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St. Thomas Aquinas
Catechetical Instructions

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  • THE SECOND ARTICLE: "And in Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord."
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It must be known that different things have different modes of generation.

The generation of God is different from that of other things. Hence, we

cannot arrive at a notion of divine generation except through the

generation of that created thing which more closely approaches to a

likeness to God. We have seen that nothing approaches in likeness to God

more than the human soul. The manner of generation in the soul is effected

in the thinking process in the soul of man, which is called a conceiving of

the intellect. This conception takes its rise in the soul as from a father,

and its effect is called the word of the intellect or of man. In brief, the

soul by its act of thinking begets the word. So also the Son of God is the

Word of God, not like a word that is uttered exteriorly (for this is

transitory), but as a word is interiorly conceived; and this Word of God is

of the one nature as God and equal to God.9


The testimony of St. John concerning the Word of God destroys these three

heresies, viz., that of Photinus in the words: "In the be-inning was the

Word;"10 that of Sabellius in saying: "And the Word was with God;"11 and

that of Arius when it says: "And the Word was God.12


But a word in us is not the same as the Word in God. In us the word is an

accident;13 whereas in God the Word is the same as God, since there is

nothing in God that is not of the essence of God. No one would say God has

not a Word, because such would make God wholly without knowledge; and

therefore, as God always existed, so also did His Word ever exist. Just as

a sculptor works from a form which he has previously thought out, which is

his word; so also God makes all things by His Word, as it were through His

art: "All things were made by Him."14


Now, if the Word of God is the Son of God and all the words of God bear a

certain likeness of this Word, then we ought to hear the Word of God

gladly; for such is a sign that we love God. We ought also believe the word

of God whereby the Word of God dwells in us, who is Christ: "That Christ

may dwell by faith in your hearts."15 And you have not His word abiding in

you."16 But we ought not only to believe that the Word of God dwells in us,

but also we should meditate often upon this; for otherwise we will not be

benefited to the extent that such meditation is a great help against sin:

Thy words have I hidden in my heart, that I may not sin against Thee."17

Again it is said of the just man: "On His law he shall meditate day and

night."18 And it is said of the Blessed Virgin that she "kept all these

words, pondering them in her heart."19 Then also, one should communicate

the word of God to others by advising, preaching and inflaming their

hearts: "Let no evil speech proceed from your mouth; but that which is

good, to the edification of faith."20 Likewise, "let the word of Christ

dwell in you abundantly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one

another."21 So also: "Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season;

reprove, entreat, rebuke in all patience and doctrine."22 Finally, we ought

to put the word of God into practice: "Be ye doers of the word and not

hearers only, deceiving your own selves."23


The Blessed Virgin observed these five points when she gave birth to the

Word of God. First, she heard what was said to her: "The Holy Ghost shall

come upon thee."24 Then she gave her consent through faith: "Behold the

handmaid of the Lord."25 And she also received and carried the Word in her

womb. Then she brought forth the Word of God and, finally, she nourished

and cared for Him. And so the Church sings: "Only a Virgin didst nourish

Him who is King of the Angels."26




9. "Among the dirferent comparisorls brought forth to show the mode and

manner ot this eternal generation, that which is taken from the production

of thought in our mind seems to come nearest to its illustration, and hence

St. John calls the Son 'the Word.' For our mind, understanding itself in

some way, forms an image of itself which theologians have called the word;

so God, in so far as we may compare human things to divine, understanding

Himself, begets the Eternal Word. But it is more advantageous to consider

what faith proposes, and with all sincerity of mind to believe and profess

that Jesus Christ is true God and true Man - as God, begotten before all

time; as Man, born in time of Mary, His Virgin Mother" ("Roman Catechism,"

"loc. cit.," 9). St. Thomas treats more fully the eternal generation and

Sonship of Christ in the "Summa Theol.," I, Q. xxvii, art. 2; Q. xxxiv.


10. John, i. 1.


11. "Ibid."


12. "Ibid."


13. An accident is an attribute which is not part of the essence.


14. John, i. 3.


15. Eph., iii. 17.


16. John, v. 38.


17. Ps. cxviii. 11.


18. Ps. i. 2.


19. Luke, ii. 19.


20. Eph., iv. 29


21. Colos., iii. 16.


22. II Tim., iv. 2.


23. James, i. 22.


24. Luke, i. 35.


25. Luke. i. 38


26. Fourth Responsory, Office of the Circumcision, Dominican Breviary.

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