The Real Presence Eucharistic Education and Adoration Association Home Page
The Real Presence Eucharistic Education and Adoration Association Home Page

Father John A. Hardon, S.J. Archives



Return to:  Home > Archives Index > Grace Index

History and Theology of Grace

Chapter II

Necessity for Salvation

by Fr. John A. Hardon, S.J.

Most Catholics would be surprised if anyone questioned or denied that we need the grace of God to be saved. Built into the Catholic mind is a correlation between grace and heaven so close that the one is unthinkable without the other. The relationship is correct, and the instinct which tells us that we need divine assistance to reach our final destiny is a reflection of the Church’s faith over the centuries. Nevertheless, this faith was not preserved without struggle. The calm assurance we now have is the fruit of conflict and of clarification that reach back to the early period of Christianity.

The conflict still continues and is, in fact, the most deep seated tension in all human history. There is, on the one hand, the assertion of man’s independence in the moral order. On the other hand we have the contrary admission that man is not autonomous, that with all the native powers at his command he is really helpless without special and constant intervention to realize the ultimate purpose of his being.

Pelagius to Rationalism

The principal heresy of naturalism was born of Stoic philosophy that infected certain Christian writers from the earliest times. However the full-blown system of Pelagianism into which it developed did not arise until the beginning of the fourth century. A British lay monk, Pelagius, first popularized the theory, together with his disciple Caelestius.

Little is known about the life of Pelagius, except that he was born in England about 354 and that during a visit to Rome he became alarmed by the low morality of priest and people. He concluded that the only hope of reform lay in placing all the responsibility for sin on the free wills of men, to the point of denying the necessity and thereby the definition of grace.

The premises served as basis for Pelagius’s theory. Arguing from the principle that “a person is free if he does what he wills and avoids what he wills to avoid,” he said that heaven is attainable by use of our natural faculties alone, since nothing but the free will is needed to practice virtue and keep out of sin. From the axiom that “Adam neither injured nor deprived us of anything,” Pelagius decided that men require no special help to repair what Adam is supposed to have lost.

Pelagius and Caelestius went to Africa in A.D. 410, the latter staying to find himself charged with heresy by the Council of Carthage, while Pelagius went on to Palestine and met the same treatment at the hands of St. Jerome. On request of the bishops of North Africa, Innocent I condemned Pelagius, who for a time deceived Pope Zosimus, the next pope, into acquitting him. But the acquittal was promptly changed to papal condemnation in A. D. 418 when the deception was exposed. Though Pelagius leaves the scene at this point, eighteen Italian bishops led by Julian of Eclanum, refuse to submit to the pope and proceed to elaborate Pelagianism into a compact system of doctrine.

Its basic principle is the affirmation of the self-sufficiency of man’s free will. We can always will and do good, even when de facto we will and do otherwise, depending entirely on our own moral strength.

In the Pelagian scheme there is no room for original sin. What we now call preternatural gifts of bodily immortality and integrity were never really possessed by Adam. He left us only a bad example. The fact that we are prone to sin is not inherited from Adam and Eve, our first parents. We acquire it by our own misdeeds.

Baptism therefore can have no strict remissive function. A person can be saved without it. At most its purpose is to incorporate us into the Church, unite us with Christ, or make us members of a mysterious heavenly kingdom. It can never be understood as being absolutely necessary for salvation.

For the same reason, sanctifying grace is not the necessary basis of supernatural activity, but only a sort of remedy for actual sins or a spiritual adornment of Christians and a sign of their divine adoption. Actual graces are only external, in the form of preaching, miracles, revelation and the example of Jesus Christ. And if, for the sake of argument, real supernatural grace were needed, it would be only as light for the mind but never internal grace in the will. “You destroy the will,” Pelagius protested, “if you say it needs any help.” The only true “grace” we possess is the faculty of free choice.

Predestination for the Pelagians is a misnomer. It should rather be called foreknowledge. Divine activity does not penetrate into the very heart of human activity, to elevate and transform it. God merely foresees what we are freely going to do; He in no way predestines what our free choices will be. By the same token the Redemption by Christ does not give us a new birth but only lifts us to a higher stage of natural activity; and the influence of Christ’s passion and death is not intrinsic but external to our souls.

Semi-Pelagianism. “Half-Pelagianism” or Semi-Pelagianism was historically linked to its predecessor. In this theory grace is admittedly necessary, but not ordinarily for the first steps towards the Christian life, and also not for final perseverance in the grace of God. It came as reaction against certain anti-Pelagian writings of St. Augustine, in which he spoke in extreme terms of the corruption of human nature since the fall, and of the closed number of the elect, apparently preordained from eternity in view of original sin.

Critics of Augustine in his own lifetime took issue with what they considered an error opposite to Pelagius. Augustine defended himself and in turn instructed his critics, notably the African monks of Hadrumetum in a treatise on Corruption and Grace, which satisfied the hermits but later gave unwarranted occasion to Calvin and Jansenius for tracing their theories on predestination to St. Augustine.

The reputed founder of Semi-Pelagianism was John Cassian (360-435), abbot of the monastery at Marseilles. His sanctity was of a high order but his Conferences on the monastic life put so much stress on the power of freedom that, in his opinion, God frequently awaits the good impulses of the natural will before coming to its assistance with supernatural grace. Augustine’s disciple, Prosper of Aquitaine (A.D 390-463), opposed these views of the Massilians. In about A. D. 431 he urged Pope Celestine I to take coercive measures. However the Pope made no definite statement beyond exhorting the bishops of Gaul to protect the memory of Augustine and imposing silence on his traducers.

Prosper carried on a steady polemic with Cassian and Vincent of Lerins (died A.D. 450), whose otherwise excellent Commonitorium shows a few strains of Semi-Pelagianism. For centuries the monastery of Lerins was the religious center of Provence and the nursery of a long line of scholars and bishops, including Saints Patrick, Hilary and Caesarius. Yet during the fifth century its resistance to Augustine made it the stronghold of Semi-Pelagian tendencies. As late as A.D. 470, Bishop Faustus of Riez (formerly of Lerins) wrote a defense of Cassian that is famous for his description of the will as a “small hook” that reaches out and seizes grace. Faustus would also have nothing to do with predestination to heaven and final perseverance as a “special grace.”

The decline of Semi-Pelagianism was due mainly to the efforts of a group of Scythian monks and their leader Maxentius, whose campaign against Faustus finally resulted in a proclamation by the Council of Orange (A.D. 529) that Boniface II solemnly ratified in the following year. In twenty-five canons the impotence of nature to supernatural good is vindicated. Also vindicated is the absolute necessity of preceding grace for actions leading to heaven, especially for the beginning of faith, likewise defended is the absolute gratuity of the first grace and of final perseverance. All these were defined as true, while an epilogue on the predestination of the will to evil was branded as heretical.

To avoid misunderstanding, the doctrines of Semi-Pelagianism should be distinguished from the name, which was unknown in Christian history until modern times. Almost certainly the word was coined about 1600 by those who believed they saw a resemblance between the Jesuit Molina’s theory of grace and the error of the fifth century Massilian monks. After this confusion was clarified, the term remained in theological circles as a useful name for the ancient heresy.

Luther and Calvin. We hardly think of Reformation principles as questioning the necessity of grace. Did not Luther teach that man is saved “by grace alone,” and was not the Reformation motto, “to God alone the glory”?

Yet a whole series of definitions in Trent emphasize the necessity of grace for salvation and repeat the Church’s teaching in Pelagian times. This suggests that, in spite of the verbal insistence on grace in the writings of Luther and Calvin, the objective fact was obscured or explicitly denied.

The current interest in Christian reunion demands clarity about the respective Catholic and Protestant positions. What is the basic truth of man’s elevation to the supernatural order, where the original righteousness (comprising sanctifying grace and the perfections of integrity and bodily immortality) are regarded as gifts in our first parents, and not an essential part of their nature? In this context, Luther writes about the Catholic doctrine of the supernatural life:

The scholastics argue that original righteousness was not a part of man’s nature but, like some adornment, was added to man as a gift, as when someone places a wreath on a pretty girl. The wreath is certainly not a part of the virgin’s nature; it is something apart from her nature. It came from outside and can be removed again without any injury to her nature. Therefore they maintain about man and about demons that although they have lost their original righteousness, their natural endowments have nevertheless remained pure, just as they were created in the beginning. But this idea must be shunned like poison, for it minimizes original sin.
Let us rather maintain that righteousness was not a gift which came from without, separate from man’s nature, but that it was truly part of his nature, so that it was Adam’s nature to love God, to believe God, to know God. These things were just as natural for Adam as it is natural for the eyes to receive light. [1]

The logic of this Neo-Pelagianism was consistent. Original justice was due to man’s nature, by a necessity of essence. Consequently when Adam sinned and lost original justice, his nature was therefore essentially corrupted and his faculties intrinsically vitiated. As a further result man is incapable of doing any good, and whatever “virtue” he practices is due to God alone. All man’s actions are per se sins; only by the mercy of God they are covered over as with a cloak, to hide the shame beneath.

Grace, in Reformation terminology, took on a new meaning. If original justice was not a gift but part of man’s nature, any subsequent conferral of “grace” is not really supernatural, albeit gratuitous, but at most a restoration of the native powers that were sinfully lost. The word “grace” may be still used, but it lacks one of the essential qualities of grace in the Catholic sense of the term; it is not intrinsically orientated to a destiny, the beatific vision, which exceeds the capacities of any finite being and belongs by right to God alone.

Under Michael Baius (1513-1579), the Reformation ideas were developed into a compact system, which distinguished three stages in man’s relation to God: of innocent nature, of fallen nature, and of restored nature. But the cardinal principle of Luther and Calvin was retained. God made man originally possessed of all the perfections he needed to reach heaven, and these perfections were natural and due to him as man. The theological distinction between natural and supernatural, according to Bainism is invalid and a purely mental construct.

Cornelius Jansen (1585-1638) followed in Baius’ footsteps, and carried Luther and Calvin to their logical conclusion. If human nature has been destined to the beatific vision of itself, we cannot say it was raised to the supernatural order, and much less of grace as being physically necessary to reach a hypothetically supernatural end. Too easily we associate Jansenism with moral rigorism, which it also propounded; but this was only a corollary to the fundamental postulate that heaven is not gratuitous.

Rationalism. Though variously defined in different fields, rationalism in theology is that system which declares the absolute rights of natural reason as the only source of religious truth. Common to all rationalists is a dogmatic confidence in the power of human thought, and a conviction that man alone, without revelation, can comprehend whatever he needs to reach his ultimate destination.

As a trend in religious culture, rationalism is as old as Judaeo-Christianity. Among the ancient Jews, the Sadducees denied the resurrection and doubted the existence of angels. The very name “Gnostics” in the first century of the Christian era means “The Knowers” who professed to have a special understanding that was not shared by other believers. Arius insisted on a complete explanation of the hypostatic union. Pelagius settled the problem of grace and freedom by denying the supernatural order. The Jansenists did the same by liquidating free will.

The same attitude, on a more radical scale, was adopted by those who questioned the foundations of the Christian religion in England, France and Germany. Tindal, Collins and Hume, Voltaire and Rousseau, Kant, Hegel and Strauss were all rationalists in the generic meaning of the term. They found Christianity unreasonable by their own standards of rationality.

In modern times rationalism has entered a new phase. We should expect a philosophy that measures truth by empiric knowledge and conviction by human experience to have small respect for the Christian dogmas on the supernatural life, which are revealed mysteries and therefore defy rational comprehension. But we are not prepared for the militant naturalism that will have nothing done of grace and is impatient with any dependence on a higher-than-human agency. “Men have never fully used the powers they possess to advance the good in life, because they have waited upon some power external to themselves and to nature to do the work they are responsible for doing. Dependence upon an external power is the counterpart of surrender of human endeavor. [2]

This impatience with the supernatural has affected not only philosophy but also theology. And the deepest issue in modern religious thought is not between Catholicism and Protestantism; but between those in nominally Christian cultures who admit and those who deny the existence of the supranatural.

Paul Tillich has been called “the theologians’ theologian.” He calls himself a self-transcending realist. His position is embarrassingly clear.

Self-transcending realism requires the criticism of all forms of supra-naturalism - supranaturalism in the sense of a theology that imagines a supra-natural world beside or above the natural one, a world in which the unconditional finds a local habitation, thus making God a transcendent object, the creation an act at the beginning of time, the consummation a future state of things, To criticize such a conditioning of the unconditional, even if it leads to atheistic consequences, is more religious, because it is more aware of the unconditional character of the divine, than a theism that bans God into the supra-natural realm. The man of today, who feels separated by a gulf from the theistic believer, often knows more about the “ultimate” than the self-assured Christian who thinks that through his faith he has God in his possession. [3]

What is most disturbing about this attitude is not its assertiveness. Tillich is not saying anything that cannot be found, often more clearly, in Kant, Schelling, and the German idealists. It is the wide acceptance of his premises in ostensibly Christian circles that should cause us concern.

Scripture and Tradition

Before we see the Church’s teaching on the necessity of grace, it is imperative to know what kind of grace we are speaking of and what sort of necessity. The grace in question is to be understood strictly, as a purely gratuitous and undeserved gift of God, which He confers internally in the soul (or its faculties) as something physically and intrinsically supernatural. If these qualifications seem over-subtle, they are only reflections of the long history of subtlety created by the hair-splitting refinements of Pelagius, Calvin, Baius and Jansenius.

This grace, we say, is absolutely necessary, and allows of no exceptions. It is simply impossible without grace to perform a salutary action, that is, one which positively leads the person to eternal salvation. Every situation is meant to be covered. A person in God’s friendship needs grace to merit heaven. A man estranged from God needs grace either proximately or remotely to become disposed for justification. Grace, therefore, does more than remove obstacles or make it easier to reach heaven. It furnishes the indispensable supernatural energy to take even a single step on the road to heavenly beatitude.

While implicit in the foregoing, we should recognize the need of grace even for the “beginning of faith,” in the sense understood by St. Augustine in his controversy with the Semi-Pelagians. [4] They argued that a sinner or unbeliever searching for God can dispose himself for sanctifying grace by his own natural efforts. He is able, they claimed, to become convinced of the necessity of faith (or penance for past sins), be moved to desire his salvation, and even pray for God’s help - all on his own and without the intervention of grace.

Anti-Pelagianism. Aroused by the Pelagian speculations, a series of church councils and papal statements from A.D. 412 to 529 examined the controverted areas and either condemned what were considered aberrations or explained the correct teachings of the Church on the necessity of grace.

About A.D. 435, St. Prosper of Aquitaine gathered together, as he said, “whatever the rulers of the Roman Church had decided” and “certain judgments of the African councils,” which the Popes had approved. This collection of statements has since become known as the Indiculus (small index) and is universally accepted as an epitome of Catholic doctrine, dealing exclusively with grace and its impact on human responsibility.

Running as a theme through the Indiculus is the insistence that we need grace not only to help our weakness or dispel ignorance, but absolutely and universally. “God is the author of all good desires and deeds, of all efforts and virtues, with which from the beginning of faith man tends to God. And we do not doubt that His grace anticipates every one of man’s merits, and that it is through Him we begin both the will and the performance of any good work.” [5]

Under pressure of Semi-Pelagianism, the Catholic position was further clarified. The stress that Cassian and his followers placed on man’s effort in the quest of perfection led them to obscure the prior dependence on divine light and strength even to begin to move towards God.

It is remarkable how centuries before Jansenism the Church rightly understood the distinction between the natural and supernatural orders, and rested its case where it really belongs, on the teachings of Christ and St. Paul. The Second Council of Orange, north of Avignon in southeastern France, in A.D. 529 condemned the idea that men are able to do anything “pertaining to the salvation of eternal life” by their own strength of nature. Two years later Boniface II (A.D. 450-532) solemnly confirmed the Council’s canons against the Semi-Pelagians.

“He is deceived by heretical opinion,” the Council declared, “who claims it is possible through the power of nature to know or choose anything good, as required, which pertains to the salvation of eternal life; or (who claims it is possible) to accept the salvific, evangelical preaching without enlightenment and inspiration from the Holy Spirit. He fails to understand the word of God who says in the Gospel ‘Without me you can do nothing,’ and the statement of the Apostle, ‘Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think anything, as from ourselves, but our sufficiency is from God.’” [6]

The essential elements are specified. If we cannot know or choose anything requisite for salvation by the power of nature (per naturae vigorem) alone, we are naturally helpless to attain heaven and therefore need by physical necessity the supernatural energy that only the Holy Spirit can supply. External grace in the form of Gospel preaching is not enough, it is only the sensibly perceptible object to which assent must be given, under the impulse of a special, internal divine action.

Christ’s words at the Last Supper quoted by the Council “without me you can do nothing,” are the classic source of our doctrine. They must be seen in context to make a full impression.

I am the true vine, and my Father is the vine-dresser. Every branch in me that bears no fruit He will take away; and every branch that bears fruit He will cleanse, that it may bear more fruit. Abide in me and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it remain on the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in me. I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in me, and I in him, he bears much fruit; for without me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in me, he shall be cast outside as the branch and wither; and they shall gather them up and cast them into the fire, and they shall burn. [7]

The lesson Christ wished to teach through this allegory was that just as a branch cannot bear fruit of itself apart from the vine, so neither can we separated from the influence of Christ. Since His influence is necessarily supernatural, through internal grace, and our fruit of good works are the salutary acts we perform, we conclude that internal grace is required to place any act, no matter how apparently trivial, that directly leads to the heavenly home where Christ said He was going to prepare a place for us.

Throughout the Old Testament the metaphor of the vine and the vineyard signifying the house of Israel is a familiar illustration of complete dependence on Yahweh. It is found in the beautiful canticle of Isaias, “What more should I have done for my vineyard?” [8]; in Jeremias’ divine pleas against Israel [9]; in a passage of Ezechiel that closely parallels the negative of St. John, “behold it is cast into the fire for fuel” [10]; in the Psalms, where the Lord is begged to “look down from heaven, and see, and visit the vineyard, and perfect the same which Your right hand has planted” [11].

Six times before, Christ had metaphorically identified Himself: “I am the bread of life, I am the light of the world, I am the door, I am the good shepherd, I am the resurrection and the life, I am the way, the truth and the life.” Now He added the seventh and last assertion, “I am the true vine,” as the Savior’s own image of the need we have of Him to do anything worthy of salvation.

Vital immanence best describes the depth and indispensability of this flow of divine power from Christ to those who would be saved. No figure He might have chosen would more clearly establish our need of Him and, by implication, of His life-giving grace. These six words, “Without me you can do nothing,” exclude every sort of Pelagianism. A severed vine-branch is proverbially useless, destined only to be cast out, to dry up and be burned. Nothing could be stronger than St. Augustine’s comment, Aut vitis aut ignis - either the Vine or hell-fire.

Beginning of Faith. Perhaps the expression “beginning of faith” (initium fidei) is not the happiest to cover all that the Semi-Pelagians meant by saying that God “awaits man” to give him the grace for which he has predisposed himself. A better rendition would be “beginning of salvation” (initium salutis), although even this is inadequate.

The Semi-Pelagians admitted original sin and the need for internal grace for meriting heaven. Their problem was to make theological sense of St. Augustine’s wholesale rejection of Pelagianism. In the process he seemed to make so much of grace that free will was practically denied. If, as Augustine appeared to say, grace is necessary for the whole stream of salvific acts, beginning with faith and ending with perseverance, and all this was absolutely gratuitous from God; if man himself cannot merit grace or even positively dispose himself to receive it - what is left of free will?

Cassian and others felt that Augustine had gone too far in making man’s salvation depend entirely on divine grace and leaving no room for human activity. They believed there is some beginning of salvation, a kind of natural prelude, of which men are capable by their native powers. Grace is not required for this initium salutis. What is more, God waits for the natural effort on our part. If we offer Him the initial preparation, He gives us the grace we need for salutary acts, and, indeed, because of our previous disposition. But if we fail to present this preliminary mite, we get no grace and have only ourselves to blame for the deprivation.

This human predisposition was variously identified with our good resolutions, pious aspirations, or at least the indication of good will; which the Semi-Pelagians held can be produced by the soul alone, aided by its natural forces, and prior to the influx of grace. The Second Council of Orange, in France, where these theories were dominant, answered them in the most sweeping manner possible. Every angle was explored and every loophole closed to the notion that we, and not God, make the first move in the path of salvation.

First on the question of prayer, we cannot say that “the grace of God can be obtained by human (natural) prayer, and that it is not grace itself which causes us to invoke God” profitably for heaven, at the risk of contradicting St. Paul who quotes Isaias quoting the Lord, saying, “I was found by those who were not looking for me; I was clearly shown to those who never asked about me.” [12] God must inspire our prayer before we can pray efficaciously for His grace.

Of great importance for dealing with non-Catholics and those separated from God is the fact that “increase in faith, as well as the beginning of faith, and the very impulse by which we are led to believe in Him who justifies the sinner” is not our own achievement “by nature,” but comes to us “as a gift of grace, that is to say, through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit.” [13] Faith is a free benefit from God, which He is not constrained to confer but gives, as He wills, and to which He leads the souls of the elect by His own prevenient light and strength.

Finally, we are forbidden to say that “without the grace of God, the divine mercy is accorded to our faith and wills, our desires and efforts, our labors and prayers, our watching and studies, our begging, searching and knocking for entrance.” Rather we must see that “our ability to believe, to will, and so all these other things, as necessary (for salvation), are due to the infusion and inspiration of the Holy Spirit in us.” We may not, in fine, “subordinate the aid of grace to human (natural) humility or obedience,” but admit that our salutary “humility and obedience are the very gift of grace.” Otherwise we should contradict the express teaching of St. Paul who asked, “What have you that you have not received,” and confessed that, “By the grace of God, I am what I am.” [14]

Reformation to Jansenism. The sixteenth century Reformers began with the settled conviction that Adam’s original justice was not a superadded gift but a possession of his nature; and that his sin therefore not only deprived us of graces or preternatural blessing but depraved our very being.

In a later section we shall examine the consequences of the Protestant doctrine on its human side: the denial of freedom and the predestination to which it necessarily leads. Now we emphasize that the Council of Trent was not merely “painting the background” for its decrees on justification when it seemed to go back to Pelagian times to redefine the necessity of grace at every stage in the economy of salvation. For although few words occurred more frequently in the writing of Luther than grace or of Calvin than grace, the meaning was changed from what Augustine defended or the Council of Orange had defined. It was at best a remedy for perverse human nature, and not, as Christian tradition always believed, first an exaltation of man to the family of God.

However, a new tone entered the scene. Where previous statements of the magisterium treated of grace more abstractly and referred to the person of Christ mostly to support the argument, the Council of Trent placed the subject into a Christological setting, no doubt because the Reformers charged the Church with usurping the honor and authority of the Savior.

And there is another difference in Trent. Since the papacy and scholastic theology were accused of canonizing good works to the exclusion of grace, before man’s cooperation could be safely explained the absolute and prior need of God’s action had to be clarified.

Accordingly, in the case of adults, “without divine grace through Jesus Christ (no one) can be justified before God by his own works, whether they were done by his natural powers or by the light of the teaching of the (Mosaic) Law.” We receive grace through the Redeemer not merely to assist us to live justly and merit everlasting life, as if we could accomplish either, by our own free will without grace, even if we stipulate it would be difficult. It is simply unthinkable that, “without the Holy Spirit’s preceding inspiration and without His help man can believe, hope and love or be repentant, as is required, if the grace of justification is to be given to him.” [15]

These declarations are clear enough. But the precise point on the supernaturality of grace was rather implied than explicitly declared. Then Michael de Bay (Baius) denied the supernatural order and said it was gratuitous only because sinners are unworthy of divine mercy, thus echoing the Reformation theory about man’s original state before the fall. De Bay was condemned by St. Pius V (1567) to give us the first formal statements by the Church on the intrinsic supernaturalness of divine grace.

Among the seventy-nine censured propositions of Baius, two are especially pertinent. Positively, he asserted that “the exalting of human nature to a participation of the divine nature was due to the integrity of man in his first state, and for that reason should be called natural, not supernatural.” And negatively, “It is absurd to say, as some do, that man was elevated from the beginning, by means of some supernatural and gratuitous gift, above the condition of his nature, in order to worship God supernaturally by faith, hope and charity.” [16] Much the same sentiments were expressed on the preternatural gifts, notably freedom from concupiscence, that Jansenius was later to develop into a new theological system.

A graphic commentary on the devious ways of heresy was the famous comma Pianum, missing in the original draft of Pius’ condemnation of Baius, and supplied by the latter’s followers to suit their own fancy. The Pope had said, at the end of the catalogue of false propositions that, “although some of them might be defensible under a certain aspect, in the strict and proper sense of the words intended by those who profess them We condemn (these statements) as heretical, erroneous, suspect, temerarious, scandalous and offensive to piety.” Baius and his friends inserted a comma after “who profess them,” to make the Pope say that some of the prepositions are tenable in the sense understood by their defendants.

Jansenius was condemned almost a century later, (1635) in a synthesis of five opinions that have made theological history. Only one, the fourth, has relevance here. According to the Bishop of Ypres, “the Semi-Pelagians admitted the necessity of internal, preparatory grace for individual acts, even for the beginning of faith; they were heretics for this reason that they wished this grace to be such that the human will could resist it or obey it.” [17]

Both statements are untenable, the one as a matter of history and the other on dogmatic grounds. It is not true that the Semi-Pelagians admitted the necessity of internal grace for the “beginning of faith”; they were condemned for denying it. But by implication the Jansenists condemned themselves for calling it heretical to say the human will can resist or obey the internal inspirations of God. Liberty is just a name unless it has the option of accepting or rejecting grace.

Characteristically the Jansenists tried to evade Innocent X’s censure of their founder. They piously agreed with the Pope that the five propositions he termed heretical were erroneous indeed, but, as it happened, they were never taught by Jansenius. Their real author was Antoine Arnauld (1612-1694), who aroused the enmity of the Jesuits for criticizing their educational experiments. The Jesuits avenged themselves by saddling the errors on the late Bishop of Ypres and getting Rome to pass sentence.

As a result Jansenism continued to propagate as though Rome had never spoken. This went on for three years, until the next pontiff, Alexander VII, published his Constitution Ad Sacram Beati Petri Sedem (October 16, 1656) that is rightly considered the highpoint of papal authority prior to the First Vatican Council. The Constitution was the first explicit case in papal history where a solemn definition, binding irrevocably, dealt uniquely with an object connected only extrinsically with the deposit of faith, namely, did Jansenius teach what the Pope condemned. Alexander, therefore, published, “We declare and define that the five propositions were taken from the book of the aforementioned Cornelius Jansenius, Bishop of Ypres, whose title is Augustinus, and that they were condemned in the sense intended by the same Cornelius.” [18]

Still the evasion continued, until nine years later when Alexander composed a formula of submission to his own and predecessor’s Constitutions, to be taken under oath and “sincero animo,” as a condition for ordination to the priesthood and consecration to the episcopate. Among those who refused to take the oath were the organizers of the Old Catholic Churches, who are affiliated by “intercommunion” with the Anglicans and Episcopalians.

Modern Times. By the time of the First Vatican Council western religious culture had radically altered. Influenced by Kantianism, authors were no longer discussing the relative importance of faith and goodworks, or arguing, as did the Jansenists, whether divine inspiration overcomes free will. They called into question the very existence of revelation, without which grace and the supernatural are fabulous myths. Kantian rationalism furnished the framework for much of the Vatican teaching on the necessity of grace for divine faith, “which is the beginning of human salvation.”

Immanuel Kant (1724-1804) is often called the greatest of modern philosophers. He was certainly the most influential. His notion of religion was consistent with his general theory of knowledge and reality. He believed that man should recognize no authority superior to his own conscience, and therefore everyone should make his own judgment in religion and morality.

Historical events and personages may yield man an occasional clue; certain institutions may afford him a modicum of social support; and even revelation, were its authority beyond cavil, might hasten his discovery of the eternal verities. Yet all these aids are no more than adventitious, and the strong man will avoid undue reliance upon them trusting, so far as possible, in himself alone. For, irrespective of racial heritage, social environment or personal traits, the inner voice of reason is always his surest guide; and the fact that his own conscience commands him to be perfect bespeaks a corresponding ability to obey its behest through his own efforts. [19]

Consequently, just as Kantian ethics are independent of any other postulate than the mind, so religion is a creature of pure reason and moral strength has no need of help from the outside.

The Vatican I dogmas on faith and the Church were specially concerned with this modern anthropolatry, as the Acta of the Council clearly indicate. They went over the ground covered before in conflict with Pelagianism and during the Reformation, and carried the Christian teaching still more deeply on the necessity of divine grace for salvation - on three levels: as external grace in the form of revelation, internal grace to accept revealed truth in humility of faith, and social grace in the supernatural society founded by Jesus Christ.

On the level of the external grace of revelation, the Council outlined the two kinds of necessity under which we labor and because of which God must come to our aid. One is the moral necessity of enlightenment on the truths of natural religion, God’s existence and the rest; the other is a physical necessity that arises from our elevation to a higher than natural end. On both counts we need divine grace, in the form of external communication to the mind, supernaturally transmitted by God, and inviting our acceptance on the word of an all-wise and truthful Revealer.

Thus, “it is owing to this divine revelation that, even in the present condition of the human race, those religious truths which are by their nature accessible to human reason, can easily be known by all men with solid certitude and with no trace of error.” [20] Mankind, in other words, needs the gift of revelation to know the truths of the natural law with ease, objective certainty and subjective conviction.

The reasons for such help are not hard to find. For the truths that have to do with God and our relations to Him transcend the sensible order; and where they call for practical application and realization, demand self-surrender and self-abnegation. In acquiring these truths our intellect is hampered not only by the impulses of sense and imagination, but also by evil passions stemming from original sin. As a result, men readily persuade themselves in religious matters that what they do not wish to be true is false or at least doubtful.

But this is minor compared with the greater need of the external grace of revelation, which is “absolutely necessary only because God, out of His infinite goodness, destined man to a supernatural end, that is, to a participation in the good things of God, which altogether exceed the human mental grasp; for ‘eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor has it entered into the heart of man, what things God has prepared for those who love Him.’” [21]

To still speak of the inner voice of pure reason as man’s surest religious guide is to deify, as Kant did, the autonomous human intellect; and to open the way, as his followers did, for that apostasy from God which the Vatican Council foresaw in 1870 and which 20th Century secularism and Communism completely verified.

However, the fact of revelation is not enough to believe and profit from the benefits of faith, whether of naturally-knowable truths or of strict mysteries. Internal and strictly supernatural grace is also required to make faith itself possible. Again the First Vatican Council harked back to Pelagian times, but the urgency then was nothing compared to the crisis now. It underlined those elements which modern man has most need to recall: that he is a weak, finite being completely subordinate to God; that he needs faith to be saved and grace to believe; that humility of soul is required to accept the mysteries which reason cannot by itself perceive; and that the reward of faith is a firm hope on earth of an eternal reward after death.

Because man depends entirely on God as his Creator and Lord, and because created reason is wholly subordinate to uncreated Truth, we are obliged to render by faith a full submission of intellect and will to God when He makes a revelation.
This faith, however, which is the beginning of human salvation, the Catholic Church asserts to be a supernatural virtue. With the inspiration and assistance of God’s grace, by that faith we believe the things He has revealed are true - not because their intrinsic truth is seen with the natural light of reason - but because of the authority of God who reveals them, of God who can neither deceive nor be deceived. For, on the word of the Apostle, “Faith is the substance of things to be hoped for, the evidence of things that are not seen.” [22]

Certain semi-rationalists in the Catholic camp said we may need grace to believe, but only for the faith which includes all the theological virtues. We can believe quite on our own if only faith, minus sanctifying grace, is involved. This was a new angle suggested by Georg Hermes (1775-1831), professor of theology at Munster, in an effort to adjust Catholic principles to the supposed requirements of Kant’s philosophy.

Hermes distinguished two kinds of faith: a faith of knowledge, or intellectual adherence to religious truths on the basis of reasoned arguments; and faith of the heart, or a habitual state of will completely submissive to God and conforming one’s whole life to what is believed. Only the latter, living faith, was truly free and needed supernatural grace from God.

The Council condemned Hermesianism by reasserting the indispensability of grace for divine faith, which is not an irrational instinct (as some Rationalists claimed) nor a purely natural act of the mind (as Hermes had taught), but a free response to God’s inspiration that can be rejected if we choose. So that, “even though the assent of faith is by no means a blind impulse, still, no one can assent to the gospel preaching as he must in order to be saved without the enlightenment and inspiration of the Holy Spirit, who gives all men their joy in assenting to and believing the truth. Hence, faith itself is essentially a gift of God, even though it should not work through charity. And the act of faith is a work that pertains to salvation. By this act man offers to God Himself a free obedience since he concurs and cooperates with God’s grace, when he could resist it.” [23]

There is another aspect of grace, the social, on whose necessity the first Vatican Council passed judgment. The Catholic Church is at once a cosmic external grace and the source of internal, supernatural helps that men need to find and remain in the faith “without which it is impossible to please God.”

Granting we must believe “to enter into the company of God’s sons, no one has ever obtained justification without faith, and no one will reach eternal life unless he has persevered in the faith to the end.” In His mercy God did not leave the acquisition of this important commodity to our own initiative or trust that we should keep it if left alone. “In order to enable us to fulfill our obligation of embracing the true faith and steadfastly persevering in it, God established the Church through His only-begotten Son, and endowed it with unmistakable marks of its foundation, so it could be recognized by all as the guardian and teacher of the revealed word.” [24]

Accordingly the Catholic Church was established primarily as a grace to mankind, to teach men the truths they need to be saved and protect them from error that might endanger their salvation.

The implications of this doctrine are profound. Fifteen centuries after Pelagius and Cassian, the Church is still defending the need of grace for salutary acts, but now the type and range of necessity have changed, and the shift is most significant. Formerly the question arose as something speculative, among people who otherwise professed the Christian faith; it was mainly a moral and volitional problem and concerned more with individuals than with huge segments of society. Now the issue does not merely verge on the practical, as any theory allowed to ferment long enough in men’s minds is bound to; it is a crucial situation that faces a large part of Western civilization, whose supernatural moorings are being swept away by generations of uninhibited naturalism.

Formerly the almost academic question was whether a person could rightly use his will without grace and reach a heaven in which the Christian people of the time still believed; now the very existence of a supernatural destiny beyond the grave is ignored, and the power of human reason so extolled that any help from outside of man is simply denied. Modern Pelagianism is the heresy of intellectual self-sufficiency.

Conscious of this state of affairs, the Church has added a new dimension to her teaching on the necessity of grace, the pragmatic one of how to bring a whole culture back on the road “that leads to life” from which it had strayed. Hence the stress on proclaiming the Church’s mission in the world, “like a standard lifted up for the nations,” as a visible grace inviting those who see her to accept the faith she proposes and through it enter the pathway to heavenly glory.

Spiritual Implications

The simple fact that we need grace to perform actions conducive to salvation has corollaries that touch on every phase of the spiritual life and the apostolate. Many of these implications are bound up with special aspects of the subject, to be treated later in detail. But even at this point certain consequences should be brought into the open, to strengthen appreciation of this “kindness and generosity of God our Savior,” and extend the horizons of our zeal.

Universal Need. The more common teaching of theologians is that sanctifying grace alone is not enough to act supernaturally; that in addition God must furnish us with actual graces every time we place a salutary act. Of course unbelievers cannot begin to approach Him “heaven-wise” without these transient infusions in the mind and will; nor can people in sin return to God without His prevenient help; and even those who enjoy the divine friendship need special, supernatural assistance in a multitude of ways, from overcoming severe temptations to remaining in God’s love until death.

All this is assured, and will be seen in context as the questions arise. But we are saying that the state of grace must be supplemented constantly by the providential activity of God. The general divine concurrence would not suffice, even though we possess the infused virtues and our faculties are elevated by divine love. In the words of Trent, “Christ Jesus Himself is constantly pouring strength (iugiter virtutam influat) into the justified, even as the head gives strength to the members, and the vine to the branches. This strength always precedes, accompanies and follows (semper antecedit et comitatur et subsequitur) the good works of the justified and without it the good works cannot be at all pleasing to God or meritorious.” [25]

St. Thomas puts this need for constant infusion of actual grace to the character of the virtues of faith, hope and charity we possess. “Man is not so perfectly directed by them to his final end that he does not besides always have to be moved by a kind of higher instinct of the Holy Spirit.” [26] It is comparable to the action of the faculties on the natural level, which must receive motion from God, the first cause, concurrent with their native powers. Raised to a higher order of being, they need another elevated impulse to go into action on this more sublime plane.

Humility and Prayer. Why this incessant, supernatural dependence upon God? The saints saw it as a mark of divine bounty. “If anyone marvel that God made all His creatures such that they should always need aid of His grace, let him know that God did it out of His double goodness. First to keep them from pride by causing them to perceive their feebleness, and to call upon Him; and secondly, to do His creatures honor and comfort.” [27]

One of the surest remedies for pride, and safeguard against its rise is the self-consciousness of necessity. A man is proud in the degree to which he considers himself independent, and the acme of pride is the belief in perfect self-sufficiency. In the natural, physical order our dependence on others is realized by us from the dawn of reason, and by reflection back to the first moment of existence. “What have you that you have not received?” is a description of man’s life from conception to the last act of charity someone does for us before we die.

It is less obvious that behind all we receive from others is the perennial goodness of God, the real fountainhead of altruism and the source, not only of human charity but of every blessing that enters our lives. Yet we must pause to reflect on God’s part to appreciate His generosity.

The same with grace. Here not reason or memory but faith must tell us we are beneficiaries of a continuous, supranatural inflow of which God is the author more immediately and directly than ever happens in nature, where secondary agents are more than mere instruments of the First Cause. More than ever, we have cause to say in humility, “I am what I am because of the mercy of God.”

This consciousness of perpetual reliance on the Author of grace should inspire unceasing prayer. It is not coincidental that all the terms Christ used to designate prayer have to do with begging for favors from God. Since we are constantly in need of divine help, and God as constantly must furnish it, once we realize both realities, we are inspired constantly to pray. Indeed the spontaneity with which we turn to God in prayer is an index of our spiritual life. To be religious is to have the habit of prayer, or to pray always. “As our bodily life discovers itself by its activity, so is the presence of the Holy Spirit in us discovered by a spiritual activity, and this activity is the spirit of continual prayer. Prayer is to the spiritual life what the beating of the pulse and drawing of the breath are to the life of the body.” [28]

The constant need we have of grace is not only calculated to keep us humble, or move us to pray. Its function is also to show us what those who lack faith cannot conceive: that God cares for His creatures with a minute constancy that scandalizes the natural man. What does it mean for us to depend so completely on God, except that He providentially makes Himself our perpetual support?

If the norm of charity is solicitude for another’s needs, the depth of divine love for man must be extreme, since the interest that God has in our welfare extends to the least salutary action we perform. This, in turn, is another motive for prayer, not only of petition for help but of gratitude for favors received.

From Christ the Head to His Body. The remarkable feature about our need of grace is that it simply means our need of Christ, and the proof in revelation for this necessity is the declaration of the Savior that, “with out me you can do nothing.”

If we study the concept more closely, and especially see its expansion in St. Paul, we find that the source of this gracious indispensability is not merely Christ in His physical person as the God-man but Christ in the wholeness of the mystical personality He entered by incorporating us into His Church. When He said, “I am the true vine, you are the branches,” He gave us His own image of the Mystical Body, which is the extension of Himself, the total Christ, the Catholic Church of Pauline and Christian theology.

It is as Head of the Mystical Body, therefore, that Christ communicates to us the graces we need to be saved and sanctified. Holiness, whether substantial in the possession of sanctifying grace or superior in striving after perfection, begins from Christ and Christ is always its cause. No action of our leading to glory can be placed unless it comes from Him as its supernatural source.

If we grieve and do penance for our sins; if we turn to God with filial fear and hope of reward, it is because Christ is leading us. Grace flows from Him, our Head, as from an inexhaustible fullness.

Our Savior is continually pouring out His gifts of counsel, fortitude, fear and piety, especially on the leading members of His Body, so that the whole Body may grow ever more and more in holiness and in integrity of life. When the sacraments of the Church are administered by external rite, it is He who produces their effect in souls. He nourishes the redeemed with His own flesh and blood, and thus calms the turbulent passions of the soul; He gives increase of grace and prepares future glory for souls and bodies.
All these treasures of His divine goodness He is said to bestow on the members of His Mystical Body, not merely because He, as the Eucharistic Victim on earth and the glorified Victim in heaven, through His wounds and prayers places our cause before the Eternal Father. He also selects, He determines, He distributes every single grace to every single person, “according to the measure of the giving of Christ.” [29]

In order to have a clearer picture of this important relationship of Christ with the Church, it will help to examine briefly the different kinds of grace that are found in Him and which of these precisely flows into His Body. Following St. Thomas, theologians commonly distinguish three types of benefit conferred gratis on the human nature of Christ. “The first is the grace of union, whereby the human nature, with no merits preceding, received the gift of being united in person to the Son of God. The second is the singular grace whereby the soul of Christ was filled with grace and truth beyond all other souls. The third is the grace of being Head, in virtue of which grace flows from Him to others.” [30] We find the three forms described in sequence by St. John the Evangelist. Regarding the grace of union, he says, “The Word was made flesh;” of His singular grace of sanctity, he adds, “We saw his glory, glory as of the only-begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth;” and of the grace of headship, “of his fulness we have all received.” [31]

All three types are, in their way, infinite. The grace of union is evidently more than finite because in His human nature Christ received the gift of becoming the Son of God not by participation but by nature. And since natural divinity is infinite, also the union by which the divinity was received is infinite by its very essence.

We might suspect that sanctifying grace with its concomitants is not infinite in Christ, “Since such grace is a created gift, we have to acknowledge that it has a finite essence.” [32] Yet it may be considered infinite because the whole of Christ’s human nature was filled to ultimate capacity, because He received all that pertains to the nature of grace and, especially, because by the hypostatic union His soul was united to the divinity which is perfectly inexhaustible. As a corollary, therefore, the grace of headship in the Mystical Body is likewise infinite. What Christ possesses He communicates. “And since He has received the gifts of the Spirit without measure, He has the power of pouring forth without measure all that belongs to the grace of the Head. Consequently His grace is sufficient for the salvation not only of some men but of the whole world, as expressed by St. John that “He is the propitiation for our sins; and not for ours only, but also for those of the whole world; and we may add, of many worlds, if such existed.” [33]

Now arises the subtle question: in what sense do we receive from the fulness of grace that is in Christ? It would not be accurate to say that the created gifts in Christ are so abundant that they “flow over” from Head to members in such a way that our portion is numerically the same as His. Also not a few graces that we possess, like faith and sorrow for sin, are not formally present in Christ. Theologians for these reasons prefer to speak of the grace of headship in its relation to the whole organism of the Mystical Body as the uncreated gift of the Holy Spirit, who dwells in Christ to an infinite degree. And it is this numerically identical gift that flows into the Body and its members with finite limitations according to the measure of Christ’s donation and suited to the dispositions or office that each one in the Body occupies. Thus “although the habitual gifts are not the same in the soul of Christ and in ourselves, yet the same Holy Spirit who abides in Him is the one that fills those who are to be sanctified.” [34]

Grace to Mankind. There is no difficulty accepting on faith the mystery of sanctification, wherein the members of the Mystical Body are animated by the Spirit of Christ and from Him receive all the blessing of the supernatural life. But can we extend the principle to include also those who are not actually in the Body of Christ? Do they also depend on the invisible Head of the Church for all the graces they receive? They must, since there are not two Christs, one who is Head of the Mystical Body and another who is not.

We go a step further. Is there a legitimate sense in which non-Catholics derive supernatural grace not only from Christ who is Head of the Church but from Christ precisely as Head of the Mystical Body? While the answer is affirmative, it needs to be carefully distinguished. When we speak of Christ as Head of the Church we mean the Savior in His capacity of governing the society of human beings of which His own divine Spirit is the animating principle. He governs this society in two ways: the first by imparting sanctity to individual persons and the second by uniting these individuals into a living organism that is destined to last for all eternity.

The two are quite distinct. A person can be in the Mystical Body and not be in sanctifying grace, as he can be in the state of grace without being an actual member of the Church. But in the latter case, he obtains justification only because he is somehow in conjunction with the Church. For an infant this means baptism by water. For an adult it means that degree of response to the divine will which God will recognize as implying the desire to be incorporated into His Body. It matters little that psychologically a non-Catholic is not aware of the full implications of his generosity; ontologically God sees the implications and credits the soul accordingly. [35]

Equally important and more subtle is the second way that Christ operates as Head of the Mystical Body. We are liable to forget that personal sanctification is not the only purpose of the redemption. In the plan of God, we are not only to be personally sanctified but also united with Christ and each other in union whose intimacy is incomprehensible to the natural man. If a person is in the state of grace but not actually in the Church, Christ’s function will be to draw him into ever closer approximation to actual membership, until (at least after death) he is fully incorporated into the Body of Christ. [36]

Consequently the teaching of the Vatican Fathers stands firm: “there is no communication of the Spirit except in the Church,” i.e., in relation to her by some kind of volitional response to her teaching, either actual profession or such generosity as objectively (though unwittingly) includes the desire to become a Catholic. Also “there is not communication of the Spirit except through the Church,” i.e., through her invisible Head, who sanctifies individuals wherever He finds the necessary good will, and incorporates them into Himself. The very analogy with a human organism permits us to see how the Body of Christ can be active beyond its own physical self, by radiating power that affects others besides its own members and by assimilating elements from the outside for its growth and amplification.

However, we are not to suppose that Christ acts independently of the Church in His action of sanctifying and incorporating non-Catholics to Himself. He uses the Church on every level of her ministration, especially the Sacrifice of the Mass and the prayers and sacrifices of the faithful.

The most important medium in the Church for the salvation of the non-Catholic world is the Sacrifice of the Mass. On the altar is renewed the oblation of Calvary because it is the same Priest and Victim who offered Himself on the Cross. Moreover, the appointed ends are the same, notably the expiation of sin and impetration of grace from Almighty God.

To be emphasized is the universality of the fruits of the Mass. “No one was better fitted,” wrote Pius XII, “to make satisfaction for all the sins of mankind than Christ. Therefore He desired to be immolated upon the Cross as a propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for those of the whole world. In like manner, He daily offers Himself upon our altars for our redemption.” [37] These are the sentiments of the Church in her liturgy, where at every Offertory of the Mass she prays that “the chalice of salvation may ascend for our salvation and that of the whole world.” Thus anticipating before the consecration the words of Christ Himself at the Last Supper: “This is the chalice of My blood, of the new and eternal covenant, which shall be shed for you and for many, unto the remission of sins.” The expression, “for many,” has always been understood to mean “for all mankind.”

As far back as we go in the Church’s tradition, she has always recognized the Mass as a universal instrument for the salvation of the gentiles who were still outside the City of God. One of the most eloquent comes to us from the fifth century under the authority of the then reigning pontiff, St. Celestine. When priests “fulfill the sacerdotal office entrusted to them, they are pleading the cause of the human race before the divine clemency, and while the whole Church mingles its sighs with theirs, they beg and pray that faith may be given to the infidels, that idolaters may be freed from the errors of their impiety, that the light of truth may appear to the Jews, that heretics may return to wisdom with the true comprehension of the Catholic faith, that schismatics may receive the spirit of charity once more revived in them and that those who are lapsed may be given the remedy of repentance.” [38] This doctrine, says the pope, “was handed down from the Apostles,” and therefore represents the mind of Christ, whose prayer for unity at the Last Supper is perpetuated in every Sacrifice of the Mass.

Correlative with the Mass are the prayers and sacrifices of the faithful, impetrating from Christ the graces which He dispenses outside the Mystical Body. As with the Mass, the tradition goes back to the early Church and is based on the dogmatic principle that the fruits of the Redemption are applicable to all the members of the human family. Following the example of his Master, Stephen prayed for his persecutors and Paul for the recalcitrant Jews, even to becoming anathema if this were necessary to win their salvation.

However, besides the salvific will of God another principle is also operative in this tradition of apostolic prayer and sacrifice in favor of the non-Catholic world. While believing that conversion to Catholicism and especially final perseverance is a gift of divine liberality, we recognize the corresponding need of human activity antecedent to the reception of grace, notably the necessity of prayer. It may be the prayer that a person says for himself, asking for divine guidance and strength to follow the will of God; it may also be the prayer that others say in addition to his own or in his stead. For Catholics as well as non-Catholics the latter altruistic prayer is indispensable. We need the prayers of the living members of the Mystical Body of Christ to reach our heavenly destiny.

In a famous letter that St. Augustine wrote against the Pelagians we have all the essentials of this doctrine with reference to those who are eventually converted to God. Augustine pleads with his correspondent to recognize the Church’s duty of praying for those outside of her fold. “Surely you will not forbid the Church to pray for unbelievers that they may be believers, for those who refuse to believe that they may be willing to believe, for those who are at variance with God’s law and doctrine, that God may give them what He promised by the prophet, ‘A heart for understanding Him and ears for hearing.’” He argues from the practice of St. Paul in favor of the unbelieving Jews, saying that “my prayer to God is for them unto salvation.” [39]

As a general principle, therefore, “these and other divine testimonies prove that God by His grace takes away the stony heart from unbelievers and forestalls merit in men of good will…. This is shown both by thanksgiving and by prayer: prayer for unbelievers; thanksgiving for believers. Prayer is to be made to Him that He might do what we ask; thanksgiving is to be offered when He has done it.” [40] Both would be useless and “a mockery,” unless the prayers of the Church effected the sanctification of those estranged from God and thanksgiving were demanded in gratitude for the Church’s prayers having been answered.

Pope Pius XII gave voice to the same tradition when, in his capacity as Vicar of Christ, he declared that “We have committed to the protection and guidance of heaven those who do not belong to the visible Body of the Catholic Church,” and united with “the prayers of the whole Church, We desire nothing more ardently than that they may have life and have it more abundantly.” [41]

If we couple the individual prayers of the faithful with the public worship of the Church, and add to these the sacrifices and sanctity of the whole Mystical Body of Christ, we have in cosmic outline the ultimate basis for the Church’s necessity for the salvation of all mankind. By divine ordinance she is the great sacrament through whom graces are dispensed to the entire human race. Within her Body, members receive these gifts as by a special privilege to which, by God’s mercy, they have a supernatural title. But even outside her Body, whoever is eventually saved, must credit his salvation to the instrumentality of the Catholic Church, whose invisible Head is the fountain of all life and holiness and of whose fulness anyone who is sanctified must have received. [42]

Chapter II - References

[1] Martin Luther, “Lectures on Genesis” (III, 7), Luther’s Work, (St. Louis: Concordia, 1958), 1:164-165; CCC 399,1998.

[2] John Dewey, A Common Faith, (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1934), p.46.

[3] Paul Tillich, The Protestant Era, Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1948), p.82.

[4] CCC 153: cf. Vatican Council II. Dogmatic Constitution on Divine Revelation [Dei Verbum] (1965), 5.

[5] DS 248.

[6] DS 378; II Corinthians 3:5.

[7] John 15:1-6; CCC 2074.

[8] Isaias 5:1-7.

[9] Jeremias 1-14.

[10] Ezechiel 15:2-8.

[11] Psalm 79.

[12] DS 373; Isaias 65:1; Romans 10:20: CCC 2567.

[13] DS 375.

[14] DS 179; I Corinthians 4:7, 15:10.

[15] DS 1551-53; CCC 1813, 1989.

[16] DS 1921-23.

[17]DS 2004.

[18] DS 2012.

[19] Immanuel Kant, Religion Within the Limits of Reason Alone (Chicago: The Open Court, 1934, pp.74-75.

[20] DS 3005, CCC 38.

[21] DS 3005, I Corinthians 2:9.

[22] DS 3008; CCC 156.

[23] DS 3010; CCC 153, 143-44.

[24] DS 3012; CCC 846, 851, 2104.

[25] DS 1546; CCC 2000, 2024.

[26] St. Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologiae, Ia IIae, q. 68, a. 2.

[27] St. Thomas More, Treatise on the Passion (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1976).

[28] John Henry Newman, Parochial and Plain Sermons,(London: Longmans, Green, 1908), 7:209; CCC 2569-660, 2742-45.

[29] Pius XII, On the Mystical Body of Christ [Mystici Corporis] (1943), 51; CCC 957.

[30] St. Thomas, Compendium Theologiae, cap, 214.

[31] John 1:14, 16.

[32] St. Thomas Aquinas, op.cit., cap. 215.

[33] Ibid.

[34] St. Thomas Aquinas, In Joannem, cap. 1, lectio 10.

[35] CCC 846-48; cf. Vatican Council II, Dogmatic Constitution on the Church [Lumen Gentium] (1964), 14-16.

[36] CCC 1045.

[37] Pius XII, On the Sacred Liturgy [Mediator Dei] (1947), 73.

[38] St. Celestine, “Epistola ad Episcopos Galliarum,” Patrologia Latina (MPL), ed. J.P. Migne, 50:535.

[39] St. Augustine, “Epistola ad Vitalem,” MPL 33, 900.

[40] Ibid.

[41] Mystici Corporis, 103.

[42] CCC 846; cf. Lumen Gentium 14.

Copyright © 1998 by Inter Mirifica

search tips advanced search

What's New    Site Index

Home | Directory | Eucharist | Divine Training | Testimonials | Visit Chapel | Hardon Archives

Adorers Society | PEA Manual | Essentials of Faith | Dictionary | Thesaurus | Catalog | Newsletters

Real Presence Eucharistic Education and Adoration Association
718 Liberty Lane
Lombard, IL 60148
Phone: 815-254-4420
Contact Us

Copyright © 2000 by
All rights reserved worldwide.
No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval
system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means, electronic,
mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise, without the prior
written permission of