• Latin: redimo, buy back


Just as sin consists of a twofold element, namely, guilt (reatus culpaI) and a penalty (reatu8 PamaJ), so too Christ’s Death involves a moral and a penal phase. The moral element is Christ’s obedience and love, the penal element, His Passion and Death. In the Redemption, as it took place historically, the two elements were indissolubly united. Christ’s redeeming and loving obedience took the form of, and expressed itself in, sufferings and death. In this sublime work the Head was intimately associated with His mystic members: “If one died for all, then all were dead.” (2 Corinthians 5) In this whole redeeming work Christ acts as the Head of mankind, is intimately united to the humanity which He came to save. It is in virtue of this solidarity between the race and Christ, its Chief, that His redeeming acts have a value for all His mystic members. In Him we expiate our sins and satisfy Divine justice, in Him we are reconciled to God and God to us. The fundamental reality of the Redemption can be viewed from different aspects. Since Christ is our Head, the relation of His works to His members is similar to that of the works of a just man to himself; and thus Christ by His Passion merited salvation for us. Since this merit has reference to the offense against God and to the remission of sins, it is vicarious satisfaction. Furthermore, since this satisfaction of Our Lord takes place through penal sufferings and an immolation of Himself to God, it is a sacrifice. Finally, when this sacrifice has been accomplished, and the guilt and penalty of our sins expiated, man is redeemed and liberated from the power of sin, of the flesh, and of the devil, and restored to the supernatural state. The Resurrection is an essential complement of the redeeming Death. Christ, says Saint Paul, was “delivered up for our sins, and rose again for our justification” (Romans 4). It is the risen and glorious Christ Who dispenses to the members of His mystic body the atoning merits and graces of Calvary. Baptism, the initial sacrament by which we appropriate subjectively the graces of the Cross, is viewed by Saint Paul as a mystic death and resurrection with Christ:

“Know you not that all we, who are baptized in Christ Jesus, are baptized in his death?
For we are buried together with Him by baptism into death; that as Christ is risen from the dead by the glory of the Father, so we also may walk in newness of life.” (Romans 6).

Two erroneous conceptions of the Redemption are prevalent. The first considers the Passion of Christ as a mere material endurance of pain, the immolated Christ of Calvary as an inert victim, and man as a mere passive spectator of the drama. The other reduces the whole Redemption to a mere ethical appeal, to its psychological subjective induence on our lives.

MLA Citation

  • “redemption”. New Catholic Dictionary. CatholicSaints.Info. 18 December 2010. Web. 26 January 2022. <>