The Mystery of Redemption
1st Semester Exam - Part One
The Original State of Man
Our first parents were created by God with the capacity for knowledge and love that were indispensable for their participation in his divine life. They possessed a clear awareness of God's presence. They had a profound and loving relationship with God and were exceedingly happy in the paradise God created. They were in a state of holiness and justice (CCC 375). They were immune to sickness, suffering, and death.
Original Sin and its Consequences
Adam and Eve lived in harmony with God. The only prohibition they were given was this: they could not eat fruit of the Tree if the Knowledge of Good and Evil, otherwise they would be punished with death. The serpent, who tempted Adam and Eve and ultimately got them to eat of the fruit, was Satan , the fallen angel. Because of this Original Sin, the sin of disobedience, they lost their state of original holiness and justice and their friendship with God for not only themselves but for all of us. The human mind and will were damaged, sin and suffering were introduced, and death was brought to us. The human intellect is now clouded.
The Word Became Flesh
As God promised to our first parents, a Redeemer was sent to us on Earth. The Archangel Gabriel was sent to a virgin named Mary, who would become the Mother of God, in the Annunciation. A child was conceived by the Holy Spirit in her womb in the Incarnation. The promised one, the Messiah, was born in Bethlehem.
God became flesh for four significant reasons:
- To expiate our sins, reconcile man with God, and restore the original human nature.
- To manifest the infinite depth of God's love
- To offer a model of holiness
- To allow people to share in his divine life
In the end, the Son of God died on the Cross for every person.
The Paschal Mystery
God promised a Redeemer to Adam and Eve to make up for Original Sin, and the Paschal Mystery fulfills his promise. Christ's Passion, Death, and Resurrection is man's redemption. Christ reversed the fault of Adam. People have learned to appreciate the great evil of sin and the greater love of God through the Paschal Mystery.
The Theological Virtues
There are three theological virtues we are called to practice: faith, hope, and charity. Being supernatural virtues, they are accompanied by sanctifying grace and are imparted to the soul at Baptism. Through these virtues, we can perform supernatural acts.
- Faith: allows us to accept the truths God has revealed to us through Christ; it elevates our natural intellect
- Hope: the confident expectation God will give the capacity to respond to his love so we can achieve a life of sanctity; gives us the power to trust God
- Charity: enables a person to love God above all things and his neighbor as him or herself
Prayer: How We Communicate to God
Friendship and union with God rests on communication through personal prayer and the sacramental life. A model for all Christian is the Our Father, which is sometimes called the perfect prayer because it sums up the entire Gospel. When we pray we are raising our hearts and minds to God. Prayer is a person's response to God's call. If we pray regularly, we are able to do the will of God more easily.
The Four Marks of the Church
Early on, Christians have identified four characteristics that are essential to the Church, both on Earth and in Heaven.
- One: By saying the Church is one, we are acknowledging the uniqueness and singularity of the Church. We believe that Jesus has instituted One Church, not multiple different churches. By establishing the Church, Jesus gives all the opportunity to be united to him, the one savior of the world.
- Holy: The Church receives her holiness from Christ her founder. Her holiness comes solely from God. The Church is holy in that her origin is in Christ. Her holiness is so complete that she is not defiled by sinners but transforms them.
- Catholic: The original term catholic is used to mean "universal", which describes the Church. The Church is catholic in two ways. First, she is whole and complete. Second, she has received universal authority from Christ to fulfill her universal mission.
- Apostolic: This mark relates to the twelve men Jesus chose to be witnesses to the Resurrection. They were entrusted with Christ's own authority to teach, sanctify, and govern his Church.
The Last Things
When we die, our immortal souls leave our mortal bodies and receive a particular judgement by Christ. Our souls will go to Purgatory, Heaven, or receive eternal damnation and separation from Christ eternally. Purgatory is a state of purification from venial sins so that souls achieve the purity necessary to enter Heaven. At the end of time, a Final Judgement, or General Judgement, will take place. All of our thoughts and actions will be brought to light. All things will be perfectly reestablished. All the supernatural realities in our world will be unveiled.
The Second Coming of the Lord is known as Parousia. During this time, every soul will go through a General Judgement. God's majesty, wisdom, justice, and mercy will shine forth for all to see Jesus Christ's final victory on earth. It marks the definitive triumph of Christ over sin and death. The Church will reach her perfection and plenitude at the final moment.