Ask Father Hardon
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
? 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
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.
Vol. 2 - #5, Sep / Oct 1996
Copyright © 1996 by Inter Mirifica
No reproductions shall be made without prior written permission