CCC 160 To be human, “man’s response to God by faith must be free, and. .. therefore nobody is to be forced to embrace the faith against his will. The act of faith is of its very nature a free act.”1 “God calls men to serve him in spirit and in truth. Consequently they are bound to him in conscience, but not coerced. .. This fact received its fullest manifestation in Christ Jesus.”2 Indeed, Christ invited people to faith and conversion, but never coerced them. “For he bore witness to the truth but refused to use force to impose it on those who spoke against it. His kingdom. .. grows by the love with which Christ, lifted up on the cross, draws men to himself.”3
CCC 363 In Sacred Scripture the term “soul” often refers to human life or the entire human person.4 But “soul” also refers to the innermost aspect of man, that which is of greatest value in him,5 that by which he is most especially in God’s image: “soul” signifies the spiritual principle in man.
CCC 434 Jesus’ Resurrection glorifies the name of the Savior God, for from that time on it is the name of Jesus that fully manifests the supreme power of the “name which is above every name”.6 The evil spirits fear his name; in his name his disciples perform miracles, for the Father grants all they ask in this name.7
CCC 542 Christ stands at the heart of this gathering of men into the “family of God”. By his word, through signs that manifest the reign of God, and by sending out his disciples, Jesus calls all people to come together around him. But above all in the great Paschal mystery – his death on the cross and his Resurrection – he would accomplish the coming of his kingdom. “And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to myself.” Into this union with Christ all men are called.8
CCC 550 The coming of God’s kingdom means the defeat of Satan’s: “If it is by the Spirit of God that I cast out demons, then the kingdom of God has come upon you.”9 Jesus’ exorcisms free some individuals from the domination of demons. They anticipate Jesus’ great victory over “the ruler of this world”.10 The kingdom of God will be definitively established through Christ’s cross: “God reigned from the wood.”11
CCC 607 The desire to embrace his Father’s plan of redeeming love inspired Jesus’ whole life,12 for his redemptive passion was the very reason for his Incarnation. And so he asked, “And what shall I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour’? No, for this purpose I have come to this hour.”13 And again, “Shall I not drink the cup which the Father has given me?”14 From the cross, just before “It is finished”, he said, “I thirst.”15
CCC 662 “And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to myself.”16 The lifting up of Jesus on the cross signifies and announces his lifting up by his Ascension into heaven, and indeed begins it. Jesus Christ, the one priest of the new and eternal Covenant, “entered, not into a sanctuary made by human hands. .. but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God on our behalf.”17 There Christ permanently exercises his priesthood, for he “always lives to make intercession” for “those who draw near to God through him”.18 As “high priest of the good things to come” he is the center and the principal actor of the liturgy that honors the Father in heaven.19
CCC 786 Finally, the People of God shares in the royal office of Christ. He exercises his kingship by drawing all men to himself through his death and Resurrection.20 Christ, King and Lord of the universe, made himself the servant of all, for he came “not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”21 For the Christian, “to reign is to serve him,” particularly when serving “the poor and the suffering, in whom the Church recognizes the image of her poor and suffering founder.”22 The People of God fulfills its royal dignity by a life in keeping with its vocation to serve with Christ.
The sign of the cross makes kings of all those reborn in Christ and the anointing of the Holy Spirit consecrates them as priests, so that, apart from the particular service of our ministry, all spiritual and rational Christians are recognized as members of this royal race and sharers in Christ’s priestly office. What, indeed, is as royal for a soul as to govern the body in obedience to God? And what is as priestly as to dedicate a pure conscience to the Lord and to offer the spotless offerings of devotion on the altar of the heart?23
CCC 1428 Christ’s call to conversion continues to resound in the lives of Christians. This second conversion is an uninterrupted task for the whole Church who, “clasping sinners to her bosom, [is] at once holy and always in need of purification, [and] follows constantly the path of penance and renewal.”24 This endeavor of conversion is not just a human work. It is the movement of a “contrite heart,” drawn and moved by grace to respond to the merciful love of God who loved us first.25
CCC 2731 Another difficulty, especially for those who sincerely want to pray, is dryness. Dryness belongs to contemplative prayer when the heart is separated from God, with no taste for thoughts, memories, and feelings, even spiritual ones. This is the moment of sheer faith clinging faithfully to Jesus in his agony and in his tomb. “Unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if dies, it bears much fruit.”26 If dryness is due to the lack of roots, because the word has fallen on rocky soil, the battle requires conversion.27
CCC 2795 The symbol of the heavens refers us back to the mystery of the covenant we are living when we pray to our Father. He is in heaven, his dwelling place; the Father’s house is our homeland. Sin has exiled us from the land of the covenant,28 but conversion of heart enables us to return to the Father, to heaven.29 In Christ, then, heaven and earth are reconciled,30 for the Son alone “descended from heaven” and causes us to ascend there with him, by his Cross, Resurrection, and Ascension.31
CCC 2853 Victory over the “prince of this world”32 was won once for all at the Hour when Jesus freely gave himself up to death to give us his life. This is the judgment of this world, and the prince of this world is “cast out.”33 “He pursued the woman”34 but had no hold on her: the new Eve, “full of grace” of the Holy Spirit, is preserved from sin and the corruption of death (the Immaculate Conception and the Assumption of the Most Holy Mother of God, Mary, ever virgin). “Then the dragon was angry with the woman, and went off to make war on the rest of her offspring.”35 Therefore the Spirit and the Church pray: “Come, Lord Jesus,”36 since his coming will deliver us from the Evil One.
1 DH 10; cf. CIC, can. 748 # 2.
2 DH 11.
3 DH 11; cf. Jn 18:37; 12:32.
4 Cf. Mt 16:25-26; Jn 15:13; Acts 2:41.
5 Cf. Mt 10:28; 26:38; Jn 12:27; 2 Macc 6 30.
6 Phil 2:9-10; cf. Jn 12:28.
7 Cf. Acts 16:16-18; 19:13-16; Mk 16:17; Jn 15:16.
8 Jn 12:32; cf. LG 3.
9 Mt 12:26, 28.
10 Jn 12:31; cf. Lk 8:26-39.
11 LH, Lent, Holy Week, Evening Prayer, Hymn Vexilla Regis: Regnavit a ligno Deus.
12 Cf Lk 12:50; 22:15; Mt 16:21-23.
13 Jn 12:27.
14 Jn 18:11.
15 Jn 19:30; 19:28.
16 Jn 12:32.
17 Heb 9:24.
18 Heb 7:25.
19 Heb 9:11; cf. Rev 4:6-11.
20 Cf. Jn 12:32.
21 Mt 20:28.
22 LG 8; Cf. 36.
23 St. Leo the Great, Sermo 4, 1: PL 54, 149.
24 LG 8 # 3.
25 Ps 51:17; cf. Jn 6:44; 12:32; 1 Jn 4:10.
26 Jn 12:24.
27 Cf. Lk 8:6, 13.
28 Cf. Gen 3.
29 Jer 3:19-4:1a; Lk 15:18, 21.
30 Cf. Isa 45:8; Ps 85:12.
31 Jn 3:13; 12:32; 14 2-3; 16:28; 20:17; Eph 4:9-10; Heb 1:3; 2:13.
32 Jn 14:30.
33 Jn 12:31; Rev 12:10.
34 Rev 12:13-16.
35 Rev 12:17.
36 Rev 22:17,20.