CCC 52 God, who “dwells in unapproachable light”, wants to communicate his own divine life to the men he freely created, in order to adopt them as his sons in his only-begotten Son.1 By revealing himself God wishes to make them capable of responding to him, and of knowing him and of loving him far beyond their own natural capacity.
CCC 158 “Faith seeks understanding”:2 it is intrinsic to faith that a believer desires to know better the One in whom he has put his faith, and to understand better what He has revealed; a more penetrating knowledge will in turn call forth a greater faith, increasingly set afire by love. The grace of faith opens “the eyes of your hearts”3 to a lively understanding of the contents of Revelation: that is, of the totality of God’s plan and the mysteries of faith, of their connection with each other and with Christ, the center of the revealed mystery. “The same Holy Spirit constantly perfects faith by his gifts, so that Revelation may be more and more profoundly understood.”4 In the words of St. Augustine, “I believe, in order to understand; and I understand, the better to believe.”5
CCC 257 “O blessed light, O Trinity and first Unity!”6 God is eternal blessedness, undying life, unfading light. God is love: Father, Son and Holy Spirit. God freely wills to communicate the glory of his blessed life. Such is the “plan of his loving kindness”, conceived by the Father before the foundation of the world, in his beloved Son: “He destined us in love to be his sons” and “to be conformed to the image of his Son”, through “the spirit of sonship”.7 This plan is a “grace [which] was given to us in Christ Jesus before the ages began”, stemming immediately from Trinitarian love.8 It unfolds in the work of creation, the whole history of salvation after the fall, and the missions of the Son and the Spirit, which are continued in the mission of the Church.9
CCC 294 The glory of God consists in the realization of this manifestation and communication of his goodness, for which the world was created. God made us “to be his sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace”,10 for “the glory of God is man fully alive; moreover man’s life is the vision of God: if God’s revelation through creation has already obtained life for all the beings that dwell on earth, how much more will the Word’s manifestation of the Father obtain life for those who see God.”11 The ultimate purpose of creation is that God “who is the creator of all things may at last become ”all in all“, thus simultaneously assuring his own glory and our beatitude.”12
CCC 492 The “splendor of an entirely unique holiness” by which Mary is “enriched from the first instant of her conception” comes wholly from Christ: she is “redeemed, in a more exalted fashion, by reason of the merits of her Son”.13 The Father blessed Mary more than any other created person “in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places” and chose her “in Christ before the foundation of the world, to be holy and blameless before him in love”.14
CCC 796 The unity of Christ and the Church, head and members of one Body, also implies the distinction of the two within a personal relationship. This aspect is often expressed by the image of bridegroom and bride. The theme of Christ as Bridegroom of the Church was prepared for by the prophets and announced by John the Baptist.15 The Lord referred to himself as the “bridegroom.”16 The Apostle speaks of the whole Church and of each of the faithful, members of his Body, as a bride “betrothed” to Christ the Lord so as to become but one spirit with him.17 The Church is the spotless bride of the spotless Lamb.18 “Christ loved the Church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her.”19 He has joined her with himself in an everlasting covenant and never stops caring for her as for his own body:20
This is the whole Christ, head and body, one formed from many. .. whether the head or members speak, it is Christ who speaks. He speaks in his role as the head (ex persona capitis) and in his role as body (ex persona corporis). What does this mean? “The two will become one flesh. This is a great mystery, and I am applying it to Christ and the Church.”21 And the Lord himself says in the Gospel: “So they are no longer two, but one flesh.”22 They are, in fact, two different persons, yet they are one in the conjugal union,. .. as head, he calls himself the bridegroom, as body, he calls himself “bride.”23
CCC 865 The Church is ultimately one, holy, catholic, and apostolic in her deepest and ultimate identity, because it is in her that “the Kingdom of heaven,” the “Reign of God,”24 already exists and will be fulfilled at the end of time. The kingdom has come in the person of Christ and grows mysteriously in the hearts of those incorporated into him, until its full eschatological manifestation. Then all those he has redeemed and made “holy and blameless before him in love,”25 will be gathered together as the one People of God, the “Bride of the Lamb,”26 “the holy city Jerusalem coming down out of heaven from God, having the glory of God.”27 For “the wall of the city had twelve foundations, and on them the twelve names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb.”28
CCC 1077 “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. He destined us before him in love to be his sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace which he freely bestowed on us in the Beloved.”29
CCC 1083 The dual dimension of the Christian liturgy as a response of faith and love to the spiritual blessings the Father bestows on us is thus evident. On the one hand, the Church, united with her Lord and “in the Holy Spirit,”30 blesses the Father “for his inexpressible gift”31 in her adoration, praise, and thanksgiving. On the other hand, until the consummation of God’s plan, the Church never ceases to present to the Father the offering of his own gifts and to beg him to send the Holy Spirit upon that offering, upon herself, upon the faithful, and upon the whole world, so that through communion in the death and resurrection of Christ the Priest, and by the power of the Spirit, these divine blessings will bring forth the fruits of life “to the praise of his glorious grace.”32
CCC 1426 Conversion to Christ, the new birth of Baptism, the gift of the Holy Spirit and the Body and Blood of Christ received as food have made us “holy and without blemish,” just as the Church herself, the Bride of Christ, is “holy and without blemish.”33 Nevertheless the new life received in Christian initiation has not abolished the frailty and weakness of human nature, nor the inclination to sin that tradition calls concupiscence, which remains in the baptized such that with the help of the grace of Christ they may prove themselves in the struggle of Christian life.34 This is the struggle of conversion directed toward holiness and eternal life to which the Lord never ceases to call us.35
CCC 1671 Among sacramentals blessings (of persons, meals, objects, and places) come first. Every blessing praises God and prays for his gifts. In Christ, Christians are blessed by God the Father “with every spiritual blessing.”36 This is why the Church imparts blessings by invoking the name of Jesus, usually while making the holy sign of the cross of Christ.
CCC 2627 Two fundamental forms express this movement: our prayer ascends in the Holy Spirit through Christ to the Father – we bless him for having blessed us;37 it implores the grace of the Holy Spirit that descends through Christ from the Father – he blesses us.38
CCC 2632 Christian petition is centered on the desire and search for the Kingdom to come, in keeping with the teaching of Christ.39 There is a hierarchy in these petitions: we pray first for the Kingdom, then for what is necessary to welcome it and cooperate with its coming. This collaboration with the mission of Christ and the Holy Spirit, which is now that of the Church, is the object of the prayer of the apostolic community.40 It is the prayer of Paul, the apostle par excellence, which reveals to us how the divine solicitude for all the churches ought to inspire Christian prayer.41 By prayer every baptized person works for the coming of the Kingdom.
CCC 2641 “[Address] one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with all your heart.”42 Like the inspired writers of the New Testament, the first Christian communities read the Book of Psalms in a new way, singing in it the mystery of Christ. In the newness of the Spirit, they also composed hymns and canticles in the light of the unheard-of event that God accomplished in his Son: his Incarnation, his death which conquered death, his Resurrection, and Ascension to the right hand of the Father.43 Doxology, the praise of God, arises from this “marvelous work” of the whole economy of salvation.44
CCC 2807 The term “to hallow” is to be understood here not primarily in its causative sense (only God hallows, makes holy), but above all in an evaluative sense: to recognize as holy, to treat in a holy way. And so, in adoration, this invocation is sometimes understood as praise and thanksgiving.45 But this petition is here taught to us by Jesus as an optative: a petition, a desire, and an expectation in which God and man are involved. Beginning with this first petition to our Father, we are immersed in the innermost mystery of his Godhead and the drama of the salvation of our humanity. Asking the Father that his name be made holy draws us into his plan of loving kindness for the fullness of time, “according to his purpose which he set forth in Christ,” that we might “be holy and blameless before him in love.”46
1 1 Tim 6:16, cf. Eph 1:4-5.
2 St. Anselm, Prosl. prooem. PL 153 225A.
3 Eph 1:18.
4 DV 5.
5 St. Augustine, Sermo 43, 7, 9: PL 38, 257-258.
6 LH, Hymn for Evening Prayer.
7 Eph 1:4-5,9; Rom 8:15,29.
8 2 Tim 1:9-10.
9 Cf. AG 2-9.
10 Eph 1:5-6.
11 St. Irenaeus, Adv. haeres. 4,20,7: PG 7/1,1037.
12 AG 2; cf. 1 Cor 15:28.
13 LG 53, 56.
14 Cf. Eph 1:3-4.
15 Jn 3:29.
16 Mk 2:19.
17 Cf. Mt 22:1-14; 25:1-13; 1 Cor 6:15-17; 2 Cor 11:2.
18 Cf. Rev 22:17; Eph 1:4. 5:27.
19 Eph 5:25-26.
20 Cf. Eph 5:29.
21 Eph 5:31-32.
22 Mt 19:6.
23 St. Augustine, En. in Ps. 74:4: PL 36, 948-949.
24 Rev 19:6.
25 Eph 1:4.
26 Rev 21:9.
27 Rev 21:10-11.
28 Rev 21:14.
29 Eph 1:3-6.
30 Lk 10:21.
31 2 Cor 9:15.
32 Eph 1:6.
33 Eph 1:4; 5:27.
34 Cf. Council of Trent (1546) DS 1515.
35 Cf. Council of Trent (1547): DS 1545; LG 40.
36 Eph 1:3.
37 Cf. Eph 1:3-14; 2 Cor 1:3 7; 1 Pet 1:3-9.
38 Cf. 2 Cor 13:14; Rom 15:5-6,13; Eph 6:23-24.
39 Cf. Mt 6:10, 33; Lk 11:2,13.
40 Cf. Acts 6:6; 13:3.
41 Cf. Rom 10:1; Eph 1:16-23; Phil 1911; Col 1:3-6; 4:3-4, 12.
42 Eph 5:19; Col 3:16.
43 Cf. Phil 2:6-11; Col 1:15-20; Eph 5:14; 1 Tim 3:16; 6:15-16; 2 Tim 2:11-13.
44 Cf. Eph 1:3-14; Rom 16:25-27; Eph 3:20-21; Jude 24-25.
45 Cf. Ps 111:9; Lk 1:49.
46 Eph 1:9, 4.