Tuesday, 7 April 2015

A Synod on Grace

''If anyone says that the grace of God can be conferred because of human prayer, and not rather that it is grace itself that prompts us to pray, one contradicts the prophet Isaiah or the apostle who says the same thing: ''I have been found by those who did not seek me: I have shown Myself to those who did not ask for Me.''

''If anyone contends that God awaits our will before cleansing us from sin, but does not confess that even the desire to be cleansed is aroused in us by the infusion and action of the Holy Spirit, he opposes the Holy Spirit Himself speaking through Solomon: ''The will is prepared by the Lord'' (Prov 8:35) and the apostle's salutary message: ''God is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure.''

''If anyone says that mercy is divinely conferred upon us, without God's grace, we believe, will, desire, strive, labour, pray, keep watch, endeavour, request, seek, knock, but does not confess that it is through the infusion and inspiration of the Holy Spirit that we believe, will, or are able to do all these things as is required; or if anyone subordinate the help of grace to humility or human obedience and does not admit that it is the very gift of grace that makes us obedient and humble, one contradicts the apostle, who says, ''What have you that you did not receive?'' (1 Cor 4:7); and also: ''By the grace of God I am what I am''

(Second Council of Orange, approved by Pope Boniface II)

Comment: So many of the errors of the post-Conciliar era have stemmed from the failure to distinguish between the orders of nature (or reason) grace (or the supernatural). It is utterly damning for a cleric charged with defending the Apostolic Doctrine to confound the two orders which results in the nullification of our Redemption and the demands of purity and mortification.When one is incapable of contrasting (not as opposed, but as distinct) the two orders, what is offered by Christian morality other than apparent good manners? This would not be beyond the reach of the Stoic or Epicurean. After all, the requirements of Christian sanctification would appear entirely absurd is we were to omit the supernatural end to which we are called, particularly in light of our fall from original integrity and justice in Adam. If man has a purely natural end, to which his faculties are adequately proportioned and to which is nature lends a claim, what is left for Christ to accomplish?

 Since the substance of a act is determined by its object, it follows that if our object is supernatural, our acts of faith, hope and charity must exceed the province of nature and reason. As man has fallen from his supernatural integrity in Adam, it is necessary for man to be elevated and directed to this end solely by God's vital assistance. Man's natural capacities have been vitiated which make his adherence to the natural law and with more reason, he is completely unable to raise himself by his own powers to the supernatural. It is for reason that we state that the beginning of faith proceeds from divine operating grace. It is not as a result of our faith (supernatural in substance due to its supernatural end) that God confers grace as though we are to be rewarded for our efforts. Accordingly it is due to His conferring of grace that we are able to exert any effort in the supernatural sphere. From his grace, we will, desire, strive, seek and ultimately accomplish due to His good pleasure.

 If we fail to acknowledge this truth, it would follow that there is no necessity of belonging to the Catholic Church for our salvation. What would the Church provide other than ''moral guidance'', which man can profit from without entering her formally? We can see the disaster in this when we witness the canonization of someone at their funeral, by a well meaning but evidently oblivious priest. Regardless of someone's striving for Christian perfection (that is, in the supernatural order), independently of their adherence to the basis demands of purity, we are told that their ''good heart' suffices for salvation. Are we to hold that God owes it to us to allow us entry to the Beatific Vision (if this is even admitted)? Is God under obligation to us? What is the use of baptism, of the Eucharist, of Penance? The Crucifixion is therefore superfluous and unfitting.

 Let us not fail to admit our utter dependence on God in the natural sphere (Who moves our intellects and wills according to a natural concurrence), and even more in the supernatural realm.What do we have that we have not received? What could we desire that God has not moved us to desire? Who will bring us to that end unfailingly, other than the Author of Grace?

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