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The Church Professes Her Faith in God the Son

Catechesis by Pope John Paul II on God the Father
General Audience, Wednesday, 6 November 1985 - in Italian & Spanish  

"1. In last Wednesday's catechesis we considered how Jesus Christ, in revealing the Father, manifested himself in a special way as the consubstantial Son of the Father.

Basing herself on Christ's testimony, the Church professes and proclaims her faith in God the Son with the words of the Nicene-Constantinopolitan Creed: "God from God, Light from Light, true God from true God, begotten, not made, one in Being with the Father...."

This is a truth of faith announced by the very word of Christ, sealed with his blood shed on the cross, ratified by his resurrection, attested by the teaching of the apostles and transmitted by the New Testament writings.

Christ affirmed: "Before Abraham was, I am (Jn 8:58). He did not say: "I was," but "I am," that is, from always, in an eternal present. The Apostle John wrote in the prologue to his Gospel: "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God; all things were made through him, and without him nothing was made" (Jn 1:1-3). Therefore, those words, "before Abraham," in the context of Jesus' controversy with the heirs of the tradition of Israel who appealed to Abraham, mean "well before Abraham." They are illumined by the words of the prologue to the fourth Gospel: "In the beginning he was with God," that is, in the eternity proper to God alone—in the eternity common to the Father and the Holy Spirit. The Quicumque Creed states: "In this Trinity none is before or after, none greater or less, but all three Persons are among themselves coeternal and coequal.

2. According to John's Gospel, the Son who is the Word was in the beginning with God (cf. Jn 1:1-2). We find the same concept in the apostolic teaching. We read in the Letter to the Hebrews that God appointed the Son "heir of all things, through whom also he created the world. He reflects the glory of God and bears that very stamp of his nature, upholding the universe by his word of power" (Heb 1:2-3). Paul in his Letter to the Colossians wrote: "He is the image of the invisible God, the first-born of all creation" (1:15).

Therefore, according to the apostolic teaching, the Son is of the same substance as the Father since the Son is the God-Word. Everything has been made, the universe has been created, in this Word and through him. Before creation, before the beginning of "all things visible and invisible," the Word has eternal Being and divine life in common with the Father, since he "reflects the glory of God and bears the very stamp of his nature" (Heb 1:3). In this principle without beginning the Word is the Son, since he is eternally begotten by the Father. The New Testament reveals this mystery, incomprehensible to us, of a God who is One and Three. So, in the ontologically absolute unity of his essence, God is eternally and without beginning the Father who begets the Word, and he is the Son, begotten as the Word of the Father.

3. This eternal generation of the Son is a truth of faith proclaimed and defined by the Church many times (not only at Nicaea and Constantinople, but also in other Councils, for example in the Fourth Lateran Council in 1215). It was examined and explained by the Fathers and theologians, naturally in so far as the inscrutable reality of God can be expressed by our human concepts, which are always so inadequate. This explanation is summarized by the Catechism of the Council of Trent, which states very exactly: "God's infinite fecundity is so great that in knowing himself he begets the Son equal and the same."

It is certain that this eternal generation in God is of an absolutely spiritual nature, for "God is Spirit." In the cognitive process of the human mind, man, in knowing himself, produces an image of himself, an idea, a "concept," that is, a "conceived idea," which from the Latin verbum (word) is frequently called the interior word. By analogy with this process, we dare to think of the generation of the Son, or the eternal "concept" and interior Word of God. God, in knowing himself, begets the Word, the Son, who is God just as the Father. In this begetting, God is at the same time Father, as he who begets, and Son, as he who is begotten, in the supreme identity of the divinity which excludes a plurality of "Gods." The Word is the Son of the same substance of the Father, and with him he is the one God of the Old and New Testament revelation.

4. The whole Christian tradition contains this exposition of the mystery of God's inner life, which is inscrutable to us. If the divine generation is a truth of faith contained directly in revelation and defined by the Church, we can say that the explanation given of it by the Fathers and Doctors of the Church is a well-founded and certain theological doctrine.

But we cannot thereby pretend to eliminate the obscurity which envelops, before our mind's eye, him who "dwells in unapproachable light" (1 Tim 6:16). Precisely because the human intellect is not at a level to comprehend the divine essence it cannot penetrate the mystery of God's inner life. The saying: "If you comprehend it, it is not God," is particularly applicable here.

However, revelation unfolds for us the essential terms of the mystery. It expresses it for us and enables us to savor it in a way well beyond all intellectual understanding, while we await and prepare for the beatific vision in heaven. We believe then, that the "Word was God" (Jn 1:1), "he became flesh and dwelt among us" (Jn 1:14), and "to all who received him...he gave power to become children of God" (Jn 1:12). We believe in "the only Son who is in the bosom of the Father" (Jn 1:18), and who on leaving the earth promised "to prepare a place for us" (Jn 14:2) in the glory of God, as adopted children and his brothers (cf. Rom 8:15-23; Gal 4:5; and Eph 1:5)."

After the Catechesis, Pope John Paul II greeted the pilgrims in various languages

Ai pellegrini francesi

Je salue tous les pèlerins venus des différents pays de langue française, spécialement de France et du Luxembourg, et, en leur souhaitant d’approfondir leur foi en Jésus Christ, Verbe de Dieu, je les bénis de grand cœur, eux et leurs familles.

Ai fedeli di espressione inglese

I wish to welcome in a special way the members of the Auxiliary Lay Apostolate of the Passionist Retreat House and the Radio and Television Ministries in the United States. My cordial greeting also goes to the group of lawyers from Scotland and to the members of the International Catacombs Society. And I am especially happy to offer warm greetings to the group of pilgrims from Thailand. Upon all the English-speaking visitors and pilgrims, particularly those from England, Scotland, Denmark, Thailand and the United States, I invoke God’s choicest blessings.

Ai pellegrini di espressione spagnola

Dirijo ahora mi más cordial saludo de bienvenida a todos los peregrinos y visitantes de lengua española.

En particular a los sacerdotes, religiosos y religiosas aquí presentes, a quienes aliento en su trabajo apostólico y animo a una entrega generosa a Cristo y a los hermanos.

Me es grato saludar también a los participantes en los Cursos de Dirección organizados por el Centro Internacional de Turín. Así como la peregrinación de las Residencias de Ancianos de las Misioneras del Pilar (Zaragoza); a los peregrinos de Lloret de Mar, a las alumnas del Colegio de “San Luis de los Franceses” y a las representantes de la Comisión del Estado Mayor.

A todas las personas, familias y grupos procedentes de los diversos Países de América Latina y de España imparto con afecto la Bendición Apostólica.

Ai pellegrini polacchi

Serdecznie pozdrawiam wszystkich obecnych na tej audiencji pielgrzymów z Polski. W szczególności witam i pozdrawiam księdza biskupa Juliana Groblickiego z Krakowa oraz wszystkie grupy: pielgrzymkę jubileuszową rodziny pallotyńskiej na 150-lecie istnienia i pracy apostolskiej pallotynów; pielgrzymów z parafii św. Wojciecha w Krakowie, Bronowicach Małych; z parafii Biskupice; z parafii Strumiany, archidiecezja krakowska; pielgrzymów z Klubu Inteligencji Katolickiej przy kościele w Nowej Hucie w Mogile - ojcowie cystersi; pielgrzymów lekarzy i farmaceutów z diecezji gdańskiej z księdzem biskupem Zygmuntem Pawłowiczem; pielgrzymów polskiego duszpasterstwa katolickiego Matki Boskiej Częstochowskiej w Berlinie Zachodnim; kolejarzy z Gdańska i Olszstyna oraz uczestników grup turystycznych PTTK, Amicizia, Orbis, Turysta. Wszystkich serdecznie pozdrawiam w imię Tróicy Przenajświętszej: Ojca, Syna i Ducha świętego, albowiem Trójca, Bóg Trójjedny jest tematem naszych katechez w tym okresie . . . Pragnę wszystkich obecnych serdecznie pozdrowić i przekazać wam i przez was błogosławieństwo wszystkim drogim braciom i siostrom w całej naszej Ojcźyznie.

Ai fedeli italiani

Saluto cordialmente i gruppi di lingua italiana qui presenti, e in particolare il gruppo della parrocchia “Gesù nostra Riconciliazione” di Rimini, presenti insieme col Vescovo e il Sindaco della città.

La vostra chiesa sorge su un’area nella quale si svolge l’annuale “Meeting internazionale per l’amicizia dei popoli”, a uno dei quali intervenni io stesso qualche anno fa.

L’augurio che vi rivolgo, cari fratelli, è che la nuova chiesa che state costruendo sia l’espressione e il simbolo di una sempre rinnovata speranza e di un’indefettibile volontà che hanno per oggetto l’avvento di quella giustizia tra i popoli che vi sono garantite dal Vangelo di Gesù Cristo. La sua grazia e la sua benedizione sostenga i vostri programmi e i vostri lavori!

Ai giovani

Carissimi giovani!

Lieto per la vostra sempre gradita presenza, vi rivolgo un affettuoso saluto. In questo incontro desidero ricordarvi la figura di padre Tito Brandsma, che domenica scorsa ho solennemente dichiarato “beato”, ed esortarvi a leggerne la biografia, che sarà di grande aiuto per la vostra formazione. Egli morì il 26 luglio 1942 nel campo di sterminio di Dachau, dopo terribili sofferenze, martire della Verità, che aveva coraggiosamente sostenuto e difeso. Invocatelo nelle vostre difficoltà! Imparate sul suo esempio ad essere anche voi fermi nella fede e coraggiosi nella speranza! Vi benedico tutti di cuore!

Agli ammalati

Carissimi malati!

Anche a voi rivolgo in modo speciale la mia parola di saluto, di riconoscenza per la partecipazione a questa udienza, di comprensione e di augurio per la vostra sofferenza. Voi mi siete continuamente presenti nel pensiero e nella preghiera; e desidero incoraggiarvi ad un sempre più profondo e paziente amore a Dio, citando ciò che scriveva il beato Tito Brandsma, che fu un dinamico giornalista ma anche un mistico profondo: “Considera la vita come una “Via crucis”, ma prendi la croce sulle spalle con gioia e coraggio, perché con la sua grazia Gesù l’ha resa leggera”. L’eroismo del suo martirio, accettato con amore, sia per voi di conforto e di stimolo alla santificazione. Vi accompagni la mia benedizione.

Agli sposi novelli

Carissimi sposi novelli!

Ricevete anche il mio saluto più cordiale, insieme con l’augurio e la benedizione per la nuova vita, che avete iniziato con il sacramento del matrimonio. Il Signore rimanga sempre con voi con la sua parola illuminatrice e con la sua grazia! Padre Tito Brandsma, così inserito nelle vicende e nei problemi del suo tempo, e tuttavia così alto nella sua spiritualità, è maestro ed esempio anche per voi, immersi nelle quotidiane preoccupazioni. La convinzione della presenza di Dio negli avvenimento della storia e la totale fiducia del suo amore lo accompagnarono durante tutta la sua vita, e specialmente nel duro periodo della prigionia. Imparate da lui ad essere perseveranti nella bontà, nella pazienza, nella carità e soprattutto nella confidenza in colui che vi ha uniti per sempre mediante il sacramento. E vi confortino anche il mio affetto e la mia benedizione.

Dolore e condanna per l'uccisione di due missionari

Profondo dolore e ferma condanna per l’uccisione in Mozambico di due missionari gesuiti sono espressi dal Santo Padre durante l’udienza generale. Queste le parole di Giovanni Paolo II.

Ho appreso con profonda pena la dolorosa notizia dell’uccisione in Mozambico di due religiosi gesuiti: il padre Silvio Moreira, portoghese, e il padre João De Deus Gonçalves Kamtedza, mozambicano.

La loro vita è stata stroncata il 30 ottobre scorso vicino alla loro casa, nella missione di Lefidzi, diocesi di Tete.

Si ignora chi siano i responsabili di questo efferato crimine, che suscita riprovazione e condanna nell’animo di ogni persona retta.

Innalziamo al Signore una fervida preghiera per le anime di questi testimoni di Cristo e per tutti i missionari, esposti a tanti rischi nell’adempimento del loro dovere. Questo drammatico episodio ci spinga a rafforzare il nostro impegno cristiano a favore della pace, della giustizia e della riconciliazione tra gli uomini.

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