Baltimore Catechism No. 3 - Lesson 1
LESSON FIRST: On the End of Man.
Q. 126. What do we mean by the "end of man"?
A. By the "end of man" we mean the purpose for which he was created: namely, to know, love, and serve God.
Q. 127. How do you know that man was created for God alone?
A. I know that man was created for God alone because everything in the world was created for something more perfect than itself: but there is nothing in the world more perfect than man; therefore, he was created for something outside this world, and since he was not created for the Angels, he must have been created for God.
Q. 128. In what respect are all men equal?
A. All men are equal in whatever is necessary for their nature and end. They are all composed of a body and soul; they are all created to the image and likeness of God; they are all gifted with understanding and free will; and they have all been created for the same end -- God.
Q. 129. Do not men differ in many things?
A. Men differ in many things, such as learning, wealth, power, etc.; but these things belong to the world and not man's nature. He came into this world without them and he will leave it without them. Only the consequences of good or evil done in this world will accompany men to the next.
Q. 130. Who made the world?
A. God made the world.
Q. 131. What does "world" mean in this question?
A. In this question "world" means the universe; that is, the whole creation; all that we now see or may hereafter see.
Q. 132. Who is God?
A. God is the Creator of heaven and earth, and of all things.
Q. 133. What is man?
A. Man is a creature composed of body and soul, and made to the image and likeness of God.
Q. 134. Does "man" in the Catechism mean all human beings?
A. "Man" in the Catechism means all human beings, either men or women, boys, girls, or children.
Q. 135. What is a creature?
A. A creature is anything created, whether it has life or not; body or no body. Every being, person, or thing except God Himself may be called a creature.
Q. 136. Is this likeness in the body or in the soul?
A. This likeness is chiefly in the soul.
Q. 137. How is the soul like to God?
A. The soul is like to God because it is a spirit that will never die, and has understanding and free will.
Q. 138. Is every invisible thing a spirit?
A. Every spirit is invisible -- which means can not be seen; but every invisible thing is not a spirit. The wind is invisible, and it is not a spirit.
Q. 139. Has a spirit any other quality?
A. A spirit is also indivisible; that is, it can not be divided into parts, as we divide material things.
Q. 140. What do the words "will never die" mean?
A. By the words "will never die" we mean that the soul, when once created, will never cease to exist, whatever be its condition in the next world. Hence we say the soul is immortal or gifted with immortality.
Q. 141. Why then do we say a soul is dead while in a state of mortal sin?
A. We say a soul is dead while in a state of mortal sin, because in that state it is as helpless as a dead body, and can merit nothing for itself.
Q. 142. What does our "understanding" mean?
A. Our "understanding" means the "gift of reason," by which man is distinguished from all other animals, and by which he is enabled to think and thus acquire knowledge and regulate his actions.
Q. 143. Can we learn all truths by our reason alone?
A. We can not learn all truths by our reason alone, for some truths are beyond the power of our reason and must be taught to us by God.
Q. 144. What do we call the truths God teaches us?
A. Taken together, we call the truths God teaches us revelation, and we call the manner by which He teaches them also revelation.
Q. 145. What is "Free Will"?
A. "Free Will" is that gift of God by which we are enabled to choose between one thing and another; and to do good or evil in spite of reward or punishment.
Q. 146. Have brute animals "understanding" and "free will"?
A. Brute animals have not "understanding" and "free will." They have not "understanding" because they never change their habits or better their condition. They have not "free will" because they never show it in their actions.
Q. 147. What gift in animals supplies the place of reason?
A. In animals the gift of "instinct" supplies the place of reason in guiding their actions.
Q. 148. What is instinct?
A. "Instinct" is a gift by which all animals are impelled to follow the laws and habits that God has given to their nature.
Q. 149. Have men as well as brutes "instinct"?
A. Men have "instinct," and they show it when placed in sudden danger, when they have not time to use their reason. A falling man instantly grasps for something to support him.
Q. 150. Why did God make you?
A. God made me to know Him, to love Him, and to serve Him in this world, and to be happy with Him forever in the next.
Q. 151. Why is it necessary to know God?
A. It is necessary to know God because without knowing Him we cannot love Him; and without loving Him we cannot be saved. We should know Him because He is infinitely true; love Him because He is infinitely beautiful; and serve Him because He is infinitely good.
Q. 152. Of which must we take more care, our soul or our body?
A. We must take more care of our soul than of our body.
Q. 153. Why must we take more care of our soul than of our body?
A. We must take more care of our soul than of our body, because in losing our soul we lose God and everlasting happiness.
Q. 154. What must we do to save our souls?
A. To save our souls, we must worship God by faith, hope, and charity; that is, we must believe in Him, hope in Him, and love Him with all our heart.
Q. 155. What does "worship" mean?
A. "Worship" means to give divine honor by acts such as the offering of prayer or sacrifice.
Q. 156. How shall we know the things which we are to believe?
A. We shall know the things which we are to believe from the Catholic Church, through which God speaks to us.
Q. 157. What do we mean by the "Church, through which God speaks to us"?
A. By the "Church, through which God speaks to us," we mean the "teaching Church"; that is, the Pope, Bishops, and priests, whose duty it is to instruct us in the truths and practices of our religion.
Q. 158. Where shall we find the chief truths which the Church teaches?
A. We shall find the chief truths which the Church teaches in the Apostles' Creed.
Q. 159. If we shall find only the "chief truths" in the Apostles' Creed, where shall we find the remaining truths?
A. We shall find the remaining truths of our Faith in the religious writings and preachings that have been sanctioned by the authority of the Church.
Q. 160. Name some sacred truths not mentioned in the Apostles' Creed.
A. In the Apostles' Creed there is no mention of the Real Presence of Our Lord in the Holy Eucharist, nor of the Infallibility of the Pope, nor of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary, nor of some other truths that we are bound to believe.
Q. 161. Say the Apostles' Creed.
A. I believe in God, the Father Almighty, Creator of heaven and earth; and in Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord; who was conceived by the Holy Ghost, born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified; died, and was buried. He descended into hell: the third day He arose again from the dead: He ascended into heaven, sitteth at the right hand of God, the Father Almighty: from thence He shall come to judge the living and the dead. I believe in the Holy Ghost, the Holy Catholic Church, the communion of Saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting. Amen.
LESSON SECOND: On God and His Perfections
Q. 162. What is a perfection?
A. A perfection is any good quality a thing should have. A thing is perfect when it has all the good qualities it should have.
Q. 163. What is God?
A. God is a spirit infinitely perfect.
Q. 164. What do we mean when we say God is "infinitely perfect"?
A. When we say God is "infinitely perfect" we mean there is no limit or bounds to His perfection; for He possesses all good qualities in the highest possible degree and He alone is "infinitely perfect."
Q. 165. Had God a beginning?
A. God had no beginning; He always was and He always will be.
Q. 166. Where is God?
A. God is everywhere.
Q. 167. How is God everywhere?
A. God is everywhere whole and entire as He is in any one place. This is true and we must believe it, though we cannot understand it.
Q. 168. If God is everywhere, why do we not see Him?
A. We do not see God, because He is a pure spirit and cannot be seen with bodily eyes.
Q. 169. Why do we call God a "pure spirit'?
A. We call God a pure spirit because He has no body. Our soul is a spirit, but not a "pure" spirit, because it was created for union with our body.
Q. 170. Why can we not see God with the eyes of our body?
A. We cannot see God with the eyes of our body because they are created to see only material things, and God is not material but spiritual.
Q. 171. Does God see us?
A. God sees us and watches over us.
Q. 172. Is it necessary for God to watch over us?
A. It is necessary for God to watch over us, for without His constant care we could not exist.
Q. 173. Does God know all things?
A. God knows all things, even our most secret thoughts, words, and actions.
Q. 174. Can God do all things?
A. God can do all things, and nothing is hard or impossible to Him.
Q. 175. When is a thing said to be "impossible"?
A. A thing is said to be "impossible" when it cannot be done. Many things that are impossible for creatures are possible for God.
Q. 176. Is God just, holy, and merciful?
A. God is all just, all holy, all merciful, as He is infinitely perfect.
Q. 177. Why must God be "just" as well as "merciful"?
A. God must be just as well as merciful because He must fulfill His promise to punish those who merit punishment, and because He cannot be infinite in one perfection without being infinite in all.
Q. 178. Into what sins will the forgetfulness of God's justice lead us?
A. The forgetfulness of God's justice will lead us into sins of presumption.
Q. 179. Into what sins will the forgetfulness of God's mercy lead us?
A. The forgetfulness of God's mercy will lead us into sins of despair.
LESSON THIRD: On the Unity and Trinity of God
Q. 180. What does "unity," and what does "trinity" mean?
A. "Unity" means being one, and "trinity" means three-fold or three in one.
Q. 181. Can we find an example to fully illustrate the mystery of the Blessed Trinity?
A. We cannot find an example to fully illustrate the mystery of the Blessed Trinity, because the mysteries of our holy religion are beyond comparison.
Q. 182. Is there but one God?
A. Yes; there is but one God.
Q. 183. Why can there be but one God?
A. There can be but one God because God, being supreme and infinite, cannot have an equal.
Q. 184. What does "supreme" mean?
A. "Supreme" means the highest in authority; also the most excellent or greatest possible in anything. Thus in all things God is supreme, and in the Church the Pope is supreme.
Q. 185. When are two persons said to be equal?
A. Two persons are said to be equal when one is in no way greater than or inferior to the other.
Q. 186. How many persons are there in God?
A. In God there are three Divine persons, really distinct, and equal in all things --the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost.
Q. 187. What do "divine" and "distinct" mean?
A. "Divine" means pertaining to God, and "distinct" means separate; that is, not confounded or mixed with any other thing.
Q. 188. Is the Father God?
A. The Father is God and the first Person of the Blessed Trinity.
Q. 189. Is the Son God?
A. The Son is God and the second Person of the Blessed Trinity.
Q. 190. Is the Holy Ghost God?
A. The Holy Ghost is God and the third Person of the Blessed Trinity.
Q. 191. Do "first," "second," and "third" with regard to the persons of the Blessed Trinity mean that one person existed before the other or that one is greater than the other?
A. "First," "second," and "third" with regard to the persons of the Blessed Trinity do not mean that one person was before the other or that one is greater than the other; for all the persons of the Trinity are eternal and equal in every respect. These numbers are used to mark the distinction between the persons, and they show the order in which the one proceeded from the other.
Q. 192. What do you mean by the Blessed Trinity?
A. By the Blessed Trinity I mean one God in three Divine Persons.
Q. 193. Are the three Divine Persons equal in all things?
A. The three Divine Persons are equal in all things.
Q. 194. Are the three Divine Persons one and the same God?
A. The three Divine Persons are one and the same God, having one and the same Divine nature and substance.
Q. 195. What do we mean by the "nature" and "substance" of a thing?
A. By the "nature" of a thing we mean the combination of all the qualities that make the thing what it is. By the "substance" of a thing we mean the part that never changes, and which cannot be changed without destroying the nature of the thing.
Q. 196. Can we fully understand how the three Divine Persons are one and the same God?
A. We cannot fully understand how the three Divine Persons are one and the same God, because this is a mystery.
Q. 197. What is a mystery?
A. A mystery is a truth which we cannot fully understand.
Q. 198. Is every truth which we cannot understand a mystery?
A. Every truth which we cannot understand is not a mystery; but every revealed truth which no one can understand is a mystery.
Q. 199. Should we believe truths which we cannot understand?
A. We should and often do believe truths which we cannot understand when we have proof of their existence.
Q. 200. Give an example of truths which all believe, though many do not understand them.
A. All believe that the earth is round and moving, though many do not understand it. All believe that a seed planted in the ground will produce a flower or tree often with more than a thousand other seeds equal to itself, though many cannot understand how this is done.
Q. 201. Why must a divine religion have mysteries?
A. A divine religion must have mysteries because it must have supernatural truths and God Himself must teach them. A religion that has only natural truths, such as man can know by reason alone, fully understand and teach, is only a human religion.
Q. 202. Why does God require us to believe mysteries?
A. God requires us to believe mysteries that we may submit our understanding to Him.
Q. 203. By what form of prayer do we praise the Holy Trinity?
A. We praise the Holy Trinity by a form of prayer called the Doxology, which has come down to us almost from the time of the Apostles.
Q. 204. Say the Doxology.
A. The Doxology is: "Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost. As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end. Amen."
Q. 205. Is there any other form of the Doxology?
A. There is another form of the Doxology, which is said in the celebration of the Mass. It is called the "Gloria in excelsis" or "Glory be to God on high," etc., the words sung by the Angels at the birth of Our Lord.
LESSON FOURTH: On Creation
Q. 206. What is the difference between making and creating?
A. "Making" means bringing forth or forming out of some material already existing, as workmen do. "Creating" means bringing forth out of nothing, as God alone can do.
Q. 207. Has everything that exists been created?
A. Everything that exists except God Himself has been created.
Q. 208. Who created heaven and earth, and all things?
A. God created heaven and earth, and all things.
Q. 209. From what do we learn that God created heaven and earth and all things?
A. We learn that God created heaven and earth and all things from the Bible or Holy Scripture, in which the account of the Creation is given.
Q. 210. Why did God create all things?
A. God created all things for His own glory and for their or our good.
Q. 211. Did God leave all things to themselves after He had created them?
A. God did not leave all things to themselves after He had created them; He continues to preserve and govern them.
Q. 212. What do we call the care by which God preserves and governs the world and all it contains?
A. We call the care by which God preserves and governs the world and all it contains His providence.
Q. 213. How did God create heaven and earth?
A. God created heaven and earth from nothing by His word only; that is, by a single act of His all-powerful will.
Q. 214. Which are the chief creatures of God?
A. The chief creatures of God are angels and men.
Q. 215. How may God's creatures on earth be divided?
A. God's creatures on earth may be divided into four classes:
- Things that exist, as air;
- Things that exist, grow and live, as plants and trees;
- Things that exist, grow, live and feel, as animals;
- Things that exist, grow, live, feel and understand, as man.
Q. 216. What are angels?
A. Angels are pure spirits without a body, created to adore and enjoy God in heaven.
Q. 217. If Angels have no bodies, how could they appear?
A. Angels could appear by taking bodies to render themselves visible for a time; just as the Holy Ghost took the form of a dove and the devil took the form of a serpent.
Q. 218. Name some persons to whom Angels appeared.
A. Angels appeared to the Blessed Virgin and St. Joseph; also to Abraham, Lot, Jacob, Tobias and others.
Q. 219. Were the angels created for any other purpose?
A. The angels were also created to assist before the throne of God and to minister unto Him; they have often been sent as messengers from God to man; and are also appointed our guardians.
Q. 220. Are all the Angels equal in dignity?
A. All the Angels are not equal in dignity. There are nine choirs or classes mentioned in the Holy Scripture. The highest are called Seraphim and the lowest simply Angels. The Archangels are one class higher than ordinary Angels.
Q. 221. Mention some Archangels and tell what they did.
A. The Archangel Michael drove Satan out of heaven; the Archangel Gabriel announced to the Blessed Virgin that she was to become the Mother of God. The Archangel Raphael guided and protected Tobias.
Q. 222. Were Angels ever sent to punish men?
A. Angels were sometimes sent to punish men. An Angel killed 185,000 men in the army of a wicked king who had blasphemed God; an Angel also slew the first-born in the families of the Egyptians who had persecuted God's people.
Q. 223. What do our guardian Angels do for us?
A. Our guardian Angels pray for us, protect and guide us, and offer our prayers, good works and desires to God.
Q. 224. How do we know that Angels offer our prayers and good works to God?
A. We know that Angels offer our prayers and good works to God because it is so stated in Holy Scripture, and Holy Scripture is the Word of God.
Q. 225. Why did God appoint guardian Angels if He watches over us Himself?
A. God appointed guardian Angels to secure for us their help and prayers, and also to show His great love for us in giving us these special servants and faithful friends.
Q. 226. Were the angels, as God created them, good and happy?
A. The angels, as God created them, were good and happy.
Q. 227. Did all the angels remain good and happy?
A. All the angels did not remain good and happy; many of them sinned and were cast into hell, and these are called devils or bad angels.
Q. 228. Do we know the number of good and bad Angels?
A. We do not know the number of the good or bad Angels, but we know it is very great.
Q. 229. What was the devil's name before he fell, and why was he cast out of heaven?
A. Before he fell, Satan, or the devil, was called Lucifer, or light-bearer, a name which indicates great beauty. He was cast out of heaven because through pride he rebelled against God.
Q. 230. How do the bad Angels act toward us?
A. The bad Angels try by every means to lead us into sin. The efforts they make are called temptations of the devil.
Q. 231. Why does the devil tempt us?
A. The devil tempts us because he hates goodness, and does not wish us to enjoy the happiness which he himself has lost.
Q. 232. Can we by our own power overcome the temptations of the devil?
A. We cannot by our own power overcome the temptations of the devil, because the devil is wiser than we are; for, being an Angel, he is more intelligent, and he did not lose his intelligence by falling into sin any more than we do now. Therefore, to overcome his temptations we need the help of God.
LESSON FIFTH: On our First Parents and the Fall
Q. 233. Who were the first man and woman?
A. The first man and woman were Adam and Eve.
Q. 234. Are there any persons in the world who are not the descendants of Adam and Eve?
A. There are no persons in the world now, and there never have been any, who are not the descendants of Adam and Eve, because the whole human race had but one origin.
Q. 235. Do not the differences in color, figure, etc., which we find in distinct races indicate a difference in first parents?
A. The differences in color, figure, etc., which we find in distinct races do not indicate a difference in first parents, for these differences have been brought about in the lapse of time by other causes, such as climate, habits, etc.
Q. 236. Were Adam and Eve innocent and holy when they came from the hand of God?
A. Adam and Eve were innocent and holy when they came from the hand of God.
Q. 237. What do we mean by saying Adam and Eve "were innocent" when they came from the hand of God?
A. When we say Adam and Eve "were innocent" when they came from the hand of God we mean they were in the state of original justice; that is, they were gifted with every virtue and free from every sin.
Q. 238. How was Adam's body formed?
A. God formed Adam's body out of the clay of the earth and then breathed into it a living soul.
Q. 239. How was Eve's body formed?
A. Eve's body was formed from a rib taken from Adam's side during a deep sleep which God caused to come upon him.
Q. 240. Why did God make Eve from one of Adam's ribs?
A. God made Eve from one of Adam's ribs to show the close relationship existing between husband and wife in their marriage union which God then instituted.
Q. 241. Could man's body be developed from the body of an inferior animal?
A. Man's body could be developed from the body of an inferior animal if God so willed; but science does not prove that man's body was thus formed, while revelation teaches that it was formed directly by God from the clay of the earth.
Q. 242. Could man's soul and intelligence be formed by the development of animal life and instinct?
A. Man's soul could not be formed by the development of animal instinct; for, being entirely spiritual, it must be created by God, and it is united to the body as soon as the body is prepared to receive it.
Q. 243. Did God give any command to Adam and Eve?
A. To try their obedience, God commanded Adam and Eve not to eat of a certain fruit which grew in the garden of Paradise.
Q. 244. What was the Garden of Paradise?
A. The Garden of Paradise was a large and beautiful place prepared for man's habitation upon earth. It was supplied with every species of plant and animal and with everything that could contribute to man's happiness.
Q. 245. Where was the Garden of Paradise situated?
A. The exact place in which the Garden of Paradise -- called also the Garden of Eden -- was situated is not known, for the deluge may have so changed the surface of the earth that old landmarks were wiped out. It was probably some place in Asia, not far from the river Euphrates.
Q. 246. What was the tree bearing the forbidden fruit called?
A. The tree bearing the forbidden fruit was called "the tree of knowledge of good and evil."
Q. 247. Do we know the name of any other tree in the garden?
A. We know the name of another tree in the Garden called the "tree of life." Its fruit kept the bodies of our first parents in a state of perfect health.
Q. 248. Which were the chief blessings intended for Adam and Eve had they remained faithful to God?
A. The chief blessings intended for Adam and Eve, had they remained faithful to God, were a constant state of happiness in this life and everlasting glory in the next.
Q. 249. Did Adam and Eve remain faithful to God?
A. Adam and Eve did not remain faithful to God, but broke His command by eating the forbidden fruit.
Q. 250. Who was the first to disobey God?
A. Eve was the first to disobey God, and she induced Adam to do likewise.
Q. 251. How was Eve tempted to sin?
A. Eve was tempted to sin by the devil, who came in the form of a serpent and persuaded her to break God's command.
Q. 252. Which were the chief causes that led Eve into sin?
A. The chief causes that led Eve into sin were: (1) She went into the danger of sinning by admiring what was forbidden, instead of avoiding it. (2) She did not fly from the temptation at once, but debated about yielding to it. Similar conduct on our part will lead us also into sin.
Q. 253. What befell Adam and Eve on account of their sin?
A. Adam and Eve, on account of their sin, lost innocence and holiness, and were doomed to sickness and death.
Q. 254. What other evils befell Adam and Eve on account of their sin?
A. Many other evils befell Adam and Eve on account of their sin. They were driven out of Paradise and condemned to toil. God also ordained that henceforth the earth should yield no crops without cultivation, and that the beasts, man's former friends, should become his savage enemies.
Q. 255. Were we to remain in the Garden of Paradise forever if Adam had not sinned?
A. We were not to remain in the Garden of Paradise forever even if Adam had not sinned, but after passing through the years of our probation or trial upon earth we were to be taken, body and soul, into heaven without suffering death.
Q. 256. What evil befell us on account of the disobedience of our first parents?
A. On account of the disobedience of our first parents, we all share in their sin and punishment, as we should have shared in their happiness if they had remained faithful.
Q. 257. Is it not unjust to punish us for the sin of our first parents?
A. It is not unjust to punish us for the sin of our first parents, because their punishment consisted in being deprived of a free gift of God; that is, of the gift of original justice to which they had no strict right and which they willfully forfeited by their act of disobedience.
Q. 258. But how did the loss of the gift of original justice leave our first parents and us in mortal sin?
A. The loss of the gift of original justice left our first parents and us in mortal sin because it deprived them of the Grace of God, and to be without this gift of Grace which they should have had was to be in mortal sin. As all their children are deprived of the same gift, they, too, come into the world in a state of mortal sin.
Q. 259. What other effects followed from the sin of our first parents?
A. Our nature was corrupted by the sin of our first parents, which darkened our understanding, weakened our will, and left in us a strong inclination to evil.
Q. 260. What do we mean by "our nature was corrupted"?
A. When we say "our nature was corrupted" we mean that our whole being, body and soul, was injured in all its parts and powers.
Q. 261. Why do we say our understanding was darkened?
A. We say our understanding was darkened because even with much learning we have not the clear knowledge, quick perception and retentive memory that Adam had before his fall from grace.
Q. 262. Why do we say our will was weakened?
A. We say our will was weakened to show that our free will was not entirely taken away by Adam's sin, and that we have it still in our power to use our free will in doing good or evil.
Q. 263. In what does the strong inclination to evil that is left in us consist?
A. This strong inclination to evil that is left in us consists in the continual efforts our senses and appetites make to lead our souls into sin. The body is inclined to rebel against the soul, and the soul itself to rebel against God.
Q. 264. What is this strong inclination to evil called, and why did God permit it to remain in us?
A. This strong inclination to evil is called concupiscence, and God permits it to remain in us that by His grace we may resist it and thus increase our merits.
Q. 265. What is the sin called which we inherit from our first parents?
A. The sin which we inherit from our first parents is called original sin.
Q. 266. Why is this sin called original?
A. This sin is called original because it comes down to us from our first parents, and we are brought into the world with its guilt on our soul.
Q. 267. Does this corruption of our nature remain in us after original sin is forgiven?
A. This corruption of our nature and other punishments remain in us after original sin is forgiven.
Q. 268. Was any one ever preserved from original sin?
A. The Blessed Virgin Mary, through the merits of her Divine Son, was preserved free from the guilt of original sin, and this privilege is called her Immaculate Conception.
Q. 269. Why was the Blessed Virgin preserved from original sin?
A. The Blessed Virgin was preserved from original sin because it would not be consistent with the dignity of the Son of God to have His Mother, even for an instant, in the power of the devil and an enemy of God.
Q. 270. How could the Blessed Virgin be preserved from sin by her Divine Son, before her Son was born?
A. The Blessed Virgin could be preserved from sin by her Divine Son before He was born as man, for He always existed as God and foresaw His own future merits and the dignity of His Mother. He therefore by His future merits provided for her privilege of exemption from original sin.
Q. 271. What does the "Immaculate Conception" mean?
A. The Immaculate Conception means the Blessed Virgin's own exclusive privilege of coming into existence, through the merits of Jesus Christ, without the stain of original sin. It does not mean, therefore, her sinless life, perpetual virginity or the miraculous conception of Our Divine Lord by the power of the Holy Ghost.
Q. 272. What has always been the belief of the Church concerning this truth?
A. The Church has always believed in the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin and to place this truth beyond doubt has declared it an Article of Faith.
Q. 273. To what should the thoughts of the Immaculate Conception lead us?
A. The thoughts of the Immaculate Conception should lead us to a great love of purity and to a desire of imitating the Blessed Virgin in the practice of that holy virtue.
LESSON SIXTH: On Sin and Its Kinds ON SIN AND ITS KINDS.
Q. 274. How is sin divided?
A. (1) Sin is divided into the sin we inherit called original sin, and the sin we commit ourselves, called actual sin. (2) Actual sin is sub-divided into greater sins, called mortal, and lesser sins, called venial.
Q. 275. In how many ways may actual sin be committed?
A. Actual sin may be committed in two ways: namely, by willfully doing things forbidden, or by willfully neglecting things commanded.
Q. 276. What is our sin called when we neglect things commanded?
A. When we neglect things commanded our sin is called a sin of omission. Such sins as willfully neglecting to hear Mass on Sundays, or neglecting to go to Confession at least once a year, are sins of omission.
Q. 277. Is original sin the only kind of sin?
A. Original sin is not the only kind of sin; there is another kind of sin, which we commit ourselves, called actual sin.
Q. 278. What is actual sin?
A. Actual sin is any willful thought, word, deed, or omission contrary to the law of God.
Q. 279. How many kinds of actual sin are there?
A. There are two kinds of actual sin -- mortal and venial.
Q. 280. What is mortal sin?
A. Mortal sin is a grievous offense against the law of God.
Q. 281. Why is this sin called mortal?
A. This sin is called mortal because it deprives us of spiritual life, which is sanctifying grace, and brings everlasting death and damnation on the soul.
Q. 282. How many things are necessary to make a sin mortal?
A. To make a sin mortal, three things are necessary: 1.a grievous matter, sufficient reflection, and full consent of the will.
Q. 283. What do we mean by "grievous matter" with regard to sin?
A. By "grievous matter" with regard to sin we mean that the thought, word or deed by which mortal sin is committed must be either very bad in itself or severely prohibited, and therefore sufficient to make a mortal sin if we deliberately yield to it.
Q. 284. What does "sufficient reflection and full consent of the will" mean?
A. "Sufficient reflection" means that we must know the thought, word or deed to be sinful at the time we are guilty of it; and "full consent of the will" means that we must fully and willfully yield to it.
Q. 285. What are sins committed without reflection or consent called?
A. Sins committed without reflection or consent are called material sins; that is, they would be formal or real sins if we knew their sinfulness at the time we committed them. Thus to eat flesh meat on a day of abstinence without knowing it to be a day of abstinence or without thinking of the prohibition, would be a material sin.
Q. 286. Do past material sins become real sins as soon as we discover their sinfulness?
A. Past material sins do not become real sins as soon as we discover their sinfulness, unless we again repeat them with full knowledge and consent.
Q. 287. How can we know what sins are considered mortal?
A. We can know what sins are considered mortal from Holy Scripture; from the teaching of the Church, and from the writings of the Fathers and Doctors of the Church.
Q. 288. Why is it wrong to judge others guilty of sin?
A. It is wrong to judge others guilty of sin because we cannot know for certain that their sinful act was committed with sufficient reflection and full consent of the will.
Q. 289. What sin does he commit who without sufficient reason believes another guilty of sin?
A. He who without sufficient reason believes another guilty of sin commits a sin of rash judgment.
Q. 290. What is venial sin?
A. Venial sin is a slight offense against the law of God in matters of less importance, or in matters of great importance it is an offense committed without sufficient reflection or full consent of the will.
Q. 291. Can we always distinguish venial from mortal sin?
A. We cannot always distinguish venial from mortal sin, and in such cases we must leave the decision to our confessor.
Q. 292. Can slight offenses ever become mortal sins?
A. Slight offenses can become mortal sins if we commit them through defiant contempt for God or His law; and also when they are followed by very evil consequences, which we foresee in committing them.
Q. 293. Which are the effects of venial sin?
A. The effects of venial sin are the lessening of the love of God in our heart, the making us less worthy of His help, and the weakening of the power to resist mortal sin.
Q. 294. How can we know a thought, word or deed to be sinful?
A. We can know a thought, word or deed to be sinful if it, or the neglect of it, is forbidden by any law of God or of His Church, or if it is opposed to any supernatural virtue.
Q. 295. Which are the chief sources of sin?
A. The chief sources of sin are seven: 1.Pride, Covetousness, Lust, Anger, Gluttony, Envy, and Sloth, and they are commonly called capital sins.
Q. 296. What is pride?
A. Pride is an excessive love of our own ability; so that we would rather sinfully disobey than humble ourselves.
Q. 297. What effect has pride on our souls?
A. Pride begets in our souls sinful ambition, vainglory, presumption and hypocrisy.
Q. 298. What is covetousness?
A. Covetousness is an excessive desire for worldly things.
Q. 299. What effect has covetousness on our souls?
A. Covetousness begets in our souls unkindness, dishonesty, deceit and want of charity.
Q. 300. What is lust?
A. Lust is an excessive desire for the sinful pleasures forbidden by the Sixth Commandment.
Q. 301. What effect has lust on our souls?
A. Lust begets in our souls a distaste for holy things, a perverted conscience, a hatred for God, and it very frequently leads to a complete loss of faith.
Q. 302. What is anger?
A. Anger is an excessive emotion of the mind excited against any person or thing, or it is an excessive desire for revenge.
Q. 303. What effect has anger on our soul?
A. Anger begets in our souls impatience, hatred, irreverence, and too often the habit of cursing.
Q. 304. What is gluttony?
A. Gluttony is an excessive desire for food or drink.
Q. 305. What kind of a sin is drunkenness?
A. Drunkenness is a sin of gluttony by which a person deprives himself of the use of his reason by the excessive taking of intoxicating drink.
Q. 306. Is drunkenness always a mortal sin?
A. Deliberate drunkenness is always a mortal sin if the person be completely deprived of the use of reason by it, but drunkenness that is not intended or desired may be excused from mortal sin.
Q. 307. What are the chief effects of habitual drunkenness?
A. Habitual drunkenness injures the body, weakens the mind, leads its victim into many vices and exposes him to the danger of dying in a state of mortal sin.
Q. 308. What three sins seem to cause most evil in the world?
A. Drunkenness, dishonesty and impurity seem to cause most evil in the world, and they are therefore to be carefully avoided at all times.
Q. 309. What is envy?
A. Envy is a feeling of sorrow at another's good fortune and joy at the evil which befalls him; as if we ourselves were injured by the good and benefited by the evil that comes to him.
Q. 310. What effect has envy on the soul?
A. Envy begets in the soul a want of charity for our neighbor and produces a spirit of detraction, back-biting and slander.
Q. 311. What is sloth?
A. Sloth is a laziness of the mind and body, through which we neglect our duties on account of the labor they require.
Q. 312. What effect has sloth upon the soul?
A. Sloth begets in the soul a spirit of indifference in our spiritual duties and a disgust for prayer.
Q. 313. Why are the seven sources of sin called capital sins?
A. The seven sources of sin are called capital sins because they rule over our other sins and are the causes of them.
Q. 314. What do we mean by our predominant sin or ruling passion?
A. By our predominant sin, or ruling passion, we mean the sin into which we fall most frequently and which we find it hardest to resist.
Q. 315. How can we best overcome our sins?
A. We can best overcome our sins by guarding against our predominant or ruling sin.
Q. 316. Should we give up trying to be good when we seem not to succeed in overcoming our faults?
A. We should not give up trying to be good when we seem not to succeed in overcoming our faults, because our efforts to be good will keep us from becoming worse than we are.
Q. 317. What virtues are opposed to the seven capital sins?
A. Humility is opposed to pride; generosity to covetousness; chastity to lust; meekness to anger; temperance to gluttony; brotherly love to envy, and diligence to sloth.
LESSON SEVENTH: On the Incarnation and Redemption
Q. 318. What does "incarnation" mean, and what does "redemption" mean?
A. "Incarnation" means the act of clothing with flesh. Thus Our Lord clothed His divinity with a human body. "Redemption" means to buy back again.
Q. 319. Did God abandon man after he fell into sin?
A. God did not abandon man after he fell into sin, but promised him a Redeemer, who was to satisfy for man's sin and reopen to him the gates of heaven.
Q. 320. What do we mean by the "gates of heaven"?
A. By the "gates of heaven" we mean the divine power by which God keeps us out of heaven or admits us into it, at His pleasure.
Q. 321. Who is the Redeemer?
A. Our Blessed Lord and Savior Jesus Christ is the Redeemer of mankind.
Q. 322. What does the name "Jesus" signify and how was this name given to Our Lord?
A. The name "Jesus" signifies Savior or Redeemer, and this name was given to Our Lord by an Angel who appeared to Joseph and said: "Mary shall bring forth a Son; and thou shalt call His name Jesus."
Q. 323. What does the name "Christ" signify?
A. The name "Christ" means the same as Messiah, and signifies Anointed; because, as in the Old Law, Prophets, High Priests and Kings were anointed with oil; so Jesus, the Great Prophet, High Priest and King of the New Law, was anointed as man with the fullness of divine power.
Q. 324. How did Christ show and prove His divine power?
A. Christ showed and proved His divine power chiefly by His miracles, which are extraordinary works that can be performed only by power received from God, and which have, therefore, His sanction and authority.
Q. 325. What, then, did the miracles of Jesus Christ prove?
A. The miracles of Jesus Christ proved that whatever He said was true, and that when He declared Himself to be the Son of God He really was what He claimed to be.
Q. 326. Could not men have been deceived in the miracles of Christ?
A. Men could not have been deceived in the miracles of Christ because they were performed in the most open manner and usually in the presence of great multitudes of people, among whom were many of Christ's enemies, ever ready to expose any deceit. And if Christ performed no real miracles, how, then, could He have converted the world and have persuaded sinful men to give up what they loved and do the difficult things that the Christian religion imposes?
Q. 327. Could not false accounts of these miracles have been written after the death of Our Lord?
A. False accounts of these miracles could not have been written after the death of Our Lord; for then neither His friends nor His enemies would have believed them without proof. Moreover, the enemies of Christ did not deny the miracles, but tried to explain them by attributing them to the power of the devil or other causes. Again, the Apostles and the Evangelists who wrote the accounts suffered death to testify their belief in the words and works of Our Lord.
Q. 328. Did Jesus Christ die to redeem all men of every age and race without exception?
A. Jesus Christ died to redeem all men of every age and race without exception; and every person born into the world should share in His merits, without which no one can be saved.
Q. 329. How are the merits of Jesus Christ applied to our souls?
A. The merits of Jesus Christ are applied to our souls through the Sacraments, and especially through Baptism and Penance, which restore us to the friendship of God.
Q. 330. What do you believe of Jesus Christ?
A. I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, the second Person of the Blessed Trinity, true God and true man.
Q. 331. Cannot we also be called the Children of God, and therefore His sons and daughters?
A. We can be called the Children of God because He has adopted us by His grace or because He is the Father who has created us; but we are not, therefore, His real Children; whereas, Jesus Christ, His only real and true Son, was neither adopted nor created, but was begotten of His Father from all eternity.
Q. 332. Why is Jesus Christ true God?
A. Jesus Christ is true God because He is the true and only Son of God the Father.
Q. 333. Why is Jesus Christ true man?
A. Jesus Christ is true man because He is the Son of the Blessed Virgin Mary and has a body and soul like ours.
Q. 334. Who was the foster father or guardian of Our Lord while on earth?
A. St. Joseph, the husband of the Blessed Virgin, was the foster-father or guardian of Our Lord while on earth.
Q. 335. Is Jesus Christ in heaven as God or as man?
A. Since His Ascension Jesus Christ is in heaven both as God and as man.
Q. 336. How many natures are there in Jesus Christ?
A. In Jesus Christ there are two natures, the nature of God and the nature of man.
Q. 337. Is Jesus Christ more than one person?
A. No. Jesus Christ is but one Divine Person.
Q. 338. From what do we learn that Jesus Christ is but one person?
A. We learn that Jesus Christ is but one person from Holy Scripture and from the constant teaching of the Church, which has condemned all those who teach the contrary.
Q. 339. Was Jesus Christ always God?
A. Jesus Christ was always God, as He is the second person of the Blessed Trinity, equal to His Father from all eternity.
Q. 340. Was Jesus Christ always man?
A. Jesus Christ was not always man, but became man at the time of His Incarnation.
Q. 341. What do you mean by the Incarnation?
A. By the Incarnation I mean that the Son of God was made man.
Q. 342. How was the Son of God made man?
A. The Son of God was conceived and made man by the power of the Holy Ghost, in the womb of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
Q. 343. Is the Blessed Virgin Mary truly the Mother of God?
A. The Blessed Virgin Mary is truly the Mother of God, because the same Divine Person who is the Son of God is also the Son of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
Q. 344. Did the Son of God become man immediately after the sin of our first parents?
A. The Son of God did not become man immediately after the sin of our first parents, but was promised to them as a Redeemer.
Q. 345. How many years passed from the time Adam sinned till the time the Redeemer came?
A. About 4,000 years passed from the time Adam sinned till the time the Redeemer came.
Q. 346. What was the moral condition of the world just before the coming of Our Lord?
A. Just before the coming of Our Lord the moral condition of the world was very bad. Idolatry, injustice, cruelty, immorality and horrid vices were common almost everywhere.
Q. 347. Why was the coming of the Redeemer so long delayed?
A. The coming of the Redeemer was so long delayed that the world -- suffering from every misery -- might learn the great evil of sin and know that God alone could help fallen man.
Q. 348. When was the Redeemer promised to mankind?
A. The Redeemer was first promised to mankind in the Garden of Paradise, and often afterward through Abraham and his descendants, the patriarchs, and through numerous prophets.
Q. 349. Who were the prophets?
A. The prophets were inspired men to whom God revealed the future, that they might with absolute certainty make it known to the people.
Q. 350. What did the prophets foretell concerning the Redeemer?
A. The prophets, taken together, foretold so accurately all the circumstances of the birth, life, death, resurrection and glory of the Redeemer that no one who carefully studied their writings could fail to recognize Him when He came.
Q. 351. Have all these prophecies concerning the Redeemer been fulfilled?
A. All the prophecies concerning the Redeemer have been fulfilled in every point by the circumstances of Christ's birth, life, death, resurrection and glory; and He is, therefore, the Redeemer promised to mankind from the time of Adam.
Q. 352. Where shall we find these prophecies concerning the Redeemer?
A. We shall find these prophecies concerning the Redeemer in the prophetic books of the Bible or Holy Scripture.
Q. 353. If the Redeemer's coming was so clearly foretold, why did not all recognize Him when He came?
A. All did not recognize the Redeemer when He came, because many knew only part of the prophecies; and taking those concerning His glory and omitting those concerning His suffering, they could not understand His life.
Q. 354. How could they be saved who lived before the Son of God became man?
A. They who lived before the Son of God became man could be saved by believing in a Redeemer to come, and by keeping the Commandments.
Q. 355. On what day was the Son of God conceived and made man?
A. The Son of God was conceived and made man on Annunciation Day -- the day on which the Angel Gabriel announced to the Blessed Virgin Mary that she was to be the Mother of God.
Q. 356. On what day was Christ born?
A. Christ was born on Christmas Day, in a stable at Bethlehem, over nineteen hundred years ago.
Q. 357. Why did the Blessed Virgin and St. Joseph go to Bethlehem just before the birth of Our Lord?
A. The Blessed Virgin and St. Joseph went to Bethlehem in obedience to the Roman Emperor, who ordered all his subjects to register their names in the towns or cities of their ancestors. Bethlehem was the City of David, the royal ancestor of Mary and Joseph, hence they had to register there. All this was done by the Will of God, that the prophecies concerning the birth of His Divine Son might be fulfilled.
Q. 358. Why was Christ born in a stable?
A. Christ was born in a stable because Joseph and Mary were poor and strangers in Bethlehem, and without money they could find no other shelter. This was permitted by Our Lord that we might learn a lesson from His great humility.
Q. 359. In giving the ancestors or forefathers of Our Lord, why do the Gospels give the ancestors of Joseph, who was only Christ's foster-father, and not the ancestors of Mary, who was Christ's real parent?
A. In giving the ancestors of Our Lord, the Gospels give the ancestors of Joseph: (1) Because the ancestors of women were not usually recorded by the Jews; and (2) Because Mary and Joseph were members of the same tribe, and had, therefore, the same ancestors; so that, in giving the ancestors of Joseph, the Gospels give also those of Mary; and this was understood by those for whom the Gospels were intended.
Q. 360. Had Our Lord any brothers or sisters ?
A. Our Lord had no brothers or sisters. When the Gospels speak of His brethren they mean only His near relations. His Blessed Mother Mary was always a Virgin as well before and at His birth as after it.
Q. 361. Who were among the first to adore the Infant Jesus?
A. The shepherds of Bethlehem, to whom His birth was announced by Angels; and the Magi or three wise men, who were guided to His crib by a miraculous star, were among the first to adore the Infant Jesus. We recall the adoration of the Magi on the feast of the Epiphany, which means appearance or manifestation, namely, of Our Savior.
Q. 362. Who sought to kill the Infant Jesus?
A. Herod sought to kill the Infant Jesus because he thought the influence of Christ -- the new-born King -- would deprive him of his throne.
Q. 363. How was the Holy Infant rescued from the power of Herod?
A. The Holy Infant was rescued from the power of Herod by the flight into Egypt, when St. Joseph -- warned by an Angel -- fled hastily into that country with Jesus and Mary.
Q. 364. How did Herod hope to accomplish his wicked designs?
A. Herod hoped to accomplish his wicked designs by murdering all the infants in and near Bethlehem. The day on which we commemorate the death of these first little martyrs, who shed their blood for Christ's sake, is called the feast of Holy Innocents.
Q. 365. How may the years of Christ's life be divided?
A. The years of Christ's life may be divided into three parts:
- His childhood, extending from His birth to His twelfth year, when He went with his parents to worship in the Temple of Jerusalem.
- His hidden life, which extends from His twelfth to His thirtieth year, during which time He dwelt with His parents at Nazareth.
- His public life, extending from His thirtieth year -- or from His baptism by St. John the Baptist to His death; during which time He taught His doctrines and established His Church.
Q. 366. Why is Christ's life thus divided?
A. Christ's life is thus divided to show that all classes find in Him their model. In childhood He gave an example to the young; in His hidden life an example to those who consecrate themselves to the service of God in a religious state; and in His public life an example to all Christians without exception.
Q. 367. How long did Christ live on earth?
A. Christ lived on earth about thirty-three years, and led a most holy life in poverty and suffering.
Q. 368. Why did Christ live so long on earth?
A. Christ lived so long on earth to show us the way to heaven by His teachings and example.
LESSON EIGHTH: On Our Lord's Passion, Death, Resurrection, and Ascension
Q. 369. What do we mean by Our Lord's Passion?
A. By Our Lord's Passion we mean His dreadful sufferings from His agony in the garden till the moment of His death.
Q. 370. What did Jesus Christ suffer?
A. Jesus Christ suffered a bloody sweat, a cruel scourging, was crowned with thorns, and was crucified.
Q. 371. When did Our Lord suffer the "bloody sweat"?
A. Our Lord suffered the "bloody sweat" while drops of blood came forth from every pore of His body, during His agony in the Garden of Olives, near Jerusalem, where He went to pray on the night His Passion began.
Q. 372. Who accompanied Our Lord to the Garden of Olives on the night of His Agony?
A. The Apostles Peter, James and John, the same who had witnessed His transfiguration on the mount, accompanied Our Lord to the Garden of Olives, to watch and pray with Him on the night of His agony.
Q. 373. What do we mean by the transfiguration of Our Lord?
A. By the transfiguration of Our Lord we mean the supernatural change in His appearance when He showed Himself to His Apostles in great glory and brilliancy in which "His face did shine as the sun and His garments became white as snow."
Q. 374. Who were present at the transfiguration?
A. There were present at the transfiguration -- besides the Apostles Peter, James and John, who witnessed it -- the two great and holy men of the Old Law, Moses and Elias, talking with Our Lord.
Q. 375. What caused Our Lord's agony in the garden?
A It is believed Our Lord's agony in the garden was caused:
- By his clear knowledge of all He was soon to endure;
- By the sight of the many offenses committed against His Father by the sins of the whole world;
- By His knowledge of men's ingratitude for the blessings of redemption.
Q. 376. Why was Christ cruelly scourged?
A. Christ was cruelly scourged by Pilate's orders, that the sight of His bleeding body might move His enemies to spare His life.
Q. 377. Why was Christ crowned with thorns?
A. Christ was crowned with thorns in mockery because He had said He was a King.
Q. 378. Could Christ, if He pleased, have escaped the tortures of His Passion?
A. Christ could, if He pleased, have escaped the tortures of His Passion, because He foresaw them and had it in His power to overcome His enemies.
Q. 379. Was it necessary for Christ to suffer so much in order to redeem us?
A. It was not necessary for Christ to suffer so much in order to redeem us, for the least of His sufferings was more than sufficient to atone for all the sins of mankind. By suffering so much He showed His great love for us.
Q. 380. Who betrayed Our Lord?
A. Judas, one of His Apostles, betrayed Our Lord, and from His sin we may learn that even the good may become very wicked by the abuse of their free will.
Q. 381. How was Christ condemned to death?
A. Through the influence of those who hated Him, Christ was condemned to death, after an unjust trial, at which false witnesses were induced to testify against Him.
Q. 382. On what day did Christ die?
A. Christ died on Good Friday.
Q. 383. Why do you call that day "good" on which Christ died so sorrowful a death?
A. We call that day good on which Christ died because by His death He showed His great love for man, and purchased for him every blessing.
Q. 384. How long was Our Lord hanging on the cross before He died?
A. Our Lord was hanging on the Cross about three hours before He died. While thus suffering, His enemies stood around blaspheming and mocking Him. By His death He proved Himself a real mortal man, for He could not die in His divine nature.
Q. 385. What do we call the words Christ spoke while hanging on the Cross?
A. We call the words Christ spoke while hanging on the Cross "the seven last words of Jesus on the Cross." They teach us the dispositions we should have at the hour of death.
Q. 386. Repeat the seven last words or sayings of Jesus on the Cross.
A. The seven last words or sayings of Jesus on the Cross are:
- "Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do," in which He forgives and prays for His enemies.
- "Amen, I say to thee, this day thou shalt be with Me in Paradise," in which He pardons the penitent sinner.
- "Woman, behold thy Son" -- "Behold thy Mother," in which He gave up what was dearest to Him on earth, and gave us Mary for our Mother.
- "My God, my God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?" from which we learn the suffering of His mind.
- "I thirst," from which we learn the suffering of His body.
- "All is consummated," by which He showed the fulfillment of all the prophecies concerning Him and the completion of the work of our redemption.
- "Father, into Thy hands I commend my spirit," by which He showed His perfect resignation to the Will of His Eternal Father.
Q. 387. What happened at the death of Our Lord?
A. At the death of Our Lord there were darkness and earthquake; many holy dead came forth from their graves, and the veil concealing the Holy of Holies, in the Temple of Jerusalem, was torn asunder.
Q. 388. What was the Holy of Holies in the temple?
A. The Holy of Holies was the sacred part of the Temple, in which the Ark of the Covenant was kept, and where the high priest consulted the Will of God.
Q. 389. What was the "Ark of the Covenant"?
A. The Ark of the Covenant was a precious box in which were kept the tablets of stone bearing the written Commandments of God, the rod which Aaron changed into a serpent before King Pharaoh, and a portion of the manna with which the Israelites were miraculously fed in the desert. The Ark of the Covenant was a figure of the Tabernacle in which we keep the Holy Eucharist.
Q. 390. Why was the veil of the Temple torn asunder at the death of Christ?
A. The veil of the Temple was torn asunder at the death of Christ because at His death the Jewish religion ceased to be the true religion, and God no longer manifested His presence in the Temple.
Q. 391. Why did the Jewish religion, which up to the death of Christ had been the true religion, cease at that time to be the true religion?
A. The Jewish religion, which, up to the death of Christ, had been the true religion, ceased at that time to be the true religion, because it was only a promise of the redemption and figure of the Christian religion, and when the redemption was accomplished and the Christian religion established by the death of Christ, the promise and the figure were no longer necessary.
Q. 392. Were all the laws of the Jewish religion abolished by the establishment of Christianity?
A. The moral laws of the Jewish religion were not abolished by the establishment of Christianity, for Christ came not to destroy these laws, but to make them more perfect. Its ceremonial laws were abolished when the Temple of Jerusalem ceased to be the House of God.
Q. 393. What do we mean by moral and ceremonial laws?
A. By "moral" laws we mean laws regarding good and evil. By "ceremonial" laws we mean laws regulating the manner of worshipping God in Temple or Church.
Q. 394. Where did Christ die?
A. Christ died on Mount Calvary.
Q. 395. Where was Mount Calvary, and what does the name signify?
A. Mount Calvary was the place of execution, not far from Jerusalem; and the name signifies the "place of skulls."
Q. 396. How did Christ die?
A. Christ was nailed to the Cross, and died on it between two thieves.
Q. 397. Why was Our Lord crucified between thieves?
A. Our Lord was crucified between thieves that His enemies might thus add to His disgrace by making Him equal to the worst criminals.
Q. 398. Why did Christ suffer and die?
A. Christ suffered and died for our sins.
Q. 399. How was Our Lord's body buried?
A. Our Lord's body was wrapped in a clean linen cloth and laid in a new sepulchre or tomb cut in a rock, by Joseph of Arimathea and other pious persons who believed in Our Divine Lord.
Q. 400. What lessons do we learn from the sufferings and death of Christ?
A. From the sufferings and death of Christ we learn the great evil of sin, the hatred God bears to it, and the necessity of satisfying for it.
Q. 401. Whither did Christ's soul go after His death?
A. After Christ's death His soul descended into hell.
Q. 402. Did Christ's soul descend into the hell of the damned?
A. The hell into which Christ's soul descended was not the hell of the dammed, but a place or state of rest called Limbo, where the souls of the just were waiting for Him.
Q. 403. Why did Christ descend into Limbo?
A. Christ descended into Limbo to preach to the souls who were in prison -- that is, to announce to them the joyful tidings of their redemption.
Q. 404. Where was Christ's body while His soul was in Limbo?
A. While Christ's soul was in Limbo His body was in the holy sepulchre.
Q. 405. On what day did Christ rise from the dead?
A. Christ rose from the dead, glorious and immortal, on Easter Sunday, the third day after His death.
Q. 406. Why is the Resurrection the greatest of Christ's miracles?
A. The Resurrection is the greatest of Christ's miracles because all He taught and did is confirmed by it and depends upon it. He promised to rise from the dead and without the fulfillment of that promise we could not believe in Him.
Q. 407. Has any one ever tried to disprove the miracle of the resurrection?
A. Unbelievers in Christ have tried to disprove the miracle of the resurrection as they have tried to disprove all His other miracles; but the explanations they give to prove Christ's miracles false are far more unlikely and harder to believe than the miracles themselves.
Q. 408. What do we mean when we say Christ rose "glorious" from the dead?
A. When we say Christ rose "glorious" from the dead we mean that His body was in a glorified state; that is, gifted with the qualities of a glorified body.
Q. 409. What are the qualities of a glorified body?
A. The qualities of a glorified body are:
- Brilliancy, by which it gives forth light;
- Agility, by which it moves from place to place as rapidly as an angel;
- Subtility, by which material things cannot shut it out;
- Impassibility, by which it is made incapable of suffering.
Q. 410. Was Christ three full days in the tomb?
A. Christ was not three full days, but only parts of three days in the tomb.
Q. 411. How long did Christ stay on earth after His resurrection?
A. Christ stayed on earth forty days after His resurrection, to show that He was truly risen from the dead, and to instruct His apostles.
Q. 412. Was Christ visible to all and at all times during the forty days He remained on earth after His resurrection?
A. Christ was not visible to all nor at all times during the forty days He remained on earth after His resurrection. We know that He appeared to His apostles and others at least nine times, though He may have appeared oftener.
Q. 413. How did Christ show that He was truly risen from the dead?
A. Christ showed that He was truly risen from the dead by eating and conversing with His Apostles and others to whom He appeared. He showed the wounds in His hands, feet and side, and it was after His resurrection that He gave to His Apostles the power to forgive sins.
Q. 414. After Christ had remained forty days on earth, whither did He go?
A. After forty days Christ ascended into heaven, and the day on which be ascended into heaven is called Ascension Day.
Q. 415. Where did the ascension of Our Lord take place?
A. Christ ascended into heaven from Mount Olivet, the place made sacred by His agony on the night before His death.
Q. 416. Who were present at the ascension and who ascended with Christ?
A. From various parts of Scripture we may conclude there were about 125 persons -- though traditions tell us there was a greater number -- present at the Ascension. They were the Apostles, the Disciples, the pious women and others who had followed Our Blessed Lord. The souls of the just who were waiting in Limbo for the redemption ascended with Christ.
Q. 417. Why is the paschal candle which is lighted on Easter morning extinguished at the Mass on Ascension Day?
A. The paschal candle which is lighted on Easter morning signifies Christ's visible presence on earth, and it is extinguished on Ascension Day to show that He, having fulfilled all the prophecies concerning Himself and having accomplished the work of redemption, has transferred the visible care of His Church to His Apostles and returned in His body to heaven.
Q. 418. Where is Christ in heaven?
A. In heaven Christ sits at the right hand of God the Father Almighty.
Q. 419. What do you mean by saying that Christ sits at the right hand of God?
A. When I say that Christ sits at the right hand of God I mean that Christ as God is equal to His Father in all things, and that as man He is in the highest place in heaven next to God.
LESSON NINTH: On the Holy Ghost and His Descent upon the Apostles
Q. 420. Who is the Holy Ghost?
A. The Holy Ghost is the third Person of the Blessed Trinity.
Q. 421. Did the Holy Ghost ever appear?
A. The Holy Ghost appeared at times under the form of a dove, and again under the form of tongues of fire; for, being a pure spirit without a body, He can take any form.
Q. 422. Is the Holy Ghost called by other names?
A. The Holy Ghost is called also the Holy Spirit, the Paraclete, the Spirit of Truth and other names given in Holy Scripture.
Q. 423. From whom does the Holy Ghost proceed?
A. The Holy Ghost proceeds from the Father and the Son.
Q. 424. Is the Holy Ghost equal to the Father and the Son?
A. The Holy Ghost is equal to the Father and the Son, being the same Lord and God as they are.
Q. 425. On what day did the Holy Ghost come down upon the Apostles?
A. The Holy Ghost came down upon the Apostles ten days after the Ascension of our Lord; and the day on which He came down upon the Apostles is called Whitsunday, or Pentecost.
Q. 426. Why is the day on which the Holy Ghost came down upon the Apostles called Whitsunday?
A. The day on which the Holy Ghost came down upon the Apostles is called Whitsunday or White Sunday, probably because the Christians who were baptized on the eve of Pentecost wore white garments for some time afterward, as a mark of the purity bestowed upon their souls by the Sacrament of Baptism.
Q. 427. Why is this feast called also Pentecost?
A. This feast is called also Pentecost because Pentecost means the fiftieth; and the Holy Ghost came down upon the Apostles fifty days after the resurrection of Our Lord.
Q. 428. How did the Holy Ghost come down upon the Apostles?
A. The Holy Ghost came down upon the Apostles in the form of tongues of fire.
Q. 429. What did the form of tongues of fire denote?
A. The form of tongues of fire denoted the sacred character and divine authority of the preaching and teaching of the Apostles, by whose words and fervor all men were to be converted to the love of God.
Q. 430. Who sent the Holy Ghost upon the Apostles?
A. Our Lord Jesus Christ sent the Holy Ghost upon the Apostles.
Q. 431. Did the Apostles know that the Holy Ghost would come down upon them?
A. The Apostles knew that the Holy Ghost would come down upon them; for Christ promised His Apostles that after His Ascension He would send the Holy Ghost, the Spirit of Truth, to teach them all truths and to abide with them forever.
Q. 432. Has any one ever denied the existence of the Holy Ghost?
A. Some persons have denied the existence of the Holy Ghost; others have denied that He is a real person equal to the Father and the Son; but all these assertions are shown to be false by the words of Holy Scripture and the infallible teaching of the Church.
Q. 433. What are the sins against the Holy Ghost which Our Lord said will not be forgiven either in this world or in the next?
A. The sins against the Holy Ghost which Our Lord said will not be forgiven either in this world or in the next, are sins committed out of pure malice, and greatly opposed to the mercy of God, and are, therefore, seldom forgiven.
Q. 434. Why did Christ send the Holy Ghost?
A. Christ sent the Holy Ghost to sanctify His Church, to enlighten and strengthen the Apostles, and to enable them to preach the Gospel.
Q. 435. How was the Church sanctified through the coming of the Holy Ghost?
A. The Church was sanctified through the coming of the Holy Ghost by receiving those graces which Christ had merited for His ministers, the bishops and priests, and for the souls of all those committed to their care.
Q. 436. How were the Apostles enlightened through the coming of the Holy Ghost?
A. The Apostles were enlightened through the coming of the Holy Ghost by receiving the grace to remember and understand in its true meaning all that Christ had said and done in their presence.
Q. 437. How were the Apostles strengthened through the coming of the Holy Ghost?
A. The Apostles were strengthened through the coming of the Holy Ghost by receiving the grace to brave every danger, even death itself, in the performance of their sacred duties.
Q. 438. What does "Apostle," and what does "Gospel" mean?
A. "Apostle" means a person sent, and "Gospel" means good tidings or news. Hence the name "Gospel" is given to the inspired history of Our Lord's life and works upon earth.
Q. 439. Name the Apostles.
A. The Apostles were: Peter, Andrew, James, John, Philip, Bartholomew, Thomas, Matthew, James, Thaddeus, Simon, and Judas Iscariot, in whose place Mathias was chosen.
Q. 440. Was St. Paul an Apostle?
A. St. Paul was an Apostle, but as he was not called till after the Ascension of Our Lord he is not numbered among the twelve. He is called the Apostle of the Gentiles; that is, of all those who were not of the Jewish religion or members of the Church of the Old Law.
Q. 441. How did St. Paul become an Apostle?
A. While on his way to persecute the Christians St. Paul was miraculously converted and called to be an Apostle by Our Lord Himself, who spoke to him. St. Paul was called Saul before his conversion.
Q. 442. Who were the Evangelists?
A. St. Matthew, St. Mark, St. Luke and St. John are called Evangelists, because they wrote the four Gospels bearing their names, and Evangelia is the Latin name for Gospels. St. Mark and St. Luke were not Apostles, but St. Matthew and St. John were both Apostles and Evangelists.
Q. 443. Why did not the Apostles fully understand when Christ Himself taught them?
A. The Apostles did not fully understand when Christ Himself taught them because during His stay with them on earth they were only preparing to become Apostles; and their minds were yet filled with many worldly thoughts and desires that were to be removed at the coming of the Holy Ghost.
Q. 444. Will the Holy Ghost abide with the Church forever?
A. The Holy Ghost will abide with the Church forever, and guide it in the way of holiness and truth.
Q. 445. What benefit do we derive from the knowledge that the Holy Ghost will abide with the Church forever?
A. From the knowledge that the Holy Ghost will abide with the Church forever we are made certain that the Church can never teach us falsehood, and can never be destroyed by the enemies of Our Faith.
Q. 446. What visible power was given to the Apostles through the coming of the Holy Ghost?
A. Through the coming of the Holy Ghost the Apostles received the "gift of tongues," by which they could be understood in every language, though they preached in only one.
Q. 447. Why did such wonderful gifts accompany confirmation, or the coming of the Holy Ghost, in the first ages of the Church?
A. Such wonderful gifts accompanied Confirmation in the first ages of the Church to prove the power, truth and divine character of Christianity to those who otherwise might not believe, and to draw the attention of all to the establishment of the Christian Church.
Q. 448. Why are these signs not continued everywhere at the present time?
A. These signs are not continued everywhere at the present time, because now that the Church is fully established and its divine character and power proved in other ways, such signs are no longer necessary.
Q. 449. Were such powers as the "gift of tongues" a part of the Sacrament of Confirmation?
A. Such powers as the "gift of tongues" were not a part of the Sacrament of Confirmation, but they were added to it by the Holy Ghost when necessary for the good of the Church.
LESSON TENTH: On the Effects of the Redemption
Q. 450. What is an effect?
A. An effect is that which is caused by something else, as smoke, for example, is an effect of fire.
Q. 451. What does redemption mean?
A. Redemption means the buying back of a thing that was given away or sold.
Q. 452. What did Adam give away by his sin, and what did Our Lord buy back for him and us?
A. By his sin Adam gave away all right to God's promised gifts of grace in this world and of glory in the next, and Our Lord bought back the right that Adam threw away.
Q. 453. Which are the chief effects of the Redemption?
A. The chief effects of the Redemption are two: The satisfaction of God's justice by Christ's sufferings and death, and the gaining of grace for men.
Q. 454. Why do we say "chief effects"?
A. We say "chief effects" to show that these are the most important but not the only effects of the Redemption -- for all the benefits of our holy religion and of its influence upon the world are the effects of the redemption.
Q. 455. Why did God's justice require satisfaction?
A. God's justice required satisfaction because it is infinite and demands reparation for every fault. Man in his state of sin could not make the necessary reparation, so Christ became man and made it for him.
Q. 456. What do you mean by grace?
A. By grace I mean a supernatural gift of God bestowed on us, through the merits of Jesus Christ, for our salvation.
Q. 457. What does "supernatural" mean?
A. Supernatural means above or greater than nature. All gifts such as health, learning or the comforts of life, that affect our happiness chiefly in this world, are called natural gifts, and all gifts such as blessings that affect our happiness chiefly in the next world are called supernatural or spiritual gifts.
Q. 458. What do you mean by "merit"?
A. Merit means the quality of deserving well or ill for our actions. In the question above it means a right to reward for good deeds done.
Q. 459. How many kinds of grace are there?
A. There are two kinds of grace, sanctifying grace and actual grace.
Q. 460. What is the difference between sanctifying grace and actual grace?
A. Sanctifying grace remains with us as long as we are not guilty of mortal sin; and hence, it is often called habitual grace; but actual grace comes to us only when we need its help in doing or avoiding an action, and it remains with us only while we are doing or avoiding the action.
Q. 461. What is sanctifying grace?
A. Sanctifying grace is that grace which makes the soul holy and pleasing to God.
Q. 462. What do you call those graces or gifts of God by which we believe in Him, hope in Him, and love Him?
A. Those graces or gifts of God by which we believe in Him, and hope in Him, and love Him, are called the Divine virtues of Faith, Hope, and Charity.
Q. 463. What do you mean by virtue and vice?
A. Virtue is the habit of doing good, and vice is the habit of doing evil. An act, good or bad, does not form a habit; and hence, a virtue or a vice is the result of repeated acts of the same kind.
Q. 464. Does habit excuse us from the sins committed through it?
A. Habit does not excuse us from the sins committed through it, but rather makes us more guilty by showing how often we must have committed the sin to acquire the habit. If, however, we are seriously trying to overcome a bad habit, and through forgetfulness yield to it, the habit may sometimes excuse us from the sin.
Q. 465. What is Faith?
A. Faith is a Divine virtue by which we firmly believe the truths which God has revealed.
Q. 466. What is Hope?
A. Hope is a Divine virtue by which we firmly trust that God will give us eternal life and the means to obtain it.
Q. 467. What is Charity?
A. Charity is a Divine virtue by which we love God above all things for His own sake, and our neighbor as ourselves for the love of God.
Q. 468. Why are Faith, Hope and Charity called virtues?
A. Faith, Hope and Charity are called virtues because they are not mere acts, but habits by which we always and in all things believe God, hope in Him, and love Him.
Q. 469. What kind of virtues are Faith, Hope and Charity?
A. Faith, Hope and Charity are called infused theological virtues to distinguish them from the four moral virtues -- Prudence, Justice, Fortitude and Temperance.
Q. 470. Why do we say the three theological virtues are infused and the four moral virtues acquired?
A. We say the three theological virtues are infused; that is, poured into our souls, because they are strictly gifts of God and do not depend upon our efforts to obtain them, while the four moral virtues -- Prudence, Justice, Fortitude and Temperance -- though also gifts of God, may, as natural virtues, be acquired by our own efforts.
Q. 471. Why do we believe God, hope in Him, and love Him?
A. We believe God and hope in Him because He is infinitely true and cannot deceive us. We love Him because He is infinitely good and beautiful and worthy of all love.
Q. 472. What mortal sins are opposed to Faith?
A. Atheism, which is a denial of all revealed truths, and heresy, which is a denial of some revealed truths, and superstition, which is a misuse of religion, are opposed to Faith.
Q. 473. Who is our neighbor?
A. Every human being capable of salvation of every age, country, race or condition, especially if he needs our help, is our neighbor in the sense of the Catechism.
Q. 474. Why should we love our neighbor?
A. We should love our neighbor because he is a child of God, redeemed by Jesus Christ, and because he is our brother created to dwell in heaven with us.
Q. 475. What is actual grace?
A. Actual grace is that help of God which enlightens our mind and moves our will to shun evil and do good.
Q. 476. Is grace necessary to salvation?
A. Grace is necessary to salvation, because without grace we can do nothing to merit heaven.
Q. 477. Can we resist the grace of God?
A. We can, and unfortunately often do, resist the grace of God.
Q. 478. Is it a sin knowingly to resist the grace of God?
A. It is a sin, knowingly, to resist the grace of God, because we thereby insult Him and reject His gifts without which we cannot be saved.
Q. 479. Does God give His grace to every one?
A. God gives to everyone He creates sufficient grace to save his soul; and if persons do not save their souls, it is because they have not used the grace given.
Q. 480. What is the grace of perseverance?
A. The grace of perseverance is a particular gift of God which enables us to continue in the state of grace till death.
Q. 481. Can we merit the grace of final perseverance or know when we possess it?
A. We cannot merit the grace of final perseverance, or know when we possess it, because it depends entirely upon God's mercy and not upon our actions. To imagine we possess it would lead us into the sin of presumption.
Q. 482. Can a person merit any supernatural reward for good deeds performed while he is in mortal sin?
A. A person cannot merit any supernatural reward for good deeds performed while he is in mortal sin; nevertheless, God rewards such good deeds by giving the grace of repentance; and, therefore, all persons, even those in mortal sin, should ever strive to do good.
Q. 483. Does God reward anything but our good works?
A. God rewards our good intention and desire to serve Him, even when our works are not successful. We should make this good intention often during the day, and especially in the morning.
LESSON ELEVENTH: On the Church
Q. 484. How was the true religion preserved from Adam till the coming of Christ?
A. The true religion was preserved from Adam till the coming of Christ by the patriarchs, prophets and other holy men whom God appointed and inspired to teach His Will and Revelations to the people, and to remind them of the promised Redeemer.
Q. 485. Who were the prophets, and what was their chief duty?
A. The prophets were men to whom God gave a knowledge of future events connected with religion, that they might foretell them to His people and thus give proof that the message came from God. Their chief duty was to foretell the time, place and circumstances of Our Savior's coming into the world, that men might know when and where to look for Him, and might recognize Him when He came.
Q. 486. How could they be saved who lived before Christ became man?
A. They who lived before Christ became man could be saved by belief in the Redeemer to come and by keeping the Commandments of God.
Q. 487. Was the true religion universal before the coming of Christ?
A. The true religion was not universal before the coming of Christ. It was confined to one people -- the descendants of Abraham. All other nations worshipped false gods.
Q. 488. Which are the means instituted by Our Lord to enable men at all times to share in the fruits of the Redemption?
A. The means instituted by Our Lord to enable men at all times to share in the fruits of His Redemption are the Church and the Sacraments.
Q. 489. What is the Church?
A. The Church is the congregation of all those who profess the faith of Christ, partake of the same Sacraments, and are governed by their lawful pastors under one visible Head.
Q. 490. How may the members of the Church on earth be divided?
A. The members of the Church on earth may be divided into those who teach and those who are taught. Those who teach, namely, the Pope, bishops and priests, are called the Teaching Church, or simply the Church. Those who are taught are called the Believing Church, or simply the faithful.
Q. 491. What is the duty of the Teaching Church?
A. The duty of the Teaching Church is to continue the work Our Lord began upon earth, namely, to teach revealed truth, to administer the Sacraments and to labor for the salvation of souls.
Q. 492. What is the duty of the faithful?
A. The duty of the faithful is to learn the revealed truths taught; to receive the Sacraments, and to aid in saving souls by their prayers, good works and alms.
Q. 493. What do you mean by "profess the faith of Christ"?
A. By "profess the faith of Christ" we mean, believe all the truths and practice the religion He has taught.
Q. 494. What do we mean by "lawful pastors"?
A. By "lawful pastors" we mean those in the Church who have been appointed by lawful authority and who have, therefore, a right to rule us. The lawful pastors in the Church are: Every priest in his own parish; every bishop in his own diocese, and the Pope in the whole Church.
Q. 495. Who is the invisible Head of the Church?
A. Jesus Christ is the invisible Head of the Church.
Q. 496. Who is the visible Head of the Church?
A. Our Holy Father the Pope, the Bishop of Rome, is the Vicar of Christ on earth and the visible Head of the Church.
Q. 497. What does "vicar" mean?
A. Vicar is a name used in the Church to designate a person who acts in the name and authority of another. Thus a Vicar Apostolic is one who acts in the name of the Pope, and a Vicar General is one who acts in the name of the bishop.
Q. 498. Could any one be Pope without being Bishop of Rome?
A. One could not be Pope without being Bishop of Rome, and whoever is elected Pope must give up his title to any other diocese and take the title of Bishop of Rome.
Q. 499. Why is the Pope, the Bishop of Rome, the visible Head of the Church?
A. The Pope, the Bishop of Rome, is the visible Head of the Church because he is the successor of St. Peter, whom Christ made the chief of the Apostles and the visible Head of the Church.
Q. 500. Why are Catholics called "Roman"?
A. Catholics are called Roman to show that they are in union with the true Church founded by Christ and governed by the Apostles under the direction of St. Peter, by divine appointment the Chief of the Apostles, who founded the Church of Rome and was its first bishop.
Q. 501. By what name is a bishop's diocese sometimes called?
A. A bishop's diocese is sometimes called his see. The diocese of Rome, on account of its authority and dignity, is called the Holy See, and its bishop is called the Holy Father or Pope. Pope means father.
Q. 502. What do we call the right by which St. Peter or his successor has always been the head of the Church and of all its bishops?
A. We call the right by which St. Peter or his successor has always been the head of the Church, and of all its bishops, the Primacy of St. Peter or of the Pope. Primacy means holding first place.
Q. 503. How is it shown that St. Peter or his successor has always been the head of the Church?
A. It is shown that St. Peter or his successor has always been the head of the Church: 1.(1) From the words of Holy Scripture, which tell how Christ appointed Peter Chief of the Apostles and head of the Church. 2.(2) From the history of the Church, which shows that Peter and his successors have always acted and have always been recognized as the head of the Church.
Q. 504. How do we know that the rights and privileges bestowed on St. Peter were given also to his successors -- the Popes?
A. We know that the rights and privileges bestowed on St. Peter were given also to his successors, the Popes, because the promises made to St. Peter by Our Lord were to be fulfilled in the Church till the end of time, and as Peter was not to live till the end of time, they are fulfilled in his successors.
Q. 505. Did St. Peter establish any Church before he came to Rome?
A. Before he came to Rome, St. Peter established a Church at Antioch and ruled over it for several years.
Q. 506. Who are the successors of the other Apostles?
A. The successors of the other Apostles are the Bishops of the Holy Catholic Church.
Q. 507. How do we know that the bishops of the Church are the successors of the Apostles?
A. We know that the bishops of the Church are the successors of the Apostles because they continue the work of the Apostles and give proof of the same authority. They have always exercised the rights and powers that belonged to the Apostles in making laws for the Church, in consecrating bishops and ordaining priests.
Q. 508. Why did Christ found the Church?
A. Christ founded the Church to teach, govern, sanctify, and save all men.
Q. 509. Are all bound to belong to the Church?
A. All are bound to belong to the Church, and he who knows the Church to be the true Church and remains out of it cannot be saved.
Q. 510. Is it ever possible for one to be saved who does not know the Catholic Church to be the true Church?
A. It is possible for one to be saved who does not know the Catholic Church to be the true Church, provided that person:
- Has been validly baptized;
- Firmly believes the religion he professes and practices to be the true religion, and
- Dies without the guilt of mortal sin on his soul.
Q. 511. Why do we say it is only possible for a person to be saved who does not know the Catholic Church to be the true Church?
A. We say it is only possible for a person to be saved who does not know the Catholic Church to be the true Church, because the necessary conditions are not often found, especially that of dying in a state of grace without making use of the Sacrament of Penance.
Q. 512. How are such persons said to belong to the Church?
A. Such persons are said to belong to the "soul of the church"; that is, they are really members of the Church without knowing it. Those who share in its Sacraments and worship are said to belong to the body or visible part of the Church.
Q. 513. Why must the true Church be visible?
A. The true Church must be visible because its founder, Jesus Christ, commanded us under pain of condemnation to hear the Church; and He could not in justice command us to hear a Church that could not be seen and known.
Q. 514. What excuses do some give for not becoming members of the true Church?
A. The excuses some give for not becoming members of the true church are:
- They do not wish to leave the religion in which they were born.
- There are too many poor and ignorant people in the Catholic Church.
- One religion is as good as another if we try to serve God in it, and be upright and honest in our lives.
Q. 515. How do you answer such excuses?
- To say that we should remain in a false religion because we were born in it is as untrue as to say we should not heal our bodily diseases because we were born with them.
- To say there are too many poor and ignorant in the Catholic Church is to declare that it is Christ's Church; for He always taught the poor and ignorant and instructed His Church to continue the work.
- To say that one religion is as good as another is to assert that Christ labored uselessly and taught falsely; for He came to abolish the old religion and found the new in which alone we can be saved as He Himself declared.
Q. 516. Why can there be only one true religion?
A. There can be only one true religion, because a thing cannot be false and true at the same time, and, therefore, all religions that contradict the teaching of the true Church must teach falsehood. If all religions in which men seek to serve God are equally good and true, why did Christ disturb the Jewish religion and the Apostles condemn heretics?