The Why and the What of Sanctifying Grace
This is a very helpful excerpt from Frank J. Sheed’s book, Theology for Beginnings:
“Putting it bluntly, the life of heaven requires powers which by nature we do not possess. If we are to live it, we must be given new powers. To make a rough comparison: if we wanted to live on another planet, we should need new breathing powers, which by nature our lungs have not got. To live the life of heaven, we need new knowing and lovinig powers, which by nature our souls have not got.
For heaven our natural life is not sufficient; we need supernatural life. We have it only by God’s free gift, which is why we call it grace (the word is related to gratis). Sanctifying grace will be our next topic. Everything the Church does is connected with it, and can be understood but cloudily if we do not grasp what it is.
When we come to die there is only one question that matters—have we sanctifying grace in our souls? If we have, then to heaven we shall go. There may be certain matters to be cleared, or cleansed, on the way, but to heaven we shall go, for we have the power to live there. If we have not, then to heaven we cannot go; not because we lack the price of admission, but because quite simply our soul lacks the powers that living in heaven calls for. It is not a question of getting past the gate, but of living once we are there; there would be no advantage in finding a kindly gate-keeper, willing to let us in anyhow! The powers of intellect and will that go with our natural life are not sufficient: heaven calls for powers of knowing and loving higher than our nature of itself has. We need super-natural life, and we must get it here upon earth. To die lacking it means eternal failure.
We must look at grace more closely if we are to live our lives intelligently. Two things about it must be grasped.
First: It is supernatural, it is wholly above our nature, there is not even the tiniest seed of it in our nature capable of growing, there is nothing we can do to give it to ourselves. We can have it only as God gives it, and He is entirely free in the giving. That, as we have seen, is why it is called grace; and because its object is to unite us with God, it is called sanctifying grace.
Second: Even the word supernatural does not convey how great a thing it is. It is not simply above our nature, or any created nature. It enables us to do—at our own finite level, but really—something which only God Himself can do by nature: it enables us to see God direct. That is why it is called “a created share in the life of God.” That is why those who have it are called “sons of God”: a son is like in nature to his father; by this gift we have a totally new likeness to Our Father in heaven.
Giving us this new life, God does not give us a new soul with new faculties. He inserts it, sets it functioning, in the soul we already have. By it our intellect, which exists to know truth, is given the power to know in a new way; our will, which exists to love goodness, is given the power to love in a new way.
We get the supernatural life here on earth. Not until we reach heaven will it enable us to see God face to face and love Him in the direct contact of the will. But even on earth its elevating work has begun; it gives the intellect a new power of taking hold of truth—by faith; it gives the will new powers of reaching out to goodness—by hope and by charity.
Faith, then, does not mean simply feeling that we believe more than we used to; hope does not mean simply feeling optimistic about our chances of salvation; charity does not mean simply feeling pleased with God. All three may have their effect on our feelings; but they are not feelings; they are wholly real.
The supernatural life in our souls is a new fact, as real as the natural life we have to start with. The powers it gives are facts too; they enable us to do things which without them we could not do: they are as real as eyesight, and considerably more important. Without eyesight, we could not see the material world. But without sanctifying grace we should not be able to see God direct, which is the very essence of living in heaven.
Not only that: here below we should not be sharers of the divine life, sons of God, capable already of taking hold of God by faith and hope and charity, capable of meriting increase of life. This increase of life must be realized; one can be more alive or less, and our life in heaven will differ according to the intensity of faith and hope and charity in our souls when we come to die.
We shall go on to consider these three virtues in detail. Meanwhile concentrate upon one truth: grace is not just a way of saying that a soul is in God’s favor; it is a real life, with its own proper powers, living in the soul; and he who has it is a new man. A soul with sanctifying grace in it is indwelt by God.” (Frank J. Sheed.)
St. Thérèse’s theology:
‘One does not need to go to purgatory’ Little Thérèse’s theology is a theology that springs from life, a theology of experience. She received a fervent Catholic upbringing at home, in her parish community, as well as at the school of the Benedictine nuns in Lisieux, and thus, she was familiar with the teaching of purgatory. Being lead by the Holy Spirit, thoughts, notions, and ideas developed which finally became, “The Teaching of the Little Flower on Purgatory.” The common teaching within the Church is that purgatory can hardly be avoided. While still only a novice, the saint commented about this with one of the sisters, Sr. Maria Philomena, who believed in the near impossibility of going to heaven without passing through purgatory: You do not have enough trust. You have too much fear before the good God. I can assure you that He is grieved over this. You should not fear purgatory because of the suffering there, but should instead ask that you not deserve to go there in order to please God, who so reluctantly imposes this punishment. As soon as you try to please Him in everything and have an unshakable trust, He purifies you every moment in His love, and He lets no sin remain. And then you can be sure that you will not have to go to purgatory. She even said we would offend God if we didn’t trust enough that we would get to heaven right after dying. When she found out her novices talked occasionally that they would probably have to expect to be in purgatory, she corrected them, saying: “Oh! How you grieve me! You do a great injury to God in believing you’re going to purgatory. When we love, we can’t go there.” Now, this is a new doctrine, but only for those who don’t know God, who are not childlike, who don’t trust. It is so correct to see things this way. It is true that God will judge us at one point, but He is always and first our Father who … suffers when He has to punish His child and sees its suffering. The child should do His will just out of love and not to avoid punishment. And this really means that God does not want purgatory! He allows that His children suffer, but only as if He had to look away. Once St. Thérèse encouraged her novice Sr. Marie de la Trinire to have the faith that it was possible even for her to get to heaven right away. She wondered, “If I fail even in the smallest things, may I still hope to get straight to heaven?” Saint Thérèse, who knew well the weaknesses of her novice, replied: “Yes! God is so good. He will know how He can come and get you. But despite this, try to be faithful, so that He does not wait in vain for your love.”
God is Father rather than judge read More here
I am with you,
As One Who has always loved you,
Loving you as you began your life’s journey
To the kingdom of Heaven,
Your true home,
Loving you all the days I have appointed you.
Loving you unto dying and your death,
Loving you as the breath of life.
I have played upon the strings of your heart,
So that you would hear My music,
Even midst dissimilitude and dissonance.
Let not the unbelieving of the world,
Let not discordance and strife of flesh,
Let not the deceiver of Men,
Draw a curtain before your eyes.
Fix the gaze of your soul upon Me,
Here in your heart,
I reign, holy and at rest,
Upon the throne
At the center of your being.
Do Me homage
As you arise at the break of day.
Bow before Me
With the rising of each sun.
Dance with Me,
Following My lead.
Cry with Me in the sorrowing.
Plead for sinners in their fall.
Lend the hand of prayer
To uphold the weak and weary.
You journey as one
In the One Who is All Love.
Peace, My child.
Peace and refreshment,
Here at my altar.
I polish and perfect you,
That you may be
A monstrance of humility,
Fading from prominence,
As I send out my splendor
As grace and blessing.
All is gift to the one
Who receives with the seasons,
Yielding to the winds that blow upon the soul,
Welcoming the water of spring rains,
And the summer torrents,
Allowing blankets of snow
To still you in repose,
Awaiting new life, My Life.
© 2015 Joann Nelander
Love and praise hold hands.
Happy hearts rejoice.
Song rises from the multitude,
As lives lived in faith believing.
The Just sing with their being,
Resplendent and resounding love.
Praise embodied in saintly flesh.
New song, New Day,
In harmony with Heaven
A symphony of faithful, forgiven witness.
Copyright 2012 Joann Nelander
All rights reserved