The Profession of Faith
“I believe” – “We believe”
1. What is the plan of God for man?
God, infinitely perfect and blessed in himself, in a plan of sheer goodness
freely created man to make him share in his own blessed life. In the
fullness of time, God the Father sent his Son as the Redeemer and Savior of
mankind, fallen into sin, thus calling all into his Church and, through the
work of the Holy Spirit, making them adopted children and heirs of his
Capacity for God
“You are great, O Lord, and greatly to be praised [...] You have made
us for yourself and our heart is restless until it rests in you.” (Saint
2. Why does man have a desire for God?
God himself, in creating man in his own image, has written upon his heart
the desire to see him. Even if this desire is often ignored, God never
ceases to draw man to himself because only in God will he find and live the
fullness of truth and happiness for which he never stops searching. By
nature and by vocation, therefore, man is a religious being, capable of
entering into communion with God. This intimate and vital bond with God
confers on man his fundamental dignity.
3. How is it possible to know God with only the light of human reason?
Starting from creation, that is from the world and from the human person,
through reason alone one can know God with certainty as the origin and end
of the universe, as the highest good and as infinite truth and beauty.
4. Is the light of reason alone sufficient to know the mystery of God?
In coming to a knowledge of God by the light of reason alone man
experiences many difficulties. Indeed, on his own he is unable to enter into
the intimacy of the divine mystery. This is why he 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 with ease,
with firm certainty and with no admixture of error.
5. How can we speak about God?
By taking as our starting point the perfections of man and of the other
creatures which are a reflection, albeit a limited one, of the infinite
perfection of God, we are able to speak about God with all people. We must,
however, continually purify our language insofar as it is image-bound and
imperfect, realizing that we can never fully express the infinite
mystery of God.
to Meet Man
The Revelation of God
6. What does God reveal to man?
God in his goodness and wisdom reveals himself. With deeds and words, he
reveals himself and his plan of loving goodness which he decreed from all
eternity in Christ. According to this plan, all people by the grace of the
Holy Spirit are to share in the divine life as adopted “sons” in the only
begotten Son of God.
7. What are the first stages of God's Revelation?
From the very beginning, God manifested himself to our first parents, Adam
and Eve, and invited them to intimate communion with himself. After their
fall, he did not cease his revelation to them but promised salvation
for all their descendants. After the flood, he made a covenant with Noah, a
covenant between himself and all living beings.
8. What are the next stages of God's Revelation?
God chose Abram, calling him out of his country, making him “the
father of a multitude of nations” (Genesis 17:5), and promising
to bless in him “all the nations of the earth” (Genesis 12:3).
The people descended from Abraham would be the trustee of the divine
promise made to the patriarchs. God formed Israel as his chosen people,
freeing them from slavery in Egypt, establishing with them the covenant
of Mount Sinai, and, through Moses, giving them his law. The prophets
proclaimed a radical redemption of the people and a salvation which
would include all nations in a new and everlasting covenant. From the
people of Israel and from the house of King David, would be born the
9. What is the full and definitive stage of God's Revelation?
The full and definitive stage of God’s revelation is accomplished in his
Word made flesh, Jesus Christ, the mediator and fullness of Revelation. He,
being the only-begotten Son of God made man, is the perfect and definitive
Word of the Father. In the sending of the Son and the gift of the Spirit,
Revelation is now fully complete, although the faith of the Church
must gradually grasp its full significance over the course of centuries.
“In giving us his Son, his only and definitive Word, God spoke
everything to us at once in this sole Word, and he has no more to say.”
(Saint John of the Cross)
10. What is the value of private revelations?
While not belonging to the deposit of faith, private revelations may help a
person to live the faith as long as they lead us to Christ. The Magisterium
of the Church, which has the duty of evaluating such private revelations,
cannot accept those which claim to surpass or correct that definitive
Revelation which is Christ.
The Transmission of Divine Revelation
11. Why and in what way is divine revelation transmitted?
God “desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth”
(1 Timothy 2:4), that is, of Jesus Christ. For this reason,
Christ must be proclaimed to all according to his own command, “Go forth and
teach all nations” (Matthew 28:19). And this is brought about by
12. What is Apostolic Tradition?
Apostolic Tradition is the transmission of the message of Christ, brought
about from the very beginnings of Christianity by means of preaching,
bearing witness, institutions, worship, and inspired writings. The apostles
transmitted all they received from Christ and learned from the Holy Spirit
to their successors, the bishops, and through them to all generations until
the end of the world.
13. In what ways does Apostolic Tradition occur?
Apostolic Tradition occurs in two ways: through the living transmission of
the word of God (also simply called Tradition) and through Sacred Scripture
which is the same proclamation of salvation in written form.
14. What is the relationship between Tradition and Sacred Scripture?
Tradition and Sacred Scripture are bound closely together and communicate
one with the other. Each of them makes present and fruitful in the Church
the mystery of Christ. They flow out of the same divine well-spring and
together make up one sacred deposit of faith from which the Church
derives her certainty about revelation.
15. To whom is the deposit of faith entrusted?
The Apostles entrusted the deposit of faith to the whole of the Church.
Thanks to its supernatural sense of faith the people of God as a whole,
assisted by the Holy Spirit and guided by the Magisterium of the Church,
never ceases to welcome, to penetrate more deeply and to live more fully
from the gift of divine revelation.
16. To whom is given the task of authentically interpreting the deposit
The task of giving an authentic interpretation of the deposit of faith has
been entrusted to the living teaching office of the Church alone, that is,
to the successor of Peter, the Bishop of Rome, and to the bishops in
communion with him. To this Magisterium, which in the service of the Word of
God enjoys the certain charism of truth, belongs also the task of defining
dogmas which are formulations of the truths contained in divine Revelation.
This authority of the Magisterium also extends to those truths necessarily
connected with Revelation.
17. What is the relationship between Scripture, Tradition and the
Scripture, Tradition, and the Magisterium are so closely united with each
other that one of them cannot stand without the others. Working together,
each in its own way, under the action of the one Holy Spirit, they all
contribute effectively to the salvation of souls.
18. Why does Sacred Scripture teach the truth?
Because God himself is the author of Sacred Scripture. For this reason it
is said to be inspired and to teach without error those truths which are
necessary for our salvation. The Holy Spirit inspired the human authors who
wrote what he wanted to teach us. The Christian faith, however, is not a
“religion of the Book”, but of the Word of God – “not a written and mute
word, but incarnate and living” (Saint Bernard of Clairvaux).
19. How is Sacred Scripture to be read?
Sacred Scripture must be read and interpreted with the help of the Holy
Spirit and under the guidance of the Magisterium of the Church according to
three criteria: 1) it must be read with attention to the content and unity
of the whole of Scripture; 2) it must be read within the living
Tradition of the Church; 3) it must be read with attention to the analogy of
faith, that is, the inner harmony which exists among the truths of the faith
20. What is the Canon of Scripture?
The Canon of Scripture is the complete list of the sacred writings
which the Church has come to recognize through Apostolic Tradition. The
consists of 46 books of the Old Testament and 27 of the New.
21. What is the importance of the Old Testament for Christians?
Christians venerate the Old Testament as the true word of God. All
of the books of the Old Testament are divinely inspired and retain a
permanent value. They bear witness to the divine pedagogy of God's saving
love. They are written, above all, to prepare for the coming of Christ the
Savior of the universe.
22. What importance does the New Testament have for Christians?
The New Testament, whose central object is Jesus Christ, conveys to
us the ultimate truth of divine Revelation. Within the New Testament the
four Gospels of Mathew, Mark, Luke and John are the heart of all the
Scriptures because they are the principle witness to the life and teaching
of Jesus. As such, they hold a unique place in the Church.
23. What is the unity that exists between the Old and the New
Scripture is one insofar as the Word of God is one. God’s plan of salvation
is one, and the divine inspiration of both Testaments is one. The Old
Testament prepares for the New and the New Testament fulfills the Old; the
two shed light on each other.
24. What role does Sacred Scripture play in the life of the Church?
Sacred Scripture gives support and vigor to the life of the Church. For the
children of the Church, it is a confirmation of the faith, food for the soul
and the fount of the spiritual life. Sacred Scripture is the soul of
theology and of pastoral preaching. The Psalmist says that it is “a lamp to
my feet and a light to my path” (Psalm 119:105). The Church,
therefore, exhorts all to read Sacred Scripture frequently because
“ignorance of the Scriptures is ignorance of Christ” (Saint Jerome).
Response to God
25. How does man respond to God who reveals himself?
Sustained by divine grace, we respond to God with the obedience of faith,
which means the full surrender of ourselves to God and the acceptance of his
truth insofar as it is guaranteed by the One who is Truth itself.
26. Who are the principal witnesses of the obedience of faith in the
There are many such witnesses, two in particular: One is Abraham who
when put to the test “believed in God” (Romans 4:3) and always obeyed
his call. For this reason he is called “the Father of all who believe” (Romans
4:11-18). The other is the Virgin Mary who, throughout her entire
life, embodied in a perfect way the obedience of faith: “Let it be done
to me according to your word” (Luke 1:38).
27. What does it mean in practice for a person to believe in God?
It means to adhere to God himself, entrusting oneself to him and giving
assent to all the truths which God has revealed because God is Truth. It
means to believe in one God in three Persons, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
28. What are the characteristics of faith?
Faith is the supernatural virtue which is necessary for salvation.
It is a free gift of God and is accessible to all who humbly seek it.
The act of faith is a human act, that is, an act of the intellect of
a person - prompted by the will moved by God - who freely assents to divine
truth. Faith is also certain because it is founded on the Word of
works “through charity” (Galatians 5:6); and it
through listening to the Word of God and through prayer. It is, even now, a
foretaste of the joys of heaven.
29. Why is there no contradiction between faith and science?
Though faith is above reason, there can never be a contradiction between
faith and science because both originate in God. It is God himself who gives
to us the light both of reason and of faith.
“I believe, in order to understand; and I understand, the better to
believe.” (Saint Augustine)
30. Why is faith a personal act, and at the same time ecclesial?
Faith is a personal act insofar as it is the free response of the human
to God who reveals himself. But at the same time it is an ecclesial act
which expresses itself in the proclamation, “We believe”. It is in fact the
Church that believes: and thus by the grace of the Holy Spirit precedes,
engenders and nourishes the faith of each Christian For this reason the
Church is Mother and Teacher.
“No one can have God as Father who does not have the Church as
Mother.” (Saint Cyprian)
31. Why are the formulas of faith important?
The formulas of faith are important because they permit one to express,
assimilate, celebrate, and share together with others the truths of the
faith through a common language.
32. In what way is the faith of the Church one faith alone?
The Church, although made up of persons who have diverse languages,
cultures, and rites, nonetheless professes with a united voice the one faith
that was received from the one Lord and that was passed on by the one
Apostolic Tradition. She confesses one God alone, Father, Son, and Holy
Spirit, and points to one way of salvation. Therefore we believe with one
heart and one soul all that is contained in the Word of God, handed down
or written, and which is proposed by the Church as divinely revealed.
The Profession of the
The Apostles’ Creed
I believe in God the Father almighty,
The Nicene-Constantinopolitan Creed
Creator of heaven and earth.
And in Jesus Christ, His only Son,
our Lord, Who was conceived by the Holy Spirit,
born of the Virgin Mary,
suffered under Pontius Pilate,
was crucified, died, and was buried.
descended into hell; the third day
He rose again from the dead;
He ascended into heaven, and sits at
the right hand of God the Father
almighty, from thence He shall come
to judge the living and the dead.
I believe in the Holy Spirit,
the holy Catholic Church,
the communion of saints,
the forgiveness of sins,
the resurrection of the body
and life everlasting.
I believe in one God,
the Father, the Almighty,
maker of heaven and earth,
of all that is, seen and unseen.
I believe one Lord, Jesus Christ,
the only Son of God,
eternally begotten of the Father,
God from God, Light from Light,
true God from true God,
begotten, not made,
one in Being with the Father.
Through Him all things were made.
For us men and for our salvation,
He came down from heaven: by the
power of the Holy Spirit He was
born of the Virgin Mary,
and became Man.
For our sake He was crucified
under Pontius Pilate;
He suffered, died, and was buried.
On the third day He rose again
in fulfillment of the Scriptures;
He ascended into heaven,
and is seated at the right hand of the
Father. He will come again in glory
to judge the living and the dead,
and His kingdom will have no end.
I believe in the Holy Spirit,
the Lord, the Giver of life,
Who proceeds from the Father and
the Son. With the Father and the Son
He is worshiped and glorified.
He has spoken through the prophets.
I believe in one, holy, catholic,
and apostolic Church.
I acknowledge one Baptism
for the forgiveness of sins.
I look for the resurrection of the dead,
and the life of the world to come.
I Believe in God the
The Symbols of Faith
33. What are the symbols of faith?
The symbols of faith are composite formulas, also called “professions of
faith” or “Creeds”, with which the Church from her very beginning has set
forth synthetically and handed on her own faith in a language that is
normative and common to all the faithful.
34. What are the most ancient symbols (professions) of faith?
The most ancient symbols of faith are the baptismal creeds. Because
Baptism is conferred “in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the
Holy Spirit” (Matthew 28:19), the truths of faith professed at
Baptism are articulated in reference to the three Persons of the Most Holy
35. What are the most important symbols of the faith?
They are the Apostles' Creed which is the ancient baptismal symbol
of the Church of Rome and the Nicene-Constantinopolitan Creed which
the first two ecumenical Councils, that of Nicea (325 A.D.) and that of
Constantinople (381 A.D.) and which even to this day are common to
all the great Churches of the East and the West.
“I believe in God the Father Almighty,
heaven and earth.”
36. Why does the Profession of Faith begin with the words, “I believe in
The Profession of Faith begins with these words because the affirmation “I
believe in God” is the most important, the source of all the other truths
about man and about the world, and about the entire life of everyone who
believes in God.
37. Why does one profess belief that there is only one God?
Belief in the one God is professed because he has revealed himself to the
people of Israel as the only One when he said, “Hear, O Israel, the Lord our
God is one Lord” (Deuteronomy 6:4) and “there is no other” (Isaiah
45:22). Jesus himself confirmed that God is “the one Lord” (Mark
12:29). To confess that Jesus and the Holy Spirit are also God and Lord does
not introduce any division into the one God.
38. With what name does God reveal Himself?
God revealed himself to Moses as the living God, “the God of Abraham, the
God of Isaac, the God of Jacob” (Exodus 3:6). God also revealed to
Moses his mysterious name “I Am Who I Am (YHWH)”. Already in Old Testament
times this ineffable name of God was replaced by the divine title Lord.
Thus in the New Testament, Jesus who was called Lord is seen as true
39. Is God the only One who “is”?
Since creatures have received everything they are and have from God, only
God in himself is the fullness of being and of every perfection. God
is “He who is” without origin and without end. Jesus also reveals
that he bears the divine name “I Am” (John 8:28).
40. Why is the revelation of God's name important?
In revealing his name, God makes known the riches contained in the
ineffable mystery of his being. He alone is from everlasting to everlasting.
He is the One who transcends the world and history. It is he who made heaven
and earth. He is the faithful God, always close to his people, in order to
save them. He is the highest holiness, “rich in mercy” (Ephesians
2:4), always ready to forgive. He is the One who is spiritual, transcendent,
omnipotent, eternal, personal, and perfect. He is truth and love.
“God is the infinitely perfect being who is the most Holy Trinity.”
(Saint Turibius of Montenegro)
41. In what way is God the truth?
God is Truth itself and as such he can neither deceive nor be deceived. He
is “light, and in him there is no darkness” (1 John 1:5). The eternal
Son of God, the incarnation of wisdom, was sent into the world “to bear
witness to the Truth” (John 18:37).
42. In what way does God reveal that he is love?
God revealed himself to Israel as the One who has a stronger love than that
of parents for their children or of husbands and wives for their spouses.
God in himself “is love” (1 John 4: 8.16), who gives himself
completely and gratuitously, who “so loved the world that he gave his only
Son so that the world might be saved through him” (John 3:16-17). By
sending his Son and the Holy Spirit, God reveals that he himself is an
eternal exchange of love.
43. What does it mean to believe in only one God?
To believe in the one and only God involves coming to know his
greatness and majesty. It involves living in thanksgiving and trusting
always in him, even in adversity. It involves knowing the unity and true
dignity of all human beings, created in his image. It involves making good
use of the things which he has created.
44. What is the central mystery of Christian faith and life?
The central mystery of Christian faith and life is the mystery of the Most
Blessed Trinity. Christians are baptized in the name of the Father and of
the Son and of the Holy Spirit.
45. Can the mystery of the Most Holy Trinity be known by the light of
human reason alone?
God has left some traces of his trinitarian being in creation and in the
Old Testament but his inmost being as the Holy Trinity is a mystery which is
inaccessible to reason alone or even to Israel’s faith before the
Incarnation of the Son of God and the sending of the Holy Spirit. This
mystery was revealed by Jesus Christ and it is the source of all the other
46. What did Jesus Christ reveal to us about the mystery of the Father?
Jesus Christ revealed to us that God is “Father”, not only insofar as he
created the universe and the mankind, but above all because he eternally
generated in his bosom the Son who is his Word, “ the radiance of the glory
of God and the very stamp of his nature” (Hebrews 1:3).
47. Who is the Holy Spirit revealed to us by Jesus Christ?
The Holy Spirit is the third Person of the Most Blessed Trinity. He is God,
one and equal with the Father and the Son. He “proceeds from the Father” (John
15:26) who is the principle without a principle and the origin of all
trinitarian life. He proceeds also from the Son (Filioque) by the
eternal Gift which the Father makes of him to the Son. Sent by the Father
and the Incarnate Son, the Holy Spirit guides the Church “to know all truth”
48. How does the Church express her trinitarian faith?
The Church expresses her trinitarian faith by professing a belief in the
oneness of God in whom there are three Persons: Father, Son, and Holy
Spirit. The three divine Persons are only one God because each of them
equally possesses the fullness of the one and indivisible divine nature.
They are really distinct from each other by reason of the relations which
place them in correspondence to each other. The Father generates the Son;
the Son is generated by the Father; the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father
and the Son.
49. How do the three divine Persons work?
Inseparable in their one substance, the three divine Persons are also
inseparable in their activity. The Trinity has one operation, sole and the
same. In this one divine action, however, each Person is present according
to the mode which is proper to him in the Trinity.
“O my God, Trinity whom I adore...grant my soul peace; make it your
heaven, your beloved dwelling, and the place of your rest. May I never
abandon you there, but may I be there, whole and entire, completely vigilant
in my faith, entirely adoring, and wholly given over to your creative
action.” (Blessed Elizabeth of the Trinity)
50. What does it mean to say that God is almighty?
God reveals himself as “the strong One, the mighty One” (Psalm
24:8), as the One “to whom nothing is impossible” (Luke 1:37). His
omnipotence is universal, mysterious and shows itself in the creation of the
world out of nothing and humanity out of love; but above all it shows itself
in the Incarnation and the Resurrection of his Son, in the gift of filial
adoption and in the forgiveness of sins. For this reason, the Church directs
her prayers to the “almighty and eternal God” (“Omnipotens sempiterne
51. What is the importance of affirming “In the beginning God created
the heavens and the earth” (Genesis 1:1)?
The significance is that creation is the foundation of all God’s saving
plans. It shows forth the almighty and wise love of God, and it is
the first step toward the covenant of the one God with his people. It is the
beginning of the history of salvation which culminates in Christ; and it is
the first answer to our fundamental questions regarding our very origin and
52. Who created the world?
The Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit are the one and indivisible
principle of creation even though the work of creating the world is
particularly attributed to God the Father.
53. Why was the world created?
The world was created for the glory of God who wished to show forth and
communicate his goodness, truth and beauty. The ultimate end of creation is
that God, in Christ, might be “all in all” (1 Corinthians
15:28) for his glory and for our happiness.
“The glory of God is man fully alive; moreover man’s life is the
vision of God.” (Saint Irenaeus)
54. How did God create the universe?
God created the universe freely with wisdom and love. The world is not the
result of any necessity, nor of blind fate, nor of chance. God created “out
of nothing” (ex nihilo) (2 Maccabees 7:28) a world
which is ordered and good and which he infinitely transcends. God preserves
his creation in being and sustains it, giving it the capacity to act
and leading it toward its fulfillment through his Son and the Holy Spirit.
55. What is divine providence?
Divine Providence consists in the dispositions with which God leads his
creatures toward their ultimate end. God is the sovereign Master of his own
plan. To carry it out, however, he also makes use of the cooperation of his
creatures. For God grants his creatures the dignity of acting on their own
and of being causes for each other.
56. How do we collaborate with divine Providence?
While respecting our freedom, God asks us to cooperate with him and gives
us the ability to do so through actions, prayers and sufferings, thus
awakening in us the desire “to will and to work for his good pleasure” (Philippians
57. If God is omnipotent and provident, why then does evil exist?
To this question, as painful and mysterious as it is, only the whole
of Christian faith can constitute a response. God is not in any way -
directly or indirectly - the cause of evil. He illuminates the mystery of
evil in his Son Jesus Christ who died and rose in order to vanquish that
great moral evil, human sin, which is at the root of all other evils.
58. Why does God permit evil?
Faith gives us the certainty that God would not permit evil if he did not
cause a good to come from that very evil. This was realized in a wondrous
way by God in the death and resurrection of Christ. In fact, from the
greatest of all moral evils (the murder of his Son) he has brought forth the
greatest of all goods (the glorification of Christ and our redemption).
Heaven and Earth
59. What did God create?
Sacred Scripture says, “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the
earth” (Genesis 1:1). The Church in her profession of faith proclaims
that God is the Creator of everything, visible and invisible, of all
spiritual and corporeal beings, that is, of angels and of the visible world
and, in a special way, of man.
60. Who are the angels?
The angels are purely spiritual creatures, incorporeal, invisible,
immortal, and personal beings endowed with intelligence and will. They
ceaselessly contemplate God face-to-face and they glorify him. They serve
him and are his messengers in the accomplishment of his saving
mission to all.
61. In what way are angels present in the life of the Church?
The Church joins with the angels in adoring God, invokes their assistance
and commemorates some in her liturgy.
“ Beside each believer stands an angel as a protector and shepherd
leading him to life.” (Saint Basil the Great)
62. What does Sacred Scripture teach about the creation of the visible
Through the account of the “six days” of creation Sacred Scripture teaches
us the value of the created world and its purpose, namely, to praise God and
to serve humanity. Every single thing owes its very existence to God from
whom it receives its goodness and perfection, its proper laws and its proper
place in the universe.
63. What is the place of the human person in creation?
The human person is the summit of visible creation in as much as he or she
is created in the image and likeness of God.
64. What kind of bond exists between created things?
There exist an interdependence and a hierarchy among creatures as willed by
God. At the same time, there is also a unity and solidarity among creatures
since all have the same Creator, are loved by him and are ordered to his
glory. Respecting the laws inscribed in creation and the relations which
derive from the nature of things is, therefore, a principle of wisdom and a
foundation for morality.
65. What is the relationship between the work of creation and the work
The work of creation culminates in the still greater work of
redemption, which in fact gives rise to a new creation in which everything
will recover its true meaning and fulfillment.
66. In what sense do we understand man and woman as created “in the
image of God”?
The human person is created in the image of God in the sense that he or she
is capable of knowing and of loving their Creator in freedom. Human beings
are the only creatures on earth that God has willed for their own sake and
has called to share, through knowledge and love, in his own divine life. All
human beings, in as much as they are created in the image of God, have the
dignity of a person. A person is not something but someone, capable of
self-knowledge and of freely giving himself and entering into communion with
God and with other persons.
67. For what purpose did God create man and woman?
God has created everything for them; but he has created them to know, serve
and love God, to offer all of creation in this world in thanksgiving back to
him and to be raised up to life with him in heaven. Only in the mystery of
the incarnate Word does the mystery of the human person come into true
light. Man and woman are predestined to reproduce the image of the Son of
God made Man, who is the perfect “image of the invisible God” (Colossians
68. Why does the human race form a unity?
All people form the unity of the human race by reason of the common origin
which they have from God. God has made “from one ancestor all the nations of
men” (Acts 17:26). All have but one Savior and are called to share
in the eternal happiness of God.
69. How do the soul and body form a unity in the human being?
The human person is a being at once corporeal and spiritual. In man
spirit and matter form one nature. This unity is so profound that, thanks to
the spiritual principle which is the soul, the body which is material,
becomes a living human body and participates in the dignity of the image of
70. Where does the soul come from?
The spiritual soul does not come from one’s parents but is created
immediately by God and is immortal. It does not perish at the moment when it
is separated from the body in death and it will be once again reunited with
the body at the moment of the final resurrection.
71. What relationship has God established between man and woman?
Man and woman have been created by God in equal dignity insofar as they are
human persons. At the same time, they have been created in a reciprocal
complementarity insofar as they are masculine and feminine. God has willed
them one for the other to form a communion of persons. They are also
called to transmit human life by forming in matrimony “one flesh” (Genesis
2:24). They are likewise called to subdue the earth as “stewards” of God.
72. What was the original condition of the human person according to the
plan of God?
In creating man and woman God had given them a special participation in his
own divine life in holiness and justice. In the plan of God they would not
have had to suffer or die. Furthermore, a perfect harmony held sway within
the human person, a harmony between creature and Creator, between man and
woman, as well as between the first human couple and all of creation.
73. How should we understand the reality of sin?
Sin is present in human history. This reality of sin can be understood
clearly only in the light of divine revelation and above all in the light of
Christ the Savior of all. Where sin abounded, he made grace to abound all
74. What was the fall of the angels?
This expression indicates that Satan and the other demons, about which
Sacred Scripture and the Tradition of the Church speak, were angels, created
good by God. They were, however, transformed into evil because with a free
and irrevocable choice they rejected God and his Kingdom, thus giving rise
to the existence of hell. They try to associate human beings with their
revolt against God. However, God has wrought in Christ a sure victory over
the Evil One.
75. What was the first human sin?
When tempted by the devil, the first man and woman allowed trust in their
Creator to die in their hearts. In their disobedience they wished to become
“like God” but without God and not in accordance with God (Genesis
3:5). Thus, Adam and Eve immediately lost for themselves and for all their
descendants the original grace of holiness and justice.
76. What is original sin?
Original sin, in which all human beings are born, is the state of
deprivation of original holiness and justice. It is a sin
“contracted” by us not “committed”; it is a state of birth and not a
personal act. Because of the original unity of all human beings, it is
transmitted to the descendants of Adam “not by imitation, but by
propagation”. This transmission remains a mystery which we cannot fully
77. What other consequences derive from original sin?
In consequence of original sin human nature, without being totally
corrupted, is wounded in its natural powers. It is subject to
ignorance, to suffering, and to the dominion of death and is inclined toward
sin. This inclination is called concupiscence.
78. After the first sin, what did God do?
After the first sin the world was inundated with sin but God did not
abandon man to the power of death. Rather, he foretold in a mysterious way
in the “Protoevangelium” (Genesis 3:15) that evil would be conquered
and that man would be lifted up from his fall. This was the first
proclamation of the Messiah and Redeemer. Therefore, the fall would be
called in the future a “happy fault” because it “gained for us
so great a Redeemer” (Liturgy of the Easter Vigil).
Believe in Jesus Christ, the Only Son of God
79. What is the Good News for humanity?
It is the proclamation of Jesus Christ, the “Son of the living God”
(Matthew 16:16), who died and rose from the dead. In the time of King
Herod and the Emperor Caesar Augustus, God fulfilled the promises that he
made to Abraham and his descendants. He sent “his Son, born of a woman, born
under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we
might receive adoption as sons” (Galatians 4:4-5).
80. How is the Good News spread?
From the very beginning the first disciples burned with the desire
to proclaim Jesus Christ in order to lead all to faith in him. Even today,
from the loving knowledge of Christ there springs up in the believer the
desire to evangelize and catechize, that is, to reveal in the Person
of Christ the entire design of God and to put humanity in communion with
“And in Jesus Christ, His only Son our Lord”
81. What is the meaning of the name “Jesus”?
Given by the angel at the time of the Annunciation, the name “Jesus” means
“God saves”. The name expresses his identity and his mission “because he
will save his people from their sins” (Matthew 1:21). Peter
proclaimed that “there is no other name under heaven given to men by which
we can be saved” (Acts
82. Why is Jesus called “Christ”?
“Christ” in Greek, “Messiah” in Hebrew, means the “anointed one”. Jesus is
the Christ because he is consecrated by God and anointed by the Holy Spirit
for his redeeming mission. He is the Messiah awaited by Israel, sent into
the world by the Father. Jesus accepted the title of Messiah but he made the
meaning of the term clear: “come down from heaven” (John
3:13), crucified and then risen , he is the Suffering Servant “who gives his
life as a ransom for the many” (Matthew 20:28). From the name
Christ comes our name of
83. In what sense is Jesus the Only Begotten Son of God?
Jesus is the Son of God in a unique and perfect way. At the time of his
Baptism and his Transfiguration, the voice of the Father designated Jesus as
his “beloved Son”. In presenting himself as the Son who “knows the Father” (Matthew
11:27), Jesus affirmed his singular and eternal relationship with God his
Father. He is “the Only Begotten Son of God” (1 John 4:9), the second
Person of the Blessed Trinity. He is the central figure of apostolic
preaching. The apostles saw “his glory as of the Only Begotten of the
Father” (John 1:14).
84. What is the meaning of the title “Lord”?
In the Bible this title regularly designates God as Sovereign. Jesus
ascribed this title to himself and revealed his divine sovereignty by his
power over nature, over demons, over sin, and over death, above all by his
own Resurrection. The first Christian creeds proclaimed that the power, the
honor, and the glory that are due to God the Father also belong to Jesus:
God “has given him the name which is above every other name” (Philippians
2:9). He is the Lord of the world and of history, the only One to whom we
must completely submit our personal freedom.
“Jesus Christ was conceived by the power
Holy Spirit, and was born of the Virgin Mary”
85. Why did the Son of God become man?
For us men and for our salvation, the Son of God became incarnate in the
womb of the Virgin Mary by the power of the Holy Spirit. He did so to
reconcile us sinners with God, to have us learn of God’s infinite love, to
be our model of holiness and to make us “partakers of the divine nature” (2
86. What does the word “Incarnation” mean?
The Church calls the mystery of the wonderful union of the divine and human
natures in the one divine Person of the Word the “Incarnation”. To
bring about our salvation the Son of God was made “flesh” (John 1:14)
and became truly man. Faith in the Incarnation is a distinctive sign of the
87. In what way is Jesus Christ true God and true man?
Jesus is inseparably true God and true man in the unity of his divine
Person. As the Son of God, who is “begotten, not made, consubstantial with
the Father,” he was made true man, our brother, without ceasing to be God,
88. What does the Council of Chalcedon (in the year 451) teach in this
The Council of Chalcedon teaches us to confess “one and the same Son, our
Lord Jesus Christ, perfect in his humanity, true God and true man, composed
of rational soul and body, consubstantial with the Father by his divinity,
and consubstantial with us by his humanity, ‘like us in all things but sin’
4:15), begotten from the Father before all ages as to his divinity, and in
these last days, for us and for our salvation, born of Mary, the Virgin and
Mother of God, as to his humanity.”
89. How does the Church set forth the Mystery of the Incarnation?
The Church confesses that Jesus Christ is true God and true man, with two
natures, a divine nature and a human nature, not confused with each other
but united in the Person of the Word. Therefore, in the humanity of Jesus
all things - his miracles, his suffering, and his death - must be attributed
to his divine Person which acts by means of his assumed human nature.
“O Only-begotten Son and Word of God you who are immortal, you who
deigned for our salvation to become incarnate of the holy Mother of God and
ever Virgin Mary (...) You who are one of the Holy Trinity, glorified with
the Father and the Holy Spirit, save us!” (Byzantine Liturgy of Saint
90. Did the incarnate Son of God have a soul with human knowledge?
The Son of God assumed a body animated by a rational human soul. With his
human intellect Jesus learned many things by way of experience; but also as
man the Son of God had an intimate and immediate knowledge of God his
Father. He likewise understood people’s secret thoughts and he knew fully
the eternal plans which he had come to reveal.
91. How did the two wills of the incarnate Word cooperate?Jesus had
a divine will and a human will. In his earthly life the Son of God humanly
willed all that he had divinely decided with the Father and the Holy Spirit
for our salvation. The human will of Christ followed without opposition or
reluctance the divine will or, in other words, it was subject to it.
92. Did Christ have a true human body?
Christ assumed a true human body by means of which the invisible God became
visible. This is the reason why Christ can be represented and venerated in
93. What does the heart of Jesus exemplify?Jesus knew us and loved
us with a human heart. His Heart, pierced for our salvation, is the symbol
of that infinite love with which he loves the Father and each one of us.
94. What is the meaning of the expression “conceived by the power of the
This expression means that the Virgin Mary conceived the eternal Son in her
womb by the power of the Holy Spirit without the cooperation of a man. The
angel told her at the Annunciation that “the Holy Spirit will come upon you”
95. “...Born of the Virgin Mary”: Why is Mary truly the Mother of God?
Mary is truly the Mother of God because she is the Mother of Jesus (John
2:1, John 19:25). The One who was conceived by the power of the Holy
Spirit and became truly her Son is actually the eternal Son of God the
Father. He is God himself.
96. What does the “Immaculate Conception” mean?
God freely chose Mary from all eternity to be the Mother of his Son. In
order to carry out her mission she herself was conceived immaculate.
This means that, thanks to the grace of God and in anticipation of the
merits of Jesus Christ, Mary was preserved from original sin from the first
instant of her conception.
97. How does Mary cooperate in the divine plan of salvation?
By the grace of God Mary was kept free from every personal sin her whole
life long. She is the one who is “full of grace” (Luke 1:28), “the
all holy”. When the angel announced to her that she would give birth to “the
Son of the Most High” (Luke 1:32), she freely gave her consent with
“the obedience of faith” (Romans 1:5). Mary thus gave herself
entirely to the person and work of her Son Jesus, espousing wholeheartedly
the divine will regarding salvation.
98. What does the virginal conception of Jesus mean?
The virginal conception of Jesus means that Jesus was conceived in the womb
of the Virgin solely by the power of the Holy Spirit without the
intervention of a man. He is the Son of the heavenly Father according to his
divine nature and the Son of Mary according to his human nature. He is,
however, truly the Son of God in both natures since there is in him only one
Person who is divine.
99. In what sense is Mary “ever Virgin”?
Mary is ever virgin in the sense that she “remained a virgin in conceiving
her Son, a virgin in giving birth to him, a virgin in carrying him, a virgin
in nursing him at her breast, always a virgin” (Saint Augustine). Therefore,
when the Gospels speak of the “brothers and sisters of Jesus”, they are
talking about the close relations of Jesus, according to the way of speaking
used in Sacred Scripture.
100. In what way is the spiritual motherhood of Mary universal?
Mary had only one Son, Jesus, but in him her spiritual motherhood extends
to all whom he came to save. Obediently standing at the side of the new
Adam, Jesus Christ, the Virgin is the new Eve, the true mother of all
the living, who with a mother's love cooperates in their birth and their
formation in the order of grace. Virgin and Mother, Mary is the figure of
the Church, its most perfect realization.
101. In what sense is the life of Christ a Mystery?
The entire life of Christ is a revelation. What was visible in the earthly
life of Jesus leads us to the invisible mystery of his divine sonship:
“whoever has seen me has seen the Father” (John 14:9).
Furthermore, even though salvation comes completely from the cross and the
resurrection, the entire life of Christ is a mystery of redemption
because everything that Jesus did, said, and suffered had for its aim the
salvation of fallen human beings and the restoration of their vocation as
children of God.
102. How did God prepare the world for the mystery of Christ?
God prepared for the coming of his Son over the centuries. He awakened in
the hearts of the pagans a dim expectation of this coming and he prepared
for it specifically through the Old Testament, culminating with John the
who was the last and greatest of the prophets. We relive this long period of
expectancy in the annual liturgical celebration of the season of Advent.
103. What does the Gospel teach about the mysteries of the birth and
infancy of Jesus?
At Christmas the glory of heaven is shown forth in the weakness of a
baby; the circumcision of Jesus is a sign of his belonging to
the Hebrew people and is a prefiguration of our Baptism; the Epiphany
is the manifestation of the Messiah King of Israel to all the nations; at
presentation in the temple, Simeon and Anna symbolise all the
anticipation of Israel awaiting its encounter with its Savior; the
flight into Egypt and the massacre of the innocents proclaim that
the entire life of Christ will be under the sign of persecution; the
departure from Egypt
recalls the exodus and presents Jesus as the new Moses and the true and
104. What does the hidden life of Jesus in Nazareth teach us?
In the course of his hidden life in Nazareth Jesus stayed in the
silence of an ordinary existence. This allows us to enter into fellowship
him in the holiness to be found in a daily life marked by prayer,
simplicity, work and family love. His obedience to Mary and to Joseph, his
foster father, is an image of his filial obedience to the Father. Mary and
Joseph accepted with faith the mystery of Jesus even though they did not
always understand it.
105. Why did Jesus receive from John the “baptism of repentance for the
forgiveness of sins” (Luke 3:3)?
To inaugurate his public life and to anticipate the “Baptism” of his death,
he who was without sin accepted to be numbered among sinners. He was “the
Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:29). The
Father proclaimed him to be “his beloved Son” (Matthew 3:17) and the
Spirit descended upon him. The baptism of Jesus is a prefiguring of our
106. What do we learn from the temptations of Jesus in the desert?
The temptations of Jesus in the desert recapitulate the temptation of Adam
in Paradise and the temptations of Israel in the desert. Satan tempts Jesus
in regard to his obedience to the mission given him by the Father. Christ,
the new Adam, resists and his victory proclaims that of his passion which is
the supreme obedience of his filial love. The Church unites herself to this
mystery in a special way in the liturgical season of Lent.
107. Who is invited to come into the Kingdom of God proclaimed and
brought about by Jesus?
All are invited by Jesus to enter the Kingdom of God. Even the worst of
sinners is called to convert and to accept the boundless mercy of the
Father. Already here on earth, the Kingdom belongs to those who accept it
with a humble heart. To them the mysteries of the Kingdom are revealed.
108. Why did Jesus manifest the Kingdom by means of signs and miracles?
Jesus accompanied his words with signs and miracles to bear
witness to the fact that the Kingdom is present in him, the Messiah.
Although he healed some people, he did not come to abolish all evils here
below but rather to free us especially from the slavery of sin. The driving
out of demons proclaimed that his cross would be victorious over “the ruler
of this world” (John 12:31).
109. In the Kingdom, what authority did Jesus bestow upon his Apostles?
Jesus chose the twelve, the future witnesses of his Resurrection,
and made them sharers of his mission and of his authority to teach, to
absolve from sins, and to build up and govern the Church. In this college,
Peter received “the keys of the Kingdom” (Matthew 16:19) and assumed
the first place with the mission to keep the faith in its integrity and to
strengthen his brothers.
110. What is the meaning of the Transfiguration?
Above all the Transfiguration shows forth the Trinity: “the Father in the
voice, the Son in the man Jesus, the Spirit in the shining cloud” (Saint
Thomas Aquinas). Speaking with Moses and Elijah about his “departure” (Luke
9:31), Jesus reveals that his glory comes by way of the cross and he
anticipates his resurrection and his glorious coming “which will change our
lowly body to be like his glorious body” (Philippians 3:21).
“You were transfigured on the mountain and your disciples, as much as
they were capable of it, beheld your glory, O Christ our God, so that when
they should see you crucified they would understand that your passion was
voluntary, and proclaim to the world that you truly are the splendor of the
Father.” (Byzantine Liturgy)
111. How did the messianic entrance into Jerusalem come about?
At the established time Jesus chose to go up to Jerusalem to suffer his
passion and death, and to rise from the dead. As the Messiah King who shows
forth the coming of the Kingdom, he entered into his city mounted on a
donkey. He was acclaimed by the little children whose shout of joyful praise
is taken up in the
Sanctus of the Eucharistic liturgy: “Blessed is He Who comes in the name
of the Lord! Hosanna (save us!)” (Matthew 21:9). The liturgy
of the Church opens Holy Week by celebrating this entry into
“Jesus Christ suffered under Pontius Pilate
crucified, died, and was buried.”
112. What is the importance of the Paschal Mystery of Jesus?
The Paschal Mystery of Jesus, which comprises his passion, death,
resurrection, and glorification, stands at the center of the Christian faith
because God's saving plan was accomplished once for all by the redemptive
death of his Son Jesus Christ.
113. What were the accusations by which Jesus was condemned to death?
Some of the leaders of Israel accused Jesus of acting against the law, the
temple in Jerusalem, and in particular against faith in the one God because
he proclaimed himself to be the Son of God. For this reason they handed him
over to Pilate so that he might condemn him to death.
114. How did Jesus conduct himself in regard to the Law of Israel?
Jesus did not abolish the Law given by God to Moses on Mount Sinai but he
fulfilled it by giving it its definitive interpretation. He himself was the
divine Legislator who fully carried out this Law. Furthermore, as the
faithful Servant, he offered by means of his expiatory death the only
sacrifice capable of making atonement for all the “transgressions committed
by men under the first Covenant” (Hebrews 9:15).
115. What was the attitude of Jesus toward the temple in Jerusalem?
Jesus was accused of hostility to the temple. On the contrary, he venerated
it as “the house of his Father” (John 2:16); and it was there that he
imparted an important part of his teaching. However, he also foretold its
destruction in connection with his own death and he presented himself as the
definitive dwelling place of God among men.
116. Did Jesus contradict Israel's faith in the one God and savior?
Jesus never contradicted faith in the one God, not even when he performed
the stupendous divine work which fulfilled the messianic promises and
revealed himself as equal to God, namely the pardoning of sins. However, the
call of Jesus to believe in him and to be converted makes it possible to
understand the tragic misunderstanding of the Sanhedrin which judged Jesus
to be worthy of death as a blasphemer.
117. Who is responsible for the death of Jesus?
The passion and death of Jesus cannot be imputed indiscriminately either to
all the Jews that were living at that time or to their descendants. Every
single sinner, that is, every human being is really the cause and the
instrument of the sufferings of the Redeemer; and the greater blame in this
respect falls on those above all who are Christians and who the more often
fall into sin or delight in their vices.
118. Why was the death of Jesus part of God's plan?
To reconcile to himself all who were destined to die because of sin God
took the loving initiative of sending his Son that he might give himself up
for sinners. Proclaimed in the Old Testament, especially as the sacrifice of
the Suffering Servant, the death of Jesus came about “in accordance with the
119. In what way did Christ offer himself to the Father?
The entire life of Christ was a free offering to the Father to carry out
his plan of salvation. He gave “his life as a ransom for many” (Mark
10:45) and in this way he reconciled all of humanity with God. His suffering
and death showed how his humanity was the free and perfect instrument of
that divine love which desires the salvation of all people.
120. How is Jesus’ offering expressed at the Last Supper?
At the Last Supper with his apostles on the eve of his passion Jesus
anticipated, that is, both symbolized his free self-offering and made it
really present: “This is my Body which is given for you” (Luke
22:19), “This is my Blood which is poured out...” (Matthew
26:28) Thus he both instituted the Eucharist as the “memorial” (1
Corinthians 11:25) of his sacrifice and instituted his apostles as
priests of the new covenant.
121. What happened in the Agony in the Garden of Gethsemane?
Despite the horror which death represented for the sacred humanity of Jesus
“who is the Author of Life” (Acts 3:15), the human will of the Son of
God remained faithful to the will of the Father for our salvation. Jesus
accepted the duty to carry our sins in his Body “becoming obedient unto
death” (Philippians 2:8).
122. What are the results of the sacrifice of Christ on the cross?
Jesus freely offered his life as an expiatory sacrifice, that is, he made
reparation for our sins with the full obedience of his love unto death. This
love “to the end” (John 13:1) of the Son of God reconciled all of
humanity with the Father. The paschal sacrifice of Christ, therefore,
redeems humanity in a way that is unique, perfect, and definitive; and it
opens up for them communion with God.
123. Why does Jesus call upon his disciples to take up their cross?
By calling his disciples to take up their cross and follow him Jesus
desires to associate with his redeeming sacrifice those who are to be its
124. In what condition was the body of Christ while it lay in the tomb?
Christ underwent a real death and a true burial. However, the power of God
preserved his body from corruption.
“Jesus Christ descended into hell;
on the third day
He rose again from the dead.”
125. What is the “hell” into which Jesus descended?
This “hell” was different from the hell of the damned. It was the
state of all those, righteous and evil, who died before Christ. With his
soul united to his divine Person Jesus went down to the just in hell who
were awaiting their Redeemer so they could enter at last into the vision of
God. When he had conquered by his death both death and the devil “who has
the power of death” (Hebrews 2:14), he freed the just who looked
forward to the Redeemer and opened for them the gates of heaven.
126. What place does the Resurrection of Christ occupy in our faith?
The Resurrection of Jesus is the crowning truth of our faith in Christ and
represents along with his cross an essential part of the Paschal Mystery.
127. What are the signs that bear witness to the Resurrection of Jesus?
Along with the essential sign of the empty tomb, the Resurrection of Jesus
is witnessed to by the women who first encountered Christ and proclaimed him
to the apostles. Jesus then “appeared to Cephas (Peter) and then to the
Twelve. Following that he appeared to more than five hundred of the brethren
at one time” (1 Corinthians 15:5-6) and to others as well. The
apostles could not have invented the story of the resurrection since it
seemed impossible to them. As a matter of fact, Jesus himself upbraided them
for their unbelief.
128. Why is the Resurrection at the same time a transcendent occurrence?
While being an historical event, verifiable and attested by signs and
testimonies, the Resurrection, insofar as it is the entrance of Christ's
humanity into the glory of God, transcends and surpasses history as a
mystery of faith. For this reason the risen Christ did not manifest himself
to the world but to his disciples, making them his witnesses to the people.
129. What is the condition of the risen body of Jesus?of Christ was
not a return to earthly life. His risen body is that which was crucified and
bears the marks of his passion. However it also participates in the divine
life, with the characteristics of a glorified body. Because of this the
risen Jesus was utterly free to appear to his disciples how and where he
wished and under various aspects.
130. How is the Resurrection the work of the Most Holy Trinity?The
Resurrection of Christ is a transcendent work of God. The three Persons act
together according to what is proper to them: the Father manifests his
power; the Son “takes again” the life which he freely offered (John
10:17), reuniting his soul and his body which the Spirit brings to life and
131. What is the saving meaning of the Resurrection?
The Resurrection is the climax of the Incarnation. It confirms the divinity
of Christ and all the things which he did and taught. It fulfills all the
divine promises made for us. Furthermore the risen Christ, the conqueror of
sin and death, is the principle of our justification and our Resurrection.
It procures for us now the grace of filial adoption which is a real share in
the life of the only begotten Son. At the end of time he will raise up our
“Jesus Ascended into Heaven
and Is Seated at the
Right Hand of
God the Father Almighty”
132. What does the Ascension mean?
After forty days during which Jesus showed himself to the apostles with
ordinary human features which veiled his glory as the Risen One, Christ
ascended into heaven and was seated at the right hand of the Father. He is
the Lord who now in his humanity reigns in the everlasting glory of the Son
of God and constantly intercedes for us before the Father. He sends us his
Spirit and he gives us the hope of one day reaching the place he has
prepared for us.
“From thence He shall come to judge the living and the
133. How does the Lord Jesus now reign?
As the Lord of the cosmos and of history, the Head of his Church, the
glorified Christ mysteriously remains on earth where his kingdom is already
present in seed and in its beginning in the Church. One day he will return
in glory but we do not know the time. Because of this we live in watchful
anticipation, praying “Come, Lord” (Revelation 22:20).
134. How will the coming of the Lord in glory happen?
After the final cosmic upheaval of this passing world the glorious coming
of Christ will take place. Then will come the definitive triumph of God in
the parousia and the Last Judgment. Thus the Kingdom of God will be
135. How will Christ judge the living and the dead?
Christ will judge with the power he has gained as the Redeemer of the world
who came to bring salvation to all. The secrets of hearts will be brought to
light as well as the conduct of each one toward God and toward his neighbor.
Everyone, according to how he has lived, will either be filled with life or
damned for eternity. In this way, “the fullness of Christ” (Ephesians
4:13) will come about in which “God will be all in all” (1 Corinthians
I Believe in the Holy
136. What does the Church mean when she confesses: “I believe in the
To believe in the Holy Spirit is to profess faith in the Third Person of
the Most Holy Trinity who proceeds from the Father and the Son and “is
worshipped and glorified with the Father and the Son”. The Spirit is “sent
into our hearts” (Galatians 4:6) so that we might receive new life as
sons of God.
137. Why are the missions of the Son and the Holy Spirit inseparable?
In the indivisible Trinity, the Son and the Spirit are distinct but
inseparable. From the very beginning until the end of time, when the Father
sends his Son he also sends his Spirit who unites us to Christ in faith so
that as adopted sons we can call God “Father” (Romans 8:15). The
Spirit is invisible but we know him through his actions, when he reveals the
Word to us and when he acts in the Church.
138. What are the names of the Holy Spirit?
“The Holy Spirit” is the proper name of the third Person of the Most Holy
Trinity. Jesus also called him the Paraclete (Consoler or Advocate) and the
Spirit of Truth. The New Testament also refers to him as the Spirit of
Christ, of the Lord, of God - the Spirit of Glory and the Spirit of the
139. What symbols are used to represent the Holy Spirit?
There are many symbols of the Holy Spirit: living water which
springs from the wounded Heart of Christ and which quenches the thirst of
anointing with oil, which is the sacramental sign of Confirmation;
fire which transforms what it touches; the cloud, dark or
luminous, in which the divine glory is revealed; the imposition of hands
by which the Holy Spirit is given; the dove which descended on Christ
at his baptism and remained with him.
140. What does it mean that the Spirit “has spoken through the
The term “prophets” means those who were inspired by the Holy Spirit
to speak in the name of God. The Spirit brings the prophecies of the Old
Testament to their complete fulfillment in Christ whose mystery he reveals
in the New Testament.
141. What did the Holy Spirit accomplish in John the Baptist?
The Spirit filled John the Baptist, who was the last prophet of the Old
Testament. Under his inspiration John was sent to “prepare for the Lord a
people well disposed” (Luke 1:17). He was to proclaim the coming of
Christ, the Son of God, upon whom he saw the Spirit descend and remain, the
one who “baptizes with the Spirit” (John 1:33).
142. What is the work of the Spirit in Mary?
The Holy Spirit brought to fulfillment in Mary all the waiting and the
preparation of the Old Testament for the coming of Christ. In a singular way
he filled her with grace and made her virginity fruitful so that she could
give birth to the Son of God made flesh. He made her the Mother of the
“whole Christ”, that is, of Jesus the Head and of the Church his body. Mary
was present with the twelve on the day of Pentecost when the Holy Spirit
inaugurated the “last days” with the manifestation of the Church.
143. What is the relationship between the Spirit and Christ Jesus in his
Beginning with his Incarnation, the Son of God was consecrated in his
humanity as the Messiah by means of the anointing of the Spirit. He revealed
the Spirit in his teaching, fulfilled the promises made to the Fathers, and
bestowed him upon the Church at its birth when he breathed on the apostles
after the Resurrection.
144. What happened at Pentecost?
Fifty days after the Resurrection at Pentecost the glorified Jesus Christ
poured out the Spirit in abundance and revealed him as a divine Person so
that the Holy Trinity was fully manifest. The mission of Christ and of the
Spirit became the mission of the Church which is sent to proclaim and spread
the mystery of the communion of the Holy Trinity.
“We have seen the true Light, we have received the heavenly Spirit, we
have found the true faith: we adore the indivisible Trinity, who has saved
us.” (Byzantine Liturgy, Troparion of Vespers of Pentecost)
145. What does the Spirit do in the Church?
The Spirit builds, animates and sanctifies the Church. As the Spirit of
Love, he restores to the baptized the divine likeness that was lost through
sin and causes them to live in Christ the very life of the Holy Trinity. He
sends them forth to bear witness to the Truth of Christ and he organizes
them in their respective functions so that all might bear “the fruit of the
146. How do Christ and his Spirit act in the hearts of the faithful?
Christ communicates his Spirit and the grace of God through the
to all the members of the Church, who thus bear the fruits of the new
of the Spirit. The Holy Spirit is also the Master of prayer.
“I BELIEVE IN THE HOLY CATHOLIC CHURCH”
The Church in the Plan of God
147. What does the word Church mean?
The word Church refers to the people whom God calls and gathers
together from every part of the earth. They form the assembly of those who
through faith and Baptism have become children of God, members of Christ,
and temples of the Holy Spirit.
148. Are there other names and images with which the Bible speaks about
In Sacred Scripture we find many images which bring out various
complementary aspects of the mystery of the Church. The Old Testament favors
those images that are bound to the people of God. The New Testament
offers images that are linked to Christ as the Head of this people which is
his Body. Other images are drawn from pastoral life (sheepfold, flock,
sheep), from agriculture (field, olive grove, vineyard), from construction
(dwelling place, stone, temple), and from family life (spouse, mother,
149. What is the origin and the fulfillment of the Church?
The Church finds her origin and fulfillment in the eternal plan of God. She
was prepared for in the Old Covenant with the election of Israel, the sign
of the future gathering of all the nations. Founded by the words and actions
of Jesus Christ, fulfilled by his redeeming death and Resurrection, the
Church has been manifested as the mystery of salvation by the outpouring of
the Holy Spirit at Pentecost. She will be perfected in the glory of heaven
as the assembly of all the redeemed of the earth.
150. What is the mission of the Church?
The mission of the Church is to proclaim and establish the Kingdom of God
begun by Jesus Christ among all peoples. The Church constitutes on earth the
seed and beginning of this salvific Kingdom.
151. In what way is the Church a mystery?
The Church is a mystery in as much as in her visible reality there is
present and active a divine spiritual reality which can only be seen with
the eyes of faith.
152. What does it mean to say that the Church is the universal sacrament
This means that she is the sign and instrument both of the reconciliation
and communion of all of humanity with God and of the unity of the entire
The Church: people of God,
Christ, temple of the Spirit
153. Why is the Church the ‘people of God’?
The Church is the ‘people of God’ because it pleased God to sanctify and
save men not in isolation but by making them into one people gathered
together by the unity of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit.
154. What are the characteristics of the people of God?
One becomes a member of this people through faith in Christ and Baptism.
This people has for its origin God the Father; for its head
Jesus Christ; for its hallmark the dignity and freedom of the sons of
God; for its law the new commandment of love; for its mission
to be the salt of the earth and the light of the world; and for its
destiny the Kingdom of God, already begun on earth.
155. In what way does the people of God share in the three functions of
Christ as Priest, Prophet and King?
The people of God participate in Christ's priestly office insofar as
the baptized are consecrated by the Holy Spirit to offer spiritual
sacrifices. They share in Christ’s prophetic office when with a
supernatural sense of faith they adhere unfailingly to that faith and deepen
their understanding and witness to it. The people of God share in his
kingly office by means of service, imitating Jesus Christ who as King of
the universe made himself the servant of all, especially the poor and the
156. In what way is the Church the body of Christ?
The risen Christ unites his faithful people to himself in an intimate way
by means of the Holy Spirit. In this way, those who believe in Christ, in as
much as they are close to him especially in the Eucharist, are united among
themselves in charity. They form one body, the Church, whose unity is
experienced in the diversity of its members and its functions.
157. Who is the Head of this body?
Christ “is the Head of the body, the Church” (Colossians 1:18). The
Church lives from him, in him and for him. Christ and the Church make up the
“whole Christ” (Saint Augustine); “Head and members form, as it were, one
and the same mystical person” (Saint Thomas Aquinas).
158. Why is the Church called the “Bride of Christ”?
She is called the “Bride of Christ” because the Lord himself called himself
her “Spouse” (Mark 2:19). The Lord has loved the Church and has
joined her to himself in an everlasting covenant. He has given himself up
for her in order to purify her with his blood and “sanctify her” (Ephesians
5:26), making her the fruitful mother of all the children of God. While the
term “body” expresses the unity of the “head” with the members, the term
“bride” emphasizes the distinction of the two in their personal
159. Why is the Church called the temple of the Holy Spirit?
She is so called because the Holy Spirit resides in the body which is the
Church, in her Head and in her members. He also builds up the Church in
charity by the Word of God, the sacraments, the virtues, and charisms.
“What the soul is to the human body, the Holy Spirit is to the members
of Christ, that is, the body of Christ, which is the Church.” (Saint
160. What are charisms?
Charisms are special gifts of the Holy Spirit which are bestowed on
individuals for the good of others, the needs of the world, and in
particular for the building up of the Church. The discernment of charisms is
the responsibility of the Magisterium.
The Church is one, holy, catholic, and
161. Why is the Church one?
The Church is one because she has as her source and exemplar the unity of
the Trinity of Persons in one God. As her Founder and Head, Jesus Christ
re-established the unity of all people in one body. As her soul, the Holy
Spirit unites all the faithful in communion with Christ. The Church has but
one faith, one sacramental life, one apostolic succession, one common hope,
and one and the same charity.
162. Where does the one Church of Christ subsist?
The one Church of Christ, as a society constituted and organized in the
world, subsists in (subsistit in) the Catholic Church, governed by
the Successor of Peter and the bishops in communion with him. Only through
this Church can one obtain the fullness of the means of salvation since the
Lord has entrusted all the blessings of the New Covenant to the apostolic
college alone whose head is Peter.
163. How are non-Catholic Christians to be considered?
In the churches and ecclesial communities which are separated from full
communion with the Catholic Church, many elements of sanctification and
truth can be found. All of these blessings come from Christ and lead to
Catholic unity. Members of these churches and communities are incorporated
into Christ by Baptism and we so we recognize them as brothers.
164. How does one commit oneself to work for the unity of Christians?
The desire to restore the unity of all Christians is a gift from Christ and
a call of the Spirit. This desire involves the entire Church and it is
pursued by conversion of heart, prayer, fraternal knowledge of each other
and theological dialogue.
165. In what way is the Church holy?
The Church is holy insofar as the Most Holy God is her author. Christ has
given himself for her to sanctify her and make her a source of
sanctification. The Holy Spirit gives her life with charity. In the Church
one finds the fullness of the means of salvation. Holiness is the vocation
of each of her members and the purpose of all her activities. The Church
counts among her members the Virgin Mary and numerous Saints who are her
models and intercessors. The holiness of the Church is the fountain of
sanctification for her children who here on earth recognize themselves as
sinners ever in need of conversion and purification.
166. Why is the Church called “Catholic”?
The Church is catholic, that is universal, insofar as Christ
is present in her: “Where there is Christ Jesus, there is the Catholic
Church” (Saint Ignatius of Antioch). The Church proclaims the fullness and
the totality of the faith; she bears and administers the fullness of the
means of salvation; she is sent out by Christ on a mission to the whole of
the human race.
167. Is the particular Church catholic?
Every particular Church (that is, a diocese or eparchy)
is catholic. It is formed by a community of Christians who are in communion
of faith and of the sacraments both with their Bishop, who is ordained in
apostolic succession, and with the Church of Rome which “presides in
charity” (Saint Ignatius of Antioch).
168. Who belongs to the Catholic Church?
All human beings in various ways belong to or are ordered to the Catholic
unity of the people of God. Fully incorporated into the Catholic Church are
those who, possessing the Spirit of Christ, are joined to the Church by the
bonds of the profession of faith, the sacraments, ecclesiastical government
and communion. The baptized who do not enjoy full Catholic unity are in a
certain, although imperfect, communion with the Catholic Church.
169. What is the relationship of the Catholic Church with the Jewish
The Catholic Church recognizes a particular link with the Jewish people in
the fact that God chose them before all others to receive his Word. To the
Jewish people belong “the sonship, the glory, the covenants, the giving of
the law, the worship, the promises, and the patriarchs; and of their race,
according to the flesh, is the Christ” (Romans 9:4, 5). The Jewish faith,
unlike other non-Christian religions, is already a response to the
revelation of God in the Old Covenant.
170. What is the bond that exists between the Catholic Church and
There is a bond between all peoples which comes especially from the common
origin and end of the entire human race. The Catholic Church recognizes that
whatever is good or true in other religions comes from God and is a
reflection of his truth. As such it can prepare for the acceptance of the
Gospel and act as a stimulus toward the unity of humanity in the Church of
171. What is the meaning of the affirmation “Outside the Church there is
This means that all salvation comes from Christ, the Head, through the
Church which is his body. Hence they cannot be saved who, knowing the Church
as founded by Christ and necessary for salvation, would refuse to enter her
or remain in her. At the same time, thanks to Christ and to his Church,
those who through no fault of their own do not know the Gospel of Christ and
his Church but sincerely seek God and, moved by grace, try to do his will as
it is known through the dictates of conscience can attain eternal salvation.
172. Why must the Church proclaim the Gospel to the whole world?
The Church must do so because Christ has given the command: “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” (Matthew 28:19). This
missionary mandate of the Lord has its origin in the eternal love of God who
has sent his Son and the Holy Spirit because “he desires all men to be saved
and to come to the knowledge of the truth” (1 Timothy 2:4).
173. In what sense is the Church missionary?
The Church, guided by the Holy Spirit, continues the mission of Christ
himself in the course of history. Christians must, therefore, proclaim to
everyone the Good News borne by Christ; and, following his path, they must
be ready for self-sacrifice, even unto martyrdom.
174. Why is the Church apostolic?
The Church is apostolic in her origin because she has been built on
“the foundation of the Apostles” (Ephesians 2:20). She is apostolic
teaching which is the same as that of the Apostles. She is apostolic by
reason of her structure insofar as she is taught, sanctified, and
guided until Christ returns by the Apostles through their successors who are
the bishops in communion with the successor of Peter.
175. In what does the mission of the Apostles consist?
The Word “Apostle” means “one who is sent”. Jesus, the One sent by
the Father, called to himself twelve of his disciples and appointed them as
his Apostles, making them the chosen witnesses of his Resurrection and the
foundation of his Church. He gave them the command to continue his own
mission saying, “As the Father has sent me, so I also send you” (John
20:21); and he promised to remain with them until the end of the world.
176. What is apostolic succession?
Apostolic succession is the transmission by means of the sacrament of Holy
Orders of the mission and power of the Apostles to their successors, the
bishops. Thanks to this transmission the Church remains in communion of
faith and life with her origin, while through the centuries she carries on
her apostolate for the spread of the Kingdom of Christ on earth.
The Faithful: hierarchy, laity,
177. Who are the faithful?
The Christian faithful are those who, inasmuch as they have been
incorporated in Christ through Baptism, have been constituted as the people
of God; for this reason, since they have become sharers in Christ’s
priestly, prophetic and royal office in their own manner, they are called to
exercise the mission which God has entrusted to the Church. There exists a
true equality among them in their dignity as children of God.
178. How are the people of God formed?
Among the faithful by divine institution there exist sacred ministers
who have received the sacrament of Holy Orders and who form the hierarchy of
the Church. The other members of the Church are called the laity. In
both the hierarchy and the laity there are certain of the faithful who are
in a special manner to God by the profession of the evangelical counsels:
chastity or celibacy, poverty, and obedience.
179. Why did Christ institute an ecclesiastical hierarchy?
Christ instituted an ecclesiastical hierarchy with the mission of feeding
the people of God in his name and for this purpose gave it authority. The
hierarchy is formed of sacred ministers,; bishops, priests, and deacons.
Thanks to the sacrament of Orders, bishops and priests act in the exercise
of their ministry in the name and person of Christ the Head. Deacons
minister to the people of God in the diakonia (service) of word,
liturgy, and charity.
180. How is the collegial dimension of Church ministry carried out?
After the example of the twelve Apostles who were chosen and sent out
together by Christ, the unity of the Church’s hierarchy is at the service of
the communion of all the faithful. Every bishop exercises his ministry as a
member of the episcopal college in communion with the Pope and shares with
him in the care of the universal Church. Priests exercise their ministry in
the presbyterate of the local Church in communion with their own bishop and
under his direction.
181. Why does ecclesial ministry also have a personal character?
Ecclesial ministry also has a personal character in as much as each
minister, in virtue of the sacrament of Holy Orders, is responsible before
Christ who called him personally and conferred on him his mission.
182. What is the mission of the Pope?
The Pope, Bishop of Rome and the Successor of Saint Peter, is the
perpetual, visible source and foundation of the unity of the Church. He is
the vicar of Christ, the head of the College of bishops and pastor of the
universal Church over which he has by divine institution full, supreme,
immediate, and universal power.
183. What is the competence of the college of bishops?
The college of bishops in union with the Pope, and never without him, also
exercises supreme and full authority over the Church.
184. How do the bishops carry out their mission of teaching?
Since they are authentic witnesses of the apostolic faith and are invested
with the authority of Christ, the bishops in union with the Pope have the
duty of proclaiming the Gospel faithfully and authoritatively to all. By
means of a supernatural sense of faith, the people of God unfailingly adhere
to the faith under the guidance of the living Magisterium of the Church.
185. When is the infallibility of the Magisterium exercised?
Infallibility is exercised when the Roman Pontiff, in virtue of his office
as the Supreme Pastor of the Church, or the College of Bishops, in union
with the Pope especially when joined together in an Ecumenical Council,
proclaim by a definitive act a doctrine pertaining to faith or morals.
Infallibility is also exercised when the Pope and Bishops in their ordinary
Magisterium are in agreement in proposing a doctrine as definitive. Every
one of the faithful must adhere to such teaching with the obedience of
186. How do Bishops exercise their ministry of sanctification?
Bishops sanctify the Church by dispensing the grace of Christ by their
ministry of the word and the sacraments, especially the Holy Eucharist, and
also by their prayers, their example and their work.
187. How do the Bishops exercise their function of governing?
Every bishop, insofar as he is a member of the college of bishops, bears
collegially the care for all particular Churches and for the entire Church
along with all the other bishops who are united to the Pope. A bishop to
whom a particular Church has been entrusted governs that Church with the
authority of his own sacred power which is ordinary and immediate and
exercised in the name of Christ, the Good Shepherd, in communion with the
entire Church and under the guidance of the Successor of Peter.
188. What is the vocation of the lay faithful?
The lay faithful have as their own vocation to seek the Kingdom of God by
illuminating and ordering temporal affairs according to the plan of God.
They carry out in this way their call to holiness and to the apostolate, a
call given to all the baptized.
189. How do the lay faithful participate in the priestly office of
They participate in it especially in the Eucharist by offering as a
spiritual sacrifice “acceptable to God through Jesus Christ” (1 Peter
2:5) their own lives with all of their works, their prayers, their apostolic
undertakings, their family life, their daily work and hardships borne with
patience and even their consolations of spirit and body. In this way, even
the laity, dedicated to Christ and consecrated by the Holy Spirit, offer to
God the world itself.
190. How does the laity participate in the prophetic office?
They participate in it by welcoming evermore in faith the Word of Christ
and proclaiming it to the world by the witness of their lives, their words,
their evangelizing action, and by catechesis. This evangelizing action
acquires a particular efficacy because it is accomplished in the ordinary
circumstances of the world.
191. How do they participate in the kingly office?
The laity participate in the kingly function of Christ because they have
received from him the power to overcome sin in themselves and in the world
by self-denial and the holiness of their lives. They exercise various
ministries at the service of the community and they imbue temporal
activities and the institutions of society with moral values.
192. What is the consecrated life?
The consecrated life is a state of life recognized by the Church. It is a
free response to a special call from Christ by which those consecrated give
themselves completely to God and strive for the perfection of charity moved
by the Holy Spirit. This consecration is characterized by the practice of
the evangelical counsels.
193. What can the consecrated life give to the mission of the Church?
The consecrated life participates in the mission of the Church by means of
a complete dedication to Christ and to one’s brothers and sisters witnessing
to the hope of the heavenly Kingdom.
I believe in the communion of saints
194. What is the meaning of the “communion of saints”?
This expression indicates first of all the common sharing of all the
members of the Church in holy things (sancta): the faith, the
sacraments, especially the Eucharist, the charisms, and the other spiritual
gifts. At the root of this communion is love which “does not seek its own
interests” (1 Corinthians 13:5) but leads the faithful to “hold
everything in common” (Acts 4:32), even to put one’s own material
goods at the service of the most poor.
195. What else does “the communion of saints” mean?
This expression also refers to the communion between holy persons
(sancti); that is, between those who by grace are united to the dead and
risen Christ. Some are pilgrims on the earth; others, having passed from
this life, are undergoing purification and are helped also by our prayers.
Others already enjoy the glory of God and intercede for us. All of these
together form in Christ one family, the Church, to the praise and glory of
Mary, Mother of Christ, Mother of the
196. In what sense is the Blessed Virgin Mary the Mother of the Church?
The Blessed Virgin Mary is the Mother of the Church in the order of grace
because she gave birth to Jesus, the Son of God, the Head of the body which
is the Church. When he was dying on the cross Jesus gave his mother to his
disciple with the words, “Behold your mother” (John 19:27).
197. How does the Virgin Mary help the Church?
After the Ascension of her Son, the Virgin Mary aided the beginnings of the
Church with her prayers. Even after her Assumption into heaven, she
continues to intercede for her children, to be a model of faith and charity
for all, and to exercise over them a salutary influence deriving from the
superabundant merits of Christ. The faithful see in Mary an image and an
anticipation of the resurrection that awaits them and they invoke her as
advocate, helper, benefactress and mediatrix.
198. What kind of devotion is directed to the holy Virgin?
It is a singular kind of devotion which differs essentially from the cult
of adoration given only to the Most Holy Trinity. This special veneration
directed to Mary finds particular expression in the liturgical feasts
dedicated to the Mother of God and in Marian prayers such as the holy Rosary
which is a compendium of the whole Gospel.
199. In what way is the Blessed Virgin Mary the eschatological icon of
Looking upon Mary, who is completely holy and already glorified in body and
soul, the Church contemplates in her what she herself is called to be on
earth and what she will be in the homeland of heaven.
“I BELIEVE IN THE FORGIVENESS OF SINS”
200. How are sins remitted?
The first and chief sacrament for the forgiveness of sins is Baptism. For
those sins committed after Baptism, Christ instituted the sacrament of
Reconciliation or Penance through which a baptized person is reconciled with
God and with the Church.
201. Why does the Church have the power to forgive sins?
The Church has the mission and the power to forgive sins because Christ
himself has conferred it upon her: “Receive the Holy Spirit, if you forgive
the sins of any, they are forgiven; if you retain the sins of any, they are
“I BELIEVE IN THE RESURRECTION OF THE BODY”
202. What is the meaning of the term “body” (or “flesh”) and what
importance does it have?
The resurrection of the flesh is the literal formulation in the
Apostles Creed for the resurrection of the body. The term “flesh” refers to
humanity in its state of weakness and mortality. “The flesh is the hinge of
salvation” (Tertullian). We believe in God the Creator of the flesh; we
believe in the Word made flesh in order to redeem flesh; and we believe in
the resurrection of flesh which is the fulfillment of both the creation and
the redemption of the flesh.
203. What is meant by the “resurrection of the body”?
This means that the definitive state of man will not be one in which his
spiritual soul is separated from his body. Even our mortal bodies will one
day come to life again.
204. What is the relationship between the Resurrection of Christ and our
Just as Christ is truly risen from the dead and now lives forever, so he
himself will raise everyone on the last day with an incorruptible body:
“Those who have done good will rise to the resurrection of life and those
who have done evil to the resurrection of condemnation” (John 5:29).
205. What happens to our body and our soul after death?
After death, which is the separation of the body and the soul, the body
becomes corrupt while the soul, which is immortal, goes to meet the judgment
of God and awaits its reunion with the body when it will rise transformed at
the time of the return of the Lord. How the resurrection of the body
will come about exceeds the possibilities of our imagination and
206. What does it mean to die in Christ Jesus?
Dying in Christ Jesus means to die in the state of God's grace without any
mortal sin. A believer in Christ, following his example, is thus able to
transform his own death into an act of obedience and love for the Father.
“This saying is sure: if we have died with him, we will also live with him”
“I BELIEVE IN LIFE EVERLASTING”
207. What is life everlasting?
Eternal life is that life which begins immediately after death. It will
have no end. It will be preceded for each person by a particular judgment at
the hands of Christ who is the Judge of the living and the dead. This
particular judgement will be confirmed in the final judgment.
208. What is the particular judgment?
It is the judgment of immediate retribution which each one after death will
receive from God in his immortal soul in accord with his faith and his
works. This retribution consists in entrance into the happiness of heaven,
immediately or after an appropriate purification, or entry into the eternal
damnation of hell.
209. What is meant by the term “heaven”?
By “heaven” is meant the state of supreme and definitive happiness. Those
who die in the grace of God and have no need of further purification are
gathered around Jesus and Mary, the angels and the saints. They thus form
the Church of heaven, where they see God “face to face” (1 Corinthians
13:12). They live in a communion of love with the Most Blessed Trinity and
they intercede for us.
“True and subsistent life consists in this: the Father, through the
Son and in the Holy Spirit, pouring out his heavenly gifts on all things
without exception. Thanks to his mercy, we too, men that we are, have
received the inalienable promise of eternal life.” (Saint Cyril of
210. What is purgatory?
Purgatory is the state of those who die in God’s friendship, assured of
their eternal salvation, but who still have need of purification to enter
into the happiness of heaven.
211. How can we help the souls being purified in purgatory?
Because of the communion of saints, the faithful who are still pilgrims on
earth are able to help the souls in purgatory by offering prayers in
suffrage for them, especially the Eucharistic sacrifice. They also help them
by almsgiving, indulgences, and works of penance.
212. In what does hell consist?
Hell consists in the eternal damnation of those who die in mortal sin
through their own free choice. The principal suffering of hell is eternal
separation from God in whom alone we can have the life and happiness for
which we were created and for which we long. Christ proclaimed this reality
with the words, “Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire” (Matthew
213. How can one reconcile the existence of hell with the infinite
goodness of God?
God, while desiring “all to come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9),
nevertheless has created the human person to be free and responsible; and he
respects our decisions. Therefore, it is the human person who freely
excludes himself from communion with God if at the moment of death he
persists in mortal sin and refuses the merciful love of God.
214. In what does the final judgment consist?
The final or universal judgment consists in a sentence of happiness or
eternal condemnation, which the Lord Jesus will issue in regard to the “just
and the unjust” (Acts 24:15) when he returns as the Judge of the
living and the dead. After the last judgment, the resurrected body will
share in the retribution which the soul received at the particular judgment.
215. When will this judgment occur?
This judgment will come at the end of the world and only God knows the day
and the hour.
216. What is the hope of the new heavens and the new earth?
After the final judgment the universe itself, freed from its bondage to
decay, will share in the glory of Christ with the beginning of “the new
heavens” and a “new earth” (2 Peter 3:13). Thus, the fullness of the
Kingdom of God will come about, that is to say, the definitive realization
of the salvific plan of God to “unite all things in Christ, things in heaven
and things on earth” (Ephesians
1:10). God will then be “all in all” (1 Corinthians 15:28) in eternal
217. What is the meaning of the word “Amen” with which we
conclude our profession of faith?
The Hebrew word “Amen”, which also concludes the last book of Sacred
Scripture, some of the prayers of the New Testament, and the liturgical
prayers of the Church, expresses our confident and total “yes” to what we
professed in the Creed, entrusting ourselves completely to him who is the
definitive “Amen” (Revelation 3:14), Christ the Lord.
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