Apologetics And Catholic Doctrine, Part II, Chapter IX

Author: Rev. Michael Sheehan, D.D.

Source: Apologetics And Catholic Doctrine, 1950


Under this heading we treat of Grace and the Sacraments. Christ by His sufferings and death won for us the right to be made sons of God; we are made sons of God by Sanctifying Grace; we obtain Sanctifying Grace chiefly through the Sacraments.


  1. The solemn teaching of the Church.
  2. Grace, Sanctifying and Actual.
    1. Sanctifying Grace: (a) its nature; a pearl of great price; a higher life, a participation in the Divinity; its nature illustrated; (b) it makes us children of God, brethren of Christ, and enthrones the Holy Ghost in our soul; (c) its beauty hidden in this life; its efficacy will be known after death; (d) it is caused in us by God through the Humanity of Christ; with it we receive the divine virtues, the moral virtues, and the gifts of the Holy Ghost; (e) in adults, it is preserved and increased by good works; (f) good works cannot be performed without Actual Grace.
    2. Actual Grace: its nature; it enlightens the understanding and strengthens the will; it helps the sinner and the unbeliever to Sanctifying Grace.
    3. External Grace.
  3. Merit: true and imperfect; the just can truly merit eternal life, and an increase of Sanctifying Grace and of glory hereafter; the sinner and the unbeliever can merit, not truly, but imperfectly, the actual graces (all except the first actual grace) that lead to Sanctifying Grace.
  4. Errors: Pelagianism, Semi-Pelagianism; Lutheranism, Calvinism, Jansenism.

The Solemn Teaching of the Church​

The Church teaches solemnly: (1) that by Sanctifying Grace, dwelling within the soul, we are made just, holy, or pleasing to God 1 ; (2) that Sanctifying Grace is lost by mortal sin 2 ; (3) that it is not possessed by all just men in equal measure 3 ; (4) that it is increased in him who fulfils the commandments of God and the Church 4 ; (5) that it gives him who possesses it at death the right to a degree of eternal happiness proportionate to his good works 5 ; (6) that Grace is necessary for good works 6 ; (7) that Actual Grace prepares the sinner and the unbeliever for the reception of Sanctifying Grace 7 ; (8) that the first Actual Grace God gives the sinner or the unbeliever is altogether gratuitous and cannot in any sense be merited. 8

Sanctifying Grace, its nature​

Sanctifying Grace is a supernatural 9 gift of God by which the soul is made pleasing to Him. It removes all stain of grievous sin; it gives the soul a new and higher life, and fills it with splendour. It prepares the soul for that most intimate union with God which He has destined for it in the blessedness of Heaven. It is called a supernatural gift, because it is something to which no creature as such can ever have any claim. 10

Sanctifying Grace, a pearl of great price.​

The value of Sanctifying Grace may be estimated from the price that was paid for it: the price was the Life-Blood of the Son of God. According to St. Thomas, “the whole world and all it contains is of less value in the eyes of God than the grace in a single human soul." 11 Of Sanctifying Grace, the soul may speak in the words of Wisdom: “I preferred her before kingdoms and thrones, and esteemed riches nothing in comparison of her. Neither did I compare unto her any precious stone, for all gold in comparison of her is as a little sand, and silver in respect to her shall be counted as clay. I loved her above health and beauty, and chose to have her instead of light, for her light cannot be put out. Now all good things came to me together with her, and innumerable riches through her hands." 12

Sanctifying Grace, a higher life, a participation in the Divinity.​

The soul of man gives him a threefold life. It enables him to grow like a plant (vegetative life); to feel like the lower animals (sensitive life); and to think, reason, and choose freely (intellectual life). But there is a still higher life which he may receive, a divine life, a supernatural life, a life which, by a true and real change, raises him above the natural excellence of the most exalted creatures, and sets him, so to speak, on a level with God Himself; a life which places him inside the veil that God has hung between Himself and His creation; a life which gives him a share in what is special to God Himself, a share in the knowledge God has of His own perfections and in the happiness He derives therefrom. This life is given to him by Sanctifying Grace. God became man, so that man might, in a sense, become God. Thus, St. Peter says that, through Christ, the Father “hath given us most great and precious promises, that by these you may be made partakers of the divine nature” 13 ; “we shall be like Him,” says St. John, “because we shall see Him as He is”; 14 and the Church prays at the Offertory of the Mass that “we may be made sharers in the Divinity of Him who deigned to participate in our humanity." 15

Sanctifying Grace, its nature illustrated​

Suppose that a young man, loved and honoured by all because of his gentle disposition, his upright character and high ability, nobly sacrifices his life in the effort to save a little child trapped in a burning house. Word is brought to his father and mother. It is a moment when their love for him, stimulated by grief, flashes out into intense ardour; it is a moment when all else in the world is forgotten. And yet, take one of the most insignificant objects in their home — a sheet of canvas — a thing of very humble use, a thing apparently altogether outside the circle of their regard, and on that canvas paint the perfect image of their son as he was seen in the last moments of his life. What is now the position of that piece of coarse cloth? It stands no longer among the common things of their household: it has passed into the very sanctuary of their grief and love; it shines with the aura of their son’s personality. It is so with the soul. The soul, in herself, is but one of the many things in the great household of God’s creation; and, of herself, she can claim from Him nothing but that comparatively low form of love which He gives to all His creatures, a form of love comparable to the petty esteem in which we hold the furniture of our house. But, by Sanctifying Grace, the image of God the Son is woven into the soul, becoming a part of her life, and God the Father, seeing that likeness there, loves her with that personal love which unites Him and the Son in the unity of the Holy Ghost. The soul is no longer on the humble plane of creatures, no longer separated by a chasm from God as they are; she has been drawn up to His own eminence; she has been made His friend and intimate; she has passed into the high sanctuary of the Most Adorable Trinity. 16

Sanctifying Grace makes us children of God​

A rational creature as such is not a child but merely a servant of God. Through Sanctifying Grace, God adopts him as His son: “Behold,” says St . John, “what manner of charity the Father hath bestowed on us, that we should be called and should be the sons of God” 17 ; “God sent His Son,” says St. Paul, “that we might receive the adoption of sons," 18 ; “we are the sons of God, and, if sons, heirs also; heirs indeed of God, and co-heirs with Christ." 19 When the Apostle speaks of “adoption,” he has before his mind the Roman practice, which was very different from ours. With us, the adopted son remains, in the eyes of the law, a member of the family into which he was born, and acquires no legal right whatever to inherit from his adoptive parents. Among the Romans, a child was transferred by solemn process of law from the family of his birth to the family of his adoption; he was admitted to all the dignity and intimacy of a son born of the blood; he acquired a strict right to inherit; and thenceforward, he identified himself with the traditions, the honour, and the interests of his new family. Now, it is somewhat in this way that we are transferred by Sanctifying Grace from the family of mankind to the family of God: we acquire the claim of children to His affection and intimacy; we are raised, as far as is possible for creatures, to His dignity; His honour becomes ours; His friends become ours: and we receive from His hands the right to enter like heirs into the possession of such share of His Kingdom as He appoints for us.

Sanctifying Grace makes us brethren of Christ​

Sanctifying Grace makes us other Christs. It makes us brethren to Him and to one another; sharing in His life, we are joined to Him as the living branches are joined to the vine-stock, or as the members of the living body are joined to its head. “Brethren of Christ” is thus no empty name. Who would forfeit that loving intimacy with Him which it denotes and with which no human friendship can be compared? “Love Him and keep Him for thy friend who, when all go away, will not leave thee, nor suffer thee to perish in the end. … Thou must at last be separated from all things else, whether thou wilt or not. Keep thyself with Jesus both in life and death and commit thyself to His care who alone can help thee, when all others fail." 20

Sanctifying Grace enthrones the Holy Ghost in our soul​

The change in the soul caused by Sanctifying Grace is wrought by all Three Divine Persons of the Blessed Trinity, but, being a work of Divine Love, it is properly ascribed to the Holy Ghost. 21 The Holy Ghost is the Divine Artist who makes our soul like the soul of Jesus; it is He who joins us to Jesus in the mystic 22 brotherhood. And as it is He — the Holy Ghost — who unites Father and Son in eternal love, so it is He who unites us as other sons to the Father; it is He who draws us, as it were, into membership in the Blessed Trinity. Having made us other Christs, the Holy Ghost takes up His dwelling in our soul; He makes it His temple, and sets up His throne there: “Know you not that your members are the temple of the Holy Ghost who is in you, whom you have from God?" 23 With the Holy Ghost in this indwelling are the Father and the Son: “If any one love Me,” says Christ, “he will keep My word, and My Father will love him and We will come to him, and will make our abode with him." 24 The “love” of which He speaks here as uniting the soul to Father and Son is the Personal Divine Love, the Holy Ghost. 25

Sanctifying Grace, its Beauty hidden in this Life​

The soul of the just man reflects the very light of the Godhead; it shines with a radiance like that of Christ Himself in His Transfiguration on the mountain. Could we behold the beauty of this precious gift of Sanctifying Grace, 26 it would be impossible for us ever to lose it by mortal sin, for all things else, wealth, rank, power, or anything we may name, would seem to us by contrast to be as valueless as a speck of dust. But God grants us no such vision in this life; it is His holy will to try us; He would have us believe for a little while without seeing, until at death faith be changed into sight. 27

Sanctifying Grace, its Efficacy will be known after Death​

After death we shall know the true meaning of being the friend and son of God. Sanctifying Grace, when perfected by the Light of Glory, 28 will effect a change immeasurably great in our understanding and will: it will give us a direct knowledge of the infinite Beauty of God; it will teach us indefinitely more than if all the wonders and mysteries of the great world of men and angels were at once unveiled to our eyes, and it will add to that divine illumination of the mind an equal ardour of the will, so that we shall ever desire, while ever finding, the perfection of happiness.

Sanctifying Grace is caused in us by God through the Humanity of Christ.​

Since Sanctifying Grace places us at a height inaccessible to the natural power of even the greatest of the Archangels, it is clear that it can come to us from none other than God Himself. God alone — i.e., the Blessed Trinity — is the source of all Grace; but He sends it to us through the Human Nature of Christ. Christ as Man is the living instrument of God; He is the arm of God; or, taking another comparison, we may represent Sanctifying Grace as the light of God’s omnipotent Love passing through the wounds of Christ and flashing on the human soul where it produces the image of Him through whom it comes to us. 29

With Sanctifying Grace we receive the Divine Virtues​

With Sanctifying Grace we receive the three Divine Virtues of Faith, Hope and Charity. 30 They are called Divine, because the acts that belong to them are directly prompted by God Himself under some aspect: we believe in God because of His truthfulness; we hope in God because of His willingness to help us; we love God because of His own goodness and loveliness. Faith opens our eyes to all that we must believe and do in order to be saved; Hope buoys us up and encourages us to struggle and persevere; Charity makes us the friends of God. In heaven Faith will be changed to sight; and, with the attainment of all we desired, the need for Hope will disappear; but Charity will remain: it draws us near to God in this life, and it will unite us ever so much more closely to Him in the embrace of love throughout the life to come.

With Sanctifying Grace we receive the Moral Virtues​

The Moral Virtues are all those other virtues which are necessary for a good Christian life. They may be grouped under the four main headings: Prudence, Temperance, Justice, and Fortitude.

With Sanctifying Grace we receive the Gifts of the Holy Ghost​

The nature of the Gifts of the Holy Ghost is explained in the chapter on the Sacrament of Confirmation.

Can we know if we are in Grace?​

No one can know with absolute certainty that he is in the state of grace: “man knoweth not whether he be worthy of love or hatred." 31 St. Thomas says that we may conjecture from the following three signs that we are in God’s favour (a) if we find contentment and delight in the thought of God, i.e., in reflecting on His goodness and loving care of us, in uplifting our mind and heart in prayer, and in frequenting the Sacraments; (b) if we despise earthly things, i.e., if we are detached from pleasures and riches, not desiring them for their own sakes but for use in the service of God; (c) if we are not conscious of any unforgiven mortal sin. 32

In adults, Sanctifying Grace is preserved by good works​

We who have come to the use of reason cannot retain Sanctifying Grace, unless we prove by our actions that we are friends of God. Christ said to His Apostles : “He that hath My commandments and keepeth them, he it is that loveth Me. He that loveth Me not, keepeth not My words." 33 We must, therefore, live as true friends of Christ; we must be obedient to His words as conveyed to us by His holy Church; we must bring forth the fruit of good works, by which are understood all the acts of virtue we perform with a supernatural motive, i.e., a motive known to us by faith.

In adults, Sanctifying Grace is increased by good works 34

Through Sanctifying Grace we are made living branches of the vine of Christ: “I am the vine,” He says, “you are the branches … Every branch in Me that beareth not fruit, He” — i.e., God the Father — “will take away; and everyone that beareth fruit, He will purge it” — i.e., dress, or prune, it — “that it may bring forth more fruit." 35 Thus, the branch that bears fruit will be given greater strength; its divine life, which is Sanctifying Grace, will continue to increase in proportion to the good works it produces. Hence, St. Peter bids us “grow in grace." 36 And, in the Book of Proverbs, 37 we read: “The path of the just, as a shining light, goeth forward and increaseth even to perfect day,” i.e., his soul becomes more and more resplendent as he grows in Sanctifying Grace. “He that is just,” says St. John, “let him be justified still," 38 i.e., let him enlarge his store of Sanctifying Grace.

Good works cannot be performed without Actual Grace.​

Every good work we perform is an act of one or more of the virtues. The virtues are, as it were, blossoms that appear on the branch the instant it is united to the mystic vine; and as the blossoms of an orchard tree will never yield fruit without sunshine and gentle rain, so without a help from God, known as Actual Grace, the virtues given with Sanctifying Grace will never produce the fruit of good works. Deprived of this help, we should be unable to keep God’s Commandments, and so should lose Sanctifying Grace, which would thus prove a useless gift. Hence we say that Actual Grace is the due accompaniment of Sanctifying Grace — that is, God is urged by His own Wisdom and Justice to give it to us. What its nature is, we will presently consider.

The nature of Actual Grace.​

Actual Grace is a supernatural gift of God, enabling us to do something towards eternal life. It is supernatural, because it is a help towards a happiness to which we, as creatures, can have no claim; it is a transient, or passing aid, and is present in the soul only while the soul is acting; it is like the electric current which, passing for an instant through the wire wound round an iron bar, gives the bar a momentary magnetic power; while Sanctifying Grace, on the other hand, is of its nature something permanent, and is like the electric power in a storage battery. Sanctifying Grace makes us friends of God, while Actual Grace enables us to act the part of friends.

Actual Grace makes our acts pleasing to God because it makes them like the acts of Christ as Man. Thus, for instance, when by Actual Grace a sinner is made aware of his wickedness and begins to shrink from it as something detestable, his mind and his will are freely repeating the acts of the human mind and will of Jesus; he is beginning to see and feel, though ever so obscurely, some of that dread vision of sin which filled the mind and oppressed the Heart of Jesus at Gethsemane. And when a just man is moved by Actual Grace to advance higher and higher in holiness, he is but reproducing or copying, in his imperfect way, the human acts of divine love that are constantly welling up in the Mind and the Heart of the Saviour. Hence we say that Actual Grace makes our acts pleasing to God by adding to them a divine or Christlike quality or flavour which we could not give them from our own natural powers.

Actual Grace works on our souls in a twofold manner: (1) it enlightens the understanding, and (2) it strengthens the will and reduces the attractiveness of evil. According to St. Augustine, it effects “not only that we discover what ought to be done, but also that we do what we have discovered; not only that we believe what ought to be loved, but also that we love what we have believed." 39

Actual Grace enlightens the understanding.​

It helps us to perceive the truths of Faith; to keep them in mind; to reason correctly about them; to know what we should believe and do. When, for instance, we say to ourselves, “God has revealed this: I must believe it,” or, “This act is sinful: God forbids it: I must not do it,” or, “God will be pleased with me, and make me love Him better, if I receive Holy Communion worthily,” or, “What doth it profit me, if I gain the whole world and suffer the loss of my soul?” — in all this, we are thinking the thoughts that God’s grace has awaked in us. St. Paul says that we are not “sufficient” — i.e., able — “to think anything of ourselves, but all our sufficiency is from God." 40 “God calls us,” says St. Augustine, “by our innermost thoughts." 41

Actual Grace strengthens the will and lessens the attractiveness or evil.​

Actual Grace inspires the will with fear of God’s anger, with zeal for His service, with desire for the happiness of His love. It helps us to fight down our passions, to resist the call of the world that would make us forget God in the cares of business, the amassing of wealth, the pursuit of secular knowledge. While leaving us free to accept it or reject it, it has the power, if we obey its impulse, to bind our hearts so firmly to God that nothing outside ourselves — no suffering, no blandishment — can ever relax its hold. It gave the mother of the Machabees the strength to witness unmoved the torture of her seven sons, and to exhort her youngest to have pity on her and to die for the faith as bravely as his brothers. 42 It made the Apostles and the Martyrs rejoice that they were found worthy to tread the blood-stained footprints of their Master. Its power was before the inspired mind of St. Paul when he said: “I am sure that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor might, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord." 43

Actual Grace helps the Sinner and the unbeliever to acquire Sanctifying Grace​

The state of Sanctifying Grace is opposed to the state of sin; both cannot exist in the soul at the same time; the one excludes the other, as light excludes darkness. But there is no such opposition between Actual Grace and sinfulness, because Actual Grace does not make the soul holy — it is only Sanctifying Grace that can do that — but it makes our acts holy; hence it is given to the sinner and the unbeliever as well as to the just. It is in fact the very means God uses to draw all erring souls to Him. To the unbeliever, He gives sufficient light to know the truth, and sufficient strength to embrace it; to the sinner, He gives the grace of repentance. He leads both to the Sacraments, the unbeliever to Baptism, the sinner to Penance. 44

Complete Definition of Actual Grace​

We are now able to give a complete definition of Actual Grace. It is a supernatural help from God, which, working within us, enlightens our mind and moves our will to do good and avoid evil for the sake of eternal life. — Another definition may also be given, viz., Actual Grace is a supernatural help from God which, working within us, enables us to perform acts that lead to the acquisition, or effect the preservation and increase of Sanctifying Grace.

External Grace​

The grace of which we have been speaking so far is internal grace, so called because it dwells or acts within the soul. All the other helps which God gives us towards heaven are included under the term external grace. Thus, the Incarnation, the Scripture, and the Church are External Graces; they are external, because they are not actually present within our souls. However, in ordinary speech, we are inclined to restrict the term “External Grace” to circumstances or incidents, apparently casual, which God makes use of to prepare us for the reception of His internal grace. Our birth and upbringing in a Christian household, our education at a Christian school, our easy access to a church and the ministrations of a priest, all these are great External Graces, for which we should express our gratitude to Divine Providence every day we live. Any seeming accident that leads us to God is an accident only in name; it is in truth an External Grace. What could appear more fortuitous than a man’s entering a church to escape a shower of rain, or his purposeless glance at a religious book? Yet we know that God uses such incidents to effect the conversion of sinners. The wound which the soldier Ignatius received at the siege of Pampeluna seemed to be a mere accident, but it was the natural means God employed to make him a great saint. We should not forget, however, that External Grace is grace only in a loose sense. The true grace is internal and works within us. Hence, for instance, our birth in a Christian home would have been of no profit to us, had not God given us the light to see the truth of all we were taught there, and the will to love Him: hence, too, St. Ignatius’s reading of the Lives of the Saints during his hours of convalescence would have been nothing more than the pastime he intended it to be, had not God’s grace been at work on him. God sometimes chooses to dispense altogether with External Grace and to work a miracle in the supernatural order, an instance of which is the conversion of St. Paul, whose frenzy as a persecutor of the Church, “breathing out threatenings and slaughter against the disciples of the Lord," 45 was suddenly changed into an equal or greater zeal for the advancement of the Kingdom of Christ.

Merit, true and imperfect​

To merit a supernatural reward is to have a claim to it by reason of some service or good work done. The claim may be just, or it may be merely reasonable. In the former case, one merits truly or perfectly; in the latter, imperfectly.

To merit truly a reward from God, we require the following conditions: (1) On our part, good works, i.e., virtuous acts done freely in the state of grace from a supernatural motive; such acts have a special dignity or worth in the sight of God: they are the acts of His friends, performed with the aid of His Actual Grace. (2) On the part of God, the promise to reward us.

The sinner cannot merit any reward truly, because he is not in the state of grace; but, by co-operating with Actual Grace, he establishes a claim on God’s mercy, and is said to merit imperfectly the further graces he needs for his conversion. 46

Note — The good works by which we merit are not of any advantage to God: “when you shall have done all things that are commanded you, say: We are unprofitable servants; we have done that which we ought to do." 47 But, though God is not benefited by our works, He has promised to reward us: it is precisely because of His promise that we can merit truly.

The Just man by good works truly merits eternal life, an increase of Sanctifying Grace and of glory hereafter. 48

God not only enables the just man by actual grace to perform good works, but promises him a reward for so doing. “Be glad and rejoice,” says our Divine Saviour to all whom He had mentioned in the “Beatitudes”; — “Be glad and rejoice, for your reward is very great in heaven." 49 “Be faithful unto death,” He says to us in the Apocalypse, 50 “and I will give thee the crown of life.” And St. Paul says that God “will render to every man according to his works, to them indeed who … seek glory and honour and incorruption, eternal life." 51 The just man, therefore, in virtue of God’s promise, truly merits a reward in heaven proportioned to his good works. 52 The more precious, in the sight of God, are the good works that stand to a man’s credit at death, the greater will be his eternal happiness; but since capacity for eternal happiness is given by Sanctifying Grace, it follows that the just man truly merits an increase of this grace by his good works. 53

Note — While it is true that neither man nor angel can ever attain to the sublime elevation of holiness enjoyed by the human soul of Christ or by His Blessed Mother, it is still an inspiring thought that, on a lower plane of sanctity, we can, by our acts from day to day, constantly increase and intensify indefinitely our measure of Sanctifying Grace. One grain of wheat may in time fill all the granaries of the world; it is so with Sanctifying Grace; but yet there is a difference: the multiplication of the grain of wheat depends, not on the good-will of the sower, but on soil and weather, and may be frustrated by unfavourable conditions, while Sanctifying Grace cannot be denied its increase, except through our own fault.

The doctrines of Original Sin, the Redemption, and Grace, are so intimately related, that the denial of any one of them leads to a denial of the other two.​

Pelagianism — Pelagius (c. 400 a.d.) held — (a) That the sin of our first parents was not transmitted to their posterity; (b) that Christ came into the world, not to restore anything we had lost, but to set up an ideal of virtue, and so counteract the evil example of Adam; (c) that we can, of our own natural powers, and without any internal assistance from God, merit the happiness of the Beatific Vision. Observations (1) The doctrines of Pelagius were condemned as heretical by several Popes and Councils. (2) They are refuted by the arguments given in this and the preceding chapters. (3) His followers, overwhelmed by the reasoning of St. Augustine, almost completely abandoned their master’s position, and contented themselves with holding that man can truly merit the first grace. This error, called Semi-Pelagianism, was also condemned.

Lutheranism, Calvinism, Jansenism 54 — According to these systems, Original Sin has utterly annihilated free will. Man is the plaything of God or Satan, of grace or of sinful desire, and is incapable of freely choosing right or wrong. Luther held that every act of man is sinful, but that he can be saved by “faith,” which he understood to mean a trust that God, for the sake of Christ, will not charge us with our sins. The sins themselves, he contended, always remain in the soul. Calvin adopted this teaching, but his more logical mind led him on to the crowning absurdity that the very saving act of faith is itself a sin. Observations (1) We may regard as self-condemned any system that rests on a denial of human liberty. (2) If every act of man were sinful, then every commandment of God, e.g., to honour and love Him, to be just, truthful, &c., would be a commandment to commit sin. (3) The doctrine that faith alone saves us, purports to be based on the words of St. Paul: “For we account a man to be justified by faith without the works of the law." 55 Luther falsified the text by deliberately inserting the word “alone” after “faith.” By the same process, he might have proved that hope, and not faith, is the one and only essential for salvation; for the Apostle says elsewhere: “We are saved by hope." 56 Furthermore, he completely ignored or misinterpreted St. Paul’s teaching on charity: “If I should have all faith, so that I should remove mountains; and have not charity, I am nothing." 57 The Council of Trent upheld human dignity by defining that man’s will is free; that he has not been utterly corrupted by Original Sin; and that even without Grace or Baptism he is capable of morally good acts. 58

1. T 799; 821 return

2. T 808 return

3. T 799 (end) return

4. T 803; 834 return

5. T 842 return

6. T 811, 812, 813: 809 return

7. T 798, 807 return

8. T 797 return

9. For meaning of Supernatural, see Ch. VI, Section II, § " The nature of their gifts.” return

10. Sanctifying Grace is an inward or internal gift, so described because it dwells within the soul. It is not a substance, because it cannot exist by itself. It is, therefore, what is technically called an accident (see footnote 1, Chap. I., “The Divine Essence and Attributes.") But it is not a mere passing accident like the red colour of a cloud at sunset; it is a permanent quality like the fixed colour of a flower. return

11. S.T. I-II, q. 113, a. 9, ad 2. return

12. Wisdom, 7:8-11 return

13. II Peter 1:4 return

14. I John 3:2 return

15. From the above it is evident how false is the view of those who hold that the state of grace is merely the absence of mortal sin. return

16. Something akin to the above illustration will be found in the Life of St. Teresa of Spain, written by herself. London: Thomas Baker, 1916, p. 441. Observe that, in speaking of “the image of God the Son,” we are not referring to His human features, but to His Divine Person. return

17. I John 3:1 return

18. Galatians 4:4,5 return

19. Romans 8:16,17 — Christ is the Son of the Father alone, the just man is the adopted child of the whole Trinity. We speak of the Father as the author of that adoption, of the Son as its pattern, of the Holy Ghost as its conveyor. See Pohle-Preuss, Grace, pp. 358 f. return

20. Imitation of Christ, Book II., Chap. vii. return

21. See the note on appropriation in the chapter on “The Blessed Trinity,” iv, footnote II. return

22. “Mystic,” i.e., formed by grace. return

23. I Corinthians vi. 19. return

24. John 14:23. return

25. St. Augustine says: “Love, therefore, which is of God, is properly the Holy Spirit, by whom the Love of God is shed abroad in our hearts, — that Love by which the whole Trinity dwells in us,” De Trinitate xv. 18, 32 return

26. Roman Catechism, n. 50 return

27. A real acorn and an artificial one may seem to be exactly alike in shape, colour and weight. But the real acorn can develop into a superb oak, and be the originating cause of an immense forest; whereas the other acorn, the one carved and coloured by the hand of man, can never develop into anything. Whence this immeasurable difference between them ? “The acorn produced by the oak contains a principle of life; that which man’s cunning hath devised, in rude imitation, is dead and destined only to corruption. This may serve as an illustration of the essential, though invisible, difference between a man in grace and a man devoid of grace.” Bishop Vaughan, Thoughts for all Times, Vol. I., p. 155. return

28. Cf. Chap, xviii,. III. return

29. (a) To put this teaching in technical language: God is the principal cause of Grace; Christ as Man is the instrumental cause. This does not mean that God produces, as it were, the larger part of Grace, and that Christ produces the smaller part. “Principal Cause” means “Source-cause,” the source from which all the Grace comes. Christ as Man, the instrumental cause, adds nothing of His own to it; He is its transmitter. (b) According to St. Thomas (S.T. III. q. 8, a. 2, c.), the entire humanity of Christ — His Soul and Body and Blood — co-operates in the production of Grace, and his teaching is reflected in the prayer indulgenced by the Church, “Soul of Christ, make me holy. Body of Christ, save me. Blood of Christ, bring joy to me.” (c) When Grace is produced by a Sacrament, two instrumental causes are at work, viz.: Christ as Man and the Sacrament itself. To make this clear, let us adopt the illustration of St. Thomas (S.T. III., q. 62, a. 5. c.), who speaks of the human nature of Christ as “the arm of God” because inseparably united to Him, while he compares the Sacrament to an implement — let us say, a sculptor‘s chisel — held in the fingers of Christ. God — Christ as Man — the Sacrament, all three are true causes of Grace, but not in the same way: God is the principal cause, while the other two are instrumental. St. Thomas in this comparison brings out the idea that the humanity of Christ is joined to God in inseparable union, and is always used by Him in the production of Sanctifying Grace; on the other hand, he wishes to convey that a Sacrament is a means which God may or may not employ. God, as we know, often gives Sanctifying Grace outside the Sacraments.

The reference to the sculptor must not mislead us. To some extent a statue owes its shape to the quality of the chisel and the deftness of the artist’s fingers; but the grace produced in a soul owes its entire being to God, and is merely transmitted through the sacred instruments He uses. return

30. We must bear in mind that a virtue such as spoken of here is not a facility, but a capacity, for performing good works. We may illustrate by comparing the virtues to the limbs of the body: our feet enable us to walk, our hands to grasp, but it is only by frequent exercise that we acquire a facility in performing these actions. return

31. Ecclesiastes 9:1 return

32. S.T., I-II, q. 112, a. 5 return

33. John 14:21,24 return

34. And by the Sacraments, as we shall see in the next Chapter. return

35. John 15:5,2 return

36. II Peter 3:18 return

37. 4:18,8 return

38. Apocalypse 22:11 return

39. De Gratia Christi, c. xii. return

40. II Corinthians 3:5 return

41. In Psalms 102:16 return

42. II Machabees 7 — God gave grace under the Old Testament in consideration of the merits of the Redeemer who was to come. return

43. Romans 8:38,39 — From the intimate union of soul and body in the living man, it follows that every act of the intellect or the will is accompanied by some vibration or movement in the nervous system. Hence, it may, perhaps, be argued that the grace, e.g., which reforms a drunkard, effects some transformation in the sensuous appetite. return

44. As to how the unbeliever is led on to make his first Act of Faith, see Part I., chapter on Faith. — According to the Council of Trent, we may trace, as a rule, four stages in the progress of the new convert and the baptized sinner towards Sanctifying Grace, viz., (1) from faith to fear of God’s judgments; (2) from fear to trust in the Divine mercy and hope of forgiveness; (3) from hope to initial love (i.e., they begin to turn to God and to desire Him as the source of every good, and to turn away from sin as the cause of ruin and misery); (4) from initial love to contrition and a firm purpose to begin a new life. If the contrition be perfect, Sanctifying Grace is at once received. Perfect Contrition contains the implicit desire of Baptism, in the case of the unbeliever, and of the Sacrament of Penance, in the case of the sinner; if the sinner’s contrition be imperfect, the actual reception of the Sacrament of Penance will be necessary. return

45. Acts 9:1. return

46. It is only adults who can merit: “Good works” cannot be performed by those who have not come to the use of reason. At death, all opportunity of merit ceases: “The night cometh when no man can work,” John 9:4 — Compare what is said above with the section on the merit of Christ, Ch. VIII, The Redemption, “Christ’s work for our salvation, considered under four aspects.” return

47. Luke 17:10 return

48. Cf, St. Thomas, S.T. I-II., q. 114, a. 8; and T 809. return

49. Matthew 5:12 return

50. Apocalypse 2:10 return

51. Romans 2:6,7; cf. II Timothy 4:8; I Corinthians 3:8; Col. 3:25 return

52. But remember that the reception of the Sacraments, though not technically classified among “good works,” can also give him a claim to eternal life, an increase of Sanctifying Grace and of glory. return

53. Merit, though lost by mortal sin, is restored on the recovery of Sanctifying Grace: this has long been the teaching of theologians, including St. Thomas; it has already appeared in an official document, viz., the Proclamation of the Holy Year (1925), issued by Pope Pius XI. return

54. The heresy known as Jansenism is found in the work, Augustinus, written by Cornelius Jansen, Bishop of Ypres (t 1638), but not published until two years after his death. He died in communion with the Church, professing full submission to her decrees. Man, he held, is the helpless victim of rival forces: grace urging him to what is good, concupiscence to what is evil; he acts virtuously or sinfully according to the relative strength of these forces. His followers were remarkable for the rigorous conditions they exacted of penitents and communicants. return

55. Romans 3:28 return

56. Ibid. 8:24 return

57. I Corinthians 13:2 return

58. i.e., acts of obedience to the natural law. See Part I., p. 160. “Outside the Church there is no salvation” (2). return