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Catholic Dictionary




A manner of speaking in which the properties and activities of God, though common to the three divine persons, are attributed to an individual person. The purpose of appropriation is to manifest the differences in the divine properties and persons. Four kinds of appropriations are known from Scripture and sacred tradition: 1. substantive names of God (Theos), applied to the Father, and of Lord (Kurios), applied to the Son; 2. absolute attributes of God, namely power, unity, and eternity applied to the Father; wisdom, equality, and beauty applied to the Son; goodness, harmony, and happiness applied to the Holy Spirit; 3. works of God, namely efficient cause (Father), exemplary cause (Son), and final cause (Holy Spirit); 4. worship of God, with the Father as recipient of adoration and sacrifice, and the Son and Holy Spirit as mediators between God and man. (Etym. Latin appropriatio, ascribing, the attributing of a special characteristic.)