Friday, 18 November 2016

The Catholic Church Alone. The One True Church of Christ. Part 175.



The grace of justification delivers us from all these miseries. For God, who is an infinite abyss of mercy, thinks it not enough to pardon our sins, and receive us into his favor, unless he free our souls from all those disorders which sin had raised in it, by reforming and renewing the inward man. So that he heals our wounds, he cleanses us from our filth, he loosens our chains, he eases us of the burden of our evil desires, he frees us from the slavery and captivity of the devil, he moderates the heat of our passions, he restores us to a true liberty, he beautifies the soul anew, he settles peace and joy in our consciences again, he enlivens our inward motions, he makes us forward to do what is good, and backward to do that which is not, he strengthens us against temptations, and, after all these benefits, he enriches us with a treasure of good works; in fine, he repairs our inward man, with all its faculties, after such a manner, that the Apostle does not hesitate to call those, who are thus justified, " new men and new creatures 2 Cor. iv. 16. So great is the grace of this renovation, that, when we receive it by baptism, it is called a regeneration (Gal. vi. 15) ; when by penance, a resurrection ; not only because the soul, by virtue of it, is raised from the death of sin to the life of grace, but because it holds some proportion with the glory of the general resurrection at the last day. This is so certainly true, that no tongue is able to declare the beauty of a justified soul, but only that divine Spirit which beautifies and makes it his temple and dwelling-place; so that, if we should compare all the riches of the earth, all the honors of the world, all the benefits of nature, and all the virtues we are able to acquire, with the beauty and riches of such a soul, they would all appear base and deformed before it. Because the life of grace has the same advantages over that of nature, the beauty of the soul over that of the body, inward riches over the outward, and spiritual strength over the corporeal, as heaven has over earth, a spirit over a body, or eternity over time. For all these things are transitory, limited and only beautiful to the eyes of the body; nor have they need of any more than a general assistance and support from God, whilst the others stand in need of a peculiar and supernatural help, and cannot be called temporal, because they lead us to eternity; nor can we say they are altogether finite, because they make us worthy to partake the infinity of God, who has such an esteem and love for them that he is even enamored with their beauty. And though God could do all these things only by his will, yet he was not so satisfied, but would adorn the soul with infused virtues, and the seven gifts of the Holy Ghost; by the means whereof, not only the essence, but all the faculties of the soul are adorned and beautified with these heavenly graces.

To all these extraordinary benefits, his infinite goodness and boundless liberality has added another, which is the presence of the Holy Ghost and of the blessed Trinity, which descends into the soul of him that is justified, to instruct him what use to make of all these riches; like a good father, who not only leaves his estate to his son, but provides him a guardian to look after and manage it for him; so that, as the soul of one that is in sin is a den of vipers, dragons and serpents; that is to say, a place where all sorts of wicked spirits dwell, according to our Saviour (St. Matthew, ch. xii.) ; so the soul of a justified man becomes the habitation of the Holy Ghost and of the blessed Trinity, which, having expelled all these hellish monsters and wild beasts, make it its temple and place of abode, as our Saviour has expressly signified by these words: " If any one love me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him, and will make our abode with him ;" St. John xiv. 23. From which words the holy fathers and the school-men conclude that the Holy Ghost dwells, in a particular manner, in the soul of a justified man, distinguishing between the Holy Ghost and his gifts; and declaring that such persons partake, not only of the gifts of the Holy Ghost, but of the Holy Ghost himself; who, entering into every soul thus disposed, makes it his temple and dwelling-place; and to this end, he himself cleanses, sanctifies and adorns it, with his gifts, that it may be a place worthy to entertain such a guest.

Add to all these benefits one more, which is, that all those who are justified become living members of Jesus Christ; whereas they were dead before, and incapable, whilst they remained in that condition, of receiving the influence of his grace, whence many other singular privileges and excellences flow to it. For this is the reason why the Son of God loves and cherishes these persons as his own members, and, as their Head, is continually communicating force and vigor to them. And, lastly, the eternal Father beholds them with eyes of affection, because he looks upon them as living members of his only Son, united to and incorporated with him by the participation of the Holy Ghost. And, therefore, their actions are pleasing to him and meritorious to themselves, inasmuch as they are actions of the living members of his only Son Christ Jesus, who produces all that is good in them. This is, also, the reason why those persons who are thus justified whensoever they beg any favor of Almighty God address themselves to him with a perfect confidence; because they suppose that what they ask is not so much for themselves as for the Son of God, who is honored in them and with them. For, since the members can receive no benefit but the head must partake of it, Christ being their Head, they conceive that when they ask for themselves they ask for him. And, if what the Apostle says be true, that they who sin against the members of Jesus Christ sin against Jesus Christ himself, and that he looks upon any injury offered to one of his members, upon his account, as done to him, as he said to the Apostle himself, when he persecuted the Church; what wonder is it that the honor done to these members should be done to him ? This being so, what confidence will not the just man bring with him to his prayers, when he considers that in begging for himself, he, in some measure, begs of the heavenly Father for his beloved Son? For when a favor is granted at the request of another, it may, doubtless, rather be said to be bestowed on him that begs, than on him that receives it; as we see, that he who serves the poor for the love of God, serves God more than he does the poor.