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Why Grace?

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.

Benedict XII declared: we define that the souls of the saints behold the Divine Essence with intuitive vision, face to face, in such wise that nothing created intervenes as object of vision and from this vision and enjoyment they are truly happy and have eternal life and rest.

Happiness. Has the Beatific Vision been a motivating force in my life? There is a difficulty for many in seeing why the Beatific Vision will give eternal happiness, and a problem in giving a desire of it to youth. A child asked: Happiness? Just looking at God for all eternity? It is difficult to give others such a realization of the Beatific Vision that they desire it, that they want more than everything else to have God in this way and are willing to pay the price. Yet the Beatific Vision should be a powerful motivating force. We must let the idea grow more real and vivid within us, and then perhaps we can help others to realize it better.

All of us desire to be happy. We might sit down and think out the things that make us happy. Happiness comes to us in bits. Some may be caught by, lost in beauty, nature, art, music, love, color, companionship. But then they come to realize that all this is made, is finite, and therefore behind it there is something else: God has put the goodness, the beauty in each thing. Some happiness lasts just for a moment, some longer, to teach us that happiness may grow day by day, year after year.

If we ask children to draw up a list of things which make them happy we may call them happy-making objects each list will be different. These objects, of course, change with age. But this is one of the easiest ways of finding out what you are inside: by looking at the tendencies that are part of you. Your response can indicate the powers and tendencies in you. Happy-making objects may be graces by which God draws you, builds you

If we should stop in one of these happy-making objects, find one all-satisfactory, we know what God will do especially to those of us in Religion: He will take it away, so that we may learn to find the unique and infinitely happy-making Object, God. He is the supremely Happy-Making Object. He has eminently and virtually all the bits of happiness we have had and loved. Here these happy-making objects have a function: to stretch and expand our mind, will, soul, so that God may come in more and more. Thus we grow in our capacity for the Beatific Vision.

All happiness in the world is a ray from the essence, the heart of God. All the rays of grace focus on the Beatific Vision. That is why we say that grace is pointing up: it points us towards the Heart of God, the essence of God to be possessed in the Beatific Vision.

Deiformity. In order to enjoy fully, we must have, possess. Will the beauty, the perfection of God, will God be mine? Yes, I will not just be looking at God, I will be possessing God. But God possesses God by seeing the infinite, so if we do not see the infinite we do not see nor possess God. Shall we? Yes. And as God sees Himself? After the manner of the infinite? Yes, we shall see Him after the manner of the infinite, intuitively, facially, through the Divine Essence. But there must be a difference? God's vision of God is infinite, ours will be finite. For God has a Light of Glory, so to speak, that is infinite, while the light of glory in us will be finite. There is always a limit, a measure to ours, but none to God's; therefore our share in the Beatific Vision is according to this measured light of glory. The more sanctifying grace we have at death, the more light of glory we will get.

The expressions that we are divinized, deified, deiform refer in their fullest sense to this sharing the divine activity of the Beatific Vision. We shall then be supremely deiform, like unto God, doing what God does in the manner that God does it, but finitely, according to the finite degree of our light of glory. Where God has the Beatific Vision by His very nature, we will have it by grace, by gift of God. God's aim for us is not to keep us down but to lift us up as close to Him as we will let ourselves be drawn. The more we become like Christ, the more we become like God, deiform: I am the Way to the Heart of God. In this Vision there will be nothing of God that we do not see, but we will not see Him infinitely, with the infinite clarity, intensity, profundity with which He sees Himself. But we shall really see intuitively and facially the divine essence, persons, attributes, and processions. We shall ecstatically contemplate with unceasing, unending fascination the Deity in its infinite purity and goodness, love and wisdom, beauty and majesty, power and sanctity in the measure of our finite lumen gloriae. We shall be supremely active and alive!

The Key. The Beatific Vision is the key and explanation of most everything in the supernatural order. It was the reason for the Incarnation and the Redemption. Why did Christ come as man? Why the Sacraments? Why the Mass? Why Grace? Why the Church? That we might have the life and light of glory. I am come that they may have Life and have it more abundantly. We call Christ the Eternal Light, the Life of God. As members of His Mystical Body, as branches of His Vine, we share in the nature and activity of God. St. Augustine expressed it very strongly: If God humbled Himself to become man, it was in order to make them gods (Serm. 166). Christ took upon Himself our human nature that it might be made deiform, as like the divine nature as possible, having a share in the nature and activity of God. Christ died for all men, that all might be saved and reach the Beatific Vision. And Our Lady is Mediatrix of Graces to help men achieve this end.

We do not have the Beatific Vision here below. But many achieve a very high degree of knowledge of God. Some mystics even more. They experience God, the presence and activity of God. By mysterious spiritual senses they seem to sense the presence of God, feel the nearness and dearness and touch of Someone, of God, as we might experience the presence of someone in a mist. This is an ineffable experience of God, but not the Vision of God. Those who experience God and savor Him find in this their supreme earthly happiness, a joy, however, incomparably removed from that of heaven.

Conclusion. To our question, then, Why do we need grace, we may now answer: If our end, the Beatific Vision, is supernatural, then the means to achieve this end should be supernatural, too. And these supernatural means are: grace. We need grace, then, to achieve our supernatural end, the Beatific Vision.

Is this Vision absolutely supernatural for us? Yes. Pius XII said: God was entirely free to create intellectual beings without ordering and calling them to the Beatific Vision. Out of His infinite goodness God ordained man to a supernatural end. No created nature had any claim to this vision. It is utterly beyond the reach of our natural powers, merits and exigencies: it is a form of knowledge that is proper to the Three Divine Persons alone, a Vision of the Triune God in His intimate life.

To achieve our end in the Beatific Vision: we need grace.

What is Grace?

If we were to single out one word with which to start our definition of grace, what would it be? Gift. Grace is a free gift, a supernatural gift of God to rational creatures to help them attain the Beatific Vision (the end of all rational creatures).
Kinds. How many kinds of grace are there? The answer depends on what we mean by kinds. But we may mention now graces that are external to us (to our minds, wills, souls) and graces that are internal; grace that is uncreated and grace that is created; grace that is habitual and grace that is actual (a transient, come-and-go aid). The big internal, habitual graces would be:

 Indwelling Trinity
Gifts of the Holy Spirit Sanctifying Grace Infused Virtues Gifts of the Holy Spirit
(uncreated grace) (created grace) (created grace) (created grace)

Among the internal actual graces we might mention salutary:

illuminations of the mind (discursive or supra-discursive)
inspirations of the will (deliberative or supra-deliberative).
The Indwelling Trinity is the source of all other graces in us. By faith we can know that the three Persons are dwelling in just souls, but we cannot see Them. Our Lord while on earth had the Beatific Vision of the Triune God, not faith, but sight. God could give it to us here and now, absolutely speaking, but He does not. If He did, it would be heaven for us.

Connections. Are these big graces inter-connected? Yes, to some extent at least. To be saved, what grace must we have at death? Sanctifying Grace. If we have sanctifying grace, what other graces will we have? Indwelling Trinity infused virtues gifts of the Holy Spirit. May a person have faith and hope alone, without these other graces? Yes, a mortal sinner is often (ordinarily) in this condition.

There is an intimate, if mysterious, connection between sanctifying grace and the Indwelling Trinity: so that the Indwelling Trinity is the cause of sanctifying grace and sanctifying grace the necessary disposition for Indwelling Trinity. Hence if one is present in us, the other must be also. Through sanctifying grace (as cause or/and term of it?) the Trinity dwells within us, ready to be known experimentally. Why is it, then, that experimental knowledge of the Trinity is comparatively rare? We have the power for it (by charity and wisdom) it seems; but according to some theologians, we do not use the infused virtues and the gifts of the Holy Spirit as we should so as to obtain this experimental knowledge.

Why, when we have all these graces, do we not have the Beatific Vision? Because we have the light of faith and not the light of glory. When faith and hope are replaced by the light of glory we have the Beatific Vision. You can understand why faith thus is sometimes called the dark light and faith-knowledge is termed obscure. Our Lord had the light of glory and hence the Beatific Vision, love and enjoyment. What light we might ask, do the mystics have? They have, according to some theologians, the light of infused contemplation, which ranks them somewhere between mere faith and vision.

What graces are there in heaven? For the Beatific Vision, love and enjoyment: Indwelling Trinity sanctifying grace light of glory charity moral virtues gifts of the Holy Spirit. The connection between these graces is mysterious, but probably this: sanctifying grace is the radical principle of the Beatific Vision, love and enjoyment of the Indwelling Trinity, while light of glory and charity are the proximate principles (of vision and love respectively). And as the degree of sanctifying grace will determine the degree of the light of glory, so the degree of the light of glory will determine the degree of our Beatific Vision, the degree of its intensity. In the Beatific Vision everyone sees all that is God, but not in the same degree of intensity. Here we have only a knowing love of God, there we will have a seeing love of God. The greater the amount of light, the more visible God will be to us and the more lovable. The more we see His goodness and lovableness, the more we will love Him. Here we have only the dark light of faith. Faith gives us solidity and assurance, and yet it bothers us. We say, If I could only see e.g., Our Lord in the Host then I would truly love. In heaven we will see God face to face, and not merely as He is reflected in nature.

The virtues of faith and hope drop away, but charity has an essential role in the pattern of heavenly graces. For it is the infused power to love God as He loves Himself, and in heaven it enables us to have the beatific love of the Triune God that is an essential part of our eternal happiness.

The moral virtues and gifts go with us into heaven (it seems), but add only an accidental perfection to our Beatific Vision; for example wisdom will give a special relish, a savor to our enjoyment. According to Leo XIII the gifts (and virtues?) work in a more eminent way in heaven than here on earth.

Why do we say we will have these gifts and moral virtues in heaven? The norm is Our Lord and the graces He had on earth while enjoying the Beatific Vision. In Him we have reason to believe there were both the gifts of the Holy Spirit and the moral virtues and so we will have them in heaven. Moreover God can give other gifts if He will. There were, too, for Our Lord, three kinds of knowledge: wisdom, infused knowledge and experiential knowledge. These, too, we expect for ourselves in heaven, as well as the preternatural gifts of integrity, impassibility and immortality of the body.

What is the grace-pattern on earth? The Indwelling Trinity sanctifying grace infused virtues gifts of the Holy Spirit. No light of glory. Of course, both in heaven and on earth there is actual grace actual grace.

Grace to the Angels

We might ask many questions about the angels. Did all angels have grace? Did they have these big graces we have mentioned? Which graces do the angels in heaven have now? This last question is perhaps most easily answered. For if they have the Beatific Vision it seems they have: The Indwelling Trinity sanctifying grace light of glory charity moral virtues gifts of the Holy Spirit.

Did all the angels have grace before the fall? Theologians seem agreed that all had sanctifying grace (and hence the Indwelling Trinity) and the infused virtues and the gifts of the Holy Spirit and actual grace, so that they could freely merit the Beatific Vision. Neither angels nor we could merit heaven by natural powers: grace is needed. For condign merit of the Beatific Vision, love and enjoyment, there must be sanctifying grace, for it is the radical principle of condign merit. It is the remote principle, but it does not do the work of merit by itself, so to speak it has henchmen, the infused virtues. These are the proximate principles of condign merit. Sanctifying grace of itself gives a title to the Beatific Vision, love and enjoyment, but also gives the power to merit more of the Beatific Vision, its love and enjoyment. And God wanted the angels to merit heaven. He did not create angels in heaven, nor man. Deprived of heaven at first, creatures should desire Him and heaven. He wants us to realize what it is to be outside and therefore desire to be inside.

Could the angels sin with all this battery of grace? Yes, many did, for they were only in the vestibule of heaven and they were free, Their sin probably was one of pride (Tob. 4,14; Eccl. 10,15), perhaps a proud desire to be like God, or proud complacency in self, or proud rejection of grace or refusal to bow down before Our Lord or Lady.

How would you apportion grace to the angels? To which angel would you give the most grace? To each one of us grace was given according to the measure of Christ's bestowal (Eph. 4,11). But to each angel it seems grace was given according to (not because of) the measure of his natural perfection. St. Thomas said: It is reasonable to suppose that gifts of graces and perfection of beatitude were bestowed on the angels according to the degree of their natural gifts for they differ specifically, while men differ only numerically. Thus the highest Seraphim would get the most grace. Note well that no angel has any claim to grace by the perfection of its nature, for every grace is wholly gratuitous. Grace is above the power, merit, exigence of every created nature: No creature has any claim to it.

Scotus would not admit the necessity or existence of infused moral virtues for man or angel. But with St. Thomas we prefer to think that there are infused moral virtues; and to angels we assign all those that do not connote a sensitive appetite.

Angels likewise receive actual graces, it seem to us, just as Christ did (with the Beatific Vision). These actual graces take the form either of divine premotions or of septiform inspirations of the Holy Spirit (proportioned to their gifts of the Holy Spirit) or of both.

Grace to Adam

Deiform Man. What graces were given to Adam in the state of original justice? The array of graces that made him supernatural man: the Indwelling Trinity sanctifying grace infused virtues gifts of the Holy Spirit. What kind of man may we now call him? Sanctified, divinized, deified but the term we like best, the one which many Fathers and St. Thomas have used, is deiform. Adam was God-like; two complementary natures were united, interwoven, into one deiform man. Adam was not God; he was not made ever into God. But he was made god-like, a deiform man, lifted up as it were into the realm of God. And it was sanctifying grace that gave him this deiform nature, infused virtues and the gifts of the Holy Spirit that gave him his deiform powers, the Indwelling Trinity that caused and conserved all these graces in him.

We find in him also certain preternatural gifts: integrity, impassibility, immortality, infused knowledge. We call these graces, too. But while the graces mentioned above (sanctifying grace, etc.) are absolutely supernatural, since they are not due to any created nature, the preternatural gifts are relatively supernatural (supernatural relatively to human nature) since they are undue to human nature, but are due to angelic nature.

Integrated Man. The gift of integrity effected a harmonious relation between flesh and spirit in Adam, by completely subordinating his animal passions to his reason. There was no precipitous pull of passion before or against reason. This gift that put harmony and order in Adam (and Eve) gave him another likeness to God, Who is perfect Order. With such perfect order and control it is hard to understand how Adam could sin. Yet we must remember that he was free, and freedom is a tremendous power to say NO to God.

By these preternatural gifts in Adam, he became something that we are not, even when we are baptized. He became an integrated man. Human nature is not perfect in itself, and is certainly not the perfect thing that some would have us believe. If man had been created with natural endowments alone (pure nature), there would still have been the seeds of conflict within him. For in man, God has done the seemingly impossible: He has combined incompatibles, matter and spirit. The body goes quickly to the things of sense; the mind goes more slowly to things of the spirit. Thus, there are roots of disorder in man.s very nature. St. Paul spoke so eloquently of this battle, this conflict in man (Rom. 7). In Adam, God did not remove the disorderly tendencies, but by the gift of integrity He put in him a principle of control.

Adam likewise had, of course, natural endowments of body, mind, and a will which was free. His nature was like ours, but probably very much better.

Original Plan. What was God's original plan with regard to men? All these gifts to Adam were intended for the human race. We, too, would have been born with the whole line of supernatural gifts, as well as with the preternatural gifts. (The gift of infused knowledge is disputed perhaps it would have been given only to Adam, who was made adult and as King of Creation needed it to know and name the animals, plants, etc., etc.). We would have been in sanctifying grace, but not confirmed in it; we would have been free to sin and might have sinned. But we, too, would have been: deiform and integrated human beings.

The Fall. What intervened to disrupt God's plan? Sin, the sin of Adam. And was it a grave sin? Yes. The consequences for Adam were loss of the supernatural gifts (except faith and hope??) and of the preternatural gifts: he became subject to concupiscence, pain, suffering and death of the body. And hell eternal death of the soul would be his lot unless God would show special mercy. For us the consequences were the same.

Many struggled with this question of original sin. One of these was Pelagius, born either in England or Ireland. He later went to Rome. As spiritual director there, he heard people complaining in discouragement that they were unable to keep from sin, through lack of grace. From his own disturbance he emerged with an amazing answer: there is nothing wrong with human nature, no such weakness in it. Man is a moral superman, strong and independent, full master of his destiny: he can do anything, avoid every sin, do any good, even gain the Beatific Vision without grace. Adam had no grace, lost none for us; in fact he never fell. There was no fall, there is no original sin and hence no need of grace or baptism to remit this sin.

St. Augustine of Hippo struck out fiercely against this, and wrote out boldly: Nature can do nothing without grace. The controversy was on with some monks in Africa, who felt Augustine had gone too far. St. Augustine clarified his position: nature can do nothing salutary, nothing conducive to salvation, without grace. But can human nature do all things natural to it can it keep the whole moral law without grace? We answer with St. Thomas and the Church: for a short time, yes; but for a long time, no.

The Fall, then, was devastating. And its extent? Is there complete darkness of mind? Complete loss of freedom? Is man a slave to his passions? Is he depraved? Is his nature corrupted? Luther and Calvin said, Yes. But the Church says, No: man is only deprived of superadded gifts. The Fall wrought great harm: man lost those supernatural and preternatural gifts, but not free will. Without grace man can still know God and other speculative and moral truths, and can do naturally good acts. But he cannot keep the whole natural law, without grace, for a long time. He is not corrupted or depraved; he is deprived of supernatural and preternatural gifts.

God has not made man too strong in himself. As if perhaps to say: I made angels strong, and many of them did not need Me. I will make man to lean on Me. So it is God's part to give grace, and man's to pray for it and use it. Prayer is man's expression of his need, salutary prayer; grace is God's answer to man's need expressed in salutary prayer.

Orginal Sin. Man in the state of original sin lacks sanctifying grace, and this is not mere absence; it is a privation. Something is not there in the soul which should be there. Moreover, there is the habitual inordinate tendency of the sense appetite, the proneness to inordinate appetition that we call concupiscence.

If God had washed His hands of man, so to speak, and left him alone, what would have happened to him? All those dying as infants would have gone to Limbo, it seems. All adults would have gone to hell, since without grace they could not long keep the entire natural law, could not long keep out of mortal sin. So if they lived long enough they would sin, die in sin and go to hell. Would there be anything contrary to justice in this? No. God could have left man thus; but we say He would not, and He did not.

The Promise. God promised man a Redeemer. This was a serious, operative promise that would be infallibly fulfilled. And something happened immediately. Grace flowed again into the world as soon as God made that Promise in virtue of the foreseen merits of the Redeemer. I will put enmity between thee and the Woman, between her seed and your seed: these were not empty words. God acted. Instantly a whole new providence, so to speak, comes into play.

God's providence is amazing, infallible, inscrutable, reaching from end to end mightily, ordering all things smoothly. Now grace was given to Adam in view of the merits of Christ. Adam is no longer King and Center, and Eve is no longer Queen. Christ is the King of the New Order; Our Lady replaces Eve as its Queen.

Is the second providence greater that the first? It seems so. The Church in her liturgy sings, O felix culpa. Man is now centered in someone else than Adam: in Christ, the God-Man, King of angels and men. All creation is turned to this new Center. Angels apparently had the first and greatest place. Yet it seems that God loved man more than the angels. When man sinned, God sent God in the form of man so that what man had undone, Man would restore. And Our Lady? She is Woman. Again and again the bond between the New Testament and the Old seems reiterated when Our Lord speaks to Our Lady as Mulier, Woman, with no further qualification. Woman, what is that to Me and to thee? Woman, behold thy son. We feel carried back to the promise in the Garden, I will put enmity between thee and the Woman. Who else was the Woman of the Garden but Our Lady, the Second Eve?

Who received the first grace after the Fall? Adam, it seems to us, then Eve. This first grace might well have been an actual grace of repentance. Did this grace flow, so to speak, from precisely the same source as before? No; before Adam sinned he had the grace of God; after he sinned he had the grace of Christ, that is, grace dependent on the merits of Christ, the Redeemer, Who would surely come and redeem.

Grace in the Old Testament

Justification in the Old Testament. Justification may be described simply as the acquisition of sanctifying grace (or of infused justice). If a man is in the state of sin (original or mortal) justification will mean for him a transition from the state of sin and injustice to the state of sanctifying grace and justice. Justification is all-important for salvation, for only the just those in sanctifying grace at the moment of death will be saved and reach the love and enjoyment of the Beatific Vision.

Could men be justified in the Old Testament after the fall of Adam? Yes. From the moment God promised a Redeemer, the grace of Christ began to flow out, so to speak, in view of His future merits and by its help men could achieve justification. This meant concretely that there was a remedy for original sin, open to all men, whereby they could gain remission of original sin, infusion of sanctifying grace and the right to the Beatific Vision, its love and enjoyment.

This remedy, according to many theologians, took two forms, that of sacrament and that of an interior act or perfect love or contrition. The Old Law sacraments, however, were not the cause of sanctifying grace, as ours are, but only conditions. Still, sanctifying grace did come to men when they received these sacraments.

1. Infants

Sacrament of Nature. How could infants be justified before the institution of the sacrament of baptism? They would be born in original sin, they would need sanctifying grace. How would they get it? Who will do what to get it for them, since they can do nothing for themselves? They could get sanctifying grace, according to theologians, through a so-called sacrament of nature, and remedy of nature (not a cause but a condition occasion of sanctifying grace). What was this sacrament of nature? Probably a sensible sign, an exterior rite by which parents (or others) manifested their desire of salvation for the infants and their faith in the Redeemer to come. Perhaps the rite consisted in an offering of the child to God, an invocation, a blessing, a purification.

Circumcision. From the time of Abraham there was another remedy for original sin, the sacrament of circumcision, applicable to Jewish boys (and men). For all other infants the remedy continued to be the sacrament of nature, until the New Law of Baptism was sufficiently promulgated.

The Illumination Theory. Is usually applied only to infants of the New Testament, but perhaps it could also be applied to infants of the Old Testament. Whether this theory has any validity, we shall try to indicate later, when we consider infants in the New Testament.

2. Adults

Sacraments. How would adults be able to achieve justification in the Old Testament? By way of the Jewish sacrament it seems, or by an act of perfect contrition or love.

That there were sacraments in the Old Testament, different from those in the New Testament is clear from the Councils of Florence and Trent. As such sacraments among the Jews, many theologians cite circumcision, the paschal lamb, ablutions and ablations, rites for consecrating priests and levites. A few theologians say the sacraments of the Old Law possessed a moral causality, and Circumcision at least conferred grace ex opera operato passive (cf. The Thomist, July, 1955, p. 355). But more generally they hold that these sacraments did not cause sanctifying grace ex opera operato as ours do, but only an external, legal sanctity; however, on the occasion of their reception, the faith and piety of the recipients obtained for them sanctifying grace.

Act of Perfect Contrition. Most adults were not Jews. How could they (and Jews in certain cases) be justified? The way to salvation for them was substantially the same, it seems, as that outlined by the Council of Trent. To be justified, to receive sanctifying grace, they had to prepare themselves with the help of actual grace by salutary acts of faith, hope, fear, love, contrition. If they prepared themselves properly, they would be given sanctifying grace, the infused virtues, the gifts of the Holy Spirit, and the Indwelling Trinity.

If they then elicited condignly meritorious acts of these virtues, they would increase in habitual grace. And if they prayed humbly, confidently, perseveringly they would infallibly impetrate the grace of final perseverance and die in the state of grace; then they would go to the Limbo of the Fathers, to wait until the Redeemer would release them and take them with Him into heaven.

No natural act, then, would bring them to sanctifying grace would dispose them for it; no natural act of prayer or faith or contrition. Only a salutary act one flowing out of actual grace would remotely or proximately dispose them for sanctifying grace.

And among the salutary acts required for an adult's justification, one stands out; the act of perfect contrition (or love). For this act is the proximate disposition for justification: as soon as this act is elicited God infuses sanctifying grace into the soul. It is a most powerful act for it brings (but not as a sacrament does) sanctifying grace.

An act of perfect contrition involves an act of perfect love: of love of God above all things, for what He is in Himself: I want God above all things, I love God above all things. Even the angels test was fundamentally this: Do you love me above all things? An act of perfect love really must go out to God as above all things, or it does not go to Him as He is in Himself: for He is above all things. Such an act must flow from actual grace and must presuppose salutary faith: assent to revealed truth on the authority of God Who reveals it. For such faith, natural reason and natural revelation that take us only to God as reflected in nature are not enough. There must be actual grace and supernatural assent to at least two supernaturally revealed truths: one must believe that God exists and is a rewarder to those who seek Him. (Heb. 11,6).

Could adults in the Old Testament elicit such an act of perfect love or contrition? Yes. But would they not need actual grace for this? Yes. And God would give them actual grace sufficient for them to pray to believe to be perfectly contrite if they cooperated properly. What would be the first actual grace God gave them? We do not know; for every one it may have been a different grace. But many think it was an actual grace to pray, perhaps to say: God, I need You. For the grace of prayer seems to be the grace most commonly given to each one. For us in the New Testament, who are in sanctifying grace, it is ready and waiting all the time. If we need help in temptation, regularly, it seems, we first get the grace to pray.

Actual Grace. We might well pause here and ask; What is actual grace? We know it is necessary for a salutary act (one that positively conduces to salvation), and that a salutary act of perfect contrition (or love) brings sanctifying grace.

Where is actual grace? It is in the faculties in the mind and will; sanctifying grace is in the essence of the soul. Actual grace can come from God in different ways. It can come directly into the mind, in spite of complicated thought processes. It is not dependent on them. The mind can be occupied with many things; then out of the blue may come a holy thought which has no connection with the matter agitating you at present. God is acting most directly, right here and now, divorcing Himself from the normal psychological procedure. However, most actual graces seem to come in very quietly, as part and parcel of the picture. The supra-discursive, supra-deliberative actual graces, the interior actual graces that are entirely disconnected from preceding external graces, these are rather more unusual. The supra types go with very special activity of the gifts of the Holy Spirit. They relieve one of the task of reasoning and deliberating: the Holy Spirit leads and directs; in fact, you do not bother to reason (or cannot) for fear that you will spoil it. But this is the easy way; normally one gets to this easy way only by traveling the hard way a long time.

Actual graces regularly seem to involve a salutary thought of and desire (aversion) for something; a thought of praising, thanking, loving, obeying God or Christ or parents, superious; a thought of being sorry for sin and amending, etc. Suppose you wanted to produce an act of contrition in someone: you would first try to put into him the thought of being sorry, then try to move him to desire to be sorry. An act of contrition could then follow, but it might not. For he is quite free to assent or dissent to the pressure you are putting on him to be sorry. In much the same way God can give us the (supernatural) thought and desire of an act of contrition: and these would be actual graces of the mind and will. But man stays free to assent or dissent to the push or pull of God's actual grace.

There is no such thing (ordinarily) as grace that compels or forces us. But there is such a thing as efficacious grace, but it does not force or necessitate the will to consent to it. God gives sufficient motion and power to the mind and will to place this act: if the will freely consents, the act is placed by the grace-moved will, and the grace is called efficacious (from eternity God foresaw this grace, if given, would effect this act). If, however, the will dissents, the act that could have been elicited is not elicited, and the grace is called merely sufficient. It is a matter of dogma that grace leaves one free: one can dissent to it, resist it. This was defined against the Reformers and Jansenius who said that efficacious grace necessitated the will to consent to it. Jansenius distinguished between two delights, the celestial and the terrestrial. The celestial pull (of grace) and the terrestrial pull (of concupiscence) are such that man will inevitably go according to whichever has the greater attractive power, greater intensity: and he will go thus by a necessitating traction. Besides being condemned and wrong dogmatically, Jansenius is even wrong psychologically. He said that man necessarily acts according to the strongest pull, the greater delight. But experience often show the contrary. With the gift of integrity gone, material sense pulls and delights are at times very strong: yet often grace wins out with its tiny spiritual pull. We must remember this in dealing with souls.

Essentially or partially (according to many theologians) actual grace is a supernatural motion or promotion of the mind and will to a certain salutary act. God takes the initiative physically. If I say yes, God moves along with me and I (my grace-moved will) produce the act under God, so that the act proceeds from God and from me moving under God. God starts the process in my mind and will. I assent. God and I produce the act. The salutary value of it is due to God: He is acting with an eye to the Beatific Vision.

God is the God of the present, and He uses things which move me now. Often His starting point is a prayer, but not always. Sometimes it is love of mother, sickness, death, or any apparently fortuitous event. God works in many ways. He appeals to people in different ways and to the same person in different ways at different periods of life. We outgrow certain things. So He calls, draws us in another way.

External Actual Graces. Actual grace can be internal or external (to one's mind or will). External grace alone is not enough for salvation; there must be rectitude in the will (transiently and/or permanently) and for this internal grace is necessary. But God normally seems to use external graces as occasions for giving the much more important internal (salutary) graces. Of course, He can give such internal graces independently of external graces, but He usually seems to use external graces to prepare the way for internal graces. Hence external graces can be very important as leads to internal (salutary) graces.

What are some of the external graces of the New Testament? We may divide them into persons, places, things. The greatest external grace is, of course, Our Lord His life, His example, His Cross, His Book (the New Testament); Our Lady, parents, priests, teachers, friends all can be an external grace. How can I be a potential external grace? By being what I am meant to be, and doing what I am supposed to do. Among places, some churches stand out, for God seems very near to us in them and very active. Home, retreat houses, shrines can be strong external graces. Among things, the Mass looms very large, and sacraments, and the Rosary, and often Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament is a very powerful external grace for non-Catholics, exerting a very tangible pull on them.

External graces in the Old Testament would be similar to ours: persons, places, things that would help stir up in adults good thoughts and desires, help dispose them for the reception of their sacraments or for a salutary act of perfect contrition. Such persons might have been prophets, parents, children, friends. Places might have been temples, shrines; things might have been sickness, pain, suffering. Over and over, it seems, God has tied some of His greatest graces to such things: some of His finest interior illuminations and inspirations. Often He plays the contrasts light following on desolation. He breaks man's pride by sorrow, suffering; loss; then He works in him and pours grace that points to the salutary act and gives the power to place that act.

Summary. For Old Testament adults generally the way to sanctifying grace was an act of perfect contrition or love. For Jewish adults certain �sacraments� were also available. For Old Testament infants generally the way to sanctifying grace was the so-called �sacrament of nature,� an outward sign serving as a condition or occasion for internal grace. For Jewish boys there was the �sacrament of circumcision.�

Grace to Christ

Grace to Human Nature of Christ. In the divine nature of Christ there was, of course, no grace, no place for grace, no need for grace, no possibility of grace. Grace is a super-added gift, and there is nothing addable to the divine nature. Grace is a supernatural gift of God to a creature; only in a rational creature is there grace.

Could grace be given to, was it given to Christ in His human nature? Could His perfect human nature be made more perfect? Even when it was substantially united to the divine nature in the Person of the Word? Yes, for the humanity of Christ is not �physically altered by the divinity to which it is personally united.� �Each nature keeps what is proper to it.�

Christ is a true man, in the perfect sense of the word, and the divine nature adds nothing to the human nature. Rather, the divine Person of the Word terminates the human nature. But, �although the hypostatic union thus raised that human nature to an ineffable dignity and confers upon it a substantial sanctity which is rightly said to be infinite� yet it brings about no physical change in the human nature assumed; it does not make it a partaker in the divine life, unless there are infused into the human soul those finite habits, sanctifying grace with the supernatural virtues, which are the principles of supernatural operation.�

Sanctifying grace, then, was not superfluous for Christ: it had many functions to perform in His human nature. It made it supremely deiform; it gave it a principle of condign merit, whereby He could condignly merit for us all graces and glory; it gave it the proportionate disposition for the Beatific Vision.

Hence from the very first instant of its existence the soul of Christ was endowed with the supreme plenitude of sanctifying grace, of the infused virtues (except faith and hope, repentance, temperance) and of the gifts of the Holy Spirit: it was thus supremely deiform, capable of the most perfectly meritorious deiform acts day in day out. And from the very first instant the soul of Christ also had the light of glory (proportioned to its sanctifying grace) and thus always enjoyed the Beatific Vision in the highest degree.

Besides these infused habits, Christ was given all the actual graces and special inspirations of the Holy Spirit needed for the perfect operation of His deiform organism, and to make it perfectly responsive to the Holy Spirit and an �apt instrument upon which God played that symphony of celestial melody and harmony which is the life on earth of the Word Incarnate.�

Though He could not merit any increase of sanctifying grace and glory for Himself, He could and did throughout His life on earth merit for us, so that all graces given to the children of Adam (and to Adam himself after the fall) came from the merits of the life, passion and death of Jesus Christ, and are ��marked with the sign of the Cross.� So that He might suffer and die for us, He was not given the preternatural gifts of impassibility and immortality.

But while sanctifying grace made Christ�s soul deiform, and beautified it as it does ours (though to a much higher degree), �it was largely for man�s sake that He accepted this grace.� Why? If He would be the source and lord and model of sanctifying grace, it was fitting that He Himself possess this very grace. By possessing it on earth He showed us how a soul in the state of grace should live.

Christ, then, is the Model of grace-living, the Model of deiformity. And we may judge the deiformity in us, the God-likeness, by the gifts of the Holy Spirit in action. Supreme docility to the inspirations of the Holy Spirit will give the greatest deiformity: The greatest likeness to God. The more like to Christ we become, the more deiform we become, the more we love God, the more we walk God�s way. �I am the Way,� the way to God, the way that will make you more and more like God. Docility to the guidance of the Holy Spirit is the measure for me: more and more I will come to purge myself of selfishness, of the things that hold me back, of my own will and my own way. More and more I will become like to Christ, like to God.

Distribution of Grace. It is clear that Christ in His humanity merited all grace for men. Does He also distribute grace to them? In the distribution of grace in the Old Testament, since His humanity did not then exist, it seems that it played no part. But now �He selects, He determines, He distributes every single grace to every single person, �according to the measure of Christ�� (Mystici Corporis, n. 51.)

How can the humanity of Christ, His soul, concur in the production of grace? Not as a physical principal cause, but as an instrumental cause (moral or physical) of a unique type: as an instrument conjoined to divinity � hypostatically united to the Word.

Justification in the New Testament

In the Old Testament justification came to infants by way of the �sacrament of nature� or the �sacrament of circumcision.� But with the promulgation of the gospel of Christ, these two �sacraments� were replaced by the sacrament of baptism, a sacrament that is not merely an occasion or condition of justification but its instrumental cause. In how many ways, then, can infants be justified now? Abstractly, there might seem to be three possibilities: baptism of water, of blood, of desire.

Baptism of Water. This is the ordinary way for the justification of infants. Is it the only way (apart from martyrdom or baptism of blood)? Theologians commonly say, Yes, and add that this is theologically certain. Their arguments are very strong. They cite: 1) the Council of Florence: �they cannot be helped by any remedy but the sacrament of baptism;� 2) the Roman Catechism: �infants have no other manner of reaching salvation, if baptism is not administered to them� (p. II c. II. N. 34); 3) the Council of Cologne: �adults who are prevented from actually receiving baptism can be saved by the desire of it. But infants� since they are incapable of this desire, are excluded from heavenly kingdom, if they die without being reborn through baptism� (Coll. Lac. V, 320); 4) Pope Pius XII: �an act of love can suffice for an adult to acquire sanctifying grace and supply for the lack of baptism; to the unborn or newly born infant this way is not open� (AAS: XLIII (1951) p. 84). These arguments, in their cumulative force seem inescapable.

Limbo. What happens to infants who die unbaptized � in original sin � without sanctifying grace? They undergo the pain of loss of the Beatific Vision for all eternity. Where do they go? We usually say: to Limbo. Where is that? We actually do not know; but as the conciliar documents say: �in infernum� (DB 464, 693) we may perhaps call it the �ante-chamber of heaven.�

Do they also undergo a pain of sense, besides the pain of loss? St. Augustine seems to subject to a mild pain of sense. But his real mind on this point is not clear. Moreover he was battling against a Pelagian error in this field. However, his supposed �rigorism� influenced others for a long time, and produced some followers called �torturers of infants.� Some other theologians, among them Bellarmine, while not assigning to these infants a strict pain of sense (i.e. of fire), do ascribe to them a �sadness� over the loss of the Beatific Vision.

But most theologians hold, with St. Thomas, that these infants undergo simply the pain of loss, without pain of sense or sadness. Why no sadness over their loss? Because they will not know of it. St. Thomas says in one text (De Malo q5a3). Because their knowledge of it will not make them sad; in another text (2d33q2a2), since their perfectly ordered minds will �see things God�s way.�

Some have indulged in various speculations about the Limboites, e.g., that they may now and then �visit heaven� or that Heavenites may visit Limbo, or that there may be �fusion days� on earth where Limboites and Heavenites may meet and mingle (the Beatific Vision would be no problem, for the Heavenites take it with them wherever they go � Our Lord had it on earth). How old will the Limboites be? Will they mature? Perhaps to an �ideal� age. But all this is conjecture.

The Church neither affirms nor condemns such speculations; it simply makes no declaration. The common opinion of theologians today is that infants dying without sanctifying grace will have the highest natural happiness.

Baptism of Blood. Martyrdom or baptism of blood, as instanced by the Holy Innocents, is an extraordinary way to salvation for infants. Some few theologians have tried to extend this way to all (or many other) infants. Schell tried to make their death a real imitation of the death of Christ and a quasi-martyrdom by which original sin would be deleted. But this theory was condemned by the Congregation of the Index in 1898. More recently Dom Bruno Webb varied this view by having Mother Church exercise her own faith and charity at the moment of their death in the souls of infants who die unbaptized, operating through the quasi-sacrament of death � by virtue of the sacrament of baptism. But he offers no real evidence.

Baptism of Desire. Some theologians do not believe it is theologically certain as yet that infants who die without the sacrament of baptism (or martyrdom) are automatically excluded from the Beatific Vision in perpetuity. They have looked to some form of �baptism of desire� as a way of saving infants who die without sacramental baptism. Thus a) some have proposed the illumination theory, according to which dying children receive a sudden illumination, which enables them to receive baptism of desire by making an act of perfect love (Klee, Fangauer); b) others placed the desire of baptism not in the infants themselves but in the parents, the mother or father; c) others placed this desire on behalf of the infant in the Church, the Mystical Body of Christ so that thus � the Church desires salvation for them, and the Church is very powerful.

The illumination theory is beset with difficulties. There is no convincing scriptural or patristic evidence for it. And it would seem, practically speaking, to do away with the existence of Limbo or at least with the occupants of Limbo (if it is applied to all infants). For every infant, sufficiently illuminated by grace would have to make a free choice: if it said Yes to the grace given, it would go to heaven; if it said No, it would go to hell. Then what is Limbo? While its existence is not a matter of faith, like that of heaven, hell and purgatory, still it seems to be theologically certain, according to most theologians. But if nobody went to it, it would be a place (or state) without occupants.

What if the desire is ascribed to the parents? The Dominican, Cajetan, espoused this view, but Pope St. Pius V had the passage expunged from Cajetan�s works. In 1947, a Dominican professor of theology defended the tenability of Cajetan�s position. But if this theory had any real validity, the Church would tell parents to desire salvation for unborn infants who die without baptism: but she does not.

Is there a saving desire on the part of the Church? If the Church had such power, she would certainly know it and put it to use. But there is no sign in her prayers or consciousness that it is her role to obtain the salvation of unbaptized infants through the �votum ecclesiae.�

The following judgment by a modern theologian summarizes this critical question. �We are in the presence of a common theological teaching and a conviction which runs through a number of documents of the Church contrary to the new positions,� suggesting the possibility of baptism in voto for infants. �This evidence of a common teaching of theologians and of a sensus Ecclesiae blocks the way to the various solutions seeking salvation for the infants dying without baptism. Nor does the recent wave of literature change the situation. Analysis of this literature reveals clearly that we are not in the presence of a new theological movement, properly so called.� On the other hand further clarification and certainly more definitive declaration are still open. �As matters stand now, the question is not definitively closed. We are in the presence of a theological tradition whose critical evaluation may well call for more delicately nuanced positions; and of a gensus Ecclesiae whose dogmatic force can be determined ultimately only by a dogmatic decision of the magisterium.� (Gregorianum, 1954, p. 406-473; Theology Digest, Winter, 1955, p. 3-9).


Infidels make up the majority of mankind. All can be saved; to be saved they must die in sanctifying grace. Therefore all can get sanctifying grace. But how? They must do something, since they are adults: they must dispose themselves for justification, for sanctifying grace. How? By salutary (grace-elevated) acts of faith and fear and repentance and love etc. God, then, must first �lean down� and give them grace, for nature alone cannot produce salutary acts.

Sequence of Actual Graces for them. Just when does God give the first actual grace to an infidel � which can gradually or quickly lead him to the �big� graces of revelation and faith (i.e. assent to this revelation in a salutary act of faith)? At the time that God judges to be opportune, which according to many theologians is the infidel�s first full use of reason, when he distinguishes between good and evil.

Just what is the first grace God gives to a particular infidel, we do not know. It could take many forms. It might be a grace to turn to God, to acknowledge Him, to express his need of God or of divine help. It could involve both an external grace and an internal grace (e.g. of prayer). But sometime, somehow every adult infidel will get this remote vocation to faith and sanctifying grace. If he cooperates properly with this, God gives him further graces and ultimately the grace that is proximately sufficient for the act of faith, i.e. the grace of revelation and the grace of faith to assent to this revelation.

What is the minimum of revealed truths that he must believe in this act of faith? This is disputed. Thomists usually hold that he must believe explicitly at least four revealed truths: that God exists and is Rewarder, the Trinity and the Incarnation. Many other theologians hold that more probably it is not absolutely necessary to believe explicitly in the Trinity and Incarnation. But if it is, God will put these revealed truths also within the infidel�s grasp.

To be justified, is it enough for the infidel to believe, to make this act of faith? No. He will be further drawn by grace to make an act of hope and fear and repentance and love � and to receive the sacrament of baptism. And by the grace of this sacrament he will be justified.

But what if he knows nothing of this sacrament, or is unable to receive it? Can he still be justified? Yes, by what is called baptism of desire, if with the help of grace he elicits the act of perfect love of God (and contrition). For in this act of love he really wills whatever God desires, and hence, implicitly desires the sacrament of baptism, (for that is what God desires), even though he is invincibly ignorant of the sacrament. If this act of love were intense and perfect enough, and he were to die immediately after making it, it seems that he would be ready for immediate entry into heaven. If, however, he lived on and later heard of the sacrament of baptism and its necessity, he would have to receive it; its reception would bring him added sanctifying grace and make it possible for him to receive other sacraments and their special graces.

Outside the Church. Where is the Church in this picture? It is a matter of dogma that outside the Church there is no salvation! How then can an infidel be saved, unless he actually becomes a member of the Roman Catholic Church, or at least explicitly desires this?

The Holy Office wrote in the so called Boston heresy case: �No one will be saved who, knowing the Church to have been divinely established by Christ, nevertheless refuses to submit to the Church or withholds obedience from the Roman Pontiff� But� that one may obtain eternal salvation, it is not always required that he be incorporated into the Church actually as a member, but it is necessary that at least he be united to her by desire and longing� This may be an implicit desire � when a person is in invincible ignorance � but it must be animated by perfect charity � and suppose� supernatural faith.� (AER Oct., 1952, 311).

Thus there are two �salvational� ways of being related to the Church: a) as actual members by baptism of water and b) by intention and longing (explicit or implicit) through baptism of desire, Without the Church, without being related to the Church, in one of these two ways, there is no salvation: this is why we say there is no salvation outside the Church. Where there is real inability to pertain to the Church in the first way (e.g. a man does not know of the church or its necessity or cannot get baptism), the second way is open to him.

In Summary, then, we may say that God gives all adult infidels sufficient grace for salvation, and if they use it properly they will be saved. Their way to justification, to sanctifying grace is as follows:

 First Grace 
(Prayer?)   Grace of Revelation 
  Grace of Faith   Act of Faith
(Hope, Faith, �)     Sanctifying Grace thru the baptism: of water
: of desire

Infants have objectively sufficient means of salvation in the Church and sacraments. But it seems that not all of them get subjectively sufficient means � actual graces.


�Faithful� Sinners. We now turn to sinners, �faithful� sinners, those who had sanctifying grace and lost it, but did not lose the infused virtues of faith and hope. Other sinners are infidels.

We may divide �faithful� sinners into two classes: ordinary sinners and obstinate sinners. In the first class are those who, although in mortal sin, still fear God and hell, and dread punishment and desire to come out of their sin; but their desire is not yet an efficacious will to do so. Obstinate sinners are those who have become hardened in their sins by repeatedly and maliciously transgressing God�s laws, and now seem to have no fear of God or hell, and no desire to get out of their sins.

Does God give to all these sinners grace sufficient for conversion and salvation? Yes, for He sincerely wills every sinner to be saved. Even the obstinate? Yes, though it seems that He does not grant as much grace to these as to ordinary sinners. But the grace He gives is not always proximately sufficient for the necessary act of contrition. Especially in the case of the obstinate sinners, it seems to many theologians that the grace God gives them at first is only remotely sufficient, e.g. a grace to pray or give alms or do some good work that will lead to illumination of mind and compunction of heart. But if the sinner uses this grace it will be followed by a more proximately sufficient grace.

When do sinners receive grace? Not at every single moment but at a time and place opportune for a good work or repentance. Such a time and place are had when exterior graces are present, such as a sermon, tribulations, danger of death, the death a relative or friend, a First Communicant, example of a saint and the like.

Since the grace given to sinners is so often a grace to pray, in our dealings with them we should urge and help them to pray; and pray for them constantly. They will get more graces if they have people praying for them. Conversion can be extremely hard for them, unless someone interested in their welfare commends their needs to God.

Chaplains during the last war were often disturbed about the number of Catholic boys who did not know the act of perfect contrition, or thought it was too hard to make. For they realized that this act could mean eternal life for many boys. They wished that all our young people would be taught its power and importance, taught how to make it, taught to make it regularly, so that if they ever really needed it to regain sanctifying grace, it would do just that for them.

This act can be of vital importance to non-Catholics. For if they should fall into mortal sin after baptism, it is the only way for them to regain sanctifying grace. It would be a great act of charity, if Catholics told their Protestant and Jewish friends about this act of perfect contrition: what kind of love of God it involves, what kind of sorrow for sin it means, and how to make it.

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.

Causes of justification. What causes a sinner's justification? Many causes conspire harmoniously to bring it about. The efficient cause is God, the Triune God; its final cause is the glory of God and Christ and eternal life; its meritorious cause is Christ; its instrumental cause is baptism; its formal cause is sanctifying grace.

Nature of Sanctifying Grace. What is sanctifying grace? It has been called the "masterpiece of God's handicraft in this world � far more glorious than anything we can behold in the heavens above us or on the earth at our feet." Is it just God's favor toward us, as Luther wanted? No, it is much more. Is it God's life or nature or God's love, as some have called it? No, for God's life and love and nature are uncreated, are God Himself. Sanctifying grace is not God, it is not the Holy Spirit, it is not just God's favor. It is something created, given to us by God out of love and mercy, which gives us a created likeness of God's nature and life. It is a supernatural gift infused into our souls by God, a positive reality, spiritual, supernatural, and invisible.

Divine Quality. According to St. Thomas, sanctifying grace "is neither a substance nor a substantial form, but an accidental form, a permanent quality placed by God in the very essence of the soul, which causes it to participate by means of a certain likeness in the divine nature" (1-2q110aa.2-4). No wonder, then that the Roman Catechism calls it a "divine quality."

Sanctifying grace is not a substance, then, but an accident. But it is a most remarkable accident, sui generis, like no other. In terms of its supernatural perfection it is much higher than the soul in which it inheres. God has established a most wonderful harmony here: sanctifying grace "needing" my soul as subject of inhesion, my soul "needing" sanctifying grace so as to become deiform. Sanctifying grace is such an extraordinary thing that some have denied it could exist; they thought God could not make such a quality, or if He could it would do violence to nature. But God quietly infuses sanctifying grace into a soul without doing any violence to it. These two things fit perfectly together in a most remarkable union of nature and grace, to produce a most amazing new unit: a deiform soul.

Sanctifying grace is not a virtue, according to St. Thomas, not even the virtue of charity, but it is the foundation of all the infused virtues. It is a gift by which "the very nature of man is raised to a measure of dignity that places it in the same plane as its end." Just as our natural faculties (operative principles) derive from nature, "so in the faculties of the soul do the (infused) virtues that move them, derive from grace." While the infused virtues and the gifts of the Holy Spirit are supernatural operative and responsive habits, sanctifying grace is a supernatural initiative habit, somewhat as health is in the body in the natural order. Often theologians call sanctifying grace a quasi-nature, or a "super-nature."

Some of its Effects. Sanctifying grace has many, almost incredible effects. St. Thomas singles out especially four. 1. Destruction of sin, such that "the forgiveness of sin would be incomprehensible without the infusion of grace," 2. Deification, such that the creature is made deiform and shares in a sonship of adoption. 3. Inhabitation, a special presence of God to which sanctifying grace gives rise. 4. Merit, of which sanctifying grace is the essential foundation. To sanctifying grace the Council of Trent ascribes the supernatural justice and friendship with God and the interior renovation and sanctification of the just soul. Pope Pius XI called it the �permanent principle of supernatural life." According to theologians and saints it gives the soul a special supernatural beauty. Some of these effects we shall consider presently, others in the chapters that follow.

Justice. Through sanctifying grace we are made "just," with a mysterious justice that is hard to define precisely. It is not the cardinal virtue of justice, which inclines our will to give everyone his due, but involves this and much more. It is an internal, "deep down," supernatural justice or rectitude before God, whereby we are rightly ordered for supernaturally producing all acts of all virtues. Essentially it consists in sanctifying grace, adequately it involves also the infused virtues and the gifts of the Holy Spirit.

Perhaps the word that most vividly expresses this justice is rectitude, supernatural rectitude or righteousness. The man made just by God through sanctifying grace, is supernaturally right in the depths of his soul, mind and will; he is (ontologically) rightly ordered toward God, neighbor and self. Sanctifying grace is a principle of rectitude within his soul: by it his soul is supernaturally right with God. His mind (through faith) is right with God, not just with the God of the universe, of nature, but with the Triune God of faith. That is why it is easier for a sinner to come back: the virtue of faith is still in him. A picture of Christ on the Cross can be a most powerful motive, moving him to contrition. And as faith orientates the mind toward the "inside" of God, the essence of God and the Trinity of Persons, so the infused virtue of charity makes the will right, rightly orientated for loving the Triune God.

Sanctifying grace, then, in making us just, gives us a basic supernatural rectitude, a deep-down orientation and inclination to an all-virtuous life. We sometimes think it would have been convenient if God had put it "nearer the surface," so to speak. For persons and things around us often pull us strongly away from right action, We have adequate principles of right action deep within us, it is true, but we are very much affected by persons and things, and do not always act rightly. Our first aim, then, is always to act rightly. But a much higher degree of perfection would be not merely to do the right action, but to do it perfectly in God�s way and at God�s time, by habitually following the lead of the Holy Spirit drawing us through the gifts of the Holy Spirit.

Deletion of Sins. When a man is made just through sanctifying grace, all his mortal sins (and original sin, if he has it) are remitted; if he is justified through sanctifying grace in baptism, all his sins are remitted, and should he die then he is ready for immediate entry into glory.

Mortal sin means a privation of sanctifying grace. So when grace comes, mortal sin must "go." It really "goes," is remitted and deleted; it is not just covered over as it were by a cloak of the merits of Christ, as Luther said. God does not just declare the sinner to be just and cover over his sins, but He makes him just and remits his sins by the infusion of sanctifying grace. God does not merely say something, as Luther thought, He does something. By infusing sanctifying grace He remits sin. For sanctifying grace (righteousness) and mortal sin (unrighteousness) are contraries which necessarily exclude each other. Mortal sin brings supernatural darkness and death: sanctifying grace brings supernatural light, beauty, life. Sanctifying grace just has to be there, and there is supernatural light, beauty and life in the soul (and mortal sin is gone). Sanctifying grace is beauty so it infuses beauty into the soul; it is light, so it gives infused light to the soul; it is life, so it gives deiform life to the soul. It is a form which simply by being in the soul, imparts what it is.

Beauty. Sanctifying grace gives the soul an ineffable, supernatural beauty. St. Chrysostome compares the beauty of a soul in sanctifying grace to a statue of gold, St. Basil to a shining light flooding a crystal and to transforming fire. St. Ambrose describes a soul as "painted by God," having "the loveliness of virtues" and reflecting "the image of divine activity." According to St. Thomas, "divine grace beautifies (the soul) like Light."

St. Catherine of Siena declared: "Had you, my father confessor, beheld the beauty of one soul adorned with grace, you would certainly for the sake of one such soul, gladly suffer death a thousand times." St. Teresa compared a soul in grace to a crystal globe illuminated from without by the rays of grace, and within by the rays of God�s own beauty.

Friendship. Closely connected with the beauty which sanctifying grace confers, is the supernatural friendship it establishes between God and the soul since true beauty elicits love and benevolence. By nature man is merely a servant of God; since the fall, he is His enemy, Sanctifying grace transforms this hostile relation into genuine friendship. For God loves the just man as His intimate friend, and enables and impels him by means of sanctifying grace and charity to reciprocate that love with all his heart. Here we have the two constituent elements of friendship.

Friendship according to Aristotle is "the conscious love of benevolence of two persons for each other." So there must be lovability in each friend. Love is measured by lovability, by goodness. Divine goodness in God, deiform goodness in man: these are the conditions of divine friendship. Through sanctifying grace man has deiform goodness, goodness and lovability like unto God�s. Through the infused virtue of charity he has the power to love as God loves. So God loves him with the pure love of friendship and draws man to reciprocate that love with all his heart.

Sharing the Divine Nature by Sanctifying Grace

The most radical and fundamental and radical effect of sanctifying grace seems to be deification. Sanctifying grace deifies the soul, renders it deiform, godlike in a wondrous way, partaker of the divine nature.

Can this really be true? The sources of revelation are clear. In the words of St. Peter, "By whom (Christ) He (the Father) hath given us great and precious promises: that by these you may be made partakers of the divine nature" (2 Peter 1,4). St. John tells of being �born again of God" (John 1,13; 3,3) and to be born again implies receiving another nature � supernatural nature � of God. St. Paul says we are saved "through the bath of regeneration � by the Holy Spirit" (Titus 3,5). As a human nature is the term of natural generation, this regeneration would imply another nature � a super-nature � of the Holy Spirit. Again and again the Fathers declare that man is "deified" by sanctifying grace. St. Augustine: "He who justifies, also deifies, because He makes (men) sons of God through justification." St. Cyril of Alexandria: "Partakers of the divine nature, not only in name but in reality." And St. Thomas: "the only begotten Son of God, desiring that we should be participants in His divinity, assumed our nature: ut homines deos faceret, factus homo"(Opusculum, 57).

Deification. What does this deification mean? Catholic theology has always held that it is no mere figure of speech but the declaration of a mysterious fact: we are in a true sense made partakers of the divine nature by sanctifying grace. Obviously by this deification man does not become God; he is not transformed into God. A few medieval "mystics" taught that sanctifying grace transforms the human soul into the substance of the God-head, but this doctrine was condemned. Sanctifying grace is not God, nor "part" of God, nor "part of God's nature" (there are no parts in God Who is utterly simple): hence it does not and can not identify us with God, make us God in any way. It is something produced by God, really distinct from God. My sanctifying grace is mine, "created" (i.e. produced) for me "educed from the potency of my soul," an accident that inheres in my substance. Hence if I commit a mortal sin, my sanctifying grace is "reduced to the potency of my soul" so to speak, i.e. goes out of actual existence by God�s withdrawal of His conservation.

Deiform nature. But though sanctifying grace is not God nor God's nature, it gives me such an amazing, supernatural likeness to God, to God's own intimate nature, that it can truly be said to "deify" me. It gives me not God's own divine nature (only the three divine Persons can ever have this), but a godlike nature, a deiform nature. Some theologians have even said that by sanctifying grace our souls are made a "miniature Trinity."

What is nature? The ultimate and basic principle of operation. The nature of God is the ultimate principle of divine operations. Angels have an angelic nature: the ultimate principle of doing angelic actions in an angelic way. Men have a human nature: an ultimate principle of doing human things in a human way. The Indwelling Trinity is the very divine nature itself specially present in us (as principle and term of sanctifying grace); sanctifying grace in us is our share in the divine nature, our likeness to It. It must somehow do for us what the divine nature does for God.

If God�s nature is the ultimate principle of all divine operations, it is the ultimate principle of God�s own Beatific Vision, love and enjoyment of the divine essence. But our sanctifying grace also is an ultimate principle of the Beatific Vision: therefore it is a likeness to the divine nature, a godlike nature, a deiform nature. We have an ultimate principle of operation in God. I have in me now an ultimate principle of that divine operation called the Beatific Vision, its love and enjoyment, which God has infinitely but which I shall have finitely.

Once again, the Beatific Vision, love and enjoyment, is the key, as we said in the beginning. Sanctifying grace is made for it; by sanctifying grace we have a claim and title and an ultimate proportion to the Beatific Vision, love and enjoyment. The change in heaven is that faith goes out and the light of glory comes in. Sanctifying grace sets one for eternity: it can grow and grow in an adult so as to bring him a greater and greater degree of the light of glory and the love and enjoyment of the Beatific Vision, if he dies in sanctifying grace.

Nature. Is an ultimate principle always a nature? The term "essence" is also used to designate an ultimate principle; but the nature of a being is the essence considered as a principle of operation, considered as the ultimate principle in the order of activity. Essence rather connotes something static, nature something dynamic. Will the Beatific Vision, love and enjoyment, ultimately "flow out of" sanctifying grace? Yes. It does not actually "flow out" here and now, because we lack the necessary proximate principle of the Beatific Vision, love and enjoyment, the light of glory. Similarly, in us every thought flows from the soul through the intellect, every will-act through the will, every sensation through the sense-faculties. What thinks? The sup posit, the person, ultimately through the soul and proximately through the intellect. In us, the thinking power must have a properly disposed thinking apparatus: a person with defective material organs or connections in certain areas will find his thinking ability impaired or completely inhibited. Children born with such deficiencies could get sanctifying grace by baptism and (perhaps) by Confirmation got an increase of it; they could not lose sanctifying grace but they could not merit an increase of it or of light of glory.

Deiform Nature. A parallel between our human nature and deiform nature may be helpful. In a human nature, the soul, the form of the body, is the ultimate operative principle. From this ultimate operative principle flow all the powers of the soul, the faculties, which are the proximate operative principles. Instincts we may call proximate or immediate responsive principles. Flowing from all these principles are human acts. Man is made to act, to be more fully man by using his powers; his nature is dynamic, and he becomes more fully man by acting as man. But this is not enough,

For God wanted man to live a deiform life. For this he needs an ultimate deiform principle of operation: sanctifying grace. All proximate principles of deiform operation "flow from" it, We may think of sanctifying grace as something very like a human nature, but, it is a super-nature (in the form of an accident). Moreover, in the very heart of our natural faculties, flowing from this super-nature, will be deiform faculties, the infused virtues, enabling the deiform man to place the deiform acts that God wants. The gifts of the Holy Spirit act as immediate responsive principles; they are, so to speak, supernatural instincts giving seven kinds of "instinctive" response to the special stimuli sent by the Holy Spirit when He wants the operative powers to go into special, more prompt, higher, more deiform action.

Human Nature
   Deiform Nature
Soul Ultimate operative principle Sanctifying Grace
Faculties Proximate operative principles Infused Virtues
Instincts Immediate responsive principles Gifts of Holy Spirit
Human Acts Effects Deiform Acts

When a man responds promptly and habitually to every stimulus of the Holy Spirit, we may say he is in the class of the "perfect:" habitually he acts when and as the Holy Spirit wants him to act. He is under the habitual direction of the Holy Spirit; he is no longer guided just by the slow, fallible direction of human reason, which so often sees many obstacles to action and therefore delays, and so some of the finest acts God wishes never get done. In the Gospel we read that Our Lord was "led by the Spirit" into the desert, and St. Paul was told to go here� there� he had a new Leader.

Evidently many people do not always follow His lead, do not respond quickly to His promptings. What makes this quick response easier, more habitual? Practice! This means achieving docility to the Holy Spirit, a fuller practice of the moral virtues, especially of temperance, so as to temper fear - of human respect, of new actions, of more perfect actions.

Sometimes it seems that we can judge the spiritual growth of another in terms of his response to grace -- quick and perfect -- or slow -- or no response -- or indecision -- or fear of response. As a matter of experience, we often learn to make the right responses only after making the wrong ones.

We like to call this "growing up in Christ" -- into perfectly deiform human beings. God puts sanctifying grace deep down inside us. As if He would say: do not develop your natural powers alone: by the sanctifying grace that is permeating you, you are made deiform, so use your natural and deiform powers together, deiformly. If you want greater union with Me, you will find it through quicker, surer, and more perfect response to the directive inspiration of the Holy Spirit. His inspirations are meant for "now", this moment, this place, this need. "Do not wait or argue, do right now what He is urging you to do." In the lives of saints we see that often there was no time lag between the stimulus of the Holy Spirit and their response. There are two powers in us: a power to say Yes to the Holy Spirit when He is drawing us to greater perfection, and a power to say No. Our model is Christ who said always: "Thy will he done," to show us the Way of perfect docility. And our Blessed Mother, whose "fiat" at Nazareth characterized her whole life. If we want a test or norm of sanctity, we have it in this responsiveness to the inspirations of God.

Deiform Activity. What kind of activity would come from our natural powers alone? Natural activity (good or sinful). What kind comes from our deiform powers? Deiform activity, so that persons in grace place actions which are truly like God's.

God's infinite Beatific Vision of the divine essence is a strictly divine activity. But the finite Beatific Vision of the divine essence -- that the blessed in heaven have -- is an activity like God's very own. Hence the Beatific Vision of the blessed is the supremely deiform activity.

Since sanctifying grace is the radical principle of this activity, we call sanctifying grace a deiform principle. And any earthly activity that flows from this principle (sanctifying grace) and condignly merits the Beatific Vision we also call, and properly, a deiform activity.

Such are all the condignly meritorious acts of the just -- which flow from sanctifying grace through the infused virtues - and gifts. Such would seem to be, in a minimal sense, even their imperfections, for if these are not sins then they would seem to be -- for St. Thomas -- meritorious. Highest among these deiform acts on earth would be the mystical acts of the saints, their infused contemplation or experimental knowledge and love of divine realities -- an earthly foretaste of the heavenly Beatific Vision and love of the divine essence itself.

In studying this deiform activity, it may help to distinguish four phases; one heavenly phase; the beatific; and. three earthly phases, the incipient, the proficient, the perfect.

Phases of Earthly Deiform Activity. We cannot hope, of course, to gauge with any accuracy the deiformity of any particular individual. But in a more general way, it seems that the deiformity of persons in grace can be measured to some extent by the habitual perfection of certain things, such as the actual graces given them, or their charity, their prayer, their docility to the Holy Spirit, their self-abnegation.

Thus for the �incipients� (those in the purgative way), actual graces will be largely "purgative" graces (initially at least), aimed at purging them more and more from inordinate attachments; for the "proficients" they, will largely be "illuminative" graces, aimed at illumining Christ and His virtues so as to procure their imitation; for the "perfect" they will largely be "unitive" graces, aimed at uniting their minds and wills more and more closely with God�s and with God. Or we might say that for the incipient graces are aimed at preventing mortal sin and overcoming its attraction; for the proficient, they are aimed at preventing deliberate venial sin and overcoming its attractions; for the perfect, they are aimed at preventing positive imperfections (e.g. violations of counsels and religious rules).

In terms of docility we might say that the incipient are docile to God in the matter of the major commandments, the proficient are docile also in the matter of the minor commandments, while the perfect are docile also in the matter of the counsels and beatitudes.

In terms of Christ, we could say that He is in the mind of the incipient at times, but not often, in the mind of the proficient much more; in the minds of the perfect, habitually, as a moving, guiding factor. Again, in the incipient there is initial self-abnegation, in the proficient, progressive self-abnegation, in the perfect, complete self-abnegation.

In the incipient there will be incipient charity, in the proficient, proficient charity, in the perfect, perfect charity. For the incipient, deliberate, conscious acts of love of God and neighbor may be infrequent and mild in intensity; for the proficient more frequent and greater in intensity; for the perfect, they may be practically habitual, exclude no neighbor, be very intense. In the incipient, there will be affective love and the beginnings of truly effective love of God and neighbor; in the proficient there will be a much more effective love, moving into better action and -- sacrifice, which is the real test; in the perfect, effective love will be relatively perfect, and will mean a complete surrender to God's will so as to do whatever God wants, whenever, wherever, however He wants it.

Charity, love of God and neighbor, is the best test of deiformity; by the extension, intensity and effectiveness of their charity you shall know them -- and their degree of deiformity. What counts is not affective love alone; this is not enough for married life or for religious life, either, for it can be very selfish. What counts is the affective-effective love that say's, "I love You so much that I will do whatever You want, whenever You want it." To do out of love whatever God wills, as soon as He wills it, and just as He wills it: this is highest perfection, highest deiformity. The incipient achieves this now and then, the proficient much more often, the perfect practically always. For the incipient, love of God and neighbor is often verbal or mental, but not so much a matter of full doing or deeds. The function of grace is gradually to change these more or less verbal velleities into actions of highest love.

The prayer of the incipient is predominantly vocal and mental discursive prayer. The prayer of the proficient is largely affective, more a prayer of loving than of thinking; it does not bother much with reasoning but quickly goes to loving, either with or without words of love. In the perfect we find contemplative prayer (acquired, infused or both) which on its highest levels involves an ineffable "experience" of God's presence and an "experimental" perception of divine mysteries and realities,

Of all these qualities, which is looked at most carefully in canonizations? Charity, it seems. Proof of infused contemplation does not seem to be demanded, But heroic virtue is demanded of those not martyrs. A person must have practiced (demonstrably) faith, hope and charity and the moral virtues to a heroic degree and habitually for a sufficiently long time. Such a one gradually came to place arduous acts of virtue easily and habitually, spontaneously, joyfully, because by repetition such acts had become a kind of "second nature." Sometimes the heroicity of faith and hope may be somewhat hard to prove directly; it can be proved indirectly from a long exercise of charity in an heroic degree. Charity is thus the norm as well as the essence of perfection and charity.

Is all heroic virtue canonizable? Usually the Church canonizes only those whose heroic virtue has a certain resplendence, such that it can be seen and recognized by the faithful, influence them and serve as a model for at least partial imitation. She does this when God by miracles gives a sign that He wants a canonization.

For most Christians (also called to be saints), their immediate task is to become as deiform as possible by avoiding more and more deliberate sins and imperfections, by intensifying their love of God and neighbor, by growing more and more in prayerful union with God, by living out more and more perfectly during each day the offering made to the Sacred Heart that morning -- of all their prayers, works, suffering and joys of the day -- for the greater glory of God and the greater deiformity of all men.

Deiform Life by Sanctifying Grace

When a person is justified, does he have a new life? It would seem so, for if sanctifying grace makes us sharers of the divine nature, must it not also make us sharers of the divine life, since God's nature is nothing if not vital. And yet, a new life is a difficult concept.

However, Sacred Scripture, the Father of the Church, Popes and theologians all join in proclaiming that in the just -- those born again of water and the Holy Spirit -- there is new life. Besides his triple natural life the just man enjoys a new, higher, supernatural life of grace. This is what puzzled Nicodemus: he already had human life and thought it absurd to be "born again." Our Lord, however, told him that he was wrong: what is born of flesh has the nature of flesh, but what is born of the Spirit is of the nature of the Spirit.

In St. John we read that Christ said: "I am come that they may have life� and have it more abundantly," and "unless a man be born again" (i.e. to a new - supernatural life). The Evangelist adds: "These are written that�believing you may have life in His Name," not a natural life, which they already have, but new, supernatural life. (John 10, 10; 3, 1; 21, 31.) St. Paul calls it a new life (Romans 6,4), and for him it involves the infusion of a new vital principle (sanctifying grace) whereby man is regenerated, renovated, interiorly transformed. Pope Pius XI called sanctifying grace the "permanent principle of supernatural life (Casti Conubii, December 31, 1930)." Theologians call it supernatural life, or the life of grace,

Divine Life. But may we call this new life "divine life?" This new life of grace cannot be strictly divine. Only the Three Divine Persons have and can have divine life, properly so-called, for that life is identified with the divine nature. Only God can have such life, and He cannot give it to any creature. Pope Pius XII warns the faithful not to try 'in any way to pass beyond the sphere of creatures and wrongly enter the divine, were it only to the extent of appropriating to themselves as their own but one single attribute of the eternal Godhead. (Mystici Corporis, n. 78)." Strictly divine life is eternal and uncreated.

And yet this same Pope calls the sacraments "rivers of divine grace and divine life (Mediator Dei, November 20, 1947)." What does he mean?

St. Basil long ago expressed it very simply when he called this new life "a similitude of the divine life." It is just that -- a likeness of God's own life -- a God-like life. It is a life above that of the angels, a life that is closest to and most like God's own life, a deiform life. It is a "share in" the divine life, but it is not God's own life. When we are justified, we have God dwelling in us; there He lives and produces in us a life like His, Since He cannot give us His own life, He gives us the best next thing, a life like his own, as like to God's life as life can ever be; we cannot have a higher.

Do we have this deiform life here on earth or only in heaven? We have a deiform life here, just as we have a deiform nature here. Once again we may use the Beatific Vision as the integrating factor in our explanation. God�s Beatific Vision is a vital, immanent activity. Our Beatific Vision will also be a vital activity, since it is God-like, deiform; in fact it is the supreme deiform activity, the highest vital activity we can have. But where you have a vital activity, there you must have a vital principle. And where you have a deiform vital activity, there you must have a deiform vital principle. And that is precisely what sanctifying grace is, a deiform vital principle of the supremely deiform vital activity that we call the Beatific Vision. But more than that, it is also the vital principle of all the deiform activity on earth.

Deiform Life on Earth. Do we really have vital deiform activity here on earth? In a justified adult, Yes; in a justified infant, No. But without any vital deiform activity, can this infant have deiform life? Yes.

Do we say than an infant has human life? Yes. Does it think or freely will anything? No, it is incapable of any specifically human activity. Yet we say that it has human life. We ask, than, must you act humanly to be human? No, but you must have the ultimate principle of human life, a human soul. So we see that to have life can mean two things: 1. to have a vital principle, the principle of life, life in principle; 2. to have also vital activity, the activity of life, life in exercise. A human child has a human vital principle, but until it reaches the age of reason, no specifically human vital activity. A deiform infant similarly, has a deiform vital principle (sanctifying grace) but no specifically deiform vital activity. It has deiform life in principle.

But in the justified adult there is deiform life both in principle and in activity. For in him there is both the vital deiform principle, sanctifying grace, and vital deiform activity in the form of condignly meritorious acts. Every such act merits an increase of the Beatific Vision (the supremely deiform activity) and of sanctifying grace (the deiform principle). And since every such act makes him more God-like, more deiform, and proceeds from a deiform principle, it can quite properly be called a deiform act. Which acts of this deiform adult would be deiform acts? St. Thomas seems to say that every one of his good acts would be deiform (condignly meritorious).

Deiform acts, of course, admit of a hierarchy. The highest is the Beatific Vision of heaven, followed by the "experimental knowledge and love" of the mystics. The ascending order of deiform activity on earth would be; 1. incipient (purgative) deiform activity; 2. proficient. (illuminative); 3. perfect (unitive). These will find their consummation in the supreme deiform activity, the beatific activity of heaven. Purgative deiform activity in a sense is largely negative, intent on avoiding sin and removing things that take us away from God; illuminative deiform activity is more intent on practising virtue, on doing good rather than avoiding evil; unitive deiform activity is intent on ever greater, more habitual and perfect union with God and may (God willing) find its earthly climax in "experimental knowledge and love of God and things divine."

Experimental Knowledge. We have already spoken of this "experimental" knowledge of God as something of a "spiritual sensing," which is remarkably similar to what happens in this form of perception and what is experienced in sense perception. St. Bonaventure speaks of "the taste and experience of the divine suavity." Thus the mystic "tastes" the sweetness of God without seeing Him, or "feels" His presence by an almost physical "touch" of God -- so that he knows he is being touched and knows the Source of the touch. How that happens, is still an open question. We are sometimes said to be "touched" by an inspiration, but without clear consciousness of being touched by God. Mystical experiences are not all delightful. God may "touch" one to intense love and desire, and then He may not "be there" anymore. What ensues can be intense pain, desolation, dereliction -- a deep purgation, as deep, perhaps, as purgatorial pain. Normally such graces follow on a certain preparatory disposition, and if a person is unwilling to go through such purgations, he may not advance further -- at least not then. Transitions to higher deiform activity seem ordinarily to involve added purgation -- aimed at fuller and fuller detachment from sensible consolation, from spiritual consolation, and finally from all selfishness. God aims at a deeper and deeper purification so there can be a greater and greater union of the soul with God.

Realization of Deiform Life. To realize this deiform life and to live it to the full, as God wishes, is not easy. To do this we just open wide the "Eyes of Faith" that "see" this hidden life. For though it is very real, and important for eternity, it is hidden away and its growth imperceptible to ordinary eyes. But deiform life has laws of birth, growth, death, and resurrection, that are remotely analogous to the laws of natural life,

Origin. As our natural life comes to us through generation, so deiform life comes to us by "regeneration (John 3, 5)." Ordinarily this deiform life first comes by the sacrament of baptism. In certain cases it may derive from baptism of blood or baptism of desire. Meritoriously it is a life that came out of Christ: it took the Death of Christ on the Cross to give it to us.

Growth. Our natural life grows through food, exercise and activity, and living in the proper atmosphere of warmth, light, and care. Our deiform life grows by the performance of deiform (condignly meritorious) acts, and by the fruitful reception of the sacraments. For proper growth three things are particularly important: 1. food -- and the special food of this life is the Eucharistic Bread; 2. atmosphere � and the ideal atmosphere of deiform life is prayer and sacrifice; 3. exercise -- and the ideal exercise of this life is the proper and continual use of the infused theological and moral virtues. Special strength comes from the "strong-making" virtues: fortitude and temperance, which also produce that docility to the Holy Sprit which is necessary for high sanctity through development of the divine Gifts.

In deiform growth the value of the Eucharistic Bread is hard to over-estimate. It makes the soul grow more into Christ, like to Christ, like to God. Take that Food away and God must resort to special devices to make up for its absence. Take the Eucharist out of some part of the world, and the Church suffers immediately, because deprived of the Sacrament of life, love, and union. Take it away, and faith weakens, for it is the Sacrament of faith. No amount of prayer, it seems, will ordinarily supply for the Eucharist. It is supreme. Some theologians say that without desire (at least implicit) of the Eucharist, there can be no salvation: "Unless you eat My Flesh and drink My Blood, you shall not have life in you (John 6, 55)." "Unless," they say, is a very strong word; so they make the Eucharist one of the principal links in the chain of perseverance.

Deiform growth depends on the graces God gives and the use we make of them. The state in which God places a person is the scene of merit and growth for him: those graces will ordinarily be given which fit these circumstances and fit the person into these circumstances. God's graces to parents are directed to make them more deiform mothers and fathers; His graces to religious are to make them more deiform religious. To "active-life" religious He gives "active-life" graces; to "contemplative-life" religious He gives "mixed.-life" graces. Consequently His purpose is to make us more and more like to Himself in mind, heart and will: there where He places us.

Perseverance. This deiform life requires proper food, atmosphere and exercise. But can every deiform adult infallibly get the grace of final perseverance in sanctifying grace? Yes. He cannot merit this condignly, but he can infallibly impetrate it by humble, suppliant, confident, persevering prayer. The early Fathers singled out one prayer as peculiarly the prayer of perseverance: the Our Father. The Church has added another, the Hail Mary, which has special value and unction. Combine the Nine Fridays and Five Saturdays, the Rosary and Scapular, with zeal for perfection, deep love of God and neighbor, and particularly daily Mass and Communion and we have the highest assurance of final perseverance.

It is true that without a special revelation no one can know with the certitude of faith that he has sanctifying grace. Our Lord gave this certitude to a few mentioned in the Gospels, e.g. when He said, "Thy sins are forgive." But we can have a moral assurance of being in sanctifying grace that is sufficient for all practical purposes, such as the reception of Holy Communion. Theologians commonly say that a "taste for things spiritual; contempt of earthly pleasures; zeal and perseverance in doing good; love of prayer and meditation; patience in suffering and adversity, a fervent devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary; frequent reception of the sacraments," are all valid signs of being in sanctifying grace� Ordinarily, when one is living a good life observing the "grave" commandments, and has no consciousness of mortal sin, he need not worry, 'though a salutary fear of offending God is always in order. For such a fear will induce fervent prayer and effort never to offend God.

Weakening. While every just man has the power of persevering to the end of his life in sanctifying grace, he also has the power of losing this deiform life by mortal sin. And just as germs and disease can play a part in the loss of man�s natural life, so in a similar way the life of grace may be lost. Temptations are sometimes called germs -- that lodge in the imagination, mind, or memory and weaken attachment to good while drawing to sin. Often they need the same drastic treatment that we give to germs that lodge in our bodies. Venial sins are often called disease. They cannot of themselves kill the deiform life but they can weaken and enfeeble it, by cooling the ardor of love and intimacy with God. They are particularly dangerous if habitual, for then they make a person accustomed to offending God and yielding to sinful attraction. They deaden his sensibility to the horror of sin, and gradually, almost insensibly, lead to mortal sin.

Death. Mortal sin brings death to this deiform life of grace. Sanctifying grace is lost, together with the infused virtues of charity, prudence, justice, fortitude and temperance, the gifts of the Holy Spirit; the Indwelling Trinity, the friendship of God, the merits acquired and the power to merit condignly.

Resurrection. This comes through the sacrament of Penance or an act of perfect contrition that involves at least an implicit desire of this sacrament, Once more sanctifying grace and all the infused virtues and the gifts of the Holy Spirit, the Indwelling Trinity -- return to the soul and faculties; together with friendship of God, the merits acquired, and the power to merit condignly an increase of sanctifying grace and glory.

Adoptive Sonship by Sanctifying Grace

The most fundamental effect of sanctifying grace seems to be the deiform nature that it gives us, whereby we are made capable of the supremely deiform activity we call the Beatific Vision and love of the divine essence. But by sanctifying grace, as Holy Scripture tells us, we are also made sons of God, children of God by adoption.

Sons of God. Some have called men God's children by virtue of creation alone, whereby He becomes their lord and Caretaker and they depend on His providence in all things. But strictly the relation of a creature to the Creator is different from that of a child to his father. A child has the right to share his father's home and happiness and intimate companionship. Creation hardly gives man title to any such union as this; it makes him God�s servant, a servant who may claim that God as his Master should protect and provide for him. But it does not make him God's child: it gives him no natural right to share God's home and happiness and intimate companionship.

But by sanctifying grace men become sons of God. Those "born again of water and the Holy Spirit (John 3, 5)" -- through the "laver of re-generation (Titus 3, 5)� become "sons of God," and are "called and are children of God (1 John 3, 1-2)." He who proceeds by generation is a son. So we are "born again of God" through "the laver of regeneration" and thus we become sons of God, sharing the nature of God.

Adopted Sons. Though by sanctifying grace we become sons of God, yet not, of course, in the same way as Christ! For He is the only-begotten natural Son of God -- with the same identical nature as God the Father. He is God of God. We are only sons of God by adoption: "God sent His Son � that we night receive the adoption of sons (Galatians 4, 4)."

But ours is a divine adoption, far surpassing a merely human adoption, wherein one who has human nature adopts another who has human nature -- into his family. In divine adoption God who has a divine nature adopts one who has only a human nature -- into the divine family. To fit us for this divine adoption He has us "born again of God," so that by this regeneration we may "share in the divine nature" and thus be "qualified" for adoption into the divine family.

Since we are adopted sons of God, we also become heirs of God. "We are sons of God. But if we are sons, we are heirs also; heirs indeed of God and joint heirs with Christ (Romans 8, 17)." Heirs of what? Of heaven, of the very riches of God Himself, i.e. His Beatific Vision of the divine essence and persons. Heaven is thus a patrimony we claim because of our divine sonship. Infants, reborn in baptism and dying before the use of reason, inherit heaven as a "birthright." Heaven will be our inheritance, and even now we have a pledge of that inheritance, the Holy Spirit (2 Corinthians 1, 22) dwelling in us as a foretaste and first share of our heavenly inheritance, the Beatific Vision, love and enjoyment.

Members of a divine family are all deiform sons of God. They are children born of the same Father, "born of God." Here is a real brotherhood of the adopted sons of God, deeper and richer than any brotherhood of mere men.

If we are brothers and sisters in a divine family, then Christ is our Brother. He is "the first-born among many brethren (Romans 8, 29)." It is not surprising, then, that He once said to St. Margaret of Cortona: "Remember that you are My slave by your sins, but My sister through your state of grace." Christ our Brother owes and gives us a special love, a brother�s love. He is the elder Brother, seeking to raise us up to His stature, He is the model of how we should be filial and lead a filial life in the divine family. There lies our glory and our task: to grow more and more into the likeness of our Brother: Christ the image of God (2 Corinthians 4, 4)."

Consequently we are to live as He did. Devotion to the Father was the very heart of His life and holiness. His will, desire, and "business" were always that of the Father: "I do always the things that please Him (John 8, 29)." Then to us, "I have given you an example that as I have done to you, so you do also (John 13, 15)." This means showing devotion to the Father after the example of Christ by obedience (Hebrews 12, 9), by keeping the commandments (John 14, 23), by prayer (Matthew 6, 9), by forgiveness (Matthew 6, 14), by love and conformity of will (John 14, 31); He came that men might know the Father, realize and love the Father and come ever closer to Him. For that way they would have eternal life, the life of Vision -- not just knowledge, or even knowledge about god, but the Vision of God. He lived on earth to make known the name of the Father, the dignity and glory of the Triune God: "that all may be one, even as thou, Father, in Me and I in Thee; that they also may be one in Us (John 17, 21)."

Devotion to His Mother. His was deep and rich. Mary was kept in the shadow often, so that He and His Father might stand out. For thus it had to be. If He were to make His Mother stand out too much, this would convince some that He had a human father. But He came to make the heavenly Father and the Blessed Trinity known. So He had to make the Son known in order to show men that "inside God" there is a Father and a Son and a Holy Spirit. That was His task, and slowly, quietly He made His revelation, choosing His words so carefully: "Philip, he who sees Me sees the Father," And at the Last Supper with the lights and shadows playing on His countenance, He "poured out" the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Love. For that was the night of love, when He made the sacrament of love and began the Sacrifice of love � that all might be one in the Father and Son and Holy Spirit.

But He loved His Mother intensely. His conception turned on her Fiat, She gave Him the Precious Blood He shed for us, and under the cross became spiritual Mother of the human race. By her Fiat and agony on Calvary she mothered mankind to deiform life, under and with and through Him on the Cross

Adopted Sons of the Trinity. So far we have said that by sanctifying grace we become adopted sons of God. Now we go a step further and say with St. Thomas that by sanctifying grace we become adopted sons of the Trinity: �for He (God the Father) is Christ�s Father by natural generation, whereas He is our Father by a voluntary operation, which is common to Him and to the Son and the Holy Spirit; so that Christ is not the Son of the whole Trinity, as we are (3q23a2ad2)." But while our adoption is the work of the entire Trinity, it can be appropriated to the Father as its author, to the Son as its pattern, and to the Holy Spirit as its conveyor (3q23a2ad3).

Then why, in this view, are we "adopted sons of God?" Because we have been given a likeness to the nature of God and a right to an eternal inheritance. And "this likeness and right are the characteristic notes of divine sonship and impart the quality of adoptive sons." We are, therefore, adopted children of the Trinity because the donation of this likeness and this right is made by all three Persons in God.

Adopted Sons of the Father? Can we go still another step further? Can we see in our adoptive sonship a special relation to the natural sonship of Christ, so that as He is the natural Son of the Father we would in a real but mystical sense be the adopted sons of the Father, and not just by appropriation. While only probable, the idea has been defended by more than one theologian.

By sanctifying grace we are made partakers of the divine nature and become "sons of God." This suggests that mysteriously, but truly, we share the divine nature in a "filial" way, remotely similar to the way in which the Son has the uncreated divine nature. For while the Three Divine Persons have the same divine nature, they do not have it in the way: the Father and the Holy Spirit do not have it in a "filial" way, i.e. so as to be Son, so as to be "generated." Only the Son has it in this way.

If the Father alone gave us -- by way of regeneration -- our deiform nature -- then our deiform nature would easily be seen to be "filial" and we would in a singular sense be adopted sons of the Father. But this is impossible, for not just the Father but the entire Trinity gives us our deiform nature. But could it be that although all three divine Persons give us our deiform nature, they give that deiform nature a filial character, a special likeness to the natural sonship of Christ? In other words, they would give us not just a "share in the divine nature� but a �filial share in the divine nature?"

St. Thomas has several pertinent statements. "Adoptive sons," he says, "are made to the 1ikeness of the natural Son," and "as a certain likeness of the divine goodness is conferred on all creatures by the act of creation, so a likeness of natural sonship is conferred by the act of adoption (3q39a8ad3; q23alad2; q45a4)."

Ferdinand Prat infers from St. Paul that "from the supernatural being received at baptism, special relations with each of the three divine Persons are derived: a relation of sonship with the Father, a relation of consecration to the Holy Spirit; a relation of mystical identity with Jesus Christ (II 320)." And according to Mersch, while "divine words ad extra are common to the Trinity, still � our adoptive sonship, as a state though not as an operation, has a real relation to the Son alone. We become by grace what Christ is by nature � by union through grace with the person of Christ and the Son � we are sons by adoption (369-372)."

Christ-Life by Sanctifying Grace

Do we obtain a Christ-life by sanctifying grace? Formerly a person baptized was said to be "christened" or "Christed," to indicate the close relationship between him and Christ, a relation of great likeness or quasi-identity, as expressed by St. Paul, "I live, now not I, but Christ lives in me."

In Christ "was life," the fullness of divine and human and deiform life, and He had the power to give life: "For as the Father gives life: so the Son also gives life to whom He will (John 1, 4; 5, 21)." "Of His fullness we have all received," writes St. John. Have we then received His very own life? Certainly not His divine life, nor yet His human life. Perhaps, then, His own deiform life, His own life of sanctifying grace? No, not even this. It is false, says Pope Pius XII, "that one and numerically the same grace unites Christ with the members of His Mystical Body (Mediator Dei, n. 203)."

He has His own sanctifying grace, and I have my own. Mine is an accidental form infused into (educed from) the substance of my soul. It is specifically like His indeed, but numerically different. He has in His soul the supreme degree of sanctifying grace, I only a small degree in mine, His sanctifying grace is the principle of the deiform life in His soul; my sanctifying grace is the principle of my deiform life in my soul.

Yet in several ways, my grace-life is a Christ-life. It is a Christ-life in the sense that He merited this life for me by His Passion and Death. So in a true sense my deiform life is not mine, but His, bought by His Precious Blood. He really "owns" it. My grace-life is also a Christ-given life, He produced in my soul the sanctifying grace that started my deiform life and every subsequent increment of sanctifying grace. Moreover my grace-life is a Christ-like life. It is specifically like the deiform life of Christ. Finally my grace-life is a Christ-modeled life. For Christ showed me by His life how a soul in the state of grace should live.

How does grace-life become more Christ-like? By "putting on Christ" more and more: "Put on the Lord Jesus Christ (Romans 13, 14)," through a fuller faith, accepting and living out His teaching; through a stronger hope, trusting in Him and in the Triune God with a mighty confidence; through a more intense affective and effective love of God and of men for the love of God. This means putting Christ in the mind, will, and heart, by taking on His thoughts, desires, and affections. The great exemplar of this growth in Christ-likeness was St, Paul, who had so completely identified his mental and volitional life with that of the Master that he finally said, "I live, now not I, but Christ lives in me."*

Sanctifying Grace and the Indwelling Trinity

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.

Fact of the Indwelling. The fact that the Blessed Trinity dwells in the just is beyond question. St. Paul wrote: "Know you not that you are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?" (I Corinthians 3, 16). But not only the Holy Spirit, but also the Father and Son dwell there, for "If anyone love Me he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him, and will make Our abode with him." (John 14, 23).

All theologians agree that this Indwelling is common to the three Persons. And most of them hold that it is specially attributed to the Holy Spirit only by appropriation. This seems to be also the mind of Pope Leo XIII: �This wonderful union, which is properly called �in-dwelling,� differing only in degree or state from that which binds the blessed to God in eternal happiness, although it is without doubt produced by the presence of the whole Trinity � is attributed in a peculiar manner to the Holy Spirit."

Explanation of the Indwelling. That the Indwelling is a special presence or special mode of presence is beyond question. For God is present everywhere and in everyone, even in sinners and infidels by His "ordinary� presence of immensity. But the Blessed Trinity dwells only in the just, not in sinners or infidels. How can God who is already present in every soul, become "newly," specially present in a soul that receives sanctifying grace? An explanation that satisfies all theologians has not yet been found.

Pope Pius XII touched on the matter in his encyclical on the Mystical Body: "The Divine Persons are said to indwell inasmuch as they are present to beings endowed with intelligence in a way that lies beyond human comprehension, and in a unique and very intimate manner, which transcends all created nature, these creatures enter into relationship with Them through knowledge and love." (n. 79: or: 94). He seems to say that the Indwelling involves two elements: 1. a unique presence of the Trinity to intelligent beings; 2. a unique knowledge and love of the Trinity by these intelligent beings.

Theologians have given many answers to this problem, which may be reduced to three. God is said to become newly present to the just because He produces in them something utterly new (specifically, essentially now). Or He becomes newly present to the just as the object of an utterly new knowledge and love. Or combining these two, God becomes newly present because He produces something utterly new and thereby becomes the object of an utterly now knowledge and love.

Present as Agent. How does God first "become present" to me? By producing me. This is the "old presence" of God, by way of operation, the presence of immensity. Does Cod become "newly present� when Ho produces new trees? No. Or when He produces something supernatural, like actual grace? No. These are just different effects of His presence of immensity, but not "specifically" or "essentially" different. So even when God produces actual grace in sinners and infidels, He does not dwell in them, He does not become present to them in a new way that is essentially other than that of immensity.

But when God makes sanctifying grace, He makes something utterly, "essentially" new and different, a deiform nature that is so entirely new and different, so very like the divine nature of the Trinity that God becomes newly present to the soul -- that the Trinity dwells in the soul. What is more, the words that Holy Writ uses to describe the production of a just man are: "born again of God" and "regenerated." Is this a hint that God's production of sanctifying grace involves a "special causality" (a special efficient-exemplary causality), a higher than ordinary operation and effect, an operation of "generation" that is remotely like the uncreated operation of generation within God; such that as by natural divine generation we have the one natural Son of God, so by this supernatural divine regeneration we have many adopted sons of God?

Present as Object. Many theologians find the first answer very unsatisfactory. For they believe that God's production of sanctifying grace does not and cannot involve any "essentially different" causality or operation, any essentially different kind of presence, but only a higher presence of immensity. If one views God merely as Agent, as producing an effect, the only presence involved will be that of immensity, never that of Indwelling, no matter how "great" the effect produced may be.

For them, God becomes newly present when He becomes the object of a "new," a "very special" knowledge and love on the part of the just, when He becomes the object of quasi-experimental knowledge and love. For this new presence of God, it is. not required that the just actually know and love Him experimentally; it suffices that they be capable of such experimental knowledge and love by the possession of the gifts of wisdom and love, as is true in the case of infants.

A number of theologians, such as Cajetan, John of St. Thomas, Cardeil, Garriou-Lagrange, Ciappi subscribe to this view. They say it was the doctrine of St. Thomas, at least in his later years (in the Summa Theologica) if not in his earlier year�s writings, like the Commentary on the Sentences.

However many proponents of the first view consider this very unsatisfactory. According to them, intentional presence alone cannot be the adequate formal reason for the indwelling.

An illustration may help to clarify this "intentional" presence on which the second view builds. Suppose a child has been born blind and never met her father, who is away at war, The father can "become present" to the child in varying ways and degrees. First, the mother tells the child about her father and describes him to her: he then becomes present to the child as an object of faith. Secondly, the father eventually comes home and the child hears his voice, touches him, feels the contours of his face: he is now present to her as an object of experience, coming into her mind through her senses. Finally, if her sight were to be restored either by surgery or by miracle, he would then become present to her as an object of vision, Similarly, in a sinner God can be present as object of faith (through infused faith), in a mystic as object of experimental knowledge and love (through infused wisdom and charity) and in the blessed as object of vision (through infused light of glory). When a soul is given sanctifying graces it is given the capacity for "experiencing" God, and God is then present to it in the new way of indwelling, i.e., as object of experimental knowledge. God was not present to the soul before as object of experimental knowledge (only as object of natural or faith-knowledge); as object of experimental knowledge He is newly present (by a presence essentially, specifically different from that of immensity). And He is waiting, so to speak, for the time when the soul will actually use its powers of experimental knowledge and love and actually ''experience� God. He is newly present to the baptized baby and waiting to be experienced; in the mystic He is being experienced (not seen); in the blessed He is being seen face to face, in the most intimate presence possible,

Present as Agent and Object. Some theologians think that neither of the preceding views, taken separately, adequately explains the Indwelling or adequately presents the mind of St. Thomas. So they combine both, somewhat in the way we have hinted, or by resorting to the theory of "created actuation by Uncreated Act." God�s new presence as object must presuppose, they say, His new presence as agent. His production of sanctifying grace makes Him newly present ontologically; the mystic's experimental knowledge and love of God makes Him newly present intentionally. And both the ontological and the intentional elements are necessary for an adequate explanation of the Indwelling.

Which of these three "explanations" is the best? It is hard to say. Each has its attractive features -- and its unresolved difficulties. To us the third view seems the best, but in this matter we are still free to follow any one of the views mentioned (or variants of these views).

Response to the Indwelling. If out of a very special love for us the Blessed Trinity dwells within us, there should be some - regular - response to the God dwelling within. A response of adoration, love, thanks. Yet few of Catholics seem even to think about the Indwelling Trinity, much less do anything about it.

St. Paul told the Corinthians, "Know you not that you are temples of the Holy Spirit?" He implied there should be some use made, some care taken of such a temple. It is a temple made by God for a purpose: a place for a man to meet his God, to go to His God -- to beg His light and strength -- to adore and love and thank Him, as the Indwelling Trinity.

Inhabitational and Eucharistic Presence. A clear-cut distinction between the Inhabitional Presence of the Blessed Trinity and the Eucharistic Presence of Our Lord is important to avoid a confusion that sometimes occurs. In the Indwelling the three divine Persons are present in the soul, but the Second Person is present only in His divinity, not with His nature. In the Eucharistic Presence it is Jesus Who is present, with His humanity and divinity hypostatically united in the Person of the Word. Since the Blessed Trinity dwells within our soul and our soul informs our entire living body, the Trinity penetrates our whole being and each part. The Eucharistic Presence is localized, however, by the accidents of the bread and wine, so that Christ is present sacramentally wherever these accidents are and as long as they exist uncorrupted: The Inhabitational Presence is as permanent as sanctifying grace, but the Eucharistic Presence of Christ disappears with the accidents of the bread and wine. There is a close relation between the two Presences. For the Inhabitational Presence cannot be obtained without at least an (implicit) desire to receive the Body of Christ, and grace is not given except by the mediation of Christ. On the other hand the Eucharistic Christ by bestowing grace helps us achieve greater deiformity and greater union with the Indwelling Trinity.

The Eucharist contains truly, really and substantially the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ, with His Soul and Divinity. Since His Divinity is identically the same as that of the Father and the Holy Spirit, wherever He is the other two Persons must also be. In fact, each of the Divine Persons "inexists" in the others. This mutual inexistence of the Divine Persons is cell "Circumincession" or "Perichoresis." In virtue of this circumincession the Son does not "come" alone into the soul in Communion, He comes with the Father and the Holy Spirit. No doubt, the Three Divine Persons are already in us by grace, but at the moment of Communion They are present within us because of another, a special title: as we are then physically united to the Incarnate Word, the Three Divine Persons also are, through Him and by Him, united to us, and They love us now as They love the Word-Made-Flesh, Whose members we are. So that Holy Communion is an anticipation of heaven.

Sanctifying Grace and the Mystical Body

The Roman Catholic Church that Christ founded, the Church Militant on earth, is the Mystical Body of Christ. In the words of Pius XIII, "Only those are to be included as actually members of the Church who have been baptized and profess the true faith, and who have not been so unfortunate as to separate themselves from the unity of the Body, or been excluded by legitimate authority for grave faults committed. Not every sin, however it may be, is such as of its own nature to sever a man from the Body of the Church, as does schism or heresy or apostasy."

To become an actual member one must be baptized and thereby receive (ordinarily) sanctifying grace, the principle of deiform life. An actual member in sanctifying grace will thus be a living member. But there can be in the Mystical Body "dead" members: Catholics who by mortal sin lose sanctifying grace and the Indwelling Spirit. They still retain ordinarily the virtues of faith and hope; the baptismal character still marks them as persons configured to Christ and dedicated to His service. And this remnant of divine life and of union, though it leaves sinners weak members of Christ, enables them to remain in the Mystical Body. Schism, heresy, apostasy, excommunication, however, sever a man from the Body of the Church.

Mystic Union. What kind of union is there between us and Christ? How are we "one� with Christ and with one another? How can you make �one thing" out of many members in many places and with their Head in heaven? This unity cannot just be due to sanctifying grace, for each living member has his own numerical sanctifying grace; not just to the baptismal character, for once again each has his own character. However, there is one vital principle, numerically the same in each living member of the Body: the Holy Spirit, Christ's own Spirit of holiness dwelling in Him and in sanctified souls. There is identically the same Holy Spirit in Christ, in you and in every living member of the Mystical Body. Since the Holy Spirit links Christ and ourselves, our mystic union is sacred and supernatural.

We together with Christ our Head make up the Mystical Christ. He, Son of God by nature, we sons of God by adoption: we and He are the family of God's children on earth, with a common bond of "sonship." As in each member of the Mystical Body the Father sees His child and another Christ, so in the living group He beholds His mystical Son, Jesus, enlivened by the Spirit of Christ and showing the likeness of Christ before all men. Within the Blessed Trinity the Holy Spirit "links" the Father and Son in one Godhead; within the Mystical Body the Holy Spirit vitally binds all the members into one divine sonship, mystical Christ. The union within this Mystical Body is spiritual, not material, supernatural, not natural, and properly "mystical,� i.e. mysterious and transcending any natural union we know.

Pope Pius XII strongly insists that the Mystical Body is the Roman Catholic Church. Those who are invincibly ignorant of the Church but have sanctifying grace (e.g. through baptism of desire), are not actually members but "by an unconscious desire and longing they have a certain relationship with the Mystical Body of the Redeemer." This implicit desire (vetum) can bring them within the sphere of the Church's influence sufficiently to allow for the possibility of their salvation,

Some theologians, in explaining the Catholic Church's necessity for eternal salvation, employ the distinction between the "body" and the "soul" of the Church and state that it is necessary with the necessity of means to belong to the "soul," while it is necessary only with the necessity of precept to belong to the "body" of this society. But there is a definite tendency among modern writers to recognize the radical inadequacy of this terminology. Furthermore the Holy Father in his Encyclical Mystici Corporis did not employ it. This terminology has the disadvantage of leading to the inference that the internal bond of union within the Church could be regarded as requisite for salvation without any adequate reference to the outward bond or to the visible Church itself. What is by far the most acceptable presentation � is the one which describes the Church (not merely the "soul" or the "body" of the Church) as necessary for salvation with the necessity of means in such a way that no one can be saved unless he either belongs to the Church in re (as a member) or is related to her in voto, as one who intends to become a member, whether explicitly or implicitly.

Figures of the Mystical Body. Many figures have been used to express the "mystical" union between Christ and His members. The two that stand out most are St. Paul's metaphor of the "Body of Christ," and St. John's of the Vine and the Branches. Another, that vividly expresses certain aspects of the Mystical Christ, is that of a candle: "put upon a candlestick that it may shine to all." (Matthew 5, 15). The Mystical Christ is the great Candle, and each member a small one, with the obligation to shine forth Christ, the Light of the World, everywhere he goes, by using the grace and virtues and gifts of Christ to live a Christ-like life, so that Christ can thus co on living and shining out in the world.

Another powerful figure is that of an army, since the Church Militant is the Mystical Body on earth. The Mystical Body is an army on the march, battling for the salvation and sanctification of souls, against the "world, the flesh and the devil." An array led by Christ, its invisible Commander-in-Chief, by the Pope and Bishops and Priests! An army of missionaries, nuns, lay apostles, preachers, teachers, theologians, contemplatives, men, women and children: all soldiers of Christ, each fighting in his own way to spread the Kingdom of Christ. An army with a miraculous unity! Unity of aim: that all may be one! One Body! all members of the same Head! Unity of soul: all living members "vitalized" by the same Holy Spirit! Unity of life : all living the same deiform life! Unity of character: all marked with the sign of Christ! Unity in faith and obedience, unity in sacraments and the Mass, unity in doctrine, prayer and mortification.

Double Life of the Mystical Body. The life of the Mystical Body is a double life. Each Catholic is called to an individual grace-life, to a growth in interior deiformity through better and better use of his sanctifying grace, infused virtues, gifts of the Holy Spirit. But he is also called to a group-life, for whose growth he must also answer to God. A group-life that the world can see: attendance at Sunday Mass, in Friday abstinence, in Lent and Advent mortification, in Ash Wednesday ceremonies, in Eucharistic Congresses; group manifestation that makes a powerful impression by radiating the Light and Life of Christ to a skeptical world. A group-life that means a growing union between members, through Christ-like love and action toward one another. A group-life of prayer: that the number of members may grow, that their perfection and union with one another may increase, that they may draw others into the Mystical Body by living out Christ's virtues, by gaining for them more graces through prayers, works, suffering, Masses and Holy Communions, "that all may be one, even as thou, Father, in me and I in thee; that they also may be one in us." (John 17, 21).

Sufficient and Efficacious Grace.

It is a dogma of the Catholic faith that there exists a truly sufficient but inefficacious grace, and also that there exists a truly efficacious grace which, however, is not necessitating.

A truly sufficient grace is sufficient for placing a salutary act. It carries with it the power of producing such an act. Jansenius denied "merely sufficient grace." He could not see how a grace could be truly sufficient and yet not be efficacious. He conceded that a grace could be absolutely sufficient for man, if it were viewed apart from his present circumstances and difficulties; but if it were viewed relative to these circumstances and remained "sterile," then it was not sufficient in his present condition. Against him we hold that there exists a grace that is truly and relatively sufficient, and yet inefficacious.

By a truly efficacious grace is meant one that will be (is) infallibly followed by the act to which it tends, e.g. contrition. If you receive such a grace, even before your will consents to it, that grace is infallibly �sure of success;� it will infallibly procure your consent, produce that act � of contrition. But although it infallibly procures your consent, it does not necessitate you to consent: it leaves you free to dissent. Your will will infallibly say "yes" to it, but it is free to say "no.� Luther, Calvin, and Jansenius denied the existence of such a non-necessitating efficacious grace: an efficacious grace, they maintained, necessitates you to consent: you cannot resist it or dissent from it.

The disagreement between the Dominicans and the Jesuits is, of course, not over Catholic dogma: both sides firmly maintain the existence of a truly sufficient inefficacious grace and of a non-necessitating efficacious grace. They differ over the best way to explain these two graces; how are we to reconcile the infallible efficacy of efficacious grace with 1. human liberty and 2. truly sufficient but inefficacious grace? The Jesuits point out to the Dominicans that their grace is �so efficacious� it seems logically incompatible with human freedom and with a truly sufficient but inefficacious grace; the Dominicans in turn point out to the Jesuits that their human freedom is �so extreme� it seems to make man determine God�s operation.

Banezian Efficacious Grace. The theory of efficacious grace held by the Dominicans was developed by the Spanish Dominican, Banes, not by St. Thomas (we maintain). This efficacious grace of Banes is a physical predetermining grace, one that physically (not morally, not suasively) premoves and predetermines our will to e.g. consent. Without such a grace we cannot �not" place a salutary act -- and indeed that one act to which it predetermines us. Such a grace is efficacious "ab intrinseco" (from its very intrinsic nature); there is something in the grace that will get this effect; and when grace has that something in it, then the will infallibly consents; but when a grace lacks it, then the will cannot give a salutary consent.

Many theologians hold (according to St. Thomas) that the will cannot go from potency to act except in virtue of a divine premotion. For the Dominicans, however this cannot be an "indifferent" premotion but must be a strictly predetermining physical promotion, a �praedeterminatio ad unum.� And precisely in this physical predetermination of the will lies the great difficulty of the Dominican theory, for to very many theologians (and not just Jesuits) it seems extremely difficult if not impossible to reconcile such a predetermination with any real human freedom.

A non-necessitating physical predetermination of my will seems like a contradiction in terms. How else would one ordinarily describe a physical necessitation of the will than by saying that it is a physical predetermination of that will to one alternative? Attempts to show that St. Thomas "fathered" this theory -- made by Garrigou-Lagrange and others before him -- have been futile (we think!). Its true "father" seems rather to be Scotus. Early Scotists held "predetermining decrees," and early Thomists opposed them with the same objections that Jesuits later urged against Banezians. And the early Scotists gave practically the same answers as their early Dominican opponents. After a while the Scotists abandoned their "predetermining decrees" and espoused instead "condetermining decrees," so that they might be better able to maintain a proper human freedom. And then, by one of those strange "twists" of history, the Dominicans "went all out" for predetermining decrees, using them even to explain Gods knowledge of futuribles.

Theologically, such physically predetermining efficacious graces seem unsatisfactory, for several reasons. Human freedom, under grace is a dogma. According to the Councils of Trent and Vatican, human freedom means that man has the power to resist grace, to answer it with dissent rather than consent. How a grace that physically predetermines my will to consent, leaves me any real power to dissent, is more than Jesuits can see. Freedom to most everyone means a duality of choice, a power to do or not to do, to do this or that, to dissent or consent: otherwise what free choice have I, what freedom is left me? If I can only do what God is physically predetermining me to do, what real freedom have I? What power to dissent? Not to do this? What real power to determine myself to this or that, if I am always utterly physically predetermined to this?

There are, it seems, only three "freedoms" that might count here: freedom of reception, freedom of exercise, and freedom of specification (what is called objective indifference or freedom will manifest itself in one of these ways). The physically predetermining grace seems to leave us none of these. Certainly no one claims for it freedom of reception, i.e. that we are free to receive it or not. For no will can "reject" such a premotion from God Who is producing it in the will so that the will can act. Hence this freedom is ruled out. However, Ballarmine inclined to give our will this "freedom of reception" -- by way of a peculiar �negative determination" of itself to this premotion; and more recently Maritain seems to have a similar view.

The freedom of exercise -- to act or not to act -- seems likewise ruled out in the Banezian system. For without such a predetermining grace they say the will is not able to act salutarily; with it, it is not able not to act salutarily, for this is the "grace of action." Also ruled out is the freedom of specification -- to choose this or that, either of two alternatives -- for this intrinsically efficacious grace physically predetermines you to this and only this (e.g. to consent) and gives you no possibility, no power for that (e.g. to dissent). You have no free choice of this or that: all you can do is this. It is futile to say that the will was free before the grace came -- free to do what, we ask? Without such grace it is not free to place any salutary act, for it has not the power to place any.

This theory of �physical predetermination" also seems to make God the author of sin. For if no "free act" can be placed without a corresponding physical predetermination, then a sinful act requires such a predetermination also, What, then, of Judas? He would have been predetermined by God to that sin, so that without that predetermination he could not have done that sin, with it he could not but do that sin. This seems hard doctrine! To escape this difficulty somewhat it has been suggested that perhaps Judas had a "predisposition" to that sin, an evil tendency to it, to which God merely gave the corresponding physical predetermination'. Is this much of a solution? Suppose we apply it to another sin: that of Adam. Certainly in Adam there was no such "predisposition" to sin, no evil tendency to it. Why, then, did God give him the physical predetermination which infallibly meant "that sin?�

Not only is it extremely difficult to reconcile Banezian efficacious grace with proper human freedom; it is also hard to square it with a truly sufficient but inefficacious grace. It is true, of course, that all defendants of this system sincerely maintain the existence of such a merely sufficient grace. But they must make it a rather "peculiar" grace, so that it will not derogate from the primacy and necessity of their efficacious grace. For if they gave it "too much power," i.e. all the power needed for the actual placing of a salutary act, then it could conceivably "become efficacious" and produce a salutary act � and then no strictly efficacious grace would be needed for every salutary action, as the system demands. Hence their "sufficient" grace cannot be (and is not for them) immediately sufficient for any salutary act, but only mediately sufficient. For of itself it gives a peculiar "power to act" which by itself cannot produce any salutary act, but which "must be complemented" by another grace, i.e. efficacious grace.

The rub in this part of the system is how to get from grace "A" which is only mediately sufficient, to grace "B", which is immediately sufficient and efficacious at the same time? Some "bridge" seems needed. The transition cannot be automatic, or else the grant of a merely sufficient grace would always mean the grant of an efficacious grace, and all those who received sufficient grace would never commit any sins, something which is definitely not the case. To say that the "bridge" to the efficacious grace is �non-resistance" to the sufficient grace, is inadequate for at least two reasons: 1. the simple fact that "one cannot but resist sufficient grace, if he is not further aided by efficacious grace (De Lemos, O.P., Panopl. grat. t.4, IV p.2tr.3)." Where only resistance to sufficient grace is possible, non-resistance cannot be a bridge to efficacious grace. 2. If God be said to deny efficacious grace to one whom He foresees resisting sufficient grace, this answer really makes no sense in the Banezian system, for in it God has no "scientia media," and hence cannot know what a free creature would do, unless He first predetermines him to do it.

Jesuit Explanation. The common Jesuit explanation takes as its starting point three solid dogmas; the existence of a non-necessitating efficacious grace, of a truly sufficient but inefficacious grace and of human freedom (under grace). And it says quickly: let us so explain merely sufficient grace that it remains truly sufficient, and so explain efficacious grace that it remains truly non-necessitating.

This means that a truly sufficient grace rust be just that: truly sufficient for placing the salutary act for which it is given. It is given not for an ornament but for a salutary act. And it must be truly sufficient by itself for the act for which it is proximately given, for that is what Holy Writ and the Fathers and the "sensus fidelium" understand by a truly sufficient grace. God gives us an actual grace that we may place a definite salutary act; if it is a truly sufficient grace (and what other kind would He give?), then it gives me the full power here and now to place that act which He wants and which without this grace I could not place. So everything must be in this grace that is needed for it to be immediately sufficient for this salutary act. If I freely consent to it, to use it, then this salutary act is produced by my grace-aided will. If I dissent to it, resist it, the salutary act toward which it was urging me does not take place. The truly sufficient grace is thus inefficacious (and so God foresaw it would be from all eternity by Scientia Media). But it was by itself truly sufficient, and it is my fault that the act did not take place: I did not want to place the act, which I should have and could have placed then and there.

An efficacious grace, to be non-necessitating must leave me my freedom to resist it, to dissent from it. It must give me the full power to place a salutary act, e.g. of contrition, and at the sane time leave me free not to place that act of contrition or to place another act. For that is what the Ecumenical Councils say such a grace must do: it must not necessitate me, it must leave me free to dissent, to resist it. But if it is to leave me free to dissent, to resist it, then it cannot predetermine me to consent, either physically (as the Banezians hold), or morally (as the Augustinians hold). It simply cannot be a predetermining grace, for such a grace seems utterly incompatible with any real freedom. It cannot be an intrinsically efficacious grace, one that by its very intrinsic nature says infallibly that this precise effect will take place now. It must be a grace that is extrinsically efficacious, so that its infallibility does not derive from the intrinsic nature of the grace but from God�s infallible prevision from eternity of my free consent to this grace. If this grace cannot be a physical predetermination of my will, what is it? For many Jesuits (not all) it is a physical premotion, not a predetermining one but an "indifferent" or rather an "impedible" one, to which God foresaw from all eternity -- by scientia media -- that I would consent, and moved by it would place the salutary act for which it would be given, e.g. contrition. It is a grace which premoves me (impedibly, not predeterminingly) to this salutary act in such a way that I freely consent to it, although I am fully and proximately able to dissent to it.

Jesuits are charged with making the human will so free that it predetermines God. They reply simply that in their theory neither does man predetermine God nor God predetermine man. But God freely premoves man to a certain act, and under this divine premotion man freely moves and determines himself to that act. Man thus neither predetermines God nor is independent of God, but simply acts in the way in which God arranged that a free creature should act freely.

The "crux" of the Jesuit explanation is said to be scientia media, God's infallible, non-predetermining knowledge of futuribles (the free acts that rational creatures would place in various circumstances). By scientia media, e.g. God foresaw from eternity that I would freely consent to this grace, without being physically predetermined by Him to do so, and hence it would be an efficacious grace for me. Dominicans consider this scientia media "impossible," "contradictory," something that simply does not explain "how" God knows futuribles. To which Jesuits often reply that it is not intended to explain "how" God knows futuribles (that is a mystery), but "how He does not know them" i.e. by means of Dominican predetermining decrees (for if He did know them that way they would not be free acts). And so the controversy continues, as it has for a long, long time.

What has the Church said about the matter? Pope Benedict XIV declared in 1748 that the Dominican, Augustinian and Jesuit theories were all tenable and that declaration remains still in force. Today the Augustinian view seems to lack defenders. But the other two theories are strongly defended, along parallel lines that will probably not meet here below.

External Graces in the Spiritual Life

Spiritual writers often describe the activity of God as embracing all time and all things, operating without ceasing and with divine surety for the sanctification of human souls. They see all creation as unified in this divine operation and consequently regard every creature, in its way, as a predestined means to lead men to their supernatural end; in other words, as a grace of God. "The order established by God, the good pleasure of God, the will of God, the action of God � grace -- all of these are the same thing in this life. It is God laboring to make the soul like to Himself. And perfection is nothing else than the soul's faithful cooperation with this labor of God." Moreover, what may not seem immediately evident, since the power of God is infinite, it is not only the good things but also the evil which He can use to accomplish His eternal designs upon men; so that "everything succeeds in the hands of God, He turns everything into good."

Although writers on the subject seldom distinguish between internal and external graces, but consider everything in some sense as a grace of God, yet it is not difficult to trace such a distinction in their writings. Following the common terminology, graces are called external when they are outside of man's intellect and will and internal when they are immediately and specially received from God within the intellect and will. In answer to the question, What is an external grace? we are told, "Every creature which is not an internal grace of God." "The divine order gives to all things, in favor of the soul which conforms to it, a supernatural and God-given value. Whatever this order imposes, whatever it comprehends, and all objects to which it extends, become sanctity and perfection; for its virtue knows no limits, but divinizes all things which it touches." As extensive as it is, this concept of external grace is in full accord with Catholic theology. St. Augustine, for example, does not hesitate to call external graces all the effects of supernatural providence which help the human will to perform acts of virtue and those which under divine guidance, prevent men from committing sin.


An exhaustive classification of the various types of external grace would run into a score of items. But these can easily be reduced to several large divisions.

Everything Which Is Good. As a general principle, the love of God transforms into grace everything which is, good, nor does it limit this transformation only to such things as appear good to us. For divine love is present in all creatures, with the sole exception of those which are sinful and contrary to the law of God.

Temporal Afflictions and Adversities. God uses them to convert and sanctify our souls, No matter how painful, sickness and physical suffering are in reality a grace of God, always intended as such for the one suffering and sometimes used by Him for the conversion and sanctification of others. Writing on one occasion to a friend whose fields were destroyed in a storm, Caussade expressed his sympathy that "hail and the rains have done great damage in many provinces, including your own. But God intends this as a grace, that we may derive profit from all the plagues of heaven for the expiation of our sins."

Spiritual and Psychological Trials. It is generally easier to accept sickness and temporal adversity as coming from God than to recognize His gift in the negative conditions of our mind and emotions: aridity in prayer, coldness in spiritual things, anxieties, discouragements, and fears. We do not subscribe to the theory that these states of mind and feeling are a certain sign of negligence on the part of the soul. Without denying this possibility, we prefer, with St. John of the Cross, to consider them as species of divine grace. "Just as God converts, reproves, and sanctifies people living in the world through afflictions and temporal adversities, so He ordinarily converts, reproves and sanctifies persons living in religion by means of spiritual adversities and interior crosses, a thousand times more painful, such as dryness, fatigue and distaste" for the things of God.

The Actions of Others. God uses the actions of other people as graces for our sanctification. Their ordinary words, conduct, and gestures are intended as means of producing supernatural effects in our souls. This is particularly hard to see where the actions are offensive and the offender is personally not wicked, and may even be highly virtuous. Hence the exclamation. "Blessed be the God of all things for sanctifying His elect through one another � He often uses a diamond to polish another diamond. How important is this thought for our consolation, that we may never be scandalized at the petty persecutions which good men sometimes occasion against each other," In this connection, St. John of the Cross used to say that a religious is refined and sanctified in word, thought, and action by the character and manner of conduct of his fellow religious.

It is of special importance to see God operating in the persecution or perhaps criminal actions of others, He permits these things in order to draw good out of them. Thus St. Paul's inspired panegyric on the great believers of the Old Law -- Noe, Abraham, Moses, Isaac, Jacob, and Joseph -- is an application of this principle, that God tries His chosen servants by sending them trial and opposition; and their sanctification is determined by the measure of faith which recognizes in these human obstacles the workings of divine grace. This was the spirit in which David accepted the cursing of Semei, as just punishment ordained by God for his spiritual welfare. With St. Augustine, therefore, we should "marvel at the way God uses even the malice of those who are wicked in order to help and elevate those who are good.�

Temptations. If considered as coming from the devil, temptations are directed only to the destruction of souls; but from the viewpoint of God�s permissive will, which never allows us to be tried beyond our strength, they are true graces. And "violent temptations" are especially "great graces for the soul." By the same token, the revolt of the passions, which is often a cause of anxiety to spiritual persons, should not be regarded as evidence of aversion from God, but, "on the contrary, as a greater grace than you can conceive.� Troubles of conscience may be estimated in the same manner.

Sins at least might seem to be excluded from the category of external graces. Evidently God does not want anyone to commit sin. And yet, "we must remember that, without willing sin, God uses it as an effective instrument to keep us in humility and self-depreciation." This thought is very much like that of St. Augustine who, when speaking of Peter's denial of his Master, explained that God permitted this humiliation to teach him not to trust in himself --thus turning a grievous fault into spiritual acquisition.


The sanctifying effect of external graces was already familiar to Sts. Augustine and Thomas Aquinas, who recognized that God exercises a special supernatural providence over souls who are living in His friendship. The contribution of modern spiritual writers is the tie-up which they make between external graces and the sacramental system; while only analogous, there is real similarity between the two. In both cases, the external element is an instrument for the communication of grace.

External graces are sanctifying in countless ways. But in general we may concentrate on the three most familiar in the spiritual life; namely, by purification, illumination, and union with God. This is not to say that only these effects take place, or that they occur in any particular sequence; and least of all does it mean that we may ignore the correlative necessity of internal grace to purify, enlighten, and unite the soul with God,

I. Purification. A great deal of spiritual literature is mainly concerned with the purifying effect of external grace, achieved through detachment from creatures and stripping of self. Repeatedly the axiom is stated that �a person cannot be united with God, source of all purity, except through detachment from everything created, source of impurity and continual corruption.� To this end �it is necessary that our souls be emptied of creatures, before God can fill them with His own Spirit.�

By means of external graces, and especially suffering, God accomplishes in us this detachment from creatures and self. There is a difference, however, in His way of acting with different persons. Those already advanced in the spiritual life, He is accustomed to �(?) of all gifts and sensible fervor,� whereas �the effect of His mercy is to deprive worldly persons of temporal goods in order to detach their heart from them.�

Time and again, writers stress the same truth: God purifies the soul by suffering and trial. But they go beyond the ordinary interpretation of the statement in Scripture that the just man is tried by afflictions as gold is tried by fire. �Crosses and tribulations,� they say, �are such great graces that generally sinners are not converted except through them, and good persons are not made perfect except by the same means.�

Following the analogy used by the saints, God is compared to a doctor who administers bitter medicine to restore health to the soul and removes with the scalpel of suffering whatever stands in the way of our spiritual progress. According to St. Augustine, "in those whom He loves, God, like a wise physician, cuts away the tumor� of overweening self-confidence. To be specially noted is that this law of purification is universal; it applies as well to worldly minded as to saintly souls; it affects temporal goods as well as spiritual attachments; and it is proportionally more intense and complete as the degree of union with Himself to which God intends to raise a soul is greater. Thus St. John of the Cross: "according to the proportion of its purity will also be the degree of enlightenment, illumination and union of the soul with God, either more or less;" and the requisite purity is obtained in the crucible of purification. We may therefore, conclude that "the more God retrenches nature, the more He bestows the supernatural."

II. Illumination. External graces also enlighten the soul to recognize the will of God in its regard. We may look upon this, manifestation of the divine will as the "spiritual direction of God," One of the surest means of sanctification is simply to use whatever God, the supreme Director of souls, places before us moment by moment, either to do or to suffer. Souls who thus abandon themselves to the will of God find evidence everywhere of what He wants them to do. They are directed "by the intermittent actions of a thousand creatures, which serve, without study, as so many graces of instruction."

Consequently, God is seen as leading us as much by the external events of our life as by the internal inspirations of His grace. He �speaks" to us as He spoke to our Fathers, to Abraham and to the chosen people, showing us His will in all the circumstances which befall us.

Addressing ourselves to God, we can say, "You speak, Lord, to the generality of men by great public events. Every revolution is as a wave from the sea of Your providence, raising storms and tempests in the minds of those who question Your mysterious action. You speak also to each individual soul by the circumstances occurring at every moment of life. Instead, however, of hearing Your voice in these events, and receiving with awe what is obscure and mysterious in these Your words, men see in them only the outward aspect, or chance, or the caprice of others, and censure everything. They would like to add, or diminish, or reform, and to allow themselves absolute liberty to commit any excess, the least of which would be a criminal and unheard-of outrage.

"They respect the Holy Scriptures, however, and will not permit the addition of a single comma. �It is the word of God,' they say, 'and is altogether holy and true. If we cannot understand it, it is all the more wonderful and we must give glory to God, and render justice to the depths of His wisdom.' All this is perfectly true, but when you read God's word from moment to moment, not written with ink on paper, but on your soul with suffering, and the daily actions that you have to perform, does it not merit some attention on your part? How is it that you cannot see the will of God in all this?"

Every circumstance, therefore, of our daily life is an expression of the divine will for us at that moment. And, correspondingly, every external grace is meant for our "guidance and illumination."

Commenting on this doctrine, Garrigou-Lagrange points out another function which external grace may serve as a means of our instruction. �In this way,� he says, "within us is formed that experimental knowledge of God's dealings with us, a knowledge without which we can hardly direct our course aright in spiritual things or do any lasting good to others. In the spiritual order more than anywhere else real knowledge can be acquired only by suffering and action." For example, �we foresee that a very dear friend who is sick has not long to live, yet when death does come and if our eyes are open to see, it will provide a new lesson in which God will speak to us as tine goes on. This is the school of the Holy Ghost, in which His lessons have nothing academic about them, but are drawn from concrete things. And He varies them for each soul, since what is useful for one is not always so for another."

An important element in this experimental knowledge is the experience it gives us of our weakness and imperfection in the face of trial and temptation. These occasions -- external graces of tribulation --- show us how impotent we are to do any good without the help of God, and teach us to turn to Him instead of depending on ourselves. We must be thoroughly convinced that our misery is the cause of all the weaknesses we experience, and that God permits them by His mercy. Without this realization we shall never be cured of secret presumption and self-complacent pride. We shall never understand, as we should, that all the evil in us comes from ourselves, and all the good from God. But a thousand experiences are needed before we shall acquire this two fold knowledge as an abiding habit; experiences which are more necessary the greater and more deeply rooted in the soul is this vice of self-complacency."

III. Union with God. The most important effect of external graces is the union with God which they develop in the soul, to which purity and illumination are only contributing means. We may properly regret that more people do not appreciate this power that creatures have to unite us with the Creator. "What great truths are hidden even from Christians who imagine themselves most enlightened. How many are there among us who understand that every cross, every action, every attraction according to the designs of God, gives God to us in a way that nothing can better explain than a comparison with the most august mystery? Nevertheless there is nothing more certain. Does not reason as well as faith reveal to us the real presence of divine love in all creatures, and in all the events of life, as indubitably as the words of Jesus Christ and of the Church reveal the real presence of the sacred flesh of our Savior under the Eucharistic species? Do we not know that by all creatures and by every event, the divine love desires to unite us to Himself, that He has ordained, arranged, or permitted everything about us, everything that happens to us with a view to this union? This is the ultimate object of all His designs, to attain which He makes use of the worst of His creatures as well as the best, of the most distressing events as well as those which are pleasant and agreeable."

It nay be added by way of explanation that union with God may be understood in two ways, as active and as passive. In active union, the soul gives itself to God by conformity to His will; in passive union, however, besides the active conformity of will, God Himself acts in the soul by the gifts of His interior grace. Obviously, external graces cannot of themselves produce the latter kind of union; they only dispose the soul to receive it. Yet, in the ordinary providence of God, they are the conditio-sine-qua-non for passive union with God.

This doctrine which regards external graces as disposing the soul for passive union is familiar from the writings of St. John of the Cross. God uses external events, persons, places, and circumstances to perfect a human soul in His love. This may take place in a variety of ways.

External graces give us occasion to resist temptation and acquire the contrary virtues. In general, temptations are said to be the effect or permissive result of "one and the same mortifying and life-giving operation of God. On the one hand, He allows the various movements of passion to give you an opportunity for combat and development in the opposite virtues. On the other hand, He establishes in you, in the midst of these agitations, the solid foundation of perfection, namely, understanding, profound humility, and hatred of self." Thus conceived, the fight against temptations takes on a nobler meaning. Without them we should remain satisfied with a minimum of effort, with less intense acts of virtue. They spell the difference between a certain regularity in well doing and the fervor which leads to high sanctity.

These trials not only help us acquire solid virtue, but they prepare us for union with God, that "you may love God for Himself at the cost of yourself." We are also given occasion to prove our love, as declared by St. Francis de Sales, that "it is not in abnegation, nor in action, but in suffering that we give the best evidence of our love � To love suffering and affliction for the love of God is the high-point of heroic charity; for then nothing else is lovable except the divine will."
Finally, external graces assist our growth in sanctity and render us more apt for union with God by increasing the store of supernatural merit. Divorced from the spirit of faith, the routine details of domestic and religious life seem to be quite meaningless. In reality "these �trifling' daily virtues, faithfully practiced, will bring you a rich treasure of graces and merits for eternity."
More heavy trials can be more meritorious. This does not mean that the degree of merit corresponds to the difficulty of the work performed, which is false. But in supporting burdens that are more difficult, we generally give a greater proof of virtue than when doing actions which are more agreeable. Difficult tasks not infrequently demand the outpouring of all the generosity of which a soul is capable.*

Teaching of the Church

The following is 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.


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.

(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.

(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).

(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.

(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.

(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.

(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?


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

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:

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?�

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.�

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.�

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).

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.

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).

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.��

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.

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).

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.


(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).

(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).

(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.

(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).

(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).

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.

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.



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

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

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

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

(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.



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.

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). 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). 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). 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). 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). 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). 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). 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). 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). 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). 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). 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). 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). 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). 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). 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). 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). 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). 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). 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). 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). 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). 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). 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). 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). 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). 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). 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). 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). 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). 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). 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). 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). 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.



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)(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.

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

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

(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.

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

(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).

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

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

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

(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.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(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.

(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.


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

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



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

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

(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.

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

(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.

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

(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.

(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.

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

(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.

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

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

(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.

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

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).

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.

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.

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).

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).

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.

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

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

(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). 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). 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;

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