He has purified her by his blood and made her the fruitful mother of all God's children.

The Dogmatic Constitution “Lumen Gentium” explains the Church as the Body of Christ:

7. In the human nature united to Himself the Son of God, by overcoming death through His own death and resurrection, redeemed man and re-molded him into a new creation.(50) By communicating His Spirit, Christ made His brothers, called together from all nations, mystically the components of His own Body.

In that Body the life of Christ is poured into the believers who, through the sacraments, are united in a hidden and real way to Christ who suffered and was glorified.(6*) Through Baptism we are formed in the likeness of Christ: "For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body".(51) In this sacred rite a oneness with Christ's death and resurrection is both symbolized and brought about: "For we were buried with Him by means of Baptism into death"; and if "we have been united with Him in the likeness of His death, we shall be so in the likeness of His resurrection also".(52) Really partaking of the body of the Lord in the breaking of the Eucharistic bread, we are taken up into communion with Him and with one another. "Because the bread is one, we though many, are one body, all of us who partake of the one bread".(53) In this way all of us are made members of His Body,(54) "but severally members one of another".(55)

As all the members of the human body, though they are many, form one body, so also are the faithful in Christ.(56) Also, in the building up of Christ's Body various members and functions have their part to play. There is only one Spirit who, according to His own richness and the needs of the ministries, gives His different gifts for the welfare of the Church.(57) What has a special place among these gifts is the grace of the apostles to whose authority the Spirit Himself subjected even those who were endowed with charisms.(58) Giving the body unity through Himself and through His power and inner joining of the members, this same Spirit produces and urges love among the believers. From all this it follows that if one member endures anything, all the members co-endure it, and if one member is honored, all the members together rejoice.(59)

Footnotes

215 Cf. ⇒ Mk 1:16-20; ⇒ 3:13-19; ⇒ Mt 13:10-17; ⇒ Lk 10:17-20; ⇒ 22:28-30.
216 ⇒ Jn 15:4-5.
217 ⇒ Jn 6:56.
218 Cf. ⇒ Jn 14:18; ⇒ 20:22; ⇒ Mt 28:20; ⇒ Acts 2:33.
219 LG 7.
220 LG 7.
221 LG 7; cf. ⇒ Rom 6:4-5; ⇒ 1 Cor 12:13.
222 LG 7 # 3.
223 LG 7 # 3; cf. ⇒ 1 Cor 12:26.
224 ⇒ Gal 3:27-28.
225 ⇒ Col 1:18.
226 ⇒ Col 1:18.
227 ⇒ Gal 4:19.
228 LG 7 # 4; cf. ⇒ Phil 3:21; ⇒ Rom 8:17.
229 Cf. ⇒ Col 2:19; ⇒ Eph 4:11-16.
230 St. Augustine, In Jo. ev, 21, 8: PL 35, 1568.
231 Pope St. Gregory the Great Moralia in Job, praef., 14: PL 75, 525A.
232 St. Thomas Aquinas, STh III, 48, 2.
233 Acts of the Trial of Joan of Arc.
234 ⇒ Jn 3:29.
235 ⇒ Mk 2:19.
236 Cf. ⇒ Mt 22:1-14; ⇒ 25:1-13; ⇒ 1 Cor 6:15-17; ⇒ 2 Cor 11:2.
237 Cf. ⇒ Rev 22:17; ⇒ Eph 1:4. ⇒ 5:27.
238 ⇒ Eph 5:25-26.
239 Cf. ⇒ Eph 5:29.
240 ⇒ Eph 5:31-32.
241 ⇒ Mt 19:6.
242 St. Augustine, En. in Ps. 74:4: PL 36, 948-949.



Year of Faith Catechism Study: CCC 758-766, 778 – The Church’s Origin, Foundation, and Mission

clock January 8, 2013 01:02 by author John |

Today’s Catechism sections discuss the Church’s origin, foundation, and mission. Supporting material comes from the Dogmatic Constitution, “Lumen Gentium”.

II. THE CHURCH'S ORIGIN, FOUNDATION AND MISSION

758 We begin our investigation of the Church's mystery by meditating on her origin in the Holy Trinity's plan and her progressive realization in history.

A plan born in the Father's heart

759 "The eternal Father, in accordance with the utterly gratuitous and mysterious design of his wisdom and goodness, created the whole universe and chose to raise up men to share in his own divine life,"150 to which he calls all men in his Son. "The Father . . . determined to call together in a holy Church those who should believe in Christ."151 This "family of God" is gradually formed and takes shape during the stages of human history, in keeping with the Father's plan. In fact, "already present in figure at the beginning of the world, this Church was prepared in marvellous fashion in the history of the people of Israel and the old Advance. Established in this last age of the world and made manifest in the outpouring of the Spirit, it will be brought to glorious completion at the end of time."152

The Church - foreshadowed from the world's beginning

760 Christians of the first centuries said, "The world was created for the sake of the Church."153 God created the world for the sake of communion with his divine life, a communion brought about by the "convocation" of men in Christ, and this "convocation" is the Church. The Church is the goal of all things,154 and God permitted such painful upheavals as the angels' fall and man's sin only as occasions and means for displaying all the power of his arm and the whole measure of the love he wanted to give the world:

Just as God's will is creation and is called "the world," so his intention is the salvation of men, and it is called "the Church."155

The Church - prepared for in the Old Covenant

761 The gathering together of the People of God began at the moment when sin destroyed the communion of men with God, and that of men among themselves. The gathering together of the Church is, as it were, God's reaction to the chaos provoked by sin. This reunification is achieved secretly in the heart of all peoples: "In every nation anyone who fears him and does what is right is acceptable" to God.156

762 The remote preparation for this gathering together of the People of God begins when he calls Abraham and promises that he will become the father of a great people.157 Its immediate preparation begins with Israel's election as the People of God. By this election, Israel is to be the sign of the future gathering of All nations.158 But the prophets accuse Israel of breaking the covenant and behaving like a prostitute. They announce a new and eternal covenant. "Christ instituted this New Covenant."159

The Church - instituted by Christ Jesus

763 It was the Son's task to accomplish the Father's plan of salvation in the fullness of time. Its accomplishment was the reason for his being sent.160 "The Lord Jesus inaugurated his Church by preaching the Good News, that is, the coming of the Reign of God, promised over the ages in the scriptures."161 To fulfill the Father's will, Christ ushered in the Kingdom of heaven on earth. The Church "is the Reign of Christ already present in mystery."162

764 "This Kingdom shines out before men in the word, in the works and in the presence of Christ."163 To welcome Jesus' word is to welcome "the Kingdom itself."164 The seed and beginning of the Kingdom are the "little flock" of those whom Jesus came to gather around him, the flock whose shepherd he is.165 They form Jesus' true family.166 To those whom he thus gathered around him, he taught a new "way of acting" and a prayer of their own.167

765 The Lord Jesus endowed his community with a structure that will remain until the Kingdom is fully achieved. Before all else there is the choice of the Twelve with Peter as their head.168 Representing the twelve tribes of Israel, they are the foundation stones of the new Jerusalem.169 The Twelve and the other disciples share in Christ's mission and his power, but also in his lot.170 By all his actions, Christ prepares and builds his Church.

766 The Church is born primarily of Christ's total self-giving for our salvation, anticipated in the institution of the Eucharist and fulfilled on the cross. "The origin and growth of the Church are symbolized by the blood and water which flowed from the open side of the crucified Jesus."171 "For it was from the side of Christ as he slept the sleep of death upon the cross that there came forth the 'wondrous sacrament of the whole Church.'"172 As Eve was formed from the sleeping Adam's side, so the Church was born from the pierced heart of Christ hanging dead on the cross.173

IN BRIEF

778 The Church is both the means and the goal of God's plan: prefigured in creation, prepared for in the Old Covenant, founded by the words and actions of Jesus Christ, fulfilled by his redeeming cross and his Resurrection, the Church has been manifested as the mystery of salvation by the outpouring of the Holy Spirit. She will be perfected in the glory of heaven as the assembly of all the redeemed of the earth (cf ⇒ Rev 14:4).

The Dogmatic Constitution, “Lumen Gentium” (2) discusses the mystery of the Church.

2. The eternal Father, by a free and hidden plan of His own wisdom and goodness, created the whole world. His plan was to raise men to a participation of the divine life. Fallen in Adam, God the Father did not leave men to themselves, but ceaselessly offered helps to salvation, in view of Christ, the Redeemer "who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature".(2) All the elect, before time began, the Father "foreknew and pre- destined to become conformed to the image of His Son, that he should be the firstborn among many brethren".(3) He planned to assemble in the holy Church all those who would believe in Christ. Already from the beginning of the world the foreshadowing of the Church took place. It was prepared in a remarkable way throughout the history of the people of Israel and by means of the Old Covenant.(1*) In the present era of time the Church was constituted and, by the outpouring of the Spirit, was made manifest. At the end of time it will gloriously achieve completion, when, as is read in the Fathers, all the just, from Adam and "from Abel, the just one, to the last of the elect,"(2*) will be gathered together with the Father in the universal Church.

Footnotes

150 LG 2.
151 LG 2.
152 LG 2.
153 Pastor Hermae, Vision 2, 4, 1: PG 2,899; cf. Aristides, Apol. 16, 6; St. Justin, Apol. 2,7: PG 6, 456; Tertullian, Apol. 31, 3; 32, 1: PL 1, 508-509.
154 Cf. St. Epiphanius, Panarion 1, 1, 5: PG 41, 181C.
155 Clement of Alex., Paed. 1, 6, 27: PG 8, 281.
156 ⇒ Acts 10:35; cf. LG 9; 13; 16.
157 Cf. ⇒ Gen 12:2; ⇒ 15:5-6.
158 Cf. ⇒ Ex 19:5-6; ⇒ Deut 7:6; ⇒ Isa 2:2-5; ⇒ Mic 4:1-4.
159 LG 9; cf. ⇒ Hos 1; ⇒ Isa 1:2-4; ⇒ Jer 2; ⇒ 31:31-34; ⇒ Isa 55:3.
160 Cf. LG 3; AG 3.
161 LG 5.
162 LG 3.
163 LG 5.
164 LG 5.
165 ⇒ Lk 12:32; cf. ⇒ Mt 10:16; ⇒ 26:31; In 10:1-21.
166 Cf. ⇒ Mt 12:49.
167 Cf. ⇒ Mt 5- 6.
168 Cf. ⇒ Mk 3:14-15.
169 Cf. ⇒ Mt 19:28; ⇒ Lk 22:30; ⇒ Rev 21:12-14.
170 Cf. ⇒ Mk 6:7; ⇒ Lk 10:1-2; ⇒ Mt 10:25; ⇒ Jn 15:20.
171 LG 3; cf. ⇒ Jn 19:34.
172 SC 5.
173 Cf. St. Ambrose, In Luc. 2, 85-89 PL 15,1666-1668.



Year of Faith Catechism Study: CCC 717-730, 744-746 – The Holy Spirit in the Fullness of Time

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

Today’s Catechism sections discuss the Holy Spirit in relation to John the Baptist, the Blessed Mother, and Christ. Supporting material comes from St. Ambrose.

IV. The Spirit of Christ in the Fullness of Time

John, precursor, prophet, and Baptist

717 "There was a man sent from God, whose name was John."89 John was "filled with the Holy Spirit even from his mother's womb"90 by Christ himself, whom the Virgin Mary had just conceived by the Holy Spirit. Mary's visitation to Elizabeth thus became a visit from God to his people.91

718 John is "Elijah (who) must come."92 The fire of the Spirit dwells in him and makes him the forerunner of the coming Lord. In John, the precursor, the Holy Spirit completes the work of "[making] ready a people prepared for the Lord."93

719 John the Baptist is "more than a prophet."94 In him, the Holy Spirit concludes his speaking through the prophets. John completes the cycle of prophets begun by Elijah.95 He proclaims the imminence of the consolation of Israel; he is the "voice" of the Consoler who is coming.96 As the Spirit of truth will also do, John "came to bear witness to the light."97 In John's sight, the Spirit thus brings to completion the careful search of the prophets and fulfills the longing of the angels.98 "He on whom you see the Spirit descend and remain, this is he who baptizes with the Holy Spirit. And I have seen and have borne witness that this is the Son of God.... Behold, the Lamb of God."99

720 Finally, with John the Baptist, the Holy Spirit begins the restoration to man of "the divine likeness," prefiguring what he would achieve with and in Christ. John's baptism was for repentance; baptism in water and the Spirit will be a new birth.100

"Rejoice, you who are full of grace"

721 Mary, the all-holy ever-virgin Mother of God, is the masterwork of the mission of the Son and the Spirit in the fullness of time. For the first time in the plan of salvation and because his Spirit had prepared her, the Father found the dwelling place where his Son and his Spirit could dwell among men. In this sense the Church's Tradition has often read the most beautiful texts on wisdom in relation to Mary.101 Mary is acclaimed and represented in the liturgy as the "Seat of Wisdom."

In her, the "wonders of God" that the Spirit was to fulfill in Christ and the Church began to be manifested:

722 The Holy Spirit prepared Mary by his grace. It was fitting that the mother of him in whom "the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily"102 should herself be "full of grace." She was, by sheer grace, conceived without sin as the most humble of creatures, the most capable of welcoming the inexpressible gift of the Almighty. It was quite correct for the angel Gabriel to greet her as the "Daughter of Zion": "Rejoice."103 It is the thanksgiving of the whole People of God, and thus of the Church, which Mary in her canticle104 lifts up to the Father in the Holy Spirit while carrying within her the eternal Son.

723 In Mary, the Holy Spirit fulfills the plan of the Father's loving goodness. With and through the Holy Spirit, the Virgin conceives and gives birth to the Son of God. By the Holy Spirit's power and her faith, her virginity became uniquely fruitful.105

724 In Mary, the Holy Spirit manifests the Son of the Father, now become the Son of the Virgin. She is the burning bush of the definitive theophany. Filled with the Holy Spirit she makes the Word visible in the humility of his flesh. It is to the poor and the first representatives of the gentiles that she makes him known.106

725 Finally, through Mary, the Holy Spirit begins to bring men, the objects of God's merciful love,107 into communion with Christ. And the humble are always the first to accept him: shepherds, magi, Simeon and Anna, the bride and groom at Cana, and the first disciples.

726 At the end of this mission of the Spirit, Mary became the Woman, the new Eve ("mother of the living"), the mother of the "whole Christ."108 As such, she was present with the Twelve, who "with one accord devoted themselves to prayer,"109 at the dawn of the "end time" which the Spirit was to inaugurate on the morning of Pentecost with the manifestation of the Church.

Christ Jesus

727 The entire mission of the Son and the Holy Spirit, in the fullness of time, is contained in this: that the Son is the one anointed by the Father's Spirit since his Incarnation - Jesus is the Christ, the Messiah.
Everything in the second chapter of the Creed is to be read in this light. Christ's whole work is in fact a joint mission of the Son and the Holy Spirit. Here, we shall mention only what has to do with Jesus' promise of the Holy Spirit and the gift of him by the glorified Lord.

728 Jesus does not reveal the Holy Spirit fully, until he himself has been glorified through his Death and Resurrection. Nevertheless, little by little he alludes to him even in his teaching of the multitudes, as when he reveals that his own flesh will be food for the life of the world.110 He also alludes to the Spirit in speaking to Nicodemus,111 to the Samaritan woman,112 and to those who take part in the feast of Tabernacles.113 To his disciples he speaks openly of the Spirit in connection with prayer114 and with the witness they will have to bear.115

729 Only when the hour has arrived for his glorification does Jesus promise the coming of the Holy Spirit, since his Death and Resurrection will fulfill the promise made to the fathers.116 The Spirit of truth, the other Paraclete, will be given by the Father in answer to Jesus' prayer; he will be sent by the Father in Jesus' name; and Jesus will send him from the Father's side, since he comes from the Father. The Holy Spirit will come and we shall know him; he will be with us forever; he will remain with us. The Spirit will teach us everything, remind us of all that Christ said to us and bear witness to him. The Holy Spirit will lead us into all truth and will glorify Christ. He will prove the world wrong about sin, righteousness, and judgment.

730 At last Jesus' hour arrives:117 he commends his spirit into the Father's hands118 at the very moment when by his death he conquers death, so that, "raised from the dead by the glory of the Father,"119 he might immediately give the Holy Spirit by "breathing" on his disciples.120 From this hour onward, the mission of Christ and the Spirit becomes the mission of the Church: "As the Father has sent me, even so I send you."121

In Brief

744 In the fullness of time the Holy Spirit completes in Mary all the preparations for Christ's coming among the People of God. By the action of the Holy Spirit in her, the Father gives the world Emmanuel "God-with-us" (⇒ Mt 1:23).

745 The Son of God was consecrated as Christ (Messiah) by the anointing of the Holy Spirit at his Incarnation (cf ⇒ Ps 2:6-7).

746 By his Death and his Resurrection, Jesus is constituted in glory as Lord and Christ (cf ⇒ Acts 2:36). From his fullness, he poured out the Holy Spirit on the apostles and the Church.

St. Ambrose writes of the workings of the Holy Spirit in Mary in “On the Holy Spirit” (Book I).

84. But how great is that grace which makes even the lower nature of the lot of men equal to the gifts received by Angels, as the Lord Himself promised, saying: You shall be as the Angels in heaven. Nor is it difficult, for He Who made those Angels in the Spirit will by the same grace make men also equal to the Angels.

85. But of what creature can it be said that it fills all things, as is written of the Holy Spirit: I will pour My Spirit upon all flesh. (Joel 2:28) This cannot be said of an Angel. Lastly, Gabriel himself, when sent to Mary, said: Hail, full of grace, (Luke 1:28) plainly declaring the grace of the Spirit which was in her, because the Holy Spirit had come upon her, and she was about to have her womb full of grace with the heavenly Word.

86. For it is of the Lord to fill all things, Who says: I fill heaven and earth. (Jeremiah 23:24) If, then, it is the Lord Who fills heaven and earth, Who can judge the Holy Spirit to be without a share in the dominion and divine power, seeing that He has filled the world, and what is beyond the whole world, filled Jesus the Redeemer of the whole world? For it is written: But Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, departed from Jordan. (Luke 4:1) Who, then, except one who possessed the same fullness could fill Him Who fills all things?

87. But lest they should object that this was said according to the flesh, though He alone from Whose flesh went forth virtue to heal all, was more than all; yet, as the Lord fills all things, so, too, we read of the Spirit: For the Spirit of the Lord filled the whole world. (Wisdom 1:7) And you find it said of all who had consorted with the Apostles that, filled with the Holy Spirit they spoke the word of God with boldness. (Acts 4:31) You see that the Spirit gives both fullness and boldness, Whose operation the archangel announces to Mary, saying: The Holy Spirit shall come on you. (Luke 1:35)

Footnotes

89 ⇒ Jn 1:6[ETML:C/].
90 ⇒ Lk 1:15, ⇒ 41.
91 Cf. ⇒ Lk 1:68.
92 ⇒ Mt 17:10-13; cf. ⇒ Lk 1:78.
93 ⇒ Lk 1:17.
94 ⇒ Lk 7:26.
95 Cf. ⇒ Mt 11:13-14.
96 ⇒ Jn 1:23; cf. ⇒ Isa 40:1-3.
97 ⇒ Jn 1:7; cf. ⇒ Jn 15:26; ⇒ 5:35.
98 Cf. ⇒ 1 Pet 1:10-12.
99 ⇒ Jn 1:33-36.
100 Cf ⇒ Jn 3:5[ETML:C/].
101 Cf. ⇒ Prov 8:1- ⇒ 9:6; ⇒ Sir 24.
102 ⇒ Col 2:9.
103 Cf. ⇒ Zeph 3:14; ⇒ Zech 2:14.
104 Cf. ⇒ Lk 1:46-55.
105 Cf. ⇒ Lk 1:26-38; ⇒ Rom 4:18-21; ⇒ Gal 4:26-28.
106 Cf. ⇒ Lk 1:15-19; ⇒ Mt 2:11.
107 Cf. ⇒ Lk 2:14.
108 Cf. ⇒ Jn 19:25-27.
109 ⇒ Acts 1:14.
110 Cf. ⇒ Jn 6:27, ⇒ 51, ⇒ 62-63.
111 Cf. ⇒ Jn 3:5-8.
112 Cf. ⇒ Jn 4:10, ⇒ 14, ⇒ 23-24.
113 Cf. ⇒ Jn 7:37-39.
114 Cf. ⇒ Lk 11:13.
115 Cf. ⇒ Mt 10:19-20.
116 Cf. ⇒ Jn 14:16-17, ⇒ 26; ⇒ 15:26; ⇒ 16:7-15; ⇒ 17:26.
117 Cf. ⇒ Jn 13:1; ⇒ 17:1.
118 Cf. ⇒ Lk 23:46; ⇒ Jn 19:30.
119 ⇒ Rom 6:4.
120 Cf. ⇒ Jn 20:22.
121 ⇒ Jn 20:21; cf. ⇒ Mt 28:19; ⇒ Lk 24:47-48; ⇒ Acts 1:8.



Year of Faith Catechism Study: CCC 689-690, 742-743 - The Joint Mission of the Son and the Holy Spirit

clock January 1, 2013 01:02 by author John |

Today’s Catechism sections discuss the mission of the Son and the Holy Spirit. Supporting material comes from St. Thomas Aquinas’ “Summa Theologica”.

I. The Joint Mission of the Son and the Spirit

689 The One whom the Father has sent into our hearts, the Spirit of his Son, is truly God.10 Consubstantial with the Father and the Son, the Spirit is inseparable from them, in both the inner life of the Trinity and his gift of love for the world. In adoring the Holy Trinity, life-giving, consubstantial, and indivisible, the Church's faith also professes the distinction of persons. When the Father sends his Word, he always sends his Breath. In their joint mission, the Son and the Holy Spirit are distinct but inseparable. To be sure, it is Christ who is seen, the visible image of the invisible God, but it is the Spirit who reveals him.

690 Jesus is Christ, "anointed," because the Spirit is his anointing, and everything that occurs from the Incarnation on derives from this fullness.11 When Christ is finally glorified,12 he can in turn send the Spirit from his place with the Father to those who believe in him: he communicates to them his glory,13 that is, the Holy Spirit who glorifies him.14 From that time on, this joint mission will be manifested in the children adopted by the Father in the Body of his Son: the mission of the Spirit of adoption is to unite them to Christ and make them live in him:

The notion of anointing suggests . . . that there is no distance between the Son and the Spirit. Indeed, just as between the surface of the body and the anointing with oil neither reason nor sensation recognizes any intermediary, so the contact of the Son with the Spirit is immediate, so that anyone who would make contact with the Son by faith must first encounter the oil by contact. In fact there is no part that is not covered by the Holy Spirit. That is why the confession of the Son's Lordship is made in the Holy Spirit by those who receive him, the Spirit coming from all sides to those who approach the Son in faith.15

IN BRIEF

742 "Because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, 'Abba! Father!"' (⇒ Gal 4:6).

743 From the beginning to the end of time, whenever God sends his Son, he always sends his Spirit: their mission is conjoined and inseparable.

St. Thomas Aquinas examines the “invisible mission” of the Holy Spirit in his “Summa Theologica” (1, 43):

Article 3. Whether the invisible mission of the divine person is only according to the gift of sanctifying grace?

Objection 1. It would seem that the invisible mission of the divine person is not only according to the gift of sanctifying grace. For the sending of a divine person means that He is given. Hence if the divine person is sent only according to the gift of sanctifying grace, the divine person Himself will not be given, but only His gifts; and this is the error of those who say that the Holy Ghost is not given, but that His gifts are given.

Objection 2. Further, this preposition, "according to," denotes the habitude of some cause. But the divine person is the cause why the gift of sanctifying grace is possessed, and not conversely, according to Romans 5:5, "the charity of God is poured forth in our hearts by the Holy Ghost, Who is given to us." Therefore it is improperly said that the divine person is sent according to the gift of sanctifying grace.

Objection 3. Further, Augustine says (De Trin. iv, 20) that "the Son, when temporally perceived by the mind, is sent." But the Son is known not only by sanctifying grace, but also by gratuitous grace, as by faith and knowledge. Therefore the divine person is not sent only according to the gift of sanctifying grace.

Objection 4. Further, Rabanus says that the Holy Ghost was given to the apostles for the working of miracles. This, however, is not a gift of sanctifying grace, but a gratuitous grace. Therefore the divine person is not given only according to the gift of sanctifying grace.

On the contrary, Augustine says (De Trin. iii, 4) that "the Holy Ghost proceeds temporally for the creature's sanctification." But mission is a temporal procession. Since then the creature's sanctification is by sanctifying grace, it follows that the mission of the divine person is only by sanctifying grace.

I answer that, The divine person is fittingly sent in the sense that He exists newly in any one; and He is given as possessed by anyone; and neither of these is otherwise than by sanctifying grace.

For God is in all things by His essence, power and presence, according to His one common mode, as the cause existing in the effects which participate in His goodness. Above and beyond this common mode, however, there is one special mode belonging to the rational nature wherein God is said to be present as the object known is in the knower, and the beloved in the lover. And since the rational creature by its operation of knowledge and love attains to God Himself, according to this special mode God is said not only to exist in the rational creature but also to dwell therein as in His own temple. So no other effect can be put down as the reason why the divine person is in the rational creature in a new mode, except sanctifying grace. Hence, the divine person is sent, and proceeds temporally only according to sanctifying grace.

Again, we are said to possess only what we can freely use or enjoy: and to have the power of enjoying the divine person can only be according to sanctifying grace. And yet the Holy Ghost is possessed by man, and dwells within him, in the very gift itself of sanctifying grace. Hence the Holy Ghost Himself is given and sent.

Reply to Objection 1. By the gift of sanctifying grace the rational creature is perfected so that it can freely use not only the created gift itself, but enjoy also the divine person Himself; and so the invisible mission takes place according to the gift of sanctifying grace; and yet the divine person Himself is given.

Reply to Objection 2. Sanctifying grace disposes the soul to possess the divine person; and this is signified when it is said that the Holy Ghost is given according to the gift of grace. Nevertheless the gift itself of grace is from the Holy Ghost; which is meant by the words, "the charity of God is poured forth in our hearts by the Holy Ghost."

Reply to Objection 3. Although the Son can be known by us according to other effects, yet neither does He dwell in us, nor is He possessed by us according to those effects.

Reply to Objection 4. The working of miracles manifests sanctifying grace as also does the gift of prophecy and any other gratuitous graces. Hence gratuitous grace is called the "manifestation of the Spirit" (1 Corinthians 12:7). So the Holy Ghost is said to be given to the apostles for the working of miracles, because sanctifying grace was given to them with the outward sign. Were the sign only of sanctifying grace given to them without the grace itself, it would not be simply said that the Holy Ghost was given, except with some qualifying term; just as we read of certain ones receiving the gift of the spirit of prophecy, or of miracles, as having from the Holy Ghost the power of prophesying or of working miracles.

Footnotes

10 Cf. ⇒ Gal 4:6.
11 Cf. ⇒ Jn 3:34.
12 ⇒ Jn 7:39.
13 Cf. ⇒ Jn 17:22.
14 Cf. ⇒ Jn 16:14.
15 St. Gregory of Nyssa, De Spiritu Sancto, 16: PG 45, 1321A-B.



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.