Year of Faith Catechism Study: CCC 1425-1433, 1487-1490 – Reconciliation: Conversion and Interior Penance

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

Today’s Catechism sections discuss conversion after Baptism and Interior Penance. Supporting material comes from St. Ambrose’s “Letters”.

II. Why a Sacrament of Reconciliation after Baptism?

1425 "YOU were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God."9 One must appreciate the magnitude of the gift God has given us in the sacraments of Christian initiation in order to grasp the degree to which sin is excluded for him who has "put on Christ."10 But the apostle John also says: "If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us."11 and the Lord himself taught us to pray: "Forgive us our trespasses,"12 linking our forgiveness of one another's offenses to the forgiveness of our sins that God will grant us.

1426 Conversion to Christ, the new birth of Baptism, the gift of the Holy Spirit and the Body and Blood of Christ received as food have made us "holy and without blemish," just as the Church herself, the Bride of Christ, is "holy and without blemish."13 Nevertheless the new life received in Christian initiation has not abolished the frailty and weakness of human nature, nor the inclination to sin that tradition calls concupiscence, which remains in the baptized such that with the help of the grace of Christ they may prove themselves in the struggle of Christian life.14 This is the struggle of conversion directed toward holiness and eternal life to which the Lord never ceases to call us.15

III. The Conversion of the Baptized

1427 Jesus calls to conversion. This call is an essential part of the proclamation of the kingdom: "The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent, and believe in the gospel."16 In the Church's preaching this call is addressed first to those who do not yet know Christ and his Gospel. Also, Baptism is the principal place for the first and fundamental conversion. It is by faith in the Gospel and by Baptism17 that one renounces evil and gains salvation, that is, the forgiveness of all sins and the gift of new life.

1428 Christ's call to conversion continues to resound in the lives of Christians. This second conversion is an uninterrupted task for the whole Church who, "clasping sinners to her bosom, (is) at once holy and always in need of purification, (and) follows constantly the path of penance and renewal."18 This endeavor of conversion is not just a human work. It is the movement of a "contrite heart," drawn and moved by grace to respond to the merciful love of God who loved us first.19

1429 St. Peter's conversion after he had denied his master three times bears witness to this. Jesus' look of infinite mercy drew tears of repentance from Peter and, after the Lord's resurrection, a threefold affirmation of love for him.20 The second conversion also has a communitarian dimension, as is clear in the Lord's call to a whole Church: "Repent!"21

St. Ambrose says of the two conversions that, in the Church, "there are water and tears: the water of Baptism and the tears of repentance."22

IV. Interior Penance

1430 Jesus' call to conversion and penance, like that of the prophets before him, does not aim first at outward works, "sackcloth and ashes," fasting and mortification, but at the conversion of the heart, interior conversion. Without this, such penances remain sterile and false; however, interior conversion urges expression in visible signs, gestures and works of penance.23

1431 Interior repentance is a radical reorientation of our whole life, a return, a conversion to God with all our heart, an end of sin, a turning away from evil, with repugnance toward the evil actions we have committed. At the same time it entails the desire and resolution to change one's life, with hope in God's mercy and trust in the help of his grace. This conversion of heart is accompanied by a salutary pain and sadness which the Fathers called animi cruciatus (affliction of spirit) and compunctio cordis (repentance of heart).24

1432 The human heart is heavy and hardened. God must give man a new heart.25 Conversion is first of all a work of the grace of God who makes our hearts return to him: "Restore us to thyself, O LORD, that we may be restored!"26 God gives us the strength to begin anew. It is in discovering the greatness of God's love that our heart is shaken by the horror and weight of sin and begins to fear offending God by sin and being separated from him. The human heart is converted by looking upon him whom our sins have pierced:27

Let us fix our eyes on Christ's blood and understand how precious it is to his Father, for, poured out for our salvation it has brought to the whole world the grace of repentance.

1433 Since Easter, the Holy Spirit has proved "the world wrong about sin,"29 i.e., proved that the world has not believed in him whom the Father has sent. But this same Spirit who brings sin to light is also the Consoler who gives the human heart grace for repentance and conversion.30

IN BRIEF

1487 The sinner wounds God's honor and love, his own human dignity as a man called to be a son of God, and the spiritual well-being of the Church, of which each Christian ought to be a living stone.

1488 To the eyes of faith no evil is graver than sin and nothing has worse consequences for sinners themselves, for the Church, and for the whole world.

1489 To return to communion with God after having lost it through sin is a process born of the grace of God who is rich in mercy and solicitous for the salvation of men. One must ask for this precious gift for oneself and for others.

1490 The movement of return to God, called conversion and repentance, entails sorrow for and abhorrence of sins committed, and the firm purpose of sinning no more in the future. Conversion touches the past and the future and is nourished by hope in God's mercy.

St. Ambrose discusses the two conversions, “water” and “tears” in his Letters (41, 12).

12. And he pours water upon the feet of Christ, who purifies his conscience from the defilement of sin, for Christ walks in the breast of each. Take heed, then, not to have your conscience polluted, and so to begin to defile the feet of Christ. Take heed lest He encounter a thorn of wickedness in you, whereby as He walks in you His heel may be wounded. For this was why the Pharisee gave no water for the feet of Christ, that he had not a soul pure from the filth of unbelief. For how could he cleanse his conscience who had not received the water of Christ? But the Church both has this water and has tears. For faith which mourns over former sins is wont to guard against fresh ones. Therefore, Simon the Pharisee, who had no water, had also, of course, no tears. For how should he have tears who had no penitence? For since he believed not in Christ he had no tears. For if he had had them he would have washed his eyes, that he might see Christ, Whom, though he sat at meat with Him, he saw not. For had he seen Him, he would not have doubted of His power.

Footnotes

9 ⇒ 1 Cor 6:11.
10 ⇒ Gal 3:27.
11  ⇒ 1 Jn 1:8[ETML:C/].
12 Cf. ⇒ Lk 11:4; ⇒ Mt 6:12.
13 ⇒ Eph 1:4; ⇒ 5:27.
14 Cf. Council of Trent (1546) DS 1515.
15 Cf. Council of Trent (1547): DS 1545; LG 40.
16 ⇒ Mk 1:15.
17 Cf. ⇒ Acts 2:38.
18 LG 8 # 3.
19 ⇒ Ps 51:17; cf. ⇒ Jn 6:44; ⇒ 12:32; ⇒ 1 Jn 4:10.
20 Cf. ⇒ Lk 22:61; ⇒ Jn 21:15-17.
21 ⇒ Rev 2:5, ⇒ 16.
22 St. Ambrose, ep. 41, 12: PL 16, 1116.
23 Cf. ⇒ Joel 2:12-13; ⇒ Isa 1:16-17; ⇒ Mt 6:1-6; ⇒ 16-18.
24 Cf. Council of Trent (1551) DS 1676-1678; 1705; Cf. Roman Catechism, II, V, 4.
25 Cf. ⇒ Ezek 36:26-27.
26 ⇒ Lam 5:21.
27 Cf. ⇒ Jn 19:37; ⇒ Zech 12:10.
29 Cf. ⇒ Jn 16:8-9.
30 Cf. ⇒ Jn 15:26; ⇒ Acts 2:36-38; John Paul II, DeV 27-48.



Year of Faith Catechism Study: CCC 1373-1381, 1411-1413 – The Real Presence of Jesus Christ in the Eucharist

clock March 27, 2013 01:02 by author John |

Today’s Catechism sections discuss the Real Presence of Jesus Christ in the Eucharist. Supporting material comes from St. Ambrose’s “On the Mysteries”.

The presence of Christ by the power of his word and the Holy Spirit

1373 "Christ Jesus, who died, yes, who was raised from the dead, who is at the right hand of God, who indeed intercedes for us," is present in many ways to his Church:195 in his word, in his Church's prayer, "where two or three are gathered in my name,"196 in the poor, the sick, and the imprisoned,197 in the sacraments of which he is the author, in the sacrifice of the Mass, and in the person of the minister. But "he is present . . . most especially in the Eucharistic species."198

1374 The mode of Christ's presence under the Eucharistic species is unique. It raises the Eucharist above all the sacraments as "the perfection of the spiritual life and the end to which all the sacraments tend."199 In the most blessed sacrament of the Eucharist "the body and blood, together with the soul and divinity, of our Lord Jesus Christ and, therefore, the whole Christ is truly, really, and substantially contained."200 "This presence is called 'real' - by which is not intended to exclude the other types of presence as if they could not be 'real' too, but because it is presence in the fullest sense: that is to say, it is a substantial presence by which Christ, God and man, makes himself wholly and entirely present."201

1375 It is by the conversion of the bread and wine into Christ's body and blood that Christ becomes present in this sacrament. The Church Fathers strongly affirmed the faith of the Church in the efficacy of the Word of Christ and of the action of the Holy Spirit to bring about this conversion. Thus St. John Chrysostom declares:

It is not man that causes the things offered to become the Body and Blood of Christ, but he who was crucified for us, Christ himself. The priest, in the role of Christ, pronounces these words, but their power and grace are God's. This is my body, he says. This word transforms the things offered.202

and St. Ambrose says about this conversion:

Be convinced that this is not what nature has formed, but what the blessing has consecrated. The power of the blessing prevails over that of nature, because by the blessing nature itself is changed.... Could not Christ's word, which can make from nothing what did not exist, change existing things into what they were not before? It is no less a feat to give things their original nature than to change their nature.203

1376 The Council of Trent summarizes the Catholic faith by declaring: "Because Christ our Redeemer said that it was truly his body that he was offering under the species of bread, it has always been the conviction of the Church of God, and this holy Council now declares again, that by the consecration of the bread and wine there takes place a change of the whole substance of the bread into the substance of the body of Christ our Lord and of the whole substance of the wine into the substance of his blood. This change the holy Catholic Church has fittingly and properly called transubstantiation."204

1377 The Eucharistic presence of Christ begins at the moment of the consecration and endures as long as the Eucharistic species subsist. Christ is present whole and entire in each of the species and whole and entire in each of their parts, in such a way that the breaking of the bread does not divide Christ.205

1378 Worship of the Eucharist. In the liturgy of the Mass we express our faith in the real presence of Christ under the species of bread and wine by, among other ways, genuflecting or bowing deeply as a sign of adoration of the Lord. "The Catholic Church has always offered and still offers to the sacrament of the Eucharist the cult of adoration, not only during Mass, but also outside of it, reserving the consecrated hosts with the utmost care, exposing them to the solemn veneration of the faithful, and carrying them in procession."206

1379 The tabernacle was first intended for the reservation of the Eucharist in a worthy place so that it could be brought to the sick and those absent outside of Mass. As faith in the real presence of Christ in his Eucharist deepened, the Church became conscious of the meaning of silent adoration of the Lord present under the Eucharistic species. It is for this reason that the tabernacle should be located in an especially worthy place in the church and should be constructed in such a way that it emphasizes and manifests the truth of the real presence of Christ in the Blessed Sacrament.

1380 It is highly fitting that Christ should have wanted to remain present to his Church in this unique way. Since Christ was about to take his departure from his own in his visible form, he wanted to give us his sacramental presence; since he was about to offer himself on the cross to save us, he wanted us to have the memorial of the love with which he loved us "to the end,"207 even to the giving of his life. In his Eucharistic presence he remains mysteriously in our midst as the one who loved us and gave himself up for us,208 and he remains under signs that express and communicate this love:

The Church and the world have a great need for Eucharistic worship. Jesus awaits us in this sacrament of love. Let us not refuse the time to go to meet him in adoration, in contemplation full of faith, and open to making amends for the serious offenses and crimes of the world. Let our adoration never cease.209

1381 "That in this sacrament are the true Body of Christ and his true Blood is something that 'cannot be apprehended by the senses,' says St. Thomas, 'but only by faith, which relies on divine authority.' For this reason, in a commentary on Luke 22:19 ('This is my body which is given for you.'), St. Cyril says: 'Do not doubt whether this is true, but rather receive the words of the Savior in faith, for since he is the truth, he cannot lie.'"210

Godhead here in hiding, whom I do adore
Masked by these bare shadows, shape and nothing more,
See, Lord, at thy service low lies here a heart
Lost, all lost in wonder at the God thou art.

Seeing, touching, tasting are in thee deceived;
How says trusty hearing? that shall be believed;
What God's Son has told me, take for truth I do;
Truth himself speaks truly or there's nothing true.211

IN BRIEF

1411 Only validly ordained priests can preside at the Eucharist and consecrate the bread and the wine so that they become the Body and Blood of the Lord.

1412 The essential signs of the Eucharistic sacrament are wheat bread and grape wine, on which the blessing of the Holy Spirit is invoked and the priest pronounces the words of consecration spoken by Jesus during the Last Supper: "This is my body which will be given up for you.... This is the cup of my blood...."

1413 By the consecration the transubstantiation of the bread and wine into the Body and Blood of Christ is brought about. Under the consecrated species of bread and wine Christ himself, living and glorious, is present in a true, real, and substantial manner: his Body and his Blood, with his soul and his divinity (cf. Council of Trent: DS 1640; 1651).

St. Ambrose discusses the Transubstantiation in his work, “On the Mysteries” (9, 50-52).

50. Perhaps you will say, I see something else, how is it that you assert that I receive the Body of Christ? And this is the point which remains for us to prove. And what evidence shall we make use of? Let us prove that this is not what nature made, but what the blessing consecrated, and the power of blessing is greater than that of nature, because by blessing nature itself is changed.

51. Moses was holding a rod, he cast it down and it became a serpent. Exodus 4:3-4 Again, he took hold of the tail of the serpent and it returned to the nature of a rod. You see that by virtue of the prophetic office there were two changes, of the nature both of the serpent and of the rod. The streams of Egypt were running with a pure flow of water; of a sudden from the veins of the sources blood began to burst forth, and none could drink of the river. Again, at the prophet's prayer the blood ceased, and the nature of water returned. The people of the Hebrews were shut in on every side, hemmed in on the one hand by the Egyptians, on the other by the sea; Moses lifted up his rod, the water divided and hardened like walls, and a way for the feet appeared between the waves. Jordan being turned back, returned, contrary to nature, to the source of its stream. Joshua 3:16 Is it not clear that the nature of the waves of the sea and of the river stream was changed? The people of the fathers thirsted, Moses touched the rock, and water flowed out of the rock. Exodus 17:6 Did not grace work a result contrary to nature, so that the rock poured forth water, which by nature it did not contain? Marah was a most bitter stream, so that the thirsting people could not drink. Moses cast wood into the water, and the water lost its bitterness, which grace of a sudden tempered. Exodus 15:25 In the time of Elisha the prophet one of the sons of the prophets lost the head from his axe, which sank. He who had lost the iron asked Elisha, who cast in a piece of wood and the iron swam. This, too, we clearly recognize as having happened contrary to nature, for iron is of heavier nature than water.

52. We observe, then, that grace has more power than nature, and yet so far we have only spoken of the grace of a prophet's blessing. But if the blessing of man had such power as to change nature, what are we to say of that divine consecration where the very words of the Lord and Saviour operate? For that sacrament which you receive is made what it is by the word of Christ. But if the word of Elijah had such power as to bring down fire from heaven, shall not the word of Christ have power to change the nature of the elements? You read concerning the making of the whole world: He spoke and they were made, He commanded and they were created. Shall not the word of Christ, which was able to make out of nothing that which was not, be able to change things which already are into what they were not? For it is not less to give a new nature to things than to change them.

Footnotes

195 ⇒ Rom 8:34; cf. LG 48.
196 ⇒ Mt 18:20.
197 Cf. ⇒ Mt 25:31-46.
198 SC 7.
199 St. Thomas Aquinas, STh III, 73, 3c.
200 Council of Trent (1551): DS 1651.
201 Paul VI, MF 39.
202 St. John Chrysostom, prod. Jud. 1:6: PG 49, 380.
203 St. Ambrose, De myst. 9, 50; 52: PL 16, 405-407.
204 Council of Trent (1551): DS 1642; cf. ⇒ Mt 26:26 ff.; ⇒ Mk 14:22 ff.; ⇒ Lk 22:19 ff.; ⇒ 1 Cor 11:24 ff.
205 Cf. Council of Trent: DS 1641.
206 Paul VI, MF 56.
207 ⇒ Jn 13:1.
208 Cf. ⇒ Gal 2:20.
209 John Paul II, Dominicae cenae, 3.
210 St. Thomas Aquinas, STh III, 75, 1; cf. Paul VI, MF 18; St. Cyril of Alexandria, In Luc. 22, 19: PG 72, 912; cf. Paul VI, MF 18.
211 St. Thomas Aquinas (attr.), Adoro te devote; tr. Gerard Manley Hopkins.



Year of Faith Catechism Study: CCC 1223-1228, 1278 – Christ’s Baptism and Baptism in the Church

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

Today’s Catechism sections discuss Christ’s Baptism and Baptism in the Church. Supporting material comes from St. Ambrose in “On the Mysteries”.

Christ's Baptism

1223 All the Old Covenant prefigurations find their fulfillment in Christ Jesus. He begins his public life after having himself baptized by St. John the Baptist in the Jordan.17 After his resurrection Christ gives this mission to his apostles: "Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you."18

1224 Our Lord voluntarily submitted himself to the baptism of St. John, intended for sinners, in order to "fulfill all righteousness."19 Jesus' gesture is a manifestation of his self-emptying.20 The Spirit who had hovered over the waters of the first creation descended then on the Christ as a prelude of the new creation, and the Father revealed Jesus as his "beloved Son."21

1225 In his Passover Christ opened to all men the fountain of Baptism. He had already spoken of his Passion, which he was about to suffer in Jerusalem, as a "Baptism" with which he had to be baptized.22 The blood and water that flowed from the pierced side of the crucified Jesus are types of Baptism and the Eucharist, the sacraments of new life.23 From then on, it is possible "to be born of water and the Spirit"24 in order to enter the Kingdom of God.

See where you are baptized, see where Baptism comes from, if not from the cross of Christ, from his death. There is the whole mystery: he died for you. In him you are redeemed, in him you are saved.25

Baptism in the Church

1226 From the very day of Pentecost the Church has celebrated and administered holy Baptism. Indeed St. Peter declares to the crowd astounded by his preaching: "Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit."26 The apostles and their collaborators offer Baptism to anyone who believed in Jesus: Jews, the God-fearing, pagans.27 Always, Baptism is seen as connected with faith: "Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household," St. Paul declared to his jailer in Philippi. And the narrative continues, the jailer "was baptized at once, with all his family."28

1227 According to the Apostle Paul, the believer enters through Baptism into communion with Christ's death, is buried with him, and rises with him:

Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.29

The baptized have "put on Christ."30 Through the Holy Spirit, Baptism is a bath that purifies, justifies, and sanctifies.31

1228 Hence Baptism is a bath of water in which the "imperishable seed" of the Word of God produces its life-giving effect.32 St. Augustine says of Baptism: "The word is brought to the material element, and it becomes a sacrament."33

IN BRIEF

1278 The essential rite of Baptism consists in immersing the candidate in water or pouring water on his head, while pronouncing the invocation of the Most Holy Trinity: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

In “On the Mysteries” (4, 20), St. Ambrose discusses Baptism.

20. Therefore read that the three witnesses in baptism, the water, the blood, and the Spirit, 1 John 5:7 are one, for if you take away one of these, the Sacrament of Baptism does not exist. For what is water without the cross of Christ? A common element, without any sacramental effect. Nor, again, is there the Sacrament of Regeneration without water: For except a man be born again of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. John 3:5 Now, even the catechumen believes in the cross of the Lord Jesus, wherewith he too is signed; but unless he be baptized in the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, he cannot receive remission of sins nor gain the gift of spiritual grace.

Footnotes

17 Cf. ⇒ Mt 3:13.
18 ⇒ Mt 28:19-20; cf. ⇒ Mk 16:15-16.
19 ⇒ Mt 3:15.
20 Cf. ⇒ Phil 2:7.
21 ⇒ Mt 3:16-17.
22 ⇒ Mk 10:38; cf. ⇒ Lk 12:50.
23 Cf. ⇒ Jn 19:34; ⇒ 1 Jn 5:6-8.
24 Cf. ⇒ Jn 3:5[ETML:C/].
25 St. Ambrose, De sacr. 2, 2, 6: PL 16, 444; cf. ⇒ Jn 3:5[ETML:C/].
26 ⇒ Acts 2:38.
27 Cf. ⇒ Acts 2:41; ⇒ 8:12-13; ⇒ 10:48; ⇒ 16:15.
28 ⇒ Acts 16:31-33.
29 ⇒ Rom 6:3-4; cf. ⇒ Col 2:12.
30 ⇒ Gal 3:27.
31 CE ⇒ 1 Cor 6:11; ⇒ 12:13.
32 ⇒ 1 Pet 1:23; cf. ⇒ Eph 5:26.
33 St. Augustine, In Jo. ev. 80, 3: PL 35, 1840.



Year of Faith Catechism Study: CCC 981-987 – The Power of the Keys – Forgiveness of sins

clock February 4, 2013 01:02 by author John |

Today’s Catechism sections discuss the power Christ gave in the “Keys to the Kingdom”, particularly, the forgiveness of sins. Supporting material comes from St. Ambrose’s “Concerning Repentance”.

II. The Power of the Keys

981 After his Resurrection, Christ sent his apostles "so that repentance and forgiveness of sins should be preached in his name to all nations."524 The apostles and their successors carry out this "ministry of reconciliation," not only by announcing to men God's forgiveness merited for us by Christ, and calling them to conversion and faith; but also by communicating to them the forgiveness of sins in Baptism, and reconciling them with God and with the Church through the power of the keys, received from Christ:525

[The Church] has received the keys of the Kingdom of heaven so that, in her, sins may be forgiven through Christ's blood and the Holy Spirit's action. In this Church, the soul dead through sin comes back to life in order to live with Christ, whose grace has saved us.526

982 There is no offense, however serious, that the Church cannot forgive. "There is no one, however wicked and guilty, who may not confidently hope for forgiveness, provided his repentance is honest.527 Christ who died for all men desires that in his Church the gates of forgiveness should always be open to anyone who turns away from sin.528

983 Catechesis strives to awaken and nourish in the faithful faith in the incomparable greatness of the risen Christ's gift to his Church: the mission and the power to forgive sins through the ministry of the apostles and their successors:

The Lord wills that his disciples possess a tremendous power: that his lowly servants accomplish in his name all that he did when he was on earth.529
Priests have received from God a power that he has given neither to angels nor to archangels .... God above confirms what priests do here below.530
Were there no forgiveness of sins in the Church, there would be no hope of life to come or eternal liberation. Let us thank God who has given his Church such a gift.531

984 The Creed links "the forgiveness of sins" with its profession of faith in the Holy Spirit, for the risen Christ entrusted to the apostles the power to forgive sins when he gave them the Holy Spirit.

985 Baptism is the first and chief sacrament of the forgiveness of sins: it unites us to Christ, who died and rose, and gives us the Holy Spirit.

986 By Christ's will, the Church possesses the power to forgive the sins of the baptized and exercises it through bishops and priests normally in the sacrament of Penance.

987 "In the forgiveness of sins, both priests and sacraments are instruments which our Lord Jesus Christ, the only author and liberal giver of salvation, wills to use in order to efface our sins and give us the grace of justification" (Roman Catechism, I, 11, 6).

The following except comes from St. Ambrose’s work, “Concerning Repentance”. (1,1)

1. If the highest end of virtue is that which aims at the advancement of most, gentleness is the most lovely of all, which does not hurt even those whom it condemns, and usually renders those whom it condemns worthy of absolution. Moreover, it is the only virtue which has led to the increase of the Church which the Lord sought at the price of His own Blood, imitating the loving kindness of heaven, and aiming at the redemption of all, seeks this end with a gentleness which the ears of men can endure, in presence of which their hearts do not sink, nor their spirits quail.

2. For he who endeavours to amend the faults of human weakness ought to bear this very weakness on his own shoulders, let it weigh upon himself, not cast it off. For we read that the Shepherd in the Gospel Luke 15:5 carried the weary sheep, and did not cast it off. And Solomon says: Be not overmuch righteous; Ecclesiastes 7:17 for restraint should temper righteousness. For how shall he offer himself to you for healing whom you despise, who thinks that he will be an object of contempt, not of compassion, to his physician?

3. Therefore had the Lord Jesus compassion upon us in order to call us to Himself, not frighten us away. He came in meekness, He came in humility, and so He said: Come unto Me, all you that labour and are heavy laden, and I will refresh you. Matthew 11:28 So, then, the Lord Jesus refreshes, and does not shut out nor cast off, and fitly chose such disciples as should be interpreters of the Lord's will, as should gather together and not drive away the people of God. Whence it is clear that they are not to be counted among the disciples of Christ, who think that harsh and proud opinions should be followed rather than such as are gentle and meek; persons who, while they themselves seek God's mercy, deny it to others, such as are the teachers of the Novatians, who call themselves pure.

4. What can show more pride than this, since the Scripture says: No one is free from sin, not even an infant of a day old; and David cries out: Cleanse me from my sin. Are they more holy than David, of whose family Christ vouchsafed to be born in the mystery of the Incarnation, whose descendant is that heavenly Hall which received the world's Redeemer in her virgin womb? For what is more harsh than to inflict a penance which they do not relax, and by refusing pardon to take away the incentive to penance and repentance? Now no one can repent to good purpose unless he hopes for mercy.

Footnotes

524 ⇒ Lk 24:47.
525 ⇒ 2 Cor 5:18.
526 St. Augustine, Sermo 214, 11: PL 38, 1071-1072.
527 Roman Catechism I, 11, 5.
528 Cf. ⇒ Mt 18:21-22.
529 Cf. St. Ambrose, De poenit. I, 15: PL 16, 490.
530 John Chrysostom, De sac. 3, 5: PG 48, 643.
531 St. Augustine, Sermo 213, 8: PL 38,1064.



Year of Faith Catechism Study: CCC 748-757, 777 – The Church and Her Symbols

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

Today’s Catechism sections discuss the Church and her names and symbols. Supporting material comes from St. Ambrose’s “Exposition on the Christian Faith”.

Article 9

"I BELIEVE IN THE HOLY CATHOLIC CHURCH"

748 "Christ is the light of humanity; and it is, accordingly, the heart-felt desire of this sacred Council, being gathered together in the Holy Spirit, that, by proclaiming his Gospel to every creature, it may bring to all men that light of Christ which shines out visibly from the Church."135 These words open the Second Vatican Council's Dogmatic Constitution on the Church. By choosing this starting point, the Council demonstrates that the article of faith about the Church depends entirely on the articles concerning Christ Jesus. The Church has no other light than Christ's; according to a favorite image of the Church Fathers, the Church is like the moon, all its light reflected from the sun.

749 The article concerning the Church also depends entirely on the article about the Holy Spirit, which immediately precedes it. "Indeed, having shown that the Spirit is the source and giver of all holiness, we now confess that it is he who has endowed the Church with holiness."136 The Church is, in a phrase used by the Fathers, the place "where the Spirit flourishes."137

750 To believe that the Church is "holy" and "catholic," and that she is "one" and "apostolic" (as the Nicene Creed adds), is inseparable from belief in God, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. In the Apostles' Creed we profess "one Holy Church" (Credo . . . Ecclesiam), and not to believe in the Church, so as not to confuse God with his works and to attribute clearly to God's goodness all the gifts he has bestowed on his Church.138

Paragraph 1. THE CHURCH IN GOD'S PLAN

I. NAMES AND IMAGES OF THE CHURCH

751 The word "Church" (Latin ecclesia, from the Greek ek-ka-lein, to "call out of") means a convocation or an assembly. It designates the assemblies of the people, usually for a religious purpose.139 Ekklesia is used frequently in the Greek Old Testament for the assembly of the Chosen People before God, above all for their assembly on Mount Sinai where Israel received the Law and was established by God as his holy people.140 By calling itself "Church," the first community of Christian believers recognized itself as heir to that assembly. In the Church, God is "calling together" his people from all the ends of the earth. The equivalent Greek term Kyriake, from which the English word Church and the German Kirche are derived, means "what belongs to the Lord."

752 In Christian usage, the word "church" designates the liturgical assembly,141 but also the local community142 or the whole universal community of believers.143 These three meanings are inseparable. "The Church" is the People that God gathers in the whole world. She exists in local communities and is made real as a liturgical, above all a Eucharistic, assembly. She draws her life from the word and the Body of Christ and so herself becomes Christ's Body.

Symbols of the Church

753 In Scripture, we find a host of interrelated images and figures through which Revelation speaks of the inexhaustible mystery of the Church. The images taken from the Old Testament are variations on a profound theme: the People of God. In the New Testament, all these images find a new center because Christ has become the head of this people, which henceforth is his Body.144 Around this center are grouped images taken "from the life of the shepherd or from cultivation of the land, from the art of building or from family life and marriage."145

754 "The Church is, accordingly, a sheepfold, the sole and necessary gateway to which is Christ. It is also the flock of which God himself foretold that he would be the shepherd, and whose sheep, even though governed by human shepherds, are unfailingly nourished and led by Christ himself, the Good Shepherd and Prince of Shepherds, who gave his life for his sheep.146

755 "The Church is a cultivated field, the tillage of God. On that land the ancient olive tree grows whose holy roots were the prophets and in which the reconciliation of Jews and Gentiles has been brought about and will be brought about again. That land, like a choice vineyard, has been planted by the heavenly cultivator. Yet the true vine is Christ who gives life and fruitfulness to the branches, that is, to us, who through the Church remain in Christ, without whom we can do nothing.147

756 "Often, too, the Church is called the building of God. The Lord compared himself to the stone which the builders rejected, but which was made into the comer-stone. On this foundation the Church is built by the apostles and from it the Church receives solidity and unity. This edifice has many names to describe it: the house of God in which his family dwells; the household of God in the Spirit; the dwelling-place of God among men; and, especially, the holy temple. This temple, symbolized in places of worship built out of stone, is praised by the Fathers and, not without reason, is compared in the liturgy to the Holy City, the New Jerusalem. As living stones we here on earth are built into it. It is this holy city that is seen by John as it comes down out of heaven from God when the world is made anew, prepared like a bride adorned for her husband.148

757 "The Church, further, which is called 'that Jerusalem which is above' and 'our mother', is described as the spotless spouse of the spotless lamb. It is she whom Christ 'loved and for whom he delivered himself up that he might sanctify her.' It is she whom he unites to himself by an unbreakable alliance, and whom he constantly 'nourishes and cherishes.'"149

IN BRIEF

777 The word "Church" means "convocation." It designates the assembly of those whom God's Word "convokes," i.e., gathers together to form the People of God, and who themselves, nourished with the Body of Christ, become the Body of Christ.

St. Ambrose discusses the symbol of a bride of Christ, which is attached to the Church in his “Exposition on the Christian Faith”.

71. Moses was not the Bridegroom, for to him comes the word, Loose your shoe from off your foot, Exodus 3:5 that he might give place to his Lord. Nor was Joshua, the son of Nun, the Bridegroom, for to him also it was told, saying, Loose your shoe from off your foot, Joshua 5:16 lest, by reason of the likeness of his name, he should be thought the spouse of the Church. None other is the Bridegroom but Christ alone, of Whom St. John said: He Who has the bride is the Bridegroom. John 3:29 They, therefore, loose their shoes, but His shoe cannot be loosed, even as St. John said: I am not worthy to loose the latchet of His shoe. John 1:27

72. Christ alone, then, is the Bridegroom to Whom the Church, His bride, comes from the nations, and gives herself in wedlock; aforetime poor and starving, but now rich with Christ's harvest; gathering in the hidden bosom of her mind handfuls of the rich crop and gleanings of the Word, that so she may nourish with fresh food her who is worn out, bereaved by the death of her son, and starving, even the mother of the dead people—leaving not the widow and destitute, while she seeks new children.

73. Christ, then, alone is the Bridegroom, grudging not even to the synagogue the sheaves of His harvest. Would that the synagogue had not of her own will shut herself out! She had sheaves that she might herself have gathered, but, her people being dead, she, like one bereaved by the death of her son, began to gather sheaves, whereby she might live, by the hand of the Church— the which sheaves they who come in joyfulness shall carry, even as it is written: Yet surely shall they come with joy, bringing their sheaves with them.

74. Who, indeed, but Christ could dare to claim the Church as His bride, whom He alone, and none other, has called from Libanus, saying: Come hither from Libanus, my bride; come hither from Libanus? Song of Songs 4:8 Or of Whom else could the Church have said: His throat is sweetness, and He is altogether desirable? Song of Songs 5:26 And seeing that we entered upon this discussion from speaking of the shoes of His feet—to Whom else but the Word of God incarnate can those words apply? His legs are pillars of marble, set upon bases of gold. Song of Songs 5:15 For Christ alone walks in the souls and makes His path in the minds of His saints, in which, as upon bases of gold and foundations of precious stone the heavenly Word has left His footprints ineffaceably impressed.

Footnotes

135 LG 1; cf. ⇒ Mk 16:15.
136 Roman Catechism I, 10, 1.
137 St. Hippolytus, Trad. Ap. 35: SCh 11, 118.
138 Roman Catechism I, 10, 22.
139 Cf. ⇒ Acts 19:39.
140 Cf. ⇒ Ex 19.
141 Cf. ⇒ 1 Cor 11:18; ⇒ 14:19, ⇒ 28, ⇒ 34, ⇒ 35.
142 Cf. ⇒ 1 Cor 1:2; ⇒ 16:1.
143 Cf. ⇒ 1 Cor 15:9; ⇒ Gal 1:13; ⇒ Phil 3:6.
144 Cf. ⇒ Eph 1:22; ⇒ Col 1:18; LG 9.
145 LG 6.
146 LG 6; Cf. ⇒ Jn 10:1-10; ⇒ Isa 40:11; ⇒ Ezek 34:11-31; ⇒ Jn 10:11; ⇒ 1 Pet 5:4; ⇒ Jn 10:11-16.
147 LG 6; Cf. 1 Cor 39; ⇒ Rom 11:13-26; ⇒ Mt 21:32-43 and parallels; ⇒ Isa 51-7; ⇒ Jn 15:1-5.
148 LG 6; Cf. ⇒ 1 Cor 3:9; ⇒ Mt 21:42 and parallels; ⇒ Acts 4:11; ⇒ 1 Pet 2:7; ⇒ PS 118:22; ⇒ 1 Cor 3:11; ⇒ 1 Tim 3:15; ⇒ Eph 2:19-22; ⇒ Rev 21:3; ⇒ 1 Pet 2:5; ⇒ Rev 21:1-2.
149 LG 6; Cf. ⇒ Gal 4:26; ⇒ Rev 12:17; ⇒ 19:7; ⇒ 21:2, 9; ⇒ 22:17; ⇒ Eph 5:25-26, ⇒ 29.



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 709 – 716 – The Workings of the Spirit in the Kingdom, Exile, and Prophecy

clock January 4, 2013 01:02 by author John |

Today’s Catechism sections discuss the workings of the Holy Spirit in the Kingdom, Exile, and prophecy of our Lord. Supporting material comes from St. Ambrose’s “On the Holy Spirit”.

In the Kingdom and the Exile

709 The Law, the sign of God's promise and covenant, ought to have governed the hearts and institutions of that people to whom Abraham's faith gave birth. "If you will obey my voice and keep my covenant, . . . you shall be to me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation."75 But after David, Israel gave in to the temptation of becoming a kingdom like other nations. The Kingdom, however, the object of the promise made to David,76 would be the work of the Holy Spirit; it would belong to the poor according to the Spirit.

710 The forgetting of the Law and the infidelity to the covenant end in death: it is the Exile, apparently the failure of the promises, which is in fact the mysterious fidelity of the Savior God and the beginning of a promised restoration, but according to the Spirit. The People of God had to suffer this purification.77 In God's plan, the Exile already stands in the shadow of the Cross, and the Remnant of the poor that returns from the Exile is one of the most transparent prefigurations of the Church.

Expectation of the Messiah and his Spirit

711 "Behold, I am doing a new thing."78 Two prophetic lines were to develop, one leading to the expectation of the Messiah, the other pointing to the announcement of a new Spirit. They converge in the small Remnant, the people of the poor, who await in hope the "consolation of Israel" and "the redemption of Jerusalem."79

We have seen earlier how Jesus fulfills the prophecies concerning himself. We limit ourselves here to those in which the relationship of the Messiah and his Spirit appears more clearly.

712 The characteristics of the awaited Messiah begin to appear in the "Book of Emmanuel" ("Isaiah said this when he saw his glory,"80 speaking of Christ), especially in the first two verses of Isaiah 11: 81

There shall come forth a shoot from the stump of Jesse,
and a branch shall grow out of his roots.
and the Spirit of the LORD shall rest upon him,
the spirit of wisdom and understanding,
the spirit of counsel and might,
the spirit of knowledge and the fear of the LORD.

713 The Messiah's characteristics are revealed above all in the "Servant songs."82 These songs proclaim the meaning of Jesus' Passion and show how he will pour out the Holy Spirit to give life to the many: not as an outsider, but by embracing our "form as slave."83 Taking our death upon himself, he can communicate to us his own Spirit of life.

714 This is why Christ inaugurates the proclamation of the Good News by making his own the following passage from Isaiah:84

The Spirit of the LORD God is upon me, because the LORD has anointed me to bring good tidings to the afflicted; he has sent me to bind up the broken hearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound; to proclaim the year of the LORD'S favor.

715 The prophetic texts that directly concern the sending of the Holy Spirit are oracles by which God speaks to the heart of his people in the language of the promise, with the accents of "love and fidelity."85 St. Peter will proclaim their fulfillment on the morning of Pentecost.86 According to these promises, at the "end time" the Lord's Spirit will renew the hearts of men, engraving a new law in them. He will gather and reconcile the scattered and divided peoples; he will transform the first creation, and God will dwell there with men in peace.

716 The People of the "poor"87 - those who, humble and meek, rely solely on their God's mysterious plans, who await the justice, not of men but of the Messiah - are in the end the great achievement of the Holy Spirit's hidden mission during the time of the promises that prepare for Christ's coming. It is this quality of heart, purified and enlightened by the Spirit, which is expressed in the Psalms. In these poor, the Spirit is making ready "a people prepared for the Lord."88

St. Ambrose comments on the role of the Holy Spirit in the sending of the prophets in his “On the Holy Spirit” (Book III):

1. In the former book we have shown by the clear evidence of the Scriptures that the apostles and prophets were appointed, the latter to prophesy, the former to preach the Gospel, by the Holy Spirit in the same way as by the Father and the Son; now we add what all will rightly wonder at, and not be able to doubt, that the Spirit was upon Christ; and that as He sent the Spirit, so the Spirit sent the Son of God. For the Son of God says: The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, because He has anointed Me, He has sent Me to preach the Gospel to the poor, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and sight to the blind. And having read this from the Book of Isaiah, He says in the Gospel: Today has this Scripture been fulfilled in your ears; (Luke 4:21) that He might point out that it was said of Himself.

2. Can we, then, wonder if the Spirit sent both the prophets and the apostles, since Christ said: The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me? And rightly did He say upon Me, because He was speaking as the Son of Man. For as the Son of Man He was anointed and sent to preach the Gospel.

3. But if they believe not the Son, let them hear the Father also saying that the Spirit of the Lord is upon Christ. For He says to John: Upon whomsoever you shall see the Spirit descending from heaven and abiding upon Him, He it is Who baptizes with the Holy Spirit. (John 1:33) God the Father said this to John, and John heard and saw and believed. He heard from God, he saw in the Lord, he believed that it was the Spirit Who was coming down from heaven. For it was not a dove that descended, but the Holy Spirit as a dove; for thus it is written: I saw the Spirit descending from heaven as a dove. (John 1:32)

4. As John says that he saw, so, too, wrote Mark; Luke, however, added that the Holy Spirit descended in a bodily form as a dove; you must not think that this was an incarnation, but an appearance. He, then, brought the appearance before him, that by means of the appearance he might believe who did not see the Spirit, and that by the appearance He might manifest that He had a share of the one honour in authority, the one operation in the mystery, the one gift in the bath, together with the Father and the Son; unless perchance we consider Him in Whom the Lord was baptized too weak for the servant to be baptized in Him.

5. And he said fittingly, abiding upon Him, (John 1:33) because the Spirit inspired a saying or acted upon the prophets as often as He would, but abode always in Christ.

Footnotes

75 ⇒ Ex 19:5-6; Cf. ⇒ 1 Pet 2:9.
76 Cf. ⇒ 2 Sam 7; ⇒ Ps 89; ⇒ Lk 1:32-33.
77 Cf. ⇒ Lk 24:26.
78 ⇒ Isa 43:19.
79 Cf. ⇒ Zeph 2:3; ⇒ Lk 2:25, ⇒ 38.
80 ⇒ Jn 12:41; cf. ⇒ Isa 6-12.
81 ⇒ Isa 11:1-2.
82 Cf. ⇒ Isa 42:1-9; cf. ⇒ Mt 12:18-21; ⇒ Jn 1:32-34; then cf. ⇒ Isa 49:1-6; cf. ⇒ Mt 3:17; ⇒ Lk 2:32; finally cf. ⇒ Isa 50:4-10 and ⇒ Isa 52:13-53:12.
83 ⇒ Phil 2:7.
84 ⇒ Isa 61:1-2; cf. ⇒ Lk 4:18-19.
85 Cf. ⇒ Ezek 11:19; ⇒ 36:25-28; ⇒ 37:1-14; ⇒ Jer 31:31-34; and cf. ⇒ Joel 3:1-5.
86 Cf. ⇒ Acts 2:17-21.
87 Cf. ⇒ Zeph 2:3; ⇒ Pss 22:27; ⇒ 34:3; ⇒ Isa 49:13; ⇒ 61:1; etc.
88 ⇒ Lk 1:17.



Year of Faith Catechism Study: CCC 702-708 – The Holy Spirit in the Time of the Promises

clock January 3, 2013 01:02 by author John |

Today’s Catechism sections discuss the Holy Spirit in creation, the Promises, theophanies, and the Law. Supporting material comes from St. Ambrose’s “On the Holy Spirit”.

III. God's Spirit and Word in the Time of the Promises

702 From the beginning until "the fullness of time,"60 the joint mission of the Father's Word and Spirit remains hidden, but it is at work. God's Spirit prepares for the time of the Messiah. Neither is fully revealed but both are already promised, to be watched for and welcomed at their manifestation. So, for this reason, when the Church reads the Old Testament, she searches there for what the Spirit, "who has spoken through the prophets," wants to tell us about Christ.61

By "prophets" the faith of the Church here understands all whom the Holy Spirit inspired in the composition of the sacred books, both of the Old and the New Testaments. Jewish tradition distinguishes first the Law (the five first books or Pentateuch), then the Prophets (our historical and prophetic books) and finally the Writings (especially the wisdom literature, in particular the Psalms).62

In creation

703 The Word of God and his Breath are at the origin of the being and life of every creature:63

It belongs to the Holy Spirit to rule, sanctify, and animate creation, for he is God, consubstantial with the Father and the Son.... Power over life pertains to the Spirit, for being God he preserves creation in the Father through the Son.64

704 "God fashioned man with his own hands [that is, the Son and the Holy Spirit] and impressed his own form on the flesh he had fashioned, in such a way that even what was visible might bear the divine form."65

The Spirit of the promise

705 Disfigured by sin and death, man remains "in the image of God," in the image of the Son, but is deprived "of the glory of God,"66 of his "likeness." the promise made to Abraham inaugurates the economy of salvation, at the culmination of which the Son himself will assume that "image"67 and restore it in the Father's "likeness" by giving it again its Glory, the Spirit who is "the giver of life."

706 Against all human hope, God promises descendants to Abraham, as the fruit of faith and of the power of the Holy Spirit.68 In Abraham's progeny all the nations of the earth will be blessed. This progeny will be Christ himself,69 in whom the outpouring of the Holy Spirit will "gather into one the children of God who are scattered abroad."70 God commits himself by his own solemn oath to giving his beloved Son and "the promised Holy Spirit . . . [who is] the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it."71

In Theophanies and the Law

707 Theophanies (manifestations of God) light up the way of the promise, from the patriarchs to Moses and from Joshua to the visions that inaugurated the missions of the great prophets. Christian tradition has always recognized that God's Word allowed himself to be seen and heard in these theophanies, in which the cloud of the Holy Spirit both revealed him and concealed him in its shadow.

708 This divine pedagogy appears especially in the gift of the Law.72 God gave the letter of the Law as a "pedagogue" to lead his people towards Christ.73 But the Law's powerlessness to save man deprived of the divine "likeness," along with the growing awareness of sin that it imparts,74 enkindles a desire for the Holy Spirit. The lamentations of the Psalms bear witness to this.

St. Ambrose explains the role of the Holy Spirit in Creation in his work, “On the Holy Spirit” (Book II, Chapter V).

32. But who can doubt that the Holy Spirit gives life to all things; since both He, as the Father and the Son, is the Creator of all things; and the Almighty Father is understood to have done nothing without the Holy Spirit; and since also in the beginning of the creation the Spirit moved upon the water.

33. So when the Spirit was moving upon the water, the creation was without grace; but after this world being created underwent the operation of the Spirit, it gained all the beauty of that grace, wherewith the world is illuminated. And that the grace of the universe cannot abide without the Holy Spirit the prophet declared when he said: You will take away Your Spirit, and they will fail and be turned again into their dust. Send forth Your Spirit, and they shall be made, and You will renew all the face of the earth. Not only, then, did he teach that no creature can stand without the Holy Spirit, but also that the Spirit is the Creator of the whole creation.

34. And who can deny that the creation of the earth is the work of the Holy Spirit, Whose work it is that it is renewed? For if they desire to deny that it was created by the Spirit, since they cannot deny that it must be renewed by the Spirit, they who desire to sever the Persons must maintain that the operation of the Holy Spirit is superior to that of the Father and the Son, which is far from the truth; for there is no doubt that the restored earth is better than it was created. Or if at first, without the operation of the Holy Spirit, the Father and the Son made the earth, but the operation of the Holy Spirit was joined on afterwards, it will seem that that which was made required His aid, which was then added. But far be it from any one to think this, namely, that the divine work should be believed to have a change in the Creator, an error brought in by Manicheus.

Footnotes

60 ⇒ Gal 4:4.
61 Cf. ⇒ 2 Cor 3:14; ⇒ Jn 5:39, ⇒ 46.
62 Cf. ⇒ Lk 24:44.
63 Cf. ⇒ Pss 33:6; ⇒ 104:30; ⇒ Gen 1:2; ⇒ 2:7; ⇒ Eccl 3:20-21; ⇒ Ezek 37:10.
64 Byzantine liturgy, Sundays of the second mode, Troparion of Morning Prayer.
65 St. Irenaeus, Dem ap. 11: SCh 62, 48-49.
66 ⇒ Rom 3:23.
67 Cf. ⇒ Jn 1:14; ⇒ Phil 2:7.
68 Cf. ⇒ Gen 18:1-15; ⇒ Lk 1:26-38. ⇒ 54-55; ⇒ Jn 1:12-13; ⇒ Rom 4:16-21.
69 Cf. ⇒ Gen 12:3; ⇒ Gal 3:16.
70 Cf. In 11:52.
71 ⇒ Eph 1:13-14; cf. ⇒ Gen 22:17-19; ⇒ Lk 1:73; ⇒ Jn 3:16; ⇒ Rom 8:32; ⇒ Gal 3:14.
72 Cf. ⇒ Ex 19- ⇒ 20; ⇒ Deut 1-11; ⇒ 29-30.
73 ⇒ Gal 3:24.
74 Cf. ⇒ Rom 3:20.



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

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

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

CHAPTER THREE

I BELIEVE IN THE HOLY SPIRIT

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

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

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

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

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

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

ARTICLE 8

"I BELIEVE IN THE HOLY SPIRIT"

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Footnotes

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



Solemn Charge | Year of Faith Catechism Study: CCC 2656-2660, 2662 –The Theological Virtues and Prayer

Year of Faith Catechism Study: CCC 2656-2660, 2662 –The Theological Virtues and Prayer

clock August 31, 2013 01:02 by author John |

Today’s Catechism sections discuss the theological virtues as they pertain to prayer. Supporting material comes from the “Summa Theologica”.

The theological virtues

2656 One enters into prayer as one enters into liturgy: by the narrow gate of faith. Through the signs of his presence, it is the Face of the Lord that we seek and desire; it is his Word that we want to hear and keep.

2657 The Holy Spirit, who instructs us to celebrate the liturgy in expectation of Christ's return, teaches us - to pray in hope. Conversely, the prayer of the Church and personal prayer nourish hope in us. The psalms especially, with their concrete and varied language, teach us to fix our hope in God: "I waited patiently for the LORD; he inclined to me and heard my cry."8 As St. Paul prayed: "May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope."9

2658 "Hope does not disappoint us, because God's love has been poured into our hearts by the Holy Spirit who has been given to us."10 Prayer, formed by the liturgical life, draws everything into the love by which we are loved in Christ and which enables us to respond to him by loving as he has loved us. Love is the source of prayer; whoever draws from it reaches the summit of prayer. In the words of the Cure of Ars:

I love you, O my God, and my only desire is to love you until the last breath of my life. I love you, O my infinitely lovable God, and I would rather die loving you, than live without loving you. I love you, Lord, and the only grace I ask is to love you eternally.... My God, if my tongue cannot say in every moment that I love you, I want my heart to repeat it to you as often as I draw breath.11

"Today"

2659 We learn to pray at certain moments by hearing the Word of the Lord and sharing in his Paschal mystery, but his Spirit is offered us at all times, in the events of each day, to make prayer spring up from us. Jesus' teaching about praying to our Father is in the same vein as his teaching about providence:12 time is in the Father's hands; it is in the present that we encounter him, not yesterday nor tomorrow, but today: "O that today you would hearken to his voice! Harden not your hearts."13

2660 Prayer in the events of each day and each moment is one of the secrets of the kingdom revealed to "little children," to the servants of Christ, to the poor of the Beatitudes. It is right and good to pray so that the coming of the kingdom of justice and peace may influence the march of history, but it is just as important to bring the help of prayer into humble, everyday situations; all forms of prayer can be the leaven to which the Lord compares the kingdom.14

IN BRIEF

2662 The Word of God, the liturgy of the Church, and the virtues of faith, hope, and charity are sources of prayer.

In the “Summa Theologica”, (Secunda Secundæ Partis, 83, 3), St. Thomas Aquinas discusses prayer.

Article 3. Whether prayer is an act of religion?

Objection 1. It would seem that prayer is not an act of religion. Since religion is a part of justice, it resides in the will as in its subject.

But prayer belongs to the intellective part, as stated above (Article 1). Therefore prayer seems to be an act, not of religion, but of the gift of understanding whereby the mind ascends to God.

Objection 2. Further, the act of "latria" falls under a necessity of precept.

But prayer does not seem to come under a necessity of precept, but to come from the mere will, since it is nothing else than a petition for what we will. Therefore prayer seemingly is not an act of religion.

Objection 3. Further, it seems to belong to religion that one "offers worship end ceremonial rites to the Godhead" [Cicero, Rhet. ii, 53. But prayer seems not to offer anything to God, but to. ask to obtain something from Him. Therefore prayer is not an act of religion.

On the contrary, It is written (Psalm 140:2): "Let my prayer be directed as incense in Thy sight": and a gloss on the passage says that "it was to signify this that under the old Law incense was said to be offered for a sweet smell to the Lord." Now this belongs to religion. Therefore prayer is an act of religion.

I answer that, As stated above (81, 2,4), it belongs properly to religion to show honor to God, wherefore all those things through which reverence is shown to God, belong to religion. Now man shows reverence to God by means of prayer, in so far as he subjects himself to Him, and by praying confesses that he needs Him as the Author of his goods. Hence it is evident that prayer is properly an act of religion.

Reply to Objection 1. The will moves the other powers of the soul to its end, as stated above (82, 1, ad 1), and therefore religion, which is in the will, directs the acts of the other powers to the reverence of God. Now among the other powers of the soul the intellect is the highest, and the nearest to the will; and consequently after devotion which belongs to the will, prayer which belongs to the intellective part is the chief of the acts of religion, since by it religion directs man's intellect to God.

Reply to Objection 2. It is a matter of precept not only that we should ask for what we desire, but also that we should desire aright. But to desire comes under a precept of charity, whereas to ask comes under a precept of religion, which precept is expressed in Matthew 7:7, where it is said: "Ask and ye shall receive" [Vulgate: 'Ask and it shall be given you.'].

Reply to Objection 3. By praying man surrenders his mind to God, since he subjects it to Him with reverence and, so to speak, presents it to Him, as appears from the words of Dionysius quoted above (1, Objection 1). Wherefore just as the human mind excels exterior things, whether bodily members, or those external things that are employed for God's service, so too, prayer surpasses other acts of religion.

Footnotes

8 ⇒ Ps 40:2.
9 ⇒ Rom 15:13.
10 ⇒ Rom 5:5.
11 St. John Vianney, Prayer.
12 Cf. ⇒ Mt 6:11, ⇒ 34.
13 ⇒ Ps 95:7-8.
14 Cf. ⇒ Lk 13:20-21.

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John is a Roman Catholic husband, father of 4 and a big fan of human life, traditional marriage, objective truth, and common sense. View all posts by John →


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