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Steve wrote:

Mike,

The Catechism of the Catholic Church, paragraphs 460 and 795 state:

"we have become Christ, and that we might (we will) become God."

Please explain this to me.

God bless,

Steve

  { Can you explain these portions of the Catechism that talk about becoming like [Christ|God]? }

Mike replied:

Hi, Steve —

Thanks for the question.

Let's start with spelling out each paragraph:

460 The Word became flesh to make us "partakers of the divine nature": For this is why the Word became man, and the Son of God became the Son of man: so that man, by entering into communion with the Word and thus receiving divine sonship, might become a son of God." "For the Son of God became man so that we might become God." "The only-begotten Son of God, wanting to make us sharers in his divinity, assumed our nature, so that he, made man, might make men gods."


795 Christ and his Church thus together make up the "whole Christ" (Christus totus). The Church is one with Christ. The saints are acutely aware of this unity:

Let us rejoice then and give thanks that we have become not only Christians, but Christ himself. Do you understand and grasp, brethren, God's grace toward us? Marvel and rejoice: we have become Christ. For if he is the head, we are the members; he and we together are the whole man. . . . The fullness of Christ then is the head and the members. But what does "head and members" mean? Christ and the Church.

Our redeemer has shown himself to be one person with the holy Church whom he has taken to himself.

Head and members form as it were one and the same mystical person.

A reply of St. Joan of Arc to her judges sums up the faith of the holy doctors and the good sense of the believer: "About Jesus Christ and the Church, I simply know they're just one thing, and we shouldn't complicate the matter."


It's not my intent to attribute implicit ill will to you, in answering the question, but many times people of faith, both Catholic and Protestant, will take a quote out of context, without reading the text before and after the quote itself. This is done often with the Holy Scriptures, but as a Catholic apologist, I've also seen it done with Council documents, like those from the Council of Trent.

If we look at the context of paragraph 460, we see it falls within the Chapter heading:

ARTICLE 3
"HE WAS CONCEIVED BY THE POWER OF THE HOLY SPIRIT, AND BORN OF THE VIRGIN MARY"
Paragraph 1. The Son of God Became Man
I. WHY DID THE WORD BECOME FLESH?

If we look at the context of paragraph 795, we see it falls within the Chapter heading:

ARTICLE 9
"I BELIEVE IN THE HOLY CATHOLIC CHURCH"
II. THE CHURCH - BODY OF CHRIST
"Christ is the Head of this Body"

Paragraph 460 states "For the Son of God became man so that we might become God,"
in reference to Article 3 of our Creed because it is addressing the question,
"WHY DID THE WORD BECOME FLESH?" based on what would happen in the future.

Article 9 of our Roman Catholic Creed addresses what we believe now, after we have vocally reaffirmed in the Creed, that He:

"was conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit, and born of the Virgin Mary."

We believe that which has been passed on by the Apostles:

Christ and His Church make up the "whole Christ" (Christus totus).
The Church is one with Christ.

Christ is the head; we are the Mystical Body. We partake in Divine nature, especially through the Holy Eucharist, and become divine in Christ, though our nature remains human.

I hope this answers your question; if not, just reply ...

and tell others about our site : )

Mike

John replied:

Steve —

Mike is correct, but a little incomplete. We are being transformed into the very image and likeness of Christ.

The Eastern Rite calls this Deification and has developed the doctrine more than the Western Rite.

In our resurrected bodies, our concupiscent nature will no longer exist. Hence, we will, by grace, have been transformed into gods (small g). That is not to say we will be free agents.

John DiMascio

Pastor David Sisco commented:

Mike,

I was reading your response to Steve's question.

While I found your answer to be most intriguing, what really stood out to me was the lack of Scriptural support for your answer.

  • Can you explain this?

I have a copy of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, and I, too, have struggled with understanding this portion of Catholic doctrine.

  • What does the Bible say to this?

Pastor Sisco

Mike replied:

Hi, Pastor Sisco —

The underlining Scriptural assumption in what Catholics believe is based on what Jesus told his disciples in John 6:51-70.

Note that even his disciplines (devoted followers) left Him after he said that they must eat his body and drink his blood.

ONLY St. Peter says, No, we won't leave. We have come to believe.

After 2000 years, with a few exceptions, only Catholic and Orthodox Christians still believe, and weekly they eat His body and drink His blood in order to nourish them as they carry out their vocation. Without a correct understanding of John 6, many things on your faith journey will always be confusing.

Through the Eucharist we are not divine nature, but we partake in divine nature. As St. Paul states:

"It's not me, but Christ in me." Galatians 2:20

Remember, Scriptural support is not needed for a Christian teaching to be true. Christians did not know what books made up the Bible until 382 A.D. at the Council of Rome. Catholic bishops, guided by the Holy Spirit, decided which books would go in the Bible, and which would not.

The Bible is the Sacred Book written by Catholics and their ancestors, for Catholics, for use in the Catholic Church.

Remember Our Lord states in the Scriptures: "He who hears you, hears me." (Luke 10:16)

I hope this and the Scripture references below help.

Take care,

Mike


Sacrament of Eucharist

Catholic Note:

While most Protestants believe the Last Supper was significant and often agree that communion is important, they don't believe that Jesus literally meant He wanted us to eat His flesh and drink His blood. They argue that Jesus used many symbolisms about Himself — He called Himself a door, a vine, etc. And since eating human flesh is cannibalism, they argue that Jesus could not have been speaking literally in John 6. The Eucharist, however, is a unique and miraculous reality in which we consume the entirety of the living Christ — although his natural condition is veiled by the sacrament. The Church has consistently understood Christ's words to be literally referring to His true flesh and blood, as is evident in the writings of the early Church saints like:

Although all the faithful in the Church have always believed in the concept of transubstantiation, it wasn't until 1215 A.D. that the Fourth Lateran Council dogmatically defined the concept: that while the outward appearances of bread and wine remain {the taste, touch, smell and looks}, their inward realities or substance has become the living Christ. Because Jesus is truly present — Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity - we adore the Eucharist with profound reverence.

"The Church is the extension of Christ's incarnation, and that extension takes place through the sacraments" (Scott Hahn , Swear to God, Page 22)

Some verses used to support Protestant arguments:

Genesis 9:4 — "Only flesh with its lifeblood still in it you shall not eat."
Deuteronomy 12:18 — "You shall not partake of the blood, but must pour it out."
Acts 15:29 — "Abstain from ... meats of strangled animals."

The resolution:

What Our Lord was calling the Jewish people to do is to die to the Old Adam and
Old Testament laws and rituals and enter the new covenant of his Body and Blood.

Also in:

  • Psalms 27:2
  • Isaiah 49:26
  • Micah 3:3
  • 2 Samuel 23:15-17, and
  • Revelation 17:6, 16

to symbolically eat and drink one's body and blood back in Jesus' times means to assault. This would make our Lord promise life everlasting to the culprit for slandering and hating Him, which would reduce the whole passage to utter nonsense. Christ would be saying "He that reviles me has eternal life." (Page 241 "Catholicism and Fundamentalism by Keating" | Google book )

An example of Jesus talking symbolically about food:

John 4:31-34; Matthew 16:5-12 - Jesus talking symbolically about food

Eucharist is promised:

John 6:35-71 - Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist
1 Corinthians 2:14 to 3:4 - St. Paul explains what Jesus means by "the flesh"

Foretold and prefigured:

Exodus 12:8, 46 - Paschal lamb had to be eaten
Exodus 16:15 - "This is the bread which the Lord has given you to eat"
Malachi 1:11 - "everywhere they bring sacrifice to my name, and a pure offering"
John 6:32-60 - The Bread of Life discourse - Jesus refers back to the manna of the Old Testament.
See also: - Psalms 78:24ff, Proverbs 9:2ff, Wisdom 16:20

Instituted by Christ:

Matthew 26:26-29, Mark 14:22-25, Luke 22:17-20 - Eucharist is instituted by Jesus
1 Corinthians 5:7 - Jesus is called the Paschal lamb who has been sacrificed
1 Corinthians 11:23-25 - (St. Paul pens the earliest written account of the institution of the Eucharist.)
John 1:29 - Jesus is called "the Lamb of God".

Celebrated by the Apostles:

Acts 2:42 - "devoted themselves to the ... breaking of the bread and to the prayers."
Acts 20:7 - "first day of the week when we gathered to break bread"
1 Corinthians 10:16-22 - Eucharist is our participation in Christ's Body and Blood.

Christ is truly present in the Eucharist:

Matthew 26:26 - "Take and eat, this is my body."
Mark 14:22, 24 - "This is my body ... This is my blood of the covenant."
Luke 22:19-20 - "This is my body, which will be given for you ... new covenant in my blood"

John 6:50-69 reads:

50 This is the bread which comes down from heaven, that a man may eat of it and not die. 51 I am the living bread which came down from heaven; if any one eats of this bread, he will live for ever; and the bread which I shall give for the life of the world is my flesh." 52 The Jews then disputed among themselves, saying, "How can this man give us his flesh to eat?" 53 So Jesus said to them, "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink his blood, you have no life in you; 54 he who eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. 55 For my flesh is food indeed, and my blood is drink indeed. 56 He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him. 57 As the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father, so he who eats me will live because of me. 58 This is the bread which came down from heaven, not such as the fathers ate and died; he who eats this bread will live for ever." 59 This he said in the synagogue, as he taught at Capernaum.

60 Many of his disciples, when they heard it, said, "This is a hard saying; who can listen to it?" 61 But Jesus, knowing in himself that his disciples murmured at it, said to them, "Do you take offense at this? 62 Then what if you were to see the Son of man ascending where he was before? 63 It is the spirit that gives life, the flesh is of no avail; the words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life. {See note} 64 But there are some of you that do not believe." For Jesus knew from the first who those were that did not believe, and who it was that would betray him. 65 And he said, "This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless it is granted him by the Father." 66 After this many of his disciples drew back and no longer went about with him. 67 Jesus said to the twelve, "Do you also wish to go away?" 68 Simon Peter answered him, "Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life; 69 and we have believed, and have come to know, that you are the Holy One of God."

(John 6:50-69 (RSV))

Note 1: - Verse 62-63 states "Does this shock you? What if you were to see the Son of Man ascending to where he was before? It is the spirit that gives life, while the flesh is of no avail. The words I have spoken to you are spirit and life."

What Our Lord says here is not intended to be a Maldonatus (a theologian) thought, i.e., to increase the scandal, but to rectify what was simply a cannibalistic interpretation of what he has just said. The Ascension will perhaps surprise the recalcitrants more, but it will eliminate the chief difficulty about eating the flesh of One, who in celestial glory takes His place where He was from eternity.

Note 2: - Notice that the close followers of Our Lord, the "disciples" left Him because this was a hard saying, then Our Lord asks Peter if he will leave him too. Peter representing the twelve Apostles says:

"Master, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. We have come to believe." (John 6:69)

My personal note to my separated brethren: Come join us and believe!

1 Corinthians 10:16 — In the Eucharist, we participate in the Body and Blood of Christ.
1 Corinthians 11:24 — "This is my body that is for you. Do this in remembrance of me."

Early Church Fathers - (Disciplines of the Apostles)

St. Ignatius (110 A.D.) - [heretics] abstain from the Eucharist and from prayer, because they do not confess that the Eucharist is the Flesh of Our Savior Jesus Christ...
(Letter to the Smyrnaeans 6, 2)

St. Justin Martyr (150 A.D.) - not as common bread, nor common drink do we receive these; but ... as we have been taught, the food which has been made into the Eucharist by the Eucharistic prayer set down by him, and by the change of which our blood and flesh are nourished, is both the flesh and blood of that Incarnated Jesus."
(First Apology 66, 20)

St. Irenaeus of Lyons (195 A.D.) - He [ Jesus ] has declared the cup, a part of his creation, to be His own Blood from which causes our blood to flow; and the bread,
a part of his creation, He has established as His own Body from which He gives increase to our bodies.
(Against Heresies 5, 2, 2)

St. Cyril of Jerusalem (350 A.D.) - "He himself, therefore, having declared and said of the Bread, 'This is My Body', who will dare any longer to doubt? And when he himself has affirmed and said, 'This is My Blood' who can ever hesitate and say it is not His Blood."
(Catechetical Lectures: Mystagogic 4, 22, 1)

St. Cyril of Jerusalem (350 A.D.) - "Do not regard the bread and wine as simply that, for they are, according to the Master's declaration, the Body and Blood of Christ. Even though the sense suggest to you other, let faith make you firm. Do not judge in this manner by taste, but be fully assured by faith, not doubting that you have been deemed worthy of the Body and Blood of Christ."
(Catechetical Lectures: Mystagogic 4,22,6)

The Eucharist must be worthily received. If the Eucharist were just a symbol, there would be no need to partake of it worthily, as Paul recommends we do in the following verses from
1 Corinthians:

1 Corinthians 10:21 — "cannot partake of the table of the Lord and of the table of demons."
1 Corinthians 11:23-29 — "whoever eats and drinks without discerning the body, eats and drinks judgment on himself." (receiving the Eucharist unworthily makes us guilty of his Body and Blood.)

Hope this helps,

Mike

John followed up:

Mike you gave him a very good answer, but didn't answer his question!

The question was about our participation in the divine nature, the transformation into the likeness of Christ, or as the Eastern Church calls it, Deification. Here are a few passages, off the top of my head, that address the pastor's question.

2 Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord, 3 as His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue, 4 by which have been given to us exceedingly great and precious promises, that through these you may be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust. (NKJ)

2 Peter 1:2-4

18 But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord. (NKJ)

2 Corinthians 3:18

17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new. 18 Now all things are of God, who has reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation, 19 that is, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not imputing their trespasses to them, and has committed to us the word of reconciliation. 20 Now then, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were pleading through us: we implore you on Christ's behalf, be reconciled to God.
21
For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him. (NKJ)

2 Corinthians 5:17-21

John DiMascio
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