DIFFERING GRACES

 

       The Christian conception of "De gratia" or Grace is firmly and wholly established upon supernatural law. Grace is defined as a state of being safeguarded from the influence of evil and sanctified by the favors of God. Graces are capabilities or powers freely conferred by Divine Love. A clear differentiation is made between Actual and Sanctifying Grace, each type of Grace having different essential qualities. The three qualities of Actual Grace that are of supreme consequence include: its absolute necessity, its universality and its gratuitousness. Actual Grace is universally inclusive, since without the protection and assistance of Divine Grace, fallen human beings are not only altogether lacking the necessary capacity for resisting all powerful temptations but are also incapable of fulfilling the entire "Eternal Law." Its universal inclusiveness is based radically upon the undeniable universality of divine will, having the intendment of bringing about Redemption to all by apportioning necessary Graces to believers and nonbelievers alike, and regardless whether they are in the state of sinfulness or already justified. Actual Grace is completely gratuitous; it is freely conferred; it is the unearned gift or gain so that no possible merit, readiness, no definite attributes or abilities are required to be granted Actual Graces.

       Sanctifying Grace however, requires preparation on the part of the soul, which begins with theological faith, and is achieved by degrees or perfected through such supernatural habitual proneness as repentance, hope and most importantly love. The forgiveness of sins and the sanctification of the soul are "two moments of one and the same act of justification, since the blotting-out of original and mortal sin is accomplished by the very fact of the infusion of sanctifying grace." With an adequate inner readiness and receptiveness, it is an act of taking part or sharing of Divine Nature, which indispensably brings about (among others) the following effects in the soul: sanctity, purity, intimate friendship with God, beauty etc. Sanctifying Grace coexists invariably with superadded gifts - the three theological virtues, the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit, the infused moral virtues, and the personal living of the Holy Spirit in the soul of the justified. The following are three qualities associated with justification or Sanctifying Grace: its uncertainty, its inequality, and the possibility of its being lost through mortal sins.

       Sin is essentially equal with the disavowal to be in communion with the Spirit of Truth. All wrongdoings or transgressions can be accurately understood only when they are carefully examined within the context of the Redemption in Jesus Christ. The scriptural perspectives present sin as a force operative within the world and affecting human beings that is entirely antagonistic to God's Salvific Plan. Sin is significantly more than sheer breach of God's precepts for it is the violation of the Law of Love; it is an act of defiance toward Supreme Love, Absolute Truth, Unsurpassable Authority, and a revolt against what all human beings are appointed to become. Sin is viewed thus, as disruption of the correct relational order that ought to exist between God and a human being, within human beings themselves, between human beings and with the entire creation. It distinctly reflects the failure to truly love God, and to continue to sin means to "harden one's heart to God's love" (Is. 29:13). The fundamental and constitutive dynamism of sin is the unwillingness to remain in a loving relationship with God, which consequentially leads to the degeneration of the human heart and the human mind. Through sin, human beings not only reject the validity of God's Truth, but also by refusing to accept God's Truth, they disclaim and disown their own "truth" as well. All wrongdoings and transgressions represent the denial of Divine Grace, Love, Truth, Justice and Righteousness, as a consequence of which the sinner lives outside of divine life in a clear opposition to the standard of holiness. As Hans Urs von Balthasar puts it: "How do we know that God hates sin? By the fact that Christ loves sinners. These are the poorest of all, the ones most needing protection."

       When a person is in the state of Sanctifying Grace, everything is considered as a loss comparing to the superior eminence of knowing the Author of Grace (Philippians 3:7-8). Thus, true discovery and knowing - the true soaring above the mundane, at its core comprises of not beholding the new-sprung and different possibilities but in viewing them with trained and prepared by God, eyes. That is, in order to be right, a person must surrender wholeheartedly to the providential Divine Order and Design. In every moment, there is a battle between truth and untruth, yet every moment in the search after Divine Truth with the indispensable help of the Holy Spirit - with the help of abundant Divine Graces, becomes a moment of death to the power of falsehood; it becomes a moment of death to the natural self and natural knowledge. In other words, to save life means to die to falsehood, which is brought on by vice, erroneous opinions and convictions. Saving lies or falsehoods means losing life, while losing life for Divine Truth with the advantage of God's Unsurpassable Grace means saving life - receiving Salvation and eternal blessedness.

       The ultramodern outlook on life has been immoderately adhering to human reason without the guidance and edification of faith, failing to recognize the reason's limitations, which inevitably results in such extant perils as relativism, subjectivism, sensuality, reductionism, utilitarianism or functionalism. Individuals who wish to organize their existence according to their reasoning ability alone, who do not recognize the terminus of their thinking, accepting the ruinous principle "I will not serve" will - as the Ancient Serpent - fall to their destruction.

Christian Works by Dorothy Kardas, Psy.D. Th.D. 

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