Mary is the Virgin Mother of Jesus Christ. God willed that Jesus should have a true human mother but only God himself as his Father. Anyone who calls Mary the Mother of God thereby professes that her Son is God. She is also our mother. When Jesus spoke from the cross to John, the Church has always understood that it was an act of entrusting the whole Church to Mary. “Mary is the most tender mother of the human race; she is the refuse of sinners,” wrote St. Alphonsus Liguori, mystic and Doctor of the Church.
(From the Youth Catechism of the Catholic Church) (Youcat #80)
Jesus is the only son of Mary in the physical sense. Even in the early Church, Mary’s perpetual virginity was assumed, which rules out the possibility of Jesus having brothers and sisters from the same mother. In the Aramaic Language, Jesus’ mother tongue, there is only one word for sibling and cousins. When the Gospels speak about the “brothers and sisters” of Jesus, they are referring to his close relatives.
(From the Youth Catechism of the Catholic Church) (Youcat #81)
Confirmation completes Baptism. The gift of the Holy Spirit is bestowed upon us. The anointing brings the gifts of the Holy Spirit, strengthening our witness to God’s love and might in word and deed. In Confirmation one is now a full-fledged, responsible member of the Catholic Church. In sports, when a coach sends a player into the game he puts his hand on his/her shoulder and gives him final instructions. We can understand Confirmation in a similar way. In the Acts of Apostles, Peter and John travel about to confirm new Christians by imposing hands on those who previously had only been baptized.
(From the Youth Catechism of the Catholic Faith) (Youcat #203)
In Confirmation the soul of a baptized Christian is imprinted with a permanent seal that can be received only once and marks the individual forever as a Christian. The gift of the Holy Spirit is the strength from above to which each individual puts the grace of his Baptism into practice through his life and acts as a “witness” for Christ. From the Acts of the Apostles, “Now when the apostles at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent Peter and John who came and prayed for them that they might receive the Holy spirit; for the Spirit had not fallen on any of them, but they had only been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.”
(From the Youth Catechism of the Catholic Church) (Youcat #204)
The Catechism teaches that the Holy Eucharist is the sacrament in which Jesus Christ gives his body and blood---himself---for us, so that we too might give ourselves to him in love and be united with him in Holy Communion. In this way we are joined with one body of Christ, the Church. The celebration of the Eucharist is “the source and summit of the Christian Life” (Second Vatican council, Lumen Gentium.)
In the words of St. Thomas Aquinas, “The actual effect of the Eucharist is the transformation of man into God.”(From the Youth Catechism of the Catholic Church) (Youcat #208)
The Catechism explains that the term Transubstantiation comes from the Latin (trans = through), and (substantia = essence, substance). The theological term is used to explain theologically how Jesus can be present under the appearance of the gifts of bread and wine in Eucharist. Whereas the “substances” changed by the working of the Holy Spirit at the words of Consecration into the Body and Blood of Christ, their outward “species” or forms remain the same. Jesus Christ is really, but invisibly, present in what looks like bread and wine. (From the Youth Catechism of the Catholic Church) (Youcat 217)
Because God is truly present in the consecrated species of bread and wine, we must preserve the sacred gifts with the greatest reverence. If there are consecrated hosts left over after the celebration of Holy Eucharist, they are kept in sacred vessels in the tabernacle. Since the Most Blessed Sacrament is present in them, the tabernacle is one of the most venerable places in every church. We genuflect before any tabernacle. (From the Youth Catechism of the Catholic Church) (Youcat 218)
The Catechism teaches that a Catholic Christian is obligated to attend Holy Mass on all Sundays and Holy days of obligation. Anyone who is really seeking Jesus’ friendship responds as often as possible to Jesus’ personal invitation to the feast. From ancient times the celebration of Mass has been the “Heart of Sunday” and the most important appointment of the week.(From the Youth Catechism of the Catholic Church) (Youcat 219)
God did not want men to suffer and die, in fact, God’s original idea for man was paradise: life forever and peace between God and man. Man lost the original harmony with the world and ultimately with God. Sacred Scripture tells us that the experience of alienation is expressed in the story of the Fall. Because sin crept in, Adam and Eve had to leave paradise and their harmonious relationship with each other and God. The toil of work, suffering, mortality, and the temptation to sin are signs of this loss of paradise. St. John Chrysostom wrote, “We have lost paradise but have received heaven, and therefore the gain is greater than the loss.”(Youth Catechism of the Catholic Church) (Youcat #66)
Guilt prepares a person for repentance. The insight into one’s personal guilt produces a longing to better oneself; this is called contrition. We arrive at contrition when we see the contradiction between God’s love and our sin. We are then full of sorrow for our sins, we resolve to change our life and place all our hope in God’s help. St. Teresa of Calcutta wrote, “Some saints described themselves as terrible criminals because they saw God, they saw themselves, and they saw the difference.”(From the Youth Catechism of the Catholic Church) (Youcat #229)
Jesus was a man of peace, but he posed a dilemma: He offered an unprecedented challenge to the traditional Judaism of the time. He forgave sins, which God alone can do; He acted as though the Sabbath law was not absolute; and was accused of being a false prophet. All those were crimes punishable under the Law by death. His death relates to all of us, St. Francis of Assisi wrote, “And even the demons did not crucify Him, but you, together with them, have crucified Him and are still crucifying Him by delighting in vices and sins. (From the Youth Catechism of the Catholic Church) (Youcat #97)
Jesus showed his consummate love at the Last Supper. He instituted the Holy Eucharist, the focal point of our Faith, and symbolically anticipated his redeeming Passion by speaking these words over the gifts of bread and wine: “This is my body which is given for you.” He also made the Apostles priests (Holy Orders) when he commanded them to “Do this in remembrance of me.” Regarding the Last Supper, Pope Benedict XVI has said, “In a certain sense we can say the Last Supper itself is the act of foundation of the Church, because he gives himself and thus creates a new community, a community united in communion with himself.” (From the Youth Catechism of the Catholic Church) (Youcat #99)
Lent is the 40 day period of fasting and prayer which prepares us for the celebration of Easter. At the Council of Nicaea in 325 A.D., this period of 40 days of fasting and preparation was established. The number “40” may have its origins in the 40-day fast observed by Moses, Elijah, and Christ. Ash Wednesday was added to begin the fasting period in the 7th century so 40 days would be achieved, absent Sundays. In recent centuries meat was added except for Fridays. Vatican II shifted the emphasis from the physical suffering to other forms of penance including prayer and works of charity.(From the Modern Catholic Encyclopedia)
Jesus himself instituted the sacrament of Penance when he showed himself to his apostles on Easter day and commanded them, “Receive the Holy Spirit, If you forgive sins of any, they areforgiven; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.” St. Gregory Nazianzen said, “Penance is the second Baptism, the baptism of tears.” The parable of the prodigal son best expresses Penance. Upon returning the son says he is no longer worthy to be called the father’s son, but the father calls for the best robe, ring, and shoes since his son has returned.(From the Youth Catechism of the Catholic Church) (Youcat #227)
Sometimes a person has to become sick in order to recognize what we all---healthy or sick---need more than anything else: God. Jesus came in order to show God’s love and often did so in places where we feel threatened, in the weakening of our life through sickness. “Care for the sick must have priority over everything else: they should be served as though they were really Christ,” wrote St. Benedict of Nursia in the 5th century. One can receive the Anointing of the Sick several times in one’s life. Young people should do so for example, if they are about to undergo a serious operation. (From the Youth Catechism of the Catholic Church) (Youcat #241-243)
Purgatory is often imaged as a place, but is actually a condition. Someone who dies in God’s grace but who still needs purification before he can see God face to face is in Purgatory. When Peter betrayed Jesus, the Lord turned and looked at Peter: “And Peter went out and wept bitterly”---a feeling like being in Purgatory. Purgatory is mentioned in the Old Testament as well, from 2 Maccabees, “Therefore he (Judas Maccabeus) made atonement for the dead, that they might be delivered from their sin.”(From the Youth Catechism of the Catholic Church) (Youcat # 159)
All sacraments are an encounter with Christ, who is himself the original sacrament.
Christ gave us the seven sacraments. Baptism, Confirmation, and Holy Eucharist are the Sacraments of Initiation which introduce us into the faith. The Sacraments of Healing are Reconciliation (Confession) which reconciles us with Christ. The Anointing of the Sick allows Christ to heal, strengthen, and console us. Matrimony and Holy Orders are sacraments of Communion and Mission. At Marriage, Christ promises his love in our love and his fidelity in our fidelity. In Holy Orders he gives priests the privilege of forgiving sins and celebrating the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.(From the Youth Catechism of the Catholic Church) (Youcat #193)
From its earliest days, the Church has practiced infant Baptism. There is one reason for this: before we decide on God, God has decided on us. Baptism is therefore a grace, an undeserved gift of God who accepts us unconditionally. Infant Baptism presupposes that Christian parents will raise the baptized child in faith. It is an injustice to deprive the child of Baptism out of a mistaken liberality. One cannot deprive a child of love so that he can later decide on love for himself; so it would be an injustice to deprive the child of God's grace in Baptism.
(From the Youth Catechism of the Catholic Church) (Youcat #197)
For all those who have received the Gospel and have heard that Christ is "the way, and the truth, and the life," Baptism is the only way to God and salvation. That is why missionary work is so important. However, it is true that Christ died for all mankind. Therefore, all men who have had no opportunity to learn about Christ and the faith but seek God sincerely and live according to their consciences also find salvation (Baptism of Desire).
(From the Youth Catechism of the Catholic Church) (Youcat #199)
In Baptism we become members of the Body of Christ, sisters and brothers of our Redeemer and children of God. We are freed from sin. As Pope Benedict XVI has said, "Our life now belongs to Christ, and no longer to ourselves...at his side, and indeed, drawn up in his love, we are freed from fear." We choose the names of saints at Baptism because there are no better examples than the saints. One then has a friend with God.
The practice of observing Advent dates to the 4th century. Advent is derived from the Latin word adventus, an arrival. The four week liturgical season precedes Christmas when the Church prepares to celebrate the birth of Christ. The practices and readings of the Advent season emphasize penance and the joyful expectation of the Lord's coming. The readings center on the prophecies of John the Baptist and Isaiah. The final week of Advent focuses on the approaching birth of Christ and the role of the Blessed Mother. (From the Modern Catholic Encyclopedia)
The Church believes that "the Most Blessed Virgin Mary" was, from the first moment of her conception, by a singular grace and privilege of almighty God and the merits of Jesus Christ, Savior of the World; preserved immune from all stain of original sin. The belief has existed since the beginning of the Church. It is misunderstood today. Nothing is said about the conception of Jesus in Mary's womb. It says God preserved Mary from original sin from the very beginning. (From the Youth Catechism of the Catholic Church)
Sin in the strict sense implies guilt for which one is personally responsible. The term "Original Sin" refers, not to a personal sin, but rather to the disastrous fallen state of mankind into which the individual is born, even before he himself sins by a free decision.
Pope Benedict, in talking about Original sin, says "that we all carry within us a drop of the poison on that way of thinking, illustrated by the images in the Book of Genesis that the individual does not trust God."(From the Youth Catechism of the Catholic Church)
In Jesus Christ, God reconciled the world to himself and redeemed mankind from the imprisonment of sin, "God so loved the world that he gave his only-begotten Son" (Jn 3:16). In Jesus, God took on the mortal human flesh (Incarnation), shared our sufferings and death and become one like us in all things but sin.
"God is so great that he can become small. God is so powerful that he can make himself vulnerable and come to us as a defenseless child, so that we can love him," Pope Benedict XVI---Christmas Eve, 2005.(From the Youth Catechism of the Catholic Church)
Faith is knowledge and trust. It is a gift of God which we receive when we fervently ask for it. Faith is the supernatural power that is absolutely necessary if we are to attain salvation. It requires free will and clear understanding and is absolutely certain because Jesus guarantees it. Faith grows when we listen more and more carefully to God's word. It gives us even now, a foretaste of the joy of heaven. "Faith by its very nature is the acceptance of a truth that our reason cannot attain," said Blessed John Henry Newman, convert and Cardinal.
(From the Youth Catechism of the Catholic Church) (Youcat #21)
"Let the Creed be like a mirror for you. Look at yourself in it to see whether you really believe all that you claim to believe. And rejoice every day in our faith," wrote Saint Augustine. The creeds go back to Jesus, who commanded his disciples to baptize. In doing so, they were to require of the people seeking Baptism the profession of a definite faith, namely, faith in the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. All the creeds of the Church are elaborations of the faith in this Triune God.(From the youth Catechism of the Catholic Church) (Youcat #26)
To know God means to know that he who created and willed me, who looks at me every moment with love, who blessed and upholds my life, who has the world and people I love in his hand...who wishes to fulfill and perfect me and to make me dwell forever with him---is there. To nod with your head at this is not enough. Christians must adopt Jesus' way of life.
(From the Youth Catechism of the Catholic Church) (Youcat #34)
Faith is the most personal thing a person has, yet it is not a private matter...believing is therefore participation in a common conviction. Anyone who wants to believe must be able to say both "I" and "We" because a faith he/she cannot share and communicate would be irrational...the faith of others supports the individual, just as the fervor of a person's faith enkindles and strengthens others. "Where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I in the midst of them," the words of Jesus Christ in the Gospel of St. Matthew
(From the Youth Catechism of the Catholic Church( (Youcat #24)
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