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Catechism Research – Section P

Research The Catechism

Section P

PAPACY: The supreme jurisdiction and ministry of the pope as shepherd of the whole Church. As successor of St. Peter, and therefore Bishop of Rome and Vicar of Christ, the pope is the perpetual and visible principle of unity in faith and communion in the Church (882). See Pope.

PARABLES: A characteristic feature of the teaching of Jesus. Parables are simple images or comparisons which confront the hearer or reader with a radical choice about his invitation to enter the Kingdom of God (546).

PARACLETE: A name for the Holy Spirit. The term was used by Jesus in the New Testament (cf. Jn 14:16) to indicate the promised gift of the Spirit as another consoler and advocate, who would continue his own mission among the disciples (692).

PARADISE: The symbolic description of the condition of our first parents before the Fall, who lived in a state of friendship with God in the happiness of original justice and holiness (374, 384). Paradise also signifies heaven, the state of those who live with Christ forever in the friendship and presence of God (1023, 1721).

PARISH: A stable community of the faithful within a particular church or diocese, whose pastoral care is confided by the bishop to a priest as pastor (2179).

PAROUSIA: The glorious return and appearance of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ as judge of the living and the dead, at the end of time; the second coming of Christ, when history and all creation will achieve their fulfillment (1001; cf. 668, 673).


PASCH/PASCHAL LAMB: Jesus’ saving death and its memorial in the Eucharist, associated with the Jewish feast of Passover (or Pasch) commemorating the deliverance of the Jewish people from death by the blood of the lamb sprinkled on the doorposts in Egypt, which the angel of death saw and “passed over.” Hence Jesus is acknowledged in the New Testament as the Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world; he is the Paschal Lamb, the symbol of Israel’s redemption at the first Passover. The Eucharist celebrates the new Passover, in which Jesus “passes over” to his Father by his death and resurrection, thus anticipating the final Passover of the Church in the glory of the Kingdom (571, 608, 671, 1334-1340).

PASCHAL MYSTERY/SACRIFICE: Christ’s work of redemption accomplished principally by his Passion, death, Resurrection, and glorious Ascension, whereby “dying he destroyed our death, rising he restored our life” (1067; cf. 654). The Paschal Mystery is celebrated and made present in the liturgy of the Church, and its saving effects are communicated through the sacraments (1076), especially the Eucharist, which renews the paschal sacrifice of Christ as the sacrifice offered by the Church (571, 1362-1372).

PASSION: The suffering and death of Jesus (572, 602-616). Passion or Palm Sunday begins Holy Week, during which the annual liturgical celebration of the Paschal Mystery of Christ takes place (560).

PASSIONS, MORAL: The emotions or dispositions which incline us to good or evil actions, such as love and hate, hope and fear, joy and sadness, and anger (1763).

PASSOVER: See Pasch/Paschal Lamb.

PASTOR/PASTORAL OFFICE: The ministry of shepherding the faithful in the name of Christ. The Pope and bishops receive the pastoral office which they are to exercise with Christ the Good Shepherd as their model; they share their pastoral ministry with priests, to whom they give responsibility over a portion of the flock as pastors of parishes (886, 1560, 2179).

PATRIARCH: A title given to the venerable ancestors or “fathers” of the Semitic peoples, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, who received God’s promise of election (61, 205). In the Church hierarchy, and especially among the Churches of the East, a patriarch is a senior bishop with jurisdiction over a larger unit of particular churches (patriarchate) of a certain rite or region or liturgical tradition (887).

PATRISTIC: Pertaining to the writings of the holy Fathers of the Church, who are privileged witnesses of the apostolic tradition (78, 688). See Fathers of the Church.

PEACE: One of the fruits of the Holy Spirit mentioned in Galatians 5:22-23 (736). Peace is a goal of Christian living, as indicated by Jesus who said “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called children of God” (1716). The Fifth Commandment requires us to preserve and work for peace, which was defined by St. Augustine as “the tranquility of order,” and which is the work of justice and the effect of charity (2304).

PENANCE: Interior penance: a conversion of heart toward God and away from sin, which implies the intention to change one’s life because of hope in divine mercy (1431). External acts of penance include fasting, prayer, and almsgiving (1434). The observance of certain penitential practices is obliged by the fourth precept of the Church (2043).

PENANCE, SACRAMENT OF: The liturgical celebration of God’s forgiveness of the sins of the penitent, who is thus reconciled with God and with the Church. The acts of the penitent–contrition, the confession of sins, and satisfaction or reparation–together with the prayer of absolution by the priest, constitute the essential elements of the Sacrament of Penance (980, 1422, 1440, 1448).

PENITENT/PENITENTIAL: The sinner who repents of sin and seeks forgiveness (1451). In the early Church, public sinners belonged to an “order of penitents,” who did public penance for their sins, often for years (1447). Penitential acts or practices refer to those which dispose one for or flows from interior penance or conversion; such acts lead to and follow upon the celebration of the Sacrament of Penance (1434). See Satisfaction (for sin).

PENTATEUCH: The first five books of the Old Testament: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy (702; cf. 120).

PENTECOST: The “fiftieth” day at the end of the seven weeks following Passover (Easter in the Christian dispensation). At the first Pentecost after the Resurrection and Ascension of Jesus, the Holy Spirit was manifested, given and communicated as a divine Person to the Church, fulfilling the paschal mystery of Christ according to his promise (726, 731; cf. 1287). Annually the Church celebrates the memory of the Pentecost event as the beginning of the new “age of the Church,” when Christ lives and acts in and with his Church (1076).

PEOPLE OF GOD: A synonym for the Church, taken from the Old Testament people whom God chose, Israel. Christ instituted the new and eternal covenant by which a new priestly, prophetic, and royal People of God, the Church, participates in these offices of Christ and in the mission and service which flow from them (761, 783).

PERJURY: Giving one’s word under oath falsely, or making a promise under oath without intending to keep it. Perjury violates the second and eighth commandments (2152, 2476).

PERSON, DIVINE: Hypostasis in Greek; the term used to describe the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit in their real relation to and distinction from one another within the unity of the Blessed Trinity. Each of the three divine Persons is God (252). See Trinity.

PERSON, HUMAN: The human individual, made in the image of God; not some thing but some one, a unity of spirit and matter, soul and body, capable of knowledge, self-possession, and freedom, who can enter into communion with other persons–and with God (357, 362; cf. 1700). The human person needs to live in society, which is a group of persons bound together organically by a principle of unity that goes beyond each one of them (1879).

PETER (SAINT): Simon, whom Jesus called Peter or “Rock,” upon whom he would build his Church (Mt 16:16-19). He was the first to confess Jesus to be the Christ, the Son of the living God (442). He was the first among the Apostles, and their head; the pope is his successor as Bishop of Rome and Vicar of Christ, and as pastor of the universal Church (552 ff.; 765, 862, 881).

PIETY: One of the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit which leads one to devotion to God (1831). Filial piety connotes an attitude of reverence and respect by children toward their parents (2215). Piety also refers to the religious sense of a people, and its expression in popular devotions (1674).

POLYGAMY: The practice of having more than one wife at the same time, which is contrary to the unity of marriage between one man and one woman, and which offends against the dignity of woman (1645, 2387).

POPE: The successor of St. Peter as Bishop of Rome and Supreme Pontiff of the universal Catholic Church. The pope exercises a primacy of authority as Vicar of Christ and shepherd of the whole Church; he receives the divine assistance promised by Christ to the Church when he defines infallibly a doctrine of faith or morals (880-882). See Papacy.

POVERTY: The condition of want experienced by those who are poor, whom Christ called “blessed,” and for whom he had a special love (544). In imitation of Christ, the Church expresses her concern for the poor by working for justice and solidarity (2443). Poverty is one of the three evangelical counsels whose public profession in the Church is a constitutive element of consecrated life (915). Poverty of spirit signifies detachment from worldly things and voluntary humility (2544-2546).

PRAISE: The form of prayer which focuses on giving recognition to God for his own sake, giving glory to Him for who he is (2639). In the liturgy of the Eucharist, the whole Church joins with Christ in giving praise and thanksgiving to the Father (1358). See Doxology.

PRAYER: The elevation of the mind and heart to God in praise of his glory; a petition made to God for some desired good, or in thanksgiving for a good received, or in intercession for others before God. Through prayer the Christian experiences a communion with God through Christ in the Church (2559-2565).

PRECEPTS OF THE CHURCH: Positive laws (sometimes called commandments) made by Church authorities to guarantee for the faithful the indispensable minimum in prayer and moral effort, for the sake of their growth in love of God and neighbor (2041).

PRESBYTER: An “elder” or priest, a member of the order of priesthood; the presbyterate is one of the three degrees of the Sacrament of Holy Orders (1536, 1554). Presbyters or priests are co-workers with their bishops and form a unique sacerdotal college or “presbyterium” dedicated to assist their bishops in priestly service to the People of God (1567). Through the ministry of priests, the unique sacrifice of Christ on the cross is made present in the Eucharistic sacrifice of the Church (1554, 1562). See Priesthood.

PRESENTATION: The presentation and dedication of Jesus to God by Mary and Joseph in the Temple (Lk 2:22-39), in accord with Mosaic Law concerning the first-born. At the Presentation, Simeon and Anna sum up the expectation of Israel for the long-awaited Messiah, the light of the nations and the glory of Israel, but also as a sign of contradiction (529). The presentation of the gifts, especially of bread and wine, is a preparatory rite for the liturgy of the Eucharist at Mass (1346).

PRESUMPTION: An act or attitude opposed to the theological virtue of hope. Presumption can take the form of trust in self without recognizing that salvation comes from God, or of an over-confidence in divine mercy (2092).

PRIDE: One of the seven capital sins. Pride is undue self-esteem or self-love, which seeks attention and honor and sets oneself in competition with God (1866).

PRIESTHOOD: (1) Of the faithful: The priestly people of God. Christ has made of his Church a “kingdom of priests,” and gives the faithful a share in his priesthood through the Sacraments of Baptism and Confirmation (784, 1119, 1546). (2) Ministerial: The ministerial priesthood received in the Sacrament of Holy Orders differs in essence from this common priesthood of all the faithful. It has as its purpose to serve the priesthood of all the faithful by building up and guiding the Church in the name of Christ, who is Head of the Body (1547). See Priesthood of Christ; Presbyter.

PRIESTHOOD OF CHRIST: The unique high priest, according to the order of Melchizedek. Christ fulfilled everything that the priesthood of the Old Covenant prefigured. (cf. Heb 5:10, 6:20). He offered himself once and for all (Heb 10:14), in a perfect sacrifice upon the cross. His priesthood is made present in a special way in the Church through the ministerial priesthood, conferred through the Sacrament of Holy Orders (1539, 1544, 1547, 1554).

PRIMACY: See Pope.

PRIVATE REVELATIONS: Revelations made in the course of history which do not add to or form part of the deposit of faith, but rather may help people live out their faith more fully (67). Some of these private revelations have been recognized by the authority of the Church, which cannot accept so-called “revelations of faith” that claim to surpass or correct the Revelation of Christ confided to his Church.

PROFESSION OF FAITH: The synthesis (creed, “symbol of faith”) of the faith which summarizes the faith professed by Christians (187). See Creed.

PROPHET: One sent by God to form the people of the Old Covenant in the hope of salvation. The prophets are often authors of books of the Old Testament (702). The prophetic books constitute a major section of the Old Testament of the Bible (64, 120, 522, 2581). John the Baptist concludes the work of the prophets of the Old Covenant (721).

PROTESTANT: A person who believes in Christ and has been baptized, but who does not profess the Catholic faith in its entirety, but rather is a member of a Protestant church or ecclesial community whose roots are in the Reformation, begun in the sixteenth century (cf. 838).

PROTO-EVANGELIUM: The proto- or “first” Gospel: the passage in Genesis (3:15) that first mysteriously announces the promise of the Messiah and Redeemer (410).

PROVIDENCE: The dispositions by which God guides his creation toward its perfection yet to be attained; the protection and governance of God over all creation (302).

PRUDENCE: The virtue which disposes a person to discern the good and choose the correct means to accomplish it. One of the cardinal moral virtues that dispose the Christian to live according to the law of Christ, prudence provides the proximate guidance for the judgment of conscience (1806).

PSALM: A prayer in the Book of Psalms of the Old Testament, assembled over several centuries; a collection of prayers in the form of hymns or poetry. The psalms have been used since Jesus’ time as the public prayer of the Church (2585).

PSALTER: The book of psalms arranged for liturgical use (2587).

PUNISHMENT, ETERNAL: The penalty for unrepented mortal sin, separating the sinner from communion with God for all eternity; the condemnation of the unrepentant sinner to hell (1035).

PUNISHMENT, TEMPORAL: Purification of the unhealthy attachment to creatures, which is a consequence of sin that perdures even after death. We must be purified either during our earthly life through prayer and a conversion which comes from fervent charity, or after death in purgatory (1472).

PURGATORY: A state of final purification after death and before entrance into heaven for those who died in God’s friendship, but were only imperfectly purified; a final cleansing of human imperfection before one is able to enter the joy of heaven (1031; cf. 1472).

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