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CHAPTER CLVOf Graces given gratuitously841841All graces are given gratuitously; but some graces constitute the recipient in the state of grace, as sanctifying, or habitual grace: or help him in or towards the state of grace, as actual grace: these are called gratia gratum faciens. They go to sanctify the recipient. Other graces are not given for the recipient, but for the sake of others, and do not of themselves make for the sanctification of him who has them. Such graces, called gratia gratis data, include the miraculous powers discussed in this chapter, and in 1 Cor. xii, xiv.

SINCE the things done by God are done in order (Chapp. LXXVIILXXX), a certain order had to be followed in the manifestation of the truths of faith, so that some should receive those truths immediately from God, others receive of them, and so in order even to the last. The invisible good things, the vision of which makes the happiness of the blessed, and which are the objects of faith, are first revealed by God to the blessed angels by open vision: then by the ministry of angels they are manifested by God to certain men,842842Not to any men now living, but to the prophets of the Old Law, with the apostles, and some few other saints of the New. The great revelation was that made in Christ (Heb. i, 1), of which the Church is the guardian and exponent. The Church gets no new revelations. The Pope has no revelations as Pope: he takes counsel of theologians: only a special providence, such as might preserve him, e.g., from drowning, prevents his authoritatively teaching the Church any point of faith or morals that is not a legitimate unfolding of the revelation of Christ. not by open vision, but by a certitude arising from divine revelation. This revelation is made by an inner light of the mind, elevating the mind to see such things as the natural light of the understanding 325cannot attain to. As the natural light of the understanding renders a man certain of what he observes by that light, so does this supernatural light convey certainty of the objects which it reveals: for we cannot securely publish to others what we are not certain of ourselves. This light, which inwardly enlightens the mind, is sometimes borne out by other aids to knowledge, as well exterior as interior. There may be formed by divine power some utterance, or locution, heard by the external senses. Or it may be an inner locution, caused by God, and perceived by phantasy. Or there may be bodily appearances, external and visible, formed by God. Or such corporeal appearance may be inwardly depicted in phantasy. By these means, aided by the light inwardly impressed on his mind, man receives a knowledge of divine things. Hence, without the inner light, these aids are insufficient for the knowledge of divine things; whereas the inner light is sufficient of itself without them.843843Obviously, there is danger of illusion in these visions, locutions, and inner lights. No man is more suspicious of such things than the average Catholic priest. A priest from his training gets the mind of a lawyer: he loves Church law and public teaching, and reckons less of the private wisdom of individuals. Catholic faith stands clear of private revelations. Such are not the ordinary channels whereby God teaches His mysteries to men. The ordinary channel is the Word Incarnate and His living Church on earth, a visible external authority. Certainly, every Christian man has his ‘inner light,’ but that light is none other than the grace of faith, enabling him and prompting him to believe, as on God’s word, what the Church teaches him as revealed in Christ.

Now because those who receive a revelation from God ought in the order of divine enactment to instruct others, there needed to be further communicated to them the grace of speech. Hence it is said: The Lord hath given me a learned tongue (Isai. l, 4): I will give you speech and wisdom, which all your adversaries shall not be able to withstand and gainsay (Luke xxi, 15). Hence also the gift of tongues (Acts ii, 4).

But because any announcement put forth requires confirmation before it can be received, — unless indeed it is self-evident, and the truths of faith are not evident to human reason, — there was need of something to confirm the announcements of the preachers of the faith. But, inasmuch as they transcend reason, they could not be confirmed by any demonstrative process of reasoning from first principles. The means therefore to show that the announcements of these preachers came from God was the evidence of works done by them such as none other than God could do, healing the sick, and other miracles. Hence the Lord, sending his disciples to preach, said: Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse lepers, cast out devils (Matt. x, 8); and, They going forth preached everywhere, the Lord working withal, and confirming their words by the signs that followed.844844Here follows a long disquisition on true and false prophecies, hardly within the scope of the modern reader.

In the aforesaid effects of grace we observe a certain difference. Though the name of ‘grace’ applies to them all, inasmuch as they are given ‘gratuitously’ without any preceding merit, nevertheless the working of love alone has a further claim to the name of ‘grace,’ as constituting the subject in ‘the state of grace,’ or in ‘the good graces of God’ (gratum Deo facit): for it is said: I love them that love me (Prov. viii, 17). Hence faith and hope and other means to the last end may be in sinners, who are not in the grace of God: love alone is the proper gift of the just, because he who abideth in charity abideth in God, and God in him (1 John iv, 16).845845Even in the sinner the habits of faith and hope, as also all actual graces, common to the just and the unjust, may be put under gratia gratum faciens, inasmuch as they tend to the sanctification of the recipient more directly than to the general edification of the Church, which is the purpose of gratia gratis data. Besides extraordinary miraculous gifts, there would come under gratia gratis data the ordinary powers that go with the Sacrament of Order.

There is another difference to be observed in these workings of grace, 326and it is this, that some of them are necessary for a whole lifetime, as believing, hoping, loving, and obeying the commandments of God, without which things salvation is impossible; and for these effects there must be in man certain habitual perfections, that he may be able to act according to them as occasion requires.846846These ‘habitual perfections’ are the ‘infused habits’ of faith, hope, charity, etc., which constitute the ‘habitual grace’ conferred upon the soul at baptism. Cf. Aquinas Ethicus, I, 195, 271; II, 3. Other effects of grace are necessary, not for a whole lifetime, but at certain times and places, as working of miracles, or foretelling of future events. To these effects habitual perfections are not given, but certain impressions are made by God, which cease when the act ceases, and have to be repeated when the act is repeated. Thus prophets in every revelation are illumined with a new light; and in every working of miracles there must be a fresh putting into operation of divine power.847847It may be discussed whether the charismata of 1 Cor. xiv were not habitual. A mark of a gift being or not being habitual is the ability or inability of the possessor to bring it into play at will.


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