9780385508193

Catechism of the Catholic Church

by
  • ISBN13:

    9780385508193

  • ISBN10:

    0385508190

  • Edition: 2nd
  • Format: Hardcover
  • Copyright: 2003-03-04
  • Publisher: Image

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Summary

Four centuries in the making, a monumental undertaking and a magnificent achievement, the first definitive Catholic Catechism since the Council of Trent in 1566 details the doctrine, dogma, and the basic tenets of the Church. From the Trade Paperback edition.

Table of Contents

Apostolic Constitution Fidei Depositum on the Publication of the Catechism of the Catholic Church 1(8)
Prologue 9(1)
The Life of Man---To Know and Love God
9(1)
Handing on the Faith: Catechesis
10(1)
The Aim and Intended Readership of This Catechism
11(1)
Structure of This Catechism
12(1)
Practical Directions for Using This Catechism
13(1)
Necessary Adaptations
14(3)
PART ONE: THE PROFESSION OF FAITH
17(1)
Section One: ``I Believe''---``We Believe''
17(284)
Man's Capacity for God
17(6)
The Desire for God
17(2)
Ways of Coming to Know God
19(1)
The Knowledge of God according to the Church
20(1)
How Can We Speak about God?
21(1)
In Brief
22(1)
God Comes to Meet Man
23(21)
The Revelation of God
23(6)
God Reveals His ``Plan of Loving Goodness''
23(1)
The Stages of Revelation
24(3)
Christ Jesus---``Mediator and Fullness of All Revelation''
27(1)
In Brief
28(1)
The Transmission on Divine Revelation
29(6)
The Apostolic Tradition
29(2)
The Relationship between Tradition and Sacred Scripture
31(1)
The Interpretation of the Heritage of Faith
32(3)
In Brief
35(1)
Sacred Scripture
35(9)
Christ---The Unique Word of Sacred Scripture
35(1)
Inspiration and Truth of Sacred Scripture
36(1)
The Holy Spirit, Interpreter of Scripture
37(3)
The Canon of Scripture
40(3)
Sacred Scripture in the Life of the Church
43(1)
In Brief
43(1)
Man's Response to God
44(17)
I Believe
45(6)
The Obedience of Faith
45(1)
``I Know Whom I Have Believed''
46(1)
The Characteristics of Faith
47(4)
We Believe
51(7)
``Lord, Look upon the Faith of Your Church''
52(1)
The Language of Faith
53(1)
Only One Faith
53(1)
In Brief
54(2)
The Credo
56(2)
The Profession of the Christian Faith: The Creeds
58(3)
I Believe in God the Father
61(57)
``I Believe in God the Father Almighty, Creator of Heaven and Earth''
61(1)
I Believe in God
61(8)
``I Believe in One God''
61(1)
God Reveals His Name
62(4)
God, ``He Who Is,'' Is Truth and Love
66(1)
The Implications of Faith in One God
67(1)
In Brief
68(1)
The Father
69(10)
``In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit''
69(2)
The Revelation of God as Trinity
71(3)
The Holy Trinity in the Teaching of the Faith
74(2)
The Divine Works and the Trinitarian Missions
76(2)
In Brief
78(1)
The Almighty
79(3)
In Brief
81(1)
The Creator
82(13)
Catechesis on Creation
82(3)
Creation---Work of the Holy Trinity
85(1)
``The World Was Created for the Glory of God''
86(1)
The Mystery of Creation
87(2)
God Carries Out His Plan: Divine Providence
89(5)
In Brief
94(1)
Heaven and Earth
95(6)
The Angels
95(3)
The Visible World
98(3)
In Brief
101(1)
Man
101(7)
``In the Image of God''
101(2)
``Body and Soul but Truly One''
103(2)
``Male and Female He Created Them''
105(1)
Man in Paradise
106(1)
In Brief
107(1)
The Fall
108(10)
Where Sin Abounded, Grace Abounded All the More
109(1)
The Fall of the Angels
110(1)
Original Sin
111(5)
``You Did Not Abandon Him to the Power of Death''
116(1)
In Brief
117(1)
I Believe in Jesus Christ, the Only Son of God
118(78)
``And in Jesus Christ, His Only Son, Our Lord''
120(7)
Jesus
120(2)
Christ
122(2)
The Only Son of God
124(1)
Lord
125(2)
In Brief
127(1)
``He was Conceived by the Power of the Holy Spirit, and Was Born of the Virgin Mary''
127(1)
The Son of God Became Man
127(9)
Why Did the Word Become Flesh?
127(2)
The Incarnation
129(1)
True God and True Man
130(2)
How Is the Son of God Man?
132(3)
In Brief
135(1)
``Conceived by the Power of the Holy Spirit and Born of the Virgin Mary''
136(7)
Conceived by the Power of the Holy Spirit . . .
136(1)
. . . Born of the Virgin Mary
136(6)
In Brief
142(1)
The Mysteries of Christ's Life
143(18)
Christ's Whole Life Is Mystery
143(3)
The Mysteries of Jesus' Infancy and Hidden Life
146(4)
The Mysteries of Jesus' Public Life
150(9)
In Brief
159(2)
``Jesus Christ Suffered Under Pontius Pilate, was Crucified, Died, and was Buried''
161(1)
Jesus and Israel
161(7)
Jesus and the Law
162(2)
Jesus and the Temple
164(2)
Jesus and Israel's Faith in the One God and Savior
166(1)
In Brief
167(1)
Jesus Died Crucified
168(9)
The Trial of Jesus
168(2)
Christ's Redemptive Death in God's Plan of Salvation
170(2)
Christ Offered Himself to His Father for Our Sins
172(4)
In Brief
176(1)
Jesus Christ Was Buried
177(2)
In Brief
179(1)
``He Descended into Hell. On the Third Day He Rose Again''
179(1)
Christ Descended into Hell
180(2)
In Brief
181(1)
On the Third Day He Rose from the Dead
182(7)
The Historical and Transcendent Event
182(4)
The Resurrection---A Work of the Holy Trinity
186(1)
The Meaning and Saving Significance of the Resurrection
186(2)
In Brief
188(1)
``He Ascended Into Heaven and is Seated at the Right Hand of the Father''
189(2)
In Brief
191(1)
``From Thence He Will Come Again to Judge the Living and the Dead''
191(5)
He Will Come Again in Glory
191(3)
To Judge the Living and the Dead
194(1)
In Brief
195(1)
I Believe in the Holy Spirit
196(105)
``I Believe in the Holy Spirit''
197(17)
The Joint Mission of the Son and the Spirit
198(1)
The Name, Titles, and Symbols of the Holy Spirit
199(4)
God's Spirit and Word in the Time of the Promises
203(4)
The Spirit of Christ in the Fullness of Time
207(3)
The Spirit and the Church in the Last Days
210(3)
In Brief
213(1)
``I Believe in the Holy Catholic Church''
214(1)
The Church in God's Plan
215(9)
Names and Images of the Church
215(2)
The Church's Origin, Foundation, and Mission
217(4)
The Mystery of the Church
221(2)
In Brief
223(1)
The Church---People of God, Body of Christ, Temple of the Holy Spirit
224(8)
The Church---People of God
224(2)
The Church---Body of Christ
226(4)
The Church Is the Temple of the Holy Spirit
230(1)
In Brief
231(1)
The Church Is One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic
232(19)
The Church Is One
233(4)
The Church Is Holy
237(2)
The Church Is Catholic
239(8)
The Church Is Apostolic
247(3)
In Brief
250(1)
Christ's Faithful---Hierarchy, Laity, Consecrated Life
251(17)
The Hierarchical Constitution of the Church
252(6)
The Lay Faithful
258(4)
The Consecrated Life
262(5)
In Brief
267(1)
The Communion of Saints
268(5)
Communion in Spiritual Goods
269(1)
The Communion of the Church of Heaven and Earth
270(2)
In Brief
272(1)
Mary---Mother of Christ, Mother of the Church
273(3)
Mary's Motherhood with Regard to the Church
273(2)
Devotion to the Blessed Virgin
275(1)
Mary---Eschatological Icon of the Church
275(1)
In Brief
276(1)
``I Believe in the Forgiveness of Sins''
276(3)
One Baptism for the Forgiveness of Sins
277(1)
The Power of the Keys
278(1)
In Brief
279(1)
``I Believe in the Resurrection of the Body''
279(8)
Christ's Resurrection and Ours
280(4)
Dying in Christ Jesus
284(3)
In Brief
287(1)
``I Believe in Life Everlasting''
287(14)
The Particular Judgment
288(1)
Heaven
289(2)
The Final Purification, or Purgatory
291(1)
Hell
292(1)
The Last Judgment
293(2)
The Hope of the New Heaven and the New Earth
295(2)
In Brief
297(1)
``Amen''
298(3)
PART TWO: THE CELEBRATION OF THE CHRISTIAN MYSTERY
301(3)
Section One: The Sacramental Economy
304(37)
The Paschal Mystery in the Age of the Church
305(16)
The Liturgy---Work of the Holy Trinity
305(10)
The Father---Source and Goal of the Liturgy
305(2)
Christ's Work in the Liturgy
307(2)
The Holy Spirit and the Church in the Liturgy
309(5)
In Brief
314(1)
The Paschal Mystery in the Church's Sacraments
315(6)
The Sacraments of Christ
315(1)
The Sacraments of the Church
316(1)
The Sacraments of Faith
317(2)
The Sacraments of Salvation
319(1)
The Sacraments of Eternal Life
320(1)
In Brief
320(1)
The Sacramental Celebration of the Paschal Mystery
321(20)
Celebrating the Church's Liturgy
321(17)
Who Celebrates?
321(3)
How Is the Liturgy Celebrated?
324(5)
When Is the Liturgy Celebrated?
329(5)
Where Is the Liturgy Celebrated?
334(2)
In Brief
336(2)
Liturgical Diversity and the Unity of the Mystery
338(3)
In Brief
340(1)
Section Two: The Seven Sacraments of the Church
341(130)
The Sacraments of Christian Initiation
341(55)
The Sacrament of Baptism
342(16)
What Is This Sacrament Called?
342(1)
Baptism in the Economy of Salvation
343(3)
How Is the Sacrament of Baptism Celebrated?
346(3)
Who Can Receive Baptism?
349(3)
Who Can Baptize?
352(1)
The Necessity of Baptism
352(1)
The Grace of Baptism
353(3)
In Brief
356(2)
The Sacrament of Confirmation
358(10)
Confirmation in the Economy of Salvation
358(2)
The Signs and the Rite of Confirmation
360(3)
The Effects of Confirmation
363(1)
Who Can Receive This Sacrament?
364(2)
The Minister of Confirmation
366(1)
In Brief
366(2)
The Sacrament of the Eucharist
368(28)
The Eucharist---Source and Summit of Ecclesial Life
368(1)
What Is This Sacrament Called?
369(2)
The Eucharist in the Economy of Salvation
371(3)
The Liturgical Celebration of the Eucharist
374(4)
The Sacramental Sacrifice: Thanksgiving, Memorial, Presence
378(8)
The Paschal Banquet
386(6)
The Eucharist---``Pledge of the Glory to Come''
392(1)
In Brief
393(3)
The Sacraments of Healing
396(30)
The Sacrament of Penance and Reconciliation
396(21)
What Is This Sacrament Called?
396(1)
Why a Sacrament of Reconciliation after Baptism?
397(1)
The Conversion of the Baptized
398(1)
Interior Penance
399(1)
The Many Forms of Penance in Christian Life
400(1)
The Sacrament of Penance and Reconciliation
401(3)
The Acts of the Penitent
404(4)
The Minister of This Sacrament
408(1)
The Effects of This Sacrament
409(2)
Indulgences
411(2)
The Celebration of the Sacrament of Penance
413(2)
In Brief
415(2)
The Anointing of the Sick
417(9)
Its Foundations in the Economy of Salvation
417(4)
Who Receives and Who Administers This Sacrament?
421(1)
How Is This Sacrament Celebrated?
422(1)
The Effects of the Celebration of This Sacrament
423(1)
Viaticum, the Last Sacrament of the Christian
424(1)
In Brief
424(2)
The Sacraments at the Service of Communion
426(38)
The Sacrament of Holy Orders
427(19)
Why Is This Sacrament Called ``Orders''?
427(1)
The Sacrament of Holy Orders in the Economy of Salvation
428(5)
The Three Degrees of the Sacrament of Holy Orders
433(5)
The Celebration of This Sacrament
438(1)
Who Can Confer This Sacrament?
439(1)
Who Can Receive This Sacrament?
439(2)
The Effects of the Sacrament of Holy Orders
441(3)
In Brief
444(2)
The Sacrament of Matrimony
446(18)
Marriage in God's Plan
446(6)
The Celebration of Marriage
452(1)
Matrimonial Consent
453(3)
The Effects of the Sacrament of Matrimony
456(2)
The Goods and Requirements of Conjugal Love
458(3)
The Domestic Church
461(1)
In Brief
462(2)
Other Liturgical Celebrations
464(7)
Sacramentals
464(3)
In Brief
467(1)
Christian Funerals
467(4)
The Christian's Last Passover
468(1)
The Celebration of Funerals
468(3)
PART THREE: LIFE IN CHRIST
471(3)
Section One: Man's Vocation: Life in the Spirit
474(79)
The Dignity of the Human Person
474(37)
Man: The Image of God
474(3)
In Brief
476(1)
Our Vocation to Beatitude
477(4)
The Beatitudes
477(1)
The Desire for Happiness
478(1)
Christian Beatitude
478(2)
In Brief
480(1)
Man's Freedom
481(4)
Freedom and Responsibility
481(1)
Human Freedom in the Economy of Salvation
482(2)
In Brief
484(1)
The Morality of Human Acts
485(2)
The Sources of Morality
485(1)
Good Acts and Evil Acts
486(1)
In Brief
487(1)
The Morality of the Passions
487(3)
Passions
487(1)
Passions and Moral Life
488(1)
In Brief
489(1)
Moral Conscience
490(5)
The Judgment of Conscience
490(2)
The Formation of Conscience
492(1)
To Choose in Accord with Conscience
492(1)
Erroneous Judgment
493(1)
In Brief
494(1)
The Virtues
495(9)
The Human Virtues
495(3)
The Theological Virtues
498(4)
The Gifts and Fruits of the Holy Spirit
502(1)
In Brief
503(1)
Sin
504(7)
Mercy and Sin
504(1)
The Definition of Sin
505(1)
The Different Kinds of Sins
506(1)
The Gravity of Sin: Mortal and Venial Sin
506(3)
The Proliferation of Sin
509(1)
In Brief
510(1)
The Human Community
511(15)
The Person and Society
511(4)
The Communal Character of the Human Vocation
511(2)
Conversion and Society
513(1)
In Brief
514(1)
Participation in Social Life
515(6)
Authority
515(2)
The Common Good
517(2)
Responsibility and Participation
519(1)
In Brief
520(1)
Social Justice
521(5)
Respect for the Human Person
521(1)
Equality and Differences among Men
522(2)
Human Solidarity
524(1)
In Brief
525(1)
God's Salvation: Law and Grace
526(27)
The Moral Law
526(9)
The Natural Moral Law
527(2)
The Old Law
529(2)
The New Law or the Law of the Gospel
531(3)
In Brief
534(1)
Grace and Justification
535(10)
Justification
535(3)
Grace
538(3)
Merit
541(1)
Christian Holiness
542(2)
In Brief
544(1)
The Church, Mother and Teacher
545(8)
Moral Life and the Magisterium of the Church
546(2)
The Precepts of the Church
548(1)
Moral Life and Missionary Witness
549(1)
In Brief
550(1)
The Ten Commandments
551(2)
Section Two: The Ten Commandments
553(120)
In Brief
559(1)
``You Shall Love the Lord Your God with All Your Heart, and with All Your Soul, and with All Your Mind''
560(27)
The First Commandment
561(14)
``You Shall Worship the Lord Your God and Him Only Shall You Serve''
561(3)
``Him Only Shall You Serve''
564(4)
``You Shall Have No Other Gods before Me''
568(5)
``You Shall Not Make for Yourself a Graven Image . . .''
573(1)
In Brief
574(1)
The Second Commandment
575(5)
The Name of the Lord Is Holy
575(2)
Taking the Name of the Lord in Vain
577(1)
The Christian Name
578(1)
In Brief
579(1)
The Third Commandment
580(7)
The Sabbath Day
580(1)
The Lord's Day
581(5)
In Brief
586(1)
``You Shall Love Your Neighbor as Yourself''
587(86)
The Fourth Commandment
587(15)
The Family in God's Plan
589(1)
The Family and Society
590(2)
The Duties of Family Members
592(4)
The Family and the Kingdom
596(1)
The Authorities in Civil Society
597(4)
In Brief
601(1)
The Fifth Commandment
602(17)
Respect for Human Life
602(7)
Respect for the Dignity of Persons
609(4)
Safeguarding Peace
613(4)
In Brief
617(2)
The Sixth Commandment
619(17)
``Male and Female He Created Them . . .''
619(1)
The Vocation to Chastity
620(6)
The Love of Husband and Wife
626(6)
Offenses against the Dignity of Marriage
632(3)
In Brief
635(1)
The Seventh Commandment
636(15)
The Universal Destination and the Private Ownership of Goods
636(1)
Respect for Persons and Their Goods
637(3)
The Social Doctrine of the Church
640(2)
Economic Activity and Social Justice
642(3)
Justice and Solidarity among Nations
645(1)
Love for the Poor
646(3)
In Brief
649(2)
The Eighth Commandment
651(11)
Living in the Truth
651(2)
To Bear Witness to the Truth
653(1)
Offenses against Truth
654(3)
Respect for the Truth
657(1)
The Use of the Social Communications Media
658(1)
Truth, Beauty, and Sacred Art
659(2)
In Brief
661(1)
The Ninth Commandment
662(5)
Purification of the Heart
663(1)
The Battle for Purity
664(2)
In Brief
666(1)
The Tenth Commandment
667(6)
The Disorder of Covetous Desires
667(2)
The Desires of the Spirit
669(1)
Poverty of Heart
670(1)
``I Want to See God''
671(1)
In Brief
672(1)
PART FOUR: CHRISTIAN PRAYER
673(1)
Section One: Prayer in the Christian Life
673(53)
What Is Prayer?
673(2)
The Revelation of Prayer
675(23)
The Universal Call to Prayer
675(1)
In the Old Testament
676(8)
In Brief
683(1)
In the Fullness of Time
684(8)
In Brief
691(1)
In the Age of the Church
692(6)
Blessing and Adoration
693(1)
Prayer of Petition
693(2)
Prayer of Intercession
695(1)
Prayer of Thanksgiving
696(1)
Prayer of Praise
696(1)
In Brief
697(1)
The Tradition of Prayer
698(13)
At the Wellsprings of Prayer
699(2)
In Brief
701(1)
The Way of Prayer
701(6)
In Brief
707(1)
Guides for Prayer
707(4)
In Brief
710(1)
The Life of Prayer
711(15)
Expressions of Prayer
712(5)
Vocal Prayer
712(1)
Meditation
713(1)
Contemplative Prayer
714(2)
In Brief
716(1)
The Battle of Prayer
717(6)
Objections to Prayer
717(2)
Humble Vigilance of Heart
719(1)
Filial Trust
720(2)
Persevering in Love
722(1)
The Prayer of the Hour of Jesus
723(3)
In Brief
725(1)
Section Two: The Lord's Prayer: ``Our Father!''
726(31)
``The Summary of the Whole Gospel''
727(4)
At the Center of the Scriptures
727(1)
``The Lord's Prayer''
728(1)
The Prayer of the Church
728(2)
In Brief
730(1)
``Our Father Who Art in Heaven''
731(7)
``We Dare to Say''
731(1)
``Father!''
731(3)
``Our'' Father
734(2)
``Who Art in Heaven''
736(1)
In Brief
737(1)
The Seven Petitions
738(16)
``Hallowed Be Thy Name''
739(3)
``Thy Kingdom Come''
742(1)
``Thy Will Be Done on Earth as It Is in Heaven''
743(2)
``Give Us This Day Our Daily Bread''
745(3)
``And Forgive Us Our Trespasses, as We Forgive Those Who Trespass against Us''
748(3)
``And Lead Us Not into Temptation''
751(1)
``But Deliver Us from Evil''
752(2)
The Final Doxology
754(3)
In Brief
755(2)
Subject Index 757(66)
Abbreviations 823

Excerpts

Chapter One

Man's Capacity for God

I.The Desire for God

27 The desire for God is written in the human heart, because man is created by God and for God; and God never ceases to draw man to himself. Only in God will he find the truth and happiness he never stops searching for:

The dignity of man rests above all on the fact that he is called to communion with God. This invitation to converse with God is addressed to man as soon as he comes into being. For if man exists, it is because God has created him through love, and through love continues to hold him in existence. He cannot live fully according to truth unless he freely acknowledges that love and entrusts himself to his creator.1

28 In many ways, throughout history down to the present day, men have given expression to their quest for God in their religious beliefs and behavior: in their prayers, sacrifices, rituals, meditations, and so forth. These forms of religious expression, despite the ambiguities they often bring with them, are so universal that one may well call man a religious being:

From one ancestor [God] made all nations to inhabit the whole earth, and he allotted the times of their existence and the boundaries of the places where they would live, so that they would search for God and perhaps grope for him and find him--though indeed he is not far from each one of us.

For "in him we live and move and have our being."

29 But this "intimate and vital bond of man to God" (GS 19,1) can be forgotten, overlooked, or even explicitly rejected by man. Such attitudes can have different causes: revolt against evil in the world; religious ignorance or indifference; the cares and riches of this world; the scandal of bad example on the part of believers; currents of thought hostile to religion; finally, that attitude of sinful man which makes him hide from God out of fear and flee his call.

30 "Let the hearts of those who seek the Lord rejoice." Although man can forget God or reject him, He never ceases to call every man to seek him, so as to find life and happiness. But this search for God demands of man every effort of intellect, a sound will, "an upright heart," as well as the witness of others who teach him to seek God.

You are great, O Lord, and greatly to be praised: great is your power and your wisdom is without measure. And man, so small a part of your creation, wants to praise you: this man, though clothed with mortality and bearing the evidence of sin and the proof that you withstand the proud. Despite everything, man, though but a small a part of your creation, wants to praise you. You yourself encourage him to delight in your praise, for you have made us for yourself, and our heart is restless until it rests in you.

II.Ways of Coming to Know God

31 Created in God's image and called to know and love him, the person who seeks God discovers certain ways of coming to know him. These are also called proofs for the existence of God, not in the sense of proofs in the natural sciences, but rather in the sense of "converging and convincing arguments," which allow us to attain certainty about the truth.

These "ways" of approaching God from creation have a twofold point of departure: the physical world and the human person.

32 The world: starting from movement, becoming, contingency, and the world's order and beauty, one can come to a knowledge of God as the origin and the end of the universe.

As St. Paul says of the Gentiles: For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. Ever since the creation of the world his invisible nature, namely, his eternal power and deity, has been clearly perceived in the things that have been made.

And St. Augustine issues this challenge: Question the beauty of the earth, question the beauty of the sea, question the beauty of the air distending and diffusing itself, question the beauty of the sky . . . question all these realities. All respond: "See, we are beautiful." Their beauty is a profession [confessio]. These beauties are subject to change. Who made them if not the Beautiful One [Pulcher] who is not subject to change?

33 The human person: With his openness to truth and beauty, his sense of moral goodness, his freedom and the voice of his conscience, with his longings for the infinite and for happiness, man questions himself about God's existence. In all this he discerns signs of his spiritual soul. The soul, the "seed of eternity we bear in ourselves, irreducible to the merely material," can have its origin only in God.

34 The world, and man, attest that they contain within themselves neither their first principle nor their final end, but rather that they participate in Being itself, which alone is without origin or end. Thus, in different ways, man can come to know that there exists a reality which is the first cause and final end of all things, a reality "that everyone calls 'God.' "

35Man's faculties make him capable of coming to a knowledge of the existence of a personal God. But for man to be able to enter into real intimacy with him, God willed both to reveal himself to man and to give him the grace of being able to welcome this revelation in faith. The proofs of God's existence, however, can predispose one to faith and help one to see that faith is not opposed to reason.

III.The Knowledge of God according to the Church

36 "Our holy mother, the Church, holds and teaches that God, the first principle and last end of all things, can be known with certainty from the created world by the natural light of human reason." Without this capacity, man would not be able to welcome God's revelation. Man has this capacity because he is created "in the image of God."

37 In the historical conditions in which he finds himself, however, man experiences many difficulties in coming to know God by the light of reason alone:

Though human reason is, strictly speaking, truly capable by its own natural power and light of attaining to a true and certain knowledge of the one personal God, who watches over and controls the world by his providence, and of the natural law written in our hearts by the Creator; yet there are many obstacles which prevent reason from the effective and fruitful use of this inborn faculty. For the truths that concern the relations between God and man wholly transcend the visible order of things, and, if they are translated into human action and influence it, they call for self-surrender and abnegation. The human mind, in its turn, is hampered in the attaining of such truths, not only by the impact of the senses and the imagination, but also by disordered appetites which are the consequences of original sin. So it happens that men in such matters easily persuade themselves that what they would not like to be true is false or at least doubtful.

38 This is why man stands in need of being enlightened by God's revelation, not only about those things that exceed his understanding, but also "about those religious and moral truths which of themselves are not beyond the grasp of human reason, so that even in the present condition of the human race, they can be known by all men with ease, with firm certainty and with no admixture of error."

IV.How Can We Speak about God?

39 In defending the ability of human reason to know God, the Church is expressing her confidence in the possibility of speaking about him to all men and with all men, and therefore of dialogue with other religions, with philosophy and science, as well as with unbelievers and atheists.

40 Since our knowledge of God is limited, our language about him is equally so. We can name God only by taking creatures as our starting point, and in accordance with our limited human ways of knowing and thinking.

41 All creatures bear a certain resemblance to God, most especially man, created in the image and likeness of God. The manifold perfections of creatures--their truth, their goodness, their beauty--all reflect the infinite perfection of God. Consequently we can name God by taking his creatures' perfections as our starting point, "for from the greatness and beauty of created things comes a corresponding perception of their Creator."

42 God transcends all creatures. We must therefore continually purify our language of everything in it that is limited, imagebound or imperfect, if we are not to confuse our image of God--"the inexpressible, the incomprehensible, the invisible, the ungraspable"--with our human representations. Our human words always fall short of the mystery of God.

43 Admittedly, in speaking about God like this, our language is using human modes of expression; nevertheless it really does attain to God himself, though unable to express him in his infinite simplicity. Likewise, we must recall that "between Creator and creature no similitude can be expressed without implying an even greater dissimilitude"; and that "concerning God, we cannot grasp what he is, but only what he is not, and how other beings stand in relation to him."

IN BRIEF

44 Man is by nature and vocation a religious being. Coming from God, going toward God, man lives a fully human life only if he freely lives by his bond with God.

45 Man is made to live in communion with God in whom he finds happiness: "When I am completely united to you, there will be no more sorrow or trials; entirely full of you, my life will be complete" (St. Augustine, Conf. 10, 28, 39: PL 32, 795).

46 When he listens to the message of creation and to the voice of conscience, man can arrive at certainty about the existence of God, the cause and the end of everything.

47 The Church teaches that the one true God, our Creator and Lord, can be known with certainty from his works, by the natural light of human reason (cf. Vatican Council I, can. 2, ? 1: DS 3026).

48 We really can name God, starting from the manifold perfections of his creatures, which are likenesses of the infinitely perfect God, even if our limited language cannot exhaust the mystery.

49 "Without the Creator, the creature vanishes" (GS 36). This is the reason why believers know that the love of Christ urges them to bring the light of the living God to those who do not know him or who reject him.

Chapter Two

God Comes to Meet Man

50 By natural reason man can know God with certainty, on the basis of his works. But there is another order of knowledge, which man cannot possibly arrive at by his own powers: the order of divine Revelation.1 Through an utterly free decision, God has revealed himself and given himself to man. This he does by revealing the mystery, his plan of loving goodness, formed from all eternity in Christ, for the benefit of all men. God has fully revealed this plan by sending us his beloved Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit.

Article 1

THE REVELATION OF GOD

I.God Reveals His "Plan of Loving Goodness"

51 "It pleased God, in his goodness and wisdom, to reveal himself and to make known the mystery of his will. His will was that men should have access to the Father, through Christ, the Word made flesh, in the Holy Spirit, and thus become sharers in the divine nature."

52 God, who "dwells in unapproachable light," wants to communicate his own divine life to the men he freely created, in order to adopt them as his sons in his only-begotten Son. By revealing himself God wishes to make them capable of responding to him, and of knowing him, and of loving him far beyond their own natural capacity.

53 The divine plan of Revelation is realized simultaneously "by deeds and words which are intrinsically bound up with each other" and shed light on each other. It involves a specific divine pedagogy: God communicates himself to man gradually. He prepares him to welcome by stages the supernatural Revelation that is to culminate in the person and mission of the incarnate Word, Jesus Christ.

St. Irenaeus of Lyons repeatedly speaks of this divine pedagogy using the image of God and man becoming accustomed to one another: The Word of God dwelt in man and became the Son of man in order to accustom man to perceive God and to accustom God to dwell in man, according to the Father's pleasure.

II.The Stages of Revelation

In the beginning God makes himself known

54 "God, who creates and conserves all things by his Word, provides men with constant evidence of himself in created realities. And furthermore, wishing to open up the way to heavenly salvation, he mani-fested himself to our first parents from the very beginning." He invited them to intimate communion with himself and clothed them with resplendent grace and justice.

55 This revelation was not broken off by our first parents' sin. "After the fall, [God] buoyed them up with the hope of salvation, by promising redemption; and he has never ceased to show his solicitude for the human race. For he wishes to give eternal life to all those who seek salvation by patience in well-doing."

Even when he disobeyed you and lost your friendship you did not abandon him to the power of death. . . .

Again and again you offered a covenant to man.

The Covenant with Noah

56 After the unity of the human race was shattered by sin God at once sought to save humanity part by part. The covenant with Noah after the flood gives expression to the principle of the divine economy toward the "nations," in other words, toward men grouped "in their lands, each with [its] own language, by their families, in their nations."

57 This state of division into many nations is at once cosmic, social, and religious. It is intended to limit the pride of fallen humanity, united only in its perverse ambition to forge its own unity as at Babel. But, because of sin, both polytheism and the idolatry of the nation and of its rulers constantly threaten this provisional economy with the perversion of paganism.

58 The covenant with Noah remains in force during the times of the Gentiles, until the universal proclamation of the Gospel. The Bible venerates several great figures among the Gentiles: Abel the just, the king-priest Melchizedek--a figure of Christ--and the upright "Noah, Daniel, and Job." Scripture thus expresses the heights of sanctity that can be reached by those who live according to the covenant of Noah, waiting for Christ to "gather into one the children of God who are scattered abroad."

Excerpted from Catechism of the Catholic Church by U. S. Catholic Conference Staff
All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.

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