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Grace Index

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Course on Grace: Contents and Introduction
Grace is one of the most complex, ramifying and difficult of subjects, yet one most fruitful to mind and soul. We like to characterize the world of grace as a hidden world, within the world that we know rather well. Our most real life is lived within. Hidden from the measuring instruments of physical science, unknown to most non-Catholics, too little realized by many Catholics, there lies an invisible world of light and beauty and power, a world of creatures throbbing with a life that is “divine”, a world that is of vital importance to every human being. What is it? The world of grace, where Christ is King.
Course on Grace: Part I - Grace Considered Extensively
Why do we have sacraments? To give us grace. But is grace the ultimate, the “end of the line?” Is it an end in itself, a gift of God which we are simply to have, a treasure just to be hoarded? No, grace is not just an ornament. It is that, but more; it is a marvelous reality that points and inclines us to something. To what? To the Beatific Vision, Love, Enjoyment (or Fruition – a word St. Thomas might prefer) of the Divine Essence and Persons. The end of grace is a sharing in the activity and happiness of God, in the Beatific Vision of the Divine Essence. In this almost incredible Vision, there will be no species, idea, thought between God and this inmost “me,” nothing created will intervene; the Divine Essence itself will be united to my mind as the quasi-species and the term of this Vision.
Course on Grace: Part IIA - Grace Considered Intensively
Sanctifying grace. St. Thomas, following St. Augustine, declares that “the justification of the ungodly…is greater than the creation of heaven and earth” (l-2qll3a9). Since the former is a supernatural work of the highest order and the other only natural, more glory is given to God in justification than by all perfections of nature. Is justification, then, the greatest supernatural work? No, the Incarnation of the Word and the beatification of the just in heaven are greater.
Course on Grace: Part IIB - Grace Considered Intensively
In considering sanctifying grace we have been considering created grace. But there is another grace, greater than sanctifying grace: Gods gift of Himself to us. In heaven God will give Himself to us in the Beatific Vision, but even here below He gives Himself to the just in a very real, if mysterious way, to help them to the Beatific Vision. God, the Triune God comes to dwell in our souls and there produces a supernatural organism which “deifies” our souls and enables them to perform deiform acts.
Course on Grace: Part III - Teaching of the Church
The following pages are a composite of all the principal declarations of the Church on the subject of divine grace. Arranged in chronological order, these documents give us not only a purview of Catholic theology on the subject but place into our hands a synopsis of the Church’s authentic teaching, on which speculative theology builds and to which every theory should conform.
What is the Role of Freedom in the Pursuit of Holiness?
We might begin by observing that there are so many elements in the pursuit of sanctity that we are liable to overlook the most important one on our side. The most important element on God’s side is obviously His grace. The most important on our side is our liberty. My purpose in this class is to look at certain aspect of the subject and while saying just a few words about each aspect to gradually pull things together in such a way that we will have at least a broad overview and an appreciation of the importance of our freedom in the pursuit of holiness.
History and Theology of Grace - Contents and Introduction
The saints understood the importance and dignity of grace, which they attested is so excellent that neither the gift of prophecy, nor the working of miracles, nor any speculation, however sublime, is of any value without it. For the gifts of nature are common to the good and bad; but grace is the proper gift of the elect. They that are adorned with, influenced by, and sanctified in it are esteemed worthy of eternal life. No one has spoken more eloquently about grace than the author of the Imitation who, through his influence on the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius, has shaped so much of modern spirituality. "Grace," he wrote, "is the mistress of truth, the light of the heart, the comforter of affliction, the banisher of sorrow, the expeller of fears, the matrix of devotion, the producer of tears. What am I without it but a piece of dry wood and an unprofitable stock, fit for nothing but to be cast away." This is not rhetoric but only a faint declaration of the truth, since without grace man is not only left to his own resources and incapable of reaching the Trinitarian destiny to which he was raised but, because of the fall, cannot for long even remain faithful to the laws of his own nature.
History and Theology of Grace - Chapter I: Meaning of Divine Grace
Accordingly supernatural grace has two elements that characterize it and distinguish it from everything merely natural, its positive and absolute gratuity and its heavenly finality. The first refers to God as efficient cause, who willed to produce a benefit for us beyond the most extravagant conception of a finite mind; the second refers to God as final cause, towards whom we are being directed as our Trinitarian end. Taken together, the two elements give us a definition of grace as a supernatural gift which God confers gratuitously on rational creatures in order to bring them to eternal life.
History and Theology of Grace - Chapter II: Necessity for Salvation
Most Catholics would be surprised if anyone questioned or denied that we need the grace of God to be saved. Built into the Catholic mind is a correlation between grace and heaven so close that the one is unthinkable without the other. The relationship is correct, and the instinct which tells us that we need divine assistance to reach our final destiny is a reflection of the Church’s faith over the centuries. Nevertheless, this faith was not preserved without struggle. The calm assurance we now have is the fruit of conflict and of clarification that reach back to the early period of Christianity. The conflict still continues and is, in fact, the most deep seated tension in all human history. There is, on the one hand, the assertion of man’s independence in the moral order. On the other hand we have the contrary admission that man is not autonomous, that with all the native powers at his command he is really helpless without special and constant intervention to realize the ultimate purpose of his being.
History and Theology of Grace - Chapter III: Powers and Limitations of Fallen Nature
Man is a bundle of contradictions. Newman called him the strange composite of heaven and earth, cloaking corruption yet weakness mastering power. "What sort of freak then is man," wrote Pascal, "How novel, how monstrous, how chaotic, how paradoxical, how prodigious! Judge of all things, feeble earthworm, repository of truth, sink of doubt and error, glory and refuse of the universe!"
History and Theology of Grace - Chapter IV: Sanctifying Grace
The first species of grace was implied in the statement of St. Athanasius, that "God has not only made us out of nothing; but He gave us freely, by the grace of the Word, a life in correspondence with God"; the second was described by St. Ambrose, that "every holy thought is the gift of God, the inspiration of God, the grace of God." In technical terms, the first is called sanctifying grace, the second actual, although the terminology is fluid and a variety of synonyms is used for both concepts.†Our concern here is with the habitual, supernatural state of soul, as distinct from the transitory assistance received from God, comparable to the principle of rational life which makes us men as distinguished from the passing divine influence that concurs with our every action.
History and Theology of Grace - Chapter V: Sharing the Divine Nature
All religion is somehow based on the recognition of a superhuman Reality of which man is at least vaguely conscious and towards which he strives to orientate his life. This orientation may take on extreme forms, or it may be so simple as almost to elude inquiry, but its driving spirit is always the desire to communicate with the divine and, so far as possible, to share in the attributes of the one who is God.
History and Theology of Grace - Chapter VI: Actual Graces
Our dependence upon God and His supernatural communication affects every aspect of our being. Through sanctifying grace we are given a new life that raises us to the divine family and makes us partakers in the very nature of God. This corresponds to the vital principle in the physical order, enabling us to perform actions that are meritorious of heaven. Just as, naturally speaking, we receive from God both our nature and the constant influx of His general concursus; so supernaturally He gives to His elect not only the wellspring of deiform vitality but also the special assistance we need to guide the mind and inspire the will in our pathway to glory. Another name for this transitory light and inspiration is actual grace.
History and Theology of Grace - Chapter VII: Grace and Free Will
We know that somehow manís destiny involves two kinds of freedom:†his own and that of God. In examining the dialectic between the two, we keep in mind that from the divine side God "will have all men to be saved and come to the knowledge of truth," but from man's side there is power to follow or resist the loving intentions of God.
History and Theology of Grace - Chapter VIII: Analysis of Efficacious Grace
In order to appreciate the meaning and importance of the celebrated controversy about efficacious grace, we must see its beginnings in their historical work. Apart from the circumstances to which it gave rise, the centuries-old discussion between two major religious orders in the Church might well seem to be "wrangling about a theological subtlety." If the subject under dispute was subtle, the issue at stake was far from useless. In fact on its clarification depended the substance of the Catholic faith. Commentators on the disputation De Auxiliis sometimes underrate the significance of the problem by considering it only a domestic argument with no relevance to the Christian life. It is highly relevant, and the early disputants were not "wanting in a sense of humor" for taking too seriously what should have been an academic debate.
History and Theology of Grace - Chapter IX: Supernatural Merit
Woven into the texture of merit are such typically Catholic ideas as freedom of the will, good works, growth in sanctifying grace, the evangelical counsels, and intercessory prayer. They are neither conditions which make merit possible, or derive from meritorious actions nor assist the soul in meriting more effectively before God. A clear understanding of supernatural merit does more than educate the mind in the Christian religion; it offers motivation for fidelity in the spiritual life and, paradoxically, lie close to the center of the heroism of the saints.
History and Theology of Grace - Chapter X: Infused Virtues and Gifts
In The Clerk’s Tale by Chaucer, we are told that “natural goodness comes of God, no strain of blood can give it, no, nor ancestor.” This was a poetic way of saying that so-called virtue is not born of nature but comes as a gift of God, who endows some people with qualities of mind and heart that others, after a lifetime of effort, never acquire.
Christianity, The Religion of Truth
The most fundamental need of human beings is to know the truth. Unless they know the truth, they cannot choose what is truly good. What is truly good is that which leads us to eternal life. The focus of the present issue of The Catholic Faith is on our right to the truth. There is a profound reason for addressing ourselves to this subject. It is the widespread ignorance of the truth with devastating consequences that have made our century the most homicidal in the history of the human race.

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