Monday, August 15, 2005

A little something from theology.

All grace given to men after the fall of Adam is the fruit of Christ’s redemptive death. Christ purchased the gift of grace for us, it is not owed us or earned by us—one cannot say that God owes grace to any creature. Nothing that we have is owed to us, not even our existence. It is all a gift.

We cannot demand of God the right to be. However, given that God created us, certain things are necessary for us to achieve our natural perfection. For example, we need air in order to breathe, because God created us that way. We need food to survive, because God created us to have that need. In this way, God owes us those things which he has created us to require. Grace is not one of those things. Confusing? What about ‘man is a spiritual being’? Well,‘spiritual’ is not the same thing as supernatural. Man is ‘spiritual’ by nature and so spiritual things are in the natural order- God only ‘owes’ things in the natural order. Grace is supernatural and hence above the level of those owed things.

‘Directed toward salvation’ means that salvation depends on grace, and we cannot get there without it. The most fundamental gift that God gives us to direct us to salvation is Himself. This is a type of grace in and of itself, called ‘uncreated grace.’ Sometimes this is called an ‘indwelling of the Holy Spirit,’ or indwelling of the Trinity appropriated to the Holy Spirit. God actually comes and dwells in us, as Christ said.:

"If a man loves me, he will keep my word, and my father will love him, and we
will come to him and make our home with him." (John 14:23

When God comes to be with us in this manner, we become temples of the Holy Spirit. God also gives us other supernatural gifts. These include the effects of His presence in the soul, as well as other aids to foster the divine life. Some created graces are given primarily for the personal sanctification of the recipient alone. These are called gratum faciens, which means ‘to make pleasing.’ This includes sanctifying grace and the other gifts given with it, namely infused virtues and the gifts of the Holy Spirit.

Gratum faciens are given with the reception of sacraments and in many other
cases. They come together, and are among the most beauteous gifts God bestows upon us, by the very generosity with which they are given.

These gifts, of themselves, make the soul pleasing to God. Also included in this group are actual graces. Gratum faciens are intended for all men and are necessary for salvation. Other created graces are given to some primarily for the salvation of others, and are called gratis datae, or ‘healing.’ Their common name is ‘charismatic gifts,’ and they manifest the operation of the Holy Spirit in the Catholic Church by bestowing on certain individuals the power to perform extraordinary works for the good of the whole church. Miracles, Prophesy (which means the proclaiming of the word of God and not telling of the future), healing, discernment of spirits, and tongues are all included in this group. These are not necessary for salvation and are given only to few persons. (I knew a priest who spoke in tongues often.) Furthermore, they are not an indication of holiness- holiness is not a prerequisite to the possession or exercise of the Charismatic gifts. God can bestow them on sinners. Lastly, either of these kinds of graces can be present without the other.


  1. Yes, you got it.

    Nice to see someone was paying attention in that class.