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  1. In third place , we must contemplate the word continuously , that Word of God remaining in us. Indeed , it is not enough to believe , meditation also is useful ; without it , this presence in us of the word of God would not be advantageous for us. A kind of meditation that is indeed of great help against sin , as shows this word of the Psalmist ( PS shows it. 118, 11 ) I keep your words hidden in my heart not to sin. With this meditation the righteous man unceasingly trains himself. The law of the Lord , as is said in the first Psalm , the righteous contemplates it night and day. Thereby Luke (Lk 2:19 & 51 ) writes about the blessed Virgin : She kept all the words of Jesus in her heart to meditate them.

  2. In fourth place , it is appropriate that man spread around the word of God , through informing , preaching , and stimulating. Let no corrupt speech proceed out of your mouth , says St-Paul ( Eph. 4, 29 ) : but such as is good for building up as the need may be, that it may give grace to those who hear. In the same way , he wrote in Colossiens ( 3, 16 ) : Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly; in all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another with psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your heart to the Lord. And in Timothy (Tim2:4, 2) : preach the word ; be urgent in season and out of season ; reprove , rebuke , and exhort , with all patience and teaching.

  3. Lastly, we must follow the recommendation of St-James (J1:22) , concerning the Word of God. Be doers of the word , and not only hearers , deluding your own selves.

  4. These five duties relating to the Word of God, the blessed Virgin observed them by command when she generated the Word of God. Firstly, indeed, she listened to the words of the Angel Gabriel (Luke 1, 35) : " The Holy Spirit will come on you , and the power of the Most High will overshadow you ". Secondly, Mary said, " Behold, the handmaid of the Lord ; be it to me according to your word. The angel departed from her." (Luke 1, 38). In third place, she carried in her womb the incarnated Word. In fourth place, she gave birth to Him. Fifthly, she nourished and nursed Him. Also can the Church sing : By a gift from Heaven , the Virgin nourished out of her womb the King of Angels.

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  6. As we have just shown , it is necessary for the Christian to believe in the Son of God. But this faith is not enough. It is necessary for us to also believe in his Incarnation. This is why, after having said many things very hard to get at and very high on the Word, St-John speaks to us about his Incarnation in these terms (Jean 1 , 14): The Word became flesh, and lived among us.

    To help us seize something out of this mystery , I will propose two examples. Without any doubt nothing is more similar to the Son of God than the word that our intelligence conceives without uttering it by the lips. Yet , no one knows the word as long as it remains in the intelligence of the man who first conceived it ; but as soon as our tongue lets it out , it is known by our listeners. Thus , the word of God , as long as it remained in the intelligence of the Father , was known only by His Father ; but once covered of a flesh , like the word of a man is clothed of the sound of the voice , it then appeared outside for the first time and was made known , according to this word of Baruch (3, 38) : So He appeared on earth and spoke to men.

    Here is the second example. We know by hearing the word uttered by the voice, and yet we do not not see and we do not touch it ; but if we write down this word on paper , then we can touch it and see it. Thus the Word of God also was made both visible and tangible , when he lowered Himself to be incarnated in our flesh. And just as the paper on which the word of the king is recorded , we call it the word of the king , in the same way the man to which is united the word of God in one person , we name Him the Son of God. On this subject , it is right to recall the words of the Lord to Isaïe (8, J) : Take a large book , and write in it with the punch of man ; and this is why the holy Apostles said of Jesus , the Only son of God : he was conceived of the Holy Spirit and He was born of the Virgin Mary.

  7. On this subject many have wandered. This is why the holy Fathers, in another symbol , at the Council of Nicee , added many more precisions , thanks to which , now , all these errors are destroyed.

  8. Origene indeed declared : Christ was born and He came into the world to save even the demons. Therefore , all the demons , says he , will be saved at the end of the world. Contrary assertion to th wrirings of the Holy Writing. Thus do we read in St-Matthew these words that the Lord will say at the moment of the last judgement ( Mt25:41 ) : Then he will say also to those on the left hand , ' Depart from me , you cursed , into the eternal fire which is prepared for the devil and his angels ; It is to repel this error that the Fathers added to the creed : It is for us men , ( not for the demons ) and it is for our salvation that Jesus was born from the Virgin Mary : words that reveal even more the Love of God for us.

  9. As for Photin, he consented that Christ had been born from the blessed Virgin , but he added : He was a simple man ; by his virtuous life and the achievement of the will of God, He deserved to become the Son of God , as the other saints : but to this error the very words of Jesus can be opposed ( Jn6:38 ) : For I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will, but the will of Him who sent me. Therefore , it is obvious that He would not have come down from heaven if He had not been there in the first place , and if He had not been only a man, He would not have been in heaven. It is to draw aside the error of Photin that the Fathers added in their creed : Jesus came down from heaven.

  10. Manes, as for him , declared : The Son of God has , indeed , always existed and He has really come down from Heaven , but His flesh is not true flesh : it is an apparent flesh. False assertion : it was not proprer to the Master of the truth to show any falseness ; this is why , as He showed himself with a true human flesh , He really had one. This is why the Lord declared with his Apostles ( Luke 24 , 39 ) : " See my hands and my feet, that it is truly me. Touch me and see, for a spirit doesn't have flesh and bones, as you see that I have." It is to remove the error of Manes , that the holy Fathers added in their creed : And Jesus-Christ incarnated Himself.

  11. As for Ebion, Jew of origin, he admitted : Christ was born from the Virgin Mary , but she conceived Him by her union with a man and with the help of a virile seed. An other false statement : Indeed the Angel of the Lord said to St-Joseph ( Matthew 1, 21 ) : What was generated in Mary , your wife , comes from the Holy-Spirit. Consequently , the holy Fathers , to draw aside this error , added in their creed that the origin of Jesus was the work of the Holy Spirit.

  12. Valentin precisely confessed : Christ was conceived of the Holy Spirit ; but on the other hand he pretended that the Holy Spirit had brought from heaven a celestial body and had layed it in the blesssed Virgin , and that this body was that of Christ : This body , he said , passed through the blessed Virgin as through an aqueduct. Entirely erroneous assertion , for the Angel Gabriel had declared to Mary ( Luke 1, 35 ) : The Holy One who is born from you will be called the Son of God. And the Apostle wrote to the Galatians ( 4, 4 ) : But when the fullness of the time came , God sent out his Son , born to a woman , born under the law. And so , the Fathers added in their creed that Jesus was born of the Virgin Mary.

  13. As for Anus and Apollinaire, they declared : Christ is the word of God and He was born from the Virgin Mary , but His divinity takes the place of the soul , for soul , He does not have one ; False ; statement contrary to the Holy Scripture. Christ indeed said ( John 12, 27 ) : " Now my soul is troubled " ; and at the hour of His agony ( Matt. 26, 38 ) : " My soul is exceedingly sorrowful , even to death ". Therefore the holy Fathers , to destroy this error , added in their creed : And He made himself man. Man indeed is made of a body and of a soul : and Jesus had very truly all that a man can have , except sin.  « Back »

  14. By these words ; « Jesus-Christ made himself man » , are destroyed all the errors reported earlier and also all those that could emerge ; and mainly the error of Eutyches who taught the unity of nature of Christ by the blending of divine nature and human nature , so that this nature of Christ would be neither purely divine nor purely human. Erroneous assertion , for then Christ would not be a man. Against this error , it was said : « He made himself man ».

    By these words : Christ made himself man , is also destroyed the error of Nestorius. This one declared : The Son of God is united to a man merely because He remains in him. False assertion too , for it comes down to say : The Son of God is not a man , but He is in a man. Yet , that Christ be really a man, the Apostle clearly declares it by these words ( Phil 2, 7 ) : Christ emptied himself , taking the form of a servant , being made in the likeness of men.

    Jesus himself said of him to the Jews ( Jn. 8, 40 ): But now you seek to kill me, a man who has told you the truth , which I heard from God.

  15. Of what we have just said of the Incarnation of the Son of God , we can draw several conclusions for our instruction.

    Firstly a strengthening of our faith. For if someone described to us certain characteristics concerning a distant land where he would have never been , the faith that we would grant him would not be as great as the one that we would give him if he had already lived there. Thus , before Christ even came into the world, the Patriarchs, the Prophets and St-John the baptist revealed various things on God but men did not give to their words a faith equal to that they granted to Christ , who was with God . Even more, who was One with Him. Therefore our faith , that Christ himself transmitted to us , is very strong . No one has seen God at any time , said St-John ( Jn1:18 ). But the one and only Son , who is in the bosom of the Father, has revealed Him to us. From there comes that many secrets on faith were revealed to us after the coming Christ , which before , had been hidden.

  16. In second place our hope is strenghtened. There is indeed no doubt that the Son of God , taking our flesh , has not come to us for a futile reason but to be greatly useful to us ; He indeed achieved an exchange in some sort for if He took a body with a soul and if He deigned to be born from a Virgin , it is , afterwards , to give us the gift of His divinity. Therefore , He made himself mam so that man became God. To him , Jesus-Christ , proclaims the Epistle to the Romans ( 5, 2 ) to Him we owe to have access by faith to this grace where we are established , and to glorify ourselves in the hope of the sons of God.

  17. In third place meditation on the mystery of the Incarnation ignites our charity. To know , indeed , that God , Creator of all things , made Himself a mere creature , that Our Lord became our brother , that the Son of God lowered Himself to the condition of man , is the most obvious proof of divine charity. As is said in the Gospel of John , ( 3, 16 ) : For God so loved the world , that he gave his one and only Son , This truth , when considered , must again ignite our love for God and make us stand firm to Him.

  18. Fourthly : the consideration of the mystery of the Son of God carries us to keep pure our heart. Our nature indeed was so much ennobled and exalted by its union with God that it has been risen to unity with our divine Lordship : thus the Angel , after the Incarnation , could not stand that tbe blessed John worship him , whereas, before , he allowed even the greatest Patriarchs to do so (1). Therefore man must remember and contemplate his exaltation : himself and his nature will thereby avoid being stained by sin ; this is the very teaching of the blessed Apostle Peter ( II 1:4 ) : that through Jesus Christ , you may become partakers of the divine nature , having escaped from the corruption that is in the world by lust.

  19. Fifthly : the meditation of the mystery of the incarnated Word ignites our desire to reach Christ. If indeed someone had as brother a king and was far from him, wouldn't he wish to get close to his royal person , stay at his place and remain there ? Therefore , as Christ is our brother, we must also wish to be with him and link to him. Did not Christ say to his disciples ( Math. 24, 28 ) : Wherever the carcass is , there will the vultures be gathered together. And did not the Aposlte not aspire to die to be with Christ ( cf Phil. 1, 23 ). Without any doubt , if we contemplate the Incarnation of the word, the desire to leave the world to be with the Lord will grow into us .


  21. Since it is required of the Christian to believe in the Incarnation of the Son of God , » it is also necessary for him to believe in His passion and His death. « To be born would not have been of any use to us , said St-Gregoire , if we had not been redeemed. Yet , the fact that Christ died for us is beyond the compass of our intellect ; even more , it would not even come to mind.

    This is what says St-Paul ( Acts 13:41 ) :
    ' Behold , you scoffers , and wonder , and perish ; For I work a work in your days , A work which you will in no way believe , if one declares it to you. '

    And in the same way Habakkuk ( 1:5 ) " Look among the nations , watch , and wonder marvelously ; for I am working a work in your days , which you will not believe even though it were told to you. The grace of God indeed and His love for us are so great that what He has done for us by far exceeds what we can understand.

  22. However, we must not believe that Christ suffered death in such a way that His divinity died ; in Him only His human nature suffered death. Indeed , He died , not as a God , but as a mere mortal.

    Here three examples which will shed some light on this truth.
    We will draw the first in ourselves. When a man dies , his soul while separating from the body does not die , only his body , his flesh does. In the same way , in the death of Christ , the divinity was not reached , but only the human nature.

  23. One can object : the Jews have not killed the divinity of Christ , they have not commited , it would seem , a greater sin while putting Jesus to death , than they would have by killing another man.

  24. It must be answered : Let us suppose a king covered with a garment. If someone soiled this clothing , it would be as big a fault as if he soiled the king himself. Thus the Jews could not kill God but , because they puth to death the human nature assumed by Christ , they were punished as severly as though they had killed the divinity.

  25. Here the third example : As was said earlier , the Son of God is the Word of God and one can compare this Word of God incarnate to the word of a King written on a sheet of paper. Thus , if someone tore this paper on which the word of the king is written , he would make as big a fault as if he tore the word of the king himself. This is why the sin of the Jews putting to death a God-man is as big as if they had killed the Word of God Himself.

  26. But what was the need that the word of God suffered for us ? It was more than a need and we can give two reasons for this need. The sufferings of Christ , indeed , were necessary , initially as a remedy for our sins and , in the second place , as model for our actions.

  27. First off , His sufferings act as a remedy to us. Indeed , in the passion of Christ , against all the evils that we draw down upon ourselves , we find a remedy.

    And by our sins we incur five different evils.

  28. Firstly : a stain ; man indeed , through sin , soils his soul for , as virtue is the beauty of a soul , sin is its stain. How is it , Israel , says the Book of Baruch ( 3, 10 ) , that you are in the land of your foes , and defiled with the dead ? But this stain , the passion of Christ removed it ; Christ , indeed , by His passion , prepared a bath of His blood to wash the sinners. He who loves us , says St-John ( Rev1:5 ) , washed us from our sins by his blood ; However , the soul is washed by the blood of Christ at the baptism , for baptism draws its regenerating force from the blood of Christ. Therefore whoever gets soiled by sin wrongs Christ , and his sin is bigger than if it had been commited before baptism , according to these words of the Epistle to the Hebrews (10, 28-29) : 28 A man who disregards Moses' law dies without compassion on the word of two or three witnesses. 29 How much worse punishment , do you think , will he be judged worthy of, who has trodden under foot the Son of God , and has counted the blood of the covenant with which he was sanctified an unholy thing , and has insulted the Spirit of grace ?

  29. In second place : by sin we incur the disgrace of God.
    In the same way , indeed , as carnal man loves carnal beauty , thus God loves spiritual beauty , which is the beauty of the soul. And when the soul gets soiled by sin , God is offended and He takes to hatred the sinner. Equally odious to God , reports Wisdom , ( 14:9 ) , are the evildoer and his evil deeds. Snares for the souls of men and a trap for the feet of the senseless. But Christ washed it through His passion. By it , indeed , He has satisfied God the Father for sin. For man by himself could not satisfy for his faults ; Jesus did , because His charity and His obedience were greater than the sin of the first man and his disobedience. For if , while we were His enemies , says Paul ( Rom5:10 ) , we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son ; much more , being reconciled , we will be saved by His life.   ( Translation under way .... 67 + )

  30. Thirdly , we have been weakened by sin. When a person sins the first time , he believes that he will thereafter keep away from sin , but what happens is the very opposite. This is because by that first sin he is weakened and made more prone to commit sins , and sin more and more has power over him. Such a one , as far as he alone is concerned , has lowered himself to such a condition that he cannot rise up , and is like to a man who jumps into a well from which , without God's help , he would never be rescued. After the fall of man , our nature was weakened and corrupted , and we were made more prone to sin. Christ , however , lessened this sickness and weakness , although He did not entirely take it away.
    So now man is strengthened by the passion of Christ , and sin is not given such power over him. Moreover , he can rise clean from his sins when aided by God's grace conferred by the Sacraments , which receive their efficacy from the passion of Christ : " Our old man is crucified with Him , that the body of sin may be destroyed. " [ 9 ] Indeed , before the passion of Christ few there were who lived without falling into mortal sin ; but afterwards many have lived and are living without mortal sin.

  31. Fourthly, we incur the punishment due to sin. For the justice of God demands that whosoever sins must be punished. This punishment , however , is in proportion to the guilt. But the guilt of mortal sin is infinite , because it is an offense against the infinite good , namely , God , whose commandments the sinner holds in contempt. Therefore , the punishment due to mortal sin is infinite. Christ , however , through His passion has taken away this punishment from us and borne it Himself : " Who His own self bore our sins in His body upon the tree. " [ 10 ] " Our sins [ that is , the punishment due to sin ] His own self bore in His body. " The passion of Christ was of such value that it sufficed to expiate for all the sins of the whole world , even of a hundred thousand worlds. And so it is that , when a man is baptized , he is released from all his sins ; and so also is it that the priest forgives sins ; and, again , the more one conforms himself to the passion of Christ , the greater is the pardon and the grace which he gains.

  32. Fifthly , we incur banishment from the kingdom of heaven. Those who offend kings are compelled to go into exile. Thus, man is expelled from heaven on account of sin. Adam was driven out of paradise immediately after his sin , and the gate of paradise was shut. But Christ by His sufferings and death opened this gate and recalled all the exiles to the kingdom. With the opening of the side of Christ , the gate of paradise is opened ; and with the pouring out of His blood , guilt is washed away , satisfaction is made to God , infirmity is removed , punishment is expiated , and the exiles are called back to the kingdom. Hence , the thief received the immediate response : " This day thou shalt be with Me in paradise. "

    [ 11 ] Never before was this spoken to anyone , not to Adam , not to Abraham , not to David ; but this day ( i.e., as soon as the gate is opened ) the thief , having asked for pardon , received it : " Having a confidence in the entering into the holies by the blood of Christ. "[ 12 ]


    From all this then is seen the effect of the passion of Christ as a remedy for sin. But no less does it profit us as an example. St. Augustine says that the passion of Christ can bring about a complete reformation of our lives.  Whoever wishes to live perfectly need  do nothing other than despise what Christ despised on the cross , and desire what Christ desired. There is no virtue that did not  have its example on the Cross.

  34. So if you seek an example of charity , then , " greater love than his no man hath , that a man lay down his life for his friends." [ 13 ] And this Christ did upon the Cross. If , therefore , He gave His life or us , we ought to endure any and all evils for Him : " What shall I render to the Lord for all the things that He hath rendered to me ? "[ 14 ]

  35. If you seek an example of patience , you will find it in its highest degree upon the Cross. Great patience is exemplified in two ways : either when one suffers intensely in all patience , or when one suffers that which he could avoid if he so wished. Christ suffered greatly upon the Cross : " O all ye that pass by the way , attend , and see if there be any sorrow like to My sorrow. " [ 15 ] And with all patience , because , " when He suffered , He threatened not. " [ 16 ] And again : " He shall be led as a sheep to the slaughter and shall be dumb before His shearer , and shall not open His mouth.

    [ 17 ] He could have avoided this suffering , but He did not : " Thinkest thou that I cannot ask My Father , and He will give Me presently more than twelve legions of Angels ? " [ 18 ] The patience of Christ upon the cross , therefore , was of the highest degree : " Let us run by patience to the fight proposed to us ; looking on Jesus , the author and finisher of faith , who, having joy set before Him endured the cross , despising the shame. " [ 19 ]

  36. If you seek an example of humility , look upon Him who is crucified ; although He was God , He chose to be judged by Pontius Pilate and to be put to death : " Thy cause has been judged as that of the wicked. " [ 20 ] Truly " that of the wicked , " because : " Let us condemn Him to a most shameful death. " [ 21 ] The Lord chose to die for His servant ; the Life of the Angels suffered death for man : " He humbled Himself , becoming obedient unto death , even to the death of the cross. " [ 22 ]

  37. If you seek an example of obedience , imitate Him who was obedient to the Father unto death : " For by the disobedience of one man , many were made sinners ; so also by the obedience of one , many shall be made just. " [ 23 ]

  38. If you seek an example of contempt for earthly things , imitate Him who is the King of kings , the Lord of rulers , in whom are all the treasures of wisdom ; but on the Cross He was stripped naked , ridiculed , spat upon , bruised , crowned with thorns , given to drink of vinegar and gall , and finally put to death. How falsely , therefore , is one attached to riches and raiment , for : " They parted My garments amongst them ; and upon My vesture they cast lots. " [ 24 ] How falsely to honors , since " I was covered with lashes and insults ; " how falsely to positions of power , because " taking a crown of thorns , they placed it upon My brow ; " how falsely to delicacies of the table , for " in My thirst they gave Me to drink of vinegar. " Thus , St. Augustine , in commenting on these words , " Who , having joy set before Him , endured the Cross despising the shame , " [ 25 ] says : " The man Christ despised all earthly things in order to teach us to despise them.

  39. ( For " Questions for Discussion " see Chapter 6. )


    1. Acts, xiii. 41 (quoting Hab., i. 5).

    2. " As Christ was true and perfect man , He was capable of truly dying. Now , man dies when the soul is separated from the body. When , therefore , we say that Jesus died , we mean this , that His soul was disunited from His body. We do not admit , however , that the Divinity was separated from His Body. On the contrary , we firmly believe and profess that when His soul was dissociated from His body , His Divinity continued always united both to His body in the sepulchre and to His soul in limbo " ( " Roman Catechism , " Fourth Article, 6).

    3. See above, p. 6 4. Bar., iii. 10-11 5. Apoc., i. 5 6. Heb., x. 28-29 7. Wis., xiv 9.
    8. Rom., v. 10 9. Rom., vi. 6 10. I Pet., ii. 24 11. Luke, xxiii. 43 12. Heb., x. 19
    13. John, xv. 13 14. Ps. cxv. 12 15. Lament., i. 12 16. Pet., ii. 23 17. Isa., liii. 7
    18. Matt., xxvi. 53 19. Heb., xii. 1-2 20. Job, xxxvi. 17 21. Wis., ii. 20  

    Article 5 : JESUS-CHRIST DESCENDED INTO HELL.     Back   Top

  40. The death of Christ was the separation of His soul from His body as it is with other men. But the Divinity was so indissolubly conjoined to the Man-Christ that although His soul and body were disunited , His Divinity was always most perfectly united to both the soul and body. This we have seen above. Therefore in the Sepulchre His body was together with the Son of God who together with His soul descended into hell. [ 1 ]


  42.  There are four reasons why Christ together with His soul descended into hell. First , He wished to take upon Himself the entire  punishment for our sin , and thus atone for its entire guilt. The punishment for the sin of man was not alone death of the body , but there was also a punishment of the soul , since the soul had its share in sin ; and it was punished by being deprived of the beatific vision ; and as yet no atonement had been offered whereby this punishment would be taken away.

    Therefore , before the coming of Christ all men , even the holy fathers after their death , descended into hell. Accordingly in order to take upon Himself most perfectly the punishment due to sinners , Christ not only suffered death , but also His soul descended into hell. [ 2 ] He , however , descended for a different cause than did the fathers ; for they did so out of necessity and were of necessity taken there and detained , but Christ descended there of His own power and free will : " I am counted among them that go down to the pit ; I am become as a man without help , free among the dead. " [ 3 ] The others were there as captives , but Christ was freely there.

  43.  The second reason is that He might perfectly deliver all His friends.  Christ had His friends both in the world and in hell. The former were His friends in that they possessed charity ; and the latter were they who departed this life with charity and faith in the future Redeemer , such as Abraham , Isaac , Jacob , Moses , David , and other just and good men. Therefore , since Christ had dwelt among His friends in this world and had delivered them by His death , so He wished to visit His friends who were detained in hell and deliver them also : " I will penetrate to all the lower parts of the earth , and will behold all that hope in the Lord. " [ 4 ]

  44.  The third reason is that He would completely triumph over the devil.  Now , a person is perfectly vanquished when he is not only overcome in conflict , but also when the assault is carried into his very home , and the seat of his kingdom is taken away from him. Thus Christ triumphed over the devil, [ 5 ] and on the Cross He completely vanquished him : " Now is the judgment of this world ; now shall the prince of this world ( that is , the devil ) be cast out. " [ 6 ] To make this triumph complete , Christ wished to deprive the devil of the seat of his kingdom and to imprison him in his own house--which is hell. Christ , therefore , descended there, and despoiled the devil of everything and bound him , taking away his prey : [ 7 ] " And despoiling the principalities and powers , He hath exposed them confidently in open show , triumphing over them in Himself. " [ 8 ]

    Likewise , Christ who had received the power and possession of heaven and earth , desired too the possession of hell , as says the Apostle : " That in the name of Jesus every knee should bow , of those that are in heaven , on earth , and under the earth. " [ 9 ]" In My name they shall cast out devils. " [ 10 ]