Catechism of the Catholic Church /
Part One: The Profession of Faith
Section Two - The Creeds
Chapter One - I Believe in God the Father
198 Our profession of faith begins with God, for God is the First and
The beginning and the end of everything. the Credo begins with God the
Father, for the Father is the first divine person of the Most Holy Trinity;
our Creed begins with the creation of heaven and earth, for creation is
the beginning and the foundation of all God's works.
"I BELIEVE IN GOD THE FATHER ALMIGHTY, CREATOR OF HEAVEN AND EARTH"
Paragraph 1. I BELIEVE IN GOD
199 "I believe in God": this first affirmation of the Apostles'
Creed is also the most fundamental. the whole Creed speaks of God, and
when it also speaks of man and of the world it does so in relation to
God. the other articles of the Creed all depend on the first, just as
the remaining Commandments make the first explicit. the other articles
help us to know God better as he revealed himself progressively to men.
"The faithful first profess their belief in God."2
I. "I BELIEVE IN ONE GOD"
200 These are the words with which the Niceno-Constantinopolitan Creed
begins. the confession of God's oneness, which has its roots in the divine
revelation of the Old Covenant, is inseparable from the profession of
God's existence and is equally fundamental. God is unique; there is only
one God: "The Christian faith confesses that God is one in nature,
substance and essence."3
201 To Israel, his chosen, God revealed himself as the only One: "Hear,
O Israel: the LORD our God is one LORD; and you shall love the LORD your
God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your might."4
Through the prophets, God calls Israel and all nations to turn to him,
the one and only God: "Turn to me and be saved, all the ends of the
earth! For I am God, and there is no other.. . To me every knee shall
bow, every tongue shall swear. 'Only in the LORD, it shall be said of
me, are righteousness and strength.'"5
202 Jesus himself affirms that God is "the one Lord" whom you
must love "with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with
all your mind, and with all your strength".6
At the same time Jesus gives us to understand that he himself is "the
To confess that Jesus is Lord is distinctive of Christian faith. This
is not contrary to belief in the One God. Nor does believing in the Holy
Spirit as "Lord and giver of life" introduce any division into
the One God:
We firmly believe and confess without reservation that there is only
one true God, eternal infinite (immensus) and unchangeable, incomprehensible,
almighty and ineffable, the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit; three
persons indeed, but one essence, substance or nature entirely simple.
II. GOD REVEALS HIS NAME
203 God revealed himself to his people Israel by making his name known
to them. A name expresses a person's essence and identity and the meaning
of this person's life. God has a name; he is not an anonymous force. To
disclose one's name is to make oneself known to others; in a way it is
to hand oneself over by becoming accessible, capable of being known more
intimately and addressed personally.
204 God revealed himself progressively and under different names to his
people, but the revelation that proved to be the fundamental one for both
the Old and the New Covenants was the revelation of the divine name to
Moses in the theophany of the burning bush, on the threshold of the Exodus
and of the covenant on Sinai.
The living God
205 God calls Moses from the midst of a bush that bums without being
consumed: "I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God
of Isaac, and the God of Jacob."9
God is the God of the fathers, the One who had called and guided the patriarchs
in their wanderings. He is the faithful and compassionate God who remembers
them and his promises; he comes to free their descendants from slavery.
He is the God who, from beyond space and time, can do this and wills to
do it, the God who will put his almighty power to work for this plan.
"I Am who I Am"
Moses said to God, "If I come to the people of Israel and say to
them, 'The God of your fathers has sent me to you', and they ask me, 'What
is his name?' what shall I say to them?" God said to Moses, "I
AM WHO I AM." and he said, "Say this to the people of Israel,
'I AM has sent me to you'. . . this is my name for ever, and thus I am
to be remembered throughout all generations."10
206 In revealing his mysterious name, YHWH ("I AM HE WHO IS",
"I AM WHO AM" or "I AM WHO I AM"), God says who he
is and by what name he is to be called. This divine name is mysterious
just as God is mystery. It is at once a name revealed and something like
the refusal of a name, and hence it better expresses God as what he is
- infinitely above everything that we can understand or say: he is the
"hidden God", his name is ineffable, and he is the God who makes
himself close to men.11
207 By revealing his name God at the same time reveals his faithfulness
which is from everlasting to everlasting, valid for the past ("I
am the God of your father"), as for the future ("I will be with
God, who reveals his name as "I AM", reveals himself as the
God who is always there, present to his people in order to save them.
208 Faced with God's fascinating and mysterious presence, man discovers
his own insignificance. Before the burning bush, Moses takes off his sandals
and veils his face in the presence of God's holiness.13
Before the glory of the thrice-holy God, Isaiah cries out: "Woe is
me! I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips."14
Before the divine signs wrought by Jesus, Peter exclaims: "Depart
from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord."15
But because God is holy, he can forgive the man who realizes that he is
a sinner before him: "I will not execute my fierce anger. . . for
I am God and not man, the Holy One in your midst."16
The apostle John says likewise: "We shall. . . reassure our hearts
before him whenever our hearts condemn us; for God is greater than our
hearts, and he knows everything."17
209 Out of respect for the holiness of God, the people of Israel do not
pronounce his name. In the reading of Sacred Scripture, the revealed name
(YHWH) is replaced by the divine title "LORD" (in Hebrew Adonai,
in Greek Kyrios). It is under this title that the divinity of Jesus will
be acclaimed: "Jesus is LORD."
"A God merciful and gracious"
210 After Israel's sin, when the people had turned away from God to worship
the golden calf, God hears Moses' prayer of intercession and agrees to
walk in the midst of an unfaithful people, thus demonstrating his love.18
When Moses asks to see his glory, God responds "I will make all my
goodness pass before you, and will proclaim before you my name "the
Then the LORD passes before Moses and proclaims, "YHWH,
YHWH, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast
love and faithfulness"; Moses then confesses that the LORD is a forgiving
211 The divine name, "I Am" or "He Is", expresses
God's faithfulness: despite the faithlessness of men's sin and the punishment
it deserves, he keeps "steadfast love for thousands".21
By going so far as to give up his own Son for us, God reveals that he
is "rich in mercy".22
By giving his life to free us from sin, Jesus reveals that he himself
bears the divine name: "When you have lifted up the Son of man, then
you will realize that "I AM"."23
God alone IS
212 Over the centuries, Israel's faith was able to manifest and deepen
realization of the riches contained in the revelation of the divine name.
God is unique; there are no other gods besides him.24
He transcends the world and history. He made heaven and earth: "They
will perish, but you endure; they will all wear out like a garment....but
you are the same, and your years have no end."25
In God "there is no variation or shadow due to change."26
God is "HE WHO IS", from everlasting to everlasting, and as
such remains ever faithful to himself and to his promises.
213 The revelation of the ineffable name "I AM WHO AM" contains
then the truth that God alone IS. the Greek Septuagint translation of
the Hebrew Scriptures, and following it the Church's Tradition, understood
the divine name in this sense: God is the fullness of Being and of every
perfection, without origin and without end. All creatures receive all
that they are and have from him; but he alone is his very being, and he
is of himself everything that he is.
III. GOD, "HE WHO IS", IS TRUTH AND LOVE
214 God, "HE WHO IS", revealed himself to Israel as the one
"abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness".27
These two terms express summarily the riches of the divine name. In all
his works God displays, not only his kindness, goodness, grace and steadfast
love, but also his trustworthiness, constancy, faithfulness and truth.
"I give thanks to your name for your steadfast love and your faithfulness."28
He is the Truth, for "God is light and in him there is no darkness";
"God is love", as the apostle John teaches.29
God is Truth
215 "The sum of your word is truth; and every one of your righteous
ordinances endures forever."30
"and now, O LORD God, you are God, and your words are true";31
this is why God's promises always come true.32
God is Truth itself, whose words cannot deceive. This is why one can abandon
oneself in full trust to the truth and faithfulness of his word in all
things. the beginning of sin and of man's fall was due to a lie of the
tempter who induced doubt of God's word, kindness and faithfulness.
216 God's truth is his wisdom, which commands the whole created order
and governs the world.33
God, who alone made heaven and earth, can alone impart true knowledge
of every created thing in relation to himself.34
217 God is also truthful when he reveals himself - the teaching that
comes from God is "true instruction".35
When he sends his Son into the world it will be "to bear witness
to the truth":36
"We know that the Son of God has come and has given us understanding,
to know him who is true."37
God is Love
218 In the course of its history, Israel was able to discover that God
had only one reason to reveal himself to them, a single motive for choosing
them from among all peoples as his special possession: his sheer gratuitous
and thanks to the prophets Israel understood that it was again out of
love that God never stopped saving them and pardoning their unfaithfulness
219 God's love for Israel is compared to a father's love for his son.
His love for his people is stronger than a mother's for her children.
God loves his people more than a bridegroom his beloved; his love will
be victorious over even the worst infidelities and will extend to his
most precious gift: "God so loved the world that he gave his only
220 God's love is "everlasting":41
"For the mountains may depart and the hills be removed, but my steadfast
love shall not depart from you."42
Through Jeremiah, God declares to his people, "I have loved you with
an everlasting love; therefore I have continued my faithfulness to you."43
221 But St. John goes even further when he affirms that "God is
God's very being is love. By sending his only Son and the Spirit of Love
in the fullness of time, God has revealed his innermost secret:45
God himself is an eternal exchange of love, Father, Son and Holy Spirit,
and he has destined us to share in that exchange.
IV. THE IMPLICATIONS OF FAITH IN ONE GOD
222 Believing in God, the only One, and loving him with all our being
has enormous consequences for our whole life.
223 It means coming to know God's greatness and majesty: "Behold,
God is great, and we know him not."46
Therefore, we must "serve God first".47
224 It means living in thanksgiving: if God is the only One, everything
we are and have comes from him: "What have you that you did not receive?"48
"What shall I render to the LORD for all his bounty to me?"49
225 It means knowing the unity and true dignity of all men: everyone
is made in the image and likeness of God.50
226 It means making good use of created things: faith in God, the only
One, leads us to use everything that is not God only insofar as it brings
us closer to him, and to detach ourselves from it insofar as it turns
us away from him:
My Lord and my God, take from me everything that distances me from
My Lord and my God, give me everything that brings me closer to you
My Lord and my God, detach me from myself to give my all to you.51
227 It means trusting God in every circumstance, even in adversity. A
prayer of St. Teresa of Jesus wonderfully expresses this trust:
Let nothing trouble you / Let nothing frighten you Everything passes
/ God never changes Patience / Obtains all Whoever has God / Wants for
nothing God alone is enough.52
228 "Hear, O Israel, the LORD our God is one LORD..." (⇒
Dt 6:4; ⇒ Mk 12:29). "The supreme being must be unique,
without equal. . . If God is not one, he is not God" (Tertullian,
Adv. Marc., 1, 3, 5: PL 2, 274).
229 Faith in God leads us to turn to him alone as our first origin and
our ultimate goal, and neither to prefer anything to him nor to substitute
anything for him.
230 Even when he reveals himself, God remains a mystery beyond words:
"If you understood him, it would not be God" (St. Augustine,
Sermo 52, 6, 16: PL 38, 360 and Sermo 117, 3, 5: PL 38, 663).
231 The God of our faith has revealed himself as HE WHO IS; and he has
made himself known as "abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness"
(⇒ Ex 34:6). God's very being is Truth and Love.
Paragraph 2. THE FATHER
I. "IN THE NAME OF THE FATHER AND OF THE SON AND OF THE HOLY SPIRIT"
232 Christians are baptized "in the name of the Father and of the
Son and of the Holy Spirit"53
Before receiving the sacrament, they respond to a three-part question
when asked to confess the Father, the Son and the Spirit: "I do."
"The faith of all Christians rests on the Trinity."54
233 Christians are baptized in the name of the Father and of the Son
and of the Holy Spirit: not in their names,55
for there is only one God, the almighty Father, his only Son and the Holy
Spirit: the Most Holy Trinity.
234 The mystery of the Most Holy Trinity is the central mystery of Christian
faith and life. It is the mystery of God in himself. It is therefore the
source of all the other mysteries of faith, the light that enlightens
them. It is the most fundamental and essential teaching in the "hierarchy
of the truths of faith".56
The whole history of salvation is identical with the history of the way
and the means by which the one true God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit,
reveals himself to men "and reconciles and unites with himself those
who turn away from sin".57
235 This paragraph expounds briefly (I) how the mystery of the Blessed
Trinity was revealed, (II) how the Church has articulated the doctrine
of the faith regarding this mystery, and (III) how, by the divine missions
of the Son and the Holy Spirit, God the Father fulfils the "plan
of his loving goodness" of creation, redemption and sanctification.
236 The Fathers of the Church distinguish between theology (theologia)
and economy (oikonomia). "Theology" refers to the mystery of
God's inmost life within the Blessed Trinity and "economy" to
all the works by which God reveals himself and communicates his life.
Through the oikonomia the theologia is revealed to us; but conversely,
the theologia illuminates the whole oikonomia. God's works reveal who
he is in himself; the mystery of his inmost being enlightens our understanding
of all his works. So it is, analogously, among human persons. A person
discloses himself in his actions, and the better we know a person, the
better we understand his actions.
237 The Trinity is a mystery of faith in the strict sense, one of the
"mysteries that are hidden in God, which can never be known unless
they are revealed by God".58
To be sure, God has left traces of his Trinitarian being in his work of
creation and in his Revelation throughout the Old Testament. But his inmost
Being as Holy Trinity is a mystery that is inaccessible to reason alone
or even to Israel's faith before the Incarnation of God's Son and the
sending of the Holy Spirit.
II. THE REVELATION OF GOD AS TRINITY
The Father revealed by the Son
238 Many religions invoke God as "Father". the deity is often
considered the "father of gods and of men". In Israel, God is
called "Father" inasmuch as he is Creator of the world.59
Even more, God is Father because of the covenant and the gift of the law
to Israel, "his first-born son".60
God is also called the Father of the king of Israel. Most especially he
is "the Father of the poor", of the orphaned and the widowed,
who are under his loving protection.61
239 By calling God "Father", the language of faith indicates
two main things: that God is the first origin of everything and transcendent
authority; and that he is at the same time goodness and loving care for
all his children. God's parental tenderness can also be expressed by the
image of motherhood,62
which emphasizes God's immanence, the intimacy between Creator and creature.
the language of faith thus draws on the human experience of parents, who
are in a way the first representatives of God for man. But this experience
also tells us that human parents are fallible and can disfigure the face
of fatherhood and motherhood. We ought therefore to recall that God transcends
the human distinction between the sexes. He is neither man nor woman:
he is God. He also transcends human fatherhood and motherhood, although
he is their origin and standard:63
no one is father as God is Father.
240 Jesus revealed that God is Father in an unheard-of sense: he is Father
not only in being Creator; he is eternally Father by his relationship
to his only Son who, reciprocally, is Son only in relation to his Father:
"No one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father
except the Son and any one to whom the Son chooses to reveal him."64
241 For this reason the apostles confess Jesus to be the Word: "In
the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was
God"; as "the image of the invisible God"; as the "radiance
of the glory of God and the very stamp of his nature".65
242 Following this apostolic tradition, the Church confessed at the first
ecumenical council at Nicaea (325) that the Son is "consubstantial"
with the Father, that is, one only God with him.66
The second ecumenical council, held at Constantinople in 381, kept this
expression in its formulation of the Nicene Creed and confessed "the
only-begotten Son of God, eternally begotten of the Father, light from
light, true God from true God, begotten not made, consubstantial with
The Father and the son revealed by the spirit
243 Before his Passover, Jesus announced the sending of "another
Paraclete" (Advocate), the Holy Spirit. At work since creation, having
previously "spoken through the prophets", the Spirit will now
be with and in the disciples, to teach them and guide them "into
all the truth".68
The Holy Spirit is thus revealed as another divine person with Jesus and
244 The eternal origin of the Holy Spirit is revealed in his mission
in time. the Spirit is sent to the apostles and to the Church both by
the Father in the name of the Son, and by the Son in person, once he had
returned to the Father.69
The sending of the person of the Spirit after Jesus' glorification70
reveals in its fullness the mystery of the Holy Trinity.
245 The apostolic faith concerning the Spirit was confessed by the second
ecumenical council at Constantinople (381): "We believe in the Holy
Spirit, the Lord and giver of life, who proceeds from the Father."71
By this confession, the Church recognizes the Father as "the source
and origin of the whole divinity".72
But the eternal origin of the Spirit is not unconnected with the Son's
origin: "The Holy Spirit, the third person of the Trinity, is God,
one and equal with the Father and the Son, of the same substance and also
of the same nature. . . Yet he is not called the Spirit of the Father
alone,. . . but the Spirit of both the Father and the Son."73
The Creed of the Church from the Council of Constantinople confesses:
"With the Father and the Son, he is worshipped and glorified."74
246 The Latin tradition of the Creed confesses that the Spirit "proceeds
from the Father and the Son (filioque)". the Council of Florence
in 1438 explains: "The Holy Spirit is eternally from Father and Son;
He has his nature and subsistence at once (simul) from the Father and
the Son. He proceeds eternally from both as from one principle and through
one spiration... And, since the Father has through generation given to
the only-begotten Son everything that belongs to the Father, except being
Father, the Son has also eternally from the Father, from whom he is eternally
born, that the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Son."75
247 The affirmation of the filioque does not appear in the Creed confessed
in 381 at Constantinople. But Pope St. Leo I, following an ancient Latin
and Alexandrian tradition, had already confessed it dogmatically in 447,76
even before Rome, in 451 at the Council of Chalcedon, came to recognize
and receive the Symbol of 381. the use of this formula in the Creed was
gradually admitted into the Latin liturgy (between the eighth and eleventh
centuries). the introduction of the filioque into the Niceno-Constantinopolitan
Creed by the Latin liturgy constitutes moreover, even today, a point of
disagreement with the Orthodox Churches.
248 At the outset the Eastern tradition expresses the Father's character
as first origin of the Spirit. By confessing the Spirit as he "who
proceeds from the Father", it affirms that he comes from the Father
through the Son.77
The Western tradition expresses first the consubstantial communion between
Father and Son, by saying that the Spirit proceeds from the Father and
the Son (filioque). It says this, "legitimately and with good reason",78
for the eternal order of the divine persons in their consubstantial communion
implies that the Father, as "the principle without principle",79
is the first origin of the Spirit, but also that as Father of the only
Son, he is, with the Son, the single principle from which the Holy Spirit
This legitimate complementarity, provided it does not become rigid, does
not affect the identity of faith in the reality of the same mystery confessed.
III. THE HOLY TRINITY IN THE TEACHING OF THE FAITH
The formation of the Trinitarian dogma
249 From the beginning, the revealed truth of the Holy Trinity has been
at the very root of the Church's living faith, principally by means of
Baptism. It finds its expression in the rule of baptismal faith, formulated
in the preaching, catechesis and prayer of the Church. Such formulations
are already found in the apostolic writings, such as this salutation taken
up in the Eucharistic liturgy: "The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ
and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you
250 During the first centuries the Church sought to clarify her Trinitarian
faith, both to deepen her own understanding of the faith and to defend
it against the errors that were deforming it. This clarification was the
work of the early councils, aided by the theological work of the Church
Fathers and sustained by the Christian people's sense of the faith.
251 In order to articulate the dogma of the Trinity, the Church had to
develop her own terminology with the help of certain notions of philosophical
origin: "substance", "person" or "hypostasis",
"relation" and so on. In doing this, she did not submit the
faith to human wisdom, but gave a new and unprecedented meaning to these
terms, which from then on would be used to signify an ineffable mystery,
"infinitely beyond all that we can humanly understand".82
252 The Church uses (I) the term "substance" (rendered also
at times by "essence" or "nature") to designate the
divine being in its unity, (II) the term "person" or "hypostasis"
to designate the Father, Son and Holy Spirit in the real distinction among
them, and (III) the term "relation" to designate the fact that
their distinction lies in the relationship of each to the others.
The dogma of the Holy Trinity
253 The Trinity is One. We do not confess three Gods, but one God in
three persons, the "consubstantial Trinity".83
The divine persons do not share the one divinity among themselves but
each of them is God whole and entire: "The Father is that which the
Son is, the Son that which the Father is, the Father and the Son that
which the Holy Spirit is, i.e. by nature one God."84
In the words of the Fourth Lateran Council (1215), "Each of the persons
is that supreme reality, viz., the divine substance, essence or nature."85
254 The divine persons are really distinct from one another. "God
is one but not solitary."86
"Father", "Son", "Holy Spirit" are not simply
names designating modalities of the divine being, for they are really
distinct from one another: "He is not the Father who is the Son,
nor is the Son he who is the Father, nor is the Holy Spirit he who is
the Father or the Son."87
They are distinct from one another in their relations of origin: "It
is the Father who generates, the Son who is begotten, and the Holy Spirit
The divine Unity is Triune.
255 The divine persons are relative to one another. Because it does not
divide the divine unity, the real distinction of the persons from one
another resides solely in the relationships which relate them to one another:
"In the relational names of the persons the Father is related to
the Son, the Son to the Father, and the Holy Spirit to both. While they
are called three persons in view of their relations, we believe in one
nature or substance."89
Indeed "everything (in them) is one where there is no opposition
"Because of that unity the Father is wholly in the Son and wholly
in the Holy Spirit; the Son is wholly in the Father and wholly in the
Holy Spirit; the Holy Spirit is wholly in the Father and wholly in the
256 St. Gregory of Nazianzus, also called "the Theologian",
entrusts this summary of Trinitarian faith to the catechumens of Constantinople:
Above all guard for me this great deposit of faith for which I live and
fight, which I want to take with me as a companion, and which makes me
bear all evils and despise all pleasures: I mean the profession of faith
in the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. I entrust it to you today.
By it I am soon going to plunge you into water and raise you up from it.
I give it to you as the companion and patron of your whole life. I give
you but one divinity and power, existing one in three, and containing
the three in a distinct way. Divinity without disparity of substance or
nature, without superior degree that raises up or inferior degree that
casts down. . . the infinite co-naturality of three infinites. Each person
considered in himself is entirely God. . . the three considered together.
. . I have not even begun to think of unity when the Trinity bathes me
in its splendour. I have not even begun to think of the Trinity when unity
grasps me. .92
IV. THE DIVINE WORKS AND THE TRINITARIAN MISSIONS
257 "O blessed light, O Trinity and first Unity!"93
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".94
This plan is a "grace [which] was given to us in Christ Jesus before
the ages began", stemming immediately from Trinitarian love.95
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.96
258 The whole divine economy is the common work of the three divine persons.
For as the Trinity has only one and the same natures so too does it have
only one and the same operation: "The Father, the Son and the Holy
Spirit are not three principles of creation but one principle."97
However, each divine person performs the common work according to his
unique personal property. Thus the Church confesses, following the New
Testament, "one God and Father from whom all things are, and one
Lord Jesus Christ, through whom all things are, and one Holy Spirit in
whom all things are".98
It is above all the divine missions of the Son's Incarnation and the gift
of the Holy Spirit that show forth the properties of the divine persons.
259 Being a work at once common and personal, the whole divine economy
makes known both what is proper to the divine persons, and their one divine
nature. Hence the whole Christian life is a communion with each of the
divine persons, without in any way separating them. Everyone who glorifies
the Father does so through the Son in the Holy Spirit; everyone who follows
Christ does so because the Father draws him and the Spirit moves him.99
260 The ultimate end of the whole divine economy is the entry of God's
creatures into the perfect unity of the Blessed Trinity.100
But even now we are called to be a dwelling for the Most Holy Trinity:
"If a man loves me", says the Lord, "he will keep my word,
and my Father will love him, and we will come to him, and make our home
O my God, Trinity whom I adore, help me forget myself entirely so to
establish myself in you, unmovable and peaceful as if my soul were already
in eternity. May nothing be able to trouble my peace or make me leave
you, O my unchanging God, but may each minute bring me more deeply into
your mystery! Grant my soul peace. Make it your heaven, your beloved dwelling
and the place of your rest. May I never abandon you there, but may I be
there, whole and entire, completely vigilant in my faith, entirely adoring,
and wholly given over to your creative action.102
261 The mystery of the Most Holy Trinity is the central mystery of the
Christian faith and of Christian life. God alone can make it known to
us by revealing himself as Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
262 The Incarnation of God's Son reveals that God is the eternal Father
and that the Son is consubstantial with the Father, which means that,
in the Father and with the Father the Son is one and the same God.
263 The mission of the Holy Spirit, sent by the Father in the name of
the Son (⇒ Jn 14:26) and by the Son "from the Father"
(⇒ Jn 15:26), reveals that, with them, the Spirit is one
and the same God. "With the Father and the Son he is worshipped and
glorified" (Nicene Creed).
264 "The Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father as the first principle
and, by the eternal gift of this to the Son, from the communion of both
the Father and the Son" (St. Augustine, De Trin. 15, 26, 47: PL 42,
265 By the grace of Baptism "in the name of the Father and of the
Son and of the Holy Spirit", we are called to share in the life of
the Blessed Trinity, here on earth in the obscurity of faith, and after
death in eternal light (cf. Paul VI, CPG # 9).
266 "Now this is the Catholic faith: We worship one God in the Trinity
and the Trinity in unity, without either confusing the persons or dividing
the substance; for the person of the Father is one, the Son's is another,
the Holy Spirit's another; but the Godhead of the Father, Son and Holy
Spirit is one, their glory equal, their majesty coeternal" (Athanasian
Creed: DS 75; ND 16).
267 Inseparable in what they are, the divine persons are also inseparable
in what they do. But within the single divine operation each shows forth
what is proper to him in the Trinity, especially in the divine missions
of the Son's Incarnation and the gift of the Holy Spirit.
Paragraph 3. THE ALMIGHTY
268 of all the divine attributes, only God's omnipotence is named in
the Creed: to confess this power has great bearing on our lives. We believe
that his might is universal, for God who created everything also rules
everything and can do everything. God's power is loving, for he is our
Father, and mysterious, for only faith can discern it when it "is
made perfect in weakness".103
"He does whatever he pleases"104
269 The Holy Scriptures repeatedly confess the universal power of God.
He is called the "Mighty One of Jacob", the "LORD of hosts",
the "strong and mighty" one. If God is almighty "in heaven
and on earth", it is because he made them.105
Nothing is impossible with God, who disposes his works according to his
He is the Lord of the universe, whose order he established and which remains
wholly subject to him and at his disposal. He is master of history, governing
hearts and events in keeping with his will: "It is always in your
power to show great strength, and who can withstand the strength of your
"You are merciful to all, for you can do all thing"108
270 God is the Father Almighty, whose fatherhood and power shed light
on one another: God reveals his fatherly omnipotence by the way he takes
care of our needs; by the filial adoption that he gives us ("I will
be a father to you, and you shall be my sons and daughters, says the Lord
finally by his infinite mercy, for he displays his power at its height
by freely forgiving sins.
271 God's almighty power is in no way arbitrary: "In God, power,
essence, will, intellect, wisdom, and justice are all identical. Nothing
therefore can be in God's power which could not be in his just will or
his wise intellect."110
The mystery of God's apparent powerlessness
272 Faith in God the Father Almighty can be put to the test by the experience
of evil and suffering. God can sometimes seem to be absent and incapable
of stopping evil. But in the most mysterious way God the Father has revealed
his almighty power in the voluntary humiliation and Resurrection of his
Son, by which he conquered evil. Christ crucified is thus "the power
of God and the wisdom of God. For the foolishness of God is wiser than
men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men."111
It is in Christ's Resurrection and exaltation that the Father has shown
forth "the immeasurable greatness of his power in us who believe".112
273 Only faith can embrace the mysterious ways of God's almighty power.
This faith glories in its weaknesses in order to draw to itself Christ's
The Virgin Mary is the supreme model of this faith, for she believed that
"nothing will be impossible with God", and was able to magnify
the Lord: "For he who is mighty has done great things for me, and
holy is his name."114
274 "Nothing is more apt to confirm our faith and hope than holding
it fixed in our minds that nothing is impossible with God. Once our reason
has grasped the idea of God's almighty power, it will easily and without
any hesitation admit everything that [the Creed] will afterwards propose
for us to believe - even if they be great and marvellous things, far above
the ordinary laws of nature."115
275 With Job, the just man, we confess: "I know that you can do
all things, and that no purpose of yours can be thwarted" (⇒
276 Faithful to the witness of Scripture, the Church often addresses
her prayer to the "almighty and eternal God" (“omnipotens
sempiterne Deus. . ."), believing firmly that "nothing will
be impossible with God" (⇒ Gen 18:14; ⇒
Lk 1:37; ⇒ Mt 19:26).
277 God shows forth his almighty power by converting us from our sins
and restoring us to his friendship by grace. "God, you show your
almighty power above all in your mercy and forgiveness. . ." (Roman
Missal, 26th Sunday, Opening Prayer).
278 If we do not believe that God's love is almighty, how can we believe
that the Father could create us, the Son redeem us and the Holy Spirit
Paragraph 4. THE CREATOR
279 "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth."116
Holy Scripture begins with these solemn words. the profession of faith
takes them up when it confesses that God the Father almighty is "Creator
of heaven and earth" (Apostles' Creed), "of all that is, seen
and unseen" (Nicene Creed). We shall speak first of the Creator,
then of creation and finally of the fall into sin from which Jesus Christ,
the Son of God, came to raise us up again.
280 Creation is the foundation of "all God's saving plans,"
the "beginning of the history of salvation"117
that culminates in Christ. Conversely, the mystery of Christ casts conclusive
light on the mystery of creation and reveals the end for which "in
the beginning God created the heavens and the earth": from the beginning,
God envisaged the glory of the new creation in Christ.118
281 And so the readings of the Easter Vigil, the celebration of the new
creation in Christ, begin with the creation account; likewise in the Byzantine
liturgy, the account of creation always constitutes the first reading
at the vigils of the great feasts of the Lord. According to ancient witnesses
the instruction of catechumens for Baptism followed the same itinerary.119
I. CATECHESIS ON CREATION
282 Catechesis on creation is of major importance. It concerns the very
foundations of human and Christian life: for it makes explicit the response
of the Christian faith to the basic question that men of all times have
"Where do we come from?" "Where are we going?" "What
is our origin?" "What is our end?" "Where does everything
that exists come from and where is it going?" the two questions,
the first about the origin and the second about the end, are inseparable.
They are decisive for the meaning and orientation of our life and actions.
283 The question about the origins of the world and of man has been the
object of many scientific studies which have splendidly enriched our knowledge
of the age and dimensions of the cosmos, the development of life-forms
and the appearance of man. These discoveries invite us to even greater
admiration for the greatness of the Creator, prompting us to give him
thanks for all his works and for the understanding and wisdom he gives
to scholars and researchers. With Solomon they can say: "It is he
who gave me unerring knowledge of what exists, to know the structure of
the world and the activity of the elements. . . for wisdom, the fashioner
of all things, taught me."121
284 The great interest accorded to these studies is strongly stimulated
by a question of another order, which goes beyond the proper domain of
the natural sciences. It is not only a question of knowing when and how
the universe arose physically, or when man appeared, but rather of discovering
the meaning of such an origin: is the universe governed by chance, blind
fate, anonymous necessity, or by a transcendent, intelligent and good
Being called "God"? and if the world does come from God's wisdom
and goodness, why is there evil? Where does it come from? Who is responsible
for it? Is there any liberation from it?
285 Since the beginning the Christian faith has been challenged by responses
to the question of origins that differ from its own. Ancient religions
and cultures produced many myths concerning origins. Some philosophers
have said that everything is God, that the world is God, or that the development
of the world is the development of God (Pantheism). Others have said that
the world is a necessary emanation arising from God and returning to him.
Still others have affirmed the existence of two eternal principles, Good
and Evil, Light and Darkness, locked, in permanent conflict (Dualism,
Manichaeism). According to some of these conceptions, the world (at least
the physical world) is evil, the product of a fall, and is thus to be
rejected or left behind (Gnosticism). Some admit that the world was made
by God, but as by a watch-maker who, once he has made a watch, abandons
it to itself (Deism). Finally, others reject any transcendent origin for
the world, but see it as merely the interplay of matter that has always
existed (Materialism). All these attempts bear witness to the permanence
and universality of the question of origins. This inquiry is distinctively
286 Human intelligence is surely already capable of finding a response
to the question of origins. the existence of God the Creator can be known
with certainty through his works, by the light of human reason,122
even if this knowledge is often obscured and disfigured by error. This
is why faith comes to confirm and enlighten reason in the correct understanding
of this truth: "By faith we understand that the world was created
by the word of God, so that what is seen was made out of things which
do not appear."123
287 The truth about creation is so important for all of human life that
God in his tenderness wanted to reveal to his People everything that is
salutary to know on the subject. Beyond the natural knowledge that every
man can have of the Creator,124
God progressively revealed to Israel the mystery of creation. He who chose
the patriarchs, who brought Israel out of Egypt, and who by choosing Israel
created and formed it, this same God reveals himself as the One to whom
belong all the peoples of the earth, and the whole earth itself; he is
the One who alone "made heaven and earth".125
288 Thus the revelation of creation is inseparable from the revelation
and forging of the covenant of the one God with his People. Creation is
revealed as the first step towards this covenant, the first and universal
witness to God's all-powerful love.126
and so, the truth of creation is also expressed with growing vigour in
the message of the prophets, the prayer of the psalms and the liturgy,
and in the wisdom sayings of the Chosen People.127
289 Among all the Scriptural texts about creation, the first three chapters
of Genesis occupy a unique place. From a literary standpoint these texts
may have had diverse sources. the inspired authors have placed them at
the beginning of Scripture to express in their solemn language the truths
of creation - its origin and its end in God, its order and goodness, the
vocation of man, and finally the drama of sin and the hope of salvation.
Read in the light of Christ, within the unity of Sacred Scripture and
in the living Tradition of the Church, these texts remain the principal
source for catechesis on the mysteries of the "beginning": creation,
fall, and promise of salvation.
II. CREATION - WORK OF THE HOLY TRINITY
290 "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth":128
three things are affirmed in these first words of Scripture: the eternal
God gave a beginning to all that exists outside of himself; he alone is
Creator (the verb "create" - Hebrew bara - always has God for
its subject). the totality of what exists (expressed by the formula "the
heavens and the earth") depends on the One who gives it being.
291 "In the beginning was the Word. . . and the Word was God. .
. all things were made through him, and without him was not anything made
that was made."129
The New Testament reveals that God created everything by the eternal Word,
his beloved Son. In him "all things were created, in heaven and on
earth.. . all things were created through him and for him. He is before
all things, and in him all things hold together."130
The Church's faith likewise confesses the creative action of the Holy
Spirit, the "giver of life", "the Creator Spirit"
(Veni, Creator Spiritus), the "source of every good".131
292 The Old Testament suggests and the New Covenant reveals the creative
action of the Son and the Spirit,132
inseparably one with that of the Father. This creative co-operation is
clearly affirmed in the Church's rule of faith: "There exists but
one God. . . he is the Father, God, the Creator, the author, the giver
of order. He made all things by himself, that is, by his Word and by his
Wisdom", "by the Son and the Spirit" who, so to speak,
are "his hands".133
Creation is the common work of the Holy Trinity.
III. "THE WORLD WAS CREATED FOR THE GLORY OF GOD"
293 Scripture and Tradition never cease to teach and celebrate this fundamental
truth: "The world was made for the glory of God."134
St. Bonaventure explains that God created all things "not to increase
his glory, but to show it forth and to communicate it",135
for God has no other reason for creating than his love and goodness: "Creatures
came into existence when the key of love opened his hand."136
The First Vatican Council explains:
This one, true God, of his own goodness and "almighty power",
not for increasing his own beatitude, nor for attaining his perfection,
but in order to manifest this perfection through the benefits which he
bestows on creatures, with absolute freedom of counsel "and from
the beginning of time, made out of nothing both orders of creatures, the
spiritual and the corporeal. . ."137
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",138
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."139
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."140
IV. THE MYSTERY OF CREATION
God creates by wisdom and love
295 We believe that God created the world according to his wisdom.141
It is not the product of any necessity whatever, nor of blind fate or
chance. We believe that it proceeds from God's free will; he wanted to
make his creatures share in his being, wisdom and goodness: "For
you created all things, and by your will they existed and were created."142
Therefore the Psalmist exclaims: "O LORD, how manifold are your works!
In wisdom you have made them all"; and "The LORD is good to
all, and his compassion is over all that he has made."143
God creates "out of nothing"
296 We believe that God needs no pre-existent thing or any help in order
to create, nor is creation any sort of necessary emanation from the divine
God creates freely "out of nothing":145
If God had drawn the world from pre-existent matter, what would be so
extraordinary in that? A human artisan makes from a given material whatever
he wants, while God shows his power by starting from nothing to make all
297 Scripture bears witness to faith in creation "out of nothing"
as a truth full of promise and hope. Thus the mother of seven sons encourages
them for martyrdom:
I do not know how you came into being in my womb. It was not I who gave
you life and breath, nor I who set in order the elements within each of
you. Therefore the Creator of the world, who shaped the beginning of man
and devised the origin of all things, will in his mercy give life and
breath back to you again, since you now forget yourselves for the sake
of his laws. . . Look at the heaven and the earth and see everything that
is in them, and recognize that God did not make them out of things that
existed. Thus also mankind comes into being.147
298 Since God could create everything out of nothing, he can also, through
the Holy Spirit, give spiritual life to sinners by creating a pure heart
and bodily life to the dead through the Resurrection. God "gives
life to the dead and calls into existence the things that do not exist."149
and since God was able to make light shine in darkness by his Word, he
can also give the light of faith to those who do not yet know him.150
God creates an ordered and good world
299 Because God creates through wisdom, his creation is ordered: "You
have arranged all things by measure and number and weight."151
The universe, created in and by the eternal Word, the "image of the
invisible God", is destined for and addressed to man, himself created
in the "image of God" and called to a personal relationship
Our human understanding, which shares in the light of the divine intellect,
can understand what God tells us by means of his creation, though not
without great effort and only in a spirit of humility and respect before
the Creator and his work.153
Because creation comes forth from God's goodness, it shares in that goodness
- "and God saw that it was good. . . very good"154-
for God willed creation as a gift addressed to man, an inheritance destined
for and entrusted to him. On many occasions the Church has had to defend
the goodness of creation, including that of the physical world.155
God transcends creation and is present to it
300 God is infinitely greater than all his works: "You have set
your glory above the heavens."156
Indeed, God's "greatness is unsearchable".157
But because he is the free and sovereign Creator, the first cause of all
that exists, God is present to his creatures' inmost being: "In him
we live and move and have our being."158
In the words of St. Augustine, God is "higher than my highest and
more inward than my innermost self".159
God upholds and sustains creation
301 With creation, God does not abandon his creatures to themselves.
He not only gives them being and existence, but also, and at every moment,
upholds and sustains them in being, enables them to act and brings them
to their final end. Recognizing this utter dependence with respect to
the Creator is a source of wisdom and freedom, of joy and confidence:
For you love all things that exist, and detest none of the things that
you have made; for you would not have made anything if you had hated it.
How would anything have endured, if you had not willed it? Or how would
anything not called forth by you have been preserved? You spare all things,
for they are yours, O Lord, you who love the living.160
V. GOD CARRIES OUT HIS PLAN: DIVINE PROVIDENCE
302 Creation has its own goodness and proper perfection, but it did not
spring forth complete from the hands of the Creator. the universe was
created "in a state of journeying" (in statu viae) toward an
ultimate perfection yet to be attained, to which God has destined it.
We call "divine providence" the dispositions by which God guides
his creation toward this perfection:
By his providence God protects and governs all things which he has made,
"reaching mightily from one end of the earth to the other, and ordering
all things well". For "all are open and laid bare to his eyes",
even those things which are yet to come into existence through the free
action of creatures.161
303 The witness of Scripture is unanimous that the solicitude of divine
providence is concrete and immediate; God cares for all, from the least
things to the great events of the world and its history. the sacred books
powerfully affirm God's absolute sovereignty over the course of events:
"Our God is in the heavens; he does whatever he pleases."162
and so it is with Christ, "who opens and no one shall shut, who shuts
and no one opens".163
As the book of Proverbs states: "Many are the plans in the mind of
a man, but it is the purpose of the LORD that will be established."164
304 And so we see the Holy Spirit, the principal author of Sacred Scripture,
often attributing actions to God without mentioning any secondary causes.
This is not a "primitive mode of speech", but a profound way
of recalling God's primacy and absolute Lordship over history and the
and so of educating his people to trust in him. the prayer of the Psalms
is the great school of this trust.166
305 Jesus asks for childlike abandonment to the providence of our heavenly
Father who takes care of his children's smallest needs: "Therefore
do not be anxious, saying, "What shall we eat?" or "What
shall we drink?". . . Your heavenly Father knows that you need them
all. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things
shall be yours as well."167
Providence and secondary causes
306 God is the sovereign master of his plan. But to carry it out he also
makes use of his creatures' co-operation. This use is not a sign of weakness,
but rather a token of almighty God's greatness and goodness. For God grants
his creatures not only their existence, but also the dignity of acting
on their own, of being causes and principles for each other, and thus
of co-operating in the accomplishment of his plan.
307 To human beings God even gives the power of freely sharing in his
providence by entrusting them with the responsibility of "subduing"
the earth and having dominion over it.168
God thus enables men to be intelligent and free causes in order to complete
the work of creation, to perfect its harmony for their own good and that
of their neighbours. Though often unconscious collaborators with God's
will, they can also enter deliberately into the divine plan by their actions,
their prayers and their sufferings.169
They then fully become "God's fellow workers" and co-workers
for his kingdom.170
308 The truth that God is at work in all the actions of his creatures
is inseparable from faith in God the Creator. God is the first cause who
operates in and through secondary causes: "For God is at work in
you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure."171
Far from diminishing the creature's dignity, this truth enhances it. Drawn
from nothingness by God's power, wisdom and goodness, it can do nothing
if it is cut off from its origin, for "without a Creator the creature
Still less can a creature attain its ultimate end without the help of
Providence and the scandal of evil
309 If God the Father almighty, the Creator of the ordered and good world,
cares for all his creatures, why does evil exist? To this question, as
pressing as it is unavoidable and as painful as it is mysterious, no quick
answer will suffice. Only Christian faith as a whole constitutes the answer
to this question: the goodness of creation, the drama of sin and the patient
love of God who comes to meet man by his covenants, the redemptive Incarnation
of his Son, his gift of the Spirit, his gathering of the Church, the power
of the sacraments and his call to a blessed life to which free creatures
are invited to consent in advance, but from which, by a terrible mystery,
they can also turn away in advance. There is not a single aspect of the
Christian message that is not in part an answer to the question of evil.
310 But why did God not create a world so perfect that no evil could
exist in it? With infinite power God could always create something better.174
But with infinite wisdom and goodness God freely willed to create a world
"in a state of journeying" towards its ultimate perfection.
In God's plan this process of becoming involves the appearance of certain
beings and the disappearance of others, the existence of the more perfect
alongside the less perfect, both constructive and destructive forces of
nature. With physical good there exists also physical evil as long as
creation has not reached perfection.175
311 Angels and men, as intelligent and free creatures, have to journey
toward their ultimate destinies by their free choice and preferential
love. They can therefore go astray. Indeed, they have sinned. Thus has
moral evil, incommensurably more harmful than physical evil, entered the
world. God is in no way, directly or indirectly, the cause of moral evil.176
He permits it, however, because he respects the freedom of his creatures
and, mysteriously, knows how to derive good from it:
For almighty God. . ., because he is supremely good, would never allow
any evil whatsoever to exist in his works if he were not so all-powerful
and good as to cause good to emerge from evil itself.177
312 In time we can discover that God in his almighty providence can bring
a good from the consequences of an evil, even a moral evil, caused by
his creatures: "It was not you", said Joseph to his brothers,
"who sent me here, but God. . . You meant evil against me; but God
meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive."178
From the greatest moral evil ever committed - the rejection and murder
of God's only Son, caused by the sins of all men - God, by his grace that
"abounded all the more",179
brought the greatest of goods: the glorification of Christ and our redemption.
But for all that, evil never becomes a good.
313 "We know that in everything God works for good for those who
The constant witness of the saints confirms this truth:
St. Catherine of Siena said to "those who are scandalized and rebel
against what happens to them": "Everything comes from love,
all is ordained for the salvation of man, God does nothing without this
goal in mind."181
St. Thomas More, shortly before his martyrdom, consoled his daughter:
"Nothing can come but that that God wills. and I make me very sure
that whatsoever that be, seem it never so bad in sight, it shall indeed
be the best."182
Dame Julian of Norwich: "Here I was taught by the grace of God that
I should steadfastly keep me in the faith... and that at the same time
I should take my stand on and earnestly believe in what our Lord shewed
in this time - that 'all manner (of) thing shall be well.'"183
314 We firmly believe that God is master of the world and of its history.
But the ways of his providence are often unknown to us. Only at the end,
when our partial knowledge ceases, when we see God "face to face",184
will we fully know the ways by which - even through the dramas of evil
and sin - God has guided his creation to that definitive sabbath rest185
for which he created heaven and earth.
315 In the creation of the world and of man, God gave the first and universal
witness to his almighty love and his wisdom, the first proclamation of
the "plan of his loving goodness", which finds its goal in the
new creation in Christ.
316 Though the work of creation is attributed to the Father in particular,
it is equally a truth of faith that the Father, Son and Holy Spirit together
are the one, indivisible principle of creation.
317 God alone created the universe, freely, directly and without any
318 No creature has the infinite power necessary to "create"
in the proper sense of the word, that is, to produce and give being to
that which had in no way possessed it to call into existence "out
of nothing") (cf DS 3624).
319 God created the world to show forth and communicate his glory. That
his creatures should share in his truth, goodness and beauty - this is
the glory for which God created them.
320 God created the universe and keeps it in existence by his Word, the
Son "upholding the universe by his word of power" (⇒
Heb 1:3), and by his Creator Spirit, the giver of life.
321 Divine providence consists of the dispositions by which God guides
all his creatures with wisdom and love to their ultimate end.
322 Christ invites us to filial trust in the providence of our heavenly
Father (cf ⇒ Mt 6:26-34), and St. Peter the apostle repeats:
"Cast all your anxieties on him, for he cares about you" (⇒
I Pt 5:7; cf. ⇒ Ps 55:23).
323 Divine providence works also through the actions of creatures. To
human beings God grants the ability to co-operate freely with his plans.
324 The fact that God permits physical and even moral evil is a mystery
that God illuminates by his Son Jesus Christ who died and rose to vanquish
evil. Faith gives us the certainty that God would not permit an evil if
he did not cause a good to come from that very evil, by ways that we shall
fully know only in eternal life.
Paragraph 5. HEAVEN AND EARTH
325 The Apostles' Creed professes that God is "creator of heaven
and earth". the Nicene Creed makes it explicit that this profession
includes "all that is, seen and unseen".
326 The Scriptural expression "heaven and earth" means all
that exists, creation in its entirety. It also indicates the bond, deep
within creation, that both unites heaven and earth and distinguishes the
one from the other: "the earth" is the world of men, while "heaven"
or "the heavens" can designate both the firmament and God's
own "place" - "our Father in heaven" and consequently
the "heaven" too which is eschatological glory. Finally, "heaven"
refers to the saints and the "place" of the spiritual creatures,
the angels, who surround God.186
327 The profession of faith of the Fourth Lateran Council (1215) affirms
that God "from the beginning of time made at once (simul) out of
nothing both orders of creatures, the spiritual and the corporeal, that
is, the angelic and the earthly, and then (deinde) the human creature,
who as it were shares in both orders, being composed of spirit and body."187
I. THE ANGELS
The existence of angels - a truth of faith
328 The existence of the spiritual, non-corporeal beings that Sacred
Scripture usually calls "angels" is a truth of faith. the witness
of Scripture is as clear as the unanimity of Tradition.
Who are they?
329 St. Augustine says: "'Angel' is the name of their office, not
of their nature. If you seek the name of their nature, it is 'spirit';
if you seek the name of their office, it is 'angel': from what they are,
'spirit', from what they do, 'angel.'"188
With their whole beings the angels are servants and messengers of God.
Because they "always behold the face of my Father who is in heaven"
they are the "mighty ones who do his word, hearkening to the voice
of his word".189
330 As purely spiritual creatures angels have intelligence and will:
they are personal and immortal creatures, surpassing in perfection all
visible creatures, as the splendour of their glory bears witness.190
Christ "with all his angels"
331 Christ is the centre of the angelic world. They are his angels: "When
the Son of man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him. . "191
They belong to him because they were created through and for him: "for
in him all things were created in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible,
whether thrones or dominions or principalities or authorities - all things
were created through him and for him."192
They belong to him still more because he has made them messengers of his
saving plan: "Are they not all ministering spirits sent forth to
serve, for the sake of those who are to obtain salvation?"193
332 Angels have been present since creation and throughout the history
of salvation, announcing this salvation from afar or near and serving
the accomplishment of the divine plan: they closed the earthly paradise;
protected Lot; saved Hagar and her child; stayed Abraham's hand; communicated
the law by their ministry; led the People of God; announced births and
callings; and assisted the prophets, just to cite a few examples.194
Finally, the angel Gabriel announced the birth of the Precursor and that
of Jesus himself.195
333 From the Incarnation to the Ascension, the life of the Word incarnate
is surrounded by the adoration and service of angels. When God "brings
the firstborn into the world, he says: 'Let all God's angels worship him.'"196
Their song of praise at the birth of Christ has not ceased resounding
in the Church's praise: "Glory to God in the highest!"197
They protect Jesus in his infancy, serve him in the desert, strengthen
him in his agony in the garden, when he could have been saved by them
from the hands of his enemies as Israel had been.198
Again, it is the angels who "evangelize" by proclaiming the
Good News of Christ's Incarnation and Resurrection.199
They will be present at Christ's return, which they will announce, to
serve at his judgement.200
The angels in the life of the Church
334 In the meantime, the whole life of the Church benefits from the mysterious
and powerful help of angels.201
335 In her liturgy, the Church joins with the angels to adore the thrice-holy
God. She invokes their assistance (in the Roman Canon's Supplices te rogamus.
. .["Almighty God, we pray that your angel..."]; in the funeral
liturgy's In Paradisum deducant te angeli. . .["May the angels lead
you into Paradise. . ."]). Moreover, in the "Cherubic Hymn"
of the Byzantine Liturgy, she celebrates the memory of certain angels
more particularly (St. Michael, St. Gabriel, St. Raphael, and the guardian
336 From infancy to death human life is surrounded by their watchful
care and intercession.202
"Beside each believer stands an angel as protector and shepherd leading
him to life."203
Already here on earth the Christian life shares by faith in the blessed
company of angels and men united in God.
II. THE VISIBLE WORLD
337 God himself created the visible world in all its richness, diversity
and order. Scripture presents the work of the Creator symbolically as
a succession of six days of divine "work", concluded by the
"rest" of the seventh day.204
On the subject of creation, the sacred text teaches the truths revealed
by God for our salvation,205
permitting us to "recognize the inner nature, the value and the ordering
of the whole of creation to the praise of God."206
338 Nothing exists that does not owe its existence to God the Creator.
the world began when God's word drew it out of nothingness; all existent
beings, all of nature, and all human history are rooted in this primordial
event, the very genesis by which the world was constituted and time begun.207
339 Each creature possesses its own particular goodness and perfection.
For each one of the works of the "six days" it is said: "and
God saw that it was good." "By the very nature of creation,
material being is endowed with its own stability, truth and excellence,
its own order and laws."208
Each of the various creatures, willed in its own being, reflects in its
own way a ray of God's infinite wisdom and goodness. Man must therefore
respect the particular goodness of every creature, to avoid any disordered
use of things which would be in contempt of the Creator and would bring
disastrous consequences for human beings and their environment.
340 God wills the interdependence of creatures. the sun and the moon,
the cedar and the little flower, the eagle and the sparrow: the spectacle
of their countless diversities and inequalities tells us that no creature
is self-sufficient. Creatures exist only in dependence on each other,
to complete each other, in the service of each other.
341 The beauty of the universe: the order and harmony of the created
world results from the diversity of beings and from the relationships
which exist among them. Man discovers them progressively as the laws of
nature. They call forth the admiration of scholars. the beauty of creation
reflects the infinite beauty of the Creator and ought to inspire the respect
and submission of man's intellect and will.
342 The hierarchy of creatures is expressed by the order of the "six
days", from the less perfect to the more perfect. God loves all his
and takes care of each one, even the sparrow. Nevertheless, Jesus said:
"You are of more value than many sparrows", or again: "of
how much more value is a man than a sheep!"210
343 Man is the summit of the Creator's work, as the inspired account
expresses by clearly distinguishing the creation of man from that of the
344 There is a solidarity among all creatures arising from the fact that
all have the same Creator and are all ordered to his glory: May you be
praised, O Lord, in all your creatures, especially brother sun, by whom
you give us light for the day; he is beautiful, radiating great splendour,
and offering us a symbol of you, the Most High. . .
May you be praised, my Lord, for sister water, who is very useful and
humble, precious and chaste.
May you be praised, my Lord, for sister earth, our mother, who bears and
feeds us, and produces the variety of fruits and dappled flowers and grasses.
Praise and bless my Lord, give thanks and serve him in all humility.212
345 The sabbath - the end of the work of the six days. the sacred text
says that "on the seventh day God finished his work which he had
done", that the "heavens and the earth were finished",
and that God "rested" on this day and sanctified and blessed
These inspired words are rich in profitable instruction:
346 In creation God laid a foundation and established laws that remain
firm, on which the believer can rely with confidence, for they are the
sign and pledge of the unshakeable faithfulness of God's covenant.214
For his part man must remain faithful to this foundation, and respect
the laws which the Creator has written into it.
347 Creation was fashioned with a view to the sabbath and therefore for
the worship and adoration of God. Worship is inscribed in the order of
As the rule of St. Benedict says, nothing should take precedence over
"the work of God", that is, solemn worship.216
This indicates the right order of human concerns.
348 The sabbath is at the heart of Israel's law. To keep the commandments
is to correspond to the wisdom and the will of God as expressed in his
work of creation.
349 The eighth day. But for us a new day has dawned: the day of Christ's
Resurrection. the seventh day completes the first creation. the eighth
day begins the new creation. Thus, the work of creation culminates in
the greater work of redemption. the first creation finds its meaning and
its summit in the new creation in Christ, the splendour of which surpasses
that of the first creation.217
350 Angels are spiritual creatures who glorify God without ceasing and
who serve his saving plans for other creatures: "The angels work
together for the benefit of us all" (St. Thomas Aquinas, STh I, 114,
3, ad 3).
351 The angels surround Christ their Lord. They serve him especially
in the accomplishment of his saving mission to men.
352 The Church venerates the angels who help her on her earthly pilgrimage
and protect every human being.
353 God willed the diversity of his creatures and their own particular
goodness, their interdependence and their order. He destined all material
creatures for the good of the human race. Man, and through him all creation,
is destined for the glory of God.
354 Respect for laws inscribed in creation and the relations which derive
from the nature of things is a principle of wisdom and a foundation for
Paragraph 6. MAN
355 "God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created
him, male and female he created them."218
Man occupies a unique place in creation: (I) he is "in the image
of God"; (II) in his own nature he unites the spiritual and material
worlds; (III) he is created "male and female"; (IV) God established
him in his friendship.
I. "IN THE IMAGE OF GOD"
356 of all visible creatures only man is "able to know and love
He is "the only creature on earth that God has willed for its own
and he alone is called to share, by knowledge and love, in God's own life.
It was for this end that he was created, and this is the fundamental reason
for his dignity:
What made you establish man in so great a dignity? Certainly the incalculable
love by which you have looked on your creature in yourself! You are taken
with love for her; for by love indeed you created her, by love you have
given her a being capable of tasting your eternal Good.221
357 Being in the image of God the human individual possesses the dignity
of a person, who is not just something, but someone. He is capable of
self-knowledge, of self-possession and of freely giving himself and entering
into communion with other persons. and he is called by grace to a covenant
with his Creator, to offer him a response of faith and love that no other
creature can give in his stead.
358 God created everything for man,222
but man in turn was created to serve and love God and to offer all creation
back to him:
What is it that is about to be created, that enjoys such honour? It is
man that great and wonderful living creature, more precious in the eyes
of God than all other creatures! For him the heavens and the earth, the
sea and all the rest of creation exist. God attached so much importance
to his salvation that he did not spare his own Son for the sake of man.
Nor does he ever cease to work, trying every possible means, until he
has raised man up to himself and made him sit at his right hand.223
359 "In reality it is only in the mystery of the Word made flesh
that the mystery of man truly becomes clear."224
St. Paul tells us that the human race takes its origin from two men:
Adam and Christ. . . the first man, Adam, he says, became a living soul,
the last Adam a life-giving spirit. the first Adam was made by the last
Adam, from whom he also received his soul, to give him life... the second
Adam stamped his image on the first Adam when he created him. That is
why he took on himself the role and the name of the first Adam, in order
that he might not lose what he had made in his own image. the first Adam,
the last Adam: the first had a beginning, the last knows no end. the last
Adam is indeed the first; as he himself says: "I am the first and
360 Because of its common origin the human race forms a unity, for "from
one ancestor (God) made all nations to inhabit the whole earth":226
O wondrous vision, which makes us contemplate the human race in the unity
of its origin in God. . . in the unity of its nature, composed equally
in all men of a material body and a spiritual soul; in the unity of its
immediate end and its mission in the world; in the unity of its dwelling,
the earth, whose benefits all men, by right of nature, may use to sustain
and develop life; in the unity of its supernatural end: God himself, to
whom all ought to tend; in the unity of the means for attaining this end;.
. . in the unity of the redemption wrought by Christ for all.227
361 "This law of human solidarity and charity",228
without excluding the rich variety of persons, cultures and peoples, assures
us that all men are truly brethren.
II. "BODY AND SOUL BUT TRULY ONE"
362 The human person, created in the image of God, is a being at once
corporeal and spiritual. the biblical account expresses this reality in
symbolic language when it affirms that "then the LORD God formed
man of dust from the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath
of life; and man became a living being."229
Man, whole and entire, is therefore willed by God.
363 In Sacred Scripture the term "soul" often refers to human
life or the entire human person.230
But "soul" also refers to the innermost aspect of man, that
which is of greatest value in him,231
that by which he is most especially in God's image: "soul" signifies
the spiritual principle in man.
364 The human body shares in the dignity of "the image of God":
it is a human body precisely because it is animated by a spiritual soul,
and it is the whole human person that is intended to become, in the body
of Christ, a temple of the Spirit:232
Man, though made of body and soul, is a unity. Through his very bodily
condition he sums up in himself the elements of the material world. Through
him they are thus brought to their highest perfection and can raise their
voice in praise freely given to the Creator. For this reason man may not
despise his bodily life. Rather he is obliged to regard his body as good
and to hold it in honour since God has created it and will raise it up
on the last day 233
365 The unity of soul and body is so profound that one has to consider
the soul to be the "form" of the body:234
i.e., it is because of its spiritual soul that the body made of matter
becomes a living, human body; spirit and matter, in man, are not two natures
united, but rather their union forms a single nature.
366 The Church teaches that every spiritual soul is created immediately
by God - it is not "produced" by the parents - and also that
it is immortal: it does not perish when it separates from the body at
death, and it will be reunited with the body at the final Resurrection.235
367 Sometimes the soul is distinguished from the spirit: St. Paul for
instance prays that God may sanctify his people "wholly", with
"spirit and soul and body" kept sound and blameless at the Lord's
The Church teaches that this distinction does not introduce a duality
into the soul.237
"Spirit" signifies that from creation man is ordered to a supernatural
end and that his soul can gratuitously be raised beyond all it deserves
to communion with God.238
368 The spiritual tradition of the Church also emphasizes the heart,
in the biblical sense of the depths of one's being, where the person decides
for or against God.239
III. "MALE AND FEMALE HE CREATED THEM"
Equality and difference willed by God
369 Man and woman have been created, which is to say, willed by God:
on the one hand, in perfect equality as human persons; on the other, in
their respective beings as man and woman. "Being man" or "being
woman" is a reality which is good and willed by God: man and woman
possess an inalienable dignity which comes to them immediately from God
Man and woman are both with one and the same dignity "in the image
of God". In their "being-man" and "being-woman",
they reflect the Creator's wisdom and goodness.
370 In no way is God in man's image. He is neither man nor woman. God
is pure spirit in which there is no place for the difference between the
sexes. But the respective "perfections" of man and woman reflect
something of the infinite perfection of God: those of a mother and those
of a father and husband.241
"Each for the other" - "A unity in two"
371 God created man and woman together and willed each for the other.
the Word of God gives us to understand this through various features of
the sacred text. "It is not good that the man should be alone. I
will make him a helper fit for him."242
None of the animals can be man's partner.243
The woman God "fashions" from the man's rib and brings to him
elicits on the man's part a cry of wonder, an exclamation of love and
communion: "This at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh."244
Man discovers woman as another "I", sharing the same humanity.
372 Man and woman were made "for each other" - not that God
left them half-made and incomplete: he created them to be a communion
of persons, in which each can be "helpmate" to the other, for
they are equal as persons ("bone of my bones. . .") and complementary
as masculine and feminine. In marriage God unites them in such a way that,
by forming "one flesh",245
they can transmit human life: "Be fruitful and multiply, and fill
By transmitting human life to their descendants, man and woman as spouses
and parents co-operate in a unique way in the Creator's work.247
373 In God's plan man and woman have the vocation of "subduing"
as stewards of God. This sovereignty is not to be an arbitrary and destructive
domination. God calls man and woman, made in the image of the Creator
"who loves everything that exists",249
to share in his providence toward other creatures; hence their responsibility
for the world God has entrusted to them.
IV. MAN IN PARADISE
374 The first man was not only created good, but was also established
in friendship with his Creator and in harmony with himself and with the
creation around him, in a state that would be surpassed only by the glory
of the new creation in Christ.
375 The Church, interpreting the symbolism of biblical language in an
authentic way, in the light of the New Testament and Tradition, teaches
that our first parents, Adam and Eve, were constituted in an original
"state of holiness and justice".250
This grace of original holiness was "to share in. . .divine life".251
376 By the radiance of this grace all dimensions of man's life were confirmed.
As long as he remained in the divine intimacy, man would not have to suffer
The inner harmony of the human person, the harmony between man and woman,253
and finally the harmony between the first couple and all creation, comprised
the state called "original justice".
377 The "mastery" over the world that God offered man from
the beginning was realized above all within man himself: mastery of self.
the first man was unimpaired and ordered in his whole being because he
was free from the triple concupiscence254
that subjugates him to the pleasures of the senses, covetousness for earthly
goods, and self-assertion, contrary to the dictates of reason.
378 The sign of man's familiarity with God is that God places him in
There he lives "to till it and keep it". Work is not yet a burden,256
but rather the collaboration of man and woman with God in perfecting the
379 This entire harmony of original justice, foreseen for man in God's
plan, will be lost by the sin of our first parents.
380 "Father,. . . you formed man in your own likeness and set him
over the whole world to serve you, his creator, and to rule over all creatures"
(Roman Missal, EP IV, 118).
381 Man is predestined to reproduce the image of God's Son made man,
the "image of the invisible God" (⇒ Col 1:15),
so that Christ shall be the first-born of a multitude of brothers and
sisters (cf ⇒ Rom 8:29).
382 "Man, though made of body and soul, is a unity" (GS 14
# 1). the doctrine of the faith affirms that the spiritual and immortal
soul is created immediately by God.
383 "God did not create man a solitary being. From the beginning,
"male and female he created them" (⇒ Gen 1:27).
This partnership of man and woman constitutes the first form of communion
between persons" (GS 12 # 4).
384 Revelation makes known to us the state of original holiness and justice
of man and woman before sin: from their friendship with God flowed the
happiness of their existence in paradise.
Paragraph 7. THE FALL
385 God is infinitely good and all his works are good. Yet no one can
escape the experience of suffering or the evils in nature which seem to
be linked to the limitations proper to creatures: and above all to the
question of moral evil. Where does evil come from? "I sought whence
evil comes and there was no solution", said St. Augustine,257
and his own painful quest would only be resolved by his conversion to
the living God. For "the mystery of lawlessness" is clarified
only in the light of the "mystery of our religion".258
The revelation of divine love in Christ manifested at the same time the
extent of evil and the superabundance of grace.259
We must therefore approach the question of the origin of evil by fixing
the eyes of our faith on him who alone is its conqueror.260
I. WHERE SIN ABOUNDED, GRACE ABOUNDED ALL THE MORE
The reality of sin
386 Sin is present in human history; any attempt to ignore it or to give
this dark reality other names would be futile. To try to understand what
sin is, one must first recognize the profound relation of man to God,
for only in this relationship is the evil of sin unmasked in its true
identity as humanity's rejection of God and opposition to him, even as
it continues to weigh heavy on human life and history.
387 Only the light of divine Revelation clarifies the reality of sin
and particularly of the sin committed at mankind's origins. Without the
knowledge Revelation gives of God we cannot recognize sin clearly and
are tempted to explain it as merely a developmental flaw, a psychological
weakness, a mistake, or the necessary consequence of an inadequate social
structure, etc. Only in the knowledge of God's plan for man can we grasp
that sin is an abuse of the freedom that God gives to created persons
so that they are capable of loving him and loving one another.
Original sin - an essential truth of the faith
388 With the progress of Revelation, the reality of sin is also illuminated.
Although to some extent the People of God in the Old Testament had tried
to understand the pathos of the human condition in the light of the history
of the fall narrated in Genesis, they could not grasp this story's ultimate
meaning, which is revealed only in the light of the death and Resurrection
of Jesus Christ.261
We must know Christ as the source of grace in order to know Adam as the
source of sin. the Spirit-Paraclete, sent by the risen Christ, came to
"convict the world concerning sin",262
by revealing him who is its Redeemer.
389 The doctrine of original sin is, so to speak, the "reverse side"
of the Good News that Jesus is the Saviour of all men, that all need salvation
and that salvation is offered to all through Christ. the Church, which
has the mind of Christ,263
knows very well that we cannot tamper with the revelation of original
sin without undermining the mystery of Christ.
How to read the account of the fall
390 The account of the fall in Genesis 3 uses figurative language, but
affirms a primeval event, a deed that took place at the beginning of the
history of man.264
Revelation gives us the certainty of faith that the whole of human history
is marked by the original fault freely committed by our first parents.265
II. THE FALL OF THE ANGELS
391 Behind the disobedient choice of our first parents lurks a seductive
voice, opposed to God, which makes them fall into death out of envy.266
Scripture and the Church's Tradition see in this being a fallen angel,
called "Satan" or the "devil".267
The Church teaches that Satan was at first a good angel, made by God:
"The devil and the other demons were indeed created naturally good
by God, but they became evil by their own doing."268
392 Scripture speaks of a sin of these angels.269
This "fall" consists in the free choice of these created spirits,
who radically and irrevocably rejected God and his reign. We find a reflection
of that rebellion in the tempter's words to our first parents: "You
will be like God."270
The devil "has sinned from the beginning"; he is "a liar
and the father of lies".271
393 It is the irrevocable character of their choice, and not a defect
in the infinite divine mercy, that makes the angels' sin unforgivable.
"There is no repentance for the angels after their fall, just as
there is no repentance for men after death."272
394 Scripture witnesses to the disastrous influence of the one Jesus
calls "a murderer from the beginning", who would even try to
divert Jesus from the mission received from his Father.273
"The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the
In its consequences the gravest of these works was the mendacious seduction
that led man to disobey God.
395 The power of Satan is, nonetheless, not infinite. He is only a creature,
powerful from the fact that he is pure spirit, but still a creature. He
cannot prevent the building up of God's reign. Although Satan may act
in the world out of hatred for God and his kingdom in Christ Jesus, and
although his action may cause grave injuries - of a spiritual nature and,
indirectly, even of a physical nature - to each man and to society, the
action is permitted by divine providence which with strength and gentleness
guides human and cosmic history. It is a great mystery that providence
should permit diabolical activity, but "we know that in everything
God works for good with those who love him."275
III. ORIGINAL SIN
Freedom put to the test
396 God created man in his image and established him in his friendship.
A spiritual creature, man can live this friendship only in free submission
to God. the prohibition against eating "of the tree of the knowledge
of good and evil" spells this out: "for in the day that you
eat of it, you shall die."276
The "tree of the knowledge of good and evil"277
symbolically evokes the insurmountable limits that man, being a creature,
must freely recognize and respect with trust. Man is dependent on his
Creator, and subject to the laws of creation and to the moral norms that
govern the use of freedom.
Man's first sin
397 Man, tempted by the devil, let his trust in his Creator die in his
heart and, abusing his freedom, disobeyed God's command. This is what
man's first sin consisted of.278
All subsequent sin would be disobedience toward God and lack of trust
in his goodness.
398 In that sin man preferred himself to God and by that very act scorned
him. He chose himself over and against God, against the requirements of
his creaturely status and therefore against his own good. Created in a
state of holiness, man was destined to be fully "divinized"
by God in glory. Seduced by the devil, he wanted to "be like God",
but "without God, before God, and not in accordance with God".279
399 Scripture portrays the tragic consequences of this first disobedience.
Adam and Eve immediately lose the grace of original holiness.280
They become afraid of the God of whom they have conceived a distorted
image - that of a God jealous of his prerogatives.281
400 The harmony in which they had found themselves, thanks to original
justice, is now destroyed: the control of the soul's spiritual faculties
over the body is shattered; the union of man and woman becomes subject
to tensions, their relations henceforth marked by lust and domination.282
Harmony with creation is broken: visible creation has become alien and
hostile to man.283
Because of man, creation is now subject "to its bondage to decay".284
Finally, the consequence explicitly foretold for this disobedience will
come true: man will "return to the ground",285
for out of it he was taken. Death makes its entrance into human history.286
401 After that first sin, the world is virtually inundated by sin There
is Cain's murder of his brother Abel and the universal corruption which
follows in the wake of sin. Likewise, sin frequently manifests itself
in the history of Israel, especially as infidelity to the God of the Covenant
and as transgression of the Law of Moses. and even after Christ's atonement,
sin raises its head in countless ways among Christians.287
Scripture and the Church's Tradition continually recall the presence and
universality of sin in man's history:
What Revelation makes known to us is confirmed by our own experience.
For when man looks into his own heart he finds that he is drawn towards
what is wrong and sunk in many evils which cannot come from his good creator.
Often refusing to acknowledge God as his source, man has also upset the
relationship which should link him to his last end, and at the same time
he has broken the right order that should reign within himself as well
as between himself and other men and all creatures.288
The consequences of Adam's sin for humanity
402 All men are implicated in Adam's sin, as St. Paul affirms: "By
one man's disobedience many (that is, all men) were made sinners":
"sin came into the world through one man and death through sin, and
so death spread to all men because all men sinned."289
The Apostle contrasts the universality of sin and death with the universality
of salvation in Christ. "Then as one man's trespass led to condemnation
for all men, so one man's act of righteousness leads to acquittal and
life for all men."290
403 Following St. Paul, the Church has always taught that the overwhelming
misery which oppresses men and their inclination towards evil and death
cannot be understood apart from their connection with Adam's sin and the
fact that he has transmitted to us a sin with which we are all born afflicted,
a sin which is the "death of the soul".291
Because of this certainty of faith, the Church baptizes for the remission
of sins even tiny infants who have not committed personal sin.292
404 How did the sin of Adam become the sin of all his descendants? the
whole human race is in Adam "as one body of one man".293
By this "unity of the human race" all men are implicated in
Adam's sin, as all are implicated in Christ's justice. Still, the transmission
of original sin is a mystery that we cannot fully understand. But we do
know by Revelation that Adam had received original holiness and justice
not for himself alone, but for all human nature. By yielding to the tempter,
Adam and Eve committed a personal sin, but this sin affected the human
nature that they would then transmit in a fallen state.294
It is a sin which will be transmitted by propagation to all mankind, that
is, by the transmission of a human nature deprived of original holiness
and justice. and that is why original sin is called "sin" only
in an analogical sense: it is a sin "contracted" and not "committed"
- a state and not an act.
405 Although it is proper to each individual,295
original sin does not have the character of a personal fault in any of
Adam's descendants. It is a deprivation of original holiness and justice,
but human nature has not been totally corrupted: it is wounded in the
natural powers proper to it, subject to ignorance, suffering and the dominion
of death, and inclined to sin - an inclination to evil that is called
concupiscence". Baptism, by imparting the life of Christ's grace,
erases original sin and turns a man back towards God, but the consequences
for nature, weakened and inclined to evil, persist in man and summon him
to spiritual battle.
406 The Church's teaching on the transmission of original sin was articulated
more precisely in the fifth century, especially under the impulse of St.
Augustine's reflections against Pelagianism, and in the sixteenth century,
in opposition to the Protestant Reformation. Pelagius held that man could,
by the natural power of free will and without the necessary help of God's
grace, lead a morally good life; he thus reduced the influence of Adam's
fault to bad example. the first Protestant reformers, on the contrary,
taught that original sin has radically perverted man and destroyed his
freedom; they identified the sin inherited by each man with the tendency
to evil (concupiscentia), which would be insurmountable. the Church pronounced
on the meaning of the data of Revelation on original sin especially at
the second Council of Orange (529)296
and at the Council of Trent (1546).297
A hard battle. . .
407 The doctrine of original sin, closely connected with that of redemption
by Christ, provides lucid discernment of man's situation and activity
in the world. By our first parents' sin, the devil has acquired a certain
domination over man, even though man remains free. Original sin entails
"captivity under the power of him who thenceforth had the power of
death, that is, the devil".298
Ignorance of the fact that man has a wounded nature inclined to evil gives
rise to serious errors in the areas of education, politics, social action299
408 The consequences of original sin and of all men's personal sins put
the world as a whole in the sinful condition aptly described in St. John's
expression, "the sin of the world".300
This expression can also refer to the negative influence exerted on people
by communal situations and social structures that are the fruit of men's
409 This dramatic situation of "the whole world [which] is in the
power of the evil one"302
makes man's life a battle:
The whole of man's history has been the story of dour combat with the
powers of evil, stretching, so our Lord tells us, from the very dawn of
history until the last day. Finding himself in the midst of the battlefield
man has to struggle to do what is right, and it is at great cost to himself,
and aided by God's grace, that he succeeds in achieving his own inner
IV. "YOU DID NOT ABANDON HIM TO THE POWER OF DEATH"
410 After his fall, man was not abandoned by God. On the contrary, God
calls him and in a mysterious way heralds the coming victory over evil
and his restoration from his fall.304
This passage in Genesis is called the Protoevangelium ("first gospel"):
the first announcement of the Messiah and Redeemer, of a battle between
the serpent and the Woman, and of the final victory of a descendant of
411 The Christian tradition sees in this passage an announcement of the
"New Adam" who, because he "became obedient unto death,
even death on a cross", makes amends superabundantly for the disobedience,
Furthermore many Fathers and Doctors of the Church have seen the woman
announced in the "Proto-evangelium" as Mary, the mother of Christ,
the "new Eve". Mary benefited first of all and uniquely from
Christ's victory over sin: she was preserved from all stain of original
sin and by a special grace of God committed no sin of any kind during
her whole earthly life.306
412 But why did God not prevent the first man from sinning? St. Leo the
Great responds, "Christ's inexpressible grace gave us blessings better
than those the demon's envy had taken away."307
and St. Thomas Aquinas wrote, "There is nothing to prevent human
nature's being raised up to something greater, even after sin; God permits
evil in order to draw forth some greater good. Thus St. Paul says, 'Where
sin increased, grace abounded all the more'; and the Exsultet sings, 'O
happy fault,. . . which gained for us so great a Redeemer!'"308
413 "God did not make death, and he does not delight in the death
of the living. . . It was through the devil's envy that death entered
the world" (⇒ Wis 1:13; ⇒ 2:24).
414 Satan or the devil and the other demons are fallen angels who have
freely refused to serve God and his plan. Their choice against God is
definitive. They try to associate man in their revolt against God.
415 "Although set by God in a state of rectitude man, enticed by
the evil one, abused his freedom at the very start of history. He lifted
himself up against God, and sought to attain his goal apart from him"
(GS 13 # 1).
416 By his sin Adam, as the first man, lost the original holiness and
justice he had received from God, not only for himself but for all human
417 Adam and Eve transmitted to their descendants human nature wounded
by their own first sin and hence deprived of original holiness and justice;
this deprivation is called "original sin".
418 As a result of original sin, human nature is weakened in its powers,
subject to ignorance, suffering and the domination of death, and inclined
to sin (this inclination is called "concupiscence").
419 "We therefore hold, with the Council of Trent, that original
sin is transmitted with human nature, "by propagation, not by imitation"
and that it is. . . 'proper to each'" (Paul VI, CPG # 16).
420 The victory that Christ won over sin has given us greater blessings
than those which sin had taken from us: "where sin increased, grace
abounded all the more" (⇒ Rom 5:20).
421 Christians believe that "the world has been established and
kept in being by the Creator's love; has fallen into slavery to sin but
has been set free by Christ, crucified and risen to break the power of
the evil one. . ." (GS 2 # 2).
Cf. Is 44:6.
Roman Catechism I, 2, 2.
Roman Catechism I, 2, 2.
Is 45:22-24; cf. ⇒ Phil 2:10-11.
⇒ Mk 12:29-30
Cf. ⇒ Mk 12:35-37.
⇒ EX 3:6
⇒ EX 3:13-15
Cf. ⇒ Is 45:15; ⇒ Judg 13:18
⇒ EX 3:6, ⇒ 12
Cf. ⇒ EX 3:5-6
⇒ Is 6:5
⇒ Lk 5:8
⇒ Hos 11:9
⇒ I Jn 3:19-20
Cf. ⇒ Ex 32; ⇒ 33: 12-17
⇒ Ex 33:18-19.
⇒ Ex 34:5-6; cf. ⇒ 34:9
⇒ Ex 34:7
⇒ Eph 2:4
Jn 8:28 (Greek).
Cf. ⇒ Is 44:6
⇒ Ps 102:26-27
⇒ Jas 1:17
⇒ Ex 34:6
⇒ Ps 138:2; cf. ⇒ Ps 85:11
⇒ I Jn 1:5; ⇒ 4:8
⇒ Ps 119:160
⇒ 2 Sam 7:28
Cf. ⇒ Dt 7:9
Cf ⇒ Wis 13:1-9.
Cf ⇒ Ps 115:15; ⇒ Wis 7:17-21.
⇒ Mal 2:6.
⇒ Jn 18:37.
⇒ I Jn 5:20; cf. ⇒ Jn 17:3.
Cf. ⇒ Dt 4:37; ⇒ 7:8; ⇒ 10:15.
Cf. Is 43:1-7; ⇒ Hos 2.
Jn 3:16; cf. ⇒ Hos 11:1; ⇒ 62 :4-5; ⇒
Ezek 16; ⇒ Hos 11.
⇒ Is 54:8.
⇒ Is 54: 10; cf. ⇒ 54:8.
⇒ Jer 31:3.
⇒ l Jn 4:8, 16
Cf. I Cor 2:7-16; ⇒ Eph 3:9-12.
⇒ Job 36:26.
St. Joan of Arc.
I Cor 4:7.
⇒ Ps 116:12.
⇒ Gen 1:26.
St. Nicholas of Flue; cf. ⇒ Mt 5:29-30; ⇒ 16:24-26.
St. Teresa of Jesus, Poesias 30 in the Collected Works of St. Teresa of
Avila, vol. III, tr. K. Kavanaugh OCD and O. Rodriguez OCD
(Washington DC Institute of Carmelite Studies, 1985), 386
no. 9. tr. John Wall
⇒ Mt 28:19.
St. Caesarius of Arles, Sermo 9, Exp. symb.: CCL 103, 47.
Cf. Profession of faith of Pope Vigilius I (552): DS 415.
Dei Filius 4: DS 3015.
Cf. Dt 32:6; Mal 2:10.
Cf. 2 Sam 7:14; ⇒ Ps 68:6.
Cf. ⇒ Is 66:13; ⇒ Ps 131:2.
Cf. ⇒ Ps 27:10; ⇒ Is 49:15.
⇒ Mt 11-27.
⇒ Col 1:15; ⇒ Heb 1:3.
The English phrases "of one being" and "one in being"
translate the Greek word homoousios, which was rendered in Latin by consubstantialis.
Niceno-Constantinopolitan Creed; cf. DS 150.
Cf. ⇒ Gen 1:2; Nicene Creed (DS 150); ⇒ Jn 14:17,
⇒ 26; ⇒ 16:13.
Cf. ⇒ Jn 14:26; ⇒ 16:14.
Cf. ⇒ Jn 7:39.
Nicene Creed; cf. DS 150.
Council of Toledo VI (638): DS 490.
Council of Toledo XI (675): DS 527.
Nicene Creed; cf. DS 150.
Council of Florence (1439): DS 1300-1301.
Cf. Leo I, Quam laudabiliter (447): DS 284.
⇒ Jn 15:26; cf. AG 2.
Council of Florence (1439): DS 1302.
Council of Florence (1442): DS 1331.
Cf. Council of Lyons II(1274): DS 850.
⇒ 2 Cor 13:14; cf. ⇒ Eph 4:4-6.
Paul VI, CPC # 2.
Council of Constantinople II (553): DS 421.
Council of Toledo XI (675): DS 530:26.
Lateran Council IV (1215): DS 804.
Fides Damasi: DS 71.
Council of Toledo XI (675): DS 530:25.
Lateran Council IV (1215): DS 804.
Council of Toledo XI (675): DS 528.
Council of Florence (1442): DS 1330.
Council of Florence (1442): DS 1331.
St. Gregory of Nazianzus, Oratio 40, 41: PG 36,417.
LH, Hymn for Evening Prayer.
⇒ Eph 1:4-5, ⇒ Rom 8:15, ⇒ 29.
2 Tim 1:9-10.
Cf. AG 2-9.
Council of Florence (1442): DS 1331; cf. Council of Constantinople II
(553): DS 421.
Council of Constantinople II: DS 421.
Cf. ⇒ Rom 8:14.
Cf. ⇒ Jn 17:21-23.
⇒ Jn 14:23.
Prayer of Blessed Elizabeth of the Trinity.
Cf. ⇒ Jn 1:3; ⇒ Mt 6:9; ⇒ I Cor
⇒ Ps 115:3.
⇒ Is 1:24 etc.; ⇒ Pss 24:8-10; ⇒
Cf. ⇒ 32:17; ⇒ Lk 1:37
Wis 11:21; cf. Esth 4:17b; ⇒ Tob 13:2.
⇒ 2 Cor 6:18; cf. ⇒ Mt 6:32.
St. Thomas Aquinas, STh I, 25, 5, ad I.
⇒ 1 Cor 1:24-25.
⇒ Eph 1:19-22.
Cf. ⇒ 2 Cor 12:9; ⇒ Phil 4:13.
⇒ Lk 1:37, ⇒ 49.
Roman Catechism I, 2, 13
⇒ Gen 1:1.
⇒ Rom 8:18-23.
Cf. Egeria, Peregrinatio at loca sancta 46: PLS 1, 1047; St. Augustine,
De catechizantis rudibus 3, 5: PL 40, 256.
Cf. NA 2.
Wis 7: 17-22.
Cf. Vatican Council I, can. 2 # I: DS 3026.
⇒ Heb 11:3.
Cf. ⇒ Rom 1:19-20.
Cf. ⇒ Is 43:1; ⇒ Pss 115:15; ⇒
Cf. ⇒ Gen 15:5; ⇒ Jer 33:19-26.
Cf. ⇒ Is 44:24; ⇒ Prov 8:22-31.
⇒ Gen 1:1.
⇒ Jn 1:1-3.
⇒ Col 1:16-17.
Cf. Nicene Creed: DS 150; Hymn Veni, Creator Spiritus; Byzantine Troparion
of Pentecost Vespers, "O heavenly King, Consoler".
Cf. ⇒ Pss 33 6; ⇒ Gen 1:2-3.
St. Irenaeus, Adv. haeres. 2, 30, 9; 4, 20, I: PG 7/1, 822, 1032.
Dei Filius, can. # 5: DS 3025.
St. Bonaventure, In II Sent. I, 2, 2, 1.
St. Thomas Aquinas, Sent. II, prol.
Dei Filius I: DS 3002; cf Lateran Council IV (1215): DS 800.
⇒ Eph 1:5-6.
St. Irenaeus, Adv. haeres. 4, 20, 7: PG 7/1, 1037.
AG 2; cf. I Cor 15:28.
Cf. Wis 9:9.
⇒ Rev 4:11.
⇒ Pss 104:24; ⇒ 145:9.
Cf. Dei Filius, cann. 2-4: DS 3022-3024.
Lateran Council IV (1215): DS 800; cf. DS 3025.
St. Theophilus of Antioch, Ad Autolycum II, 4: PG 6, 1052.
2 Macc 7:22-21, 28.
Cf. ⇒ Ps 51:12.
⇒ Rom 4:17.
Cf. ⇒ 2 Cor 4:6.
⇒ Gen 1:26.
Cf. ⇒ Ps 19:2-5; ⇒ Job 42:3.
⇒ 10, ⇒ 18, ⇒ 31.
Cf. DS 286; 455-463; 800; 1333; 3002.
⇒ Sir 43:28.
⇒ Ps 145:3.
⇒ Acts 17:28.
St. Augustine, Conf: 3, 6, 11: PL 32, 688.
Vatican Council I, Dei Filius I: DS 3003; cf. Wis 8:1; ⇒
⇒ Ps 115:3.
⇒ Rev 3:7.
⇒ Prov 19:21.
Cf. ⇒ Is 10:5-15; ⇒ Sir 11:14.
Cf. ⇒ Pss 22; ⇒ 32; ⇒ 35; ⇒
103; ⇒ 138; et al.
⇒ Mt 6:31-33; cf ⇒ 10:29-31.
Cf. ⇒ Gen 1:26-28.
Cf. ⇒ Col 1:24.
I Cor 3:9; I Th 3:2; ⇒ Col 4:11.
⇒ I Cor 12:6.
GS 36 # 3.
Cf. ⇒ Jn 15:5; ⇒ 14:13
Cf. St. Thomas Aquinas, STh I, 25, 6.
Cf. St. Thomas Aquinas, SCG III, 71.
Cf. St. Augustine, De libero arbitrio I, 1, 2: PL 32, 1221- 1223; St.Thomas
Aquinas, STh I-II, 79, 1.
St. Augustine, Enchiridion II, 3: PL 40, 236.
⇒ Gen 45:8; ⇒ 50:20; cf. Tob 2:12 (Vulgate).
Cf. ⇒ Rom 5:20.
⇒ Rom 8:28.
St. Catherine of Siena, Dialogue IV, 138 "On Divine Providence".
The Correspondence of Sir Thomas More, ed. Elizabeth F. Rogers (Princeton:
Princeton University Press, 1947), letter 206, lines 661-663.
Julian of Norwich, the Revelations of Divine Love, tr. James Walshe SJ
(London: 1961), ch. 32, 99-100.
⇒ I Cor 13:12.
Cf. ⇒ Gen 2:2.
⇒ Pss 115:16; ⇒ Mt 5:16.
Lateran Council IV (1215): DS 800; cf. DS 3002 and Paul VI, CPG # 8.
St. Augustine, En. in Ps. 103, 1, 15: PL 37, 1348.
⇒ Mt 18:10; ⇒ Ps 103:20.
Cf. Pius XII, Humani generis: DS 3891; ⇒ Dan 10:9- 12.
⇒ Mt 25:31.
⇒ Col 1:16.
⇒ Heb 1:14.
Cf. ⇒ Job 38:7 (where angels are called "sons of God");
⇒ Gen 3:24; ⇒ 21: 17; ⇒ Acts 7:53;
Ex 23:20-23; ⇒ Judg 13; ⇒ Is 6:6; ⇒
1 Kings 19:5.
Cf. ⇒ Lk 1:11, 26.
⇒ Heb 1:6.
⇒ Lk 2:14.
Cf. ⇒ Mt 1:20; ⇒ 19; ⇒ 4:11; ⇒
Mk 1:13; ⇒ Lk 22:43; ⇒ 11:8.
Cf. ⇒ Lk 2:8-14; ⇒ Mk 16:5-7.
Cf. ⇒ Mt 13:41; ⇒ 24:31; ⇒ Lk 12:8-9.
the angels in the life
of the Church
Cf. ⇒ Acts 5:18-20; ⇒ 10:3-8; ⇒
12:6-11; ⇒ 27:23-25.
Cf. ⇒ Mt 18:10; ⇒ Pss 34:7; ⇒ 91:10-13;
⇒ Zech 1:12;
⇒ Tob 12:12.
St. Basil, Adv. Eunomium III, I: PG 29, 656B.
⇒ Gen 1:l - ⇒ 2:4.
Cf. DV 11.
LG 36 # 2.
Cf. St. Augustine, De Genesi adv. Man 1, 2, 4: PL 34, 175.
GS 36 # 1.
Cf. ⇒ Ps 145:9.
⇒ Lk 12:6-7; ⇒ Mt 12:12.
Cf. ⇒ Gen 1-26.
St. Francis of Assisi, Canticle of the Creatures.
⇒ Gen 2:1-3.
Cf. ⇒ Heb 4:3-4; ⇒ Jer 31:35-37; ⇒
Cf. ⇒ Gen 1:14.
St. Benedict, Regula 43, 3: PL 66, 675-676.
Cf. Roman Missal, Easter Vigil 24, prayer after the first reading.
⇒ Gen 1:27.
GS 12 # 3.
GS 24 # 3.
St. Catherine of Siena, Dialogue IV, 13 "On Divine Providence":
LH, Sunday, week 19, OR.
Cf. GS 12 # 1; 24 # 3; 39 # 1.
St. John Chrysostom, In Gen. sermo 2, 1: PG 54, 587D-588A.
GS 22 # 1.
St. Peter Chrysologus, Sermo 117: PL 52, 520-521.
⇒ Acts 17:26; cf. ⇒ Tob 8:6.
Pius XII. Enc. Summi pontificatus 3; cf. NA 1.
Pius XII Summi pontificatus 3.
⇒ Gen 2:7.
Cf. ⇒ Mt 16:25-26; ⇒ Acts 2:41
Cf. ⇒ Mt 10:28; ⇒ Jn 12:27; ⇒ 2
Macc 6 30.
Cf. ⇒ I Cor 6:19-20; ⇒ 15:44-45.
GS 14 # 1; cf. ⇒ Dan 3:57-80.
Cf. Council of Vienne (1312): DS 902.
Cf. Pius XII, Humani generis: DS 3896; Paul VI, CPC # 8; Lateran Council
V (1513): DS 1440.
1 Th 5:23.
Cf. Council of Constantinople IV (870): DS 657.
Cf. Vatican Council I, Dei Filius: DS 3005; GS 22 # 5; Humani generis:
Cf. ⇒ Jer 31:33; Dt 6:5; 29:3; ⇒ Ezek 36:26;
⇒ Mt 6:21; ⇒ Rom 5:5.
Cf. ⇒ Gen 2:7, ⇒ 22.
Cf. ⇒ Is 49:14-15; ⇒ Ps 131:2-3; ]⇒
Hos 11:1-4; ⇒ Jer 3:4- 19.
⇒ Gen 2:18.
]⇒ Gen 2:19-20.
⇒ Gen 2:23
⇒ Gen 2:24
⇒ Gen 1:28.
Cf. GS 50 # 1.
⇒ Gen 1:28.
Cf. Council of Trent (1546): DS 1511.
Cf. LG 2.
Cf. ⇒ Gen 2:17; ⇒ 3:16, ⇒ 19.
Cf. ⇒ Gen 2:25.
Cf. I ⇒ Jn 2:16.
Cf. ⇒ Gen 2:8.
St. Augustine, Conf. 7, 7, 11: PL 32, 739.
2 Th 2:7; I Tim 3:16.
Cf. ⇒ Rom 5:20.
Cf. ⇒ Lk 11:21-22; ⇒ I Jn 3:8.
Cf. ⇒ Rom 5:12-21.
⇒ Jn 16:8.
Cf. ⇒ I Cor 2:16.
Cf. GS 13 # 1.
Cf. Council of Trent: DS 1513; Pius XII: DS 3897; Paul VI: AAS 58
Cf. ⇒ Gen 3:1-5; Wis 2:24.
Cf ⇒ Jn 8:44; ⇒ Rev 12:9.
Lateran Council IV (1215): DS 800.
Cf. ⇒ 2 Pt 2:4.
⇒ Gen 3:5.
⇒ I Jn 3:8; ⇒ Jn 8:44.
St. John Damascene, Defide orth. 2, 4: PG 94, 877.
⇒ Mt 4:1-11.
I ⇒ Jn 3:8.
⇒ Rom 8:28.
⇒ Gen 2:17.
⇒ Gen 2:17.
Cf. ⇒ Gen 3:1-11 ; ⇒ Rom 5:19.
St. Maximus the Confessor, Ambigua: PG 91, 1156C; cf. ⇒ Gen
Cf. ⇒ Rom 3:23.
Cf. ⇒ Gen 3:5-10.
Cf. ⇒ Gen 3:7-16.
Cf. ⇒ Gen 3:17, ⇒ 19.
⇒ Rom 8:21.
⇒ Gen 3:19; cf. ⇒ 2:17.
Cf. ⇒ Rom 5:12.
Cf. ⇒ Gen 4:3-15; ⇒ 12; ⇒ I Cor
1-6; ⇒ Rev 2-3.
GS 13 # 1.
⇒ Rom 5:12, ⇒ 19.
⇒ Rom 5:18.
Cf. Council of Trent: DS 1512.
Cf. Council of Trent: DS 1514.
St. Thomas Aquinas, De malo 4, I.
Cf. Council of Trent: DS 1511-1512
Cf. Council of Trent: DS 1513.
Cf. DS 1510-1516.
Council of Trent (1546): DS 1511; cf. ⇒ Heb 2:14.
Cf. John Paul II, CA 25.
⇒ Jn 1:29.
Cf. John Paul II, RP 16.
I ⇒ I Pt 5:8.
GS 37 3 2.
Cf. ⇒ Gen 3:9, ⇒ 15.
Cf. ⇒ I Cor 15:21-22, ⇒ Phil 2:8; ⇒
Cf. Pius IXs Ineffabilis Deus: DS 2803; Council of Trent: DS 1573.
St. Leo the Great, Sermo 73, 4: PL 54, 396.
St. Thomas Aquinas, STh III, I, 3, ad 3; cf. ⇒ Rom 5:20.
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