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Course on Grace
Part III

Teaching of the Church

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


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.

Each set of declarations is preceded by a short introductory note, explaining the council or circumstances in which the declaration occurred. It is of some importance to know the historical context for a document, in order properly to evaluate its theological meaning.

At least three benefits may be derived from a judicious study of the Church’s teaching on the theology of grace: it serves to synthesize a field that is more complex and wide than perhaps any other phase of doctrine; it gives, in epitome form, the authoritative foundation on which further explanation and speculation are based; it offers, in concise formulas, the statements of doctrine which a teacher especially needs for instructing others.

The numeration is not arbitrary for the sequence of doctrinal statements, but follows (without exactly corresponding to) the numbers in Denzinger’s Enchiridion Symbolorum. Translation of texts and introduction are from The Church Teaches, published by Herder & Co. and edited by St. Mary's College, St. Mary's, Kansas.

Chapter XVII.


Grace, original justice, and justifications are so related that errors about one inevitably lead to a false understanding of the others. When the assembly of bishops at Carthage, 418, condemned the Pelagian teaching on original justice, many of the canons they drew up dealt specifically with grace. Pope St. Zosimus (417-18) confirmed the canons.

  1. (3). They have likewise decreed: Whoever says that God's grace, which justifies mankind through our Lord Jesus Christ, has the power only for the remission of those sins already committed, and is not also a help to prevent sins from being committed: let him be anathema.

  2. (4). They have likewise decreed: Whoever says that God's grace through Jesus Christ our Lord helps us avoid sin solely because it gives us a very clear knowledge and understanding of the positive and negative commandments, but denies that through this grace there is given to us an ability and a love of doing what we know should be done: let him be anathema. For since the Apostle says: “Knowledge puffs up, but charity edifies” (I Cor. 8:1), it would be very wrong to believe that we have Christ's grace for knowledge, which puffs up, and not for charity which edifies. Knowledge of what we ought to do and love of doing it are both gifts of God. Thus knowledge working with charity cannot make us puffed up. For it is written of God: “He that teacheth man knowledge” (Ps. 93:10); but it is also written: “Love is from God" (I John 4:7).

  3. (5). They have likewise decreed: Whoever says that the grace of justification was given us so that grace could facilitate our fulfilling what our free will is ordered to do, as if to say that, if grace were not given, it would be possible but not easy to obey God's commandments without that grace: let him be anathema. For the Lord was speaking of the observance of the commandments when he said: "Without me you can do nothing" (John 15:5). He did not say: Without me it will be more difficult for you to do anything.

  4. (6). They have likewise decreed: Whoever thinks St. John the Apostle's statement -- "If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourself, and truth is not in us” (I John 1:8) -- is to be taken in the sense that he is saying we have sin because humility demands us to say so, not because we actually do have sin: let him be anathema. For the Apostle continues: "”If we acknowledge our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all iniquity" (I John 1:9). Hence it is quite clear that this is said not only from humility but truthfully. For the Apostle could have said: "If we say we have no sin we exalt ourselves, and humility is not in us." But since he says: "We deceive ourselves, and truth is not in us," he clearly shows that the person who says he has no sin is not speaking the truth.

  5. (7). They have likewise decreed: Whoever says that the reason why the saints say "forgive us our debts” (Matthew 6:12) in the Our Father is not that they are requesting this for themselves -- for such a request is not necessary for them -- but that they are requesting it for others of their people who are debtors; and whoever says that the reason why each of the saints does not say, "forgive me my debts," but "forgive us our debts," is that the just man is understood to make this request for others rather than for himself: let him be anathema.

    The Apostle James was a holy and a just man when he said, "For in many things we all offend" (James 3:2). Why was the word "all" added? Was it not added to express the same idea as is found in the Psalm: "And enter not into judgment with thy servant: for in thy sight no man living shall be justified" (Psalm 142:2)? The same idea is found in the prayer of Solomon the wise man: "For there is no man who sinneth not" (III Kings 8:46). And we read in the book of Job: "He sealeth up the hand of all men, that everyone may know his works" (Job 37:7).

    Even the holy and just Daniel used the plural form in his prayer when he said, "We have sinned, we have committed iniquity," and when he says the other things that he truly and humbly confesses (Daniel 9: 5-15). And lest anyone should think, as some do, that he was not speaking of his own sins, but of those of his people, he said further on: "While…I was praying and confessing my sins and the sins of my people" to the Lord my God (Daniel 9:20). He was unwilling to say "our sins;" therefore he said, "my sins and the sins of my people," since he foresaw as a prophet there would be some who would misunderstand him.

  6. (8). They have likewise decreed: Whoever says that, when the saints pray the Our Father, they say "forgive our debts" (Matthew 6:12) humbly rather than truthfully: let him be anathema. For who will tolerate the thought of a man praying and lying not to men but to the Lord himself, since he says with his lips that he wishes to have his debts forgiven, but denies in his heart that he has anything to be forgiven?

Chapter XVIII.


This catalogue, the Indiculus, has been considered
an authoritative statement of the Roman Church’s teaching.


  1. Some who pride themselves on having the name of Catholics are, either through malice or inexperience; spending their time on the condemned propositions of the heretics, and they have the presumption to contradict very faithful writers. Although these men do not hesitate to heap anathemas upon Pelagius and Coelestius, still they find fault with their own teachers being extremists. They say that they follow and approve only what, through the ministry of its bishops, the Holy See of the Apostle St. Peter has taught and approved against the enemies of the grace of God. For this reason it has been necessary to make a diligent investigation as to what judgment the rulers of the Roman Church made about heresy that arose during their time, and what opinion they thought should be held about the grace of God against the dangerous upholders of “free will”.

    We are also attaching some statements of the councils of Africa, which the apostolic bishops certainly adapted as their own when they gave them their approval. Therefore, to instruct more fully those who are doubtful about some point, we promulgate the doctrine of the Holy Fathers in this brief catalogue. Thus if a person is not too contentious, he may see that the conclusion of all of these disputes is contained in the following brief summary, and that there is no ground left him for asserting the contrary if only he believes and professes his faith with the Catholics as follows:


  1. The Chapter 2. Unless he who alone is good grants a participation in his being, no one has goodness in himself. This truth is proclaimed by that pontiff (St. Innocent I) in the following sentence of the same letter. “For the future, can we expect anything good from those whose mentality is such that they think they are the cause of their goodness and do not take into account him whose grace they obtain each day, and who hope to accomplish so much without him?”

  2. Chapter 3. No one, not even he who has been renewed by the grace of baptism, has sufficient strength to overcome the snares of the devil, and to vanquish the concupiscence of the flesh, unless he obtains help from God each day to persevere in a good life. And the letter cited above: “For although he redeemed man from his past sins, still, since he knew man could sin again, he had at hand many things whereby he could restore man and set him straight even after sinned, offering those daily remedies upon which we must rely and trust in our struggle; for by no other means would we be able to overcome our human mistakes.”


  1. Chapter 5. All the efforts, and all the works and merits of the Saints must be attributed to the praise and glory of God, because no one can please God with anything that is not His very own gift. It is the directive authority of Pope Zosimus of happy memory that leads us to this conclusion; for when writing to the bishops of the whole world, he says: “But We inspired by God (for all good things must be attributed to the source from which they proceed), have committed the entire matter to the consideration of our brothers and co-bishops.”

    This letter shone with the light of purest truth, and the bishops of Africa held it in such esteem that they wrote the following reply to Zosimus: “We considered the contents of the letter which you made sure was sent to all the provinces – the letter in which you said, ‘But We, inspired by God … ‘ – as a swift thrust of the of the sword of truth with which you dispatch those who exalt human freedom of choice than to commit this entire matter to our humble consideration? And, nevertheless, with sincerity and wisdom you knew that your decision to commit the matter to us was inspired by God, and you truthfully and courageously proclaimed that it was. Without doubt you did so because the will is prepared by the Lord, and he himself as a father touches the hearts of his sons with inspirations that they may do good of any sort. For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God (Romans 8: 14). Thus we do not judge that we are without freedom of choice nor do we entertain any doubt that God’s grace plays and even more predominant role in each and every good impulse of man’s will.”

  2. Chapter 6. God so works in the hearts of men and in free will itself that the holy thought, the gentle counsel, and every movement of a good will is from God, because it is through him that we can do any good, and without him we can do nothing (John 15: 5). The same teacher Zosimus instructed us to acknowledge this truth when, speaking to the bishops of the world about the assistance of divine grace, he said: “Is there ever a time when we do not need his help?

    Therefore, in every action and situation, in every thought and movement, we must pray to him as to our helper and protector. For whatever human nature presumes to do by itself manifests pride, since the Apostle warns: ‘Our wrestling is not against flesh and blood, but against the spiritual forces of wickedness on high’ (Eph. 6:12). And as he says on another occasion: ‘Unhappy man that I am! Who will deliver me from the body of this death? The grace of God through Jesus Christ our Lord’ (Romans 7: 24f). And again: ‘By the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace in me has not been fruitless; in fact I have labored more than any of them, yet not I, but the grace of God with me’” (I Cor. 15:10).


  1. Chapter 7. We likewise uphold and the personal teaching of the Apostolic See what was set down in the decrees of the Council of Carthage and defined in the third chapter: “Whoever says that God’s grace, which justifies mankind through our Lord Jesus Christ, has the power only for the remission of those sins already committed, and is not also a help to prevent sins from being committed: let him be anathema.

  2. We uphold also what was defined in the fourth chapter: “Whoever says that God's grace through Jesus Christ our Lord helps us avoid sin solely because it gives us a very clear knowledge and understanding of the positive and negative commandments, but denies that through this grace there is given to us an ability and a love of doing what we know should be done: let him be anathema. For since the Apostle says: 'Knowledge puffs up, but charity edifies' (I Cor., 8:1), it would be very wrong to believe that we have Christ's grace for knowledge, which puffs up, and not for charity, which edifies. Knowledge of what we ought to do and love of doing it are both gifts of God, Thus knowledge working with charity cannot make us puffed up. For it is written of God; 'He that teacheth man knowledge' (Psalm 93:10); but it is also written: 'Love is from God’” (I John 1:7).

  3. We uphold also what was defined in the fifth chapter: "Whoever says that the grace of justification was given us so that grace could facilitate our fulfilling what our free will is ordered to do, as if to say that, if grace were not given, would be possible but not easy to obey God's commandments without that grace: let him be anathema. For the Lord was speaking of the observance of the commandments when he said: 'Without me you can do nothing' (John 15:5), He did not say: '’Without me it will be more difficult for you to do anything.’”


  1. Chapter 8. The preceding chapters are the inviolable decrees of the most holy and Apostolic See, the decrees by which our reverend Fathers, suppressing the spread of a dangerous novelty, taught us to attribute to the grace of Christ both the initial impulses of a good will and the increase of praiseworthy efforts as well as final perseverance in them. Besides these decrees, let us also examine the sacred words of the prayers the priests say.

    Let us examine these sacred words which were handed down from the Apostles throughout the world and which are uniformly used in every Catholic Church, and thus find in the prayers of the liturgy confirmation for the law of our faith. For when the leaders of the holy people perform the functions of the office entrusted to them they plead the cause of the human race before the tribunal of divine mercy. And with the whole Church earnestly praying along with them, they beg and they entreat that the faith be given to infidels, that idolators be freed from the errors of their ungodliness, that the veil be removed from the hearts of the Jews so that the light of truth may shine upon them, that heretics may come to their senses and accept the Catholic faith, that schismatics may receive the spirit of charity that restores life, that sinners be given the healing powers of repentance, and, finally, that catechumens may be brought to the sacrament of regeneration and that the heavenly court of mercy may be opened to them.

    That these requests from the Lord are not just a matter of form shown by the actual course of events. For God, indeed, deigns to draw many men from errors of every description -- men whom he has rescued from the power of darkness and transferred into the kingdom of his beloved Son (Col. 1:13), and whom he has changed from vessels of wrath into vessels of mercy (Romans 9:22f). And this is felt to be so exclusively a divine operation, that thanksgiving and praise are being constantly given to God, who brings about the enlightenment and correction of such persons.

  2. Chapter 9. By those ecclesiastical norms and these documents derived from divine authority, we are so strengthened with the help of the Lord, that we profess that God is the author of all good desires and deeds, of all efforts and virtues, with which from the beginning of faith man tends to God. And we do not doubt that his grace anticipates every one of man’s merits, and that it is through him that we begin both the will and the performance (Phil. 2:13) of any good work. To be sure, free will is not destroyed by this help and strength from God but it is freed; so that from darkness it is brought to light, from evil to good, from sickness to health, from ignorance to prudence.

    For such is God’s goodness to men that he wills that his gifts be our merits, and that he will grant us an eternal reward for what he has given us. Indeed, God so acts in us that we both will and do what he wills; he does not allow to lie idle in us what he bestowed upon us to be employed, not neglected. And he acts in this manner in us so that we are cooperators with his grace. And if we notice that there is some weakness in us because of our own negligence, we should with all care hasten to him who heals all our diseases and redeems our lives from destruction (Ps. 102:3f), and to whom we say each day, "Lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil" (Matthew 6:13).

Chapter XIX.


One of the most important councils of the sixth century was the Second Council of Orange, held in southern Gaul. The presiding prelate was Archbishop Caesarius of Arles. The following numbers contain the canons on grace which the prelated signed on July 3, 529, against the Semi-Pelagians, especially against their denial of the necessity of grace for the beginning of faith. On January 25, 531, Pope Boniface II (530-32) confirmed the Second Council of Orange, and since then this part of the controversy against the Semi-Pelagians has been considered closed.


  1. (3). If anyone says that the grace of God can be conferred because of human prayer, but that it is not grace that prompts us to pray, he contradicts the Prophet Isaias of the Apostle who says the sane thing: "I was found by those who did not seek me; I appeared openly to those who made no inquiry of me” (Romans 10:20; Isaias 65:1).

  2. (4). If anyone argues that God awaits our will before cleansing us from sin, but does not profess that even the desire to be cleansed is accomplished through the infusion and the interior working of the Holy Spirit, he opposes the Holy Spirit speaking through Solomon: “The will is prepared by the Lord" (Proverbs 8:35, Septuagint). And he opposes the Apostle's salutary message: "It is God who of his good pleasure works in you both the will and the performance” (Phil. 2:13).

  3. (5). He is an adversary of the apostolic teaching who says that the increase of faith as well as the beginning of faith and the very desire of faith -- by which we believe in Him who justifies the unjustified and by which we come to the regeneration of sacred baptism -- inheres in us naturally and not by a gift of grace. This grace is the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, guiding our will away from infidelity to faith, from godlessness to piety. For St. Paul says: "We are convinced of this, that he who has begun a good work in you will bring it to perfection until the day of Christ Jesus" (Phil. 1:6). And he says: "You have been given the favor on Christ's behalf – not only to believe in him but also to suffer for him" (Phi. 1:29). And again: "By grace you have been saved through faith; and that not from yourselves, for it is the gift of God" (Eph. 2:8). For those who say that it is a natural faith by which we believe in God teach that all those who are separated from the Church of Christ are, in a certain sense, believers.

  4. (6). If anyone says that mercy is divinely conferred upon us when, without God's grace, we believe, will, desire, strive, labor, pray, keep watch, study, beg, seek, knock for entrance, but does not profess that it is through the interior infusion and inspiration of the Holy Spirit that we believe, will, or are able to do all these things in the way we ought; or if anyone grants that the help of grace is dependent upon humility or human obedience, and does not grant that it is the very gift of grace that makes us obedient and humble, he contradicts the words of the Apostle: "What hast thou that thou hast not received?" (I Cor. 4:7); and: "By the grace of God, I am what I am" (I Cor. 15:10).

  5. (15). "From the man that God had formed, Adam was changed through his own iniquity, and the change was for the worse. From the man that iniquity had formed, the man of faith is changed through the grace of God, and the change is for the better. The former was the change of the first sinner; the latter, as the Psalmist says, is the change of the hand of the Most High" (Psalm 76:11).


  1. And thus, according to the passages of Holy Scripture and according to the explanations of the ancient Fathers quoted above, we, with God's help, must believe and preach the following: The free will of man was made so weak and unsteady through the sin of the first man that, after the Fall, no one could love God as was required, or believe in God, or perform good works for God unless the grace of divine mercy anticipated him. Therefore, we believe that the renowned faith which was given to the just Abel, to Noe, to Abraham, to Isaac and Jacob, and to that vast number of the saints of old, was given through the grace of God and not through natural goodness, which had first been given to Adam.

    This faith of theirs the Apostle Paul has praised in his preaching. And we know and believe that even after the coming of Christ this grace of faith is not found in the free will of all who desire to be baptized, but is conferred through the generosity of Christ, according to what has already been said and according to what Paul preaches: "You have been given the favor on Christ's behalf – not only to believe in him, but also to suffer for him" (Phil. 1:29). And also: "God who has begun a good work in you will bring it to perfection until the day of our Lord" (Phil. 1:16). And again: "By grace you have been saved through faith; and that not from yourselves, for it is the gift of God" (Eph, 2:8). And the Apostle says of himself: "I have obtained mercy that I might be faithful" (I Cor. 7:25; I Tim. 1:13). He does not say, "because I was faithful," but he says, "that I might be faithful." And Scripture says further: "What hast thou that thou hast not received?" (I Cor. 4:7). And again: "Every good gift, and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of Lights" {James 1:17), And again: "No one has anything unless it is given him from above" (John 3:27). There are innumerable passages of Sacred Scripture that can be cited to bear witness to grace, but they have been omitted for the sake of brevity. And, indeed, more texts would not help a person for whom these few are not sufficient.


  1. According to Catholic faith we also believe that after grace has been received through baptism, all the baptized, if they are willing to labor faithfully, can and ought to accomplish with Christ's help and cooperation what pertains to the salvation of their souls. We do not believe that some are predestined to evil by the divine power; and, furthermore, if there are those who wish to believe in such an enormity, with great abhorrence we anathematize them.

    We also believe and profess for our salvation that in every good work it is not that we make a beginning and afterwards are helped through God's mercy, but rather, that without any previous good merits on our part, God himself first inspires us with faith in him and love of him so that we may faithfully seek the sacrament of baptism and so that after baptism, with his help, we may be able to accomplish what is pleasing to him. Therefore, we evidently must believe that the remarkable faith of the thief whom the Lord called to his home in paradise (Luke 23:43), the faith of Cornelius the centurion to whom an angel of the Lord was sent (Acts 10:3), and the faith of Zacchaeus who merited to receive the Lord himself (Luke 19:6), was not a gift of nature but of Gods generosity.

Chapter XX.


Beginning from his open attack on the practice of indulgences in the Church in 1517, Luther had gone on to expound certain fundamental doctrinal errors. He held that nature, entirely corrupted and deprived of moral liberty by sin, is forced to sin. Justification is something completely entrinsic to man and consists in this that sin is no longer imputed to the sinner but instead the merits of Christ, laid hold of by the faith of confidence alone, are imputed to him. After patient waiting and lengthy consideration, Pope Leo X (1513-21) finally issued the bull Exsurge Domine in June, 1520, condemning forty-one errors of Luther. They were taken from Luther’s own writings and related to free will, original sin, the sacraments in general, faith, grace, sin, penance, confession, the primacy, etc. As presented in the bull, the individual errors are not given a precise censure.

  1. (1). It is a heretical, though common, opinion that the sacraments of the New Law give justifying grace to those who place no obstacle in the way.

  2. (2). To deny that sin remains in a child after baptism is to despise both Paul and Christ alike.

  3. (3). The tendency to sin hinders a departing soul’s entrance into heaven, even though there is no mortal sin.

  4. (31). In every good work the just man sins.

  5. (32). A good work perfectly performed is a venial sin.

  6. (36). After sin, free will is a term without meaning; and when it does what is in its power, it sins mortally.

Chapter XXI.


One of the most important sessions of the Council of Trent was the sixth, which lasted from June 21, 1546, until January 13, 1547. After long debate, much discussion, drafting and redrafting, the decree on justification was finally published.



  1. Since at this time a certain erroneous teaching about justification is being broadcast with the consequent loss of many souls and serious damage to Church unity, this holy, ecumenical, and general Council of Trent has been lawfully convoked in the Holy Spirit for the praise and glory of the omnipotent God, for the tranquillity of the Church, and the salvation of souls. Presiding over the council in the name of our most holy father and lord in Christ, Paul III by divine providence pope, are the very reverend lords, John Mary del Monte, bishop of Praeneste; Marcellus, titular priest of Santa Croce in Jerusalem; cardinals of the holy Roman Church, and apostolic legates de latere. Under their guidance, this council intends to set forth for all the faithful of Christ the true, sound doctrine of justification, which the “Sun of justice” (Mal. 4:2) Jesus Christ, the author and finisher of our faith (Heb. 12:2), has taught, which the apostles have handed down, and which the Catholic Church, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, has always preserved. The council gives strict orders that hereafter no one is to presume to believe, preach, or teach anything contrary to what is defined and declared in this decree.

Chapter 1. The Insufficiency of Nature and the Law to Justify Man

  1. First, the holy council declares that, for an honest, unprejudiced understanding of the doctrine of justification, it is necessary to admit that all men had lost innocence in the sin of Adam (Rom. 5:12; I Cor. 15:22; 368). They became unclean (Isa. 64:6). And (according to the word of the Apostle) they "were by nature children of wrath" (Eph, 2:3), as the council taught in its decree on original sin. So completely were they slaves of sin (Rom. 6:20) and under the power of the devil and of death, that neither the power of nature for the Gentiles nor the very letter of the Law of Moses for the Jews could bring liberation from that condition. And yet their free wil1, though weakened and unsteady, was by no means destroyed.

Chapter 2. God's Dispensation and the Mystery of Christ’s Coming

  1. And so it cane about that, when the glorious fullness of time had come (Eph. 1:4, Gal. 4:4), the heavenly Father, “the Father of mercies and the God of all comfort” (II Cor. 1:3), sent Jesus Christ his Son to men. Christ had been announced and promised to many holy Fathers before the Law and during the time of the Law (Gen. 49:10, 18). He was sent that the Jews, who were under the Law, might be redeemed, and that the Gentiles, who were not pursuing justice, might secure justice (Rom. 9:30), and that all might receive the adoption of sons (Gal. 4:5). God has set him forth as a propitiation by his blood through faith for our sins (Rom. 3:25), not for our sins only, but also for those of the whole world (I John 2:2).

Chapter 3. Who Are Justified Through Christ

  1. But even though Christ did die for all (II Cor. 5:15), still all do not receive the benefit of his death, but only those with whom the merit of his Passion is shared. Truly, men would not have been born without justice except that they were born children of Adam's seed. For it is because of their descent from him that in their conception they contract injustice as their own. So likewise they would never have been justified except through rebirth in Christ, for this rebirth bestows on them through the merit of his Passion the grace by which they are justified. For this benefit the Apostle exhorts us to give thanks always to the Father “who has made us worthy to share the lot of the saints in light” (Co1. 1:12), and who has rescued us from the power of darkness and transferred us into the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption and remission of sins (Col, 1:13f).

Chapter 4. A Summary Description of the Justification of a Sinner and the Manner of Justification Under the Dispensation of Grace

  1. In the preceding words a description is given of the justification of the unjust. Justification is a passing from the state in which man is born a son of the first Adam, to the state of grace and adoption as sons of God (Rom. 8:15) through the second Adam, Jesus Christ our Savior. Since the gospel was promulgated, this passing cannot take place without the water of regeneration or the desire for it, as it is written: "Unless a man be born again of water and the Holy Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God" (John 3:5).

Chapter 5. The Necessity for Adults to Prepare Themselves for Justification and the Origin of this Justification

  1. Moreover, the holy council declares that in the case of adults justification must begin with God's prevenient grace through Jesus Christ. That is, it must begin with God's call, a call which they do not merit. The purpose of this call is that they who are turned away from God by sin may, awakened and assisted by his grace, be disposed to turn to their own justification by freely assenting to and cooperating with that grace. The result is that, when God touches the heart of man who accepts that inspiration certainly does something, since-he could reject it; on the other hand, by his own free will, without God's grace, he could not take one step towards justice in God's sight. Hence, when it is said in Sacred Scripture, "Turn ye to me, and I will turn to you". (Zach 1:3), we are reminded of our freedom; when we answer, "Convert us 0 Lord, to thee, and we shall be converted” (Lam. 5:21), we acknowledge that God's grace prepares us.

Chapter 6. The Manner of Preparation

  1. Adults are disposed for justification in this way: Awakened and assisted by divine grace, they conceive faith from hearing (Rom. 10:17), and they are freely led by God. They believe that the divine revelation and promises are true, especially that the unjustified man is justified by God's grace "through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus" (Rom. 3:24). Next, they know that they are sinners; and by turning from a salutary fear of divine justice to a consideration of God's mercy, they are encouraged to hope, confident that God will be propitious to them for Christ's sake. They begin to love God as the source of all justice and are thereby moved by a sort of hatred and detestation for sin, that is, by the penance that must be done before baptism. Finally, they determine to receive baptism, begin a now live, and keep the divine commandments.

    This disposition is described in Holy Scripture: "He who comes to God must believe that God exists and is a rewarder to those who seek him" (Heb. 11:6); and: "Take courage, son, thy sins are forgiven thee" (Matt. 9:2; Mk. 2:5); and: "The fear of the Lord driveth out sin" (Ecclus. 1:27). "Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit" (Acts 2:38); and: "Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you" (Matt. 28:19); finally: "Prepare your hearts unto the Lord" (I Kings 7:3).

Chapter 7. The Nature and Causes of the Justification of a Sinner

  1. Justification itself follows upon this disposition or preparation, and justification is not only the remission of sin, but sanctification and renovation of the interior man through the voluntary reception of grace and gifts, whereby a man becomes just instead of unjust and a friend instead of an enemy, that he may be an heir in the hope of life everlasting (Titus 3:7).

    The causes of this justification are the fallowing: The final cause is the glory of God and of Christ, and life everlasting. The efficient cause is the merciful God, who freely washes and sanctifies (I Cor. 6:11} sealing and anointing with the Holy Spirit of the promise, who is the pledge of our inheritance (Eph.1:13f). The meritorious cause is the beloved only-begotten Son of God' our Lord Jesus Christ, who, when we were enemies (Rom. 5:10), by reason of his very great love wherewith he has loved us (Eph. 2:4), merited justification for us by his own most holy Passion on the wood of the cross, and made satisfaction for us to God the Father. The instrumental cause is the sacrament of baptism, which is the “sacrament of faith," without which no one has ever been justified. Finally the only formal cause is the "justice of God, not the justice by which he is himself just, but the justice by which he makes us just," namely, the justice which we have as a gift from him and by which we are renewed in the spirit of our mind. And not only are we considered just, but are truly said to be just, and we are just, each one of us receiving within himself his own justice, according to the measure the Holy Spirit imparts to each one as he wishes (I Cor. 12:11), and according to the disposition and cooperation of each one.

  2. For although no one can be just unless he is granted a share in the merits of the Passion of our Lord Jesus Christ; still, in the justification of the unjustified that is precisely what happens when, by the merit of the same most holy Passion, the charity of God is poured forth by the Holy Spirit into the hearts (Rom. 5:5) of those who are justified and remains in them. Whence in the very act of being justified, at the same time that his sins are remitted, a man receives through Jesus Christ, to whom he is joined, the infused gifts of faith, hope, and charity. For faith without hope and charity neither perfectly unites a man with Christ nor makes him a living member of his body.

    Therefore it is said most truly that faith without works is dead (James 2:17ff) and unless, and that in Christ Jesus neither circumcision is of any avail, nor uncircumcision, but faith which works through charity (Gal. 5:6; 6:15). This is the faith that, according to apostolic tradition the catechumens ask of the Church before the reception of the sacrament of baptism when they petition for "the faith that gives eternal life." But faith, without hope and charity, cannot give eternal life. Next the catechumens immediately listen to Christ's words, "If thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments" (Matt. 19:17). Accordingly, as soon as they are baptized, the catechumens are commanded to keep brilliant and spotless the true Christian justice they have received, as being the best robe (Luke 15:22) that has been given them by Christ Jesus to replace the one Adam lost for himself and for us by his disobedience, so that they may wear it before the tribunal of our Lord Jesus Christ and have life everlasting.

Chapter 8. The Correct Meaning of the Statement: The Sinner Is Gratuitously Justified by Faith

  1. But when the Apostle says that man is justified “through faith" and "freely" (Rom. 3:22, 24), those words must be understood in the sense that the Catholic Church has always continuously held and declared. We may then be said to be justified through faith, in the sense that "faith is the beginning of man’s salvation," the foundation and source of all justification, "without which it is impossible to please God" (Heb 11:6) and to be counted as his sons. We may be said to be justified freely, in the sense that nothing that precedes justification, neither faith nor works, merits the grace of justification; for "if out of grace, then not in virtue of works; otherwise (as the same Apostle says) grace is no longer grace” (Rom. 11:6).

Chapter 9. Against the Heretical Teaching of Presumptuous Trust

  1. It is necessary to believe that sins are not remitted and have never boon remitted except freely by the divine mercy for Christ's sake. Nevertheless, it must not be said that sins are forgiven or have ever been forgiven to anyone who boasts a confidence and a certain knowledge of the forgiveness of his sins and who relies upon this confidence alone. This empty, ungodly confidence may exist among heretics and schismatics and actually does exist in our times and is preached against the Catholic Church with bitter arguments. Furthermore, it should not be asserted that they who are truly justified must unhesitatingly determine within themselves that they are justified; and that no one is absolved from his sins and justified except one who believes with certainty that he is absolved and justified.

    Moreover, it should not be asserted that absolution and justification are brought about by this faith alone, as if to say that whoever lacks this faith doubts God's promises and the efficacy of Christ's death and resurrection. For no devout man should entertain doubts about God's mercy, Christ's merits, and the power and efficacy of the sacraments. Similarly, whoever reflects upon himself, his personal weakness, and his defective disposition may fear and tremble about his own grace, since no one can know with the certitude of faith, which cannot admit any error, that he has obtained Gods grace.

Chapter 10. The Increase of Justification In One Who Has Been Justified

  1. Therefore, in this way the justified become both friends of God and members of his household (John 15:15; Eph. 2:19), advancing from virtue to virtue, renewed (as the Apostle says) day by day (II Cor. 4:16), that is, by mortifying the members of their flesh (Col. 3:5) and showing then as weapons of justice (Rom. 5:13, 19) unto sanctification by observing the commandments of God and of the Church, When faith works along with their works (James 2:22), the justified increase in the very justice which they have received through the grace of Christ and are justified the more, as it is written: "He who is just, let him be just still" (Apoc. 22:11), and again: "Fear not to be justified even to death (Ecclus. 18:22), and again: "You see that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only" (James 2:24). Indeed, the holy Church begs this increase of justice when she prays; "0 Lord, give us an increase of faith, hope, and charity."

Chapter 11. The Observance of the Commandments: Its Necessity and Possibility

  1. No one, even though he is justified, should consider himself exempt from keeping the commandments. And no one should say that it is impossible for the just man to keep the commandments of God, for that is a rash statement censured with anathema by the Fathers. "For God does not command the impossible; but when he commands, he cautions you to do what you can, and also to pray for what you cannot do," and he helps you so that you can do it. His commandments are not burdensome (John 5:3), his yoke is easy and his burden light (Matt. 11:30).

    For those who are sons of God love Christ; and those who love him (as he himself testifies) keep his words (John 14:23), and this they can certainly do with God's help. For granted that in this mortal life, however just and holy men be, they sometimes commit at least slight daily sins, which are also called venial sins; still they do not on that account cease to be just. For the just say truthfully and humbly, "Forgive us our debts” (Matt. 6:12). Hence, the just themselves should feel a greater obligation to walk in the way of justice because, now set free from sin and become slaves to God (Ron. 6:22), living temperately and justly and piously (Titus 2:12), they can advance through Christ Jesus, through whom they have had access unto grace (Rom. 5:2). For God "does not abandon" those who have been once justified by his grace, "unless they abandon him first."

    Therefore, no one should take pride in faith alone, thinking that faith alone makes him an heir and that he will come into the inheritance, even if he does not suffer with Christ that he may also be glorified with him (Rom. 8:17). For even Christ himself (as the Apostle says), "Son though he was, learned obedience from the things that he suffered; and when perfected, he became to all who obey him the cause of eternal salvation" (Heb. 5:8f), Therefore the Apostle himself admonished the just when he says: “Do you not know that those who run in a race, all indeed run, but one receives the prize? So run as to obtain it … I therefore so run, as not without a purpose; I so fight, as not beating the air; but I chastise my body and bring it into subjection, lest perhaps after preaching to others I myself should be rejected" (I Cor. 9 : 24ff).

    Moreover, Peter, the Prince of the Apostles, says: "Strive even more by good works to make your calling and election sure. For if you do this, you will not fall into sin at any time" (II Peter 1:10). Hence, it is clear that they are against the correct doctrine of religion when they say that the just man commits a venial sin in everything he does, or (what is more intolerable) say that he merits eternal punishment. They also are incorrect who state that the just sin in all their works if, in those works, in order to overcome their sloth and encourage themselves to run the race, they look for an everlasting reward in addition to their primary intention of glorifying God. For it is written: "I have inclined my heart to do thy justifications forever, for the reward" (Psalm 118:112), and in speaking of Moses, the Apostle says that he was looking to the reward (Heb. 11:26).

Chapter 12. Rash Presumption of One’s Predestination Must Be Avoided

  1. And no one, so long as he lives in this mortal life, ought to be so presumptuous about the deep mystery of divine predestination as to decide with certainty that he is definitely among the number of the predestined, as though it were true that, because he is justified, either he cannot sin again, or, if he does sin, he should promise himself certain repentance. For it is impossible, without a special revelation to know whom God has chosen as his own.

Chapter 13. The Gift of Perseverance

  1. The same is to be said of the gift of perseverance,9 about which it is written, "He who has persevered to the end will be saved" (Matt. 10:22; 24:13). This gift can be had only from him who has the power to determine that he who does stand shall stand with perseverance (Rom, 14:4), and who can lift up him who falls. Let no one feel assured of this gift with an absolute certitude, although all ought to have most secure hope in the help of God. For unless men are unfaithful to his grace, God will bring the good work to perfection, just as he began it, working both the will and the performance (Phil. 2:13). Yet let them who think they stand take heed lest they fall (I Cor.10:12), and let then work out their salvation with fear and trembling (Phil.2:12) in labors, in sleepless nights, in alms-giving, in prayers and offerings, in fastings, and in chastity (II Cor. 6:3ff).

    Knowing that they are reborn unto the hope of glory (Peter 1:3) and not yet unto glory itself, they should be in dread about the battle they must wage with the flesh, the world, and the devil. For in this battle they cannot be the victors unless, with God's grace they obey the Apostle who says: "We are debtors, not to the flesh, that we should live according to the flesh. For if you live according to the flesh you will die; but if by the spirit you put to death the deeds of the flesh, you will live" (Rom, 8:12f).

Chapter 14. Those Who Sin After Justification and Their Restoration to Grace

  1. Those who have received the grace of justification but have lost it through sin can be justified again when, awakened by God, they make the effort to regain through the sacrament of penance and by the merit of Christ the grace they have lost. For this is the manner of justification by which those who have fallen into sin are restored. The holy Fathers aptly called this restoration the "second plank after the ship has been wrecked and grace has been lost." For it was for those who had fallen into sin after baptism that Jesus Christ instituted the sacrament of penance with the words: "Receive the Holy Spirit; whose sins you shall retain, they are retained' (John 20:22f).

    Hence, it must be taught that the repentance of a Christian who has fallen into sin is quite different from repentance at the time of baptism. Repentance after falling into sin includes not only giving up these sins and detesting them or having "a contrite and humbled heart” (Psalm 50:19), but it also includes sacramental confession of those sins; or at least the desire to confess when a suitable occasion offers, and the absolution of a priest. It also includes satisfaction by fasts, almsgiving, prayer, and other devout exercises of the spiritual life. These exercises certainly do not make satisfaction for the eternal punishment, for it is remitted together with the guilt by the sacrament or by the desire of the sacrament. Rather they make satisfaction for the temporal punishment which (as Sacred Scripture teaches), is not always entirely – as is the case in baptism – done away with for those who, ungrateful for the grace of God they have received, have grieved the Holy Spirit (Eph. 4:30), and. have not feared to destroy the temple of God (I Cor. 3:17).

    The following has been written about this type of repentance: "Remember therefore whence thou hast fallen, and repent and do the former works" (Apoc. 2:5); and again: "The sorrow that is according to God produces repentance that surely tends to salvation" (II Cor. 7:10); and again: "Repent" (Matt. 3:2; 4:17); and: "Bring forth therefore fruit befitting repentance" (Matt. 3:8).

Chapter 15. Grace, But Not Faith, Is Lost by Every Mortal Sin

  1. We must also assert, in opposition to some clever men who "by smooth words and flattery deceive the hearts of the simple" (Rom. 16:18), that the grace of justification, once received, is lost not only by unbelief, which causes the loss of faith, but also by any other mortal sin, even though faith is not lost. This assertion defends the teaching of divine law that excludes from the kingdom of God not only those without faith, but also those with faith who are fornicators, adulterers, effeminate, sodomites, thieves, covetous, drunkards, evil-tongued, greedy (I Cor. 6:9), and all others who commit mortal sins. These sins separate men from the grace of Christ, and they can be avoided with the help of divine grace.

Chapter 16. The Merit of Good Works As a Result of Justification, and the Nature of Merit

  1. Therefore, with this in mind, justified men, whether they have continuously kept grace once they have received it, or whether they have lost it and recovered it again, should consider these words of the Apostle: "Abound in every good work knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord" (I Cor. 15:58); "for God is not unjust, that he should forget your work and the love that you have shown in his name" (Heb, 6:10); and “Do not lose your confidence, which has a great reward" (Heb. 10:35).

    And eternal life should therefore be set before those who persevere in good works to the end (Matt. 10:22) and who hope in God. It should be set before them as being the grace that God , through Jesus Christ, has mercifully promised his sons, and “as the reward” which, according to the promise of God h i m s e l f m u s t assuredly be given them for their good works and merits. For this is that crown of justice which the Apostle says is laid up for him after the fight and the race; the crown that will be given him by the just Judge, and not to him alone but to all who love his coming (II Tim. 4:7f ). Indeed, Christ Jesus himself always gives strength to the justified, just as the head gives strength to the members (Eph, 4:15) and the vine gives strength to the branches (John 15:5). This strength always precedes, accompanies, and follows the good works of the justified and without it the good works cannot be at all pleasing to God or meritorious.

    Since this is true, it is necessary to believe that the justified have everything necessary for them to be regarded as having completely satisfied the divine law for this life by their works, at least those which they have performed in God. And they may be regarded as having likewise truly merited the eternal life they will certainly attain in due time (if they but die in the state of grace) (Apoc. 14:13) because Christ our Savior says: "He who drinks of the water that I will give him shall never thirst, but it will become in him a fountain of water, springing up into life everlasting” (John 4:13f). Thus, it is not personal effort that makes justice our own, and God's justice is not disregarded or rejected (Rom, 10:3); for, the justice that is said to be ours because it inheres in us is likewise God's justice because he has put it in us through the merit of Christ.

  2. Christ promises even to the person who gives a drink of cold water to one of his least ones that he shall not be without his reward (Matt. 10:42), and the Apostle says that our present light affliction, which is for the moment, prepares for us an eternal weight of glory that is beyond all measure (II Cor. 4:17). Although in Holy Scripture such high value is placed on good works, nevertheless, a Christian should have no inclination either to rely on himself or the glory in himself instead of in the Lord (I Cor. 1:31; II Cor. 10:17), whose goodness towards all men is such that he wants his gifts to be their merits. And since “in many things we all offend" (James 3:2) , each one ought to keep severity and judgment in view as well as mercy and goodness.

    Neither should anyone pass judgment on himself, even he is conscious of no wrong, because the entire life of man should be examined and judged not by human judgment, but by the judgment of God who "will both bring to light the things hidden in darkness and make manifest the counsels of' hearts; and then everyone will have his praise from God" (I Cor. 4:5), who as it is written, will render to every man according to his works (Rom. 2:6).

    No one can be justified unless he faithfully and unhesitatingly accepts the Catholic doctrine on justification. Finally, this holy council has decreed to list the following canons so that all may know not only what they should believe and put into practice, but also what they should shun and avoid.

Canons on Justification

  1. (1). If anyone says that, without divine grace through Jesus Christ, man can be justified before God by his own works, whether they were done by his natural powers or by the light of the teaching of the (Mosaic) Law: let him be anathema.

  2. (2). If anyone says that divine grace is given through Jesus Christ merely to facilitate man's living justly and meriting everlasting life, as if he could accomplish both, although with great difficulty, by his free will without grace: let him be anathema.

  3. 3). If anyone says that without the Holy Spirit's prevenient inspiration and without his help man can believe, hope, and love or be repentant as is required if the grace of justification is to be given to him: let him be anathema.

  4. (4). If anyone says that the free will of man, moved and awakened by God, in no way cooperates with the awakening call of God by an assent by which man disposes and prepares himself to get the grace of justification; and that man cannot dissent, if he wishes, but, like an object without life, he does nothing at all and is merely passive: let him be anathema.

  5. (5). If anyone says that after Adam's sin manes free will was destroyed and lost, or that there is question about a term only, indeed, that the term has no real foundation; and that the fictitious notion was even introduced into the Church by Satan: let him be anathema.

  6. (6). If anyone says that it is not in man's power to make his ways evil, but that God performs the evil works just as he performs the good, not only permissively but also properly and directly, so that Judas' betrayal no less than Paul's vocation was God's own work: let him be anathema.

  7. (7). If anyone says that all works performed before justification, regardless of how they were performed, are truly sins or merit God’s hatred; or that the more zealously a person strives to dispose himself for grace, the more grievously he sins: let him be anathema.

  8. (8). If anyone says that the fear of hell, which makes us turn to the mercy of God in sorrow for sins of which makes us avoid sin, is itself a sin or that it makes sinners worse: let him be anathema.

  9. (9). If anyone says that a sinful man is justified by faith alone, meaning that no other cooperation is required to obtain the grace of justification, and that it is not at all necessary that he be prepared and disposed by the action of his will: let him be anathema.

  10. (10). If anyone says that men are justified without Christ's justice by which he gained merit for us, or are formally just by the justice of Christ: let him be anathema.

  11. (11). If anyone says that men are justified either through the imputation of Christ's justice alone, or through the remission of sins a1one, excluding grace and charity which is poured forth in their hearts by the Holy Spirit and inheres in then, or a1so that the grace which justifies us is only the good will of Gods: let him be anathema.

  12. (12). If anyone says that justifying faith is nothing else than confidence that divine Mercy remits sins for Christ's sake, or that it is confidence alone which justifies us: let him be anathema.

  13. (13). If anyone says that, to attain the remission of sins, everyone must believe with certainty and without any misgiving because of his own weakness and defective disposition, that his sins are remitted: let him be anathema.

  14. (14). If anyone says that man is absolved from his sins and justified because he believes with certainty that he is absolved and justified; or that no one is truly justified except he who believes he is justified, and that absolution and justification are effected by this faith alone: let him be anathema.

  15. (15). If anyone says that a man who has been reborn and justified is bound by faith to believe that he is certainly in the number of the predestined: let him be anathema.

  16. (16). If anyone says that he has absolute and infallible certitude that he will certainly have the great gift of final perseverance, without having learned this from a special revelation: let him be anathema.

  17. (17). If anyone says that only those who are predestined to life have the grace of justification, and that all the others who are called, are indeed called, but do not receive grace, inasmuch as they are predestined to evil by the divine power: let him be anathema.

  18. (18). If anyone says that the commandments of God are impossible to observe even for a man who is justified and in the state of grace: let him be anathema.

  19. (19). If anyone says that nothing is commanded in the gospel except faith, and that everything else is indifferent, neither prescribed nor prohibited, but free; or that the Ten Commandments do not pertain at all to Christians: let him be anathema.

  20. (20). If anyone says that a justified man, however perfect he might be, is not-bound to observe the commandments of God and of the Church, but is bound only to believe, as if the gospel, apart from the observance of the commandments, were an unconditional and absolute promise of eternal life: let him be anathema.

  21. (21). If anyone says that God has given Jesus Christ to men as a redeemer in whom they are to trust, but not as a law-giver whom they are to obey: let him be anathema.

  22. (22). If anyone says that without God's special help it is possible for a justified man to persevere in the justice he has received, or says that with God's special help it is impossible: let him be anathema.

  23. (23). If anyone says that a man once justified cannot sin again, and cannot lose grace, and that therefore the man who falls and sins was never truly justified; or, contrariwise, says that a man once justified can avoid all sins, even venial sins, throughout his entire life without a special privilege of God, as the Church holds in regard to the Blessed Virgin: let him be anathema.

  24. (24). If anyone says that justice which has been received is not preserved and even increased before God through good works, but that such works are merely the outgrowth and the signs of the reception of justification, not the cause of its increase as well: let him be anathema.

  25. (25). If anyone says that a just man sins at least venially in every good work, or (what is more intolerable) says that he sins mortally, and therefore merits eternal punishment, and that the sole reason why he is not dammed is that God does not impute those works unto damnation: let him be anathema.

  26. (26). If anyone says that, for good works performed in God the just ought not to expect and hope for eternal reward from God through his mercy and through the merit of Jesus Christ if they persevere to the end in doing good and in observing the divine commandments: let him be anathema.

  27. (27). If anyone says that unbelief is the only sin that is mortal, or that grace once received can be lost by, no other sin, regardless of its gravity and enormity, except unbelief: let him be anathema.

  28. (28). If anyone says that, when grace is lost through sin, faith is always lost at the same time, or that the faith which does remain is not true faith, granted it is not a living faith; or says that the man who has faith without charity is not a Christian: let him be anathema.

  29. (29). If anyone says that the man who falls after baptism cannot rise through God's grace; or that he can indeed recover the justice that has been lost, but by faith alone without the sacrament of penance, according to what the holy Roman and universal Church, instructed by Christ the Lord and his Apostles, has always professed, observed, and taught: let him be anathema.

  30. (30). If anyone says that, after receiving the grace of justification, the guilt of any repentant sinner is remitted and the debt of eternal punishment is blotted out in such away that no debt of temporal punishment remains to be paid, either in this life or in purgatory, before the gate to the kingdom of heaven can be opened: let him be anathema.

  31. (31). If anyone says that the justified man sins when he performs good works with a view to an eternal reward: let him be anathema.

  32. (32). If anyone says that the good works of a justified man are gifts of God to such an extent that they are not also the good merits of the justified man himself; or that, by the good works he performs through the grace of God and the merits of Jesus Christ (of whom he is a living member), the justified man does not truly merit an increase of grace, life everlasting, and provided that he dies in the state of grace, the attainment of that life everlasting, and even an increase of glory: let him be anathema.

  33. (33). If anyone says that this Catholic teaching about justification, stated by the holy council in this present decree, detracts in any degree from the glory of God or from the merits of Jesus our Lord, and does not rather shed light upon the truth of our faith, and ultimately show forth the glory of God and of Jesus Christ: let him be anathema.

Chapter XXII.


Michel de Bay (Baius, cir. 1513-89), professor of theology at Louvain, began to propose false doctrines in 1551. Fierce opposition was not slow in coming, and in 1560, some theses of de Bay were sent to the faculty at Paris and were condemned. When de Bay and his followers raised strenuous protest, Pope Pius IV imposed silence on de Bay. De Bay failed to obey and Pope St. Pius V (1566-72), in the bull Ex omnibus afflictionibus, which was not, however, published at that time (1567), put various censures on the theses of de Bay, without mentioning de Bay’s name. Then de Bay sent a defense of his teaching to the pope. When the pope had read the defense, he repeated his original condemnation. Although de Bay pretended to submit, he continued spreading his errors. It was then that Pius V’s condemnation of de Bay and the bull Ex omnibus afflictionibus was published by Gregory XIII in the bull Provisionis nostrae, January 29, 1579, and again by Urban VIII in the bull In eminenti Ecclesiae militantis in 1641. As presented in St. Pius’ bull, the individual errors are not given a precise doctrinal censure.

Against the Protestants Trent had taught that justification is had through gifts of God that become intrinsic to the recipient, but it did not give a precise statement on the supernaturalness of those gifts. When de Bay denied that grace was supernatural and said that it was gratuitous only because the sinner was unworthy of it, St. Pius V, in condemning de Bay's errors, gave the first declarations of the Church on the supernaturalness of grace; that is, on the fact that grace is not due to the exigencies of created nature.


  1. (1)(21). The exalting of human nature to a participation of the divine nature was due to the integrity of man in his first state and for that reason should be called natural, not supernatural.

  2. (55). God could not from the beginning have created man in the condition in which he is now born.

  3. (78). The immortality of the first man was not a gift of grace, but his natural state.


  1. (13). Good works performed by the sons of adoption are meritorious, not because they are performed by the spirit of adoption dwelling in the hearts of the sons of God, but only because they conform to the law and manifest obedience to the law.


  1. (20). No sin is of its nature venial, but every sin merits eternal punishment.

  2. (50). Evil desires to which reason does not consent and which a man experiences against his will, are forbidden by the commandment: “Thou shalt not covet" (Exod. 20:17).

  3. 54). The proposition that God commands nothing that is impossible to man is falsely attributed to Augustine, since it belongs to Pelagius.

  4. (67). In that which a man does from necessity, he sins, even so as to deserve damnation.

  5. (68). Purely negative unbelief is a sin in those to whom Christ has not been preached.

  6. (74). Concupiscence in baptized persons who have fallen back into mortal sin and in whom concupiscence now holds sway, is a sin just as are other bad habits.


  1. (25). All the actions of infidels are sins, and the virtues of philosophers are vices.

  2. (27). Without the help of God’s grace, free will can do nothing but sin.

  3. (28). It is a Pelagian error to say that free will can avoid any sin.


  1. (39). A voluntary action, even if done from necessity, is still a free action.

  2. (41). In the Scriptures, freedom does not mean freedom from necessity but only freedom from sin.

  3. (66).The only thing opposed to man’s natural freedom is violence.


  1. (16). Without charity, obedience to the lazy is not true obedience.

  2. (34). It is meaningless fiction and mockery devised against the Scriptures and the abundant testimonies of the old authors to distinguish a twofold love of God; namely, a natural love whose object is God the author of nature; and a gratuitous love, whose object is God the author of happiness.

  3. (38). All love of a rational creature is either vicious cupidity which has the world as its object, and is forbidden by John, or is the praiseworthy charity which, poured forth in the heart by the Holy Spirit has God as its object.

Chapter XXIII.


Jansenism is a development of Baianisn. For Cornelis Jansen, the theology of de Bay represented the exact interpretation of the teaching of St. Augustine. Jansen (1585-1638) was an ardent student of St. Augustine, and his chief aim was to restore to its place of honor the true doctrine of Augustine on grace. He was actively engaged in writing his book on Augustine when he succumbed to an epidemic. Before his death he entrusted his manuscript to his chaplain, and in his will protested that he submitted himself in advance to the decisions of the Holy See.

Some attempts were made to prevent the printing of the manuscript, but the friends of the dead Jansen were successful in their efforts to bring the famous Augustinus to the press. The Augustinus met with great success, but the Holy Office condemned the work and prohibited its reading. Urban VIII (1623-44) renewed the condemnation and interdiction in his bull In eminenti Ecclesiae militantis. Despite this bull, the work of Jansen continued to spread. Finally, five propositions extracted from the book were submitted to Pope Innocent X (1644-55). After a two years' examination by a commission of cardinals and consultors, in the constitution Cum occasione, May 31, 1653 the pope condemned the first four of the following errors as heretical; the fifth error was also condemned if understood to mean that Christ died for the salvation of the elect only.

  1. (1). There are some of God's commandments that just men cannot observe with the powers they have in their present state, even if they wish and strive to observe them; nor do men have the grace which would make their observance possible.

  2. (2). In the state of fallen nature internal grace is never resisted.

  3. (3). To merit or demerit in the state of fallen nature it is not necessary for a man to have freedom from necessity, but only freedom from constraint.

  4. (4). The Semi-Pelagians admitted the necessity of internal, preparatory grace for individual acts, even for the beginning of faith; they were heretics for this reason that they wished this grace to be such that the human will could resist it or obey it.

  5. (5). It is Semi-Pelagian to say that Christ died shed his blood for all men without exception.

Chapter XXIV.


The theological errors of Quesnel (1634-1719) are fundamentally only a synthesis of the systems of deBay and Jansen. His essential theses are based on a confusion between the natural and supernatural orders. The dogmatic constitution Unigenitus, September 8, 1713, in which the errors of Quesnel were condemned, was confirmed by Clement XI (1700-1921) himself in a subsequent bull, Pastoralis officii, August 28, 1718, against those who had not accepted it.


  1. (1). What is left in the soul that has losy God and his except sin and its effects, proud poverty, barren need, that is, the general inability to work, to pray, or to do any good work?

  2. (38). Without the grace of the Savior the sinner is free for nothing but evil.

  3. (39). The will that is not prepared by grace has no light except to go astray, no passion except for self-destruction, no strength except to wound itself, is capable of all evil and incapable of any good.

  4. (40). Without grace we cannot love anything except to our condemnation.

  5. (41). All knowledge of God, even natural knowledge, even among heathen philosophers, can come from God alone; and without grace such knowledge breeds only presumption, vanity, and opposition to God himself instead of adoration, gratitude and love.

  6. (59). The prayer of the wicked is new sin, and what God grants them is a new judgment against them.


  1. (44). There are only two loves that are the sources of desires and deeds. There is the love of God that does everything for God and which God rewards; and there is the love we have for ourselves and for the world, and this love is evil because it does not give God his due.

  2. (45). When the love of God no longer reigns in the hearts of sinners, it is inevitable that carnal desire is dominant and vitiates every action.

  3. (46). Covetousness or charity determines whether the use of the senses is good or evil.

  4. (47). Obedience to the law ought to flow from a source, and this source is charity. When the love of God is the interior principle of obedience to the law, and the glory of God is its end, then its external observance is pure; otherwise, it is nothing but hypocrisy and false justice.


  1. (10). Grace is the work of the hand of the omnipotent God, which nothing can hinder or retard.

  2. (11). Grace is nothing more than God's omnipotent will commanding and doing what he commands.

  3. (23). God himself has given us the concept of the omnipotent operation of his grace, showing it to us in the operation that produces creatures from nothing and restores life to the dead.

Chapter XXV.



The second part of the schema of the Dogmatic Constitution on Catholic Doctrine dealt with the principal mysteries of the faith. This chapter on grace, with its corresponding canons, is presented as a valuable, though not authoritative, summary of the Catholic doctrine on grace.

Chapter 5. The Grace of the Redeemer

  1. The Catholic Church professes that the grace which is given because of the merits of Christ the Redeemer is of such nature that, not only are we freed through it from the slavery of sin and from the power of the devil, but we are renewed in the spirit of our mind and we regain the justice and sanctity which Adam lost for himself and for us by his sin. This grace does not just repair our natural powers so that, with the help of grace, we can completely conform our habits and our acts to the norm of natural goodness; but it transforms us beyond the limits of nature into the likeness of the heavenly man, that is, Christ, and gives us birth into a new life. For God chose us in Christ Jesus before the foundation of the world and he predestined us to be conformed to the likeness of his Son that he might be the first-born among many brothers.

    Therefore, the Father gave us this charity that, being born of God, we might receive the name of sons of God and be sons of God. By this adoption as sons, participation in the divine nature was restored to us; it begins now through grace, and will be completed hereafter in glory. We are anointed and made holy by the Son’s Spirit whom God has sent into our hearts, and we are made a temple of the divine Majesty in which the most holy Trinity deigns to dwell and to communicate itself to the faithful soul, as Christ our Lord says: "If anyone love me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our abode with him” (John 14:23).

  2. Therefore, it is to be held and professed by all the faithful of Christ that sanctifying grace, by which we are joined to God, does not consist only in an external favor of God nor is it to be found only in passing acts; but it is a permanent supernatural gift that is infused by God into the soul and inheres there; it is in adults who are made justified, and in infants reborn in baptism. This renovation of man by the Incarnate Word is the mystery hidden from the world. It is the means by which God has more wonderfully restored in the second Adam what he had wonderfully made in the first Adam.

  3. It is regrettable that there are men so blind as to think that the religion of Christ diminishes the dignity of human nature because it is supernatural or that it is prejudicial to liberty or happiness. This divine institution is far from repressing man; rather it elevates him wonderfully. For it frees him from the slavery of sin and prepares him for heavenly glory, adorning and perfecting the properties of nature as it does so.

    Equally to be avoided is the error of those who, resisting the supernatural ordination of God, argue that man is free to stop within the bounds of nature and to seek for nothing beyond the good of this order. Thus they destroy the necessary connection that the will of God has placed between the two orders, the order which is in nature and that which is above nature. For after the divine Mercy had decreed that man was to be brought to the heavenly kingdom, it made Jesus Christ the way to this kingdom; and there now is no salvation in anyone else. He who does not believe in Christ or who does not keep his commandments will be cast with sinners into darkness where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

  4. Hence it follows that the so-called good life, in which the Commandments of God are somehow observed (at least as regards the substance of the words) is far different from the justice and sanctity which lead the one who does these works to the kingdom of heaven. For there is in nature the power for a rational soul to think and do lawful things and this is not blameworthy, but justly and rightly praised. Nevertheless, since these things are done without faith and without grace, none of them has any connection with the godliness that brings a man to eternal life. For what is true of the life of the blessed, namely, that since it is above nature it is a gratuitous gift of God's mercy, is also true of the disposition for that life. Natural powers are not sufficient for any salutary act either in the just to increase their justice or in sinners to dispose them for justification. As our Lord says: "Without me you can do nothing" (John 15:5). And the Apostle confirms it: “Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think anything, as from ourselves, but our sufficiency is from God” (II Cor. 3:5). Therefore, it is most truly said that by grace we are not only given the ability to do more easily what we could with difficulty do by our natural powers, but, the ability to will and to accomplish what we could not do at all by our natural powers. God it is who of his good pleasure works in us both the will and the performance (Phil. 2:13).

  5. These good works which are done with prevenient grace, accompanying grace, and following grace do not merit eternal life without the gift of sanctity by which the just are joined with Christ as members with the head and are associated as sons of God by grace with the natural Son of God. Our Lord tells us: "As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it remain on the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in me" (John 15:4). The Apostle says: "But if we are sons, we are heirs with Christ" (Rom. 8:17).

  6. Those who die in this grace will, with certainty, obtain eternal life, the crown of justice, and just as certainly, they who die deprived of this grace will never arrive at eternal life. For death is the end of our pilgrimage, and shortly after death we stand before the judgment seat of God "so that each one may receive what he has won through the body according to his works, 'whether good or evil" (II Core 5:10). And after this mortal life there is no place left for repentance for justification.

    Therefore, all who die in actual mortal sin are excluded from the kingdom of God and will suffer forever the torments of hell where there is no redemption. Also those who die with only original sin will never have the holy vision of God. The souls of those who die in the charity of God before they have done sufficient penance for their sins of commission or omission, are purified after death with the punishment of purgatory.

  7. Finally, the souls of those who have not incurred any stain of sin after their baptism, or who have committed a sin and have been purified either while they were in the body or after death, are soon taken into heaven and there they clearly see the Triune God and enjoy the divine essence for all eternity.

    Therefore, we are warned to do good works while we still have time because "the night is coming, when no one can work" (John 9:4).

Canons of Chapter 5.

  1. (1). If anyone denies that the order of supernatural grace was restored by Christ the Redeemer: let him be anathema.

  2. (2). If anyone says that justification is nothing but the remission of sins; or that sanctifying grace is nothing but the favor with which God received man as pleasing and is prepared to give him the helps of actual grace: let him be anathema.

  3. (3). If anyone says that sanctifying grace is not a permanent supernatural gift, inhering in the soul: let him be anathema.

  4. (4). If anyone says that a man without grace and faith can be justified before God merely by observing the divine commandments: let him be anathema.

  5. (5). If anyone says that the rational nature, without divine grace through Christ Jesus, is capable of doing any good work that disposes for Christian justice and eternal life: let him be anathema.

  6. (6). If anyone says that a man can be justified even after death; or if he says that the punishments of the damned in hell will not last forever: let him be anathema;

Copyright © 1998 by Inter Mirifica

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