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He is the central figure of apostolic preaching. 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. He is the Lord of the world and of history, the only One to whom we must completely submit our personal freedom.
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. Faith in the Incarnation is a distinctive sign of the Christian faith. Jesus is inseparably true God and true man in the unity of his divine Person. 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.
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. 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 mirror of salvation : a moral play of Everyman, c - Ghent University Library
The human will of Christ followed without opposition or reluctance the divine will or, in other words, it was subject to it. 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 sacred images. 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. 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. He is God himself.
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. By the grace of God Mary was kept free from every personal sin her whole life long.
Mary thus gave herself entirely to the person and work of her Son Jesus, espousing wholeheartedly the divine will regarding salvation. 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. 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. The entire life of Christ is a revelation. 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.
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 Baptist 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. 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 the 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 definitive liberator.
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 with 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. The baptism of Jesus is a prefiguring of our baptism.
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.
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. 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. 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.
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. Hosanna save us! The liturgy of the Church opens Holy Week by celebrating this entry into Jerusalem. 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.
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. 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. Jesus was accused of hostility to the temple. 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. 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. 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.
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. The entire life of Christ was a free offering to the Father to carry out his plan of salvation. 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.
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. 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. 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 first beneficiaries. Christ underwent a real death and a true burial. However, the power of God preserved his body from corruption. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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.
The Resurrection 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. The Resurrection of Christ is a transcendent work of God. 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 bodies. 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. 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. 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 realized. 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. I Believe in the Holy Spirit. In the indivisible Trinity, the Son and the Spirit are distinct but inseparable. 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. There are many symbols of the Holy Spirit: living water which springs from the wounded Heart of Christ and which quenches the thirst of the baptized; 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.
The Spirit brings the prophecies of the Old Testament to their complete fulfillment in Christ whose mystery he reveals in the New Testament. 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.
What is the relationship between the Spirit and Christ Jesus in his earthly mission? 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. 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. 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. Christ communicates his Spirit and the grace of God through the sacraments to all the members of the Church, who thus bear the fruits of the new life of the Spirit.
The Holy Spirit is also the Master of prayer. The Church in the Plan of God. 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.
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, family.
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.
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. 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.
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 human race. The Church: people of God, body of Christ, temple of the Spirit. 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.
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. 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 suffering.
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. The Church lives from him, in him and for him. The Lord has loved the Church and has joined her to himself in an everlasting covenant.
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. 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 apostolic. 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. 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. 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. 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.
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. 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. Every particular Church that is, a diocese or eparchy is catholic. 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. 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. The Jewish faith, unlike other non-Christian religions, is already a response to the revelation of God in the Old Covenant. What is the bond that exists between the Catholic Church and non-Christian religions? 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 Christ. 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. 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.
She is apostolic in her 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. 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.
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, consecrated life.
There exists a true equality among them in their dignity as children of God. 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 consecrated in a special manner to God by the profession of the evangelical counsels: chastity or celibacy, poverty, and obedience. 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. 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.
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. 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. The college of bishops in union with the Pope, and never without him, also exercises supreme and full authority over the Church.
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. 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 faith. 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.
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. 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. In this way, even the laity, dedicated to Christ and consecrated by the Holy Spirit, offer to God the world itself. 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.
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.
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.
I believe in 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. 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 the Trinity. Mary, Mother of Christ, Mother of the Church. 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. 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.
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. 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. The resurrection of the flesh is the literal formulation in the Apostles Creed for the resurrection of the body. 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.
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. 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 understanding. Dying in Christ Jesus means to die in the state of God's grace without any mortal sin.
www.cantinesanpancrazio.it/components/ramehabuw/302-da-numero.php 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. 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. 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. 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 live in a communion of love with the Most Blessed Trinity and they intercede for us. Thanks to his mercy, we too, men that we are, have received the inalienable promise of eternal life.
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.
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They also help them by almsgiving, indulgences, and works of penance. 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. 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. After the last judgment, the resurrected body will share in the retribution which the soul received at the particular judgment.
The Celebration of the Christian Mystery. Section One The Sacramental Economy. The liturgy is the celebration of the mystery of Christ and in particular his paschal mystery. Through the exercise of the priestly office of Jesus Christ the liturgy manifests in signs and brings about the sanctification of humankind. The public worship which is due to God is offered by the Mystical Body of Christ, that is, by its head and by its members.
The liturgy as the sacred action par excellence is the summit toward which the activity of the Church is directed and it is likewise the font from which all her power flows. Through the liturgy Christ continues the work of our redemption in, with and through his Church. The Paschal Mystery in the Age of the Church. At the same time, the Church blesses the Father by her worship, praise, and thanksgiving and begs him for the gift of his Son and the Holy Spirit.
In the liturgy of the Church, it is his own paschal mystery that Christ signifies and makes present. By giving the Holy Spirit to his apostles he entrusted to them and their successors the power to make present the work of salvation through the Eucharistic sacrifice and the sacraments, in which he himself acts to communicate his grace to the faithful of all times and places throughout the world. The very closest cooperation is at work in the liturgy between the Holy Spirit and the Church. The Holy Spirit prepares the Church to encounter her Lord. He recalls and manifests Christ to the faith of the assembly.
He makes the mystery of Christ really present. He unites the Church to the life and mission of Christ and makes the gift of communion bear fruit in the Church. The sacraments, instituted by Christ and entrusted to the Church, are efficacious signs of grace perceptible to the senses. Through them divine life is bestowed upon us. Christ has entrusted the sacraments to his Church. It is a promise and guarantee of divine protection. By virtue of this seal the Christian is configured to Christ, participates in a variety of ways in his priesthood and takes his part in the Church according to different states and functions.
He is, therefore, set apart for divine worship and the service of the Church. Because this character is indelible the sacraments that impress it on the soul are received only once in life. The sacraments not only presuppose faith but with words and ritual elements they nourish, strengthen, and express it. By celebrating the sacraments, the Church professes the faith that comes from the apostles.
The efficacy of the sacraments does not depend upon the personal holiness of the minister. However, the fruits of the sacraments do depend on the dispositions of the one who receives them. For believers in Christ the sacraments, even if they are not all given to each of the faithful, are necessary for salvation because they confer sacramental grace, forgiveness of sins, adoption as children of God, conformation to Christ the Lord and membership in the Church.
The Holy Spirit heals and transforms those who receive the sacraments. Sacramental grace is the grace of the Holy Spirit which is given by Christ and is proper to each sacrament. This grace helps the faithful in their journey toward holiness and so assists the Church as well to grow in charity and in her witness to the world. The Sacramental Celebration of the Paschal Mystery. As our High Priest he celebrates with his body, which is the Church in heaven and on earth. When we celebrate the mystery of our salvation in the sacraments we participate in this eternal liturgy.
The Church on earth celebrates the liturgy as a priestly people in which each one acts according to his proper function in the unity of the Holy Spirit. The baptized offer themselves in a spiritual sacrifice; the ordained ministers celebrate according to the Order they received for the service of all the members of the Church; the bishops and priests act in the Person of Christ the Head.
The celebration of the liturgy is interwoven with signs and symbols whose meaning is rooted in creation and in human culture. It is determined by the events of the Old Testament and is fully revealed in the Person and work of Christ. Some come from created things light, water, fire, bread, wine, oil ; others come from social life washing, anointing, breaking of bread.
Still others come from the history of salvation in the Old Covenant the Passover rites, the sacrifices, the laying on of hands, the consecrations. These signs, some of which are normative and unchangeable, were taken up by Christ and are made the bearers of his saving and sanctifying action. What is the link between the actions and the words in the celebration of the sacraments? Actions and words are very closely linked in the celebration of the sacraments. Indeed, even if the symbolic actions are already in themselves a language, it is necessary that the words of the rite accompany and give life to these actions.
The liturgical words and actions are inseparable both insofar as they are meaningful signs and insofar as they bring about what they signify. What are the criteria for the proper use of singing and music in liturgical celebrations? Since song and music are closely connected with liturgical action they must respect the following criteria.
They should conform to Catholic doctrine in their texts, drawn preferably from Sacred Scripture and liturgical sources. They should be a beautiful expression of prayer. The music should be of a high quality. Song and music should encourage the participation of the liturgical assembly. They should express the cultural richness of the People of God and the sacred and solemn character of the celebration. The image of Christ is the liturgical icon par excellence.
Other images, representations of Our Lady and of the Saints, signify Christ who is glorified in them. They proclaim the same Gospel message that Sacred Scripture communicates by the word and they help to awaken and nourish the faith of believers. The center of the liturgical season is Sunday which is the foundation and kernel of the entire liturgical year and has its culmination in the annual celebration of Easter, the feast of feasts. In the liturgical year the Church celebrates the whole mystery of Christ from his Incarnation to his return in glory.
The Church also keeps the memorials of saints who lived for Christ, who suffered with him, and who live with him in glory. The Liturgy of the Hours, which is the public and common prayer of the Church, is the prayer of Christ with his body, the Church. Through the Liturgy of the Hours the mystery of Christ, which we celebrate in the Eucharist, sanctifies and transforms the whole of each day.
It is composed mainly of psalms, other biblical texts, and readings from the Fathers and spiritual masters. Through him Christians and the whole Church become temples of the living God by the action of the Holy Spirit. Nonetheless, the people of God in their earthly condition need places in which the community can gather to celebrate the liturgy.
They are the houses of God, a symbol of the Church that lives in that place as well as of the heavenly Jerusalem. Above all they are places of prayer in which the Church celebrates the Eucharist and worships Christ who is truly present in the tabernacle. They are: the altar, the tabernacle, the place where the sacred Chrism and other holy oils are kept, the chair of the bishop cathedra or the chair of the priest, the ambo, the baptismal font, and the confessional.
Why is the one Mystery of Christ celebrated by the Church according to various liturgical traditions? The answer is that the unfathomable richness of the mystery of Christ cannot be exhausted by any single liturgical tradition. From the very beginning, therefore, this richness found expression among various peoples and cultures in ways that are characterized by a wonderful diversity and complementarity. It is fidelity to the Apostolic Tradition, that is, the communion in the faith and in the sacraments received from the apostles, a communion that is both signified and guaranteed by apostolic succession.
The Church is Catholic and therefore can integrate into her unity all the authentic riches of cultures. In the liturgy, particularly in that of the sacraments, there are unchangeable elements because they are of divine institution. The Church is the faithful guardian of them. There are also, however, elements subject to change which the Church has the power and on occasion also the duty to adapt to the cultures of diverse peoples.
The sacraments are divided into: the sacraments of Christian initiation Baptism, Confirmation, and Holy Eucharist ; the sacraments of healing Penance and Anointing of the Sick ;, and the sacraments at the service of communion and mission Holy Orders and Matrimony. The sacraments touch all the important moments of Christian life. The sacraments of Christian initiation. Christian initiation is accomplished by means of the sacraments which establish the foundations of Christian life.
The faithful born anew by Baptism are strengthened by Confirmation and are then nourished by the Eucharist. In the Old Covenant Baptism was pre-figured in various ways: water, seen as source of life and of death; in the Ark of Noah , which saved by means of water; in the passing through the Red Sea, which liberated Israel from Egyptian slavery; in the crossing of the Jordan River, that brought Israel into the promised land which is the image of eternal life. All the Old Covenant prefigurations find their fulfillment in Jesus Christ.
At the beginning of his public life Jesus had himself baptized by John the Baptist in the Jordan. On the cross, blood and water, signs of Baptism and the Eucharist, flowed from his pierced side. From the day of Pentecost, the Church has administered Baptism to anyone who believes in Jesus Christ. The essential rite of this sacrament consists in immersing the candidate in water or pouring water over his or her head while invoking the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit.
The Church baptizes infants because they are born with original sin. They need to be freed from the power of the Evil One and brought into that realm of freedom which belongs to the children of God. Everyone who is to be baptized is required to make a profession of faith. This is done personally in the case of an adult or by the parents and by the Church in the case of infants. Also the godfather or the godmother and the whole ecclesial community share the responsibility for baptismal preparation catechumenate as well as for the development and safeguarding of the faith and grace given at baptism.
The ordinary ministers of Baptism are the bishop and the priest. In the Latin Church the deacon also can baptize. In case of necessity any person can baptize provided he has the intention of doing what the Church does. Baptism is necessary for salvation for all those to whom the Gospel has been proclaimed and who have had the possibility of asking for this sacrament.
Since Christ died for the salvation of all, those can be saved without Baptism who die for the faith Baptism of blood. Catechumens and all those who, even without knowing Christ and the Church, still under the impulse of grace sincerely seek God and strive to do his will can also be saved without Baptism Baptism of desire. The Church in her liturgy entrusts children who die without Baptism to the mercy of God.
Baptism takes away original sin, all personal sins and all punishment due to sin. It makes the baptized person a participant in the divine life of the Trinity through sanctifying grace, the grace of justification which incorporates one into Christ and into his Church. It gives one a share in the priesthood of Christ and provides the basis for communion with all Christians.
It bestows the theological virtues and the gifts of the Holy Spirit. A baptized person belongs forever to Christ. He is marked with the indelible seal of Christ character. The name is important because God knows each of us by name, that is, in our uniqueness as persons. In Baptism a Christian receives his or her own name in the Church. It should preferably be the name of a saint who might offer the baptized a model of sanctity and an assurance of his or her intercession before God.
In the Old Testament the prophets announced that the Spirit of the Lord would rest on the awaited Messiah and on the entire messianic people. The whole life and mission of Jesus were carried out in total communion with the Holy Spirit. They gave the gift of the same Spirit to the newly baptized by the laying on of hands. Down through the centuries, the Church has continued to live by the Spirit and to impart him to her children.
It is called Chrismation in the Eastern Churches: Anointing with holy myron or chrism because the essential rite of the sacrament is anointing with chrism. It is called Confirmation because it confirms and strengthens baptismal grace. The essential rite of Confirmation is the anointing with Sacred Chrism oil mixed with balsam and consecrated by the bishop , which is done by the laying on of the hand of the minister who pronounces the sacramental words proper to the rite.
The effect of Confirmation is a special outpouring of the Holy Spirit like that of Pentecost. This outpouring impresses on the soul an indelible character and produces a growth in the grace of Baptism. It roots the recipient more deeply in divine sonship, binds him more firmly to Christ and to the Church and reinvigorates the gifts of the Holy Spirit in his soul.
It gives a special strength to witness to the Christian faith. Only those already baptized can and should receive this sacrament which can be received only once. To receive Confirmation efficaciously the candidate must be in the state of grace. The original minister of Confirmation is the bishop. In this way the link between the confirmed and the Church in her apostolic dimension is made manifest.
When a priest confers this sacrament, as ordinarily happens in the East and in special cases in the West, the link with the bishop and with the Church is expressed by the priest who is the collaborator of the bishop and by the Sacred Chrism, consecrated by the bishop himself. The Eucharist is the very sacrifice of the Body and Blood of the Lord Jesus which he instituted to perpetuate the sacrifice of the cross throughout the ages until his return in glory.
Thus he entrusted to his Church this memorial of his death and Resurrection. It is a sign of unity, a bond of charity, a paschal banquet, in which Christ is consumed, the mind is filled with grace, and a pledge of future glory is given to us. After he had gathered with his apostles in the Cenacle, Jesus took bread in his hands. This is the cup of my Blood, the Blood of the new and everlasting covenant.
It will be shed for you and for all so that sins may be forgive. It is the source and summit of all Christian life. In the Eucharist, the sanctifying action of God in our regard and our worship of him reach their high point. It contains the whole spiritual good of the Church, Christ himself, our Pasch. Communion with divine life and the unity of the People of God are both expressed and effected by the Eucharist.
Through the eucharistic celebration we are united already with the liturgy of heaven and we have a foretaste of eternal life. The unfathomable richness of this sacrament is expressed in different names which evoke its various aspects. The Eucharist was foreshadowed in the Old Covenant above all in the annual Passover meal celebrated every year by the Jews with unleavened bread to commemorate their hasty, liberating departure from Egypt. Jesus foretold it in his teaching and he instituted it when he celebrated the Last Supper with his apostles in a Passover meal.
The Eucharist unfolds in two great parts which together form one, single act of worship. The Liturgy of the Word involves proclaiming and listening to the Word of God. The Liturgy of the Eucharist includes the presentation of the bread and wine, the prayer or the anaphora containing the words of consecration, and communion.
The celebrant of the Eucharist is a validly ordained priest bishop or priest who acts in the Person of Christ the Head and in the name of the Church.