Catechism of the Catholic Church
Part One: The Profession of Faith
Section Two: The Creeds
Chapter One: I Believe in God the Father
198 Our profession of faith begins with God, for God is the First and the
Last, the beginning and the end of everything. The Credo begins with God
the Father, for the Father is the first divine person of the Most Holy
Trinity; our Creed begins with the creation of heaven and earth, for
creation is the beginning and the foundation of all God's works.
ARTICLE I: "I BELIEVE IN GOD THE FATHER ALMIGHTY, CREATOR OF HEAVEN AND EARTH"
Paragraph I. I Believe in God
199 "I believe in God": this first affirmation of the Apostles' Creed is
also the most fundamental. The whole Creed speaks of God, and when it also
speaks of man and of the world it does so in relation to God. The other
articles of the Creed all depend on the first, just as the remaining
Commandments make the first explicit. The other articles help us to know
God better as he revealed himself progressively to men. "The faithful
first profess their belief in God."
I. "I BELIEVE IN ONE GOD"
200 These are the words with which the Niceno- Constantinopolitan Creed
begins. The confession of God's oneness, which has its roots in the divine
revelation of the Old Covenant, is inseparable from the profession of
God's existence and is equally fundamental. God is unique; there is only
one God: "The Christian faith confesses that God is one in nature,
substance and essence."
201 To Israel, his chosen, God revealed himself as the only One: "Hear, O
Israel: The LORD our God is one LORD; and you shall love the LORD your God
with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your might."
Through the prophets, God calls Israel and all nations to turn to him, the
one and only God: "Turn to me and be saved, all the ends of the earth!
For I am God, and there is no other.. . To me every knee shall bow, every
tongue shall swear. 'Only in the LORD, it shall be said of me, are
righteousness and strength.'"
202 Jesus himself affirms that God is "the one Lord" whom you must love
"with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and
with all your strength". At the same time Jesus gives us to understand
that he himself is "the Lord". To confess that Jesus is Lord is
distinctive of Christian faith. This is not contrary to belief in the One
God. Nor does believing in the Holy Spirit as "Lord and giver of life"
introduce any division into the One God:
We firmly believe and confess without reservation that there is only one
true God, eternal infinite (immensus) and unchangeable, incomprehensible,
almighty and ineffable, the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit; three
persons indeed, but one essence, substance or nature entirely simple.
II. GOD REVEALS HIS NAME
203 God revealed himself to his people Israel by making his name known to
them. A name expresses a person's essence and identity and the meaning of
this person's life. God has a name; he is not an anonymous force. To
disclose one's name is to make oneself known to others; in a way it is to
hand oneself over by becoming accessible, capable of being known more
intimately and addressed personally.
204 God revealed himself progressively and under different names to his
people, but the revelation that proved to be the fundamental one for both
the Old and the New Covenants was the revelation of the divine name to
Moses in the theophany of the burning bush, on the threshold of the Exodus
and of the covenant on Sinai.
The living God
205 God calls Moses from the midst of a bush that bums without being
consumed: "I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of
Isaac, and the God of Jacob." God is the God of the fathers, the One who
had called and guided the patriarchs in their wanderings. He is the
faithful and compassionate God who remembers them and his promises; he
comes to free their descendants from slavery. He is the God who, from
beyond space and time, can do this and wills to do it, the God who will
put his almighty power to work for this plan.
"I Am who I Am"
Moses said to God, "If I come to the people of Israel and say to them,
'The God of your fathers has sent me to you', and they ask me, 'What is
his name?' what shall I say to them?" God said to Moses, "I AM WHO I AM."
And he said, "Say this to the people of Israel, 'I AM has sent me to you'.
. . this is my name for ever, and thus I am to be remembered throughout all
206 In revealing his mysterious name, YHWH ("I AM HE WHO IS", "I AM WHO
AM" or "I AM WHO I AM"), God says who he is and by what name he is to be
called. This divine name is mysterious just as God is mystery. It is at
once a name revealed and something like the refusal of a name, and hence
it better expresses God as what he is - infinitely above everything that
we can understand or say: he is the "hidden God", his name is ineffable,
and he is the God who makes himself close to men.
207 By revealing his name God at the same time reveals his faithfulness
which is from everlasting to everlasting, valid for the past ("I am the
God of your father"), as for the future ("I will be with you"). God, who
reveals his name as "I AM", reveals himself as the God who is always
there, present to his people in order to save them.
208 Faced with God's fascinating and mysterious presence, man discovers
his own insignificance. Before the burning bush, Moses takes off his
sandals and veils his face in the presence of God's holiness. Before the
glory of the thrice-holy God, Isaiah cries out: "Woe is me! I am lost; for
I am a man of unclean lips." Before the divine signs wrought by Jesus,
Peter exclaims: "Depart from me, for I am a Sinful man, O Lord." But
because God is holy, he can forgive the man who realizes that he is a
Sinner before him: "I will not execute my fierce anger. . . for I am God
and not man, the Holy One in your midst." The apostle John says
likewise: "We shall. . . reassure our hearts before him whenever our
hearts condemn us; for God is greater than our hearts, and he knows
209 Out of respect for the holiness of God, the people of Israel do not
pronounce his name. In the reading of Sacred Scripture, the revealed name
(YHWH) is replaced by the divine title "LORD" (in Hebrew Adonai, in Greek
Kyrios). It is under this title that the divinity of Jesus will be
acclaimed: "Jesus is LORD."
"A God merciful and gracious"
210 After Israel's Sin, when the people had turned away from God to
worship the golden calf, God hears Moses' prayer of intercession and
agrees to walk in the midst of an unfaithful people, thus demonstrating
his love. When Moses asks to see his glory, God responds "I will make
all my goodness pass before you, and will proclaim before you my name "the
LORD" [YHWH]." Then the LORD passes before Moses and proclaims, "YHWH,
YHWH, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in
steadfast love and faithfulness"; Moses then confesses that the LORD is a
211 The divine name, "I Am" or "He Is", expresses God's faithfulness:
despite the faithlessness of men's Sin and the punishment it deserves, he
keeps "steadfast love for thousands". By going so far as to give up his
own Son for us, God reveals that he is "rich in mercy". By giving his
life to free us from Sin, Jesus reveals that he himself bears the divine
name: "When you have lifted up the Son of man, then you will realize that
God alone IS
212 Over the centuries, Israel's faith was able to manifest and deepen
realization of the riches contained in the revelation of the divine name.
God is unique; there are no other gods besides him.
He transcends the world and history. He made heaven and earth: "They will
perish, but you endure; they will all wear out like a garment....but you
are the same, and your years have no end."
In God "there is no variation or shadow due to change." God is "HE WHO
IS", from everlasting to everlasting, and as such remains ever faithful to
himself and to his promises.
213 The revelation of the ineffable name "I AM WHO AM" contains then the
truth that God alone IS. The Greek Septuagint translation of the Hebrew
Scriptures, and following it the Church's Tradition, understood the divine
name in this sense: God is the fullness of Being and of every perfection,
without origin and without end. All creatures receive all that they are
and have from him; but he alone is his very being, and he is of himself
everything that he is.
III. GOD, "HE WHO IS", IS TRUTH AND LOVE
214 God, "HE WHO IS", revealed himself to Israel as the one "abounding in
steadfast love and faithfulness". These two terms express summarily the
riches of the divine name. In all his works God displays, not only his
kindness, goodness, Grace and steadfast love, but also his
trustworthiness, constancy, faithfulness and truth. "I give thanks to your
name for your steadfast love and your faithfulness." He is the Truth,
for "God is light and in him there is no darkness"; "God is love", as the
apostle John teaches.
God is Truth
215 "The sum of your word is truth; and every one of your righteous
ordinances endures forever." "And now, O LORD God, you are God, and your
words are true"; this is why God's promises always come true. God is
Truth itself, whose words cannot deceive. This is why one can abandon
oneself in full trust to the truth and faithfulness of his word in all
things. The beginning of Sin and of man's fall was due to a lie of the
tempter who induced doubt of God's word, kindness and faithfulness.
216 God's truth is his wisdom, which commands the whole created order and
governs the world. God, who alone made heaven and earth, can alone
impart true knowledge of every created thing in relation to himself.
217 God is also truthful when he reveals himself - the teaching that comes
from God is "true instruction". When he sends his Son into the world it
will be "To Bear Witness to the Truth": "We know that the Son of God has
come and has given us understanding, to know him who is true."
God is Love
218 In the course of its history, Israel was able to discover that God had
only one reason to reveal himself to them, a Single motive for chooSing
them from among all peoples as his special possession: his sheer
gratuitous love. And thanks to the prophets Israel understood that it
was again out of love that God never stopped saving them and pardoning
their unfaithfulness and Sins.
219 God's love for Israel is compared to a father's love for his son. His
love for his people is stronger than a mother's for her children. God
loves his people more than a bridegroom his beloved; his love will be
victorious over even the worst infidelities and will extend to his most
precious gift: "God so loved the world that he gave his only Son."
220 God's love is "everlasting": "For the mountains may depart and the
hills be removed, but my steadfast love shall not depart from you."
Through Jeremiah, God declares to his people, "I have loved you with an
everlasting love; therefore I have continued my faithfulness to you."
221 But St. John goes even further when he affirms that "God is love":
God's very being is love. By sending his only Son and the Spirit of Love
in the fullness of time, God has revealed his innermost secret: God
himself is an eternal exchange of love, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, and
he has destined us to share in that exchange.
IV. THE IMPLICATIONS OF FAITH IN ONE GOD
222 Believing in God, the only One, and loving him with all our being has
enormous consequences for our whole life.
223 It means coming to know God's greatness and majesty: "Behold, God is
great, and we know him not." Therefore, we must "serve God first".
224 It means living in thanksgiving: if God is the only One, everything we
are and have comes from him: "What have you that you did not receive?"
"What shall I render to the LORD for all his bounty to me?"
225 It means knowing the unity and true dignity of all men: everyone is
made in the image and likeness of God.
226 It means making good use of created things: faith in God, the only
One, leads us to use everything that is not God only insofar as it brings
us closer to him, and to detach ourselves from it insofar as it turns us
away from him:
My Lord and my God, take from me everything that distances me from you.
My Lord and my God, give me everything that brings me closer to you
My Lord and my God, detach me from myself to give my all to you.
227 It means trusting God in every circumstance, even in adversity. A
prayer of St. Teresa of Jesus wonderfully expresses this trust:
Let nothing trouble you / Let nothing frighten you Everything passes / God
never changes Patience / Obtains all Whoever has God / Wants for nothing
God alone is enough.
228 "Hear, O Israel, the LORD our God is one LORD..." (Dt 6:4; Mk 12:29).
"The supreme being must be unique, without equal. .
. If God is not one, he is not God" (Tertullian, Adv. Marc.,
1, 3, 5: PL 2, 274).
229 Faith in God leads us to turn to him alone as our first origin and our
ultimate goal, and neither to prefer anything to him nor to substitute
anything for him.
230 Even when he reveals himself, God remains a mystery beyond words: "If
you understood him, it would not be God" (St. Augustine, Sermo 52, 6, 16:
PL 38, 360 and Sermo 117, 3, 5: PL 38, 663).
231 The God of our faith has revealed himself as HE WHO IS; and he has
made himself known as "abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness" (Ex
34:6). God's very being is Truth and Love.
Paragraph 2. The Father
I. "IN THE NAME OF THE FATHER AND OF THE SON AND OF THE HOLY SPIRIT"
232 Christians are baptized "in the name of the Father and of the Son and
of the Holy Spirit" Before receiving the sacrament, they respond to a
three-part question when asked to confess the Father, the Son and the
Spirit: "I do." "The faith of all Christians rests on the Trinity."
233 Christians are baptized in the name of the Father and of the Son and
of the Holy Spirit: not in their names, for there is only one God, the
almighty Father, his only Son and the Holy Spirit: the Most Holy Trinity.
234 The mystery of the Most Holy Trinity is the central mystery of
Christian faith and life. It is the mystery of God in himself. It is
therefore the source of all the other mysteries of faith, the light that
enlightens them. It is the most fundamental and essential teaching in the
"hierarchy of the truths of faith". The whole history of salvation is
identical with the history of the way and the means by which the one true
God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, reveals himself to men "and reconciles
and unites with himself those who turn away from Sin".
235 This paragraph expounds briefly (I) how the mystery of the Blessed
Trinity was revealed, (II) how the Church has articulated the doctrine of
the faith regarding this mystery, and (III) how, by the divine missions of
the Son and the Holy Spirit, God the Father fulfils the "plan of his
loving goodness" of creation, redemption and sanctification.
236 The Fathers of the Church distinguish between theology (theologia) and
economy (oikonomia). "Theology" refers to the mystery of God's inmost life
within the Blessed Trinity and "economy" to all the works by which God
reveals himself and communicates his life. Through the oikonomia the
theologia is revealed to us; but conversely, the theologia illuminates the
whole oikonomia. God's works reveal who he is in himself; the mystery of
his inmost being enlightens our understanding of all his works. So it is,
analogously, among human persons. A person discloses himself in his
actions, and the better we know a person, the better we understand his
237 The Trinity is a mystery of faith in the strict sense, one of the
"mysteries that are hidden in God, which can never be known unless they
are revealed by God". To be sure, God has left traces of his Trinitarian
being in his work of creation and in his Revelation throughout the Old
Testament. But his inmost Being as Holy Trinity is a mystery that is
inaccessible to reason alone or even to Israel's faith before the
Incarnation of God's Son and the sending of the Holy Spirit.
II. THE REVELATION OF GOD AS TRINITY
The Father revealed by the Son
238 Many religions invoke God as "Father". The deity is often considered
the "father of gods and of men". In Israel, God is called "Father"
inasmuch as he is Creator of the world. Even more, God is Father because
of the covenant and the gift of the law to Israel, "his first-born son".
God is also called the Father of the king of Israel. Most especially he is
"the Father of the poor", of the orphaned and the widowed, who are under
his loving protection.
239 By calling God "Father", the language of faith indicates two main
things: that God is the first origin of everything and transcendent
Authority; and that he is at the same time goodness and loving care for
all his children. God's parental tenderness can also be expressed by the
image of motherhood, which emphasizes God's immanence, the intimacy
between Creator and creature. The language of faith thus draws on the
human experience of parents, who are in a way the first representatives of
God for man. But this experience also tells us that human parents are
fallible and can disfigure the face of fatherhood and motherhood. We ought
therefore to recall that God transcends the human distinction between the
sexes. He is neither man nor woman: he is God. He also transcends human
fatherhood and motherhood, although he is their origin and standard: no
one is father as God is Father.
240 Jesus revealed that God is Father in an unheard-of sense: he is Father
not only in being Creator; he is eternally Father by his relationship to
his only Son who, reciprocally, is Son only in relation to his Father: "No
one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except
the Son and any one to whom the Son chooses to reveal him."
241 For this reason the apostles confess Jesus to be the Word: "In the
beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God";
as "the image of the invisible God"; as the "radiance of the glory of God
and the very stamp of his nature".
242 Following this apostolic tradition, the Church confessed at the first
ecumenical council at Nicaea (325) that the Son is "consubstantial" with
the Father, that is, one only God with him. The second ecumenical
council, held at Constantinople in 381, kept this expression in its
formulation of the Nicene Creed and confessed "the only- begotten Son of
God, eternally begotten of the Father, light from light, true God from
true God, begotten not made, consubstantial with the Father".
The Father and the son revealed by the spirit
243 Before his Passover, Jesus announced the sending of "another
Paraclete" (Advocate), the Holy Spirit. At work Since creation, having
previously "spoken through the prophets", the Spirit will now be with and
in the disciples, to teach them and guide them "into all the truth". The
Holy Spirit is thus revealed as another divine person with Jesus and the
244 The eternal origin of the Holy Spirit is revealed in his mission in
time. The Spirit is sent to the apostles and to the Church both by the
Father in the name of the Son, and by the Son in person, once he had
returned to the Father. The sending of the person of the Spirit after
Jesus' glorification reveals in its fullness the mystery of the Holy
245 The apostolic faith concerning the Spirit was confessed by the second
ecumenical council at Constantinople (381): "We believe in the Holy
Spirit, the Lord and giver of life, who proceeds from the Father." By
this confession, the Church recognizes the Father as "the source and
origin of the whole divinity". But the eternal origin of the Spirit is
not unconnected with the Son's origin: "The Holy Spirit, the third person
of the Trinity, is God, one and equal with the Father and the Son, of the
same substance and also of the same nature. . . Yet he is not called the
Spirit of the Father alone,. . . but the Spirit of both the Father and the
Son." The Creed of the Church from the Council of Constantinople
confesses: "With the Father and the Son, he is worshipped and
246 The Latin tradition of the Creed confesses that the Spirit "proceeds
from the Father and the Son (filioque)". The Council of Florence in 1438
explains: "The Holy Spirit is eternally from Father and Son; He has his
nature and subsistence at once (simul) from the Father and the Son. He
proceeds eternally from both as from one principle and through one
spiration... And, Since the Father has through generation given to the
only-begotten Son everything that belongs to the Father, except being
Father, the Son has also eternally from the Father, from whom he is
eternally born, that the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Son."
247 The affirmation of the filioque does not appear in the Creed confessed
in 381 at Constantinople. But Pope St. Leo I, following an ancient Latin
and Alexandrian tradition, had already confessed it dogmatically in 447,
even before Rome, in 451 at the Council of Chalcedon, came to recognize
and receive the Symbol of 381. The use of this formula in the Creed was
gradually admitted into the Latin liturgy (between the eighth and eleventh
centuries). The introduction of the filioque into the
Niceno-Constantinopolitan Creed by the Latin liturgy constitutes moreover,
even today, a point of disagreement with the Orthodox Churches.
248 At the outset the Eastern tradition expresses the Father's character
as first origin of the Spirit. By confesSing the Spirit as he "who
proceeds from the Father", it affirms that he comes from the Father
through the Son. The Western tradition expresses first the
consubstantial communion between Father and Son, by saying that the Spirit
proceeds from the Father and the Son (filioque). It says this,
"legitimately and with good reason", for the eternal order of the divine
persons in their consubstantial communion implies that the Father, as "the
principle without principle", is the first origin of the Spirit, but
also that as Father of the only Son, he is, with the Son, the Single
principle from which the Holy Spirit proceeds. This legitimate
complementarity, provided it does not become rigid, does not affect the
identity of faith in the reality of the same mystery confessed.
III. THE HOLY TRINITY IN THE TEACHING OF THE FAITH
The formation of the Trinitarian dogma
249 From the beginning, the revealed truth of the Holy Trinity has been at
the very root of the Church's living faith, principally by means of
Baptism. It finds its expression in the rule of baptismal faith,
formulated in the preaching, catechesis and prayer of the Church. Such
formulations are already found in the apostolic writings, such as this
salutation taken up in the Eucharistic liturgy: "The Grace of the Lord
Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be
with you all."
250 During the first centuries the Church sought to clarify her
Trinitarian faith, both to deepen her own understanding of the faith and
to defend it against the errors that were deforming it. This clarification
was the work of the early councils, aided by the theological work of the
Church Fathers and sustained by the Christian people's sense of the faith.
251 In order to articulate the dogma of the Trinity, the Church had to
develop her own terminology with the help of certain notions of
philosophical origin: "substance", "person" or "hypostasis", "relation"
and so on. In doing this, she did not submit the faith to human wisdom,
but gave a new and unprecedented meaning to these terms, which from then
on would be used to signify an ineffable mystery, "infinitely beyond all
that we can humanly understand".
252 The Church uses (I) the term "substance" (rendered also at times by
"essence" or "nature") to designate the divine being in its unity, (II)
the term "person" or "hypostasis" to designate the Father, Son and Holy
Spirit in the real distinction among them, and (III) the term "relation"
to designate the fact that their distinction lies in the relationship of
each to the others.
The dogma of the Holy Trinity
253 The Trinity is One. We do not confess three Gods, but one God in three
persons, the "consubstantial Trinity". The divine persons do not share
the one divinity among themselves but each of them is God whole and
entire: "The Father is that which the Son is, the Son that which the
Father is, the Father and the Son that which the Holy Spirit is, i.e. by
nature one God." In the words of the Fourth Lateran Council (1215),
"Each of the persons is that supreme reality, viz., the divine substance,
essence or nature."
254 The divine persons are really distinct from one another. "God is one
but not solitary." "Father", "Son", "Holy Spirit" are not simply names
designating modalities of the divine being, for they are really distinct
from one another: "He is not the Father who is the Son, nor is the Son he
who is the Father, nor is the Holy Spirit he who is the Father or the
Son." They are distinct from one another in their relations of origin:
"It is the Father who generates, the Son who is begotten, and the Holy
Spirit who proceeds." The divine Unity is Triune.
255 The divine persons are relative to one another. Because it does not
divide the divine unity, the real distinction of the persons from one
another resides solely in the relationships which relate them to one
another: "In the relational names of the persons the Father is related
to the Son, the Son to the Father, and the Holy Spirit to both. While they
are called three persons in view of their relations, we believe in one
nature or substance." Indeed "everything (in them) is one where there is
no opposition of relationship." "Because of that unity the Father is
wholly in the Son and wholly in the Holy Spirit; the Son is wholly in the
Father and wholly in the Holy Spirit; the Holy Spirit is wholly in the
Father and wholly in the Son."
256 St. Gregory of Nazianzus, also called "the Theologian", entrusts this
summary of Trinitarian faith to the catechumens of Constantinople:
Above all guard for me this great deposit of faith for which I live and
fight, which I want to take with me as a companion, and which makes me
bear all evils and despise all pleasures: I mean the profession of faith
in the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. I entrust it to you today.
By it I am soon going to plunge you into water and raise you up from it. I
give it to you as the companion and patron of your whole life. I give you
but one divinity and power, existing one in three, and containing the
three in a distinct way. Divinity without disparity of substance or
nature, without superior degree that raises up or inferior degree that
casts down. . . the infinite co-naturality of three infinites. Each person
considered in himself is entirely God. . . the three considered together.
. . I have not even begun to think of unity when the Trinity bathes me in
its splendour. I have not even begun to think of the Trinity when unity
grasps me. . 
IV. THE DIVINE WORKS AND THE TRINITARIAN MISSIONS
257 "O blessed light, O Trinity and first Unity!" God is eternal
blessedness, undying life, unfading light. God is love: Father, Son and
Holy Spirit. God freely wills to communicate the glory of his blessed
life. Such is the "plan of his loving kindness", conceived by the Father
before the foundation of the world, in his beloved Son: "He destined us in
love to be his sons" and "to be conformed to the image of his Son",
through "the spirit of sonship". This plan is a "Grace [which] was given
to us in Christ Jesus before the ages began", stemming immediately from
Trinitarian love. It unfolds in the work of creation, the whole history
of salvation after the fall, and the missions of the Son and the Spirit,
which are continued in the mission of the Church.
258 The whole divine economy is the common work of the three divine
persons. For as the Trinity has only one and the same natures so too does
it have only one and the same operation: "The Father, the Son and the Holy
Spirit are not three principles of creation but one principle." However,
each divine person performs the common work according to his unique
personal property. Thus the Church confesses, following the New Testament,
"one God and Father from whom all things are, and one Lord Jesus Christ,
through whom all things are, and one Holy Spirit in whom all things
are". It is above all the divine missions of the Son's Incarnation and
the gift of the Holy Spirit that show forth the properties of the divine
259 Being a work at once common and personal, the whole divine economy
makes known both what is proper to the divine persons, and their one
divine nature. Hence the whole Christian life is a communion with each of
the divine persons, without in any way separating them. Everyone who
glorifies the Father does so through the Son in the Holy Spirit; everyone
who follows Christ does so because the Father draws him and the Spirit
260 The ultimate end of the whole divine economy is the entry of God's
creatures into the perfect unity of the Blessed Trinity. But even now
we are called to be a dwelling for the Most Holy Trinity: "If a man loves
me", says the Lord, "he will keep my word, and my Father will love him,
and we will come to him, and make our home with him":
O my God, Trinity whom I adore, help me forget myself entirely so to
establish myself in you, unmovable and peaceful as if my soul were already
in eternity. May nothing be able to trouble my peace or make me leave you,
O my unchanging God, but may each minute bring me more deeply into your
mystery! 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.
261 The mystery of the Most Holy Trinity is the central mystery of the
Christian faith and of Christian life. God alone can make it known to us
by revealing himself as Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
262 The Incarnation of God's Son reveals that God is the eternal Father
and that the Son is consubstantial with the Father, which means that, in
the Father and with the Father the Son is one and the same God.
263 The mission of the Holy Spirit, sent by the Father in the name of the
Son (Jn 14:26) and by the Son "from the Father" (Jn 15:26), reveals that,
with them, the Spirit is one and the same God. "With the Father and the
Son he is worshipped and glorified" (Nicene Creed).
264 "The Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father as the first principle and,
by the eternal gift of this to the Son, from the communion of both the
Father and the Son" (St. Augustine, De Trin. 15, 26, 47: PL 42, 1095).
265 By The Grace of Baptism "in the name of the Father and of the Son and
of the Holy Spirit", we are called to share in the life of the Blessed
Trinity, here on earth in the obscurity of faith, and after death in
eternal light (cf. Paul VI, CPG # 9).
266 "Now this is the Catholic faith: We worship one God in the Trinity and
the Trinity in unity, without either confuSing the persons or dividing the
substance; for the person of the Father is one, the Son's is another, the
Holy Spirit's another; but the Godhead of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit
is one, their glory equal, their majesty coeternal" (Athanasian Creed: DS
75; ND 16).
267 Inseparable in what they are, the divine persons are also inseparable
in what they do. But within the Single divine operation each shows forth
what is proper to him in the Trinity, especially in the divine missions of
the Son's Incarnation and the gift of the Holy Spirit.
Paragraph 3. The Almighty
268 Of all the divine attributes, only God's omnipotence is named in the
Creed: to confess this power has great bearing on our lives. We believe
that his might is universal, for God who created everything also rules
everything and can do everything. God's power is loving, for he is our
Father, and mysterious, for only faith can discern it when it "is made
perfect in weakness".
"He does whatever he pleases"
269 The Holy Scriptures repeatedly confess the universal power of God. He
is called the "Mighty One of Jacob", the "LORD of hosts", the "strong and
mighty" one. If God is almighty "in heaven and on earth", it is because he
made them. Nothing is impossible with God, who disposes his works
according to his will. He is the Lord of the universe, whose order he
established and which remains wholly subject to him and at his disposal.
He is master of history, governing hearts and events in keeping with his
will: "It is always in your power to show great strength, and who can
withstand the strength of your arm?
"You are merciful to all, for you can do all thing"
270 God is the Father Almighty, whose fatherhood and power shed light on
one another: God reveals his fatherly omnipotence by the way he takes care
of our needs; by the filial adoption that he gives us ("I will be a father
to you, and you shall be my sons and daughters, says the Lord
Almighty"): finally by his infinite mercy, for he displays his power at
its height by freely forgiving Sins.
271 God's almighty power is in no way arbitrary: "In God, power, essence,
will, intellect, wisdom, and justice are all identical. Nothing therefore
can be in God's power which could not be in his just will or his wise
The mystery of God's apparent powerlessness
272 Faith in God the Father Almighty can be put to the test by the
experience of evil and suffering. God can sometimes seem to be absent and
incapable of stopping evil. But in the most mysterious way God the Father
has revealed his almighty power in the voluntary humiliation and
Resurrection of his Son, by which he conquered evil. Christ crucified is
thus "the power of God and the wisdom of God. For the foolishness of God
is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men." It is
in Christ's Resurrection and exaltation that the Father has shown forth
"the immeasurable greatness of his power in us who believe".
273 Only faith can embrace the mysterious ways of God's almighty power.
This faith glories in its weaknesses in order to draw to itself Christ's
power. The Virgin Mary is the supreme model of this faith, for she
believed that "nothing will be impossible with God", and was able to
magnify the Lord: "For he who is mighty has done great things for me, and
holy is his name."
274 "Nothing is more apt to confirm our faith and hope than holding it
fixed in our minds that nothing is impossible with God. Once our reason
has grasped the idea of God's almighty power, it will easily and without
any hesitation admit everything that [the Creed] will afterwards propose
for us to believe - even if they be great and marvellous things, far above
the ordinary laws of nature."
275 With Job, the just man, we confess: "I know that you can do all
things, and that no purpose of yours can be thwarted" (Job 42:2).
276 Faithful to the witness of Scripture, the Church often addresses her
prayer to the "almighty and eternal God" ("omnipotens sempiterne Deus. .
."), believing firmly that
"nothing will be impossible with God" (Gen 18:14; Lk 1:37; Mt 19:26).
277 God shows forth his almighty power by converting us from our Sins and
restoring us to his friendship by Grace. "God, you show your almighty
power above all in your mercy and forgiveness. . ." (Roman Missal, 26th
Sunday, Opening Prayer).
278 If we do not believe that God's love is almighty, how can we believe
that the Father could create us, the Son redeem us and the Holy Spirit
Paragraph 4. The Creator
279 "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth." Holy
Scripture begins with these solemn words. The profession of faith takes
them up when it confesses that God the Father almighty is "Creator of
heaven and earth" (Apostles' Creed), "of all that is, seen and unseen"
(Nicene Creed). We shall speak first of the Creator, then of creation and
finally of the fall into Sin from which Jesus Christ, the Son of God, came
to raise us up again.
280 Creation is the foundation of "all God's saving plans," the "beginning
of the history of salvation" that culminates in Christ. Conversely, the
mystery of Christ casts conclusive light on the mystery of creation and
reveals the end for which "in the beginning God created the heavens and
the earth": from the beginning, God envisaged the glory of the new
creation in Christ.
28 I And so the readings of the Easter Vigil, the celebration of the new
creation in Christ, begin with the creation account; likewise in the
Byzantine liturgy, the account of creation always constitutes the first
reading at the vigils of the great feasts of the Lord. According to
ancient witnesses the instruction of catechumens for Baptism followed the
I. CATECHESIS ON CREATION
282 Catechesis on creation is of major importance. It concerns the very
foundations of human and Christian life: for it makes explicit the
response of the Christian faith to the basic question that men of all
times have asked themselves: "Where do we come from?" "Where are we
going?" "What is our origin?" "What is our end?" "Where does everything
that exists come from and where is it going?" The two questions, the first
about the origin and the second about the end, are inseparable. They are
decisive for the meaning and orientation of our life and actions.
283 The question about the origins of the world and of man has been the
object of many scientific studies which have splendidly enriched our
knowledge of the age and dimensions of the cosmos, the development of
life-forms and the appearance of man. These discoveries invite us to even
greater admiration for the greatness of the Creator, prompting us to give
him thanks for all his works and for the understanding and wisdom he gives
to scholars and researchers. With Solomon they can say: "It is he who gave
me unerring knowledge of what exists, to know the structure of the world
and the activity of the elements. . . for wisdom, the fashioner of all
things, taught me."
284 The great interest accorded to these studies is strongly stimulated by
a question of another order, which goes beyond the proper domain of the
natural sciences. It is not only a question of knowing when and how the
universe arose physically, or when man appeared, but rather of discovering
the meaning of such an origin: is the universe governed by chance, blind
fate, anonymous necessity, or by a transcendent, intelligent and good
Being called "God"? And if the world does come from God's wisdom and
goodness, why is there evil? Where does it come from? Who is responsible
for it? Is there any liberation from it?
285 Since the beginning the Christian faith has been challenged by
responses to the question of origins that differ from its own. Ancient
religions and cultures produced many myths concerning origins. Some
philosophers have said that everything is God, that the world is God, or
that the development of the world is the development of God (Pantheism).
Others have said that the world is a necessary emanation ariSing from God
and returning to him. Still others have affirmed the existence of two
eternal principles, Good and Evil, Light and Darkness, locked, in
permanent conflict (Dualism, Manichaeism). According to some of these
conceptions, the world (at least the physical world) is evil, the product
of a fall, and is thus to be rejected or left behind (Gnosticism). Some
admit that the world was made by God, but as by a watch-maker who, once he
has made a watch, abandons it to itself (Deism). Finally, others reject
any transcendent origin for the world, but see it as merely the interplay
of matter that has always existed (Materialism). All these attempts bear
witness to the permanence and universality of the question of origins.
This inquiry is distinctively human.
286 Human intelligence is surely already capable of finding a response to
the question of origins. The existence of God the Creator can be known
with certainty through his works, by the light of human reason, even if
this knowledge is often obscured and disfigured by error. This is why
faith comes to confirm and enlighten reason in the correct understanding
of this truth: "By faith we understand that the world was created by the
word of God, so that what is seen was made out of things which do not
287 The truth about creation is so important for all of human life that
God in his tenderness wanted to reveal to his People everything that is
salutary to know on the subject. Beyond the natural knowledge that every
man can have of the Creator, God progressively revealed to Israel the
mystery of creation. He who chose the patriarchs, who brought Israel out
of Egypt, and who by chooSing Israel created and formed it, this same God
reveals himself as the One to whom belong all the peoples of the earth,
and the whole earth itself; he is the One who alone "made heaven and
288 Thus the revelation of creation is inseparable from the revelation and
forging of the covenant of the one God with his People. Creation is
revealed as the first step towards this covenant, the first and universal
witness to God's all- powerful love. And so, the truth of creation is
also expressed with growing vigour in the message of the prophets, the
prayer of the psalms and the liturgy, and in the wisdom sayings of the
289 Among all the Scriptural texts about creation, the first three
chapters of Genesis occupy a unique place. From a literary standpoint
these texts may have had diverse sources. The inspired authors have
placed them at the beginning of Scripture to express in their solemn
language the truths of creation - its origin and its end in God, its order
and goodness, the vocation of man, and finally the drama of Sin and the
hope of salvation. Read in the light of Christ, within the unity of Sacred
Scripture and in the living Tradition of the Church, these texts remain
the principal source for catechesis on the mysteries of the "beginning":
creation, fall, and promise of salvation.
II. CREATION - WORK OF THE HOLY TRINITY
290 "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth": three
things are affirmed in these first words of Scripture: the eternal God
gave a beginning to all that exists outside of himself; he alone is
Creator (the verb "create" - Hebrew bara - always has God for its
subject). The totality of what exists (expressed by the formula "the
heavens and the earth") depends on the One who gives it being.
291 "In the beginning was the Word. . . and the Word was God.
. . all things were made through him, and without him was not
anything made that was made." The New Testament reveals that God
created everything by the eternal Word, his beloved Son. In him "all
things were created, in heaven and on earth.. . all things were created
through him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things
hold together." The Church's faith likewise confesses the creative
action of the Holy Spirit, the "giver of life", "the Creator Spirit"
(Veni, Creator Spiritus), the "source of every good".
292 The Old Testament suggests and the New Covenant reveals the creative
action of the Son and the Spirit, inseparably one with that of the
Father. This creative co-operation is clearly affirmed in the Church's
rule of faith: "There exists but one God. . . he is the Father, God, the
Creator, the author, the giver of order. He made all things by himself,
that is, by his Word and by his Wisdom", "by the Son and the Spirit" who,
so to speak, are "his hands". Creation is the common work of the Holy
III. "THE WORLD WAS CREATED FOR THE GLORY OF GOD"
293 Scripture and Tradition never cease to teach and celebrate this
fundamental truth: "The world was made for the glory of God." St.
Bonaventure explains that God created all things "not to increase his
glory, but to show it forth and to communicate it", for God has no
other reason for creating than his love and goodness: "Creatures came into
existence when the key of love opened his hand." The First Vatican
This one, true God, of his own goodness and "almighty power", not for
increaSing his own beatitude, nor for attaining his perfection, but in
order to manifest this perfection through the benefits which he bestows on
creatures, with absolute freedom of counsel "and from the beginning of
time, made out of nothing both orders of creatures, the spiritual and the
corporeal. . ."
294 The glory of God consists in the realization of this manifestation and
communication of his goodness, for which the world was created. God made
us "to be his sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his
will, to the praise of his glorious Grace", for "the glory of God is
man fully alive; moreover man's life is the vision of God: if God's
revelation through creation has already obtained life for all the beings
that dwell on earth, how much more will the Word's manifestation of the
Father obtain life for those who see God." The ultimate purpose of
creation is that God "who is the creator of all things may at last become
"all in all", thus simultaneously assuring his own glory and our
IV. THE MYSTERY OF CREATION
God creates by wisdom and love
295 We believe that God created the world according to his wisdom. It
is not the product of any necessity whatever, nor of blind fate or chance.
We believe that it proceeds from God's free will; he wanted to make his
creatures share in his being, wisdom and goodness: "For you created all
things, and by your will they existed and were created." Therefore the
Psalmist exclaims: "O LORD, how manifold are your works! In wisdom you
have made them all"; and "The LORD is good to all, and his compassion is
over all that he has made."
God creates "out of nothing"
296 We believe that God needs no pre-existent thing or any help in order
to create, nor is creation any sort of necessary emanation from the divine
substance. God creates freely "out of nothing":
If God had drawn the world from pre-existent matter, what would be so
extraordinary in that? A human artisan makes from a given material
whatever he wants, while God shows his power by starting from nothing to
make all he wants.
297 Scripture bears witness to faith in creation "out of nothing" as a
truth full of promise and hope. Thus the mother of seven sons encourages
them for martyrdom:
I do not know how you came into being in my womb. It was not I who gave
you life and breath, nor I who set in order the elements within each of
you. Therefore the Creator of the world, who shaped the beginning of man
and devised the origin of all things, will in his mercy give life and
breath back to you again, Since you now forget yourselves for the sake of
his laws. . . Look at the heaven and the earth and see everything that is
in them, and recognize that God did not make them out of things that
existed. Thus also mankind comes into being.
298 Since God could create everything out of nothing, he can also, through
the Holy Spirit, give spiritual life to Sinners by creating a pure heart
in them, and bodily life to the dead through the Resurrection. God
"gives life to the dead and calls into existence the things that do not
exist." And Since God was able to make light shine in darkness by his
Word, he can also give the light of faith to those who do not yet know
God creates an ordered and good world
299 Because God creates through wisdom, his creation is ordered: "You have
arranged all things by measure and number and weight." The universe,
created in and by the eternal Word, the "image of the invisible God", is
destined for and addressed to man, himself created in the "image of God"
and called to a personal relationship with God. Our human
understanding, which shares in the light of the divine intellect, can
understand what God tells us by means of his creation, though not without
great effort and only in a spirit of humility and respect before the
Creator and his work. Because creation comes forth from God's
goodness, it shares in that goodness - "And God saw that it was good. . .
very good"- for God willed creation as a gift addressed to man, an
inheritance destined for and entrusted to him. On many occasions the
Church has had to defend the goodness of creation, including that of the
God transcends creation and is present to it
300 God is infinitely greater than all his works: "You have set your glory
above the heavens." Indeed, God's "greatness is unsearchable". But
because he is the free and sovereign Creator, the first cause of all that
exists, God is present to his creatures' inmost being: "In him we live and
move and have our being." In the words of St. Augustine, God is "higher
than my highest and more inward than my innermost self".
God upholds and sustains creation
301 With creation, God does not abandon his creatures to themselves. He
not only gives them being and existence, but also, and at every moment,
upholds and sustains them in being, enables them to act and brings them to
their final end. Recognizing this utter dependence with respect to the
Creator is a source of wisdom and freedom, of joy and confidence:
For you love all things that exist, and detest none of the things that you
have made; for you would not have made anything if you had hated it. How
would anything have endured, if you had not willed it? Or how would
anything not called forth by you have been preserved? You spare all
things, for they are yours, O Lord, you who love the living.
V. GOD CARRIES OUT HIS PLAN: DIVINE PROVIDENCE
302 Creation has its own goodness and proper perfection, but it did not
spring forth complete from the hands of the Creator. The universe was
created "in a state of journeying" (in statu viae) toward an ultimate
perfection yet to be attained, to which God has destined it. We call
"divine providence" the dispositions by which God guides his creation
toward this perfection:
By his providence God protects and governs all things which he has made,
"reaching mightily from one end of the earth to the other, and ordering
all things well". For "all are open and laid bare to his eyes", even those
things which are yet to come into existence through the free action of
303 The witness of Scripture is unanimous that the solicitude of divine
providence is concrete and immediate; God cares for all, from the least
things to the great events of the world and its history. The sacred books
powerfully affirm God's absolute sovereignty over the course of events:
"Our God is in the heavens; he does whatever he pleases." And so it is
with Christ, "who opens and no one shall shut, who shuts and no one
opens". As the book of Proverbs states: "Many are the plans in the mind
of a man, but it is the purpose of the LORD that will be established."
304 And so we see the Holy Spirit, the principal author of Sacred
Scripture, often attributing actions to God without mentioning any
secondary causes. This is not a "primitive mode of speech", but a profound
way of recalling God's primacy and absolute Lordship over history and the
world, and so of educating his people to trust in him. The prayer of
the Psalms is the great school of this trust.
305 Jesus asks for childlike abandonment to the providence of our heavenly
Father who takes care of his children's smallest needs: "Therefore do not
be anxious, saying, "What shall we eat?" or "What shall we drink?". . .
Your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first his
kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things shall be yours as
Providence and secondary causes
306 God is the sovereign master of his plan. But to carry it out he also
makes use of his creatures' co-operation. This use is not a sign of
weakness, but rather a token of almighty God's greatness and goodness. For
God grants his creatures not only their existence, but also the dignity of
acting on their own, of being causes and principles for each other, and
thus of co-operating in the accomplishment of his plan.
307 To human beings God even gives the power of freely sharing in his
providence by entrusting them with the responsibility of "subduing" the
earth and having dominion over it. God thus enables men to be
intelligent and free causes in order to complete the work of creation, to
perfect its harmony for their own good and that of their neighbours.
Though often unconscious collaborators with God's will, they can also
enter deliberately into the divine plan by their actions, their prayers
and their sufferings. They then fully become "God's fellow workers" and
co-workers for his kingdom.
308 The truth that God is at work in all the actions of his creatures is
inseparable from faith in God the Creator. God is the first cause who
operates in and through secondary causes: "For God is at work in you, both
to will and to work for his good pleasure." Far from diminishing the
creature's dignity, this truth enhances it. Drawn from nothingness by
God's power, wisdom and goodness, it can do nothing if it is cut off from
its origin, for "without a Creator the creature vanishes." Still less
can a creature attain its ultimate end without the help of God's Grace.
Providence and the scandal of evil
309 If God the Father almighty, the Creator of the ordered and good world,
cares for all his creatures, why does evil exist? To this question, as
presSing as it is unavoidable and as painful as it is mysterious, no quick
answer will suffice. Only Christian faith as a whole constitutes the
answer to this question: the goodness of creation, the drama of Sin and
the patient love of God who comes to meet man by his covenants, the
redemptive Incarnation of his Son, his gift of the Spirit, his gathering
of the Church, the power of the sacraments and his call to a blessed life
to which free creatures are invited to consent in advance, but from which,
by a terrible mystery, they can also turn away in advance. There is not a
Single aspect of the Christian message that is not in part an answer to
the question of evil.
310 But why did God not create a world so perfect that no evil could exist
in it? With infinite power God could always create something better.
But with infinite wisdom and goodness God freely willed to create a world
"in a state of journeying" towards its ultimate perfection. In God's plan
this process of becoming involves the appearance of certain beings and the
disappearance of others, the existence of the more perfect alongside the
less perfect, both constructive and destructive forces of nature. With
physical good there exists also physical evil as long as creation has not
311 Angels and men, as intelligent and free creatures, have to journey
toward their ultimate destinies by their free choice and preferential
love. They can therefore go astray. Indeed, they have Sinned. Thus has
moral evil, incommensurably more harmful than physical evil, entered the
world. God is in no way, directly or indirectly, the cause of moral
evil. He permits it, however, because he respects the freedom of his
creatures and, mysteriously, knows how to derive good from it:
For almighty God. . ., because he is supremely good, would never allow any
evil whatsoever to exist in his works if he were not so all-powerful and
good as to cause good to emerge from evil itself.
312 In time we can discover that God in his almighty providence can bring
a good from the consequences of an evil, even a moral evil, caused by his
creatures: "It was not you", said Joseph to his brothers, "who sent me
here, but God. . . You meant evil against me; but God meant it for good,
to bring it about that many people should be kept alive." From the
greatest moral evil ever committed - the rejection and murder of God's
only Son, caused by the Sins of all men - God, by his Grace that "abounded
all the more", brought the greatest of goods: the glorification of
Christ and our redemption. But for all that, evil never becomes a good.
313 "We know that in everything God works for good for those who love
him." The constant witness of the saints confirms this truth:
St. Catherine of Siena said to "those who are scandalized and rebel against
what happens to them": "Everything comes from love, all is ordained for
the salvation of man, God does nothing without this goal in mind."
St. Thomas More, shortly before his martyrdom, consoled his daughter:
"Nothing can come but that that God wills. And I make me very sure that
whatsoever that be, seem it never so bad in sight, it shall indeed be the
Dame Julian of Norwich: "Here I was taught by the Grace of God that I
should steadfastly keep me in the faith... and that at the same time I
should take my stand on and earnestly believe in what our Lord shewed in
this time - that 'all manner [of] thing shall be well.'"
314 We firmly believe that God is master of the world and of its history.
But the ways of his providence are often unknown to us. Only at the end,
when our partial knowledge ceases, when we see God "face to face", will
we fully know the ways by which - even through the dramas of evil and Sin
- God has guided his creation to that definitive sabbath rest for which
he created heaven and earth.
315 In the creation of the world and of man, God gave the first and
universal witness to his almighty love and his wisdom, the first
proclamation of the "plan of his loving goodness", which finds its goal in
the new creation in Christ.
316 Though the work of creation is attributed to the Father in particular,
it is equally a truth of faith that the Father, Son and Holy Spirit
together are the one, indivisible principle of creation.
317 God alone created the universe, freely, directly and without any help.
318 No creature has the infinite power necessary to "create" in the proper
sense of the word, that is, to produce and give being to that which had in
no way possessed it (to call into existence "out of nothing") (cf DS
319 God created the world to show forth and communicate his glory. That
his creatures should share in his truth, goodness and beauty - this is the
glory for which God created them.
320 God created the universe and keeps it in existence by his Word, the
Son "upholding the universe by his word of power" (Heb 1:3), and by his
Creator Spirit, the giver of life.
321 Divine providence consists of the dispositions by which God guides all
his creatures with wisdom and love to their ultimate end.
322 Christ invites us to filial trust in the providence of our heavenly
Father (cf. Mt 6:26-34), and St. Peter the apostle repeats: "Cast all your
anxieties on him, for he cares about you" (I Pt 5:7; cf. Ps 55:23).
323 Divine providence works also through the actions of creatures. To
human beings God grants the ability to co- operate freely with his plans.
324 The fact that God permits physical and even moral evil is a mystery
that God illuminates by his Son Jesus Christ who died and rose to vanquish
evil. Faith gives us the certainty that God would not permit an evil if he
did not cause a good to come from that very evil, by ways that we shall
fully know only in eternal life.
Paragraph 5. Heaven and Earth
325 The Apostles' Creed professes that God is "creator of heaven and
earth". The Nicene Creed makes it explicit that this profession includes
"all that is, seen and unseen".
326 The Scriptural expression "heaven and earth" means all that exists,
creation in its entirety. It also indicates the bond, deep within
creation, that both unites heaven and earth and distinguishes the one from
the other: "the earth" is the world of men, while "heaven" or "the
heavens" can designate both the firmament and God's own "place" - "our
Father in heaven" and consequently the "heaven" too which is
eschatological glory. Finally, "heaven" refers to the saints and the
"place" of the spiritual creatures, the angels, who surround God.
327 The profession of faith of the Fourth Lateran Council (1215) affirms
that God "from the beginning of time made at once (simul) out of nothing
both orders of creatures, the spiritual and the corporeal, that is, the
angelic and the earthly, and then (deinde) the human creature, who as it
were shares in both orders, being composed of spirit and body."
I. THE ANGELS
The existence of angels - a truth of faith
328 The existence of the spiritual, non-corporeal beings that Sacred
Scripture usually calls "angels" is a truth of faith. The witness of
Scripture is as clear as the unanimity of Tradition.
Who are they?
329 St. Augustine says: "'Angel' is the name of their office, not of their
nature. If you seek the name of their nature, it is 'spirit'; if you seek
the name of their office, it is 'angel': from what they are, 'spirit',
from what they do, 'angel.'" With their whole beings the angels are
servants and messengers of God. Because they "always behold the face of my
Father who is in heaven" they are the "mighty ones who do his word,
hearkening to the voice of his word".
330 As purely spiritual creatures angels have intelligence and will: they
are personal and immortal creatures, surpasSing in perfection all visible
creatures, as the splendour of their glory bears witness.
Christ "with all his angels"
331 Christ is the centre of the angelic world. They are his angels: "When
the Son of man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him. . "
They belong to him because they were created through and for him: "for in
him all things were created in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible,
whether thrones or dominions or principalities or authorities - all things
were created through him and for him." They belong to him still more
because he has made them messengers of his saving plan: "Are they not all
ministering spirits sent forth to serve, for the sake of those who are to
332 Angels have been present Since creation and throughout the history of
salvation, announcing this salvation from afar or near and serving the
accomplishment of the divine plan: they closed the earthly paradise;
protected Lot; saved Hagar and her child; stayed Abraham's hand;
communicated the law by their ministry; led the People of God; announced
births and callings; and assisted the prophets, just to cite a few
examples. Finally, the angel Gabriel announced the birth of the
Precursor and that of Jesus himself.
333 From the Incarnation to the Ascension, the life of the Word incarnate
is surrounded by the adoration and service of angels. When God "brings the
firstborn into the world, he says: 'Let all God's angels worship him.'"
Their song of praise at the birth of Christ has not ceased resounding in
the Church's praise: "Glory to God in the highest!" They protect Jesus
in his infancy, serve him in the desert, strengthen him in his agony in
the garden, when he could have been saved by them from the hands of his
enemies as Israel had been. Again, it is the angels who "evangelize" by
proclaiming the Good News of Christ's Incarnation and Resurrection.
They will be present at Christ's return, which they will announce, to
serve at his judgement.
The angels in the life of the Church
334 In the meantime, the whole life of the Church benefits from the
mysterious and powerful help of angels.
335 In her liturgy, the Church joins with the angels to adore the
thrice-holy God. She invokes their assistance (in the Roman Canon's
Supplices te rogamus. . .["Almighty God, we pray that your angel..."]; in
the funeral liturgy's In Paradisum deducant te angeli. . .["May the angels
lead you into Paradise. . ."]). Moreover, in the "Cherubic Hymn" of the
Byzantine Liturgy, she celebrates the memory of certain angels more
particularly (St. Michael, St. Gabriel, St. Raphael, and the guardian
336 From infancy to death human life is surrounded by their watchful care
and intercession. "Beside each believer stands an angel as protector
and shepherd leading him to life." Already here on earth the Christian
life shares by faith in the blessed company of angels and men united in
II. THE VISIBLE WORLD
337 God himself created the visible world in all its richness, diversity
and order. Scripture presents the work of the Creator symbolically as a
succession of six days of divine "work", concluded by the "rest" of the
seventh day. On the subject of creation, the sacred text teaches the
truths revealed by God for our salvation, permitting us to "recognize
the inner nature, the value and the ordering of the whole of creation to
the praise of God."
338 Nothing exists that does not owe its existence to God the Creator. The
world began when God's word drew it out of nothingness; all existent
beings, all of nature, and all human history are rooted in this primordial
event, the very genesis by which the world was constituted and time
339 Each creature possesses its own particular goodness and perfection.
For each one of the works of the "six days" it is said: "And God saw that
it was good." "By the very nature of creation, material being is endowed
with its own stability, truth and excellence, its own order and laws."
Each of the various creatures, willed in its own being, reflects in its
own way a ray of God's infinite wisdom and goodness. Man must therefore
respect the particular goodness of every creature, to avoid any disordered
use of things which would be in contempt of the Creator and would bring
disastrous consequences for human beings and their environment.
340 God wills the interdependence of creatures. The sun and the moon, the
cedar and the little flower, the eagle and the sparrow: the spectacle of
their countless diversities and inequalities tells us that no creature is
self-sufficient. Creatures exist only in dependence on each other, to
complete each other, in the service of each other.
341 The beauty of the universe: The order and harmony of the created world
results from the diversity of beings and from the relationships which
exist among them. Man discovers them progressively as the laws of nature.
They call forth the admiration of scholars. The beauty of creation
reflects the infinite beauty of the Creator and ought to inspire the
respect and submission of man's intellect and will.
342 The hierarchy of creatures is expressed by the order of the "six
days", from the less perfect to the more perfect. God loves all his
creatures and takes care of each one, even the sparrow. Nevertheless,
Jesus said: "You are of more value than many sparrows", or again: "Of how
much more value is a man than a sheep!"
343 Man is the summit of the Creator's work, as the inspired account
expresses by clearly distinguishing the creation of man from that of the
344 There is a solidarity among all creatures ariSing from the fact that
all have the same Creator and are all ordered to his glory:
May you be praised, O Lord, in all your creatures, especially brother sun,
by whom you give us light for the day; he is beautiful, radiating great
splendour, and offering us a symbol of you, the Most High. . .
May you be praised, my Lord, for sister water, who is very useful and
humble, precious and chaste. . .
May you be praised, my Lord, for sister earth, our mother, who bears and
feeds us, and produces the variety of fruits and dappled flowers and
grasses. . .
Praise and bless my Lord, give thanks and serve him in all humility.
345 The sabbath - the end of the work of the six days. The sacred text
says that "on the seventh day God finished his work which he had done",
that the "heavens and the earth were finished", and that God "rested" on
this day and sanctified and blessed it. These inspired words are rich
in profitable instruction:
346 In creation God laid a foundation and established laws that remain
firm, on which the believer can rely with confidence, for they are the
sign and pledge of the unshakeable faithfulness of God's covenant. For
his part man must remain faithful to this foundation, and respect the laws
which the Creator has written into it.
347 Creation was fashioned with a view to the sabbath and therefore for
the worship and adoration of God. Worship is inscribed in the order of
creation. As the rule of St. Benedict says, nothing should take
precedence over "the work of God", that is, solemn worship. This
indicates the right order of human concerns.
348 The sabbath is at the heart of Israel's law. To keep the commandments
is to correspond to the wisdom and the will of God as expressed in his
work of creation.
349 The eighth day. But for us a new day has dawned: the day of Christ's
Resurrection. The seventh day completes the first creation. The eighth day
begins the new creation. Thus, the work of creation culminates in the
greater work of redemption. The first creation finds its meaning and its
summit in the new creation in Christ, the splendour of which surpasses
that of the first creation.
350 Angels are spiritual creatures who glorify God without ceasing and who
serve his saving plans for other creatures: "The angels work together for
the benefit of us all" (St. Thomas Aquinas, STh I, 114, 3, ad 3).
351 The angels surround Christ their Lord. They serve him especially in
the accomplishment of his saving mission to men.
352 The Church venerates the angels who help her on her earthly pilgrimage
and protect every human being.
353 God willed the diversity of his creatures and their own particular
goodness, their interdependence and their order. He destined all material
creatures for the good of the human race. Man, and through him all
creation, is destined for the glory of God.
354 Respect for laws inscribed in creation and the relations which derive
from the nature of things is a principle of wisdom and a foundation for
Paragraph 6. Man
355 "God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him,
Male and Female He Created Them." Man occupies a unique place in
creation: (I) he is "in the image of God"; (II) in his own nature he
unites the spiritual and material worlds; (III) he is created "male and
female"; (IV) God established him in his friendship.
I. "IN THE IMAGE OF GOD"
356 Of all visible creatures only man is "able to know and love his
creator". He is "the only creature on earth that God has willed for its
own sake", and he alone is called to share, by knowledge and love, in
God's own life. It was for this end that he was created, and this is the
fundamental reason for his dignity:
What made you establish man in so great a dignity? Certainly the
incalculable love by which you have looked on your creature in yourself!
You are taken with love for her; for by love indeed you created her, by
love you have given her a being capable of tasting your eternal Good.
357 Being in the image of God the human individual possesses the dignity
of a person, who is not just something, but someone. He is capable of
self-knowledge, of self-possession and of freely giving himself and
entering into communion with other persons. And he is called by Grace to a
covenant with his Creator, to offer him a response of faith and love that
no other creature can give in his stead.
358 God created everything for man, but man in turn was created to
serve and love God and to offer all creation back to him:
What is it that is about to be created, that enjoys such honour? It is man
that great and wonderful living creature, more precious in the eyes of God
than all other creatures! For him the heavens and the earth, the sea and
all the rest of creation exist. God attached so much importance to his
salvation that he did not spare his own Son for the sake of man. Nor does
he ever cease to work, trying every possible means, until he has raised
man up to himself and made him sit at his right hand.
359 "In reality it is only in the mystery of the Word made flesh that the
mystery of man truly becomes clear."
St. Paul tells us that the human race takes its origin from two men: Adam
and Christ. . . The first man, Adam, he says, became a living soul, the
last Adam a life-giving spirit. The first Adam was made by the last Adam,
from whom he also received his soul, to give him life... The second Adam
stamped his image on the first Adam when he created him. That is why he
took on himself the role and the name of the first Adam, in order that he
might not lose what he had made in his own image. The first Adam, the last
Adam: the first had a beginning, the last knows no end. The last Adam is
indeed the first; as he himself says: "I am the first and the last."
360 Because of its common origin the human race forms a unity, for "from
one ancestor [God] made all nations to inhabit the whole earth":
O wondrous vision, which makes us contemplate the human race in the unity
of its origin in God. . . in the unity of its nature, composed equally in
all men of a material body and a spiritual soul; in the unity of its
immediate end and its mission in the world; in the unity of its dwelling,
the earth, whose benefits all men, by right of nature, may use to sustain
and develop life; in the unity of its supernatural end: God himself, to
whom all ought to tend; in the unity of the means for attaining this end;.
. . in the unity of the redemption wrought by Christ for all.
361 "This law of Human Solidarity and charity", without excluding the
rich variety of persons, cultures and peoples, assures us that all men are
II. "BODY AND SOUL BUT TRULY ONE"
362 The human person, created in the image of God, is a being at once
corporeal and spiritual. The biblical account expresses this reality in
symbolic language when it affirms that "then the LORD God formed man of
dust from the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life;
and man became a living being." Man, whole and entire, is therefore
willed by God.
363 In Sacred Scripture the term "soul" often refers to human life or the
entire human person. But "soul" also refers to the innermost aspect of
man, that which is of greatest value in him, that by which he is most
especially in God's image: "soul" signifies the spiritual principle in
364 The human body shares in the dignity of "the image of God": it is a
human body precisely because it is animated by a spiritual soul, and it is
the whole human person that is intended to become, in the body of Christ,
a temple of the Spirit:
Man, though made of body and soul, is a unity. Through his very bodily
condition he sums up in himself the elements of the material world.
Through him they are thus brought to their highest perfection and can
raise their voice in praise freely given to the Creator. For this reason
man may not despise his bodily life. Rather he is obliged to regard his
body as good and to hold it in honour Since God has created it and will
raise it up on the last day 233
365 The unity of soul and body is so profound that one has to consider the
soul to be the "form" of the body: i.e., it is because of its spiritual
soul that the body made of matter becomes a living, human body; spirit and
matter, in man, are not two natures united, but rather their union forms a
366 The Church teaches that every spiritual soul is created immediately by
God - it is not "produced" by the parents - and also that it is immortal:
it does not perish when it separates from the body at death, and it will
be reunited with the body at the final Resurrection.
367 Sometimes the soul is distinguished from the spirit: St. Paul for
instance prays that God may sanctify his people "wholly", with "spirit and
soul and body" kept sound and blameless at the Lord's coming. The
Church teaches that this distinction does not introduce a duality into the
soul. "Spirit" signifies that from creation man is ordered to a
supernatural end and that his soul can gratuitously be raised beyond all
it deserves to communion with God.
368 The spiritual tradition of the Church also emphasizes the heart, in
the biblical sense of the depths of one's being, where the person decides
for or against God.
III. "Male and Female He Created Them"
Equality and difference willed by God
369 Man and woman have been created, which is to say, willed by God: on
the one hand, in perfect equality as human persons; on the other, in their
respective beings as man and woman. "Being man" or "being woman" is a
reality which is good and willed by God: man and woman possess an
inalienable dignity which comes to them immediately from God their
Creator. Man and woman are both with one and the same dignity "in the
image of God". In their "being-man" and "being-woman", they reflect the
Creator's wisdom and goodness.
370 In no way is God in man's image. He is neither man nor woman. God is
pure spirit in which there is no place for the difference between the
sexes. But the respective "perfections" of man and woman reflect something
of the infinite perfection of God: those of a mother and those of a father
"Each for the other" - "A unity in two"
371 God created man and woman together and willed each for the other. The
Word of God gives us to understand this through various features of the
sacred text. "It is not good that the man should be alone. I will make him
a helper fit for him." None of the animals can be man's partner. The
woman God "fashions" from the man's rib and brings to him elicits on the
man's part a cry of wonder, an exclamation of love and communion: "This at
last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh." Man discovers woman as
another "I", sharing the same humanity.
372 Man and woman were made "for each other" - not that God left them
half-made and incomplete: he created them to be a communion of persons, in
which each can be "helpmate" to the other, for they are equal as persons
("bone of my bones. . .") and complementary as masculine and feminine. In
marriage God unites them in such a way that, by forming "one flesh",
they can transmit human life: "Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the
earth." By transmitting human life to their descendants, man and woman
as spouses and parents co-operate in a unique way in the Creator's
373 In God's plan man and woman have the vocation of "subduing" the
earth as stewards of God. This sovereignty is not to be an arbitrary
and destructive domination. God calls man and woman, made in the image of
the Creator "who loves everything that exists", to share in his
providence toward other creatures; hence their responsibility for the
world God has entrusted to them.
IV. MAN IN PARADISE
374 The first man was not only created good, but was also established in
friendship with his Creator and in harmony with himself and with the
creation around him, in a state that would be surpassed only by the glory
of the new creation in Christ.
375 The Church, interpreting the symbolism of biblical language in an
authentic way, in the light of the New Testament and Tradition, teaches
that our first parents, Adam and Eve, were constituted in an original
"state of holiness and justice". This Grace of original holiness was
"to share in. . .divine life".
376 By the radiance of this Grace all dimensions of man's life were
confirmed. As long as he remained in the divine intimacy, man would not
have to suffer or die. The inner harmony of the human person, the
harmony between man and woman, and finally the harmony between the
first couple and all creation, comprised the state called "original
377 The "mastery" over the world that God offered man from the beginning
was realized above all within man himself: mastery of self. The first man
was unimpaired and ordered in his whole being because he was free from the
triple concupiscence that subjugates him to the pleasures of the
senses, covetousness for earthly goods, and self-assertion, contrary to
the dictates of reason.
378 The sign of man's familiarity with God is that God places him in the
garden. There he lives "to till it and keep it". Work is not yet a
burden, but rather the collaboration of man and woman with God in
perfecting the visible creation.
379 This entire harmony of original justice, foreseen for man in God's
plan, will be lost by the Sin of our first parents.
380 "Father,. . . you formed man in your own likeness and set him over the
whole world to serve you, his creator, and to rule over all creatures"
(Roman Missal, EP IV, 118).
381 Man is predestined to reproduce the image of God's Son made man, the
"image of the invisible God" (Col 1:15), so that Christ shall be the
first-born of a multitude of brothers and sisters (cf. Eph 1:3-6; Rom
382 "Man, though made of body and soul, is a unity" (GS 14 # 1). The
doctrine of the faith affirms that the spiritual and immortal soul is
created immediately by God.
383 "God did not create man a solitary being. From the beginning, "male
and female he created them" (Gen 1:27). This partnership of man and woman
constitutes the first form of communion between persons" (GS 12 # 4).
384 Revelation makes known to us the state of original holiness and
justice of man and woman before Sin: from their friendship with God flowed
the happiness of their existence in paradise.
Paragraph 7. The Fall
385 God is infinitely good and all his works are good. Yet no one can
escape the experience of suffering or the evils in nature which seem to be
linked to the limitations proper to creatures: and above all to the
question of moral evil. Where does evil come from? "I sought whence evil
comes and there was no solution", said St. Augustine, and his own
painful quest would only be resolved by his conversion to the living God.
For "the mystery of lawlessness" is clarified only in the light of the
"mystery of our religion". The revelation of divine love in Christ
manifested at the same time the extent of evil and the superabundance of
Grace. We must therefore approach the question of the origin of evil by
fixing the eyes of our faith on him who alone is its conqueror.
I. WHERE Sin ABOUNDED, Grace ABOUNDED ALL THE MORE
The reality of Sin
386 Sin is present in human history; any attempt to ignore it or to give
this dark reality other names would be futile. To try to understand what
Sin is, one must first recognize the profound relation of man to God, for
only in this relationship is the evil of Sin unmasked in its true identity
as humanity's rejection of God and opposition to him, even as it continues
to weigh heavy on human life and history.
387 Only the light of divine Revelation clarifies the reality of Sin and
particularly of the Sin committed at mankind's origins. Without the
knowledge Revelation gives of God we cannot recognize Sin clearly and are
tempted to explain it as merely a developmental flaw, a psychological
weakness, a mistake, or the necessary consequence of an inadequate social
structure, etc. Only in the knowledge of God's plan for man can we grasp
that Sin is an abuse of the freedom that God gives to created persons so
that they are capable of loving him and loving one another.
Original Sin - an essential truth of the faith
388 With the progress of Revelation, the reality of Sin is also
illuminated. Although to some extent the People of God in the Old
Testament had tried to understand the pathos of the human condition in the
light of the history of the fall narrated in Genesis, they could not grasp
this story's ultimate meaning, which is revealed only in the light of the
death and Resurrection of Jesus Christ. We must know Christ as the
source of Grace in order to know Adam as the source of Sin. The
Spirit-Paraclete, sent by the risen Christ, came to "convict the world
concerning Sin", by revealing him who is its Redeemer.
389 The doctrine of original Sin is, so to speak, the "reverse side" of
the Good News that Jesus is the Saviour of all men, that all need
salvation and that salvation is offered to all through Christ. The Church,
which has the mind of Christ, knows very well that we cannot tamper
with the revelation of original Sin without undermining the mystery of
How to read the account of the fall
390 The account of the fall in Genesis 3 uses figurative language, but
affirms a primeval event, a deed that took place at the beginning of the
history of man. Revelation gives us the certainty of faith that the
whole of human history is marked by the original fault freely committed by
our first parents.
II. THE FALL OF THE ANGELS
391 Behind the disobedient choice of our first parents lurks a seductive
voice, opposed to God, which makes them fall into death out of envy.
Scripture and the Church's Tradition see in this being a fallen angel,
called "Satan" or the "devil". The Church teaches that Satan was at
first a good angel, made by God: "The devil and the other demons were
indeed created naturally good by God, but they became evil by their own
392 Scripture speaks of a Sin of these angels. This "fall" consists in
the free choice of these created spirits, who radically and irrevocably
rejected God and his reign. We find a reflection of that rebellion in the
tempter's words to our first parents: "You will be like God." The devil
"has Sinned from the beginning"; he is "a liar and the father of lies".
393 It is the irrevocable character of their choice, and not a defect in
the infinite divine mercy, that makes the angels' Sin unforgivable. "There
is no repentance for the angels after their fall, just as there is no
repentance for men after death."
394 Scripture witnesses to the disastrous influence of the one Jesus calls
"a murderer from the beginning", who would even try to divert Jesus from
the mission received from his Father. "The reason the Son of God
appeared was to destroy the works of the devil." In its consequences
the gravest of these works was the mendacious seduction that led man to
395 The power of Satan is, nonetheless, not infinite. He is only a
creature, powerful from the fact that he is pure spirit, but still a
creature. He cannot prevent the building up of God's reign. Although Satan
may act in the world out of hatred for God and his kingdom in Christ
Jesus, and although his action may cause grave injuries - of a spiritual
nature and, indirectly, even of a physical nature- to each man and to
society, the action is permitted by divine providence which with strength
and gentleness guides human and cosmic history. It is a great mystery
that providence should permit diabolical activity, but "we know that in
everything God works for good with those who love him."
III. ORIGINAL Sin
Freedom put to the test
396 God created man in his image and established him in his friendship. A
spiritual creature, man can live this friendship only in free submission
to God. The prohibition against eating "of the tree of the knowledge of
good and evil" spells this out: "for in the day that you eat of it, you
shall die." The "tree of the knowledge of good and evil"
symbolically evokes the insurmountable limits that man, being a creature,
must freely recognize and respect with trust. Man is dependent on his
Creator, and subject to the laws of creation and to the moral norms that
govern the use of freedom.
Man's first Sin
397 Man, tempted by the devil, let his trust in his Creator die in his
heart and, abuSing his freedom, disobeyed God's command. This is what
man's first Sin consisted of. All subsequent Sin would be disobedience
toward God and lack of trust in his goodness.
398 In that Sin man preferred himself to God and by that very act scorned
him. He chose himself over and against God, against the requirements of
his creaturely status and therefore against his own good. Created in a
state of holiness, man was destined to be fully "divinized" by God in
glory. Seduced by the devil, he wanted to "be like God", but "without God,
before God, and not in accordance with God".
399 Scripture portrays the tragic consequences of this first disobedience.
Adam and Eve immediately lose the Grace of original holiness. They
become afraid of the God of whom they have conceived a distorted image -
that of a God jealous of his prerogatives.
400 The harmony in which they had found themselves, thanks to original
justice, is now destroyed: the control of the soul's spiritual faculties
over the body is shattered; the union of man and woman becomes subject to
tensions, their relations henceforth marked by lust and domination.
Harmony with creation is broken: visible creation has become alien and
hostile to man. Because of man, creation is now subject "to its bondage
to decay". Finally, the consequence explicitly foretold for this
disobedience will come true: man will "return to the ground", for out
of it he was taken. Death makes its entrance into human history.
401 After that first Sin, the world is virtually inundated by Sin There is
Cain's murder of his brother Abel and the universal corruption which
follows in the wake of Sin. Likewise, Sin frequently manifests itself in
the history of Israel, especially as infidelity to the God of the Covenant
and as transgression of the Law of Moses. And even after Christ's
atonement, Sin raises its head in countless ways among Christians.
Scripture and the Church's Tradition continually recall the presence and
universality of Sin in man's history:
What Revelation makes known to us is confirmed by our own experience. For
when man looks into his own heart he finds that he is drawn towards what
is wrong and sunk in many evils which cannot come from his good creator.
Often refuSing to acknowledge God as his source, man has also upset the
relationship which should link him to his last end, and at the same time
he has broken the right order that should reign within himself as well as
between himself and other men and all creatures.
The consequences of Adam's Sin for humanity
402 All men are implicated in Adam's Sin, as St. Paul affirms: "By one
man's disobedience many (that is, all men) were made Sinners": "Sin came
into the world through one man and death through Sin, and so death spread
to all men because all men Sinned." The Apostle contrasts the
universality of Sin and death with the universality of salvation in
Christ. "Then as one man's trespass led to condemnation for all men, so
one man's act of righteousness leads to acquittal and life for all
403 Following St. Paul, the Church has always taught that the overwhelming
misery which oppresses men and their inclination towards evil and death
cannot be understood apart from their connection with Adam's Sin and the
fact that he has transmitted to us a Sin with which we are all born
afflicted, a Sin which is the "death of the soul". Because of this
certainty of faith, the Church baptizes for the remission of Sins even
tiny infants who have not committed personal Sin.
404 How did the Sin of Adam become the Sin of all his descendants? The
whole human race is in Adam "as one body of one man". By this "unity of
the human race" all men are implicated in Adam's Sin, as all are
implicated in Christ's justice. Still, the transmission of original Sin is
a mystery that we cannot fully understand. But we do know by Revelation
that Adam had received original holiness and justice not for himself
alone, but for all human nature. By yielding to the tempter, Adam and Eve
committed a personal Sin, but this Sin affected the human nature that they
would then transmit in a fallen state. It is a Sin which will be
transmitted by propagation to all mankind, that is, by the transmission of
a human nature deprived of original holiness and justice. And that is why
original Sin is called "Sin" only in an analogical sense: it is a Sin
"contracted" and not "committed" - a state and not an act.
405 Although it is proper to each individual, original Sin does not
have the character of a personal fault in any of Adam's descendants. It is
a deprivation of original holiness and justice, but human nature has not
been totally corrupted: it is wounded in the natural powers proper to it,
subject to ignorance, suffering and the dominion of death, and inclined to
Sin - an inclination to evil that is called concupiscence". Baptism, by
imparting the life of Christ's Grace, erases original Sin and turns a man
back towards God, but the consequences for nature, weakened and inclined
to evil, persist in man and summon him to spiritual battle.
406 The Church's teaching on the transmission of original Sin was
articulated more precisely in the fifth century, especially under the
impulse of St. Augustine's reflections against Pelagianism, and in the
sixteenth century, in opposition to the Protestant Reformation. Pelagius
held that man could, by the natural power of free will and without the
necessary help of God's Grace, lead a morally good life; he thus reduced
the influence of Adam's fault to bad example. The first Protestant
reformers, on the contrary, taught that original Sin has radically
perverted man and destroyed his freedom; they identified the Sin inherited
by each man with the tendency to evil (concupiscentia), which would be
insurmountable. The Church pronounced on the meaning of the data of
Revelation on original Sin especially at the second Council of Orange
(529) and at the Council of Trent (1546).
A hard battle. . .
407 The doctrine of original Sin, closely connected with that of
redemption by Christ, provides lucid discernment of man's situation and
activity in the world. By our first parents' Sin, the devil has acquired a
certain domination over man, even though man remains free. Original Sin
entails "captivity under the power of him who thenceforth had the power of
death, that is, the devil". Ignorance of the fact that man has a
wounded nature inclined to evil gives rise to serious errors in the areas
of education, politics, social action and morals.
408 The consequences of original Sin and of all men's personal Sins put
the world as a whole in the Sinful condition aptly described in St. John's
expression, "the Sin of the world". This expression can also refer to
the negative influence exerted on people by communal situations and social
structures that are the fruit of men's Sins.
409 This dramatic situation of "the whole world [which] is in the power of
the evil one" makes man's life a battle:
The whole of man's history has been the story of dour combat with the
powers of evil, stretching, so our Lord tells us, from the very dawn of
history until the last day. Finding himself in the midst of the
battlefield man has to struggle to do what is right, and it is at great
cost to himself, and aided by God's Grace, that he succeeds in achieving
his own inner integrity.
IV. "YOU DID NOT ABANDON HIM TO THE POWER OF DEATH"
410 After his fall, man was not abandoned by God. On the contrary, God
calls him and in a mysterious way heralds the coming victory over evil and
his restoration from his fall. This passage in Genesis is called the
Protoevangelium ("first gospel"): the first announcement of the Messiah
and Redeemer, of a battle between the serpent and the Woman, and of the
final victory of a descendant of hers.
411 The Christian tradition sees in this passage an announcement of the
"New Adam" who, because he "became obedient unto death, even death on a
cross", makes amends superabundantly for the disobedience, of Adam.
Furthermore many Fathers and Doctors of the Church have seen the woman
announced in the "Proto-evangelium" as Mary, the mother of Christ, the
"new Eve". Mary benefited first of all and uniquely from Christ's victory
over Sin: she was preserved from all stain of original Sin and by a
special Grace of God committed no Sin of any kind during her whole earthly
412 But why did God not prevent the first man from Sinning? St. Leo the
Great responds, "Christ's inexpressible Grace gave us blesSings better
than those the demon's envy had taken away." And St. Thomas Aquinas
wrote, "There is nothing to prevent human nature's being raised up to
something greater, even after Sin; God permits evil in order to draw forth
some greater good. Thus St. Paul says, 'Where Sin increased, Grace abounded
all the more'; and the Exsultet Sings, 'O happy fault,. . . which gained
for us so great a Redeemer!'"
413 "God did not make death, and he does not delight in the death of the
living. . . It was through the devil's envy that death entered the world"
(Wis 1:13; 2:24).
414 Satan or the devil and the other demons are fallen angels who have
freely refused to serve God and his plan. Their choice against God is
definitive. They try to associate man in their revolt against God.
415 "Although set by God in a state of rectitude man, enticed by the evil
one, abused his freedom at the very start of history. He lifted himself up
against God, and sought to attain his goal apart from him" (GS 13 # 1).
416 By his Sin Adam, as the first man, lost the original holiness and
justice he had received from God, not only for himself but for all human
417 Adam and Eve transmitted to their descendants human nature wounded by
their own first Sin and hence deprived of original holiness and justice;
this deprivation is called "original Sin".
418 As a result of original Sin, human nature is weakened in its powers,
subject to ignorance, suffering and the domination of death, and inclined
to Sin (this inclination is called "concupiscence").
419 "We therefore hold, with the Council of Trent, that original Sin is
transmitted with human nature, "by propagation, not by imitation" and that
it is. . . 'proper to each'" (Paul VI, CPG # 16).
420 The victory that Christ won over Sin has given us greater blesSings
than those which Sin had taken from us: "where Sin increased, Grace
abounded all the more" (Rom 5:20).
421 Christians believe that "the world has been established and kept in
being by the Creator's love; has fallen into slavery to Sin but has been
set free by Christ, crucified and risen to break the power of the evil
one. . ." (GS 2 # 2).
Cf. Is 44:6.
Roman Catechism I, 2, 2.
Roman Catechism I, 2, 2.
Is 45:22-24; cf. Phil 2:10-11.
Cf. Mk 12:35-37.
Lateran Council IV: DS 800.
Cf. Is 45:15; Judg 13:18.
EX 3:6, 12.
Cf. EX 3:5-6.
I Jn 3:19-20.
Cf. Ex 32; 33: 12-17.
Ex 34:5-6; cf. 34:9.
Jn 8:28 (Greek).
Cf. Is 44:6.
Ps 138:2; cf. Ps 85:11.
I Jn 1:5; 4:8.
2 Sam 7:28.
Cf. Dt 7:9.
Cf Wis 13:1-9.
Cf Ps 115:15; Wis 7:17-21.
I Jn 5:20; cf. Jn 17:3.
Cf. Dt 4:37; 7:8; 10:15.
Cf. Is 43:1-7; Hos 2.
Jn 3:16; cf. Hos 11:1; Is 49:14-15; 62 :4-5; Ezek 16; Hos 11.
Is 54: 10; cf. 54:8.
l Jn 4:8, 16.
Cf. I Cor 2:7-16; Eph 3:9-12.
St. Joan of Arc.
I Cor 4:7.
St. Nicholas of Flue; cf. Mt 5:29-30; 16:24-26.
St. Teresa of Jesus, Poesias 30 in The Collected Works of St. Teresa of
Avila, vol. III, tr. K. Kavanaugh OCD and O. Rodriguez OCD (Washington DC
Institute of Carmelite Studies, 1985), 386 no. 9. tr. John Wall.
St. Caesarius of Arles, Sermo 9, Exp. symb.: CCL 103, 47.
Cf. Profession of faith of Pope Vigilius I (552): DS 415.
Dei Filius 4: DS 3015.
Cf. Dt 32:6; Mal 2:10.
Cf. 2 Sam 7:14; Ps 68:6.
Cf. Is 66:13; Ps 131:2.
Cf. Ps 27:10; Eph 3:14; Is 49:15.
Jn 1:1; Col 1:15; Heb 1:3.
The English phrases "of one being" and "one in being" translate the
Greek word homoousios, which was rendered in Latin by consubstantialis.
Niceno-Constantinopolitan Creed; cf. DS 150.
Cf. Gen 1:2; Nicene Creed (DS 150); Jn 14:17, 26; 16:13.
Cf. Jn 14:26; 15:26; 16:14.
Cf. Jn 7:39.
Nicene Creed; cf. DS 150.
Council of Toledo VI (638): DS 490.
Council of Toledo XI (675): DS 527.
Nicene Creed; cf. DS 150.
Council of Florence (1439): DS 1300-1301.
Cf. Leo I, Quam laudabiliter (447): DS 284.
Jn 15:26; cf. AG 2.
Council of Florence (1439): DS 1302.
Council of Florence (1442): DS 1331.
Cf. Council of Lyons II(1274): DS 850.
2 Cor 13:14; cf. I Cor 12:4 - 6; Eph 4:4-6.
Paul VI, CPC # 2.
Council of Constantinople II (553): DS 421.
Council of Toledo XI (675): DS 530:26.
Lateran Council IV (1215): DS 804.
Fides Damasi: DS 71.
Council of Toledo XI (675): DS 530:25.
Lateran Council IV (1215): DS 804.
Council of Toledo XI (675): DS 528.
Council of Florence (1442): DS 1330.
Council of Florence (1442): DS 1331.
St. Gregory of Nazianzus, Oratio 40, 41: PG 36,417.
LH, Hymn for Evening Prayer.
Eph 1:4-5, 9; Rom 8:15, 29.
2 Tim 1:9-10.
Cf. AG 2-9.
Council of Florence (1442): DS 1331; cf. Council of Constantinople II
(553): DS 421.
Council of Constantinople II: DS 421.
Cf. Jn 6:44; Rom 8:14.
Cf. Jn 17:21-23.
Prayer of Blessed Elizabeth of the Trinity.
Cf. Gen 1:1; Jn 1:3; Mt 6:9; 2 Cor 12:9; cf. I Cor 1:18.
Gen 49:24; Is 1:24 etc.; Pss 24:8-10; 135 6.
Cf. Jer 27:5; 32:17; Lk 1:37.
Wis 11:21; cf. Esth 4:17b; Prov 21:1; Tob 13:2.
2 Cor 6:18; cf. Mt 6:32.
St. Thomas Aquinas, STh I, 25, 5, ad I.
1 Cor 1:24-25.
Cf. 2 Cor 12:9; Phil 4:13.
Lk 1:37, 49.
Roman Catechism I, 2, 13
Gen 1:1; cf. Rom 8:18-23.
Cf. Egeria, Peregrinatio at loca sancta 46: PLS 1, 1047; St. Augustine,
De catechizantis rudibus 3, 5: PL 40, 256.
Cf. NA 2.
Wis 7: 17-22.
Cf. Vatican Council I, can. 2 # I: DS 3026.
Cf. Acts 17:24-29; Rom 1:19-20.
Cf. Is 43:1; Pss 115:15; 124:8; 134:3.
Cf. Gen 15:5; Jer 33:19-26.
Cf. Is 44:24; Ps 104; Prov 8:22-31.
Cf. Nicene Creed: DS 150; Hymn Veni, Creator Spiritus; Byzantine
Troparion of Pentecost Vespers, "O heavenly King, Consoler".
Cf. Pss 33 6; 104:30; Gen 1:2-3.
St. Irenaeus, Adv. haeres. 2, 30, 9; 4, 20, I: PG 7/1, 822, 1032.
Dei Filius, can. # 5: DS 3025.
St. Bonaventure, In II Sent. I, 2, 2, 1.
St. Thomas Aquinas, Sent. II, prol.
Dei Filius I: DS 3002; cf Lateran Council IV (1215): DS 800.
St. Irenaeus, Adv. haeres. 4, 20, 7: PG 7/1, 1037.
AG 2; cf. I Cor 15:28.
Cf. Wis 9:9.
Pss 104:24; 145:9.
Cf. Dei Filius, cann. 2-4: DS 3022-3024.
Lateran Council IV (1215): DS 800; cf. DS 3025.
St. Theophilus of Antioch, Ad Autolycum II, 4: PG 6, 1052.
2 Macc 7:22-21, 28.
Cf. Ps 51:12.
Cf. Gen 1:3; 2 Cor 4:6.
Col 1:15, Gen 1:26.
Cf. Ps 19:2-5; Job 42:3.
Gen 1:4, 10, 12, 18, 21, 31.
155 Cf. DS 286; 455-463; 800; 1333; 3002.
156 Ps 8:1; cf. Sir 43:28.
157 Ps 145:3.
158 Acts 17:28.
159 St. Augustine, Conf: 3, 6, 11: PL 32, 688.
160 Wis 11:24-26.
161 Vatican Council I, Dei Filius I: DS 3003; cf. Wis 8:1; Heb 4:13.
162 Ps 115:3.
163 Rev 3:7.
164 Prov 19:21.
165 Cf. Is 10:5-15; 45:51; Dt 32:39; Sir 11:14.
166 Cf. Pss 22; 32; 35; 103; 138; et al.
167 Mt 6:31-33; cf 10:29-31.
168 Cf. Gen 1:26-28.
169 Cf. Col 1:24.
170 I Cor 3:9; I Th 3:2; Col 4:11.
171 Phil 2:13; cf. I Cor 12:6.
172 GS 36 # 3.
173 Cf. Mt 19:26; Jn 15:5; 14:13
174 Cf. St. Thomas Aquinas, STh I, 25, 6.
175 Cf. St. Thomas Aquinas, SCG III, 71.
176 Cf. St. Augustine, De libero arbitrio I, 1, 2: PL 32, 1221- 1223; St.
Thomas Aquinas, STh I-II, 79, 1.
177 St. Augustine, Enchiridion II, 3: PL 40, 236.
178 Gen 45:8; 50:20; cf. Tob 2:12 (Vulgate).
179 Cf. Rom 5:20.
180 Rom 8:28.
181 St. Catherine of Siena, Dialogue IV, 138 "On Divine Providence".
182 The Correspondence of Sir Thomas More, ed. Elizabeth F. Rogers
(Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1947), letter 206, lines 661-663.
183 Julian of Norwich, The Revelations of Divine Love, tr. James Walshe
SJ (London: 1961), ch. 32, 99-100.
184 I Cor 13:12.
185 Cf. Gen 2:2.
186 Pss 115:16; 19:2; Mt 5:16.
187 Lateran Council IV (1215): DS 800; cf. DS 3002 and Paul VI, CPG # 8.
188 St. Augustine, En. in Ps. 103, 1, 15: PL 37, 1348.
189 Mt 18:10; Ps 103:20.
190 Cf. Pius XII, Humani generis: DS 3891; Lk 20:36; Dan 10:9- 12.
191 Mt 25:31.
192 Col 1:16.
193 Heb 1:14.
194 Cf. Job 38:7 (where angels are called "sons of God"); Gen 3:24; 19;
21: 17; 22:11; Acts 7:53; Ex 23:20-23; Judg 13; 6:11-24; Is 6:6; 1 Kings
195 Cf. Lk 1:11, 26.
196 Heb 1:6.
197 Lk 2:14.
198 Cf. Mt 1:20; 2:13,19; 4:11; 26:53; Mk 1:13; Lk 22:43; 2 Macc 10:29-30;
199 Cf. Lk 2:8-14; Mk 16:5-7.
200 Cf. Acts 1:10-11; Mt 13:41; 24:31; Lk 12:8-9. The angels in the life
of the Church
201 Cf. Acts 5:18-20; 8:26-29; 10:3-8; 12:6-11; 27:23-25.
202 Cf. Mt 18:10; Lk 16:22; Pss 34:7; 91:10-13; Job 33:23-24; Zech 1:12;
203 St. Basil, Adv. Eunomium III, I: PG 29, 656B.
204 Gen 1:l - 2:4.
205 Cf. DV 11.
206 LG 36 # 2.
207 Cf. St. Augustine, De Genesi adv. Man 1, 2, 4: PL 34, 175.
208 GS 36 # 1.
209 Cf. Ps 145:9.
210 Lk 12:6-7; Mt 12:12.
211 Cf. Gen 1-26.
212 St. Francis of Assisi, Canticle of the Creatures.
213 Gen 2:1-3.
214 Cf. Heb 4:3-4; Jer 31:35-37; 33:19-26.
215 Cf. Gen 1:14.
216 St. Benedict, Regula 43, 3: PL 66, 675-676.
217 Cf. Roman Missal, Easter Vigil 24, prayer after the first reading.
218 Gen 1:27.
219 GS 12 # 3.
220 GS 24 # 3.
221 St. Catherine of Siena, Dialogue IV, 13 "On Divine Providence": LH,
Sunday, week 19, OR.
222 Cf. GS 12 # 1; 24 # 3; 39 # 1.
223 St. John Chrysostom, In Gen. sermo 2, 1: PG 54, 587D-588A.
224 GS 22 # 1.
225 St. Peter Chrysologus, Sermo 117: PL 52, 520-521.
226 Acts 17:26; cf. Tob 8:6.
227 Pius XII. Enc. Summi pontificatus 3; cf. NA 1.
228 Pius XII Summi pontificatus 3.
229 Gen 2:7.
230 Cf. Mt 16:25-26; Jn 15:13; Acts 2:41.
231 Cf. Mt 10:28; 26:38; Jn 12:27; 2 Macc 6 30.
232 Cf. I Cor 6:19-20; 15:44-45.
233 GS 14 # 1; cf. Dan 3:57-80.
234 Cf. Council of Vienne (1312): DS 902.
235 Cf. Pius XII, Humani generis: DS 3896; Paul VI, CPC # 8; Lateran Council V (1513): DS 1440.
236 1 Th 5:23.
237 Cf. Council of Constantinople IV (870): DS 657.
238 Cf. Vatican Council I, Dei Filius: DS 3005; GS 22 # 5; Humani generis: DS 3891.
239 Cf. Jer 31:33; Dt 6:5; 29:3; Is 29:13; Ezek 36:26; Mt 6:21; Lk 8:15; Rom 5:5.
240 Cf. Gen 2:7, 22.
241 Cf. Is 49:14-15; 66: 13; Ps 131:2-3; Hos 11:1-4; Jer 3:4- 19.
242 Gen 2:18.
243 Gen 2:19-20.
244 Gen 2:23
245 Gen 2:24
246 Gen 1:28.
247 Cf. GS 50 # 1.
248 Gen 1:28.
249 Wis 11:24.
250 Cf. Council of Trent (1546): DS 1511.
251 Cf. LG 2.
252 Cf. Gen 2:17; 3:16, 19.
253 Cf. Gen 2:25.
254 Cf. I Jn 2:16.
255 Cf. Gen 2:8.
256 Gen 2:15; cf. 3:17-19
257 St. Augustine, Conf. 7, 7, 11: PL 32, 739.
258 2 Th 2:7; I Tim 3:16.
259 Cf. Rom 5:20.
260 Cf. Lk 11:21-22; Jn 16:11; I Jn 3:8.
261 Cf. Rom 5:12-21.
262 Jn 16:8.
263 Cf. I Cor 2:16.
264 Cf. GS 13 # 1.
265 Cf. Council of Trent: DS 1513; Pius XII: DS 3897; Paul VI: AAS 58 (1966), 654.
266 Cf. Gen 3:1-5; Wis 2:24.
267 Cf Jn 8:44; Rev 12:9.
268 Lateran Council IV (1215): DS 800.
269 Cf. 2 Pt 2:4.
270 Gen 3:5.
271 I Jn 3:8; Jn 8:44.
272 St. John Damascene, Defide orth. 2, 4: PG 94, 877.
273 Jn 8:44; cf. Mt 4:1-11.
274 I Jn 3:8.
275 Rom 8:28.
276 Gen 2:17.
277 Gen 2:17.
278 Cf. Gen 3:1-11; Rom 5:19.
279 St. Maximus the Confessor, Ambigua: PG 91, 1156C; cf. Gen 3:5.
280 Cf. Rom 3:23.
281 Cf. Gen 3:5-10.
282 Cf. Gen 3:7-16.
283 Cf. Gen 3:17, 19.
284 Rom 8:21.
285 Gen 3:19; cf. 2:17.
286 Cf. Rom 5:12.
287 Cf. Gen 4:3-15; 6:5, 12; Rom 1:18-32; I Cor 1-6; Rev 2-3.
288 GS 13 # 1.
289 Rom 5:12, 19.
290 Rom 5:18.
291 Cf. Council of Trent: DS 1512.
292 Cf. Council of Trent: DS 1514.
293 St. Thomas Aquinas, De malo 4, I.
294 Cf. Council of Trent: DS 1511-1512
295 Cf. Council of Trent: DS 1513.
296 DS 371-372.
297 Cf. DS 1510-1516.
298 Council of Trent (1546): DS 1511; cf. Heb 2:14.
299 Cf. John Paul II, CA 25.
300 Jn 1:29.
301 Cf. John Paul II, RP 16.
302 I Jn 5:19; cf. I Pt 5:8.
303 GS 37 3 2.
304 Cf. Gen 3:9, 15.
305 Cf. I Cor 15:21-22, 45; Phil 2:8; Rom 5:19-20.
306 Cf. Pius IXs Ineffabilis Deus: DS 2803; Council of Trent: DS 1573.
307 St. Leo the Great, Sermo 73, 4: PL 54, 396.
308 St. Thomas Aquinas, STh III, I, 3, ad 3; cf. Rom 5:20.