Grace and Justification


Grace is of two main sorts regarding the subject: an actual grace or an habitual grace. An habitual grace is an ad hoc Divine help given to move the will and have the subject act; but habitual grace is a divinely bestowed objective quality residing in us, rather than a passing help to act.

Faith likewise can be of the same sorts, a specific actual grace to believe (and act of the mind and will to accept) here and now, or as a permanent quality in the mind and will, with a certain stability and enduringness, giving us the ability to act.

Of the habitual kinds of graces there is primarily (in importance) sanctifying grace which actually makes us holy in the substance of our being (not directly experienced), removing all original and deadly sin and disposing the soul to house the Trinity as in a temple (actually making the subject a "living stone" of the Temple who is Christ). This is the grace of justification, and it is a permanent quality making us divine-like (bestowing the likeness of God lost in original sin). It is bestowed in the Sacrament of Baptism.

The second kind of habitual graces is an infused power, e.g., the virtue of Faith, or of Hope or of Charity (or many other virtues) which are placed in the mind, memory and will of the subject. These habitual abilities in the mind, memory and will are also given at Baptism, and are powers that allow us to act as Christ.

So, for someone baptized validly as an infant is an infusion of habitual grace, i.e.: a) of sanctifying grace in the depths of the soul, and b) of the virtues of faith, hope, charity, and many other virtues. This means that the Holy Trinity is dwelling in the soul as in a temple (this occurs through the Sacrament by incorporation into Christ Himself). No actual graces (passing helps to move our wills to act) are given yet since the infant is not developed enough to be able to exercise his mind, memory or will). Later on when he is developed enough, internal actual graces to move the will to act are given (e.g., to pray) especially in conjunction with exterior graces (the example of one's parents, reminders, such as holy pictures, direct catechesis, etc.).

For the unbaptized person who already has the capacity to think and decide, it is the reverse: first actual internal graces to believe, or pray, or act are given, in conjunction with external graces (like preaching the word, example of others, events that move us, religious symbols, etc.). If these actual graces are accepted, then God grants the grace to decide to believe and the person is baptized, receiving the habitual graces of 1) sanctifying grace bringing the Trinity into the Soul (thus removing all sin); 2) of the virtues (permanent powers) of Faith, Hope, Charity. The person is thus justified by Baptism because of number1 and given radical powers to be a Christian by number 2. Actual interior graces (passing helps) are also given, in conjunction with exterior helps to activate these powers given.

Finally another sort of grace, called gratuitous grace or charisms, can be given, but they are not primarily for the sanctification of the receiver, but for others, e.g., healing.

One is justified therefore by sanctifying grace through the Sacrament of Baptism simply if one is an infant or child (before the use of reason); Or if one is old enough, first by an actual grace of faith (an ad hoc grace which does not remove sin yet), then by habitual Sanctifying grace given by Baptism, bringing God into the soul with all the attending virtues in the spiritual faculties.

Justification is essentially sanctifying grace, an habitual indwelling grace (not directly experienced) which brings the Trinity to dwell in the soul as in a temple because of immersion into Christ. This graces makes us right with God to be vessels of the Trinity. Faith as the beginning of justification is for the adult first an actual grace accepted, i.e., a help given to accept or believe God; believe in God and believe towards God through Christ.

But Baptism is the actual bestowal of justifying sanctifying grace. The long process of becoming a saint is the extension of what is already given as life and power in the depths of the soul and faculties of mind, memory and will into one's psyche, activity and motivation, overcoming human tendencies. Justification is able to be lost, as are the other theological powers of habitual faith, hope and charity by mortal or serious sin that breaks the relationship of friendship with God through a serious disobedience. When that happens it is subsequently regained through the Sacrament of Penance.

Faith as an actual grace accepted is the beginning of all this and the foundational habitual grace once baptized. (It can be lost by sins against faith.) Charity is the most important virtue. The analogy is with human life: i.e., life, powers, actions. Thus sanctifying grace or divine life in the soul, virtues, acts of virtue. The first bestowal of sanctifying grace (Baptism) is the Divine Birth (or Life) in the soul, i.e., being born from above (from God), making us a new creature. Justification is thus a sanctifying grace, actually making the person divine-like in his soul with radical powers or virtues in his spiritual faculties (mind-memory-will) so as by actual graces accepted to be able to put into practice the person may be thoroughly made holy in his daily life and upon death enter heaven. If this has not happened yet by the time of his death, he will be purified in Purgatory until he is ready in every corner of his personality to be with God.

Thus all is grace, although different kinds of grace. The actual grace of Faith is one of the graces, leading to the justifying habitual sanctifying grace given at Baptism; the other habitual grace of the virtue of faith is also received at Baptism along with Hope and Charity. We are redeemed as created in life, with powers and activity.

by Padro

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