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Grace Actual And Habitual by Joseph Pohle

Section 2. Division Of Actual Grace

Actual grace may be divided according to: (1) the difference existing between the faculties of the human soul, and (2) in reference to the freedom of the will.

Considered in its relation to the different faculties of the soul, actual grace is either of the intellect, or of the will, or of the sensitive faculties. With regard to the free consent of the will, it is either (1) prevenient, also called cooeperating, or (2) efficacious or merely sufficient.

1. THE ILLUMINATING GRACE OF THE INTELLECT. -- Actual grace, in so far as it inspires salutary thoughts, is called illuminating (gratia illuminationis s. illustrationis).

This illumination of the intellect by grace may be either mediate or immediate. It is mediate if grace suggests salutary thoughts to the intellect by purely natural means, or external graces, such as a stirring sermon, the perusal of a good book, etc.; it is immediate when the Holy Ghost elevates the powers of the soul, and through the instrumentality of the so-called potentia obedientialis,(40) produces in it entitatively supernatural acts.

The existence of the grace of immediate illumination follows from its absolute necessity as a means of salvation, defined by the Second Council of Orange, A. D.529.(41)

a) The grace of mediate illumination may be inferred aprioristically from the existence of a divine revelation equipped with such supernatural institutions as the Bible, the sacraments, rites, ceremonies, etc. In conformity with the psychological laws governing the association of ideas, intelligent meditation on the agencies comprised under the term |external grace|(42) elicits in the mind salutary thoughts, which are not necessarily supernatural in their inception.

It is not unlikely that Sacred Scripture refers to such graces as these when it recommends |the law of God| or |the example of Christ| as fit subjects for meditation. Cfr. Ps. XVIII, 8 sq.: |The law of the Lord is unspotted, converting souls, ... the commandment of the Lord is lightsome, enlightening the eyes.|(43) 1 Pet. II, 21: |Christ also suffered for us, leaving you an example that you should follow his steps.|(44) St. Augustine probably had in mind the grace of mediate illumination when he wrote: |God acts upon us by the incentives of visible objects to will and to believe, either externally by evangelical exhortations, ... or internally, as no man has control over what enters into his thoughts.|(45) The grace of mediate illumination has for its object to prepare the way quietly and unostentatiously for a grace of greater import, namely, the immediate illumination of the mind by the Holy Ghost.

b) The grace of immediate far surpasses that of mediate illumination because the supernatural life of the soul originates in faith, which in turn is based on a strictly supernatural enlightenment of the mind.

{GREEK SMALL LETTER ALPHA}) St. Paul expressly teaches: |And such confidence we have, through Christ, towards God; not that we are sufficient to think anything of ourselves, as of ourselves: but our sufficiency is of God.|(46)

The salient portion of this text reads as follows in the original Greek: {GREEK CAPITAL LETTER OMICRON}{GREEK SMALL LETTER UPSILON WITH PSILI}{GREEK SMALL LETTER CHI} {GREEK SMALL LETTER OMICRON WITH DASIA AND OXIA}{GREEK SMALL LETTER TAU}{GREEK SMALL LETTER IOTA} {GREEK SMALL LETTER IOTA WITH DASIA}{GREEK SMALL LETTER KAPPA}{GREEK SMALL LETTER ALPHA}{GREEK SMALL LETTER NU}{GREEK SMALL LETTER OMICRON}{GREEK SMALL LETTER IOTA WITH OXIA} {GREEK SMALL LETTER EPSILON WITH PSILI}{GREEK SMALL LETTER SIGMA}{GREEK SMALL LETTER MU}{GREEK SMALL LETTER EPSILON}{GREEK SMALL LETTER NU} {GREEK SMALL LETTER LAMDA}{GREEK SMALL LETTER OMICRON}{GREEK SMALL LETTER GAMMA}{GREEK SMALL LETTER IOTA WITH OXIA}{GREEK SMALL LETTER SIGMA}{GREEK SMALL LETTER ALPHA}{GREEK SMALL LETTER SIGMA}{GREEK SMALL LETTER THETA}{GREEK SMALL LETTER ALPHA}{GREEK SMALL LETTER IOTA WITH OXIA} {GREEK SMALL LETTER TAU}{GREEK SMALL LETTER IOTA} {GREEK SMALL LETTER ALPHA WITH PSILI}{GREEK SMALL LETTER PHI}{GREEK KORONIS} {GREEK SMALL LETTER EPSILON WITH DASIA}{GREEK SMALL LETTER ALPHA}{GREEK SMALL LETTER UPSILON}{GREEK SMALL LETTER TAU}{GREEK SMALL LETTER OMEGA WITH PERISPOMENI}{GREEK SMALL LETTER NU} {GREEK SMALL LETTER OMEGA WITH DASIA}{GREEK SMALL LETTER FINAL SIGMA} {GREEK SMALL LETTER EPSILON WITH PSILI}{GREEK SMALL LETTER XI} {GREEK SMALL LETTER EPSILON WITH DASIA}{GREEK SMALL LETTER ALPHA}{GREEK SMALL LETTER UPSILON}{GREEK SMALL LETTER TAU}{GREEK SMALL LETTER OMEGA WITH PERISPOMENI}{GREEK SMALL LETTER NU}, {GREEK SMALL LETTER ALPHA WITH PSILI}{GREEK SMALL LETTER LAMDA}{GREEK SMALL LETTER LAMDA}{GREEK KORONIS} {GREEK SMALL LETTER ETA WITH DASIA} {GREEK SMALL LETTER IOTA WITH DASIA}{GREEK SMALL LETTER KAPPA}{GREEK SMALL LETTER ALPHA}{GREEK SMALL LETTER NU}{GREEK SMALL LETTER OMICRON WITH OXIA}{GREEK SMALL LETTER TAU}{GREEK SMALL LETTER ETA}{GREEK SMALL LETTER FINAL SIGMA} {GREEK SMALL LETTER ETA WITH DASIA}{GREEK SMALL LETTER MU}{GREEK SMALL LETTER OMEGA WITH PERISPOMENI}{GREEK SMALL LETTER NU} {GREEK SMALL LETTER EPSILON WITH PSILI}{GREEK SMALL LETTER KAPPA} {GREEK SMALL LETTER TAU}{GREEK SMALL LETTER OMICRON}{GREEK SMALL LETTER UPSILON WITH PERISPOMENI} {GREEK CAPITAL LETTER THETA}{GREEK SMALL LETTER EPSILON}{GREEK SMALL LETTER OMICRON}{GREEK SMALL LETTER UPSILON WITH PERISPOMENI}. Speaking in the plural (pluralis maiestaticus), the Apostle confesses himself unable to conceive a single salutary thought ({GREEK SMALL LETTER LAMDA}{GREEK SMALL LETTER OMICRON}{GREEK SMALL LETTER GAMMA}{GREEK SMALL LETTER IOTA WITH OXIA}{GREEK SMALL LETTER SIGMA}{GREEK SMALL LETTER ALPHA}{GREEK SMALL LETTER SIGMA}{GREEK SMALL LETTER THETA}{GREEK SMALL LETTER ALPHA}{GREEK SMALL LETTER IOTA}), and ascribes the power ({GREEK SMALL LETTER IOTA WITH DASIA}{GREEK SMALL LETTER KAPPA}{GREEK SMALL LETTER ALPHA}{GREEK SMALL LETTER NU}{GREEK SMALL LETTER OMICRON WITH OXIA}{GREEK SMALL LETTER TAU}{GREEK SMALL LETTER ETA}{GREEK SMALL LETTER FINAL SIGMA}) to do so to God. Considered merely as vital acts, such thoughts proceed from the natural faculties of the mind ({GREEK SMALL LETTER ALPHA WITH PSILI}{GREEK SMALL LETTER PHI}{GREEK KORONIS} {GREEK SMALL LETTER EPSILON WITH DASIA}{GREEK SMALL LETTER ALPHA}{GREEK SMALL LETTER UPSILON}{GREEK SMALL LETTER TAU}{GREEK SMALL LETTER OMEGA WITH PERISPOMENI}{GREEK SMALL LETTER NU}), but the power that produces them is divine ({GREEK SMALL LETTER EPSILON WITH PSILI}{GREEK SMALL LETTER KAPPA} {GREEK CAPITAL LETTER THETA}{GREEK SMALL LETTER EPSILON}{GREEK SMALL LETTER OMICRON}{GREEK SMALL LETTER UPSILON WITH PERISPOMENI}), not human ({GREEK SMALL LETTER EPSILON WITH PSILI}{GREEK SMALL LETTER XI} {GREEK SMALL LETTER EPSILON WITH DASIA}{GREEK SMALL LETTER ALPHA}{GREEK SMALL LETTER UPSILON}{GREEK SMALL LETTER TAU}{GREEK SMALL LETTER OMEGA WITH PERISPOMENI}{GREEK SMALL LETTER NU}). Hence each salutary thought exceeds the power of man, and is an immediate supernatural grace.

A still more cogent argument can be derived from 1 Cor. III, 6 sq.: |I have planted, Apollo watered, but God gave the increase. Therefore, neither he that planteth is anything, nor he that watereth; but God that giveth the increase.|(47) In this beautiful allegory the Apostle compares the genesis of supernatural faith in the soul to that of a plant under the care of a gardener, who while he plants and waters, yet looks to God for |the increase.| The Apostle and his disciple Apollo are the spiritual gardeners through whose preaching the Corinthians received the grace of mediate illumination. But, as St. Paul says, this preaching would have been useless (non est aliquid) had not God given |the increase.| In other words, the grace of immediate illumination was necessary to make the Apostolic preaching effective. |For,| in the words of St. Augustine, |God Himself contributes to the production of fruit in good trees, when He both externally waters and tends them by the agency of His servants, and internally by Himself also gives the increase.|(48)

{GREEK SMALL LETTER BETA}) The argument from Tradition is based chiefly on St. Augustine, |the Doctor of Grace,| whose authority in this branch of dogmatic theology is unique.(49) His writings abound in many such synonymous terms for the grace of immediate illumination, as cogitatio pia, vocatio alta et secreta, locutio in cogitatione, aperitio veritatis, etc., etc.

He says among other things: |Instruction and admonition are external aids, but he who controls the hearts has his cathedra in heaven.|(50) Augustine esteems human preaching as nothing and ascribes all its good effects to grace. |It is the internal Master who teaches; Christ teaches and His inspiration.|(51) In harmony with his master, St. Fulgentius of Ruspe, the ablest defender of the Augustinian (i.e. Catholic) doctrine of grace, says: |In vain will our sacred discourses strike the external ear, unless God by a spiritual gift opens the hearing of the interior man.|(52)

2. THE STRENGTHENING GRACE OF THE WILL. -- This grace, usually called gratia inspirationis,(53) may also be either mediate or immediate, according as pious affections and wholesome resolutions are produced in the soul by a preceding illumination of the intellect or directly by the Holy Ghost. Owing to the psychological interaction of intellect and will, every grace of the mind, whether mediate or immediate, is eo ipso also a mediate grace of the will, which implies a new act of the soul, but not a new grace. What we are concerned with here is the immediate strengthening grace of the will, which is far more important and more necessary.

We are not able to demonstrate this teaching from Sacred Scripture. The texts John VI, 44 and Phil. II, 13, which are usually adduced in this connection, are inconclusive.

Hence we must rely solely on Tradition. The argument from Tradition is based mainly on St. Augustine. In defending divine grace against Pelagius, this holy Doctor asserts the indispensability and superior value of the strengthening grace of the will.

|By that grace it is effected, not only that we discover what ought to be done, but also that we do what we have discovered; not only that we believe what ought to be loved, but also that we love what we have believed.|(54) And again: |Let him discern between knowledge and charity, as they ought to be distinguished, because knowledge puffeth up, but charity edifieth.... And inasmuch as both are gifts of God, although one is less and the other greater, he must not extol our righteousness above the praise which is due to Him who justifies us in such a way as to assign to the lesser of these two gifts the help of divine grace, and to claim the greater one for the control of the human will.|(55) St. Augustine emphasized the existence and necessity of this higher grace of the will in his controversy with the Pelagians. He was firmly convinced that a man may know the way of salvation, and yet refuse to follow it.(56) He insisted that mere knowledge is not virtue, as Socrates had falsely taught.

Ecclesiastical Tradition was always in perfect accord with this teaching, which eventually came to be defined by the plenary Council of Carthage (A. D.418) as follows: |If any one assert that this same grace of God, granted through our Lord Jesus Christ, helps to avoid sin only for the reason that it opens and reveals to us an understanding of the [divine] commands, so that we may know what we should desire and what we should avoid; but that it is not granted to us by the same (grace) to desire and be able to do that which we know we ought to do, let him be anathema; -- since both are gifts of God: to know what we must do and to have the wish to do it.|(57)

Like the illuminating grace of the intellect the strengthening grace of the will effects vital acts and manifests itself chiefly in what are known as the emotions of the will. St. Prosper, after Fulgentius the most prominent disciple of St. Augustine, enumerates these as follows: |Fear (for 'the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom'); joy ('I rejoiced at the things that were said to me: We shall go into the house of the Lord'); desire ('My soul longeth and fainteth for the courts of the Lord'); delight ('How sweet are thy words to my palate, more than honey to my mouth');| -- and he adds: |Who can see or tell by what affections God visits and guides the human soul?|(58)

3. ACTUAL GRACES OF THE SENSITIVE SPHERE. -- Though it cannot be determined with certainty of faith, it is highly probable that actual grace influences the sensitive faculties of the soul as well as the intellect and the will.

God, who is the first and sole cause of all things, is no doubt able to excite in the human imagination phantasms corresponding to the supernatural thoughts produced in the intellect, and to impede or paralyze the rebellious stirrings of concupiscence which resist the grace of the will, -- either by infusing contrary dispositions or by allowing spiritual joy to run over into the appetitus sensitivus. The existence of such graces (which need not necessarily be supernatural except quoad modum et finem) may be inferred with great probability from the fact that man is a compound of body and soul. Aristotle holds that the human mind cannot think without the aid of the imagination.(59) If this is true, every supernatural thought must be preceded by a corresponding phantasm to excite and sustain it. As for the sensitive appetite, it may either assume the form of concupiscence and hinder the work of salvation, or aid it by favorable emotions excited supernaturally. St. Augustine says that the delectatio victrix has for its object |to impart sweetness to that which gave no pleasure.|(60) St. Paul, who thrice besought the Lord to relieve him of the sting of his flesh, was told: |My grace is sufficient for thee.|(61)

4. The Illuminating Grace of the Mind and the Strengthening Grace of the Will Considered as Vital Acts of the Soul. -- If we examine these graces more closely to determine their physical nature, we find that they are simply vital acts of the intellect and the will, and receive the character of divine |graces| from the fact that they are supernaturally excited in the soul by God.

a) The Biblical, Patristic, and conciliar terms cogitatio, suasio, scientia, cognitio, as well as delectatio, voluptas, desiderium, caritas, bona voluntas, cupiditas, all manifestly point to vital acts of the soul. But even where grace is described as vocatio, illuminatio, illustratio, excitatio, pulsatio, inspiratio, or tractio, the reference can only be -- if not formaliter, at least virtualiter -- to immanent vital acts of the intellect or will. This is the concurrent teaching of SS. Augustine and Thomas Aquinas. The former says: |God calls [us] by [our] innermost thoughts,| and: |See how the Father draws [and] by teaching delights [us].|(62) The latter quotes the Aristotelian axiom: |Actus moventis in moto est motus.|(63)

If the graces of the intellect and of the will are supernaturally inspired acts of the soul, by what process does the mind of man respond to the impulse of illumination and inspiration?

The language employed by the Fathers and councils leaves no doubt that supernatural knowledge manifests itself mainly in judgments. But simple apprehension and ratiocination must also play a part, (1) because these two operations are of the essence of human thought, and the grace of illumination always works through natural agencies; and (2) because some intellectual apprehensions are merely condensed judgments and syllogisms.

The graces of the will naturally work through the spiritual emotions or passions, of which there are eleven: love and hatred, joy and sadness, desire and abhorrence, hope and despair, fear and daring, and lastly anger. With the exception of despair (for which there is no place in the business of salvation), all these passions have a practical relation to good and evil and are consequently called |graces| both in Scripture and Tradition. Love (amor) is the fundamental affection of the will, to which all others are reducible, and hence the principal function of grace, in so far as it affects the will, must consist in producing acts of love.(64) The Council of Carthage (A. D.418) declares that |both to know what we must do, and to love to do it, is a gift of God.|(65) It would be a mistake, however, to identify this |love| with theological charity, which is |a perfect love of God above all things for His own sake.|(66) Justification begins with supernatural faith, is followed by fear, hope, and contrition, and culminates in charity.(67)

St. Augustine sometimes employs the word caritas in connections where it cannot possibly mean theological love.(68) This peculiar usage is based on the idea that love of goodness in a certain way attracts man towards God and prepares him for the theological virtue of charity. In studying the writings of St. Augustine, therefore, we must carefully distinguish between caritas in the strict, and caritas in a secondary and derived sense.(69) The champions of the falsely so-called Augustinian theory of grace(70) disregard this important distinction and erroneously claim that St. Augustine identifies |grace| with caritas in the sense of theological love; just as if faith, hope, contrition, and the fear of God were not also graces in the true meaning of the term, and could not exist without theological charity.

b) Not a few theologians, especially of the Thomist school, enlarge the list of actual graces by including therein, besides the supernatural vital acts of the soul, certain extrinsic, non-vital qualities (qualitates fluentes, non vitales) that precede these acts and form their basis. It is impossible, they argue, to elicit vital or immanent supernatural acts unless the faculties of the soul have previously been raised to the supernatural order by means of the potentia oboedientialis. The gratia elevans, which produces in the soul of the sinner the same effects that the so-called infused habits produce in the soul of the just, is a supernatural power really distinct from its vital effects. In other words, they say, the vital supernatural acts of the soul are preceded and produced by a non-vital grace, which must be conceived as a |fluent quality.| These |fluent| (the opponents of the theory ironically call them |dead|) qualities are alleged to be real graces.(71) Alvarez and others endeavor to give their theory a dogmatic standing by quoting in its support all those passages of Sacred Scripture, the Fathers and councils in which prevenient grace is described as pulsatio, excitatio, vocatio, tractio, tactus, and so forth. The act of knocking or calling, they say, is not identical with the act of opening, in fact the former is a grace in a higher sense than the latter, because it is performed by God alone, while the response comes from the soul cooeperating with God.(72)

The theory thus briefly described is both theologically and philosophically untenable.

{GREEK SMALL LETTER ALPHA}) Holy Scripture and Tradition nowhere mention any such non-vital entities or qualities, -- a circumstance which would be inexplicable if it were true, what Cardinal Gotti asserts,(73) that the term |grace| applies primarily and in the strict sense to these qualities, while the vital acts are merely effects. Whenever Sacred Scripture, the Fathers, and the Church speak literally, without the use of metaphors, they invariably apply the term |grace| to these vital acts themselves and ascribe their supernatural character to an immediate act of God.(74) In perfect conformity with this teaching St. Augustine explains such metaphorical terms as vocare and tangere in the sense of credere and fides.(75) God employs no |fluent qualities| or |non-vital entities| in the dispensation of His grace, but effects the supernatural elevation of the soul immediately and by Himself.(76)

{GREEK SMALL LETTER BETA}) The theory under consideration is inadmissible also from the philosophical point of view. A quality does not |flow| or tend to revert to nothingness. On the contrary, its very nature demands that it remain constant until destroyed by its opposite or by some positive cause. It is impossible to conceive a quality that would of itself revert to nothingness without the intervention of a destructive cause. Billuart merely beats the air when he says: |Potest dici qualitas incompleta habens se per modum passionis transeuntis.|(77) What would Aristotle have said if he had been told of a thing that was half {GREEK SMALL LETTER PI}{GREEK SMALL LETTER OMICRON}{GREEK SMALL LETTER IOTA}{GREEK SMALL LETTER OMICRON WITH OXIA}{GREEK SMALL LETTER NU} and half {GREEK SMALL LETTER PI}{GREEK SMALL LETTER ALPHA WITH OXIA}{GREEK SMALL LETTER SIGMA}{GREEK SMALL LETTER CHI}{GREEK SMALL LETTER EPSILON}{GREEK SMALL LETTER IOTA}{GREEK SMALL LETTER NU}, and consequently neither the one nor the other? Actual grace is transitory; it passes away with the act which it inspires, and consequently may be said to |flow.| But this very fact proves that it is not a dead quality, but a modus vitalis supernaturalis. In the dispensation of His grace, God employs no fluent qualities or non-vital entities, but He Himself is the immediate cause of the supernatural elevation of the human soul and its faculties. St. Thomas is perfectly consistent, therefore, when he defines actual grace as a vital act of the soul.(78)

5. PREVENIENT AND COOePERATING GRACE. -- The vital acts of the soul are either spontaneous impulses or free acts of the will. Grace may precede free-will or cooeperate with it. If it precedes the free determination of the will it is called prevenient; if it accompanies (or coincides with) that determination and merely cooeperates with the will, it is called cooeperating grace.

Prevenient grace, regarded as a divine call to penance, is often styled gratia vocans sive excitans, and if it is received with a willing heart, gratia adiuvans. Both species are distinctly mentioned in Holy Scripture. Cfr. Eph. V, 14: |Wherefore he saith: Rise thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead: and Christ shall enlighten thee.| 2 Tim. I, 9: |Who hath delivered us and called us by his holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the times of the world.| Rom. VIII, 26: |Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmity.| Rom. VIII, 30: |And whom he predestinated, them he also called. And whom he called, them he also justified. And whom he justified, them he also glorified.| Apoc. III, 20: |Behold I stand at the gate and knock. If any man shall hear my voice, and open to me the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.|

St. Augustine says: |Forasmuch as our turning away from God is our own act and deed, and this is [our] depraved will; but that we turn to God, this we cannot do except He rouse and help us, and this is [our] good will, -- what have we that we have not received?|(79)

An equivalent division is that into gratia operans and cooeperans, respectively -- names which are also founded on Scripture. Cfr. Phil. II, 13: |For it is God who worketh in you, both to will and to accomplish, according to his good will.| Mark XVI, 20: |But they going forth preached everywhere: the Lord working withal, and confirming the word with signs that followed.|

St. Augustine describes the respective functions of these graces as follows: |He [God] begins His influence by working in us that we may have the will, and He completes it by working with us when we have the will.|(80)

A third division of the same grace is that into praeveniens and subsequens. It is likewise distinctly Scriptural,(81) and its two members coincide materially with gratia vocans and adiuvans, as can be seen by comparing the usage of St. Augustine with that of the Tridentine Council. |God's mercy,| says the holy Doctor, |prevents [i.e. precedes] the unwilling to make him willing; it follows the willing lest he will in vain.|(82) And the Council of Trent declares that |in adults the beginning of justification is to be derived from the prevenient grace of God, through Jesus Christ, that is to say, from His vocation, whereby, without any merits existing on their part, they are called.|(83)

If we conceive a continuous series of supernatural graces, each may be called either prevenient or subsequent, according as it is regarded either as a cause or as an effect. St. Thomas explains this as follows: |As grace is divided into working and cooeperating grace, according to its diverse effects, so it may also be divided into prevenient and subsequent grace, according to the meaning attached to the term grace [i.e., either habitual or actual]. The effects which grace works in us are five: (1) It heals the soul; (2) moves it to will that which is good; (3) enables man efficaciously to perform the good deeds which he wills; (4) helps him to persevere in his good resolves; and (5) assists him in attaining to the state of glory. In so far as it produces the first of these effects, grace is called prevenient in respect of the second; and in so far as it produces the second, it is called subsequent in respect of the first. And as each effect is posterior to one and prior to another, so grace may be called prevenient or subsequent according as we regard it in its relations to different effects.|(84)

Among so many prevenient graces there must be one which is preceded by none other (simpliciter praeveniens), and this is preeminently the gratia vocans s. excitans.

There is a fourth and last division, mentioned by the Council of Trent, which is also based on the relation of grace to free-will. |Jesus Christ Himself,| says the holy Synod, |continually infuses His virtue into the justified, and this virtue always precedes, accompanies, and follows their good works.|(85) The opposition here lies between gratia antecedens, which is a spontaneous movement of the soul, and gratia concomitans, which cooeperates with free-will after it has given its consent. This terminology may be applied to the good works of sinners and saints alike. For the sinner no less than the just man receives two different kinds of graces -- (1) such as precede the free determination of the will and (2) such as accompany his free acts.

Thus it can be readily seen that the fundamental division of actual grace, considered in its relation to free-will, is that into prevenient and cooeperating grace. All other divisions are based on a difference of function rather than of nature.(86)

a) The existence of prevenient grace (gratia praeveniens s. excitans s. vocans) may be inferred from the fact that the process of justification begins with the illumination of the intellect, which is by nature unfree, i.e. devoid of the power of choosing between good and evil. That there are also graces which consist in spontaneous, indeliberate motions of the will,(87) is clearly taught by the Council of Trent,(88) and evidenced by certain Biblical metaphors. Thus God is described as knocking at the gate (Apoc. III, 20), as drawing men to Him (John VI, 44), and men are said to harden their hearts against His voice (Ps. XCIV, 8), etc. Cfr. Jer. XVII, 23: |But they did not hear, nor incline their ear: but hardened their neck, that they might not hear me, and might not receive instruction.|

The Catholic tradition is voiced by St. Augustine, who says: |The will itself can in no wise be moved, unless it meets with something which delights or attracts the mind; but it is not in the power of man to bring this about.|(89) St. Prosper enumerates a long list of spontaneous emotions which he calls supernatural graces of the will.(90)

Prevenient grace is aptly characterized by the Patristic formula: |Gratia est in nobis, sed sine nobis,| that is, grace, as a vital act, is in the soul, but as a salutary act it proceeds, not from the free will, but from God. In other words, though the salutary acts of grace derive their vitality from the human will, they are mere actus hominis ({GREEK SMALL LETTER THETA}{GREEK SMALL LETTER EPSILON WITH OXIA}{GREEK SMALL LETTER LAMDA}{GREEK SMALL LETTER ETA}{GREEK SMALL LETTER SIGMA}{GREEK SMALL LETTER IOTA}{GREEK SMALL LETTER FINAL SIGMA}), not actus humani ({GREEK SMALL LETTER BETA}{GREEK SMALL LETTER OMICRON}{GREEK SMALL LETTER UPSILON WITH OXIA}{GREEK SMALL LETTER LAMDA}{GREEK SMALL LETTER ETA}{GREEK SMALL LETTER SIGMA}{GREEK SMALL LETTER IOTA}{GREEK SMALL LETTER FINAL SIGMA}).(91) |God,| explains St. Augustine, |does many good things in man, which man does not do; but man does none which God does not cause man to do.|(92) And again: |[God] operates without us, in order that we may become willing; but when we once will so as to act, He cooeperates with us. We can, however, ourselves do nothing to effect good works of piety without Him either working that we may will, or cooeperating when we will.|(93) St. Bernard employs similar language.(94)

b) Cooeperating grace (gratia cooperans s. adiuvans s. subsequens) differs from prevenient grace in this, that it supposes a deliberate act of consent on the part of the will ({GREEK SMALL LETTER BETA}{GREEK SMALL LETTER OMICRON}{GREEK SMALL LETTER UPSILON WITH OXIA}{GREEK SMALL LETTER LAMDA}{GREEK SMALL LETTER ETA}{GREEK SMALL LETTER SIGMA}{GREEK SMALL LETTER IOTA}{GREEK SMALL LETTER FINAL SIGMA}, not {GREEK SMALL LETTER THETA}{GREEK SMALL LETTER EPSILON WITH OXIA}{GREEK SMALL LETTER LAMDA}{GREEK SMALL LETTER ETA}{GREEK SMALL LETTER SIGMA}{GREEK SMALL LETTER IOTA}{GREEK SMALL LETTER FINAL SIGMA}). St. Gregory the Great tersely explains the distinction as follows: |The divine goodness first effects something in us without our cooeperation [gratia praeveniens], and then, as the will freely consents, cooeperates with us in performing the good which we desire [gratia cooperans].|(95) That such free and consequently meritorious acts are attributable to grace is emphasized by the Tridentine Council: |So great is the bounty [of God] towards all men that He will have the things which are His own gifts to be their merits.|(96) Such free salutary acts are not only graces in the general sense, but real actual graces, in as far as they produce other salutary acts, and their existence is as certain as the fact that many men freely follow the call of grace, work out their salvation, and attain to the beatific vision. It is only in this way, in fact, that Heaven is peopled with Saints.

{GREEK SMALL LETTER ALPHA}) St. Augustine embodies all these considerations in the following passage: |It is certain that we keep the commandments when we will; but because the will is prepared by the Lord, we must ask of Him that we may will so much as is sufficient to make us act in willing. It is certain that we will whenever we like, but it is He who makes us will what is good, of whom it is said (Prov. VIII, 35): 'The will is prepared by the Lord,' and of whom it is said (Ps. XXXVI, 32): 'The steps of a [good] man are ordered by the Lord, and his way doth He will,' and of whom it is said (Phil. II, 13): 'It is God who worketh in you, even to will.' It is certain that we act whenever we set to work; but it is He who causes us to act, by giving thoroughly efficacious powers to our will, who has said (Ezech. XXXVI, 27): 'I will cause you to walk in my commandments, and to keep my judgments, and do them.' When He says: 'I will cause you ... to do them,' what else does He say in fact than (Ezech. XI, 19): 'I will take away the stony heart out of their flesh,' from which used to rise your inability to act, and (Ezech. XXXVI, 26): 'I will give you a heart of flesh,' in order that you may act.|(97)

{GREEK SMALL LETTER BETA}) The manner in which grace and free-will cooeperate is a profound philosophical and theological problem. A salutary act derives its supernatural character from God, its vitality from the human will. How do these two factors conjointly produce one and the same act? The unity of the act would be destroyed if God and the free-will of man in each case performed, either two separate acts, or each half of the same act. To preserve the unity of a supernatural act two conditions are required: (1) the divine power of grace must be transformed into the vital strength of the will and (2) the created will, which by its own power can perform at most a naturally good act, must be equipped with the supernatural power of grace. These conditions are met (a) by the supernatural elevation of the will (elevatio externa), and (b) by the supernatural concurrence of God (concursus supernaturalis ad actum secundum). The supernatural elevation of the will is accomplished in this wise: God, by employing the illuminating and strengthening grace, works on the potentia oboedientialis, and thus raises the will above its purely natural powers and constitutes it a supernatural faculty in actu primo for the free performance of a salutary act. The divine concursus supervenes to enable the will to perform the actus secundus or salutary act proper. This special divine concurrence, in contradistinction to the natural concursus whereby God supports the created universe,(98) is a strictly supernatural and gratuitous gift. Consequently, God and the human will jointly perform one and the same salutary act -- God as the principal, the will as the instrumental cause.(99)

6. EFFICACIOUS GRACE AND MERELY SUFFICIENT GRACE. -- By efficacious grace (gratia efficax) we understand that divine assistance which with infallible certainty includes the free salutary act. Whether the certainty of its operation results from the physical nature of this particular grace, or from God's infallible foreknowledge (scientia media), is a question in dispute between Thomists and Molinists.(100)

Merely sufficient grace (gratia mere sufficiens) is that divine assistance whereby God communicates to the human will full power to perform a salutary act (posse) but not the action itself (agere).

The division of grace into efficacious and merely sufficient is not identical with that into prevenient and cooeperating. Cooeperating grace does not ex vi notionis include with infallible certainty the salutary act. It may indeed be efficacious, but in matter of fact frequently fails to attain its object because the will offers resistance.

a) The existence of efficacious graces is as certain as that there is a Heaven filled with Saints. God would be neither omnipotent nor infinitely wise if all His graces were frustrated by the free-will of man. St. Augustine repeatedly expresses his belief in the existence of efficacious graces. Thus he writes in his treatise on Grace and Free-Will: |It is certain that we act whenever we set to work; but it is He [God] who causes us to act, by giving thoroughly efficacious powers to the will.|(101) And in another treatise: |[Adam] had received the ability (posse) if he would [gratia sufficiens], but he had not the will to exercise that ability [gratia efficax]; for if he had possessed that will, he would have persevered.|(102)

b) Before demonstrating the existence of sufficient grace it is necessary, in view of certain heretical errors, carefully to define the term.

{GREEK SMALL LETTER ALPHA}) Actual grace may be regarded either in its intrinsic energy or power (virtus, potestas agendi) or in its extrinsic efficacy (efficientia, efficacitas). All graces are efficacious considered in their intrinsic energy, because all confer the physical and moral power necessary to perform the salutary act for the sake of which they are bestowed. From this point of view, therefore, and in actu primo, there is no real but a purely logical distinction between efficacious and merely sufficient grace. If we look to the final result, however, we find that this differs according as the will either freely cooeperates with grace or refuses its cooeperation. If the will cooeperates, grace becomes truly efficacious; if the will resists, grace remains |merely sufficient.| In other words, merely sufficient grace confers full power to act, but is rendered ineffective by the resistance of the will.

The inefficacy of merely sufficient grace, therefore, is owing to the resistance of the will and not to any lack of intrinsic power. This is a truth to which all Catholic systems of grace must conform.

Merely sufficient grace may be subdivided into gratia proxime sufficiens and gratia remote sufficiens.

Proximately sufficient grace (also called gratia operationis) confers upon the will full power to act forthwith, while remotely sufficient grace (also termed gratia orationis) confers only the grace of prayer, which in its turn brings down full power to perform other salutary acts.

The gratia orationis plays a most important role in the divine economy of grace. God has not obliged Himself to give man immediately all the graces he needs. It is His will, in many instances, as when we are besieged by temptations, that we petition Him for further assistance. |God does not enjoin impossibilities,| says St. Augustine, |but in His injunctions He counsels you both to do what you can for yourself, and to ask His aid in what you cannot do.|(103)

Hence, though grace may sometimes remain ineffective (gratia inefficax = gratia vere et mere sufficiens), it is never insufficient (insufficiens), that is to say, never too weak to accomplish its purpose.

Calvinism and Jansenism, while retaining the name, have eliminated sufficient grace from their doctrinal systems.

Jansenius (+ 1638) admits a kind of |sufficient grace,| which he calls gratia parva, but it is really insufficient because no action can result from it unless it is supplemented by another and more powerful grace.(104) This heretic denounced sufficient grace in the Catholic sense as a monstrous conception and a means of peopling hell with reprobates.(105) Some of his followers even went so far as to assert that |in our present state sufficient grace is pernicious rather than useful to us, and we have reason to pray: From sufficient grace, O Lord, deliver us!|(106)

{GREEK SMALL LETTER BETA}) It is an article of faith that there is a merely sufficient grace and that it is truly sufficient even when frustrated by the resistance of the will. The last-mentioned point is emphasized by the Second Council of Orange (A. D.529): |This also we believe, according to the Catholic faith, that all baptized persons, through the grace received in Baptism, and with the help and cooeperation of Christ, are able and in duty bound, if they will faithfully do their share, to comply with all the conditions necessary for salvation.|(107) The existence of sufficient grace was formally defined by the Council of Trent as follows: |If any one saith that man's free-will, moved and excited by God, ... no wise cooeperates towards disposing and preparing itself for obtaining the grace of justification; that it cannot refuse its consent if it would, ... let him be anathema.|(108)

This dogma can be convincingly demonstrated both from Sacred Scripture and Tradition.

(1) God Himself complains through the mouth of the prophet Isaias: |What is there that I ought to do more to my vineyard, that I have not done to it? Was it that I looked that it should bring forth grapes, and it hath brought forth wild grapes?|(109) This complaint clearly applies to the Jews. Yahweh did for the Jewish nation whatever it behooved Him to do lavishly (gratia vere sufficiens), but His kindness was unrequited (gratia mere sufficiens). In the Book of Proverbs He addresses the sinner in these terms: |I called, and you refused: I stretched out my hand, and there was none that regarded.|(110) What does this signify if not the complete sufficiency of grace? The proffered grace remained inefficacious simply because the sinner rejected it of his own free will. Upbraiding the wicked cities of Corozain and Bethsaida, our Lord exclaims: |If in Tyre and Sidon had been wrought the miracles that have been wrought in you, they had long ago done penance in sackcloth and ashes.|(111) The omniscient God-man here asserts the existence of graces which remained inefficacious in Corozain and Bethsaida, though had they been given to the inhabitants of Tyre and Sidon, they would have proved effective. The conclusion evidently is: these graces remained ineffective, not because they were unequal to the purpose for which they were conferred, but simply and solely because they were rejected by those whom God intended to benefit.(112)

(2) Though they did not employ the name, the Fathers were thoroughly familiar with the notion of sufficient grace.

Thus St. Irenaeus comments on our Lord's lamentation over the fate of the Holy City: |When He says: (Matth. XXIII, 37): 'How often would I have gathered together thy children, ... and thou wouldest not,' He manifests the ancient liberty of man, because God hath made him free from the beginning.... For God does not employ force, but always has a good intention. And for this reason He gives good counsel to all.... And those who do it [gratia efficax] will receive glory and honor, because they have done good, though they were free not to do it; but those who do not do good will experience the just judgment of God, because they have not done good [gratia inefficax], though they were able to do it [gratia vere et mere sufficiens].|(113) St. Augustine is in perfect agreement with ecclesiastical tradition, and the Jansenists had no right whatever to claim him for their teaching. |The grace of God,| he expressly says in one place, |assists the will of men. If in any case men are not assisted by it, the reason lies with themselves, not God.|(114) And again: |No one is guilty because he has not received; but he who does not do what he ought to do, is truly guilty. It is his duty to act if he has received a free will and amply sufficient power to act.|(115)

READINGS: -- St. Thomas, Summa Theologica, 1a 2ae, qu.110, art.1; qu.111, art.1-5. -- J. Scheeben, Natur und Gnade, Mainz 1861. -- M. Glossner, Lehre des hl. Thomas vom Wesen der Gnade, Mainz 1871. -- Palmieri, De Gratia Divina Actuali, thes.1-16, Gulpen 1885. -- Oswald, Die Lehre von der Heiligung, 3rd ed., § 1-3, Paderborn 1885. -- S. Schiffini, De Gratia Divina, disp.1, sect.2; disp.3, sect.1-5, Freiburg 1901. -- Heinrich-Gutberlet, Dogmatische Theologie, Vol. VIII, pp.3 sqq., Mainz 1897. -- B. J. Otten, S. J., A Manual of the History of Dogmas, Vol. II, St. Louis 1918, pp.234 sqq.

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