Skip to comments.Course on Grace: Grace Considered Extensively, Grace to Christ [Catholic and Open]
Posted on 06/23/2012 10:01:21 AM PDT by Salvation
by Fr. John A. Hardon, S.J.
PART ONE: GRACE CONSIDERED EXTENSIVELY
|II.||What Is Grace?|
|III.||Grace to the Angels|
|IV.||Grace to Adam|
|V.||Grace in the Old Testament|
|VI.||Grace to Christ|
|VII.|| Justification in the New Testament
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 Christs soul deiform, and beautified it as it does ours (though to a much higher degree), it was largely for mans 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 Gods 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.
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The Essentials of the Catholic Faith, Part Two: Channels of Grace, Anointing of the Sick
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Beginning Catholic: The Sacrament of Confirmation: Grace for Fullness of Faith and Life [Ecumenical]
Beginning Catholic: The Eucharist: In the Presence of the Lord Himself [Ecumenical]
Beginning Catholic: Receiving the Lord in Holy Communion [Ecumenical]
Beginning Catholic: The Sacrament of Reconciliation: Rising Again to New Life [Ecumenical]
Beginning Catholic: The Anointing of the Sick: Comfort and Healing [Ecumenical]
Beginning Catholic: The Sacrament of Holy Orders: Priests of the New Sacrifice [Ecumenical]
Beginning Catholic: Catholic Marriage: A Union Sealed by the Sacrament of Matrimony [Ecumenical]
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