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Back to Authority.

In the unpacking of the meaning and value of Grace, I journeyed toward this quote from the Catechism of the Catholic Church. I wish I’d started from this platform from on the outset of my investigation!

The Great John Paul II. The CCC (Catechism of the Catholic Church) is a document that Catholics must have at their fingertips explaining the Faith of Christ’s Church. It is the the definitive reference on what the Church teaches, used by Roman Catholics for the sake of  the clarification of the Faith. Thank you Blessed John Paul for this invaluable treasure!!

So, here goes:- (I include italics and bold lettering for the purposes of this post) 

II. Ways of Coming to Know God

31 Created in God’s image and called to know and love him, the person who seeks God discovers certain ways of coming to know him. These are also called proofs for the existence of God, not in the sense of proofs in the natural sciences, but rather in the sense of “converging and convincing arguments”, which allow us to attain certainty about the truth. These “ways” of approaching God from creation have a twofold point of departure: the physical world, and the human person.

32 The world: starting from movement, becoming, contingency, and the world’s order and beauty, one can come to a knowledge of God as the origin and the end of the universe.

As St. Paul says of the Gentiles: For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. Ever since the creation of the world his invisible nature, namely, his eternal power and deity, has been clearly perceived in the things that have been made.7

And St. Augustine issues this challenge: Question the beauty of the earth, question the beauty of the sea, question the beauty of the air distending and diffusing itself, question the beauty of the sky. . . question all these realities. All respond: “See, we are beautiful.” Their beauty is a profession [confessio]. These beauties are subject to change. Who made them if not the Beautiful One [Pulcher] who is not subject to change?8

33 The human person: with his openness to truth and beauty, his sense of moral goodness, his freedom and the voice of his conscience, with his longings for the infinite and for happiness, man questions himself about God’s existence. In all this he discerns signs of his spiritual soul. the soul, the “seed of eternity we bear in ourselves, irreducible to the merely material”,9 can have its origin only in God.

34 The world, and man, attest that they contain within themselves neither their first principle nor their final end, but rather that they participate in Being itself, which alone is without origin or end. Thus, in different ways, man can come to know that there exists a reality which is the first cause and final end of all things, a reality “that everyone calls God”.10

35 Man’s faculties make him capable of coming to the knowledge of the existence of a personal God. But for man to be able to enter into real intimacy with him, God willed both to reveal himself to man, and to give him the grace of being able to welcome this revelation in faith.(so) the proofs of God’s existence, however, can predispose one to faith and help one to see that faith is not opposed to reason.

This explanation of Grace leads me to the understanding and appreciation of the necessary trigger called free will in asking for and recognising God in all things; the acceptance of God as Lord over all;  through the application of reason and hard-wiring placed in our hearts by the loving Father. God.

pedra sepulcral cristã das catacumbas de Domit...

So Grace is given freely to those who recognise God as Lord and Saviour as a means of growing in intimacy with Him. Just beautiful. Beautiful! From comments on a previous post on Grace, BILTRIX mentioned ‘Sanctifying Grace’, and this rang bells for me harking back many moons ago to Catechism classes. (I did check up on this again) I know that there is two kinds of Grace: Sanctifying and Actual. Sanctifying grace stays in the soul. It’s what makes the soul holy; it gives the soul supernatural life. More properly, it is supernatural life.  Actual grace, by contrast, is a supernatural push or encouragement. It’s transient. It doesn’t live in the soul, but acts on the soul from the outside, so to speak. It’s a supernatural kick in the pants. It gets the will and intellect moving so we can seek out and keep Sanctifying Grace.

Shoots of understanding.

I found a website a few years ago and unearthed it in order to straighten out questions in my mind about Grace. This website (www.fisheaters.com)  is invaluable, as it details both Protestant and Catholic understanding of the Faith.The book that was the catalyst for my investigation about Grace was written by a Protestant Christian, and I had difficulty reconciling what I ‘d read in the book with what I know as a Catholic Christian, so this website provided the balance I needed to iron out questions I had about the author’s perspective on Grace.

The bottom line: all salvation comes from the grace of Christ’s Sacrifice and only from the grace of His Sacrifice. Salvation is a free gift — a gift that is not “owed” to us, that God didn’t have to offer us, and that we could never “earn” on our own — that we accept by faith and works. Christ doesn’t have to give us this gift of salvation; we don’t “deserve” this gift, we can’t “earn” it; but He, in His endless Love for us, offers it nonetheless. We have to believe this gift exists (have faith) and then open our hands to receive it (obey, inspired by the grace given to us).

 I really like this comparison: 

An analogy: there is a train called “Grace” that is the one and only route to Heaven and which is fueled by Christ’s Passion, Resurrection, and Ascension alone. Some Protestants seem to believe that all one has to do is believe the train exists and all will be well. They accuse Catholics of thinking that belief in the train is unnecessary, that we can give out free soup in the train station and, thereby, bypass the train altogether. But what Catholics actually believe is that the train — Grace — is the only way to Heaven, that it is the only means by which we are saved, that we can’t take another route and can do nothing about getting to Heaven without that train. But we also teach that we have to believe in the train’s existence and board it through repentance and obedience to what Christ teaches. God is the Conductor of the train, completely Sovereign, and can go off the tracks if need be to pick up those who are truly and invincibly ignorant of the train’s existence but who are of good will, obey the natural law, and whom He deigns to save. If, when, and how He might do such a thing is completely up to Him and not for us to bicker about. It is to us to do what He has taught us: to believe, repent, love God and neighbor, and preach the Gospel.

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