The word "apologetics" is from the Greek apoleogetikos, "a defense," and simply means giving a reasoned explanation for your faith. To engage in apologetics fulfills what St. Peter wrote to the Church, Always be ready to give an explanation to anyone who asks you for a reason for your hope, but do it with gentleness and reverence ..." (1 Peter 3:15-16).
(Only a few Scripture references are cited for each topic; all quotes and references are from the NAB. CCC designates Catechism of the Catholic Church).

Life begins at conception:
Did not he who made me in the womb make him? Did not the same One fashion us before our birth? (Job 31:15)
Yet you drew me forth from the womb, made me safe at my mother's breast (Psalm 22:9-10).
Also see Psalm 139:13-16; Isaiah 44:2; 46:3-4; Jeremiah 1:4-5; Luke 1:41

God can have a role for a child in His divine plan even before conception:
God told the prophet Jeremiah: Before I formed you in the womb, I knew you; before you were born, I dedicated you, a prophet to the nations I appointed you (Jeremiah 1:5).
Other examples of an announcement of a destiny prior to birth was given to St. John the Baptist (Luke 1:13-17), the Virgin Mary (prophesied eight centuries prior to her birth in Isaiah 7:14 and repeated in Matthew 1:23), and St. Paul writes that his mission was ordained prior to his birth (Romans 3:5-6).

Saying "yes" to life increases a woman's hope of eternal salvation:
But she will be saved through motherhood, provided women persevere in faith and love and holiness, with self-control (1 Timothy 2:15).

Acts aimed at destroying babies in the womb are condemned:
Galatians 5:20, Revelation 9:2 and 21:8 all condemn "sorcery" using the Greek word pharmakeia, a word meaning harmful pharmaceutical contraceptives and abortifacients.

We are called upon to defend the life of children:
Exodus 20:13, Psalm 82:3-4, Proverbs 24:11-12. The Canaanites were destroyed because of their practice of child sacrifice that was condemned by God and for which the penalty was death (Leviticus 18:21; 20:1-5). Abortion is the sacrifice of children to the false gods of selfishness and supposed economic gain. Not every child is conceived in love (cases of rape, for example) but God's gift of life to every child is an act of divine love.

Catechism references:
CCC 2770-74

Anointing of the sick and forgiveness of sins (CCC 1532). The term is a description of what occurs in this sacrament. The person in need is anointed with the holy chrism (blessed oil) by the priest, with laying-on-of-hands and appropriate prayers for the person's healing. A name previously used was "Extreme Unction," which literally means, "final anointing."
Is any among you sick? He should summon the presbyters of the Church, and they should pray over him and anoint [him] with oil in the name of the Lord, and the prayer of faith will save the sick person, and the Lord will raise him up (James 5:14-15).

BAPTISM (Sacrament)
"Baptism" comes from the Greek word baptisma, which means a washing or cleansing. The sacrament is the washing away of all sin (including original sin) and gives the gift of sanctifying grace. The baptized person is reborn and sanctified in Christ to everlasting life. Baptism does not remove two effects of original sin which are concupiscence (the tendency to sin inherited from our original parents) and bodily mortality. However, baptism does enable a Christian to be sanctified in his struggle against Satan and concupiscence, and the sacrament also gives him the title to rising in a glorified body on the "last day" in the future resurrection of the dead (2 Thessalonians 4:16-17).
Etym. Latin baptisma, from Greek baptisma, "a dipping").

Baptismal graces:
These graces are the supernatural effects of the sacrament of baptism which are: 1. Removal of all guilt of sin, original and personal. 2. Removal of all punishment due to sin, temporal and eternal. 3. The infusion of sanctifying grace that is necessary for eternal life. 4. The theological virtues of faith, hope, and charity, and the gifts of the Holy Spirit. 5. Incorporation into Christ. 6. Entrance into the Mystical Body, which is the Catholic Church. 7. Imprinting of the baptismal character, which enables a person to receive the other sacraments, to participate in the priesthood of Christ through the sacred liturgy, and to grow in the likeness of Christ through personal sanctification.

Sacrament of Regeneration:
We must be born again/from above: commanded by Jesus when He said, "Amen, amen, I say to you, no one can see the kingdom of God without being born from above...Amen, amen, I say to you, no one can enter the kingdom of God without being born of water and Spirit" (John 3:3, 5). Also see Jesus in Matthew 28:19-20; by Peter in Acts 2:37-38; Acts 22:16; by Paul in Romans 6:4-46; 1 Corinthians 6:11; Titus 3:5 and Hebrews 10:22.

Necessary for salvation:
Jesus said, "Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved; whoever does not believe will be condemned" (Mark 16:16).
When the Jews asked what they needed to do to be saved, St. Peter said, "Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins ... For the promise is made to you and to your children ..." (Acts 2:38-39; notice that he is placing no age limit on baptism).
St. Peter, referring to the great flood wrote, This prefigured baptism, which saves you now. It is not a removal of dirt from the body but an appeal to God for a clear conscience, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ ... (1 Peter 3:21).

For additional Scripture references:
Matthew 3:13-18; Mk 1:9-11; Lk 3:21-22; John 1:29-34

Catechism references:
Topics Catechism citations
Baptism and forgiveness of sins CCC 535 and 977-78
Baptism of infants and children CCC 403, 1231, 1233, 1250-52, 1282, 1290
Baptism of adults CCC 1247-49
Baptism the Church's mission CCC 1223, 1276
Baptismal promises CCC 1185, 1254, 2101
Christian life rooted in the Sacrament of Baptism CCC 1266
Christ's Passion and cross the source of Baptism CCC 565, 1225
The Church and Baptism CCC 846, 866, 1226-28; 1267
Conversion and Baptism CCC 1427-29
Baptism is a sacrament of faith CCC 1236, 1253
God's grace and Baptism CCC 1255, 1262-74, 1279, 1997 1999
The Holy Spirit and Baptism CCC 691, 694, 698, 701, 798, 1274, 2017, 2670

BIBLE (see Sacred Scripture)

God commanded the prophet Jeremiah to be celibate (Jeremiah 16:1-4).
Jesus recommends celibacy for the sake of serving the Kingdom of God (Matthew 19:12).
St. Paul was celibate and recommended celibacy in serving the Kingdom (1 Corinthians 7:7-9, 32-33).
Christian widows took a pledge of celibacy (1 Timothy 5:9-12).
Jesus was celibate.
All unmarried persons are called to live a chaste and celibate life.

Catechism references:
CCC 915, 1579, 1599, 1658, 2340, 2349

Apostolic Authority:
"The Church is the pillar and bulwark of the truth,' and faithfully guards the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints.' She guards the memory of Christ's words; it is she who from generation to generation hands on the apostles' confession of faith" (CCC 171; quoting from 1 Timothy 3:15 and Jude 3).

"Catholic" means "universal": It is the Kingdom of the Church founded by Jesus Christ with the command to baptize all nations (Matthew 28:19-20; CCC 830-56).

Christ is the Head and origin of the Church:
1 Corinthians 11:3; Ephesians 1:22-23; 5:23; Colossians 1:18; 2:9-10; CCC 669, 874

The Church is the mystical Body of Christ:
Ephesians 3:9-11; 5:25-27; 5:32; CCC 774, 776-77, 779, 787-96, 805-07, 1396

The Church is the Bride of Christ:
Marriage and the Church/Israel symbolized as the Bride of God was one of the images of the Old Testament prophets that is also found in the New Testament (Isaiah 61:10-11; Jeremiah 2:2; Ezekiel 16:4-16; John 3:28-29; 2 Corinthians 11:2; Ephesians 5:25-27; Revelation 19:7-9; 21:2, 9; CCC 773.

The Four Marks of the Church:
One, holy, catholic, and apostolic = Nicene Creed

Unity of the One Church:
Jesus says there is one sheepfold [the Church] and one Shepherd, [Jesus Christ] (John 10:16).
Jesus prays that His disciples might be one as He and the Father are one (John 17:17-23).
Though we are many, we are one body in Christ (Romans 12:4-5).
Avoid false teachers and those who cause division (Romans 16:17).
There should be no divisions among you (1 Corinthians 1:10).
One body, one Spirit, one hope, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father (Ephesians 4:3-6).
We are called in ONE body (Colossians 3:15).

The Five Precepts of the Church:

In order to nourish the moral and liturgical life of the Body of Christ, Mother Church has established five positive laws, decreed by the pastoral authorities and identifying the minimum spiritual commitment required of the faithful (see CCC 2041-43).

  1. "You shall attend Mass on Sundays and on holy days of obligation and rest from servile labor." The faithful are required to attend the celebration of the Eucharist every Lord's Day (Saturday vigil or Sunday Mass) and the holy days of obligation as established in the liturgical calendar unless excused for a serious reason [i.e. illness or the care of infants]. CCC 1388-9, 2042, 2043, 2177, 2180, 2185; 2187-8; 2192-3
  2. "You shall confess your sins at least once a year." CCC 1457; 2042
  3. "You shall receive the sacrament of the Eucharist at least during the Easter season." CCC 1389, 2042
  4. "You shall observe the days of fasting and abstinence established by the Church." CCC 2177, 2043
  5. "You shall help to provide for the needs of the Church." CCC 1387, 1438, 2043

"The Sunday celebration of the Lord's Day and his Eucharist is the heart of the Church's life. "Sunday is the day on which the paschal mystery celebrated in light of the apostolic tradition and is to be observed as the foremost holy day of obligation in the universal Church" (CCC 2177; quotation from Canon Law: Codex Iuris Canonici, can.1246, art. 1).

Other Catechism references:
Topics Catechism citations
Old and New Covenant Church/the Old and New Law CCC 751-52, 1962-64, 1965-72
Commandments of the Church CCC 2041-43
The Church is a family CCC 1655-58, 2204, 2685
The Church is holy and without blemish because she is sanctified by Christ CCC 823-29, 1462

CONFESSION (Sacrament) Also see Penance and Reconciliation
Jesus told the Apostles, "If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven" (John 20:22-23).
Jesus told the Peter and the Apostles "...whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven"; "whatever you bind on earth is bound in heaven" (Matthew 16:19 and 18:18).
Jesus' ministers possess the "ministry of reconciliation" (2 Corinthians 5:18).
St. James tells us to "confess your sins to one another" (James 5:16).

Catechism references:
Topics Catechism citations
The sacrifice of Christ is the source of forgiveness CCC 1851
The reason for the sacrament CCC 1421, 2043
Interior confession CCC 1430-33
The age for confessing sins CCC 1454
The forms of confession CCC 1434-39
The Sacrament of Confession brings about a spiritual resurrection CCC 1468
Gives pardon for offense committed against God and reconciles the sinner with God and with the Church CCC 822, 980, 1422, 1443-45, 1468
Recovering grace CCC 1446, 1468


"Confirmation" comes from the Latin word confirmation, which means to "make fast or to secure." This sacrament confirms and strengthens the gift of the Holy Spirit that was received in the Sacrament of Baptism. This sacrament empowers the recipient to become and adult disciple of Christ in carrying forth the Gospel of salvation. That Confirmation is a separate Sacrament from Baptism is confirmed in Acts 8:14-17, "...for as yet he (Holy Spirit) had not come down on any of them: they had only been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. Then they (Apostles Peter and John) laid hands on them, and they received the Holy Spirit" (quoted in CCC 1315).

Catechism references:
Topics Catechism citations
Increase of baptismal grace CCC 1303, 1316
Preparation and purpose for CCC 1309
Age for receiving CCC 1307-08
Salvation and CCC 1286-92
Significance of CCC 1289
Confirmation and the sacraments/Christian initiation and CCC 695, 1212, 1275, 1285, 1533
Indelible character of CCC 2304-05, 1317
Outpouring of the Holy Spirit CCC 1302
Seal of the Holy Spirit CCC 698, 1121
Conferred only once CCC 1304
Anointing and laying-on-of-hands CCC 695, 1242, 1291, 1294, 1300, 1288, 1523
Holy chrism CCC 1297
Signs and rites CCC 1293-1301, 1320

Contraception is a mortal sin and children a blessing:
Human fertility was God's first blessing to humanity (Genesis 1:27-28).
Fertility is a covenantal blessing (Exodus 23:25-26; Deuteronomy 7:13-14).
Children are a gift from God (Psalm 127:3-5).
Israel is punished with childlessness (Hosea 9:10-17).
A woman's hope of eternal salvation is increased by childbearing (1 Timothy 2:15).
Onan withheld his sperm (practiced contraception) from his wife, and God's punishment was death (Genesis 38:9-10).

Sterile sex is a mortal sin and punishable by death:
Condemns homosexual unions; death sentence for man with a man (Leviticus 18:22; 20:13)
Sex with an animal is a death penalty offense (Leviticus 20:15-16).
Homosexual acts are condemned as mortal sins that will bar the sinner from Heaven (Romans 1:24-32; 1 Corinthians 6:9; Jude 7).

Catechism references:
CCC 2370, 2399


There are two forms of deliverance—temporal and eternal, but all deliverance comes from God (Exodus 3:7-8; Psalm 3:8; 18:2; Daniel 3:16-17; Jonah 2:9), even deliverance from the works of Satan (Luke 13:16; 22:31-32), and from sin (Galatians 1:4; 2 Thessalonians 2:13; Revelation 1:5), and the powers of evil (Matthew 6:13; Ephesians 6:12). Jesus Christ offers us the gift of eternal deliverance (for example, Luke 4:18-19; 1 Timothy 2:5; Hebrews 2:14-15).

Catechism references:
CCC 987, 1741, 1811 (delivered from sin by the gift of salvation through Jesus)

Drinking wine or beer is permitted:
See Genesis 27:25; Deuteronomy 14:23-26; Ecclesiastes 9:7; Isaiah 25:6.
Drinking wine at the banquet in Heaven in Isaiah 62:8-9 (a sign of covenant unity).
Jesus turns water into wine at the Wedding at Cana in John 2:1-10.
Jesus and the disciples at the Last Supper (Matthew 26:26-28; Mark 14:22-25; Luke 22:17-20).
St. Paul advises St. Timothy to take a little wine for the sake of his health (1 Timothy 5:23).

Drunkenness is a sin:
Proverbs 20:1; Isaiah 5:11, 22; Luke 21:34; Romans 13:13-14; Galatians 1:4; 5:21; Ephesians 5:18; 1 Corinthians 6:10.

EUCHARIST (Sacrament)
"Eucharist" comes from the Greek word eucharisteo, which means "to give thanks" or "thanksgiving." The three Synoptic Gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke use a form of this word in describing Jesus' action at the Last Supper when He instituted this sacrament, using in the literal Greek the term eucharistesas, which means "having given thanks" (Matthew 26:26; Mark 14:22; Luke 22:19). St. Paul uses the same word in his account of the Last Supper (1 Corinthians 11:24). The Eucharist infuses us with the very life of Christ and strengthens us on our journey to salvation. The Eucharist looks back in time to when Jesus first gave Himself—Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity—to His beloved disciples at the Last Supper, and also forward in time in anticipation to the end of the Age of Man and the Wedding Banquet of Christ the Lamb and His Bride the Church (Revelation 19:5-9).

Reserved for the baptized faithful who are in a state of grace and believe in the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist:
See Matthew 6:26-29; Mark 14:22-25; Luke 22:19-20; 1 Corinthians 11:26-29
See the Teaching of the Twelve Apostles, called "the Didache," in Greek, "the teaching," the Church's first catechism written c. 50/120 AD. In the middle of the section on the earliest Eucharistic prayer (Didache, 9.1-10:6), the Didache reads, "Let no one eat or drink of your Eucharist, but those baptized into the name of the Lord; this too, the saying of the Lord is applicable: Give not that which is holy to the dogs'" (Didache, 9.5).

The doctrine of the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist:
See John 6:51-58; Matthew 26:26-28; Mark 14:22-24; Luke 22:17-20; 24:30-35; 1 Corinthians 10:14-17; 11:23-29.
That Christ is truly present (and not merely symbolically present) in the Eucharist has always been the teaching of the Church; for example:

  1. St. Ignatius, bishop of Antioch (Syria), martyred c. 107 AD wrote, "They abstain from the Eucharist and from prayer, because they do not confess that the Eucharist is the flesh of our Savior Jesus Christ, flesh which suffered for our sins and which the Father, in His goodness, raised up again" (Letter to the Smyrnaeans, 6.20).
  2. Roman lawyer and Catholic priest St. Justin Martyr wrote c. 150 AD: "We call this food Eucharist; and no one else is permitted to partake of it, except one who believes our teaching to be true ... For not as common bread nor common drink do we receive these; but since Jesus Christ our Savior was made incarnate by the word of God and had both flesh and blood for our salvation, so too, as we have been taught, the food which has been made into the Eucharist by the Eucharistic prayer set down by Him, and by the change of which our blood and flesh is nourished, is both the Flesh and the Blood of that incarnated Jesus" (First Apology to the Emperor Antonius Pius, 66.20).
  3. St. Irenaeus, bishop of Lyons wrote in c. 195 AD, "He [Jesus] has declared the cup, a part of creation, to be His own Blood, from which He causes our blood to flow; and the bread, a part of creation, He has established as His own Body, from which he gives increase to our bodies" (Against Heresies, 5.2.2).

Also see Transubstantiation

Catechism references:
Topics Catechism citations
The Eucharist and the forgiveness of sins CCC 1322-1419; 1393-1395, 1436, 1846
A true sacrifice CCC 1362-72
Our participation in the sacrifice of Jesus Christ CCC 1322
Presence of Christ CCC 1373-75
Communion of the Holy Trinity CCC 950, 2845
A foretaste of Heaven CCC 1000, 1326, 1402-05, 1419
Unites us with Christ CCC 790, 1003, 1391
Unites us with our brothers and sisters in the family of the Church CCC 1398

FAITH AND WORKS ("alms" = money or gifts to help the poor)
Works of charity can atone for sins and bring God's blessings to the offerer:

... give alms from what you have and look, everything will be clean for you (Luke 11:41).
We are not justified by faith alone (James 2:24).
Faith alone is dead faith: faith without works is dead (James 2:26).

We must have faith working in love (Galatians 5:6; also Romans 10:17; Ephesians 2:8; Hebrews 11:1-40; 12:1-2; James 1:2-8; 1 Peter 1:7; 1 John 5:4).
Good works have merit (Matthew 25:31-46; Romans 2:6-10, 13; 3:31; 2 Corinthians 5:10; Philippians 2:12; Galatians 6:6-10; Revelation 20:12).
Jesus said, "If you love me, keep my commandments" (John 14:15).
We must keep God's commandments (1 John 2:3-4; 3:24; 5:3).

Catechism references:
Topics Catechism citations
Works of charity and mercy CCC 1458, 1473, 1815, 1829, 1853, 2044, 2447
The works of God CCC 198, 214, 295, 339, 1328
The works of Christ manifest Him as "the Holy One of God" CCC 438
Central mysteries of faith CCC 234, 647, 2558
Dogmas of faith CCC 88-90
Deposit of faith CCC 84-95, 173-75
The Church as the guardian of faith CCC 171, 181, 507

HEAVEN (eternal beatitude)
Those who die in God's grace and friendship, perfectly purified of all sin, live forever with Christ.
By His death and Resurrection, Jesus has opened Heaven to us (1 John 3:2; 1 Corinthians 13:12; Revelation 22:4).
To live in Heaven is "to be with Christ" (Matthew 25:34; Philippians 1:23; John 14:3; 1 Thessalonians 4:17; Revelation 2:27).

For additional Scripture references:
Acts 7:44-50; 1 Corinthians 2:9; Hebrews 8:1; 1 Peter 1:4; Revelation 21:3-4, 27

Catechism references:
CCC 1023-28

HELL (complete absence of God)
The Hell of the damned is a state of everlasting fire (Isaiah 33:11-14).
Jesus said, "depart you accursed into eternal fire" (Matthew 25:41).
Jesus said, "these will go off to eternal punishment" (Matthew 25:46).
Jesus said, "the chaff (those who reject Christ) will burn with unquenchable fire" (Luke 3:16-17).
St. Paul wrote, ... these will pay the penalty of eternal ruin (2 Thessalonians 1:6-9).

Catechism references:
CCC 1033-37

HOLY ORDERS (Sacrament)
The word "order" designates the proper arrangement of things according to their appropriate place and can also refer to "rank" in the order of things. The name "Holy Orders" not only designates the giving of a specific rank in the Church, but it also denotes the action by which that rank is given, and therefore it also means "ordination." Ordination is the process that "sets apart" or consecrates individuals as members of the ministerial priesthood to perform rites and ceremonies as Christ's representatives.

Catechism references:
Topics Catechism citations
Christ is the minister of Holy Orders CCC 1575
Degrees of Holy Orders CCC 1593
Significance of Holy Orders and goals CCC 1120, 1534
Presence of Christ in Holy Orders CCC 1548-50

According to the teachings of the Church, an indulgence is "the remission before God of the temporal punishment due to sins forgiven as far as their guilt is concerned, which the follower of Christ with the proper dispositions and under certain determined conditions acquires through the intervention of the Church, which, as minister of the redemption, authoritatively dispenses and applies the treasury of the satisfaction won by Christ and the saints" (Pope Paul VI, Apostolic Constitution on Indulgences).

The Church and the Bible both teach that sin incurs two types of penalties. The first is the rupture in one's relationship with God. This is called "eternal punishment." This punishment was resolved by Jesus when He merited the forgiveness of sins for humanity on the altar of the Cross and reconciled us to God. We receive this forgiveness personally through the grace of God and our confession of faith in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. Indulgences do not pertain to this type of punishment for sin because they have nothing to do with the forgiveness of sins.

The second penalty for sin is what Hebrews 12:5-15 refers to as "chastisement;" it is the punishment for sins which is given to us for our own sake and for the sake of justice. The Church also calls this the "temporal punishment" of sin. This is a punishment which we incur due to the injustice we bring into the world through our sins. An analogy that can be made is that of a child who offends his parents by breaking a window. His parents can forgive him, but they also might ask him to clean up the broken glass. Another analogy might be a drunkard or an addict who asks God's forgiveness for the harm done to his body, but still has to deal with the damaging effects of his alcoholism and drug addiction. In any event, these analogies point to a spiritual truth about the justice of suffering some discomfort as a consequence of our sins.

In Jesus' Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5:25, Jesus describes a situation in which a person, after his divine judgment, will still have to "pay back every penny" to the one whom he has offended. The Church looks at this passage and concludes that these chastisements mentioned can endure even after one dies when one is still in need of the cleansing of unconfessed venial sins or mortal sins forgiven in confession but where penance is still required before being completely purified in order to enter into the heavenly beatitude. Chastisements after death are fulfilled in Purgatory (see 1 Cor 3:12-15 and the Catechism citations on Purgatory).

Indulgences granted by the Church have nothing to do with forgiveness of our sins or our justification, which we receive through the grace of Jesus Christ. Rather, indulgences can be applied to these sorts "chastisements" that are temporal punishments. The measure of how efficacious an indulgenced work is depends on two things: the supernatural charity with which the task is done and the perfection of the task itself. Partial and plenary indulgences can be applied to the dead who have been judged worthy of Heaven but still are in need of purification in Purgatory by way of suffrage and by others asking God, through prayer and an indulgence offered for the soul of the dead in Purgatory, to count toward their release into Heaven. This authority of the Church to grant indulgences for the remission of the penalty of sins was granted to the Church by Christ when He gave His ministers the power to bind and loose sins in Matthew 18:18 and John 20:22-23. The Church can designate certain pious actions such as reading and studying Scripture, saying prayers or going on a pilgrimage and give these acts the benefit of remitting the temporal punishments of sin. These are called indulgences and can contribute to our "sanctification" that is our growth in holiness. Hebrews chapter 12 says that "chastisements" are meant to be for our benefit.

Catechism references:
Topics Catechism citations
Definition and significance CCC 1471-79
For the dead CCC 1032, 1479
Effects of CCC 1498
Obtaining God's indulgences through the Church CCC 1478-79

There are two kinds of judgment: temporal and eternal. Temporal judgment is the result of the bad things that happen as a result of sinful behavior and should be viewed as a warning to avoid sin in the future. Eternal judgment is a final accounting for the sins committed during one's lifetime (2 Corinthians 5:9). There are two such judgments: Individual or Particular and Final Judgment.

Individual (Particular) Judgment:
Upon one's death, there is an immediate accountability for one's life before the Judgment Throne of God (2 Timothy 1:9-10). At this judgment, Jesus promises to stand with the man or woman or child who has professed belief in Christ as His Savior, and He will be his/her Advocate before God the Father (Matthew 10:32-33; Luke 12:8-9; 2 Timothy 2:10-13; Revelation 3:5). The judgment will either be entrance into the blessedness of heaven after a necessary purification (Purgatory) or immediate entrance, or immediate and everlasting damnation to the Hell of the damned (CCC 1021-22).

Final (Last) Judgment:
When Christ returns again in glory, there will be a bodily resurrection of all the dead, of both the just and the unjust (Acts 24:15; John 5:28-29; Matthew 25:31-46; 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17; Revelation 20:11-15). Those who suffered unjustly at the hands of the wicked will be able to face those who were the cause of their suffering, and the good one has done or failed to do will be revealed—"the wicked will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life" (Matthew 25:46; CCC 1038-1041).

MARY (The Virgin Mary)
The Four Marian Dogmas (the Roman Catholic Church affirms four truths concerning the role of the Virgin Mary in God's plan of salvation):

  1. The perpetual virginity of Mary: The perpetual virginity of Mary of Nazareth is expressed in three parts: in her virginal conception of Christ, in giving birth to Christ, and in her continuing virginity after His birth, expressed in Latin as:
    • virginitas ante partum: virginity before birth (CCC 396; 510)
    • virginitas in partu: virginity during birth (CCC 510)
    • virtinitas post partum: virginity after birth (CCC 510)
    Also see CCC 496-507; 964
    CCC 499: "The deepening of faith in the virginal motherhood led the Church to confess Mary's real and perpetual virginity even in the act of giving birth to the Son of God made man. In fact, Christ's birth "did not diminish his mother's virginal integrity but sanctified it." And so the liturgy of the Church celebrates Mary as Aeiparthenos, the Ever-virgin.'"
    [Note: The so-called "brothers" of Jesus mentioned in Scripture are His kinsmen. In the Hebrew language, there was no designation for siblings, or half-brothers, or step-brothers. The Greek word used to designate Jesus' brothers adelphos is the same word used for kinsmen, for countrymen, full brothers like St. James and John Zebedee, and all "brothers" in the faith].
  2. Mary the Mother of God: That Mary was the mother of Jesus who is God was defined as dogma at the very city where Mary had lived for several years—at the Council of Ephesus in 431 AD. CCC 495: "Called in the Gospels the mother of Jesus,' Mary is acclaimed by Elizabeth, at the prompting of the Spirit and even before the birth of her son, as the mother of my Lord,' In fact, the One whom she conceived as man by the Holy Spirit, who truly became her Son according to the flesh, was none other than the Father's eternal Son, the second person of the Holy Trinity, Hence the Church confesses that Mary is truly Mother of God (Theotokos).'"
  3. Immaculate Conception of Mary: In 1854, Pope Pius IX defined as a dogma (truth of faith) that, according to God's divine plan, Mary of Nazareth was conceived without original sin (see CCC 491-492, 508). Catechism citation 508 states: "From among the descendants of Eve, God chose the Virgin Mary to be the mother of his Son. Full of grace,' Mary is the most excellent fruit of redemptions' (Sacrosanctum Concilium, 103): from the first instant of her conception, she was totally preserved from the stain of original sin, and she remained pure from all personal sin throughout her life." See Luke 1:28 where the angel Gabriel greets Mary, Chara kecharitomene, "Hail, has been graced," using a perfect past participle to indicate that Mary has always been in a state of grace (always "full of grace") and never having been without God's grace, which is to say she was even conceived in grace and sin was completely absent in her life. Her Son saved her in advance of His Incarnation; otherwise, she could not have carried the sinless Son of God in her human body.
  4. Assumption of Mary into heaven: That Mary's body did not experience corruption but was assumed into heaven was defined as dogma by Pope Pius XII in 1950 (see CCC 966; 974). CCC 974: "The Most Blessed Virgin Mary, when the course of her earthly life was completed, was taken up body and soul into the glory of heaven, where she already shares in the glory of her Son's Resurrection, anticipating the resurrection of all members of his Body."
Catechism references:
Topics Catechism citations
We do not worship Mary; we venerate (honor) her CCC 487, 971
She is Christ's Mother by the power of the Holy Spirit and deserves the title "Mother of God" CCC 411, 437, 456, 466, 484-86, 495, 509, 723-26
Mary is the Mother of the Church and every Christian CCC 501, 773, 829, 963-72
Immaculate Conception of the Virgin Mary and preservation from sin CCC 411, 490-93,
Perpetual virginity CCC 496-507
Mary is the "New Eve" and Mother of the living CCC 411, 489, 511, 726, 2618, 2853

MATRIMONY (Sacrament)
"Matrimony" comes from the Latin word matrimonium, which means "wedlock." It was instituted by God in the marriage of Adam and Eve (Genesis 2:22-24), and marriage was elevated to a sacrament by Jesus at the wedding at Cana (John 2:1-12). Jesus again confirmed the sacred character of marriage in Matthew 19:4-9.
"The love of husband and wife is the forge that welds society together" ~ St. John Chrysostom, Bishop of Constantinople (349-407).
In Scripture, covenant marriage becomes an image of Christ the Bridegroom and the Church as His bride; see for example Revelation 19:7-8.

Additional Scripture references:
Matthew 5:31-32; 19:3-9; Mark 10:2-12; Luke 16:18; Romans 7:1-3; Corinthians 7:10-16; Ephesians 5:22-23; Hebrews 13:4; 1 Peter 3:1-8

Catechism references:
CCC 1638-50, 2349, 2360-62

Obedience to the Word of God:
John 14:31; 2 Corinthians 10:5-6; James 2:10; 1 John 3:22

Obedience to leadership:
Matthew 5:16; Romans 13:1-7; 1 Timothy 2:1-3; 1 Peter 2:13-17

Obedience to parents:
Exodus 20:12; Deuteronomy 5:16; Matthew 15:4; Ephesians 6:1-4; Colossians 3:20-21; 1 Timothy 5:1-2, 4;

Original sin refers either to the sin committed by Adam as the head of the human race, or the sin he passed on to his descendants in the human family, with which every human being, with the exception of Jesus and His Mother, is conceived in sin and born.
Warning of original sin = God's warning to Adam, the day you eat [of it] you shall die die, literally repeated twice to emphasize the consequence of physical and spiritual death (Genesis 2:16-17).
God's punishment for Adam and Eve's sin of rebellion (Genesis 3:11-19)
We inherit original sin from our original parents, in sin my mother conceived me (Psalm 51:5).
... many became sinners through one man's sin, referring to Adam (Romans 5:12-19).
... by man came death; in Adam all die... (1 Corinthians 15:21-23).

Catechism references:
Topics Catechism citations
Adam's sin and his descendant's inheritance of original sin closed the gates of Heaven that were not opened until the coming of Jesus Christ CCC 536, 1026
Other references CCC 37, 215, 388-90, 396-99, 400-06, 404, 409, 412, 1607, 1609, 1707, 1250, 2259, 2515

The word "penance" comes from the Latin word paenitentia. It designates dealing with sins by contrition or sorrow for those sins, confession of the sins or sins, and receiving absolution. "Reconciliation" refers to the restoration of our friendship with God and the Church. Unlike the Sacrament of Baptism that forgives all sin, temporal and eternal, the Sacrament of Penance remits all punishment due to eternal sin, but it does not always remit the temporal punishment which God requires as satisfaction for sins. These remaining debts to sin are remitted in Purgatory (Baltimore Catechism 219). Concerning the debt owed for sins, Jesus said, I say to you, you will not be released until you have paid the last penny" (Luke 12:59; also see 1 Cor 3:13b-15 and the section on Purgatory).

Catechism references:
Topics Catechism citations
Purposes of the sacrament CCC 1421, 1468
Baptism and forgiveness of sins CCC 535, 977-78, 1425-26
Instituted by Christ CCC 1446
The Eucharist and the forgiveness of sins CCC 1393, 1395, 1436, 1846
Commandment to receive the sacrament CCC 1457, 2042
The Eucharist and forgiveness of sins CCC 1393, 1395, 1436, 1846
When one must receive absolution in the sacrament prior to receiving Eucharistic communion CCC 1415

POPE (Supreme Pontiff)
The Pope is the title of the visible head of the Catholic Church. He is called "Pope" (Greek pappas, a child's word for "father") because his authority is supreme and because it is to be exercised in a paternal way, following the example of Jesus Christ. The Pope also has the title "Supreme Pontiff; the Latin origin of the word pontiff is "bridge builder" and is applied to the Pope as Christ's bridge between Himself and His covenant people. Every Pope is the successor of St. Peter to whom, as His Vicar/Prime Minister, Jesus gave authority over His Kingdom of the Church (Matthew 16:16-19).

The Pope serves in cooperation with the Magisterium Extraordinary, the successors of the Apostles and the Church's teaching office exercised in a solemn way, as in formal declarations of the Pope or of ecumenical councils of bishops approved by the Pope. There is also the Magisterium Ordinary, the teaching office of the hierarchy under the Pope, exercised normally, that is, through the regular means of the Church's bishops instructing the faithful. The teaching authority was given by Jesus to Peter and His Apostles in Matthew 18:18 and John 20:22-23.

Catechism references:
Topics Catechism citations
Infallibility of the Pope CCC 891
The Pope associated with and divine assistance to the Eucharist CCC 892, 1369
Office, power, and authority of the Pope CCC 100, 882, 892, 937, 1463, 2034
Episcopal college and the Pope CCC 880-87, 895, 1559
Authority and continuous succession of the Magisterium CCC 77, 88
Infallibility of the Magisterium CCC 2035
Mission and office of the Magisterium CCC 890
Ordinary and Universal Magisterium of the Supreme Pontiff and the bishops CCC 2034
Connection between the Magisterium and Sacred Scripture and sacred Tradition CCC 95


Prayer is communication with God; it is a voluntary response to the awareness of God's presence. This communication can be vocal or silent, private or communal. Prayer can be expressed as:

  1. adoration, the acknowledgement of God's greatness and of a person's total dependence upon Him, or
  2. thanksgiving in gratitude for God's benefits to oneself and others, or
  3. expiationby expressing sorrow for sins committed and pleading for God's mercy, or
  4. petition in asking for graces needed for oneself or others, or
  5. love, expressing affection for God who is good, merciful, and loving.

St. Paul recommended that we "pray constantly" in 1 Thessalonians 5:17, by which a person always remains united with God.

The Holy Spirit and Prayer:
Romans 8:26-29

Prayer for doing good:
1 Corinthians 9:24-27; 15:58; Galatians 6:9; Ephesians 6:8; 2 Timothy 4:6-8

Some additional Scripture passages:
Matthew 6:5-13; 7:7-11; 21:22; John 14:13-14; 15:7; Ephesians 6:18-19; Philippians 4:6; Hebrews 4:14-16; James 5:16-18; 1John 5:14-15

Catechism references:
Topics Catechism citations
The Church's definition of prayer CCC 2559
Prayer as God's gift CCC 2560-61
Prayer as an exercise of covenant unity with God and with His Church CCC 2562-65
Praying every day is a vital necessity CCC 2744, 2659-60

PURGATORY (Sheol in Hebrew and Hades in Greek; abode of the dead)
Before the birth of Jesus Christ, all the dead went there when the gates of Heaven were closed after the Fall of Adam and prior to the coming of Christ (CCC 536, 632-22, 1026). After Christ's resurrection, it became a place of purification from which one can be released when atonement is completed.
In Matthew 5:25-26, Jesus tells a parable and refers to Sheol as "prison."
In Matthew 18:23-35, Jesus tells the Parable of the Unforgiving Steward who will be released from "prison" once his debt is paid.

Jesus describes Sheol/Hades as a place for purification for sins of the wicked in Luke 16:19-31.
St. Paul describes the necessary atonement for sins/bad works in 1 Corinthians 3:10-15 where the bad works will be destroyed by fire and only the good will remain so the person can be admitted into Heaven, but "saved as someone might expect to be saved from a fire" (1 Corinthians 3:15).
This state of purification remains and will not be destroyed until the Last Judgment (Revelation 20:13-15). The Sacrament of Penance remits all punishment due to eternal sin, but it does not always remit the temporal punishment which God requires as satisfaction for sins (Baltimore Catechism 219). Chastisements after death are fulfilled in Purgatory (see 1 Cor 3:12-15 and the Catechism citations on Purgatory).

Catechism references:
CCC 1030-32

The practice of mental and vocal devotional prayer is offered on a string of beads made up of five sets each of one large and ten smaller beads, called decades. On the large bead we say the Lord's Prayer, and on the smaller ten beads, we repeat the Hail Mary prayer, usually followed by the Glory Be prayer before beginning the next decade. The usual devotion of fifteen decades is offered in memory of the Virgin Mary in the Joyous, Glorious, Luminous, and Sorrowful mysteries of her life with her divine Son. This is the standard Rosary, but there are other Rosaries also approved by the Church, including of the Holy Trinity, Seven Dolors, Precious Blood, Divine Mercy, etc. Etym. Latin, rosarium, "rose garden," with the idea of each "Hail Mary" being the presentation of a rose to the Blessed Virgin to whom we bring our petitions as the Gebirah, queen-mother of the eternal Davidic King, Jesus Christ.


Seven visible signs instituted by Jesus Christ and by which invisible grace and inward sanctification are communicated to the soul. Each sacrament intrinsically bestows or increases the sanctifying grace in a Christian. We say the sacraments "intrinsically" give grace because in each sacrament it is Jesus Himself who acts. The grace is an objective, guaranteed reality; thus, when someone is baptized, it is Christ who baptizes and when the priest says, "I absolve you of your sins," it is Jesus who speaks those words through His priest. Etymology = Latin sacramentum, oath, solemn obligation; from sacre, "to set apart as sacred, consecrate, make holy."

  1. Baptism * (see "Baptism")
  2. Confirmation * (see "Confirmation")
  3. Holy Orders * (see "Holy Orders")
  4. Penance/Reconciliation (see "Penance")
  5. Eucharist (see "Eucharist")
  6. Matrimony (see "Matrimony")
  7. Anointing of the sick (see "Anointing")

    * confers an indelible mark upon the soul of the person who receives the sacrament that cannot be removed.

Catechism references:
See the individual Sacraments

Sacramentals are objects or actions that the Church uses to contribute to the spiritual health of the faithful. Unlike the sacraments, they have not been instituted by Christ. Sacramentals do not confer the grace of the Holy Spirit in the way that the sacraments do, but by the Church's prayer, they prepare us to receive grace and dispose us to cooperate with it. Their efficacy depends not on the action of the object itself, as in the sacraments, but on the influence of prayerful petitions, the person who uses them, and the Church in approving their practice. Sacramentals include blessings (of persons, meals, objects, and places), fasting, novenas, medals, holy water, and making the sign of the Cross. Such actions and objects connect the faithful with the sacraments and with the active expression and witness of living the Catholic faith.

Catechism references:
CCC 1667-76


The Catholic Bible has 73 books canonical books that the Church believes were authored by God and written down by men inspired by the Holy Spirit—27 New Testament books that concern the mission of Jesus Christ and His Church, and 46 Old Testament books from the time prior to the Advent of the Christ.

After the period of Christian persecution by the Roman Empire had ended in 367 AD, St. Athanasius, Bishop of Alexandria, published for the first definitive New Testament list, including all 27 books that we know today. "These are the ones," he said; "let no one add to them or take anything away from them." St. Athanasius's canon was greeted with enthusiasm and was accepted with the approval of the Catholic Church. It was adopted by Pope St. Damasus I in the Decretal of Gelasius in 382 AD, and it was confirmed by every subsequent council that took up the question of the official canon. In 419 AD, Christian scholars from all over the world came together at the Second Council of Carthage and again confirmed the canon. Pope Boniface adopted it officially by papal decree. It is, therefore, the Catholic Church and no other church that has given us the 27 book canon of the New Testament that all Christian Churches recognize as the Testament of Jesus Christ.

What is the Catholic Church's position on the inerrancy of the Bible? The Dogmatic Constitution on Divine Revelation, issued by the bishops at Vatican II, says: "Since everything asserted by the inspired authors or sacred writers must be held to be asserted by the Holy Spirit, it follows that the books of Scripture must be acknowledged as teaching firmly, faithfully, and without error that truth which God wanted to put into the sacred writings for the sake of our salvation." This means that when the Bible says Jesus performed a certain miracle, the Church believes He genuinely performed that miracle which cannot be explained by our understanding of nature of by modern science.

The Church has always maintained that the Bible is trustworthy and true—written without error for all generations of Christian believers. This is a teaching that has been consistent throughout the history of the Church, beginning with the New Testament writers who regularly quote an Old Testament text with the introduction, "The Holy spirit says," as in Hebrews 3:7; and as Jesus Himself testified in Matthew 5:18 that "not an iota, nor a dot" would pass away from the Law of Moses and the prophets before it was fulfilled. Nor has the modern Church stepped away from this established commitment to belief in the inerrancy of Sacred Scripture. Pope Leo XIII [1878-1903] stated in the document Providentissimus Deus, 20: "it is absolutely wrong and forbidden either to narrow inspiration to certain parts only of Holy Scripture or to admit that the sacred writer has erred."

In addition to Pope Leo condemned those who viewed difficult passages in Scripture as an indication that some of the text was Holy Spirit inspired while other parts of the text were not when he wrote that the Church condemned, "the system of those who, in order to rid themselves of these difficulties, do not hesitate to concede that divine inspiration regards the things of faith and morals, and nothing beyond." Continuing the doctrine that Sacred Scripture is without error, the great council of Vatican I in 1870 affirmed in De Fide Catholica, 2:7, that "the canon of the Bible is sacred and canonical, not because having been composed by human industry they were afterwards approved by her [the Church's] authority; nor only because they contain revelation without error; but because, having been written under the inspiration of the Holy Ghost, they have God for their author."

Later, Pope Pius the XII [1939-1958], in the document Divino Afflante Spiritu, 1, citing this passage from Vatican I in De Fide Catholica, stated that this passage was a "solemn definition of Catholic doctrine. By which such divine authority is claimed for the entire books with all their parts as to secure freedom from any error whatsoever." He condemned those who would dare to "ventured to restrict the truth of Sacred Scripture solely to matters of faith and morals," thereby limiting the accuracy of the entire body of Sacred Scripture.

Vatican II, the most recent Great Council of the Universal Church reaffirmed the doctrine of the inerrancy of Scripture in the document Dei Verbum, 11 which teaches: "In composing the sacred books, God chose men and while employed by him they made use of their powers and abilities, so that with him acting in them and through them, they, as true authors, consigned to writing everything and only those things that he wanted. Therefore, since everything asserted by the inspired authors or sacred writers must be held to be asserted by the Holy Spirit, it follows that the books of Scripture must be acknowledged as teaching solidly, faithfully, and without error that truth that God wanted put into sacred writings for the sake of salvation."

Catechism references:
Topic Catechism citations
Scripture and Tradition CCC 78, 80-83, 95, 97
Canon of Sacred Scripture CCC 120, 138
Christ the central object and fulfillment of CCC 124, 127, 2763
God is the author and the Holy Spirit the interpreter CCC 105, 136, 109-11
Human writers inspired by God CCC 106
Unity of the Old and New Testaments CCC 121-123, 128-30
It is the word of God and teaches the truth CCC 104, 106-107, 135


A word from the Latin sanctus, meaning "holy, sacred;" it is quadosh in Hebrew from the root qadash, meaning "clean, dedicate, consecrate," and sometimes the word chacid [kacide], "pious, godly" is used as a synonym for quadosh. In the Greek Septuagint Old Testament translation and in the Greek New Testament the word is hagios, meaning "blameless, consecrated, holy one." It is a word used in the New Testament for Christians in general in Colossians 1:2 and Philippians 4:21; and St. Paul refers to those Christian saints in the heavenly kingdom as "a cloud of witnesses" who are intimately interested in the journey to salvation of earthbound brothers and sisters in Christ in Hebrews 12:1. In the earliest years of the Church, the title "saint" was already restricted to persons who were eminent for holiness.

Used in the narrowest sense, saints are those who distinguish themselves by heroic virtues during their lifetimes and whom the Church honors as saints either by her ordinary universal teaching authority (received directly from Christ) or by a solemn definition called "canonization" after a rigorous investigation into the life of the candidate for sainthood. The Church's official recognition of sainthood implies that the Church has evidence (through miracles of intercession in petitions made in the holy person's name) that those persons are in heavenly glory. In such cases, those "saints" may be publically invoked everywhere, and their virtues cited as a witness and example to the Christian faithful.

Catholics do not worship saints—worship/adoration is reserved for God alone—but we do venerate (honor) saints who present an example of how we should love and serve the Lord and His Church. Venerating the saints does not detract from the glory given to God, since whatever good they possess is a gift of God's grace. Saints are venerated as adopted children of the Father and brothers of Christ, faithful members of His Mystical Body, and temples of the Holy Spirit.

Having an image of a canonized saint who we venerate as a "soul friend" is the same as having a photograph of a loved family member. We are reminded that this holy person is part of our heavenly family who lived, breathed, and dedicated their lives in service to Jesus and His Church. Having such images does not violate the commandment concerning creating images for the purposes of worship since saints are not worshiped. Images were permitted in the Old Testament that increased faith, for example, the images of the angelic cherubim above the lid of the Ark of the Covenant, called the "Mercy Seat" (Exodus 24:17-22; 33:6-9). There was also the image of the bronze serpent that was raised up over the Israelites, curing them of poisonous snake bites (Numbers 21:8-9, which Jesus said was a foreshadow of His own crucifixion in being "raised up" on the cross in John 3:14), and the huge statues of the winged cherubim in the Holy of Holies of Solomon's Temple (1 Kings 6:23-28) that King Solomon had his artisans construct according to the plan for the Temple that God gave his father, King David.

Scripture passages:
Old Testament: Deuteronomy 33:2-3; 1 Samuel 2:9; 2 Chronicles 6:41; Job 5:1; 15:15; Psalms 16:3; 30:4; 31:23; 34:9; 37:28; 50:5; 52:9; 79:2; 85:8; 89:5, 7; 97:10; 116:15; 132:9, 16; 145:10; 148:14; 149:1, 5, 9; Proverbs 2:8; Daniel 7:18, 21, 22, 25, 27; Hosea 11:12; Zechariah 14:5

New Testament: Matthew 27:52; Acts 9:13, 32, 41; 26:10; Romans 1:7; 8:27; 12:13; 15:25, 26, 31; 16:2, 15; 1 Corinthians 1:2; 6:1, 2; 14:33; 16:1, 15; 2 Corinthians 1:1; 8:4; 9:1, 12; 13:13; Ephesians 1:1, 15, 18; 2:19; 3:8, 18; 4:12; 5:3; 6:18; Philippians 1:1; 4:22; Colossians 1:2, 4, 12, 26; 1 Thessalonians 3:13; 2 Thessalonians 1:10; 1 Timothy 5:10; Philemon 5, 7; Hebrews 6:10; 13:24; Jude 3, 14; Revelation 5:8; 8:3, 4; 11:18; 13:7, 10; 14:12; 15:3; 16:6; 17:6; 18:24; 19:8; 20:9

Catechism references:
Topic Catechism citation
Communion of saints CCC 957
The Church as a communion of saints CCC 946-59, 960-62, 1331
An example of the Church's holiness CCC 867, 2030
Intercession of saints CCC 956, 2683
Choosing a saint's name as baptismal name and Confirmation name CCC 2156
Sacred images of saints and veneration CCC 61, 1161
Significance of canonizations CCC 828

Salvation is the deliverance from threatening circumstance or event, or oppression by some evil to a state of freedom and security. Since sin is the greatest evil, in the Biblical definition salvation is mainly liberation from sin and its consequences. This can be deliverance by way of preservation, or by offering the means for being delivered, or by removing the oppressive evil or difficulty, or by rewarding the effort spent in co-operating with grace in order to be delivered. According to the teaching of the Church, to journey to salvation is a life-long process requiring the obedience of faith. Salvation is defined by its four individual aspects: sanctification, redemption, forgiveness, and justification. All four aspects of salvation are found in the Scriptures and are taught by the Church (Etym. = Latin, salvare, "to save"). For God did not desire us for wrath, but to gain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, who died for us ... (2 Thessalonians 5:9-10a). For some additional Scripture references see Mark 16:16; John 3:3-7, 16-17; 5:24; 14:6; Acts 2:37-39; 16:30-31; Romans 10:9-10, 13; 2 Corinthians 5:17; Ephesians 2:8-9; Titus 3:4-7; 1 John 5:11-13; James 2:21.

The four aspects of salvation:

  1. Sanctification: Being "made holy" or "consecrated in holiness." There are three aspects to sanctification. The first sanctification takes place at baptism, by which the love of God is infused by the Holy Spirit (Romans 5:5). Newly baptized persons are holy because the Holy Trinity begins to dwell in their souls and they are pleasing to God. The second sanctification is a lifelong process in which a person already in the state of grace grows in the possession of grace and in likeness to God by faithfully corresponding with divine inspirations. The third sanctification takes place when a person enters heaven and becomes totally and irrevocably united with God in the beatific vision (Etym. Latin sanctificare, "to make holy"). See Leviticus 11:44-45; 1 Corinthians 1:30; 1 Thessalonians 4:3; 2 Thessalonians 2:13; 1 Peter 1:2, 15-16.
  2. Redemption: The salvation of humanity by Jesus Christ. "To redeem" literally means to "to free or buy back;" it is from the Latin redemption, "a buying back, ransoming." After the fall of Adam, humanity was held captive in its enslavement by sin. Since Satan overcame humanity by inducing them to sin, they were said to be in bondage to the devil. In addition, the human race was held captive as to a debt of punishment, to the payment of which it was bound by divine justice. On all of these counts, the Passion of Jesus Christ made abundant satisfaction for humanity's guilt, and the consequent debt of punishment was paid by Christ on the Cross. His Passion was a kind of price or ransom that paid the cost of freeing humanity from both obligations. Christ redeemed us by spending what was the highest value—He gave His entire self, and therefore His Passion is called "humanity's Redemption." See Romans 3:24; 1 Corinthians 1:30; Galatians 3:13; Ephesians 1:7, 14; 4:30; Colossians 1:14; Hebrews 9:12, 15; 1 Peter 1:18; Revelation 5:9. Redemption is explained as forgiveness of sins in Acts 2:38; Romans 3:24-25; Ephesians 1:7.
  3. Forgiveness: Pardon or remission of an offense. The Catholic Church believes that any sins that are forgiven are actually removed from the soul and not merely covered over by the merits of Christ. Only God can forgive sins since he alone can restore sanctifying grace to a person who has sinned gravely and thereby lost the state of grace. God forgives sins to the truly repentant either immediately through an act of perfect contrition or through a sacrament. The sacraments primarily directed to the forgiveness of sins are baptism and penance, and secondarily, under certain conditions, also the sacrament of anointing. See Matthew 6:14-15; Colossians 1:14; 1 John 1:7-9. Forgiveness of sins is linked to redemption in Acts 2:38; Romans 3:24-25; Ephesians 1:7.
  4. Justification: The process of a sinner becoming justified or made right with God. As defined by the Council of Trent, "Justification is the change from the condition in which a person is born as a child of the first Adam into a state of grace and adoption among the children of God through the Second Adam, Jesus Christ our Savior" (Denzinger 1524). And all this is from God, who has reconciled us to himself through Christ and given us the ministry of reconciliation, namely, God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting their trespasses against them and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation (2 Corinthians 5:19; also see Romans 4:5; 5:1, 9, 16, 18; 8:30; 1 Corinthians 6:11; Galatians 2:17; Titus 3:7.

Eternal salvation is through Jesus Christ alone: There is no salvation through anyone else, nor is there any other name under heaven given to the human race by which we are to be saved (Acts 4:12). St. Paul wrote that someone who never had the opportunity to hear the Gospel of salvation could be judged on the merits of their own conscience and the innate sense of right and wrong that God gave every human being (Rom 2:12-16). Such persons, however, are still saved through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ for the sins of humanity on the altar of the Cross.

Catechism references:
Topics Catechism citations
All humanity needs salvation which comes from God alone through the sacrifice of Christ CCC 169, 588, 600-02, 617, 620, 1811,
Baptism and the other sacraments are necessary for salvation CCC 1256-57, 1129, 1277
The Church is Christ's universal instrument and sacrament of salvation CCC 776, 780, 816
Sanctification of the Church is the mission of the Holy Spirit, and the Church's mission is to sanctify all who come to Christ to be saved CCC 767, 824, 827
Christ's death was the sacrifice of redemption CCC 613, 616, 776
The Church is the instrument for the redemption of mankind CCC 776
Forgiveness through conversion and prayer CCC 1425, 2608, 2631, 2838-45
God's grace is the origin of forgiveness—God alone can forgive sins CCC 430-31, 1441, 2010
Christ made satisfaction for our sins and gave His Church the power and authority to forgive sins CCC 615, 918, 1708
Significance of justification CCC 1987, 1989, 1991-92
Conversion must precede justification CCC 1989
Ways to receive justification CCC 1446, 1996, 2001

At the end of the age of man, Christ will return in glory to judge the living and the dead (1 Thessalonians 4:16; Revelation 20:11-15). In the time between Jesus' Ascension to the Father and His glorious return, the Church continues her journey in earthly exile, guiding each generation of Christians on the pathway to Heaven. When Christ returns the Church's pilgrimage will end, and she will be united in glory with her King in a newly created Heaven and earth (Revelation 19:1-2, 5-9; 21:1-7).

Catechism references:
Topics Catechism citations
The purpose of Christ's return CCC 216., 457-58, 460, 678-79, 681-82
The Church and His glorious coming CCC 769
The Church's final trial CCC 675-77
The hope of His return CCC 671, 673
Last Judgment and His return CCC 1038-40
The time of His return CCC 673
Renewal of all Creation at His return CCC 1042-43, 2818

In keeping with the Lord's command, the Gospel of Jesus Christ was handed on in two ways: orally and in writing. Jesus did not write any of the New Testament books. The word of God was transmitted "... orally by the apostles who handed on, by the spoken word of their preaching, by the example they gave, by the institutions they established, what they themselves had received—whether from the lips of Christ, from his way of life and his works, or whether they had learned it at the prompting of the Holy Spirit'—in writing by those apostles and other men associated with them apostles who, under the inspiration of the same Holy Spirit, committed the message of salvation to writing'" (CCC 76).

Sacred Scripture:
Includes all 73 Bible books in the Old and New Testaments:
Indeed, the word of God is living and effective, sharper than any two-edged sword, penetrating even between soul and spirit, joints and marrow, and able to discern reflections and thoughts of the heart (Hebrews 4:12). have known the Scriptures—from these you can learn the wisdom that leads to salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is inspired by God and useful for refuting error, for guiding people's lives, and teaching them to be upright. This is how someone who is dedicated to God becomes fully equipped and ready for any good work (2 Timothy 3:14-17).
Also see Colossians 3:16; 1 Peter 1:23; 2:2-3; 2 Peter 1:20-21.

Sacred Tradition:
Includes all that was taught by Christ orally to His disciples and Apostles and passed on to future generations; as St. Paul wrote: I praise you because you remember me in everything and hold fast to the traditions, just as I handed them on to you (1 Corinthians 11:2).
Also see 1 Corinthians 15:1-3; 2 Timothy 2:1-2; 2 Thessalonians 2:15; 3:6.

Catechism references:
Scripture: CCC 101-141
Tradition: CCC 75-79, 81, 84, 97, 174
Scripture and Tradition: CCC 80-83, 95, 97, 113, 120

This is the most profound gesture a Christian makes in his/her life and dates back to the earliest years of the Church. To be made properly in blessing oneself with the Sign of the Cross, the fingers of the right hand should be separated and held in twos and threes. For example, the first two fingers held up to represent the humanity and divinity of Christ and the thumb and other fingers held against the palm to represent the three-in-one nature of the Godhead, and vocally or mentally professing the Trinitarian formula "In the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit." Holding the right hand in this way, the first part of the gesture is to move the hand from the forehead to the middle of the chest and then from the left shoulder to the right, symbolizing that Christ came from Heaven to earth and from suffering to the glory of Resurrection. Eastern Rite Catholics, Byzantine, and Chaldean traditions make the gesture from the right to the left shoulder, but the symbolism is the same. This action contains in one gesture what every Christian should believe concerning Jesus Christ.

St. Augustine defines sin as, "A word, deed or desire in opposition to the eternal law." Sin is a deliberate transgression of a Law of God, which identifies the four essentials of every sin:

  1. Moral law is involved.
  2. God is offended.
  3. It is a transgression against grace.
  4. It is a deliberate act freely committed.

Scripture has always identified two degrees of sin—mortal and venial:
Mortal/deadly sin is an actual sin that destroys sanctifying grace, the state of friendship with God, and causes the supernatural death of the soul. It is a turning away from God because of an inordinate adherence to creatures that causes grave injury to a person's rational nature and to the social order, depriving the sinner of a right to Heaven. It is called "mortal" or "deadly" sin because it causes the death of the soul by denying the soul the hope of Heaven.

Venial sin is an offense against God which does not deprive the sinner of sanctifying grace. It is called venial from venia, a Latin word meaning, "pardon," because the soul still has the vital principle that allows a cure from within, similar to the healing of a sick or diseased body whose source of animation (the soul) is still present to restore the ailing body and bring it back to health.

There is no single word for "sin" in the Old Testament and in the New Testament, St. John identified both types of sin: If anyone sees his brother sinning, if the sin is not deadly, he should pray to God and he will give him life. This is only for those whose sin is not deadly. There is such a thing as deadly sin, about which I do not say that you should pray. All wrongdoing is sin, but there is din that is not deadly (1 John 5:16-17). John's point is that deadly sin can only be forgiven through confession and repentance to Christ's representative an ordained priest. It is a power and authority Jesus gave to the ministers of His Church in John 20:22-23.

The Church and the Bible both teach that sin incurs two types of penalties. The first is the rupture in one's relationship with God. This is called the "eternal punishment." It was done away with by Jesus when He merited the forgiveness of sins on the altar of the Cross and reconciled us to God. We receive this forgiveness personally through repentance and our confession of faith in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. The second penalty for sin is what Hebrews 12:5-15 refers to as "chastisement." The Church also calls this the "temporal punishment" of sin. This is a punishment which we incur due to the injustice we bring into the world through our sins. An analogy that can be made is that of a child who offends his parents by breaking a window. His parents can forgive him, but they also might ask him to clean up the broken glass. Another analogy might be a drunkard or an addict who asks God's forgiveness for the harm done to his body but still has to deal with the damaging effects of his alcoholism and drug addiction. In any event, these analogies point to a spiritual truth about the justice of suffering some discomfort as a consequence of our sins (see the citation of Indulgences).

Catechism references:
Mortal sins: CCC 185-555, 1033, 1055, 1858-59, 1861
Venial sins: CCC 1414, 1458, 1472, 1862-63

Sexual sins:
Sins that defile God's gift of fertility and the Sacrament of Marriage; there are mortal sins that block the path to Heaven: Make no mistake—the sexually immoral, idolaters, adulterers, the self-indulgent, sodomites, thieves, misers, drunkards, slanderers, and swindlers, none of these will inherit the kingdom of God (1 Corinthians 6:10; also see Jude verse 7; Revelation 21:8).

Homosexuality: "God handed them over to degrading passions. Their females exchanged natural relations for unnatural, and the males likewise gave up natural relations with females and burned with lust for one another...all who practice such things deserve death, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them" (Romans 1:26-32).
God made them male and female (Genesis 1:27)
Homosexuals of Sodom and Gomorrah destroyed in divine judgment (Genesis chapter 19).
Homosexuality is called an "abomination" (Leviticus 18:22).
The death penalty is required for such sins in the Old Testament (Leviticus 20:13).
The New Testament defines this sin as "unnatural, shameful, and a perversity" (Romans 1:27).
Those who practice a homosexual lifestyle will not inherit the Kingdom of God (1 Corinthians 6:9, 18-20).
Homosexuality is defined as a mortal sin (1 Timothy 1:9-10).

Adultery: sexual intercourse of a married person with another who is not the wife or husband—mortal sin; forbidden by the sixth commandment (Exodus 20:14).

Fornication: sex outside of marriage is a mortal sin; Matthew 15:9; Mark 7:21; Acts 15:20, 29; Romans 1:29; 1 Corinthians 5:1, 9-10; 6:9, 13, 18; 7:2; 10:8; 2 Corinthians 12:21; Galatians 5:19; Ephesians 5:3; Colossians 3:5; 1 Thessalonians 4:3; Jude 7; Revelation 2:14; 9:21; 14:8; 17:2, 4 18:3, 9; 19:2.

Purity is a gift of the Holy Spirit (CCC 2345). God calls all unmarried persons to sexual purity: Philippians 2:13-15; 1 Timothy 5:22; James 2:16-18; 4:8; 1 John 3:3.

Catechism references:
Topics Catechism citations
The sin of homosexuality CCC 2357-59
The sin of divorce CCC 1650, 2384
The definition of fornication CCC 2353
The immorality of fornication CCC 1755, 1852, 2353
Insults against the dignity of the Sacrament of Marriage CCC 2380-81
The gravity of sexual sins CCC 1756, 1856, 1858, 2380, 2400
Desire/lust CCC 2336, 2528
God's commandment concerning purity versus sexual sins CCC 2052, 2055, 2196

Physical and emotional suffering is the result of sin—either as a consequence of personal sins committed by an individual or as a result of the suffering of the innocent caused by the corrupting power of sin and evil in the world. Etym. Latin, sufferer, "to sustain, to bear"; sub, "up from under" + ferre, "to bear." It is not God's will that the innocent should suffer, Because God did not make death, nor does he rejoice in the destruction of the living. For he fashioned all things that they might have being ... But by the envy of the devil, death entered the world... (Wisdom 2:13, 24).

Personal suffering brought on by sinful influences should be viewed as a chastisement that is meant to be an opportunity to turn away from sin and to turn back to fellowship with God. Personal suffering of the innocent that comes from sin in the world can be of value when the person unites his/her suffering to the suffering of Christ on the Cross. His/her suffering then becomes a holy offering—redemptive suffering that can atone for sin and can bring the person to a more intimate personal relationship with Christ, aiding in the person's journey to salvation.

In such cases, St. Paul teaches, No trial has come to you but what is human God is faithful and will not let you be tried beyond your strength; but with the trial he will also provide a way out, so that you may be able to bear it (1 Corinthians 10:12-13). St. Paul suffered physically from beatings and imprisonment when he preached the Gospel of Jesus Christ, as well as his suffering from a physical ailment, the petition for healing the Lord denied but for which God gave Paul the strength to bear (2 Corinthians 7b-10). Paul offered his physical sufferings to Christ on behalf of the Church, writing, Now I rejoice in my suffering for your sake, and in my flesh I am filling up what is lacking in the afflictions of Christ on behalf of his body, which is the Church ... (Colossians 1:24). St. Paul wrote also wrote concerning the expiation of our sins and our promise of glory associated with offering up our sacrifice of suffering united to Christ, The Spirit bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs, heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if only we suffer with him so that we may also be glorified with him (Romans 8:16-17). St. Peter wrote ...Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example so that we should follow in his steps (1 Peter 2:21).

Catechism references:
CCC 307, 618, 1460, 1508

Abusing the name of God is forbidden in the second of the Ten Commandments; this includes not only the improper use of the names of God and Jesus Christ but also of the Virgin Mary and all the saints (CCC 2146). The proper use of the Lord's Name is in adoration, prayer, petition, praise, and in the liturgy of worship. Any other use, as in an exclamation of disgust or surprise or as a swear word, is an abuse: "Respect for his name is an expression of the respect owed to the mystery of God himself and to the whole sacred reality it evokes. The sense of the sacred is part of the virtue of religion ..." (CCC 2144).

Swearing in general: The question is how can we live in the "image and likeness of Jesus Christ" and give our Christian witness if we use swear words?
A few Biblical passages:

Catechism references:
CCC 2142-2155

The word is from the Latin meaning, trans, "so as to change" and substantia, meaning, "substance" = transubstantiatio, meaning, "change of substance."

"Transubstantiation" is a miracle of Holy Spirit. It results in the complete change of the substance of bread and wine into the substance of Christ's body and blood when a validly ordained priest, in the "person of Christ" (persona Christi) speaks Jesus' words at the Last Supper during the consecration of the Mass, so that only the accidents of bread and wine remain.
Jesus said, "I am the living bread that came down from heaven; whoever eats this bread will live forever; and the bread that I will give is my flesh for the life of the world" (John 6:51).
Jesus said, "Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him on the last day. For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me and I in him" (John 6:54-56).
Jesus said, "This is my body, which will be given for you; do this in memory of me...This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which will be shed for you" (Luke 22:19-20; also see Matthew 26:26-28; Mark 14:22-24).

Also see Eucharist

Catechism references:
CCC 1373-77

TRINITY (One Substance, Three Divine Persons)
It is the central doctrine of the Christian religion (CCC 232, 234, 237, 261). God who is one and unique in His infinite substance or nature, is a unity (CCC 255, 689) of three distinct Persons, the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit (CCC 202, 254, 257-60, 267). The Hebrew word "one" [echad], in the Old Testament profession of faith, Yahweh our God is one [echad] Yahweh (Deuteronomy 6:4), uses the Hebrew word echad that expresses a composite "oneness." It is the same Hebrew word that God used to express the marital union of Adam and Eve as "one," ... and they become one [echad] flesh (Genesis 2:24), and it is the same word used three times for the symbolic act prophesizing the future union of the divided kingdoms of Israel and Judah, ... join one [echad] to the other to make one [echad] piece of wood, one [echad] stick in your hand (Ezekiel 37:16).

However, while Jesus was on earth, God the Father was "greater" than the incarnate Jesus in terms of position because Jesus' humanity is a creation (John 14:28). Nevertheless, through His divinity, Jesus is equal to the Father (John 1:1-3; 20:28; Hebrews 1:8; Titus 2:13). Jesus spoke of His eternal personage when He declared, "Before Abraham was I AM," using a reference to the divine name YHWH that means "I am" (John 8:58). Yahweh is a Trinity of oneness. It was Jesus' command to His disciples to ...baptize them in the name [singular] of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit (Matthew 28:19).

The three divine persons are co-equal, co-eternal, and consubstantial, and they deserve co-equal glory and adoration. In Sacred Scripture, God the Father (1 Peter 1:2), the Son (John 1:1; 20:28), and the Holy Spirit (Acts 5:3-4) are each called God; yet they operate distinctly from one another, indicating personhood. Given the emphatic declaration in Scripture that there is only one God (i.e., Deuteronomy 6:4; John 17:3), we must conclude that the one God exists in three distinctly unique Persons. For example, passages in Scripture ascribe divine attributes to all three Persons of the Trinity or list the three together, as in Jesus' command concerning the Trinitarian formula of baptism in Matthew 28:19.

God the Father is a Divine Person:
In the beginning when God created the heavens and the earth ... (Genesis 1:1).

Jesus is a Divine Person:
... the Word was with God and the Word was God (John 1:1).
Jesus said, "Before Abraham was, I AM" (John 8:58-59; I AM is the divine name Yahweh; Exodus 3:14).
Jesus said, "I and the Father are one" (John 10:30).
Jesus accepts Thomas' words when he says "My Lord and my God!" (John 20:28).
St. Paul wrote ... in [Jesus] dwells bodily the whole fullness of God (Colossians 2:9).

The Holy Spirit is a Divine Person:
Jesus said, "The Advocate, the Holy Spirit that the Father will send in my name—he will teach you all things" (John 14:26; God the Holy Spirit is a "He" and not an "it").
Lying to the Holy Spirit is lying to God (Acts 5:3-4).
He calls us to serve Christ and His Church: The Holy Spirit said, "Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul..." (Acts 13:2).

Catechism references:
Topics Catechism citations
God the Father CCC 238, 240
God the Son CCC 240, 242
God the Holy Spirit CCC 243-48
The Most Holy Trinity CCC 202, 232, 234, 237-38, 240, 244, 252, 261, 684, 732

The Corporal and Spiritual Works of Mercy are the way the faithful continue Jesus' works during His earthly ministry. Being active in these works is not only a Christian's duty, but it is also a means of satisfying the temporal punishment due to sin and being obedient to Jesus' command, "Be merciful just as your Father is merciful" (Luke 6:16). Also see Matthew 25:31-46 where Jesus listed works of mercy, and He said in the Last Judgment God the great King will say to those who practiced works of mercy, "Amen, I say to you, whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me" (Matthew 25:40).

Spiritual Words of Mercy:

  1. Admonishing sinners
  2. Instructing the uninformed
  3. Counseling the doubtful
  4. Comforting the Sorrowful
  5. Bearing wrongs patiently
  6. Forgiving offenses
  7. Praying for the living and the dead

Corporal Works of Mercy:

  1. Feeding the hungry
  2. Giving drink to the thirsty
  3. Clothing the naked
  4. Sheltering the homeless
  5. Giving comfort to the imprisoned
  6. Visiting the sick
  7. Burying the dead

Catechism references:

CCC 1458, 1473, 1815, 1829, 1853, 2044, 2447

Michal E. Hunt Copyright © November the 1st, 2016 on the Solemnity of All Saints

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