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VI. The Grace of God

by Fr. John A. Hardon, S.J.

Among the mysteries of Catholicism, none is more practically important for our personal lives than the doctrine of grace. It is the very heart of Christianity on its human side, since it describes the panorama of God’s dealing with each one of us in the depths of our souls. The study of grace corresponds in theology to the science of psychology, but with implications in every aspect of the Christian religion that have no counterpart in merely human philosophy.

All the dogmas of faith take on new meaning from the existence of a supernatural order. The Trinity of persons is meaningful because their eternal communication within the Deity are the source of his gifts outside the divinity. They are the fountainhead of grace from the Father, through his Son, Our Lord, in the Spirit who dwells in the soul of the justified.

By the very fact that we believe in things unseen and hope for the promised reward of those who love God, we are witnesses to the action of a superhuman power, which is divine grace operating on the mind and will and enabling us to see and want what natural man cannot perceive or desire.

We say that the sacraments are signs instituted by Christ to confer the grace they signify. And more broadly we hold that the Catholic Church is the great sacrament of the New Law that Christ founded to be the unique channel of grace to all mankind, with special title to those who are baptized and active members of the Mystical Body of Christ. But no matter how conceived, the sacraments are so far significant and membership in the church so much more appreciated if we see the great mysteries of Christ in their true perspective as visible and human agencies for the transmission of invisible divine blessings to the human race.

As we look to the future prospects of a heavenly reward, it is grace again that gives heaven its only meaning, as a prolongation of the life in God’s friendship here on earth. Our faith here becomes vision there, our hope here becomes possession there, and our charity in time the measure of our love of God in eternity-all aspects of the same mysterious reality that completely distinguished the Christian religion from every other. We might in justice define Christianity as “the religion of grace.” Except for Judaism, from which it arose and above which it stands, Christianity is unique among living religions in resting its whole structure on the existence of a supernatural world of which the visible and natural universe is only a feeble analogy.

If the love of God is conditioned on knowledge the, depth of love will be determined by the extent of our knowledge.

Copyright © 1998 Inter Mirifica

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