Saturday, 26 July 2014

On The Seventh Sunday After Pentecost

Being, movement and perfection are all under the dominion of the providence of God. No creature, however lowly or however magnificent can remove itself from the intimate and steady hand of Divine Providence.
 The Aristotelian philosophical principle of the real distinction between act and potency is of immense value to us and serves as a great aid to elucidating the divine motion upon all created being. No act, however insignificant can be performed without at least the natural concurrence of God. No agent is unable to rouse itself to movement without the exercise of God's motion upon their natures. Ignoring this truth would reduce all action and change to absurdity where no sufficient external causality could account for an outbreak of direction less transition without purpose. This natural concurrence is due to man's nature  and God owes it to Himself to assist nature as a whole to attain to its purpose as designed and implemented by His liberality in creating everything ex nihilo. This demonstrates that all thought, willing and acting can only be actualised by the consent and motion of God. Let us not confuse this with the higher inspiration of the Holy Ghost, or the formal participation in the divine nature of habitual grace or the transient participation in the same that is actual grace. Grave theological errors have been committed by the lack of due distinction between the orders of grace and nature. Yet gratitude should be shown for both.

 If we were to imagine the possibility of a completely natural state of creation, where Adam has no higher gift of divine life in his soul where his end is the purely nature knowledge and love of God above all things, he would still be utterly dependent upon his Creator for his being and movement. He would have all his faculties untainted by sin and the loss of original justice in grace, where these powers would be directed with rectitude to goodness. Yet after all this he would still require the assistance of God for any movement whatsoever.

 Let us then consider how much more imperative is the grace that is given for man in a fallen world to attain to holiness. We speak here not of general divine motion upon nature to reduce its potentiality to act but grace that is substantially supernatural not just modally. Without grace, the sinner may still be orientated towards universal good as his human nature is not destroyed, and he may attain to knowledge concerning the material world around him, but he is utterly incapable of raising himself beyond this. This is not to say that unfallen Adam could have elevated himself by pure will and discipline to the domain of the supernatural. The human soul has an obediential capacity to participation in the divine life which far excels the proper objects of its faculties yet is not entirely repugnant to its nature.

Oh happy fault that merited us so great a redeemer! With the School of Salamanca, I state sin was permitted by God for the greater good of the Incarnation. Slaves are to become sons and heirs too. Where sin abounded, grace abounded even more. Mercy and justice were the wounds of our Lord. Although the baptised may have entered into a formal participation in divine life (baptism being the seed of glory whose culmination is the beatific vision), the intellect is still darkened and the will remains vitiated. However, in this redeemed world, even greater helps are given to man than was available to Adam. The Holy Sacrifice of the Mass is greater than the worship in Eden. The Incarnation is far superior to when God 'walked' in the garden with our first parents. Striving through pain and vicious temptation with these magnificent supernatural graces man can attain to greater holiness than Adam possessed before his sin.Through these actual graces and the possession of sanctifying grace man comes to know his subjection to God in both the natural and the supernatural spheres and he is glad of it. He recognises the mercy and bountiful goodness that has been shown to him. He marvels not that some are damned but that any at all have been elected for glory.

 His faculties and his body are understood now to be in the service of his Redeemer and Lord. Of his own, belongs sin. To God, belongs his virtue. Even when he was astray from God, the latter was near to him. To echo Saint Augustine, that doctor of grace, God was nearer to him than he was to himself! His thoughts although at least generally moved by God was not concerned with God. By the infusion of the theological virtue of faith, he begins to view matters not in the shadow of practicality but in the light of eternity. He comes to acknowledge humbly his vast plans and triumphs are as straw being blown towards the pit.

As he journeys along the path of spirituality, he can only respond with gratitude to the saving mercy of Jesus Christ on the Cross. His labours of sanctity can never now be seen as burdensome but rather as a joy and a free offering to almighty God. O clap your hands, all ye nations: shout unto God with the voice of joy!Who is God but our Father and Protector? His past deeds disgust him and by continual actual graces he resists the curiosity to consider what his life could now be like etsi Deus non daretur. No more will he be enclosed within himself but will deny himself and serve as Christ served according to the will of the Father.

 He shall live for God as Jesus died for him. 

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