Skip to comments.Course on Grace: Grace Considered Intensively,Deiform Life by Sanctifying Grace [Cath & Open]
Posted on 07/28/2012 12:44:08 PM PDT by Salvation
by Fr. John A. Hardon, S.J.
Deiform Life by Sanctifying Grace
When a person is justified, does he have a new life? It would seem so, for if sanctifying grace makes us sharers of the divine nature, must it not also make us sharers of the divine life, since God's nature is nothing if not vital. And yet, a new life is a difficult concept.
However, Sacred Scripture, the Father of the Church, Popes and theologians all join in proclaiming that in the just -- those born again of water and the Holy Spirit -- there is new life. Besides his triple natural life the just man enjoys a new, higher, supernatural life of grace. This is what puzzled Nicodemus: he already had human life and thought it absurd to be "born again." Our Lord, however, told him that he was wrong: what is born of flesh has the nature of flesh, but what is born of the Spirit is of the nature of the Spirit.
In St. John we read that Christ said: "I am come that they may have life and have it more abundantly," and "unless a man be born again" (i.e. to a new - supernatural life). The Evangelist adds: "These are written that believing you may have life in His Name," not a natural life, which they already have, but new, supernatural life. (John 10, 10; 3, 1; 21, 31.) St. Paul calls it a new life (Romans 6,4), and for him it involves the infusion of a new vital principle (sanctifying grace) whereby man is regenerated, renovated, interiorly transformed. Pope Pius XI called sanctifying grace the "permanent principle of supernatural life (Casti Conubii, December 31, 1930)." Theologians call it supernatural life, or the life of grace,
Divine Life. But may we call this new life "divine life?" This new life of grace cannot be strictly divine. Only the Three Divine Persons have and can have divine life, properly so-called, for that life is identified with the divine nature. Only God can have such life, and He cannot give it to any creature. Pope Pius XII warns the faithful not to try 'in any way to pass beyond the sphere of creatures and wrongly enter the divine, were it only to the extent of appropriating to themselves as their own but one single attribute of the eternal Godhead. (Mystici Corporis, n. 78)." Strictly divine life is eternal and uncreated.
And yet this same Pope calls the sacraments "rivers of divine grace and divine life (Mediator Dei, November 20, 1947)." What does he mean?
St. Basil long ago expressed it very simply when he called this new life "a similitude of the divine life." It is just that -- a likeness of God's own life -- a God-like life. It is a life above that of the angels, a life that is closest to and most like God's own life, a deiform life. It is a "share in" the divine life, but it is not God's own life. When we are justified, we have God dwelling in us; there He lives and produces in us a life like His, Since He cannot give us His own life, He gives us the best next thing, a life like his own, as like to God's life as life can ever be; we cannot have a higher.
Do we have this deiform life here on earth or only in heaven? We have a deiform life here, just as we have a deiform nature here. Once again we may use the Beatific Vision as the integrating factor in our explanation. Gods Beatific Vision is a vital, immanent activity. Our Beatific Vision will also be a vital activity, since it is God-like, deiform; in fact it is the supreme deiform activity, the highest vital activity we can have. But where you have a vital activity, there you must have a vital principle. And where you have a deiform vital activity, there you must have a deiform vital principle. And that is precisely what sanctifying grace is, a deiform vital principle of the supremely deiform vital activity that we call the Beatific Vision. But more than that, it is also the vital principle of all the deiform activity on earth.
Deiform Life on Earth. Do we really have vital deiform activity here on earth? In a justified adult, Yes; in a justified infant, No. But without any vital deiform activity, can this infant have deiform life? Yes.
Do we say than an infant has human life? Yes. Does it think or freely will anything? No, it is incapable of any specifically human activity. Yet we say that it has human life. We ask, than, must you act humanly to be human? No, but you must have the ultimate principle of human life, a human soul. So we see that to have life can mean two things: 1. to have a vital principle, the principle of life, life in principle; 2. to have also vital activity, the activity of life, life in exercise. A human child has a human vital principle, but until it reaches the age of reason, no specifically human vital activity. A deiform infant similarly, has a deiform vital principle (sanctifying grace) but no specifically deiform vital activity. It has deiform life in principle.
But in the justified adult there is deiform life both in principle and in activity. For in him there is both the vital deiform principle, sanctifying grace, and vital deiform activity in the form of condignly meritorious acts. Every such act merits an increase of the Beatific Vision (the supremely deiform activity) and of sanctifying grace (the deiform principle). And since every such act makes him more God-like, more deiform, and proceeds from a deiform principle, it can quite properly be called a deiform act. Which acts of this deiform adult would be deiform acts? St. Thomas seems to say that every one of his good acts would be deiform (condignly meritorious).
Deiform acts, of course, admit of a hierarchy. The highest is the Beatific Vision of heaven, followed by the "experimental knowledge and love" of the mystics. The ascending order of deiform activity on earth would be; 1. incipient (purgative) deiform activity; 2. proficient. (illuminative); 3. perfect (unitive). These will find their consummation in the supreme deiform activity, the beatific activity of heaven. Purgative deiform activity in a sense is largely negative, intent on avoiding sin and removing things that take us away from God; illuminative deiform activity is more intent on practising virtue, on doing good rather than avoiding evil; unitive deiform activity is intent on ever greater, more habitual and perfect union with God and may (God willing) find its earthly climax in "experimental knowledge and love of God and things divine."
Experimental Knowledge. We have already spoken of this "experimental" knowledge of God as something of a "spiritual sensing," which is remarkably similar to what happens in this form of perception and what is experienced in sense perception. St. Bonaventure speaks of "the taste and experience of the divine suavity." Thus the mystic "tastes" the sweetness of God without seeing Him, or "feels" His presence by an almost physical "touch" of God -- so that he knows he is being touched and knows the Source of the touch. How that happens, is still an open question. We are sometimes said to be "touched" by an inspiration, but without clear consciousness of being touched by God. Mystical experiences are not all delightful. God may "touch" one to intense love and desire, and then He may not "be there" anymore. What ensues can be intense pain, desolation, dereliction -- a deep purgation, as deep, perhaps, as purgatorial pain. Normally such graces follow on a certain preparatory disposition, and if a person is unwilling to go through such purgations, he may not advance further -- at least not then. Transitions to higher deiform activity seem ordinarily to involve added purgation -- aimed at fuller and fuller detachment from sensible consolation, from spiritual consolation, and finally from all selfishness. God aims at a deeper and deeper purification so there can be a greater and greater union of the soul with God.
Realization of Deiform Life. To realize this deiform life and to live it to the full, as God wishes, is not easy. To do this we just open wide the "Eyes of Faith" that "see" this hidden life. For though it is very real, and important for eternity, it is hidden away and its growth imperceptible to ordinary eyes. But deiform life has laws of birth, growth, death, and resurrection, that are remotely analogous to the laws of natural life,
Origin. As our natural life comes to us through generation, so deiform life comes to us by "regeneration (John 3, 5)." Ordinarily this deiform life first comes by the sacrament of baptism. In certain cases it may derive from baptism of blood or baptism of desire. Meritoriously it is a life that came out of Christ: it took the Death of Christ on the Cross to give it to us.
Growth. Our natural life grows through food, exercise and activity, and living in the proper atmosphere of warmth, light, and care. Our deiform life grows by the performance of deiform (condignly meritorious) acts, and by the fruitful reception of the sacraments. For proper growth three things are particularly important: 1. food -- and the special food of this life is the Eucharistic Bread; 2. atmosphere and the ideal atmosphere of deiform life is prayer and sacrifice; 3. exercise -- and the ideal exercise of this life is the proper and continual use of the infused theological and moral virtues. Special strength comes from the "strong-making" virtues: fortitude and temperance, which also produce that docility to the Holy Sprit which is necessary for high sanctity through development of the divine Gifts.
In deiform growth the value of the Eucharistic Bread is hard to over-estimate. It makes the soul grow more into Christ, like to Christ, like to God. Take that Food away and God must resort to special devices to make up for its absence. Take the Eucharist out of some part of the world, and the Church suffers immediately, because deprived of the Sacrament of life, love, and union. Take it away, and faith weakens, for it is the Sacrament of faith. No amount of prayer, it seems, will ordinarily supply for the Eucharist. It is supreme. Some theologians say that without desire (at least implicit) of the Eucharist, there can be no salvation: "Unless you eat My Flesh and drink My Blood, you shall not have life in you (John 6, 55)." "Unless," they say, is a very strong word; so they make the Eucharist one of the principal links in the chain of perseverance.
Deiform growth depends on the graces God gives and the use we make of them. The state in which God places a person is the scene of merit and growth for him: those graces will ordinarily be given which fit these circumstances and fit the person into these circumstances. God's graces to parents are directed to make them more deiform mothers and fathers; His graces to religious are to make them more deiform religious. To "active-life" religious He gives "active-life" graces; to "contemplative-life" religious He gives "mixed.-life" graces. Consequently His purpose is to make us more and more like to Himself in mind, heart and will: there where He places us.
Perseverance. This deiform life requires proper food, atmosphere and exercise. But can every deiform adult infallibly get the grace of final perseverance in sanctifying grace? Yes. He cannot merit this condignly, but he can infallibly impetrate it by humble, suppliant, confident, persevering prayer. The early Fathers singled out one prayer as peculiarly the prayer of perseverance: the Our Father. The Church has added another, the Hail Mary, which has special value and unction. Combine the Nine Fridays and Five Saturdays, the Rosary and Scapular, with zeal for perfection, deep love of God and neighbor, and particularly daily Mass and Communion and we have the highest assurance of final perseverance.
It is true that without a special revelation no one can know with the certitude of faith that he has sanctifying grace. Our Lord gave this certitude to a few mentioned in the Gospels, e.g. when He said, "Thy sins are forgive." But we can have a moral assurance of being in sanctifying grace that is sufficient for all practical purposes, such as the reception of Holy Communion. Theologians commonly say that a "taste for things spiritual; contempt of earthly pleasures; zeal and perseverance in doing good; love of prayer and meditation; patience in suffering and adversity, a fervent devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary; frequent reception of the sacraments," are all valid signs of being in sanctifying grace Ordinarily, when one is living a good life observing the "grave" commandments, and has no consciousness of mortal sin, he need not worry, 'though a salutary fear of offending God is always in order. For such a fear will induce fervent prayer and effort never to offend God.
Weakening. While every just man has the power of persevering to the end of his life in sanctifying grace, he also has the power of losing this deiform life by mortal sin. And just as germs and disease can play a part in the loss of mans natural life, so in a similar way the life of grace may be lost. Temptations are sometimes called germs -- that lodge in the imagination, mind, or memory and weaken attachment to good while drawing to sin. Often they need the same drastic treatment that we give to germs that lodge in our bodies. Venial sins are often called disease. They cannot of themselves kill the deiform life but they can weaken and enfeeble it, by cooling the ardor of love and intimacy with God. They are particularly dangerous if habitual, for then they make a person accustomed to offending God and yielding to sinful attraction. They deaden his sensibility to the horror of sin, and gradually, almost insensibly, lead to mortal sin.
Death. Mortal sin brings death to this deiform life of grace. Sanctifying grace is lost, together with the infused virtues of charity, prudence, justice, fortitude and temperance, the gifts of the Holy Spirit; the Indwelling Trinity, the friendship of God, the merits acquired and the power to merit condignly.
Resurrection. This comes through the sacrament of Penance or an act of perfect contrition that involves at least an implicit desire of this sacrament, Once more sanctifying grace and all the infused virtues and the gifts of the Holy Spirit, the Indwelling Trinity -- return to the soul and faculties; together with friendship of God, the merits acquired, and the power to merit condignly an increase of sanctifying grace and glory.
Appreciate your open mindedness.
Enjoy your weekend.
“Are you so clueless you cant even recognize a scenarios and apply it? Must be because you proved it!”
You seem to be babbling nonsensically.
“It doesnt take much UNTRUTHS for a born again believer to KNOW IT and you, obviously, know NOTHING about that.”
No, I think I know more truths than you, and am better able to discern truth than you. You prove that in post after post.
“This is what happens when two of opposing spirits try to discuss anything.”
Except that you do not discuss really. You show up to a discussion with nothing to offer.
“So long and take your angst out on the CC hierarchy and their man made teachings - I AM SO NOT INTERESTED in your rant, pleas and misery.”
In other words, you can’t dispute what I wrote. Yeah, I thought as much.
Oh yes I can tell but will not - like I said NO PEARLS! Live with it!! HEAR and OBEY!
Discuss the issues all you want, but do not make it personal.
Don't be - be grounded in TRUTH and it's possible for you, also.
Until then, spend your time taking garbage in and then try to defend it. No skin off my nose! We all are given the same amount of time and we CHOOSE what we do with it. I choose wisely!
Show me where I made it personal to Natural Law as he/we been told time and time again, if one is thin skinned the RF if not the place for them.
Making the thread "about" individual Freepers, e.g. "YOUR attempt" is also a form of "making it personal." I intervene when the thread is off-track to prevent flame wars and salvage the discussion for posters/lurkers interested in the issues.
Concerning thin-skin, "open" Religion Forum threads are often contentious and thin-skinned posters should IGNORE them altogether and instead post to RF threads labeled "prayer" "devotional" "caucus" or "ecumenical."
I asked you because time and time again - when things aren't going a way to his liking, a 'do not make it personal' usually follows. It's common knowledge and I'm sure the record of, at least, the past five years will back it up. That said, I am explaining my reason for asking and not making this thread about him.
Thanks. I've been off of here but keep getting pinged back and with respect for them, I answer them.
Are you saying that you are on my ping list? That’s the only ping that went out here.
The next time you want to discuss debate tactics, create a thread for that purpose rather than posting on a thread discussing theological issues. But even then, make it about the tactics and not individual Freepers.
Actually it was about tactics and no one individually. Thank you.
NO, I did not say that - you are not the only poster on this thread. Let’s not put words in my mouth but drop it - you are making this thread about me.
a quote from the book, The Glories of Divine Grace by
Father Matthias Scheeben:
“The more we belong to God, the more
He is ours: the more we live in Him and for Him, the more He lives
in us and for us. Can we call the branch lost when it is grafted
to a nobler tree and drinks the same life from the same root,
whereas, if separated from the tree and left to itself, it would
wither or, as a wilding, would have but a stunted existence? On
the contrary, it can now boast not only of the life which it draws
from the tree, but also of the life and perfection which trunk and
roots possess for themselves. So may we too, united to God BY
GRACE, not only derive for our portion a ray of the divine glory,
not only channel off into our soul a small stream of the divine
life, but we may regard the divine Sun itself, the fountain of
divine life, as our very own; we can rejoice in the personal
perfections of God as if they were fully ours.
Being thus divinized in a twofold manner, we likewise enjoy a
twofold participation in divine beatitude: first, by beholding the
beauty and glory of God as He Himself sees and enjoys it, and
secondly, by possessing this same divine beauty and glory and
calling it our own, through grace, thus imitating God who
possesses it by nature.”
I have had a chance to reflect and pray on this incident and how the admonition applies to me specifically and I have to admit I am still confused and perplexed. I ask for clarification.
Catholics are instructed to not take criticism, even unfair and untrue criticism, of the Church and its doctrines, history and clergy personally on the presumption that there is nothing personal in a collectively held belief. On the other hand, Catholics are instructed to exercise far more restraint when criticizing beliefs that are clearly the product of an individual poster.
Posts the equivalent of "Catholicism is satanic" or "Catholics hate God" are so contemptuous and preposterous that they do not warrant a direct response. They are none the less apparently considered valid and acceptable posts since they are allowed to stand and do not draw a warning or rebuke from the moderators. Since they are apparently acceptable, they do beg that the thought process, motivations and sometimes even the sanity behind them be questioned. Remember, in most cases the offensive poster will not provide any denominational information beyond "not Catholic".
So my question is this; why is the statement "Catholicism is satanic and insane" acceptable but a statement to the effect that "your post is satanic and insane" unacceptable since the origin of the idea is clearly that of the poster?
Peace be with you
"...ISM is Satanic or insane" is not speaking of any Freeper personally and is therefore not "making it personal."
"Your post is Satanic or insane" is not speaking of you, personally, but rather the statement you made. It is not "making it personal" as mind reading or attributing motive - but if it causes the thread to be redirected into a discussion "about" you instead of the issues, it would be "making it personal" nonetheless.
Several posters end up in trouble by arguing against the messenger instead of the message. Ad hominems cause the thread to be redirected away from the issues, disrupting the thread for everyone else - and often result in flame wars. That is why I intervene.
The key to avoiding trouble is to discuss the issue instead of the poster.