An Overview of the Faith
Michael Amodei

ave maria press

notre dame, indiana


. ISBN-10 1-59471-145-3 ISBN-13 978-1-59471-145-9 Project Editor: Catherine M. No part of the New American Bible may be reproduced without permission in writing from the copyright owner. Imprimatur: Nihil Obstat: The Reverend Michael Heintz Censor Liborum Most Reverend John M. Odell. 378. United States Catholic Conference. P. or statements expressed. No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any manner whatsoever. Confraternity of Christian Doctrine. Box 428. without written permission from Ave Maria Press®. Indiana on 3 March 2008. D’Arcy Bishop of Fort Wayne-South Bend Given at Fort Wayne. Inc. IN 46556. Cover photograph © Jupiter Images Unlimited. Cover and text design by Andy Wagoner. © 2009 by Ave Maria Press All rights Founded in 1865.The Ad Hoc Committee to Oversee the Use of the Catechism. has found this catechetical text. The Nihil Obstat and Imprimatur are official declarations that a book or pamphlet is free of doctrinal or moral error. copyright 2009.. 1986. Printed and bound in the United States of America. Photography acknowledgments on p. 1970.avemariapress. Scripture texts in this work are taken from the New American Bible with Revised New Testament and Revised Psalms © 1991. Inc. and are used by permission of the copyright owner.O. www. No implication is contained therein that those who have granted the Nihil Obstat or Imprimatur agree with its contents. to be in conformity with the Catechism of the Catholic Church. except in the case of reprints in the context of reviews. All rights reserved. Ave Maria Press is a ministry of the Indiana Province of Holy Cross. Notre Dame.— Libreria Editrice Vaticana. D. Other references cited as Notes on page 353. United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. Used with permission. Washington. English translation of the Catechism of the Catholic Church for the United States of America copyright © 1994.C. opinions. .

Devotions.Contents Introduction 7 15 61 101 143 187 245 291 317 331 353 355 1 2 3 4 5 6 The Revelation of Jesus Christ in Scripture Who Is Jesus? Paschal Mystery: The Mission of Jesus Christ The Church: Christ’s Mission Continues in the World Today The Sacraments of Christ Our Life in Christ Appendix 1: Selected Topics and Resources Appendix 2: Traditional Creeds. Novenas. and Prayers Glossary of Selected Terms Notes Index .

Hearts. We want to let our students try their learning in the world and so make prayers of their education. and Hands for Faith An education that is complete is the one in which the hands and heart are engaged as much as the mind. Fr. Basil Moreau Founder of the Congregation of Holy Cross .4 Engaging Minds.

and serve Jesus through the Church in the following ways: By mastering the language of faith through the study of key vocabulary items. Morality. By acting on Jesus’ mandate to “pick up your cross and follow me. By prayerful reflection on key lessons through the reading of Scripture and the teachings of the saints and Church Fathers. and serve Jesus Christ is what is ESSENTIAL for your life! This book is written to help you to integrate the dimensions of mind. . By studying the doctrines of faith as outlined in the Catechism of the Catholic Church. Liturgy and Sacraments. love.5 To know. love. and hands in order to know. heart.” The text suggests several real-life opportunities to put your faith into practice. including Creed. and Prayer.


millions of gallons of water take you toward the ocean floor. The sound. Darkness abounds. W 7 . Way too big to attempt to ride. The mass of the salt water and your depth below the gigantic wave prohibit this. begins to pick up. We could easily be scared. The waves that were the source of body or board surfing quickly add an increasingly powerful riptide to the mix. The wave bounds to the beach. What will you do? Before the wave crashes on you. You are not just being tossed and turned. Pain may be involved. just as suddenly as this situation came upon you. Go further: The surf. think about being knocked under a large ocean wave only to emerge to a large gasp of breath. you just miss diving under the wave’s break. A huge set of waves suddenly appears. you dive under. is deafening. But what will the actual transition from this world to the next be like? Again. And you pop through to a fresh breath. and your only instinct is to try to rise to the surface. even below the surface. Impossible.Introduction WHY WE NEED JESUS e can only imagine what it will be like to die. we can only use our imaginations. at first calm. Imagine your heart beating faster as the crest of water rises high above you. Unfortunately. it ends. For example. You are being slammed to the sand. Then. Thousands. The depth returns to manageable conditions.

. Why open this book with a story about death? Hopefully such a topic will grab your attention and let you know the necessity and the urgency of keeping the name “Jesus” on your lips and close to your heart. with marvelous melody of endless love in his own fair. and one confesses with the mouth and so is saved. where. loss of control. our hope for eternal life to contentment. . Jesus himself will transform our lives from this world to the next. Paul wrote in his Letter to the Romans: If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead. and Jesus filled the house with joy and mirth. For one believes with the heart and so is justified.8 Catholic Essentials Could it be that our moments preceding death and our actual death will be something like this: impending doom. At death. Jesus welcomes us into an everlasting Kingdom.” (Rom 10:9–13) . as mystic Blessed Julian of Norwich described: I saw our Lord like a lord in his own house who has called all his valued servants and friends to a solemn feast . . and our love to a bliss that will last forever. . our faith in him to deeper friendship. the Son of God the Father. you will be saved. fear. . For the scripture says. “No one who believes in him will be put to shame. He himself endlessly gladdened and solaced his valued friends . and finally new life? Comparing this metaphor with death. blessed face. For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved. our earthly bodies to glorious ones. When we leave this world for the next. St.” . as Christians we believe that our new life comes in Jesus Christ. .

The Church is Christ’s Body on earth. and your friends. You will discover that when you grow in your knowledge of Jesus. where we are assured he is always with us. When you put on Christ. get along with others. But how can they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how can they believe in him of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone to preach? And how can people preach unless they are sent? (Rom 10:14–15) The subject of this book is Jesus Christ and how to know him better so you can rise with him to a new and wonderful life. It is in the Church that we can know him. your family. He is the head of the Body. Knowing Jesus is not a journey you take on your own. You may know peers. though reflection through solitary prayer is certainly part of it. and live a life of peace. parents. we are its members. grandparents. and become more loving because they have “put on the Lord Jesus Christ. come to a new peace or satisfaction. especially in the sacraments.” as St. Paul described (Rom 13:14). Paul went on to ask. where Jesus remains present to this day. Discovering more about Christ and the Good News he preached takes place in the life of the Church. St. This is a goal worth your time and effort. or friends who have changed their focus in life. your life will be transformed well before your death. Think of how this is true. It is important for you to be assured of being able to defeat death and to live forever. This is accomplished only through Jesus Christ. it will give you new perspective to face challenges of career and vocational goals. When we .Introduction 9 It is important for you to be saved from a life in eternity apart from God.

we want to introduce him to others. views the entrance of sin into the world . This book is intended to help you grow in knowledge of Jesus while providing you with questions. The organization of the book provides many ways to know Jesus better and more deeply. or as part of religious instruction at home. Paschal Mystery: The Mission of Jesus Christ. traces our hunger for God and his Revelation to us through a survey of the Bible. wherever and however this take place: in a Catholic high school.10 Catholic Essentials know Jesus. Chapter 2. WAYS TO USE THIS BOOK This book may be used in several settings and in several ways. Chapter 1. and inspiration to take your part in Christ’s Church and share the Gospel with others. Chapter 3. Who Is Jesus? examines the gift of the Incarnation and Jesus’ Revelation of the Mystery of the Holy Trinity. including his special relationship with his Father. in a parish religious education program or youth ministry. This sharing of the Gospel takes place through the moral and upright way we live. It may be used as a resource to accompany a full study of Jesus Christ and his teaching through several courses you may take while in high school. The Revelation of Jesus Christ in Scripture. answers.

Introduction 11 through the lens of God’s immediate promise of a Redeemer. and a prayer. shares the means for communion with Jesus today and the marks that define Christ and his disciples. The Church: Christ’s Mission Continues in the World Today. boldfaced in the text. Write or Discuss prompts offer ways to reflect on the material and apply it to what is going on in your life. Vocabulary terms. Chapter 4. Our Life in Christ. Jesus: Friend and Savior is a section at the end of each chapter with practical applications for furthering your study including activities. are defined in the Glossary of Selected Terms. The Sacraments of Christ. Chapter 5. Several features within each chapter help provide breadth and depth to your knowledge of Jesus: Review questions help you summarize each main section. . reminds us of sacred and visible signs of Christ and his loving grace active in the world. apologetics questions and answers. Chapter 6. teaches that being a disciple of Jesus means putting him before all else while combating sin through the help of the grace of the Blessed Trinity.

he humbled himself. devotions. came down from Heaven. A collection of Catholic creeds. the Second Person of the Holy Trinity. novenas. Catholic Social Teaching. and found human in appearance. Who. that at the name of Jesus every knee should bend. even death on a cross. God. did not regard equality with God something to be grasped. Jesus Christ came to earth so we can share God’s divine nature—so we may be all that God intends for us. He became flesh so we might know God’s love.12 Catholic Essentials The Appendix is filled with information that will serve you well as you deepen your study of Jesus and the Catholic faith. Because of this. Christian vocation. He became flesh so we can also model his holiness. of those in heaven . May You Come to Know Jesus Christ “For us and for our salvation. becoming obedient to death. Jesus became human to save us by reconciling us with God. though he was in the form of God. and prayers is also part of the Appendix. Additional topics covered include Scripture study. Rather. and ecumenical and interfaith study. coming in human likeness.” Jesus. God greatly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name. taking the form of a slave. he emptied himself. May you come to know Christ Jesus.

Introduction 13 and on earth and under the earth. to the glory of God the Father. and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord. —Philippians 2:6–11 .


What you probably remember most about hearing the Gospel at Mass that day is that one of the Apostles happened to be absent when Jesus appeared. the Gospel goes on to say that “Thomas. and whose sins you retain are retained” (Jn 20:22–23). It tells the story of the Risen Jesus appearing to the disciples behind locked doors. was not with them when Jesus came” (Jn 20:24). He breathed on them and gave them the gift of the Holy Spirit. . He told them. called Didymus . 15 . Do you remember his name? Yes. Jesus greeted his friends with “Peace be with you” and showed them his hands and side.1 The Revelation of Jesus Christ in Scripture OUR DESIRE FOR GOD T he Gospel reading for the Second Sunday of Easter each year is always taken from the Gospel of John. Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them. . “Receive the Holy Spirit.

Thomas told the others. He stayed with the hope he would experience what they had experienced. and love him. praise. “My Lord and my God!” Once an unbeliever. but believe. in . Presumably the peace Jesus had offered the others was received by Thomas. God likewise has a desire to draw each person to himself. And Jesus returned specifically to reach out to Thomas. This time Thomas was there. too. I will not believe. Imagine the seven days between Jesus’ appearances to the disciples without Thomas present to the day when Jesus and Thomas met face to face.” Thomas answered and said to Jesus. was given an opportunity unique to human history: to meet and know God incarnate. “Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands and put my finger into the nailmarks and put my hand into his side. Jesus let Thomas do as he wished—put his finger “My Lord and My God!” in the wounds of Jesus’ hands and his hand in the wounds of Jesus’ side.” The next week Jesus came to the Apostles again. Human beings are created with a desire or longing for God that can’t be satisfied until we come to know. Thomas was the first person recorded in the Gospels to identify Jesus as God. Thomas. Christ is the eternal Word that became flesh. The Son of God assumed a human nature in order for us to be saved. for he had found God face to face. Thomas did not abandon the group of believers in the meantime.16 Catholic Essentials You can probably recall the rest of the reading. like the others disciples. Jesus told Thomas to “not be unbelieving.

The Gospel for the Second Sunday of Easter acknowledges this. The testimony of the other disciples about Jesus’ Resurrection—and now this special Resurrection appearance—convinced Thomas that Jesus was also God. we can find lasting happiness and the meaning of life.1 . he will never stop calling us to himself. You yourself encourage him to delight in your praise. and our heart is restless until it rests in you. ThomLord Jesus and love and serve others under the guidance of the Holy Spirit. Putting his The Body of Christ. The Pope and as was reminded that his bishops guide the Roman Catholic Church. man. Today.The Revelation of Jesus Christ in Scripture 17 Church the flesh. St. for you have made us for yourself. that is. our search for God might be easier if we could speak to Jesus face to face. In this search. The natural human search for God requires that we make every effort with our mind and heart while knowing that even if we forget God or reject him. wants to praise you. though but a small part of your creation. Jesus was a human being with real flesh and blood. The belief in the Incarnation—that God assumed human nature—is a distinctive sign of Christian faith.” But Jesus has “blessed” our search for him and offered us many ways to know him. Jesus said to Thomas. “Have you come to believe because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and have believed. the community of finger and hand into God’s People who profess faith in the Risen Jesus’ wounds. These ways to know Jesus—revealed in the Church—are the subject of this book. Augustine wrote about this search for God and what it brings: Despite everything.

18 Catholic Essentials REVIEW 1. This profession of faith begins with God because God is the beginning and the end of everything. time. there are many different understandings of God. Define Incarnation. what did Thomas do before anyone else? 2. Muslims call God “Allah. Most people—whether or not they practice a religion—do believe in or acknowledge a supreme being. Why did Jesus assume a human nature? 3. though it may be named differently in the other religions. Hindus name this deity “Brahma. Testament translates to covenant. All the major religions believe in some invisible. However. For example. higher reality. leading to an obedience or a worship of a power or a being larger than they are. . According to the Gospels.” Buddhism does not name a personal God but does acknowledge an Ultimate Reality of the universe. WRITE OR DISCUSS • How has your journey to know Jesus been blessed? WHO IS GOD? “I believe in God” is the first statement of the Catholic creeds. A belief in God further affects their lives. Jesus’ Death and Resurrecdaism also has many tion sealed God’s New Covenant of love for all other names for God. JuThe open-ended contract of love between God and human beings.” Judaism has such great respect for the name of God that the most important name given to God—represented by four Hebrew letters for YHWH—cannot Covenant be pronounced.

considers Siddhartha Gautama as the Use this chapter and other supreme god. God is Trinitarian. Then check your answers at “Catholic enlightenment. only Judaism. also permits and worships lesser gods. Christianity. or “My Lord. Of the major religions. This belief seems natural to us now. Buddhism. monotheism—the belief in only one supreme God—was not Religious Education. FAQs” at www. not created. but How is God the author of the Sacred Scripture? also polytheism (belief in many CATHOLIC FAQ gods) and pantheism (belief that God and nature are the same). The belief in one God is different from what people once believed. This makes its beliefs essentially dualistic. though it proclaims one supreme God.avemariapress.” being the first name used in Scripture. ZoroasApologetics: trianism believes in the triumph of a good god but also acknowledges S an equally powerful evil force. but it wasn’t always so. Hinduism. God is almighty.The Revelation of Jesus Christ in Scripture 19 Adonai. For example. but he is also considsources to formulate your own ered essentially a man who achieved answers to these questions. Who wrote the Bible? Why should Christians bother reading the Old Testament? . in some forms. and Islam are monotheistic. Monotheism contradicts not only atheism (the belief in no God). The Catholic creeds continue by naming our central beliefs about God: • • • • There is one God. God is Creator. Prior to God’s self-revelation and his covenant with the Israelites from the Old Testament.

God always was. These major characteristics of God help fill in more of the details of God’s nature. from the words of the Scriptures. named nine attributes that tell us about God’s nature. and from other Divine Revelation passed on to us in the Church that God is indeed good. God is eternal. God is the designer of a one-and-only world. He has no beginning and no end. . theologians (those who study God) and faithful people in general would likely not spend time trying to figure out much more about God’s identity. they would likely look for ways to appease this power or simply run for cover and hide! We know from our personal experience. And in the course of history.20 Catholic Essentials One of the central beliefs about God that most religions have in common is that “God is good. 2. His love for his people is stronger than a mother’s for her children. Even the people he creates are one of a kind. The monotheistic religions believe in a God who is not only good. Also. They see God as the Creator of all that exists. but he loves each person even more than the person loves himself or herself. God is capable of receiving love in return and hopes we will offer our love to him freely. Not only that. Or.” If this wasn’t so. Thomas Aquinas (1225–1274). If people believed God to be evil and vindictive. to put it another way. always is. but also almighty—above all others. God is unique. one of the most important theologians in Church history. Attributes of God St. and always will be. “God so loved the world that he gave his only Son” (Jn 3:16). God is the fullness of being and perfection. They are as follows: 1. God’s love for Israel is compared to a father’s love for his son.

God is infinite and omnipotent. 4. God is omnipresent. God is a pure spirit who cannot be divided into parts. God is simple but complex. 9.g. We believe that God not only rules everything. There are no limits to God. He is everywhere. You can never be away from God. this is believable to us because of God’s almighty power. only his omnipotence is named in the creeds. God is not a material creation. . Of all the attributes of God. a wise old man with a long beard). 5. The angel reinforced this by saying. God does not change. God contains all things. Omnipotence is a word that refers to God’s supreme power and authority over all of creation.The Revelation of Jesus Christ in Scripture 21 3. God is pure goodness. Though God has been described with human attributes (e. 6. he came to this world in the incarnate form of Jesus Christ. God is pure love. God has no space limitations. This reminds us of a lesson we learned early in life: God sees everything. When we read that an angel visited Mary and told her she would give birth to a son without conceiving it with a man. God’s image cannot be made.. God is holy. God is immutable. Our belief in an almighty God affects how we live our lives. “Nothing will be impossible for God” (Lk 1:37). God does not evolve. God is the same God now as he always has been and always will be. God is pure spirit. 7. We believe in a living God. All of creation is under God’s care and jurisdiction. God is alive. 8. Most concretely. but he can do everything and anything. a God who acts in the lives of people.

” The first words of the Scriptures say that “In the beginning . Still. He says. God created the heavens and the earth” (Gn 1:1). Finally. As St. Jesus. . what would be so extraordinary in that? A human artisan makes from a given material whatever he wants. though we might not fully understand why there is evil. while God shows his power by starting from nothing to make all he wants. suffering. This is part of another of God’s attributes—his mystery. and death. and through that the ultimate end of all sin and death. Through our examination of creation. and you shall be sons and daughters to me” (2 Cor 6:18). seen and unseen.” of “all that is. . God did not use any preexistent thing. we know that God created from nothing. Jesus teaches that our heavenly Father “knows all that we need” (see Luke 12:30) and will grant us these things when we accept him first. too—through the Resurrection of his Son. . God Is Creator In our Catholic creeds. God’s almighty power sustains even the “evidence” of weakness when we witness evil and suffering in our world. God is a loving Father who takes care of our needs. First. In fact. nor did he need any help to create.22 Catholic Essentials God’s almighty power does not coerce us into obedience. we do witness how the Almighty God is even able to conquer these. his power is loving. “I will be a father to you. we learn several other things about God. Theophilus of Antioch put it: If God had drawn the world from pre-existent matter. we confess that God the Father is “Creator of heaven and earth.

he is present to it. God creates what he wants. take an active involvement. This plan of God’s is one in which we.” Pope Benedict XVI preached in his inaugural Mass as Pope in 2005. God supports his creation. All creation—including the physical world—is a product of God’s goodness. Each of us is willed. In creation. each of us is necessary. For example. but also salvation The extension of God’s forgivein creation itself. and healing to the mans are made as male and female. one that culminates in Jesus Christ. God is greater than his works of creation. we share in his goodness. God created man and woman to be . “In [God] we live and move and have our being” (Acts 17:28). That is why huness. Fifth. because we are created in God’s goodness. each of us is loved. yet at the same time. God made his creatures because he wanted to share his being. we are not created and then abandoned by God. Fourth. we get the first glimpse of God’s saving plan of love. Rather. what God has made is good. God’s providence leads and guides us to our final end: salvation and union with God. God is outside of his creation. God’s act of creation was the first witness to his love and wisdom. world through Jesus Christ in the Holy Spirit. God intended for people to share not only in the saving work of the world. Third. goodness. Creation is not left to blind fate or chance. and wisdom. “Each of us is the result of a thought of God. As the Acts of the Apostles puts it. his creations.The Revelation of Jesus Christ in Scripture 23 Second. grace. As humans.

“his hands. The purpose of this book in total is to help you understand and believe more deeply that Jesus is the Christ. the glory as of the Father’s only Son. the chosen Messiah who has come to earth to offer you the promise of Redemption and life in his eternal Kingdom.” Ultimately. It would be wise to digest the previous paragraph (including the passage from the Gospel of John) before moving on. that the God with attributes such as eternal. Traditionally. to share in the divine activity of bringing life in his image to the world. The purpose of each of these chapters is . in fact. immutable. and we saw his glory. Jesus Christ: God Incarnate And the Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. It was said that he made everything by himself—by the Son and the Spirit who are. infinite. pure of spirit. God the Father has been given the role of Creator. the work of creation is the common work of the Holy Trinity.24 Catholic Essentials procreators. Son. according to St. omnipotent. and Holy Spirit. Creation itself is the work of the Holy Trinity—Father. Irenaeus. and holy would empty himself to become a human being! God. omnipresent. (Jn 1:14) Belief in the true Incarnation—the taking on of human nature and human flesh by the Son of God—is the distinctive element of Christianity. What a challenging belief. full of grace and truth. entered human history by becoming one of his creatures while all the time remaining the Creator of the universe.

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