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Catholic Faith
Catholic Faith - Vol. 2 - #5, Sep / Oct 1996

by Fr. John A. Hardon, S.J.

Q.  The English translation of the Nicene Creed used at Holy Mass states: “We believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ, the Only Son of God eternally begotten of the Father … begotten, not made, one in Being with the Father.” Please explain the terms “eternally begotten” and “begotten, not made.” —C.A.W., Oklahoma

A.  The term “eternally begotten” means that Jesus Christ is the Son of God the Father. Christ, as

God, proceeds from the First Person of the Holy Trinity. God is a society Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. The Son proceeds from the Father, and the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father and the Son.

Unlike all other generation, the Second Person never began. He always existed. The Second Person is co-eternal with the Father. The First Person of the Holy Trinity always existed. The Second Person of the Holy Trinity always existed. God is the Being who cannot not exist. Consequently, the Second Person always existed. By His very nature, therefore, God is a social being.

The term “begotten not made” means that the Second Person does not proceed from the First Person by creation. When a human being is conceived, the body comes from the father and the mother; the soul is created immediately from nothing by God. The Second Person of Trinity was not created by God the Father. In theology, we reserve the verb “made” for what is created. God the Son was not created by the Father. The Father is not the cause of the Son.

Q.  During the Eucharistic prayer, after the Consecration we proclaim the Mystery of Faith, which may be one of four possible phrases. Is it ever permitted for the priest to substitute another phrase or refrain from a hymn? —C.A.W., Oklahoma

A.  The official Latin text of the Roman Missal provides only four acclamations after the second Consecration at Mass. Consequently, the priest is not at liberty to substitute another acclamation or refrain from using one of the four prescribed by the missal.

Q.  Can the phrase in Eucharistic Prayer IV “… a man like us in all things but sin…” be rendered correctly as “… a person like us…”? —D.C.S., Wisconsin

A.  There is only one answer: absolutely not! First of all the English translation of the official Latin text is really a paraphrase. The literal words in the Latin say, “Who incarnated by the Holy Spirit and born of the Virgin Mary, shared in everything of our condition of life but without sin.” Consequently, even the present English translation in the Sacramentary is misleading when it says, that Christ was [or is] “a man like us in all things but sin.” Christ never sinned. But Christ, even as man, did not have a fallen human nature. Moreover, we dare not say that Christ was, or is, “a person like us.” Christ is not a human person as all of us are. That would be the heresy of Nestorius. This heresy has deeply penetrated professed Catholic circles.

Q.  Is it morally permissible to give birth control pills to mentally retarded women who could be induced or forced into sex? —R.T.M., Florida

A.  No, it is not morally permissible. Contraception is inherently sinful. It is sinful by its very nature. Consequently, it cannot be permitted even for a laudable reason, like sparing retarded women from the embarrassment or the problems that would follow on conceiving a child. This would be the error of proportionalism condemned by Pope John Paul II. Proportionalism claims there is nothing which is sinful by itself. It claims that if you have proportionally good reason for doing something, you may do so no matter how evil the action may be in itself.

Catholic Faith
Vol. 2 - #5, Sep / Oct 1996

Copyright © 1996 by Inter Mirifica
No reproductions shall be made without prior written permission

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