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Course on Grace
by Fr. John A. Hardon, S.J.
Grace is one of the most complex, ramifying and difficult of subjects, yet one most fruitful to mind and soul. We like to characterize the world of grace as a hidden world, within the world that we know rather well. Our most real life is lived within.
Hidden. Hidden from the measuring instruments of physical science, unknown to most non-Catholics, too little realized by many Catholics, there lies an invisible world of light and beauty and power, a world of creatures throbbing with a life that is divine, a world that is of vital importance to every human being. What is it? The world of grace, where Christ is King.
Has anyone ever seen grace? Persons, places, and things can be external graces, but the most real graces are intangible and indiscernible even to the questing psychologist, and rarely mentioned in literature. An overpowering desire for these deep graces is rare in our world, a deep understanding of them still more rare. Here again the richest, and finest things are hidden away. We should not judge merely by what the world sees, for who saw the greatest storehouse of grace, Christ, and next, Our Lady?
World. Christ is the center in this hidden world. He calls Himself the Vine. A vine that branches out everywhere. He is a strange Vine; with deep roots, far-reaching tendrils, each drawing life and power from its center, Christ. We call Him, too, the Head of the Body, King of the World. We call Him many things, for we need all these names to express His many facets. We need them to comprehend something of His great riches. We call Him the Light of the World, the Sun of Justice. And where there is a sun, there is a Moon also, Our Lady. Our Lady shines by reflected light; she is a perfect reflector. All the light that God intends to go out from her, does: she holds none of it back nor distorts it.
Grace. In the darkness of this hidden world, we can picture a tiny light of grace at the baptism of an infant. The hovering Spirit is there enkindling a light, a share of Christs light. God in baptism is giving a light intended to burn for all eternity, never to go out.
Coming out of this center, are rays of grace. We like to think of them as rays of heat, that aim to warm us with the love of God, rays of light that aim to give us a glimpse of hidden, supernatural things, rays of magnetism, magnetic lines of force coming out of this unique center of the hidden world whereby Christ is trying to draw us up out of self into Himself more and more, without destroying in us anything that is meant to live and grow. Sometimes one can almost feel the pull of Christ, tugging on our mind, tugging on our will, tugging on another through us. No one cometh to me except the Father draw him.
How many kinds of grace are there? Many kinds. The aim of this course is not just to study them, to look at them, but to respond, to react to them in the way that God wishes.
First we shall consider grace extensively, and then intensively.
Copyright © 1998 by Inter Mirifica
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