Skip to comments.Course on Grace: Grace Considered Extensively, What is Grace? (Catholic and Open)
Posted on 06/06/2012 3:25:09 PM PDT by Salvation
Course on Grace
by Fr. John A. Hardon, S.J.
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:
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, but of this we shall talk later, if we have time.
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Grace is Dark Matter
Can grace move mountains, heal diseased bodies, accomplish miracles or is that some kind of other action from God?
St. Thomas Aquinass final and greatest work, Summa Theologica, was left incomplete; he ceased all writing following a religious experience, explaining, All that I have written seems to me like straw compared to what has now been revealed to me.
THAT is Grace.
Bump to the other ‘Salvation’ Grace thread by St Thomas A.
Bump to the other Salvation Grace thread by St Thomas A.