CCC 616 It is love “to the end”1 that confers on Christ’s sacrifice its value as redemption and reparation, as atonement and satisfaction. He knew and loved us all when he offered his life.2 Now “the love of Christ controls us, because we are convinced that one has died for all; therefore all have died.”3 No man, not even the holiest, was ever able to take on himself the sins of all men and offer himself as a sacrifice for all. The existence in Christ of the divine person of the Son, who at once surpasses and embraces all human persons, and constitutes himself as the Head of all mankind, makes possible his redemptive sacrifice for all.
CCC 628 Baptism, the original and full sign of which is immersion, efficaciously signifies the descent into the tomb by the Christian who dies to sin with Christ in order to live a new life. “We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.”4
CCC 757 “The Church, further, which is called ‘that Jerusalem which is above’ and ‘our mother’, is described as the spotless spouse of the spotless lamb. It is she whom Christ ‘loved and for whom he delivered himself up that he might sanctify her.’ It is she whom he unites to himself by an unbreakable alliance, and whom he constantly ‘nourishes and cherishes.’”5
CCC 772 It is in the Church that Christ fulfills and reveals his own mystery as the purpose of God’s plan: “to unite all things in him.”6 St. Paul calls the nuptial union of Christ and the Church “a great mystery.” Because she is united to Christ as to her bridegroom, she becomes a mystery in her turn.7 Contemplating this mystery in her, Paul exclaims: “Christ in you, the hope of glory.”8
CCC 773 In the Church this communion of men with God, in the “love [that] never ends,” is the purpose which governs everything in her that is a sacramental means, tied to this passing world.9 “[The Church’s] structure is totally ordered to the holiness of Christ’s members. And holiness is measured according to the ‘great mystery’ in which the Bride responds with the gift of love to the gift of the Bridegroom.”10 Mary goes before us all in the holiness that is the Church’s mystery as “the bride without spot or wrinkle.”11 This is why the “Marian” dimension of the Church precedes the “Petrine.”12
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.13 The Lord referred to himself as the “bridegroom.”14 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.15 The Church is the spotless bride of the spotless Lamb.16 “Christ loved the Church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her.”17 He has joined her with himself in an everlasting covenant and never stops caring for her as for his own body:18
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.”19 And the Lord himself says in the Gospel: “So they are no longer two, but one flesh.”20 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.”21
CCC 823 “The Church. .. is held, as a matter of faith, to be unfailingly holy. This is because Christ, the Son of God, who with the Father and the Spirit is hailed as ‘alone holy,’ loved the Church as his Bride, giving himself up for her so as to sanctify her; he joined her to himself as his body and endowed her with the gift of the Holy Spirit for the glory of God.”22 The Church, then, is “the holy People of God,”23 and her members are called “saints.”24
CCC 829 “But while in the most Blessed Virgin the Church has already reached that perfection whereby she exists without spot or wrinkle, the faithful still strive to conquer sin and increase in holiness. And so they turn their eyes to Mary”:25 in her, the Church is already the “all-holy.”
CCC 1228 Hence Baptism is a bath of water in which the “imperishable seed” of the Word of God produces its life-giving effect.26 St. Augustine says of Baptism: “The word is brought to the material element, and it becomes a sacrament.”27
CCC 1269 Having become a member of the Church, the person baptized belongs no longer to himself, but to him who died and rose for us.28 From now on, he is called to be subject to others, to serve them in the communion of the Church, and to “obey and submit” to the Church’s leaders,29 holding them in respect and affection.30 Just as Baptism is the source of responsibilities and duties, the baptized person also enjoys rights within the Church: to receive the sacraments, to be nourished with the Word of God and to be sustained by the other spiritual helps of the Church.31
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.”32 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.33 This is the struggle of conversion directed toward holiness and eternal life to which the Lord never ceases to call us.34
CCC 1454 The reception of this sacrament ought to be prepared for by an examination of conscience made in the light of the Word of God. The passages best suited to this can be found in the Ten Commandments, the moral catechesis of the Gospels and the apostolic letters, such as the Sermon on the Mount and the apostolic teachings.35
CCC 1602 Sacred Scripture begins with the creation of man and woman in the image and likeness of God and concludes with a vision of “the wedding-feast of the Lamb.”36 Scripture speaks throughout of marriage and its “mystery,” its institution and the meaning God has given it, its origin and its end, its various realizations throughout the history of salvation, the difficulties arising from sin and its renewal “in the Lord” in the New Covenant of Christ and the Church.37
CCC 1616 This is what the Apostle Paul makes clear when he says: “Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her,” adding at once: “‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one. This is a great mystery, and I mean in reference to Christ and the Church.”38
CCC 1617 The entire Christian life bears the mark of the spousal love of Christ and the Church. Already Baptism, the entry into the People of God, is a nuptial mystery; it is so to speak the nuptial bath.39 which precedes the wedding feast, the Eucharist. Christian marriage in its turn becomes an efficacious sign, the sacrament of the covenant of Christ and the Church. Since it signifies and communicates grace, marriage between baptized persons is a true sacrament of the New Covenant. ..40
CCC 1624 The various liturgies abound in prayers of blessing and epiclesis asking God’s grace and blessing on the new couple, especially the bride. In the epiclesis of this sacrament the spouses receive the Holy Spirit as the communion of love of Christ and the Church.41 The Holy Spirit is the seal of their covenant, the ever available source of their love and the strength to renew their fidelity.
CCC 1625 The parties to a marriage covenant are a baptized man and woman, free to contract marriage, who freely express their consent; “to be free” means:
– not being under constraint;
– not impeded by any natural or ecclesiastical law.
CCC 1642 Christ is the source of this grace. “Just as of old God encountered his people with a covenant of love and fidelity, so our Savior, the spouse of the Church, now encounters Christian spouses through the sacrament of Matrimony.”42 Christ dwells with them, gives them the strength to take up their crosses and so follow him, to rise again after they have fallen, to forgive one another, to bear one another’s burdens, to “be subject to one another out of reverence for Christ,”43 and to love one another with supernatural, tender, and fruitful love. In the joys of their love and family life he gives them here on earth a foretaste of the wedding feast of the Lamb:
How can I ever express the happiness of a marriage joined by the Church, strengthened by an offering, sealed by a blessing, announced by angels, and ratified by the Father?. .. How wonderful the bond between two believers, now one in hope, one in desire, one in discipline, one in the same service! They are both children of one Father and servants of the same Master, undivided in spirit and flesh, truly two in one flesh. Where the flesh is one, one also is the spirit.44
CCC 1694 Incorporated into Christ by Baptism, Christians are “dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus” and so participate in the life of the Risen Lord.45 Following Christ and united with him,46 Christians can strive to be “imitators of God as beloved children, and walk in love”47 by conforming their thoughts, words and actions to the “mind. .. which is yours in Christ Jesus,”48 and by following his example.49
CCC 2204 “The Christian family constitutes a specific revelation and realization of ecclesial communion, and for this reason it can and should be called a domestic church.”50 It is a community of faith, hope, and charity; it assumes singular importance in the Church, as is evident in the New Testament.51
1 Jn 13:1.
2 Cf. Gal 2:20; Eph 5:2, 25.
3 2 Cor 5:14.
4 Rom 6:4; cf. Col 2:12; Eph 5:26.
5 LG 6; Cf. Gal 4:26; Rev 12:17; 19:7; 21:2,9; 22:17; Eph 5:25-26,29.
6 Eph 1:10.
7 Eph 5:32; 3:9-11; 5:25-27.
8 Col 1:27.
9 1 Cor 13:8; cf. LG 48.
10 John Paul II, MD 27.
11 Eph 5:27.
12 Cf. John Paul II, MD 27.
13 Jn 3:29.
14 Mk 2:19.
15 Cf. Mt 22:1-14; 25:1-13; 1 Cor 6:15-17; 2 Cor 11:2.
16 Cf. Rev 22:17; Eph 1:4. 5:27.
17 Eph 5:25-26.
18 Cf. Eph 5:29.
19 Eph 5:31-32.
20 Mt 19:6.
21 St. Augustine, En. in Ps. 74:4: PL 36, 948-949.
22 LG 39; Cf. Eph 5:25-26.
23 LG 12.
24 Acts 9:13; 1 Cor 6:1; 16:1.
25 LG 65; cf. Eph 5:26-27.
26 1 Pet 1:23; cf. Eph 5:26.
27 St. Augustine, In Jo. ev. 80, 3: PL 35, 1840.
28 Cf. 1 Cor 6:19; 2 Cor 5:15.
29 Heb 13:17.
30 Cf. Eph 5:21; 1 Cor 16:15-16; 1 Thess 5:12-13; Jn 13:12-15.
31 Cf. LG 37; CIC, cann. 208 223; CCEO, can. 675:2.
32 Eph 1:4; 5:27.
33 Cf. Council of Trent (1546) DS 1515.
34 Cf. Council of Trent (1547): DS 1545; LG 40.
35 Cf. Mt 5-7; Rom 12-15; 1 Cor 12-13; Gal 5; Eph 4-6; etc.
36 Rev 19:7, 9; cf. Gen 1:26-27.
37 1 Cor 7:39; cf. Eph 5:31-32.
38 Eph 5:25-26, 31-32; Cf. Gen 2:24.
39 Cf. Eph 5:26-27.
40 Cf. DS 1800; CIC, Can. 1055 # 2.
41 Cf. Eph 5:32.
42 GS 48 # 2.
43 Eph 5:21; cf. Gal 6:2.
44 Tertullian, Ad uxorem. 2, 8, 6-7: PL 1, 1412-1413; cf. FC 13.
45 Rom 6:11 and cf. 6:5; cf. Col 2:12.
46 Cf. Jn 15:5.
47 Eph 5:1-2.
48 Phil 2:5.
49 Cf. Jn 13:12-16.
50 FC 21; cf. LG 11.
51 Cf. Eph 5:21b: 4; Col 3:18-21; 1 Pet 3:1-7.