The following excerpts are from a book entitled The Spiritual Combat. By Lorenzo Scupoli. A book that subsequently, St. Francis de Sales carried with him for 18 years!
WE HAVE SHOWN that distrustfulness of self, confidence in God, and proper application of the faculties of the soul are the indispensable weapons of conquest in the spiritual combat. Yet a far more important weapon is prayer, since by it are obtained, not only the above-specified virtues, but everything requisite for our salvation. Prayer is the channel of all Divine grace; by it God is compelled, as it were, to grant us the strength of Heaven, and destroy by our weak hands the fiercest of our foes. But in order to receive full benefit from our prayer, the following method should be observed:
1. We must desire sincerely to serve God with ardent fervor in the manner most agreeable to Him; and this desire will be enkindled within our breasts if we consider three things attentively. The first is that Almighty God deserves our homage and service by reason of the excellence of His sovereign being, His goodness, beauty, wisdom, power, and His ineffable, infinite perfection. The second is that God in Heaven became man on earth to consecrate a life of thirty-three years to the cause of our salvation. He condescended to dress our wounds with His own hands, and heal them, not with oil and wine, but with His own precious blood and immaculate body, torn and disfigured by cruel whips, thorns, and nails. The third point is our realization of the obligation to observe His law, and discharge every duty, since this is the only way we can expect to triumph over the devil, to become masters of ourselves, and children of God.
2. We must have a vibrant, living faith and a firm confidence that God will not refuse the assistance necessary to serve Him faithfully and work out our salvation. A soul rekindled with this holy confidence is like a sacred vessel, into which Divine Mercy pours the treasures of His grace; and the larger the vessel, the greater the abundance of Heavenly blessings it receives through prayer. For how can God, Whose power is limitless, and Whose goodness is alien to all deception, ever refuse His gifts to those whose petitions He has encouraged, and whose perseverance and faith He has promised to reward with the blessings of the Holy Spirit?
3. But our motive for prayer must be the will of God rather than the will of self. We must apply ourselves to this divinely appointed duty because He has commanded it, and we must wish no more than that which is in utter conformity to God’s plan. Thus, our intention will not be to make the Divine will subservient to our own, but rather, to transform the human will so that it is in complete harmony with the Divine. The reason for this humble accedence to the Divine will is the perversity of our own, tainted as it is with a blind self-love. Guided by ourselves alone, we would err and stumble, but the will of God, essentially just and holy, cannot be mistaken. Thus the will of God should be the will of men, since not to follow the former is to go astray. Let us, then, be most solicitous that all our petitions be agreeable to God, and if doubts arise concerning the concurrence of the human with the Divine, let a humble submission to Divine Providence accompany our requests. If, however, the things we ask are, by their very nature, pleasing to Him, such as grace, virtue, etc., then let us beg them with a view to pleasing and serving His Divine Majesty, rather than for any other consideration, however creditable.
4. If we wish our prayers to be efficacious, our actions must suit the petitions, and we must exert much energy in making ourselves worthy of the favors we ask. For prayer and interior mortification are inseparable, and he that seeks a particular virtue, without making a serious effort to practice it, only tempts God.
5. Before we ask anything of God, we ought to thank Him most humbly for the innumerable benefits He has graciously bestowed upon us. Let us say to Him: “O Lord, Who after creating me, didst mercifully pay the price of my redemption, delivering me from the fury of myriad enemies, come now to my assistance; and forgetting my past ingratitude, bestow upon me this favor I now ask.” If, however, at the very time we seek to attain a particular virtue, we find ourselves tempted to the contrary vice, let us thank God for granting us the opportunity of practicing the virtue in question, and look upon the occasion as a favor.
6. As the entire force and efficacy of prayer is attributed solely to the goodness of God, at the conclusion of our petitions we should constantly remember the merits of our Savior’s life and passion, and His promise to graciously hear our requests, with one or the other of these sentences:
A) “I beseech Thee, O Lord, through Thy infinite mercy, to grant my petition.”
B) “Through the merits of Thy Son, bestow this favor on me.”
C) “Be mindful, O God, of Thy promises, and hear my prayers.” Again, we may have recourse to the intercession of the blessed Mother and the other Saints; for they prevail much with God, Who is pleased to honor them, in proportion to the honor they accorded Him on earth.
7. We must persist in prayer, since God certainly cannot overlook our humble perseverance. For if the pleadings of the widow in the Gospel prevailed with the wicked judge, how can our pleadings be ignored by God, Who is infinitely good? Thus, although our favors may not be immediately granted, and may even appear to be ignored by God, we must not lose our confidence in His infinite goodness, nor desist from prayer. For God possesses both immense power and will to grant us those things conducive to our ultimate welfare. Therefore, if we are not wanting in ourselves, we shall inevitably obtain what we ask for, something better, or perhaps both. As for the rest, the more we churlishly think ourselves slighted by God, the more we should hold ourselves in contempt. But in considering our misery, we should contemplate the Divine mercy, and far from lessening our confidence in Him, we must increase it; for the steadier we remain in situations attended by fear and diffidence, the greater will be our merit. Finally, let us never cease to thank God, blessing equally His wisdom, His goodness, His charity, whether He grants or refuses our petition. Whatever happens, let us be undisturbed, contented and resigned to divine Providence in all things.
MENTAL PRAYER is the elevation of our minds to God, asking of Him either expressly or tacitly those things of which we stand in need. We ask for them expressly when we say in our hearts: “O my God, grant me this request for the honor of Thy holy name”; or “Lord, I am firmly convinced that this petition is Thy will, and for Thy greater honor, I ask this petition. Accomplish, therefore, Thy Divine will in me.” When harassed by the attacks of the enemy, let us say: “Come swiftly, O Lord, to my assistance lest I fall a prey to my enemy”; or “O God, my refuge and my strength, help me speedily, lest I perish.” When temptation continues, we must continue the same prayer, courageously resisting the foe; and when the fury of the combat has passed, let us address ourselves to the Almighty, imploring Him to consider our weakness in the face of the enemy’s strength: “Behold, my God, Thy creature, the work of Thy hands, a man redeemed by Thy precious blood. And behold Satan trying to carry him from Thee to utterly destroy him. It is to Thee I fly for aid, and it is in Thee that I place my entire confidence, for I know that Thou alone art infinitely good and powerful. Have pity on a miserable creature who stumbles blindly, though willfully, into the path of his enemies, as do all who forsake the assistance of Thy grace. Help me therefore, my only hope, O sole strength of my soul!” We tacitly ask favors of God when we present to Him our necessities, without making any particular request. Placing ourselves in His Divine presence, we acknowledge our incapacity to avoid evil or do good without His aid. We are nevertheless inflamed with a desire of serving Him. Thus we must fix our eyes upon Him, waiting for His assistance with unbounded confidence and utter humility.
The confession of our weakness and the desire to serve Him, this act of faith so performed, is a silent prayer which will infallibly obtain our request from Heaven. The more sincere the confession, the more ardent the desire, and the more lively the faith, the greater will be the efficacy of the prayer before the throne of God. There is another method of prayer similar to this, but more concise, consisting as it does in but a single act of the soul. The soul presents her requests to the Almighty, adverting to a favor already asked and still sought, although not formally expressed. Let us endeavor to cultivate this kind of prayer, and employ it on all occasions; for experience will convince us that nothing is more easy, yet nothing more excellent and efficacious.
WHEN A CONSIDERABLE length of time is to be spent in prayer, it is advisable to make a meditation on some feature of our Savior’s life or passion; the reflections naturally arising from such meditation should then be applied to the particular virtue we are striving to attain. If, for instance, you need patience, contemplate the mystery of your Savior scourged at the pillar.
Consider first the blows and revilements hurled at Him by the soldiers as they brutally drag their innocent victim to the appointed place as ordered.
Secondly, consider Him stripped of His garments, exposed to the piercing cold.
Thirdly, picture those innocent hands, bound tightly to the pillar.
Fourthly, consider His body, torn with whips until His blood moistened the earth. And finally, envision the frequency of the blows, creating new wounds, reopening others on that sacred body. Dwelling on these or similar details, calculated to inspire in you a love of patience, you should try to feel within your very soul the inexpressible anguish so patiently borne by your Divine Master.
Then consider the excruciating agony of His spirit, and the patience and mildness with which that agony was endured by Him Who was ready to suffer even more for God’s glory and your welfare. Behold, then, your Master, covered with blood, desiring nothing more earnestly than your patient acceptance of affliction; and be assured that He implores for you the assistance of the Heavenly Father that you may bear with resignation, not only the cross of the moment, but the crosses to come. Strengthen, therefore, by frequent acts your resolution to suffer, with joy; and, raising your mind to Heaven, give thanks to the Father of mercies, Who didst send His only Son into this world to suffer indescribable torments, and to intercede for you in your necessities. Conclude your meditation by beseeching Him to grant you the virtue of patience, through the merits and intercession of this beloved Son in Whom He is well pleased.
ANOTHER METHOD OF MEDITATION
THERE IS ANOTHER method of prayer and meditation besides the one to which we have adverted. In this latter method, having considered the poignant sufferings of your Savior and His patient endurance of them, you proceed to two other considerations of equal importance. The one is the consideration of Christ’s infinite merits, and the other, of that satisfaction and glory which the eternal Father received from His obedience—an obedience unto death, even the death of the Cross. You must represent these two considerations to the Divine Majesty, as two powerful means of obtaining the grace you seek. This method is applicable, not only to all the mysteries of Our Lord’s passion, but to every exterior or interior act He performed in the course of His passion.
A METHOD OF PRAYER BASED ON THE INTERCESSION OF THE BLESSED VIRGIN
BESIDES THE METHODS of meditation already mentioned, there is another which is addressed particularly to the Blessed Virgin. We first consider the eternal Father, then Jesus Christ Our Lord, and finally, the Blessed Mother. With regard to the eternal Father, there are two considerations. The first is the singular affection He cherished from all eternity for this most chaste Virgin whom He chose to be the mother of His Divine Son. The second is the eminent sanctity He was pleased to bestow upon her and the many virtues she practiced in her lifetime.
Meditating on the affection of the eternal Father for our Lady, you must begin by raising your mind above all created beings; look forward to the vast expanses of eternity, enter into the heart of God, and see with what delight He viewed the person destined one day to become the mother of His Son; beseech Him by that delight to give you sufficient strength against your enemies, especially those who most grievously afflict you. Contemplate, then, the virtues and heroic actions of this incomparable Virgin; make an offering of each or all of them to God, as they are of such efficacy as to obtain for you divine assistance in your particular necessities.
After this address yourself to Jesus, begging Him to be mindful of that loving mother who for nine months carried Him in her womb, and from the moment of His birth paid Him the most profound adoration. For this was her acknowledgment that this Child was at once God and man, her Creator and her Son. With compassion she saw Him poorly accommodated in a humble stable, nourished Him with her pure milk, kissed and embraced Him a thousand times with maternal fondness, and through His life and at His death, suffered for Him beyond expression. Present this picture to the Savior, that He may be compelled, as it were, by such powerful motives, to hear your prayers. Appeal to the Blessed Virgin herself, reminding her of her commission from all eternity, to be the Mother of Mercy and the refuge of sinners, and that after her divine Son, you place your greatest confidence in her intercession. Present to her the fact, asserted by the learned and confirmed by miracles, that no one ever called upon her with a lively faith, and was left unaided. Finally, remind her of the sufferings of her Son for your salvation, that she may obtain of Him the grace necessary to make proper use of His sufferings for the greater glory of that loving Savior.
God Bless BJS!!
- What is meant by the infallibility of the Catholic Church? –By the infallibility of the Catholic Church is meant that the Church, by the special assistance of the Holy Ghost, cannot err when it teaches or believes a doctrine of faith and morals.Christ promised: “All power in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go, therefore, and teach all nations … teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you; and behold, I am with you all days, even unto the consummation of the world” (Matt. 28:20). If Christ is with the Church all days, it cannot err in teaching; it cannot lead men away from God.
- “Infallibility” is often distorted by enemies of the Church to mean “impeccability”, and therefore derided. Infallibility is freedom from error; impeccability is freedom from sin. In an institution established by God for the salvation of men, error in doctrine is unthinkable.Every teacher in the Church, from the Pope down to the humblest priest, like all of the faithful, is capable of falling into sin. But in the Catholic Church, because of the promise of Infallibility, the Holy Ghost cannot permit the purity of a single doctrine to be stained.
- Jesus Christ promised to preserve the Church from error. If His prediction and promises were false, then He would not be God, since God cannot lie. Christ said: “Thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build My Church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” If therefore the Church falls into error, the gates of hell certainly would prevail against it.Christ promised: “I will ask the Father, and he shall give you another Advocate to dwell with you forever … He will teach you all the truth” (John 14). If the Church can err, then the Holy Ghost cannot abide in it and Christ has failed to keep His promise-a thing absolutely impossible.
- A doctrine of faith is something we must believe in order to be saved. A doctrine of morals is something we must do in order to be saved.For example, we must believe the doctrine of the Blessed Trinity: that there are Three Divine Persons in One God. We must believe that Jesus Christ is God. We must believe in the Blessed Virgin Mary’s immaculate conception.Of things we must do are these: we must go to Mass on Sundays and holydays of obligation; we must fast and abstain when our bishops so order; we must receive Holy Communion at least once a year. We must obey the Ten Commandments.
- Jesus Christ commanded all men to listen to and obey the Church, under pain of damnation. If His Church can teach error, then He is responsible for the error, by commanding all to obey.Jesus sent forth His Apostles with full powers to preach His Gospel: “As the Father hath sent Me, I also send you.” – “Make disciples of all nations teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.” – “Preach the Gospel to every creature.”
- Christ said: “He who believes and is baptized shall be saved; but he who does Hot believe shall be condemned” (Mark 16: 16). A just God could not command men under penalty of damnation to believe what is false. So the teaching of the Church must be infallibly true.He said: “You shall be witnesses for me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea, and Samaria, and even to the very ends of the earth” (Acts 1:8). Since it was physically impossible for the Apostles to preach to the whole world, the mission must have been intended also for their successors to the end of time, our Catholic Bishops and priests.
- Christ said: “If he refuse to hear even the Church, let him be to thee as the heathen and the publican” (Matt. 18:17) “He who hears you hears me; and he who rejects you rejects me; and he who rejects me rejects him who sent me” (Luke 10:16) .He said, “And whoever does not receive you, or listen to your words-go forth outside that house or town, and shake off the dust from your feet. Amen I say to you, it will be more tolerable for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah in the day of judgment than for that town” (Matt. 10:14-16).
- No Christian denies that the Apostles were infallible. In fact, in the first century, they were the only authority in the Church. The Bible was not completed till the end of that century, not within reach of all.But God loves the Christians of today as much as He did the primitive Christians. We have as much need of unerring teachers as they. The Apostolic Church of the 20th century must therefore be as infallible as the Apostolic Church.
- An infallible Bible is no use without an infallible interpreter. History has proved this, in the multiplication of the innumerable denominations that deny the infallibility of the Church. By infallibility, the faithful know exactly what to believe and what to do in order that they may be pleasing to God and save their souls. They have surety; they need suffer no doctrinal doubt.It is a great blessing that, in the midst of the everchanging views of men and the conflict of human opinion, there is one voice crying out in unerring tones: “Thus saith the Lord.”
- Has the Church in fact proved itself infallible? –It is a historical fact that the Catholic Church, from the twentieth century back to the first, has not once ceased to teach a doctrine on faith or morals previously held, and with the same interpretation; the Church has proved itself infallible.
- It is a historical fact that not one Pope, whatever he was in his private life, has ever taught error.“The Scribes and the Pharisees have sat on the chair of Moses. All things, therefore, that they command you, observe and do. But do not act according to their works.” By obeying the Pope, every Christian can live as Christ commanded, in any age.
- True, some high rulers of the Church have gravely sinned. Nevertheless, enemies of the Church have exaggerated even the lack of impeccability. In the long line of Popes the vast majority led virtuous lives. Many of them are honored as Saints and martyrs. The enemies of the Church can bring charges against only five or six Popes: Most of the charges are calumnies or exaggerations. But even if the charges were true, they prove nothing against infallibility.Of the Sovereign Pontiffs that have succeeded Peter, 84 are canonized Saints, of whom 32 were martyrs. However holy the Pope, he regularly goes to confession to a priest. No Pope ever considers himself above the laws of the Church and of God.
- The Church cannot change its teachings on faith and morals. But it may restate the doctrines more clearly and completely. Year after year the Church proclaims the same unchanging doctrines. Her doctrines need no reform, for they are of Divine origin, the work of the Incarnate God.No Pope or general Council in almost two thousand years has annulled or revoked a single decree of faith or morals enacted by a previous Pope or Council. This is history.
This article has been taken from “My Catholic Faith” I am not the author merely the distributor.God Bless BJS!!
- What are the chief powers of the Pope? –The Pope has supreme and complete power and jurisdiction to decide questions of faith and morals and to arrange the discipline of the universal Church.
- The power of the Pope extends over every single church, every single bishop and pastor, every one of the faithful.He may appoint and depose bishops, call councils, make and unmake laws, send missionaries, confer distinctions, privileges, and dispensations, and reserve sins to his own tribunal.
- The Pope is the supreme judge; to him belongs the last appeal in all cases.The Pope is the “teacher of all Christians”, the “chief shepherd of the shepherds and their flocks”. “Peter, standing up with the Eleven, lifted up his voice and spoke out to them …” (Acts 2:14). The word “Pope” is derived from the Latin term papa, which means “Father”.
- The Pope is independent of every temporal sovereign and of every spiritual power. He is responsible only to God.
- What is the temporal power of the Pope? –The temporal power of the Pope is his power to rule an independent state as sovereign, free and independent from other earthly sovereigns.The vastness of the Church and the greatness of its responsibilities towards its millions of members require that it should be able to communicate with them unhampered by any national government, free of foreign interference.
- When Constantine the Great was converted at the beginning of the fourth century, he gave large grants of money and lands to the Church. Emperors who succeeded him added to the grants.In the year 327 Constantine moved the seat of his Empire to Constantinople. Rome was abandoned to itself, and became the prey of successive hordes of barbarians. The Roman people came to look up to the Popes as their only governors and protectors. In fact it was Pope Leo the Great who saved Rome from Attila the “Scourge of God”, and from Genseric the Vandal. Thus abandoned by the emperors, little by little the people of central Italy became bound more strongly to the Popes.
- In 754 the Lombards invaded Italy and threatened Rome. The Pope appealed urgently to the Emperor in Constantinople, but he was indifferent, neglectful, and did nothing.In this emergency, the Pope crossed the Alps and appealed to Pepin, the Frankish king, to protect the people in Italy from the Lombards. Upon defeating the Lombards, King Pepin granted the conquered provinces to the Pope. In 774 Charlemagne, the successor of Pepin, confirmed the grant, and donated additional provinces to the Pope. These possessions, called the States of the Church, the Popes held till 1859.
- In 1859 all the States of the Church, except Rome, were seized by the armies of Victor Emmanuel II, leader of the movement for the unification of Italy.In 1870 Rome itself was taken, and made capital of Italy, and the Pope became virtually a prisoner in his own palace.
- In 1929 the Lateran Treaty signed between the Holy See and the crown of Italy recognized the Pope’s temporal power and his sovereignty over the City of the Vatican, by a formal concordat between the Pope and the crown of Italy.The City of the Vatican is the smallest sovereign state in the world. At the time of the signing of the Lateran Treaty, it had a population of 532, only 250 of whom were resident. It is almost entirely enclosed by high walls, and comprises 110 acres.
- What exclusive privileges does the Bishop of Rome enjoy, to signify his supremacy as Head of the Church? –The Bishop of Rome enjoys the following exclusive privileges:
- He has precedence of jurisdiction and honor over all other bishops.The Bishop of Rome’s jurisdiction extends over all Christendom. He is first in both authority and honor.
- He enjoys the exclusive titles of: Pope, Sovereign Pontiff, Roman Pontiff, Holy Father, His Holiness, Vicar of Christ, Father of Christendom. But he calls himself the “Servant of the Servants of God.”Because of the words of Our Lord to Peter: “Blessed art thou,” we address the Pope Beatissime Pater (Most Holy Father). The office is called the See of Peter, Holy See, or Apostolic See, or the Chair of Peter. The Pope is called from his see, the Pope of Rome, and the Catholic Church under him is often called the Roman Catholic Church.
- He assumes a new name upon his election, as St. Peter was given a new name by Our Lord. From the tenth century, it has been the custom to choose the name from those of previous Popes, St. Peter’s being excepted out of reverence.He wears the tiara, a triple crown, the symbol of his preeminence in the threefold office of Teacher, Priest, and Pastor. He wears a cassock of white silk, uses white silk shoes, and a crosier mounted by a cross. He issues medals, confers knighthood. He sends ambassadors. He has a gold-and-white standard.
The College of Cardinals is the Senate of the Pope. As principal advisers and helpers, the cardinals assist the Holy Father in the government of the Church. After the Supreme Pontiff, the cardinals have the highest dignity in our Holy Mother Church.
Consistories are assemblies of cardinals presided over by the Pope. There are three kinds: (1) secret, with only the Pope and cardinals present; (2) public, attended by other prelates and lay spectators; (3) semipublic, attended by bishops and patriarchs. At the secret consistory, the Pope delivers an allocution on religious and moral conditions throughout the world; sometimes seeks the opinion of the cardinals on the creation of new cardinals, gives the cardinal’s ring, appoints bishops, archbishops and patriarchs, makes ecclesiastical transfers, divides or unites dioceses, and asks for a vote on a proposed canonization. At the public consistory, the Pope bestows the red hat, hears the causes of beatifications and canonizations. At the semi-public consistory the propriety of a proposed canonization is decided.
This article has been taken from “My Catholic Faith” I am not the author merely the distributor.God Bless BJS!!
- What is the chief teaching of the Catholic Church about Jesus Christ? –The chief teaching of the Catholic Church about Jesus Christ is that He is God made man.
- Christ Himself said that He is God. The Jews understood His claim literally, and He was condemned to death for blasphemy, for making Himself the Son of God.Christ said: “All power in heaven and on earth has been given to me” (Matt. 28:18). “And the high priest said to him, ‘I adjure thee by the living God that thou tell us whether thou art the Christ, the Son of God. Jesus said to him, ‘Thou hast said it'” (Matt. 26:63). “I and the Father are one” (John 10:30).
- Christ proved His claims by wonderful miracles, by prophecies, by His knowledge of all things, and by the holiness of His life. These miracles Christ worked in His own name, not as His followers did, who worked in the name of God. He simply said: “I will, be thou made clean” (Matt. 8:3)Christ Himself appealed to His miracles as a testimony of the truth of His doctrines and divinity, saying: “If you are not willing to believe me, believe the works” (John 10:38) . Christ foretold future events. Among other things, He predicted His passion, death, and resurrection, the treason of Judas and the perpetuity of His Church.
- The Apostles, the followers of Christ Himself, plainly taught that Christ is God, and died in testimony of their faith. St. John says: “In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God.” “And the Word was made Flesh.” St. Paul writes: “In him (Christ) dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily” (Col. 2:9). St. Thomas openly professed the divinity of Christ when he said: “My Lord and my God” (John 20:28). St. Peter said: “Thou art the Christ, the Son of the Living God.”
- The Church teaches that Jesus Christ is God. Its teachings have spread throughout all nations, in spite of untold obstacles.The Church has grown by the simplest of means, its spread ever accompanied by wonderful miracles, by which God designs to show forth the truth of the Church. The doctrine of the divinity of Christ is the foundation of the Christian religion.
- Even the enemies of the Catholic Church have admitted their belief in the divinity of Jesus Christ. Napoleon, about to die, said: “I know men, but Jesus Christ was more than man. My men deserted me in the field when I was there leading them. Christ’s army has been faithful for centuries. A Leader who has an army which functions though He is dead is not man.”
- Why is Jesus Christ God? –Jesus Christ is God because He is the only Son of God, having the same divine nature as His Father.“And they all said, ‘Art thou, then, the Son of God?’ He answered, ‘You yourselves say that I am’ ‘ And they said, ‘What further need have we of witness? For we have heard it ourselves from his own mouth'” (Luke 22:70-71)
- Man after the Fall was unable to regain of himself his former holiness. He became like a sick man who could not arise from bed. He needed Someone to raise him up. Since the sin he had committed had been an offense against an Infinite God, the atonement needed had to be by an Infinite One, the Son of God Himself.“God so loved the world that he gave his onlybegotten Son” (John 3:16). “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased” (Matt. 3:17).
- Christ is called the “Word”. Just as the thought in our minds finds expression in a word, so the Son of God dwelling in the bosom of His Father was shown to the world when the Word became man.“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God…. The Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us” (John 1: 1,14).
- Why is Jesus Christ man? –Jesus Christ is man, because He is the Son of the Blessed Virgin, and has a body and soul like ours.
- The birth of Jesus Christ is a fact of history. He was born of Mary, who was espoused to a carpenter named Joseph, who lived in Nazareth of Galilee. The archangel Gabriel said to Mary, “The Holy One to be born shall be called the Son of God.”
- Jesus Christ is true man, because He has a body and soul like ours. He derived His human nature from His mother.History tells us of Jesus Christ, Who preached in and about Jerusalem over nineteen hundred years ago. Many records tell of His appearance, of His words, of His actions, of His teachings. Nobody doubted that Jesus Christ was a Man, for He could be seen and touched like other men. He lived and died Just as men of all times live and die.
- How can we prove that the religion God has revealed through Christ is worthy of belief? –We can prove that the religion God has revealed through Christ is worthy of belief, because:
- Jesus Christ, announcing Himself as the true Son of God, whose coming was foretold by the prophets, preached doctrines which He said all must believe. If Christ is God, then the religion He established is true, and the Church He founded is the true Church. We can believe everything He says, even without understanding it, because God cannot err.If Jesus Christ were not God, then Christianity would be a farce, and the sooner it were done away with the better. If Christ were not God, then He were an impostor who, by claiming divinity, had led billions into error for almost 2,000 years.
- Christ worked wonderful miracles, which showed that the God of truth approved His teachings. Christ worked so many miracles publicly that all flocked to Him to be cured. “But when John had heard in prison of the works of Christ, he sent two of his disciples to say to him, ‘Art thou he who is to come, or shall we look for another?’ And Jesus answering said to them, ‘Go and report to John what you have heard and seen: the blind see, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead rise, the poor have the gospel preached to them'” (Matt. 11:2-5)
- Christ performed miracles on inanimate objects, as when He changed water to wine, calmed the storm, multiplied loaves.
- He healed in an instant the sick, the blind, the lame. He expelled devils.
- He raised the dead to life; as the daughter of Jairus, the son of the widow of Naim and Lazarus. Even His enemies acknowledged His miracles. The Pharisees planned to kill Lazarus, because the Jews believed in Jesus as a result of the miracle.
- He worked miracles on His own Person, as in the Transfiguration, Resurrection, and Ascension.
This article has been taken from “My Catholic Faith” I am not the author merely the distributor.
God Bless BJS!!
Are the three divine Persons perfectly equal to one another? — The three divine Persons are perfectly equal to one another, because all are one and the same God.
“Such as the Father is, such is the Son, and such is the Holy Ghost. The Father Uncreated, the Son Uncreated, and the Holy Ghost Uncreated. The Father Infinite, the Son Infinite, and the Holy Ghost Infinite. The Father Eternal, the Son Eternal, and the Holy Ghost Eternal, and yet they are not Three Eternals but One Eternal. As also there are not Three Uncreated, nor Three Infinite, but One Uncreated, and One Infinite. So likewise the Father is Almighty, the Son Almighty, and the Holy Ghost Almighty. And yet they are not Three Almighties, but One Almighty.” (From the Athanasian Creed.)
All three Persons are equal in every way, equal in power and glory. The attributes and external works of God are common to all three Persons. However, in human speech we attribute certain works to each Person.
Thus we attribute to the Father the works of creation, to the Son the work of redemption, and to the Holy Ghost the work of sanctification. In reality these works belong equally to all three.
How are the three divine Persons, though really distinct from one another, one and the same God? — The three divine Persons, though really distinct from one another, are one and the same God because all have one and the same divine nature.
Each of the divine Persons is God.
“So the Father is God, the Son is God, and the Holy Ghost is God. And yet they are not three Gods, but one God. So likewise the Father is Lord, the Son is Lord, and the Holy Ghost is Lord. And yet they are not three Lords but one Lord. For, like as we are compelled by Christian truth to acknowledge every Person by Himself to Be God and Lord, so are we forbidden by the Catholic Religion to say, there be three Gods or three Lords.” (From the Athanasian Creed.)
There are three Persons, but only one Being. The Father is neither the Son nor the Holy Ghost. The Son is neither the Father nor the Holy Ghost. The Holy Ghost is neither the Father nor the Son.
It was the Son Who became man and died for us, not the Father or the Holy Ghost. But when we receive God the Son in Holy Communion, we also spiritually receive God the Father and God the Holy Ghost. The Blessed Trinity then dwells in us as in a Temple.
Can we fully understand how the three divine Persons, though really distinct from one another, are one and the same God? — We cannot fully understand how the three divine Persons, though really distinct from one another, are one and the same God, because this is a supernatural mystery.
A supernatural mystery is a truth which we cannot fully understand, but which we firmly believe because we have God’s word for it. A supernatural mystery is above reason, but not contrary to it. No man can explain a mystery; neither can anyone know it unless it is revealed by God. “Great art thou, O Lord, in counsel, and incomprehensible in thought” (Jer. 32:19).
It is not unreasonable to believe in a supernatural mystery. There are many natural mysteries around us that no one has yet been able to explain, yet we believe them: electricity, magnetism, force, and many of the processes of life.
The doctrine of the Blessed Trinity is a strict mystery; that is, we cannot learn it from reason, nor understand it completely, even after it has been revealed to us.
The doctrine contains two truths our reason cannot fully understand: (1) that there is only one God; and (2) that each of the three Persons is God. We can understand each of these truths separately, but not when taken together.
The mystery of the Blessed Trinity is not a contradiction. We do not say that there are three gods in one God, nor that the three divine Persons are one Person.
We only say that there are three Persons in one God, that is, three Persons, and one nature or essence. Somewhat similarly, the soul of man has will, understanding, and memory, but it is only one soul. Also, the sun has form, light, and heat, but it is only one sun. Three flames put together make only one flame.
Why do we believe in the mystery of the Blessed Trinity? –We believe in the mystery of the Blessed Trinity because God Himself revealed it to us.
“Thy word is Truth” (John 17:17). The mystery of the Blessed Trinity is the greatest of all mysteries. We believe it because God has revealed it to us, but we cannot fully understand it. It would be foolish to refuse to believe just because we cannot understand; that would be like a blind man who refuses to believe there is a sun, because he cannot see it. Is God limited because we are?
The Jews did not explicitly believe in the Blessed Trinity, although there are references to the mystery in the Old Testament.
Before making man, God said: “Let Us make man to Our own image” (Gen. 1:26). David says: “The Lord said to my Lord, Sit on my right hand.”
Our Lord Jesus Christ revealed the mystery. He said:
“Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit” (Matt. 28:19). “But when the Advocate has come, whom I will send you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who proceeds from the Father, he will bear witness concerning me” (John 15:26).
The Blessed Trinity manifested Itself at the baptism of Jesus Christ.
God the Father spoke from the heavens; God the Son was baptized; God the Holy Ghost descended in visible form, in the form of a dove.
When do we profess our faith in the Blessed Trinity? — We profess our faith in the Blessed Trinity especially when we make the sign of the cross.
We also honor the Blessed Trinity every time we say the doxology or “prayer of praise”: “Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost. As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be world without end.”
The Feast of the Blessed Trinity, called Trinity Sunday, is kept on the first Sunday after Pentecost.
All the sacraments are administered in the name of the Blessed Trinity.
On our death-bed the Church through the priest will comfort us with the words: “Even though he hath sinned, he hath not denied the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost.”
This article has been taken from “My Catholic Faith” I am not the author merely the distributor.
God Bless BJS!!
|A good concrete illustration of the Blessed trinity is an equilateral triangle. Such a triangle has three sides equal in every way, and yet distinct from each other. There are three sides, but only one triangle. As we see in this illustration, each Divine Person is different from the other two, but all three are God. Each one is God, distinct from the two others, and yet one with them. The three Persons are equal in every way, with one nature and one substance: three Divine Persons, but only one God.|
Is there only one God? — Yes, there is only one God.
“I am the first, and I am the last, and besides me there is no God” (Is. 44:6). There can be only one God, because only one can be supreme, all-powerful, and independent of all.
How many Persons are there in God?– In God there are three Divine Persons — the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost.
In speaking of the “Persons” in God, we do not use the term in exactly the same way we use it when speaking of people. We use it only for lack of a word to show our meaning better.
In speaking of a man as a “person,” we mean that he is an intelligent being, acting individually for himself. The acts he performs belong to him and he is responsible for them — he himself, not his tongue, nor his mind, nor his whole body even, but the whole of himself.
We speak of three “Persons” in God because to each belongs something we cannot attribute to any other: His distinct origin.
From all eternity the Father begets the Son, and the Son proceeds from the Father. From all eternity the Father and Son breathe forth the Holy Ghost, and He proceeds from Them, as from one Source.
Are the three Divine Persons really distinct from one another? — The three Divine Persons are really distinct from one another.
“So there is one Father, not three Fathers; one Son, not three Sons; one Holy Ghost, not three Holy Ghosts. And in this Trinity nothing is afore or after, nothing is greater or less; but the whole three Persons are co-eternal together, and co-equal. So that in all things, as in aforesaid, the unity in Trinity, and the Trinity in unity is to be worshipped.” (From the Athanasian Creed.)
This is the simplest way by which the distinct origin of each Divine Person has been explained: God is a spirit, and the first act of a Spirit is to know and understand. God, knowing Himself from all eternity, brings forth the knowledge of Himself, His own image. This was not a mere thought, as our knowledge of ourselves would be, but a Living Person, of the same substance and one with the Father. This is God the Son. Thus the Father “begets” the Son, the Divine Word, the Wisdom of the Father.
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God; and the Word was God” (John 1:1).
God the Father, seeing His own Image in the Son, loves the Son; and God the Son loves the Father from all eternity. Each loves the other, because each sees in the other the Infinity of the Godhead, the beauty of Divinity, the Supreme Truth of God. The two Persons loving each other do not just have a thought, as human beings would have, but from Their mutual love is breathed forth, as it were, a Living Person, one with Them, and of Their own substance. This is God The Holy Ghost. Thus the Holy Ghost, the Spirit of Love, “proceeds” from the Father and the Son.
“But when the Advocate has come, whom I will send you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who proceeds from the Father, he will bear witness concerning me” (John 15:26)
But we are not to suppose that once God the Father begot the Son and now no longer does so, nor that once the love of the Father and the Son for each other breathed forth the Holy Ghost, but now no longer does. These truths are eternal, everlasting.
God the Father eternally knows Himself, and continues to know Himself, and thus continues to bring forth the Son. God the Father and God the Son continue to love each other, and their delight in each other continues to bring forth the Spirit of Love, God the Holy Ghost. In a similar way, fire has light and color. As long as there is fire, it continues to produce light. As long as there is fire with light, there is produced color. But all three exist at one and the same time.
In this imperfect way we vaguely see that God must necessarily be three Divine Persons, because only in that way can God with His Divine Knowledge and Will be complete in Himself.
Our Lord Jesus Christ spoke to us of the Blessed Trinity when before the Ascension He said to His Apostles: “Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit” (Matt. 28:19)
What do we mean by the Blessed Trinity? — By the Blessed Trinity we mean one and the same God in three divine Persons.
The Father is God and the First Person of the Blessed Trinity. Omnipotence, and especially the work of creation, is attributed to God the Father.
God the Father could have created millions of beings instead of you yourself; but He chose you out of a love wholly undeserved, saying, “I have loved thee with an everlasting love” (Jer 1:13). Let us then cry in thanksgiving, “Abba, Father!” (Rom. 8:15). Let us show our gratitude by avoiding all that could displease God the Father, by trying to please Him with virtue, by trying for greater perfection, in obedience to that injunction of Our Lord’s: “You therefore are to be perfect, even as your heavenly Father is perfect” (Matt. 5:48)
The Son is God and the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity. To God the Son we owe our redemption from sin and eternal death; by His death He gave us life.
For us God the Son debased Himself, taking the form of a servant, … “becoming obedient to death, even to death on a cross” (Phil. 2:8). In Holy Communion we are united with Him, for He Himself said; “He who eats my flesh, and drinks my blood, abides in me and I in him” (John 6:57). In return we should be “other Christs,” and, as the Apostle urged, “walk even as He walked.”
The Holy Ghost is God and the Third Person of the Blessed Trinity. He manifests Himself in us particularly in our sanctification. The word “Ghost” applied to the Third Person means “Spirit.”
At our Baptism God the Holy Ghost purifies us from all sin and fills our souls with divine grace, so that we become truly children of God, sons and heirs, and co-heirs with Jesus Christ. By Baptism we become living temples of the Holy Ghost: “Or do you not know that your members are the temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you?” (1 Cor. 6:19).
In return for such benefits we should make our body the instrument for the glory of God, keeping it from all stain of sin, adorning it with virtues. “Glorify God and bear him in your body” (1 Cor. 6:20). Let us keep our souls a sanctuary for the Holy Spirit, that God may be happy to dwell in us.
This article has been taken from “My Catholic Faith” I am not the author merely the distributor.
God Bless BJS!!