Wednesday, 22 February 2017

The Catholic Church Alone. The One True Church of Christ. Part 218.

SIX VOLUMES IN ONE BY THE DISTINGUISHED EXPONENTS OF CATHOLICISM

REV. HENRY DODRIDGE, D. D. REV. HENRY EDWARD MANNING, D. D.REV. F. LEWIS, of Granada REV. STEPHEN KEENAN REV. BERNARD VAUGHAN, S. J. REV. THOMAS N. BURKE, O. P. 


CHAPTER XIII. OF THE SECOND PRIVILEGE OF VIRTUE, THAT IS, THE GRACE OF THE HOLY GHOST BESTOWED UPON VIRTUOUS MEN.

FROM this fatherly providence, as from a fountain, flow all the favours God bestows on those who serve him. For it belongs to this providence to supply them with all necessaries for the obtaining of their end, which is their last perfection and happiness, by assisting them in all their wants, and infusing into their souls such virtues and habits as are requisite for this end. Of all which the chief is the grace of the Holy Ghost, because next to this divine providence, it is the beginning of all other heavenly gifts and privileges. It is the garment which was first given to the prodigal son, on his return to his father's house. And should you ask me what this grace is, I answer, that grace, as divines define it, is a participation of the divine nature, that is, of God's sanctity, purity and greatness; by virtue of which a man rises from the baseness and filth he received from Adam, and partakes of the divine sanctity and beauty, divesting himself of himself, and putting on Christ Jesus. Holy writers explain this to us by this familiar example: When we take a piece of iron out of the fire, it sparkles and looks red like fire itself, but continues still to be iron, retaining the same name and substance it had before, though the brightness, heat and other accidents belong to fire: so grace, which is a heavenly quality, infused by God into the soul, transforms man into God in such a manner as to make him in some measure partake of the virtues and purity of God, without ceasing to be man. Thus was he transformed who said, " I live, now not I; but Christ liveth in me;" Gal. ii. 20.

Grace is also a divine and supernatural form, by means whereof man lives suitably to the origin and source he proceeds from, which is supernatural and divine. And here it is the providence of God so gloriously exerts itself. For it being his will that man should have two lives, the one natural and the other supernatural, he has to this end given him two forms, which are, as it were, two souls, for each life one. Hence it follows, that as all the powers and sensations of the natural life spring from the soul, the natural form; so from grace, the supernatural form, flow all those virtues and gifts of the Holy Ghost, that go to the support of the supernatural life. As if one man should furnish another, that understands two trades, with two sets of tools to work at them both.

Grace is moreover a spiritual dress and ornament for the soul made up by the hands of the Holy Ghost, which renders her so acceptable to God that he adopts her for his daughter, and takes her for his bride. It was in this dress the prophet gloried, when he said, " I will greatly rejoice in the Lord, and my soul shall be joyful in my God: for he hath clothed me with the garments of salvation; and with the robe of justice he hath covered me, as a bridegroom decked with a crown, and as a bride adorned with her jewels" (Is. lxi. 10); which are the several gifts of the Holy Ghost, wherewith the soul of a just man is adorned and beautified by the hand of God. This is the garment of divers colours with which the king's daughter, seated at the right hand of her bridegroom, was gloriously arrayed; Ps. xliv. For from grace come the colours of the different virtues and divine habits wherein their beauty consists.

By what has been said, we may judge what effects grace works on the soul it resides in. One of the greatest is, to make it look so lovely and fair to the eyes of God, that he chooses her, as has been said, for his daughter, his spouse, his temple and his habitation, where he takes his pleasure with the children of men. Another effect is, to strengthen the soul by means of those virtues it brings with it, which, like Samson's hair, at the same time confer both force and beauty. She is commended for both these qualities in the book of Canticles (ch. vi. 9), where the angels, admiring her beauty, say, "Who is she that cometh forth as the morning rising, fair as the moon, bright as the sun, terrible as an army set in array ?" Grace then, as we see, is like a complete suit of armour which secures a man from head to foot. It both beautifies and strengthens him in such a manner, that, as St. Thomas says, the least degree of grace suffices to overcome all the devils and all sorts of sin.