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1. What is the plan of God for man?
God, infinitely perfect and blessed in himself, in a plan of sheer goodness freely created man to make him share in his own blessed life. In the fullness of time, God the Father sent his Son as the Redeemer and Savior of mankind, fallen into sin, thus calling all into his Church and, through the work of the Holy Spirit, making them adopted children and heirs of his eternal happiness.
Further reading: CCC 1-25
“You are great, O Lord, and greatly to be praised [...] You have made us for yourself and our heart is restless until it rests in you.” (Saint Augustine)
2. Why does man have a desire for God?
God himself, in creating man in his own image, has written upon his heart the desire to see him. Even if this desire is often ignored, God never ceases to draw man to himself because only in God will he find and live the fullness of truth and happiness for which he never stops searching. By nature and by vocation, therefore, man is a religious being, capable of entering into communion with God. This intimate and vital bond with God confers on man his fundamental dignity.
3. How is it possible to know God with only the light of human reason?
Starting from creation, that is from the world and from the human person, through reason alone one can know God with certainty as the origin and end of the universe, as the highest good and as infinite truth and beauty.
4. Is the light of reason alone sufficient to know the mystery of God?
In coming to a knowledge of God by the light of reason alone man experiences many difficulties. Indeed, on his own he is unable to enter into the intimacy of the divine mystery. This is why he stands in need of being enlightened by God’s revelation, not only about those things that exceed his understanding, but also about those religious and moral truths which of themselves are not beyond the grasp of human reason, so that even in the present condition of the human race, they can be known by all with ease, with firm certainty and with no admixture of error.
Further reading: CCC 37-38
5. How can we speak about God?
By taking as our starting point the perfections of man and of the other creatures which are a reflection, albeit a limited one, of the infinite perfection of God, we are able to speak about God with all people. We must, however, continually purify our language insofar as it is image-bound and imperfect, realizing that we can never fully express the infinite mystery of God.
6. What does God reveal to man?
God in his goodness and wisdom reveals himself. With deeds and words, he reveals himself and his plan of loving goodness which he decreed from all eternity in Christ. According to this plan, all people by the grace of the Holy Spirit are to share in the divine life as adopted “sons” in the only begotten Son of God.
7. What are the first stages of God's Revelation?
From the very beginning, God manifested himself to our first parents, Adam and Eve, and invited them to intimate communion with himself. After their fall, he did not cease his revelation to them but promised salvation for all their descendants. After the flood, he made a covenant with Noah, a covenant between himself and all living beings.
8. What are the next stages of God's Revelation?
God chose Abram, calling him out of his country, making him “the father of a multitude of nations” (Genesis 17:5), and promising to bless in him “all the nations of the earth” (Genesis 12:3). The people descended from Abraham would be the trustee of the divine promise made to the patriarchs. God formed Israel as his chosen people, freeing them from slavery in Egypt, establishing with them the covenant of Mount Sinai, and, through Moses, giving them his law. The prophets proclaimed a radical redemption of the people and a salvation which would include all nations in a new and everlasting covenant. From the people of Israel and from the house of King David, would be born the Messiah, Jesus.
9. What is the full and definitive stage of God's Revelation?
The full and definitive stage of God’s revelation is accomplished in his Word made flesh, Jesus Christ, the mediator and fullness of Revelation. He, being the only-begotten Son of God made man, is the perfect and definitive Word of the Father. In the sending of the Son and the gift of the Spirit, Revelation is now fully complete, although the faith of the Church must gradually grasp its full significance over the course of centuries.
“In giving us his Son, his only and definitive Word, God spoke everything to us at once in this sole Word, and he has no more to say.” (Saint John of the Cross)
10. What is the value of private revelations?
While not belonging to the deposit of faith, private revelations may help a person to live the faith as long as they lead us to Christ. The Magisterium of the Church, which has the duty of evaluating such private revelations, cannot accept those which claim to surpass or correct that definitive Revelation which is Christ.
Further reading: CCC 67
11. Why and in what way is divine revelation transmitted?
God “desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth” (1 Timothy 2:4), that is, of Jesus Christ. For this reason, Christ must be proclaimed to all according to his own command, “Go forth and teach all nations” (Matthew 28:19). And this is brought about by Apostolic Tradition.
Further reading: CCC 74
12. What is Apostolic Tradition?
Apostolic Tradition is the transmission of the message of Christ, brought about from the very beginnings of Christianity by means of preaching, bearing witness, institutions, worship, and inspired writings. The apostles transmitted all they received from Christ and learned from the Holy Spirit to their successors, the bishops, and through them to all generations until the end of the world.
13. In what ways does Apostolic Tradition occur?
Apostolic Tradition occurs in two ways: through the living transmission of the word of God (also simply called Tradition) and through Sacred Scripture which is the same proclamation of salvation in written form.
Further reading: CCC 76
14. What is the relationship between Tradition and Sacred Scripture?
Tradition and Sacred Scripture are bound closely together and communicate one with the other. Each of them makes present and fruitful in the Church the mystery of Christ. They flow out of the same divine well-spring and together make up one sacred deposit of faith from which the Church derives her certainty about revelation.
15. To whom is the deposit of faith entrusted?
The Apostles entrusted the deposit of faith to the whole of the Church. Thanks to its supernatural sense of faith the people of God as a whole, assisted by the Holy Spirit and guided by the Magisterium of the Church, never ceases to welcome, to penetrate more deeply and to live more fully from the gift of divine revelation.
Further reading: CCC 84, 91, 94, 99
16. To whom is given the task of authentically interpreting the deposit of faith?
The task of giving an authentic interpretation of the deposit of faith has been entrusted to the living teaching office of the Church alone, that is, to the successor of Peter, the Bishop of Rome, and to the bishops in communion with him. To this Magisterium, which in the service of the Word of God enjoys the certain charism of truth, belongs also the task of defining dogmas which are formulations of the truths contained in divine Revelation. This authority of the Magisterium also extends to those truths necessarily connected with Revelation.
Further reading: CCC 85-90, 100
17. What is the relationship between Scripture, Tradition and the Magisterium?
Scripture, Tradition, and the Magisterium are so closely united with each other that one of them cannot stand without the others. Working together, each in its own way, under the action of the one Holy Spirit, they all contribute effectively to the salvation of souls.
Further reading: CCC 95
18. Why does Sacred Scripture teach the truth?
Because God himself is the author of Sacred Scripture. For this reason it is said to be inspired and to teach without error those truths which are necessary for our salvation. The Holy Spirit inspired the human authors who wrote what he wanted to teach us. The Christian faith, however, is not a “religion of the Book”, but of the Word of God – “not a written and mute word, but incarnate and living” (Saint Bernard of Clairvaux).
Further reading: CCC 105-108, 135-136
19. How is Sacred Scripture to be read?
Sacred Scripture must be read and interpreted with the help of the Holy Spirit and under the guidance of the Magisterium of the Church according to three criteria: 1) it must be read with attention to the content and unity of the whole of Scripture; 2) it must be read within the living Tradition of the Church; 3) it must be read with attention to the analogy of faith, that is, the inner harmony which exists among the truths of the faith themselves.
Further reading: CCC 109-119, 137
20. What is the Canon of Scripture?
The Canon of Scripture is the complete list of the sacred writings which the Church has come to recognize through Apostolic Tradition. The Canon consists of 46 books of the Old Testament and 27 of the New.
Further reading: CCC 120, 138
21. What is the importance of the Old Testament for Christians?
Christians venerate the Old Testament as the true word of God. All the books of the Old Testament are divinely inspired and retain a permanent value. They bear witness to the divine pedagogy of God's saving love. They are written, above all, to prepare for the coming of Christ the Savior of the universe.
Further reading: CCC 121-123
22. What importance does the New Testament have for Christians?
The New Testament, whose central object is Jesus Christ, conveys to us the ultimate truth of divine Revelation. Within the New Testament the four Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John are the heart of all the Scriptures because they are the principle witness to the life and teaching of Jesus. As such, they hold a unique place in the Church.
Further reading: CCC 124-127, 139
23. What is the unity that exists between the Old and the New Testaments?
Scripture is one insofar as the Word of God is one. God's plan of salvation is one, and the divine inspiration of both Testaments is one. The Old Testament prepares for the New and the New Testament fulfills the Old; the two shed light on each other.
Further reading: CCC 128-130, 140
24. What role does sacred scripture play in the life of the Church?
Sacred Scripture gives support and vigor to the life of the Church. For the children of the Church, it is a confirmation of the faith, food for the soul and the fount of the spiritual life. Sacred scripture is the soul of theology and of pastoral preaching. The Psalmist says that it is "a lamp unto my feet and a light to my path." (Psalm 119:105). The Church, therefore, exhorts all to read Sacred Scripture frequently because "ignorance of the Scriptures is ignorance of Christ" (Saint Jerome).
Further reading: CCC 131-133, 141-142
25. How does man respond to God who reveals himself?
Sustained by divine grace, we respond to God with the obedience of faith, which means the full surrender of ourselves to God and the acceptance of his truth insofar as it is guaranteed by the One who is Truth itself.
Further reading: CCC 142-143
26. Who are the principal witnesses of the obedience of faith in the Sacred Scriptures?
There are many such witnesses, two in particular: one is Abraham who when put to the test "believed in God" (Romans 4:3) and always obeyed his call. For this reason he is called "the Father of all who believe" (Romans 4:11-18). The other is the Virgin Mary who, throughout her entire life, embodied in a perfect way the obedience of faith: "Let it be done to me according to your word" (Luke 1:38).
Further reading: CCC 144-149
27. What does it mean in practice for a person to believe in God?
It means to adhere to God himself, entrusting oneself to him and giving assent to all the truths which God has revealed because God is Truth. It means to believe in one God in three persons, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
Further reading: CCC 150-152, 176-178
28. What are the characteristics of faith?
Faith is the supernatural virtue which is necessary for salvation. It is a free gift of God and is accessible to all who humbly seek it. The act of faith is a human act, that is, an act of the intellect of a person - prompted by the will moved by God - who freely assents to divine truth. Faith is also certain because it is founded on the Word of God; it works"through charity" (Galatians 5:6); and it continually grows through listening to the Word of God and through prayer. It is, even now, a foretaste of the joys of heaven.
Further reading: CCC 153-165, 179-180, 183-184
29. Why is there no contradiction between faith and science?
Though faith is above reason, there can never be a contradiction between faith and science because both originate in God. It is God himself who gives to us the light both of reason and of faith.
"I believe in order to understand; and I understand, the better to believe."
Further reading: CCC 159
30. Why is faith a personal act, and at the same time ecclesial?
Faith is a personal act insofar as it is the free response of the human person to God who reveals himself. But at the same time it is an ecclesial act which expresses itself in the proclamation, "We believe". It is in fact the Church that believes: and thus by the grace of the Holy Spirit precedes, engenders and nourishes the faith of each Christian. For this reason the Church is Mother and Teacher.
"No one can have God as Father who does not have the Church as Mother."
Further reading: CCC 166-169, 181
31. Why are the formulas of faith important?
The formulas of faith are important because they permit one to express, assimilate, celebrate, and share together with others the truths of the faith through a common language.
Further reading: CCC 170-171
32. In what way is the faith of the Church one faith alone?
The Church, although made up of persons who have diverse languages, cultures, and rites, nonetheless professes with a united voice the one faith that was received from the one Lord and that was passed on by the one Apostolic Tradition. She confesses one God alone, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, and points to one way of salvation. Therefore we believe with one heart and one soul all that is contained in the Word of God, handed down or written, and which is proposed by the Church as divinely revealed.
Further reading: CCC 172-175, 182
33. What are the symbols of faith?
The symbols of faith are composite formulas, also called "professions of faiths" or "Creeds", with which the Church from her very beginning has set forth synthetically and handed on her own faith in a language that is normative and common to all the faithful.
Further reading: CCC 185-188, 192, 197
34. What are the most ancient symbols (professions) of faith?
The most ancient symbols of faith are the baptismal creeds. Because Baptism is conferred "in the name of the Father, and the Son, and of the Holy Spirit" (Matthew 28:19), the truths of faith professed at Baptism are articulated in reference to the three Persons of the Most Holy Trinity.
Further reading: CCC 189-191
35. What are the most important symbols of faith?
They are the Apostles' Creed which is the ancient baptismal symbol of the Church of Rome and the Nicene-Constantinopolitan Creed which stems from the first two ecumenical Councils, that of Nicea (325 A.D.) and that of Constantinople (381 A.D.) and which even to this day are common to all the great Churches of the East and the West.
Further reading: CCC 193-195
36. Why does the Profession of Faith begin with the words, "I believe in God"?
The Profession of Faith begins with these words because the affirmation "I believe in God" is most important, the source of all the other truths about man and about the world, and about the entire life of everyone who believes in God.
Further reading: CCC 198-199
37. Why does one profess belief that there is only one God?
Belief in the one God is professed because he has revealed himself to the people of Israel as the only One when he said, "Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God is one Lord" (Deuteronomy 6:4) and "there is no other" (Isaiah 45:22). Jesus himself confirmed that God is "the one Lord" (Mark 12:29). To confess that Jesus and the Holy Spirit are also God and Lord does not introduce any division into the one God.
Further reading: CCC 200-202, 228
38. With what name does God reveal Himself?
God revealed himself to Moses as the living God, "the God of Abraham, the God of Issac, the God of Jacob" (Exodus 3:6). God also revealed to Moses his mysterious name "I am Who I am (YHWH)". Already in Old Testament times this ineffable name of God was replaced by the divine title Lord. Thus in the New Testament, Jesus who was called Lordis seen as true God.
Further reading: CCC 203-209, 230-231
39. Is God the only One who "is"?
Since creatures have received everything they are and have from God, only God in himself is the fullness of being and of every perfection. God is "He who is" without origin and without end. Jesus also reveals that he bears the divine name "I Am" (John 8:28).
Further reading: CCC 212-213
40. Why is the revelation of God's name important?
In revealing his name, God makes known the riches contained in the ineffable mystery of his being. He alone is from everlasting to everlasting. He is the One who transcends the world and history. It is he who made heaven and earth. He is the faithful God, always close to his people, in order to save them. He is the highest holiness, "rich in mercy" (Ephesians 2:4), always ready to forgive. He is the One who is spiritual, transcendent, personal, and perfect. He is truth and love.
"God is the infinitely perfect being who is the most Holy Trinity." (Saint Thomas of Montenegro)
Further reading: CCC 206-213
41. In what way is God the truth?
God is Truth itself and as such he can neither deceive nor be deceived. He is "light, and in him there is no darkness" (1 John 1:5). The eternal Son of God, the incarnation of wisdom, was sent into the world "to bear witness to the Truth" (John 18:37).
Further reading: CCC 214-217, 231
42. In what way does God reveal that he is love?
God revealed himself to Israel as the One who has a stronger love than that of parents for their children or of husbands and wives for their spouses. God in himself "is love" (1 John 4:8.16), who gives himself completely and gratuitously, who "so loved the word that he gave his only Son so that the world might be saved through him" (John 3:16-17). By sending his Son and the Holy Spirit, God reveals that he himself is an eternal exchange of love.
Further reading: CCC 218-221