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  • Catechism of the Catholic Church | Catholic Culture
    that iniquity itself does not efface 11 1959 The natural law the Creator s very good work provides the solid foundation on which man can build the structure of moral rules to guide his choices It also provides the indispensable moral foundation for building the human community Finally it provides the necessary basis for the civil law with which it is connected whether by a reflection that draws conclusions from its principles or by additions of a positive and juridical nature 1960 The precepts of natural law are not perceived by everyone clearly and immediately In the present situation sinful man needs grace and revelation so moral and religious truths may be known by everyone with facility with firm certainty and with no admixture of error 12 The natural law provides revealed law and grace with a foundation prepared by God and in accordance with the work of the Spirit II THE OLD LAW 1961 God our Creator and Redeemer chose Israel for himself to be his people and revealed his Law to them thus preparing for the coming of Christ The Law of Moses expresses many truths naturally accessible to reason These are stated and authenticated within the covenant of salvation 1962 The Old Law is the first stage of revealed Law Its moral prescriptions are summed up in the Ten Commandments The precepts of the Decalogue lay the foundations for the vocation of man fashioned in the image of God they prohibit what is contrary to the love of God and neighbor and prescribe what is essential to it The Decalogue is a light offered to the conscience of every man to make God s call and ways known to him and to protect him against evil God wrote on the tables of the Law what men did not read in their hearts 13 1963 According to Christian tradition the Law is holy spiritual and good 14 yet still imperfect Like a tutor 15 it shows what must be done but does not of itself give the strength the grace of the Spirit to fulfill it Because of sin which it cannot remove it remains a law of bondage According to St Paul its special function is to denounce and disclose sin which constitutes a law of concupiscence in the human heart 16 However the Law remains the first stage on the way to the kingdom It prepares and disposes the chosen people and each Christian for conversion and faith in the Savior God It provides a teaching which endures for ever like the Word of God 1964 The Old Law is a preparation for the Gospel The Law is a pedagogy and a prophecy of things to come 17 It prophesies and presages the work of liberation from sin which will be fulfilled in Christ it provides the New Testament with images types and symbols for expressing the life according to the Spirit Finally the Law is completed by the teaching of the sapiential books and the prophets which set its course toward the New Covenant and the Kingdom of heaven There were under the regimen of the Old Covenant people who possessed the charity and grace of the Holy Spirit and longed above all for the spiritual and eternal promises by which they were associated with the New Law Conversely there exist carnal men under the New Covenant still distanced from the perfection of the New Law the fear of punishment and certain temporal promises have been necessary even under the New Covenant to incite them to virtuous works In any case even though the Old Law prescribed charity it did not give the Holy Spirit through whom God s charity has been poured into our hearts 18 III THE NEW LAW OR THE LAW OF THE GOSPEL 1965 The New Law or the Law of the Gospel is the perfection here on earth of the divine law natural and revealed It is the work of Christ and is expressed particularly in the Sermon on the Mount It is also the work of the Holy Spirit and through him it becomes the interior law of charity I will establish a New Covenant with the house of Israel I will put my laws into their minds and write them on their hearts and I will be their God and they shall be my people 19 1966 The New Law is the grace of the Holy Spirit given to the faithful through faith in Christ It works through charity it uses the Sermon on the Mount to teach us what must be done and makes use of the sacraments to give us the grace to do it If anyone should meditate with devotion and perspicacity on the sermon our Lord gave on the mount as we read in the Gospel of Saint Matthew he will doubtless find there the perfect way of the Christian life This sermon contains all the precepts needed to shape one s life 20 1967 The Law of the Gospel fulfills refines surpasses and leads the Old Law to its perfection 21 In the Beatitudes the New Law fulfills the divine promises by elevating and orienting them toward the kingdom of heaven It is addressed to those open to accepting this new hope with faith the poor the humble the afflicted the pure of heart those persecuted on account of Christ and so marks out the surprising ways of the Kingdom 1968 The Law of the Gospel fulfills the commandments of the Law The Lord s Sermon on the Mount far from abolishing or devaluing the moral prescriptions of the Old Law releases their hidden potential and has new demands arise from them it reveals their entire divine and human truth It does not add new external precepts but proceeds to reform the heart the root of human acts where man chooses between the pure and the impure 22 where faith hope and charity are formed and with them the other virtues The Gospel

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  • Catechism of the Catholic Church | Catholic Culture
    which decrees it properly belongs to human nature Where then are these rules written if not in the book of that light we call the truth In it is written every just law from it the law passes into the heart of the man who does justice not that it migrates into it but that it places its imprint on it like a seal on a ring that passes onto wax without leaving the ring 7 The natural law is nothing other than the light of understanding placed in us by God through it we know what we must do and what we must avoid God has given this light or law at the creation 8 1956 The natural law present in the heart of each man and established by reason is universal in its precepts and its authority extends to all men It expresses the dignity of the person and determines the basis for his fundamental rights and duties For there is a true law right reason It is in conformity with nature is diffused among all men and is immutable and eternal its orders summon to duty its prohibitions turn away from offense To replace it with a contrary law is a sacrilege failure to apply even one of its provisions is forbidden no one can abrogate it entirely 9 1957 Application of the natural law varies greatly it can demand reflection that takes account of various conditions of life according to places times and circumstances Nevertheless in the diversity of cultures the natural law remains as a rule that binds men among themselves and imposes on them beyond the inevitable differences common principles 1958 The natural law is immutable and permanent throughout the variations of history 10 it subsists under the flux of ideas and customs and

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  • Catechism of the Catholic Church | Catholic Culture
    precepts of the Decalogue lay the foundations for the vocation of man fashioned in the image of God they prohibit what is contrary to the love of God and neighbor and prescribe what is essential to it The Decalogue is a light offered to the conscience of every man to make God s call and ways known to him and to protect him against evil God wrote on the tables of the Law what men did not read in their hearts 13 1963 According to Christian tradition the Law is holy spiritual and good 14 yet still imperfect Like a tutor 15 it shows what must be done but does not of itself give the strength the grace of the Spirit to fulfill it Because of sin which it cannot remove it remains a law of bondage According to St Paul its special function is to denounce and disclose sin which constitutes a law of concupiscence in the human heart 16 However the Law remains the first stage on the way to the kingdom It prepares and disposes the chosen people and each Christian for conversion and faith in the Savior God It provides a teaching which endures for ever like the Word of God 1964 The Old Law is a preparation for the Gospel The Law is a pedagogy and a prophecy of things to come 17 It prophesies and presages the work of liberation from sin which will be fulfilled in Christ it provides the New Testament with images types and symbols for expressing the life according to the Spirit Finally the Law is completed by the teaching of the sapiential books and the prophets which set its course toward the New Covenant and the Kingdom of heaven There were under the regimen of the Old Covenant people

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  • Catechism of the Catholic Church | Catholic Culture
    decisive choice between the two ways and to put into practice the words of the Lord 26 It is summed up in the Golden Rule Whatever you wish that men would do to you do so to them this is the law and the prophets 27 The entire Law of the Gospel is contained in the new commandment of Jesus to love one another as he has loved us 28 1971 To the Lord s Sermon on the Mount it is fitting to add the moral catechesis of the apostolic teachings such as Romans 12 15 1 Corinthians 12 13 Colossians 3 4 Ephesians 4 5 etc This doctrine hands on the Lord s teaching with the authority of the apostles particularly in the presentation of the virtues that flow from faith in Christ and are animated by charity the principal gift of the Holy Spirit Let charity be genuine Love one another with brotherly affection Rejoice in your hope be patient in tribulation be constant in prayer Contribute to the needs of the saints practice hospitality 29 This catechesis also teaches us to deal with cases of conscience in the light of our relationship to Christ and to the Church 30 1972 The New Law is called a law of love because it makes us act out of the love infused by the Holy Spirit rather than from fear a law of grace because it confers the strength of grace to act by means of faith and the sacraments a law of freedom because it sets us free from the ritual and juridical observances of the Old Law inclines us to act spontaneously by the prompting of charity and finally lets us pass from the condition of a servant who does not know what his master is doing to that of a friend of Christ For all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you or even to the status of son and heir 31 1973 Besides its precepts the New Law also includes the evangelical counsels The traditional distinction between God s commandments and the evangelical counsels is drawn in relation to charity the perfection of Christian life The precepts are intended to remove whatever is incompatible with charity The aim of the counsels is to remove whatever might hinder the development of charity even if it is not contrary to it 32 1974 The evangelical counsels manifest the living fullness of charity which is never satisfied with not giving more They attest its vitality and call forth our spiritual readiness The perfection of the New Law consists essentially in the precepts of love of God and neighbor The counsels point out the more direct ways the readier means and are to be practiced in keeping with the vocation of each God does not want each person to keep all the counsels but only those appropriate to the diversity of persons times opportunities and strengths as charity requires for it is charity as

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  • Catechism of the Catholic Church | Catholic Culture
    to enable it to live with God to act by his love Habitual grace the permanent disposition to live and act in keeping with God s call is distinguished from actual graces which refer to God s interventions whether at the beginning of conversion or in the course of the work of sanctification 2001 The preparation of man for the reception of grace is already a work of grace This latter is needed to arouse and sustain our collaboration in justification through faith and in sanctification through charity God brings to completion in us what he has begun since he who completes his work by cooperating with our will began by working so that we might will it 50 Indeed we also work but we are only collaborating with God who works for his mercy has gone before us It has gone before us so that we may be healed and follows us so that once healed we may be given life it goes before us so that we may be called and follows us so that we may be glorified it goes before us so that we may live devoutly and follows us so that we may always live with God for without him we can do nothing 51 2002 God s free initiative demands man s free response for God has created man in his image by conferring on him along with freedom the power to know him and love him The soul only enters freely into the communion of love God immediately touches and directly moves the heart of man He has placed in man a longing for truth and goodness that only he can satisfy The promises of eternal life respond beyond all hope to this desire If at the end of your very good works you rested on the seventh day it was to foretell by the voice of your book that at the end of our works which are indeed very good since you have given them to us we shall also rest in you on the sabbath of eternal life 52 2003 Grace is first and foremost the gift of the Spirit who justifies and sanctifies us But grace also includes the gifts that the Spirit grants us to associate us with his work to enable us to collaborate in the salvation of others and in the growth of the Body of Christ the Church There are sacramental graces gifts proper to the different sacraments There are furthermore special graces also called charisms after the Greek term used by St Paul and meaning favor gratuitous gift benefit 53 Whatever their character sometimes it is extraordinary such as the gift of miracles or of tongues charisms are oriented toward sanctifying grace and are intended for the common good of the Church They are at the service of charity which builds up the Church 54 2004 Among the special graces ought to be mentioned the graces of state that accompany the exercise of the responsibilities of the Christian life and of the ministries within the Church Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us let us use them if prophecy in proportion to our faith if service in our serving he who teaches in his teaching he who exhorts in his exhortation he who contributes in liberality he who gives aid with zeal he who does acts of mercy with cheerfulness 55 2005 Since it belongs to the supernatural order grace escapes our experience and cannot be known except by faith We cannot therefore rely on our feelings or our works to conclude that we are justified and saved 56 However according to the Lord s words Thus you will know them by their fruits 57 reflection on God s blessings in our life and in the lives of the saints offers us a guarantee that grace is at work in us and spurs us on to an ever greater faith and an attitude of trustful poverty A pleasing illustration of this attitude is found in the reply of St Joan of Arc to a question posed as a trap by her ecclesiastical judges Asked if she knew that she was in God s grace she replied If I am not may it please God to put me in it if I am may it please God to keep me there 58 III MERIT You are glorified in the assembly of your Holy Ones for in crowning their merits you are crowning your own gifts 59 2006 The term merit refers in general to the recompense owed by a community or a society for the action of one of its members experienced either as beneficial or harmful deserving reward or punishment Merit is relative to the virtue of justice in conformity with the principle of equality which governs it 2007 With regard to God there is no strict right to any merit on the part of man Between God and us there is an immeasurable inequality for we have received everything from him our Creator 2008 The merit of man before God in the Christian life arises from the fact that God has freely chosen to associate man with the work of his grace The fatherly action of God is first on his own initiative and then follows man s free acting through his collaboration so that the merit of good works is to be attributed in the first place to the grace of God then to the faithful Man s merit moreover itself is due to God for his good actions proceed in Christ from the predispositions and assistance given by the Holy Spirit 2009 Filial adoption in making us partakers by grace in the divine nature can bestow true merit on us as a result of God s gratuitous justice This is our right by grace the full right of love making us co heirs with Christ and worthy of obtaining the promised inheritance of eternal life 60 The merits

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  • Catechism of the Catholic Church | Catholic Culture
    become communicants in the divine nature For this reason those in whom the Spirit dwells are divinized 37 1989 The first work of the grace of the Holy Spirit is conversion effecting justification in accordance with Jesus proclamation at the beginning of the Gospel Repent for the kingdom of heaven is at hand 38 Moved by grace man turns toward God and away from sin thus accepting forgiveness and righteousness from on high Justification is not only the remission of sins but also the sanctification and renewal of the interior man 39 1990 Justification detaches man from sin which contradicts the love of God and purifies his heart of sin Justification follows upon God s merciful initiative of offering forgiveness It reconciles man with God It frees from the enslavement to sin and it heals 1991 Justification is at the same time the acceptance of God s righteousness through faith in Jesus Christ Righteousness or justice here means the rectitude of divine love With justification faith hope and charity are poured into our hearts and obedience to the divine will is granted us 1992 Justification has been merited for us by the Passion of Christ who offered himself on the cross as a living victim holy and pleasing to God and whose blood has become the instrument of atonement for the sins of all men Justification is conferred in Baptism the sacrament of faith It conforms us to the righteousness of God who makes us inwardly just by the power of his mercy Its purpose is the glory of God and of Christ and the gift of eternal life 40 But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from law although the law and the prophets bear witness to it the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe For there is no distinction since all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God they are justified by his grace as a gift through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus whom God put forward as an expiation by his blood to be received by faith This was to show God s righteousness because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins it was to prove at the present time that he himself is righteous and that he justifies him who has faith in Jesus 41 1993 Justification establishes cooperation between God s grace and man s freedom On man s part it is expressed by the assent of faith to the Word of God which invites him to conversion and in the cooperation of charity with the prompting of the Holy Spirit who precedes and preserves his assent When God touches man s heart through the illumination of the Holy Spirit man himself is not inactive while receiving that inspiration since he could reject it and yet without God s grace he cannot by his own free will move himself toward justice in God s sight 42 1994 Justification

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  • Catechism of the Catholic Church | Catholic Culture
    disposition to live and act in keeping with God s call is distinguished from actual graces which refer to God s interventions whether at the beginning of conversion or in the course of the work of sanctification 2001 The preparation of man for the reception of grace is already a work of grace This latter is needed to arouse and sustain our collaboration in justification through faith and in sanctification through charity God brings to completion in us what he has begun since he who completes his work by cooperating with our will began by working so that we might will it 50 Indeed we also work but we are only collaborating with God who works for his mercy has gone before us It has gone before us so that we may be healed and follows us so that once healed we may be given life it goes before us so that we may be called and follows us so that we may be glorified it goes before us so that we may live devoutly and follows us so that we may always live with God for without him we can do nothing 51 2002 God s free initiative demands man s free response for God has created man in his image by conferring on him along with freedom the power to know him and love him The soul only enters freely into the communion of love God immediately touches and directly moves the heart of man He has placed in man a longing for truth and goodness that only he can satisfy The promises of eternal life respond beyond all hope to this desire If at the end of your very good works you rested on the seventh day it was to foretell by the voice of your book that at the end of our works which are indeed very good since you have given them to us we shall also rest in you on the sabbath of eternal life 52 2003 Grace is first and foremost the gift of the Spirit who justifies and sanctifies us But grace also includes the gifts that the Spirit grants us to associate us with his work to enable us to collaborate in the salvation of others and in the growth of the Body of Christ the Church There are sacramental graces gifts proper to the different sacraments There are furthermore special graces also called charisms after the Greek term used by St Paul and meaning favor gratuitous gift benefit 53 Whatever their character sometimes it is extraordinary such as the gift of miracles or of tongues charisms are oriented toward sanctifying grace and are intended for the common good of the Church They are at the service of charity which builds up the Church 54 2004 Among the special graces ought to be mentioned the graces of state that accompany the exercise of the responsibilities of the Christian life and of the ministries within the Church Having gifts that differ according

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  • Catechism of the Catholic Church | Catholic Culture
    the Christian life arises from the fact that God has freely chosen to associate man with the work of his grace The fatherly action of God is first on his own initiative and then follows man s free acting through his collaboration so that the merit of good works is to be attributed in the first place to the grace of God then to the faithful Man s merit moreover itself is due to God for his good actions proceed in Christ from the predispositions and assistance given by the Holy Spirit 2009 Filial adoption in making us partakers by grace in the divine nature can bestow true merit on us as a result of God s gratuitous justice This is our right by grace the full right of love making us co heirs with Christ and worthy of obtaining the promised inheritance of eternal life 60 The merits of our good works are gifts of the divine goodness 61 Grace has gone before us now we are given what is due Our merits are God s gifts 62 2010 Since the initiative belongs to God in the order of grace no one can merit the initial grace of forgiveness and justification at the beginning of conversion Moved by the Holy Spirit and by charity we can then merit for ourselves and for others the graces needed for our sanctification for the increase of grace and charity and for the attainment of eternal life Even temporal goods like health and friendship can be merited in accordance with God s wisdom These graces and goods are the object of Christian prayer Prayer attends to the grace we need for meritorious actions 2011 The charity of Christ is the source in us of all our merits before God Grace by uniting us

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