Lawrence Feingold on Sanctifying Grace and Actual Grace

Nov 3rd, 2011 | By | Category: Blog Posts

Recently Professor Lawrence Feingold of Ave Maria University’s Institute for Pastoral Theology and author of The Natural Desire to See God According to St. Thomas and his Interpreters and the three volume series The Mystery of Israel and the Church gave two lectures on the subject of sanctifying grace and actual grace, to the Association of Hebrew Catholics. The distinction between sanctifying grace and actual grace is one of the fundamental points of disagreement between Reformed theology and Catholic theology. Reformed theology does not make this distinction, and therefore treats the Catholic teaching on cooperation with actual grace prior to receiving sanctifying grace as Semipelagianism. Reformed theology also does not recognize sanctifying grace because Reformed theology does not accept the Catholic doctrine of theosis, i.e. actual participation in the divine nature. The first lecture below is on the subject of sanctifying grace; the second lecture is on the subject of actual grace. Both lectures build on an earlier lecture in this series; see “Nature, Grace and Man’s Supernatural End: Feingold, Kline, and Clark.” The audio recordings of the lectures and of the following Q&A sessions, along with outlines of each, are available below. All the mp3s can be downloaded here.


Lawrence Feingold

Lecture: The Mystery of Grace (October 19, 2011)
 

The Nature of Grace (1′)

Old Testament foreshadowing of the Holy Spirit’s indwelling (1′)
New Testament fulfillment of the Jewish feast of Sukkot (2′)
Grace is the heart of the gospel (7′)
Why we need sanctifying grace to reach our supernatural end (9′)
External means and internal means (12′)
The various meanings of the term ‘grace’ (15′)
Sanctifying grace: an infused supernatural gift that makes us favorable to God as sharers in his own divine nature (17′)

Grace and nature: grace is doubly gratuitous (25′)

Why grace is above what is due to nature

The Love of God is the source of grace (35′)

We receive a greater gift on the day of our baptism than on the day of our conception.
Some receive more grace than do others; those given more grace are given more to be a source to others. (39′)

The grace given to Mary (41′)

John Paul II’s encyclical: The Mother of the Redeemer

Sanctifying grace as a participation in the divine nature and divine filiation (43′)

Sanctifying grace and adoption (48′)

The theological virtues that come with sanctifying grace: faith, hope, charity (50′)

Nature –> Powers –> Actions
Sanctifying grace is an elevation of human nature by participation in the divine nature.
Theological virtues are elevations of human powers by infused supernatural inclinations.
Actual grace is the supernatural movement from God through which, with our free cooperation, we perform acts ordered to a supernatural end.

Blasphemy against the Holy Spirit (58′)

The theological virtue of charity (61′)

Questions and Answers:
 

(1) What form of grace motivates us to repent, to receive the sacrament of penance? (1′)

(2) Can grace be created, or is it infinite? (1′)

(3) Was the giving to humans of the divine life shown in other ways than just in Scripture, saying that there is an afterlife for the Jews? (9′)

(4) Is confirmation a second seed after baptism? (13′)

(5) Can the theological virtues be compared to the Trinity in that one proceeds from the other? (14′)

(6) In Romans 4:18, St. Paul is talking about Abraham, and it says that in hope he believed against hope, that he should become the father of many nations. What does it mean that he “believed against hope”? (15′)

(7) It would seem that true union with God implies participation, which also implies grace in the second sense, that is, an effect in us. Could you contrast this briefly with the Protestant view that grace is only divine favor? (17′)

(8) What is the relation between the union we have with the Holy Spirit through sanctifying grace, and the union we have with Christ in the Mystical Body? (25′)

(9) Is there a natural favor that is God’s favor towards us because of our human nature? (27′)

(10) Do the saints in heaven grow in charity? (29′)

(11) How does the doctrine of sanctifying grace avoid fusion, that is, the swallowing up of human nature by the divine nature? (30′)

(12) When then does St. Paul mean when he says that in Christ we are “new creatures”? (35′)

(13) Some Eastern Orthodox deny the concept of created grace, claiming that there is only uncreated grace (i.e. the Holy Spirit). Why couldn’t sanctifying grace merely be the Holy Spirit indwelling, without any created grace? (36′)

(14) When you said that we participate in the filial love between Christ and the Father it sounded like you were saying that we participate primarily in the Person of the Holy Spirit. How does that relate to participation in the divine nature? (38′)

(15) How does one know that he is acting in true fraternal charity rather than simply out of natural impulse to generosity? (44′)

(16) If a man has grown older than the age of reason, but has not been baptized, and has not committed a mortal sin, what is the state of his soul with respect to God? (45′)

Lecture: Actual Grace and Our Cooperation (October 26, 2011)
 

The Distinction between Sanctifying Grace and Actual Grace (1′)

Sanctifying grace (also called habitual grace)
Actual grace (transient divine aid, a divine impulse/movement enabling us to accomplish an action leading to salvation or sanctification)

The distinction between these two types of grace is explained in the Catechism of the Catholic Church: (6′)

The grace of Christ is the gratuitous gift that God makes to us of his own life, infused by the Holy Spirit into our soul to heal it of sin and to sanctify it. It is the sanctifying or deifying grace received in Baptism. … Sanctifying grace is an habitual gift, a stable and supernatural disposition that perfects the soul itself to enable it to live with God, to act by his love. Habitual grace, the permanent disposition to live and act in keeping with God’s call, is distinguished from actual graces which refer to God’s interventions, whether at the beginning of conversion or in the course of the work of sanctification. (CCC 1999-2000)

The distinction between actual grace and sanctifying grace explained by the distinction between efficient causes and formal causes. (9′)
Why actual grace must come before sanctifying grace. (11′)
Why we need actual grace after receiving sanctifying grace. (13′)
How infants can receive sanctifying grace without first receiving actual grace. (14′)

St. Thomas Aquinas explains the distinction between actual grace and sanctifying grace: (17′)

[M]an is aided by God’s gratuitous will in two ways: first, inasmuch as man’s soul is moved by God to know or will or do something, and in this way the gratuitous effect in man is not a quality, but a movement of the soul; for “motion is the act of the mover in the moved.” Secondly, man is helped by God’s gratuitous will, inasmuch as a habitual gift is infused by God into the soul; and for this reason, that it is not fitting that God should provide less for those He loves, that they may acquire supernatural good, than for creatures, whom He loves that they may acquire natural good. Now He so provides for natural creatures, that not merely does He move them to their natural acts, but He bestows upon them certain forms and powers, which are the principles of acts, in order that they may of themselves be inclined to these movements, and thus the movements whereby they are moved by God become natural and easy to creatures, according to Wisdom 8:1: “she . . . ordereth all things sweetly.” Much more therefore does He infuse into such as He moves towards the acquisition of supernatural good, certain forms or supernatural qualities, whereby they may be moved by Him sweetly and promptly to acquire eternal good; and thus the gift of grace is a quality. (Summa Theologica I-II q. 110, a. 2.)

The Nature of Actual Grace

God gives actual grace to all persons, but does not give sanctifying grace to all persons. (20′)
Actual grace is for the sake of sanctifying grace; sanctifying grace is more important than actual grace. (22′)
Once we have sanctifying grace, then actual grace is for the sake of growing in sanctifying grace. (23′)

Two Kinds of Actual Grace: Operative Grace and Cooperative Grace (25′)

Operative grace (26′)
Cooperative grace (29′)

Example of St. Paul on the road to Damascus (31′)
Example of Zacchaeus (33′)

Actual grace is resistible (35′)

Example of St. Augustine’s conversion.
Operative grace cannot be blocked; it is efficacious by its very nature.
But we can refuse to cooperate with actual grace, and therefore block cooperative grace, which is not efficacious of itself alone. (37′)

St. Augustine writes: (39′)

For He who first works in us the power to will is the same who cooperates in bringing this work to perfection in those who will it. Accordingly, the Apostle says: “I am convinced of this, that he who has begun a good work in you will bring it to perfection until the day of Christ Jesus” (Phil. 1:6). God, then, works in us, without our cooperation, the power to will, but once we begin to will, and do so in a way that brings us to act, then it is that He cooperates with us. But if He does not work in us the power to will or does not cooperate in our act of willing, we are powerless to perform good works of a salutary nature. (Grace and Free Will, 17.33)

Cooperative grace requires a certain initiative on our part, a self-moving (43′)

Example of Mary freely consenting. (44′)

If we consent to actual grace, God receives the glory. If we resist actual grace, we are to blame. (45′)

St. Thomas Aquinas (49′)

Hence in that effect in which our mind is moved and does not move, but in which God is the sole mover, the operation is attributed to God, and it is with reference to this that we speak of “operating grace.” But in that effect in which our mind both moves and is moved, the operation is not only attributed to God, but also to the soul; and it is with reference to this that we speak of “cooperating grace.” Now there is a double act in us. First, there is the interior act of the will, and with regard to this act the will is a thing moved, and God is the mover; and especially when the will, which hitherto willed evil, begins to will good. And hence, inasmuch as God moves the human mind to this act, we speak of operating grace. But there is another, exterior act; and since it is commanded by the will, as was shown above (Question 17, Article 9) the operation of this act is attributed to the will. And because God assists us in this act, both by strengthening our will interiorly so as to attain to the act, and by granting outwardly the capability of operating, it is with respect to this that we speak of cooperating grace. Hence after the aforesaid words Augustine subjoins: “He operates that we may will; and when we will, He cooperates that we may perfect.” And thus if grace is taken for God’s gratuitous motion whereby He moves us to meritorious good, it is fittingly divided into operating and cooperating grace. (Summa Theologica I-II q. 111, a. 2.)

Operative grace also called prevenient (or antecedent) grace; cooperative grace also called subsequent (or consequent) grace (51′)

Revelation 3:20 “Behold, I stand at the door and knock ….” (53′)
John 6:44 “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him.” (55′)
Parable of the sower (58′)
Hardening of the heart (59′)
Psalm 95:8, Jeremiah 17:23

Denying these two kinds of actual grace leads to two heresies: (62′)

Semipelagianism errs by denying the necessity of operative grace
Lutheranism errs by denying the possibility of cooperative grace (i.e. treating all grace as operative grace).

Pelagianism (62′)

Reduced grace to supernatural instruction

St. Augustine: The necessity of actual grace moving us inwardly, not merely through external [supernatural] instruction. (67′)

Canons condemning Pelagianism (68′)

At the Council of Carthage: Denzinger 104-105
Council of Trent, Session 6, Canons 1-3

The principle of proportionality (69′)

Semipelagianism (71′)

Denzinger 373, 375

Questions and Answers
 

(1) What is the work of grace in infant baptism? It doesn’t look as though it can do any more than get rid of original sin, and yet original sin’s grip on a child seems small. (1′)

(2) Does the sanctifying grace received by the infant in baptism make him more disposed to receive and respond to subsequent actual graces? (2′)

(3) If one has committed a mortal sin, or is estranged from the Church, how does one come into (or ensure that he is in) a state of grace? (6′)

(4) Does God give everyone sufficient grace to make an act of perfect contrition? (12′)

(5) One can receive many positive or good inspirations in a day. How do you discern whether they are operative graces you should cooperate with or just a good idea you have in mind? (14′)

(6) In purgatory the souls are being purified by fire, for nothing unclean can enter. Are the souls there receiving God’s chisel, His operative grace? Is grace at work in purgatory, or is it beyond that? (21′)

(7) How do Jewish people see grace? (24′)

(8) It’s been said that we can only receive grace in sacraments if we are properly disposed. So is proper disposition the same as not resisting grace? (29′)

(9) Are temptations negative graces? (32′)

(10) Could a good person be held at a given level because of God’s plan, or are they stuck at a given level because they are not corresponding? (33′)

(11) Are we accountable for the graces that we did not cooperate with, given that we are in a state of grace when when we die? How does the tepid soul respond to grace? (37′)

Tags:

12 comments
Leave a comment »

  1. Thank you for this insight! I had been struggling with election and this has answered my questions.

  2. I found this to be insightful and thought-provoking. Here’s a couple of questions maybe someone from this site can answer:

    1. I have read multiple times that God provides _sufficient_ grace for all men to be saved.
    a) Is this true?
    b) Does this mean that some form of sanctifying or actual grace is given to all?
    c) What about in the case of a person who was not baptized as a child? Is the “sufficient” grace given in this case simply an operative grace that requires cooperation before justification is possible? So that a person does not receive sanctifying grace until they cooperate with the operative grace?
    d) Or, is cooperation only possible once sanctifying grace is provided? And does this imply that for all men to receive sufficient grace, then sanctifying grace must be given to all at some point in each man’s life? CCC 1993 says that justification “establishes cooperation”, so is it possible for cooperation to precede justification?

    2. Is Hell the “natural” end of man? If so, how does it compare to the “natural” end of a horse? Or is Hell a supernatural end that God provides in place of what would have been a natural end? If Hell is a supernatural end, is there a “natural” end of man?

    Is it possible for man to die without ever receiving a supernatural “desire” or “hope” for God? Would this man suffer in Hell?

  3. Jonathan, (re: #2)

    Yes, God provides sufficient grace for salvation to every person who attains the age of reason. (See “Lawrence Feingold on God’s Universal Salvific Will.”) The Catechism teaches that “Since Christ died for all, and since all men are in fact called to one and the same destiny, which is divine, we must hold that the Holy Spirit offers to all the possibility of being made partakers, in a way known to God, of the Paschal mystery.” (CCC 1260)

    Does this mean that some form of sanctifying or actual grace is given to all?

    The sufficient grace given to all is actual (operative) grace. For those who have reached the age of reason, sanctifying grace is given only to those who cooperate with actual (operative) grace.

    What about in the case of a person who was not baptized as a child? Is the “sufficient” grace given in this case simply an operative grace that requires cooperation before justification is possible? So that a person does not receive sanctifying grace until they cooperate with the operative grace?

    When a baby is baptized, he receives sanctifying grace without cooperating; he cannot cooperate, because he does not yet have use of his rational faculties. But if a person has not been baptized before he reaches the age of reason, then when he reaches the age of reason he must cooperate with actual (operating) grace in order to receive sanctifying grace.

    Or, is cooperation only possible once sanctifying grace is provided?

    No. Those who have reached the age of reason without having been baptized cannot receive sanctifying grace without first being moved by actual (operating) grace, and cooperating with that actual grace. The lectures above explain this.

    And does this imply that for all men to receive sufficient grace, then sanctifying grace must be given to all at some point in each man’s life?

    No. Again, for those who have reached the age of reason without having been baptized, sanctifying grace is given only if they first cooperate with actual (operative) grace.

    CCC 1993 says that justification “establishes cooperation”, so is it possible for cooperation to precede justification?

    By “establishing cooperation” it doesn’t mean making cooperation possible absolutely speaking. There is a cooperation that precedes justification. But justification establishes (i.e. deepens) that cooperation, by infusing sanctifying grace, faith, hope, and charity, such that by these infused gifts man lives by a participation in the divine nature, and thus by a gratuitous second nature cooperates with God, not just by a choice of the will to cooperate with actual (operative) grace.

    Is Hell the “natural” end of man?

    No. I answered that question in comment #30 of the Tree of Life thread. I also discussed it indirectly in comment #65 of the “Nature, Grace, and Man’s Supernatural End” thread.

    Is it possible for man to die without ever receiving a supernatural “desire” or “hope” for God?

    Hope is a supernatural virtue, and requires the supernatural virtue of faith. Hope is not merely a desire for God. There cannot be hope without faith. But not all receive faith, and therefore not all receive hope. All do receive sufficient actual (operative) grace. So once a person has attained the age of reason, it is not possible to die without having received sufficient actual (operative) grace. But it is possible to die without hope, without faith, without charity, and without sanctifying grace.

    Would this man suffer in Hell?

    Anyone who dies without hope dies without charity, and thus without sanctifying grace. And the result for such persons is eternal separation from God. But all who die with faith, hope, charity, and thus with sanctifying grace, will enjoy the Beatific Vision.

    In the peace of Christ,

    – Bryan

  4. Bryan,

    Thanks for the answers here. I forgot I had asked the Hell question before, and I think I never saw your reply in the other thread. But now I have read it – so doubly thanks.

    Somewhere I got the idea that sanctifying grace, or “initial” justification, was necessary before man could cooperate (in a supernatural way) with God’s grace. I was unaware of this distinction between sanctifying grace and actual grace until listening to this. But I can see how this distinction is necessary and how operative grace makes cooperation possible.

  5. This is a great lecture by Dr. Feingold, and I really appreciate the supplementary notes added by Bryan Cross.

    In this lecture, Dr. Feingold delineates the distinction that the Catholic Church makes between sanctifying (habitual) grace, and actual grace. Dr. Feingold also notes that the Catholic Church recognizes that there are two kinds of actual grace. The following is from Bryan’s notes about actual grace:

    Two Kinds of Actual Grace: Operative Grace and Cooperative Grace(25′) …

    Operative grace cannot be blocked; it is efficacious by its very nature…

    cooperative grace also called subsequent (or consequent) grace…

    Cooperative grace requires a certain initiative on our part, a self-moving …

    If operative actual grace “cannot be blocked” and is always efficacious, then operative grace is , in some sense, “irresistible”. On the other hand, cooperative grace is resistible, because if man does not cooperate with that grace, this grace is not efficacious. These two points, I think, are important to understand before one can grasp why the Catholic Church condemns the heresy of semi-Pelagianism without embracing the strict monergism of Calvinism.

    Dr. Ludwig Ott’s book, The Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma speaks of the two kinds of actual grace, and I would like to add an excerpt from Ott’s book about actual grace to supplement what Dr. Feingold has said in his lecture (which I will do in a following post).

  6. For Kim, Eirick, Jeremiah et al

    The Council of Trent, Sixth Session, Chapter 4 teaches that two kinds of actual graces are necessary for unbaptized adults to receive before they receive justifying grace (sanctifying grace).

    On the necessity, in adults, of preparation for Justification, and whence it proceeds.

    The Synod furthermore declares, that in adults, the beginning of the said Justification is to be derived from the prevenient grace of God, through Jesus Christ, that is to say, from His vocation, whereby, without any merits existing on their parts, they are called; that so they, who by sins were alienated from God, may be disposed through His quickening and assisting grace, to convert themselves to their own justification, by freely assenting to and co-operating with that said grace: in such sort that, while God touches the heart of man by the illumination of the Holy Ghost, neither is man himself utterly without doing anything while he receives that inspiration, forasmuch as he is also able to reject it; yet is he not able, by his own free will, without the grace of God, to move himself unto justice in His sight. …

    Reference: http://history.hanover.edu/texts/trent/ct06.html

    The above quote is listed in “Denzinger” as 797. (See my references at end of this post). In Dr. Ott book, the Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma, Dr. Ott references “D 797” (Denzinger 797) in his article about the Catholic Church’s de fide dogmas about the two kinds of actual grace that precede the justification of adults that have not been baptized. From Ott’s book:

    Antecedent Grace

    There is a supernatural intervention of God in the faculties of the soul, which precedes the free act of the will. (De fide.)

    In this case God works alone “in us, without us” … and produces spontaneous indeliberate acts of knowledge and will … This grace is called gratia praeveniens (also antecedens, excitans, vocans, operans).

    The Church’s teaching of the existence of antecedent grace and its necessity for the achieving of justification was defined at the Council of Trent. D 797: “In adults the beginning of justification must proceed from the antecedent grace of God acquired by Jesus Christ (a Dei per Christum Jesum praeveniente gratia).”

    And:

    2. Consequent Grace

    There is a supernatural influence of God in the faculties of the soul which coincides in time with man’s free act of will. (De fide.)

    In salutary acts God and man work together. God works “in us, with us” (in nobis nobiscum; cf. D 182), so that they are a conjoint work of God’s grace and of man’s activity under the control of his will. The grace which supports and accompanies the salutary act (having regard to the operation of grace which preceded the act of the will), is called adiuvans, concomitans, cooperans.

    The Church’s teaching regarding the reality and necessity of consequent grace is expressed in the Decree of the Council of Trent. D 797. The sinner returns to justification: “by freely assenting to and co-operating with grace (gratiae libere assentiendo et cooperando).”

    The translation of D 797 that I gave above is Canon Waterworth’s translation of 1848. Waterworth has translated praeveniente gratia as prevenient grace, which Dr. Ott calls antecedent grace. Dr. Ott lists other names for antecedent grace: “This grace is called gratia praeveniens (also antecedens, excitans, vocans, operans).

    Note that Dr. Ott describes a special character antecedent-prevenient-operating grace:

    In this case God works alone “in us, without us.”

    A supernatural grace that works “in us, without us” is monergistic in nature.

    Dr. Ott also uses D 797 as a reference to the Catholic Church’s dogmatic teaching about consequent grace. In Waterworth’s translation of D 797, consequent grace is referred to as quickening and assisting grace. Dr. Ott mentions that consequent grace is also known by the names of adiuvans, concomitans, cooperans. A special character of consequent-cooperating grace is that with this grace, God works “in us, with us”. A supernatural grace that is given to man where God works “in us, with us” is a synergistic grace.

    I would note here that the Council of Trent never used the term “actual grace” in the Decrees of the Council of Trent. The Council of Trent does, however, teach that “prevenient grace” and “quickening and assisting” grace is given to adults before they arejustified, and that the grace that justifies and regenerates is bestowed by the Sacrament of Baptism:

    Of this Justification the causes are these … the instrumental cause is the sacrament of baptism, which is the sacrament of faith, without which (faith) no man was ever justified …

    The Council of Trent, Sixth Session, Chapter 7

    My point here is that since “prevenient grace” and “quickening and assisting grace” are given to men to prepare them to receive the grace that justifies, that “prevenient grace” and “quickening and assisting grace” graces cannot be the grace that justifies men. Hence the Catholic Church’s distinction between actual graces and justifying (sanctifying) grace.

    My References:

    Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma, Dr. Ludwig Ott,
    Fourth Edition, May 1960, TAN Books and Publishers, Inc. Rockford, Illinois

    The Sources of Catholic Dogma, 30th edition,
    Heinrich Joseph Denzinger
    B. Herder Book Co., St. Louis, Missouri, 1957

    The Latin Text of “Denzinger” is published as:

    Enchiridion Symbolorum Definitionum et Declarationum de Rebus Fidei et Morum. 33rd edition.
    Heinrich Joseph Denzinger & A. Schönmetzer.
    B. Herder Book Co., St. Louis, Missouri, 1965.

    The Latin Text of Denzinger can be found here:
    Click on link to “Denzinger” at Catho.org

  7. Ok, Mateo (comment number 6)–so this is what I am gathering about the subject of grace. Feingold , in his lecture on Actual grace says that Actual grace can be divided into :
    1. Operating grace (which he specifies is the same thing as prevenient or antecedent grace)
    2. cooperating grace (which is the same as subsequent or consequent grace)

    According to Feingold we can not directly block operating grace–God can always touch our conscience and our will, but we can choose not to cooperate, thus blocking cooperative grace. Feingold says that God can send more operative grace, but he doesn’t overide our veto (–we can choose not to cooperate). He can keep giving more operating graces which sometimes happens as we are praying for an individual.

    So then Feingold says that God uses this operating grace [which comes from God without anything on my part] upon us first —this works in us the power to will salvation and once we will it He cooperates with us. Feingold says that if he doesn’t do these 2 things we are powerless.

    Feingold gives the example of Rev 3:20 where Jesus says,Behold, I stand at the door and knock . If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, [then] I will enter his house and dine with him, and he with me.” Feingold says the knocking is the operative grace. The “opens” is the cooperative grace. By responding, and opening the door, God comes in and dines with us–that is an image [says Feingold] of sanctifying grace, a sharing of the divine life.

    So pelagianism or simi-pelagianism is a denial of operative grace.
    A belief in Lutheranism would be a denial of cooperating grace.

    As Catholics we would believe , for an Adult, who comes to be justified, that operative grace and cooperating grace has occurred first.

    So then does justification for an adult and child initially occur at baptism when we receive sanctifying grace?

  8. Kim,

    You wrote:

    … this is what I am gathering about the subject of grace. Feingold , in his lecture on Actual grace says that Actual grace can be divided into :
    1. Operating grace (which he specifies is the same thing as prevenient or antecedent grace)
    2. cooperating grace (which is the same as subsequent or consequent grace)

    According to Feingold we can not directly block operating grace–God can always touch our conscience and our will, but we can choose not to cooperate, thus blocking cooperative grace. Feingold says that God can send more operative grace, but he doesn’t overide our veto (–we can choose not to cooperate). He can keep giving more operating graces which sometimes happens as we are praying for an individual.

    This seems right to me.

    You asked:

    … does justification for an adult and child initially occur at baptism when we receive sanctifying grace?

    Yes! Each of the seven Sacraments bestows graces that are specific to that Sacrament. The Sacrament of Baptism bestows to the person the grace that justifies that person before God:

    … the instrumental cause [of Justication] is the sacrament of baptism …
    The Council of Trent, Sixth Session, Chapter 7

    ***************

    Catechism of the Catholic Church

    1266 The Most Holy Trinity gives the baptized sanctifying grace, the grace of justification:
    – enabling them to believe in God, to hope in him, and to love him through the theological virtues;
    – giving them the power to live and act under the prompting of the Holy Spirit through the gifts of the Holy Spirit;
    – allowing them to grow in goodness through the moral virtues.

    Thus the whole organism of the Christian’s supernatural life has its roots in Baptism.

    The baptized Christian can grow spiritually and increase in sanctifying grace. The Christian’s primary channel for receiving the increase of sanctifying grace is through the valid reception of the Sacrament of the Eucharist.

    The CCC makes this distinction between sanctifying/habitual grace and actual grace:

    2000 Sanctifying grace is an habitual gift, a stable and supernatural disposition that perfects the soul itself to enable it to live with God, to act by his love. Habitual grace, the permanent disposition to live and act in keeping with God’s call, is distinguished from actual graces which refer to God’s interventions, whether at the beginning of conversion or in the course of the work of sanctification.

    You wrote:

    So then Feingold says that God uses this operating grace [which comes from God without anything on my part] upon us first —this works in us the power to will salvation and once we will it He cooperates with us. Feingold says that if he doesn’t do these 2 things we are powerless.

    Perhaps I misunderstand you a bit here. In order for the unbaptized adult to even desire to be saved, God must first give to the unbaptized adult the actual grace of operating grace. This grace is always efficacious, and with this grace God works “in us, without us”. In a sense, operating grace is irresistible.

    After the reception of operating (prevenient- antecedent) grace, God then gives to the unbaptized adult another kind of actual grace – cooperating grace (subsequent-consequent grace). With this particular actual grace, God works “in us, with us”. God gives the unbaptized adult cooperating grace so that the unbaptized adult has the ability to cooperate with what God wills (which is God’s desire that he or she be justified by the reception of justifying grace). The adult’s free choice to cooperate with subsequent grace brings glory to God, because man would not be capable of cooperating with what God desires, unless God first gave to him the consequent grace gives him the “power to will salvation”.

    I think that this might sound more complicated that it is. Imagine a man of our time that has never been baptized. Perhaps he has heard the Gospel preached, but has always just dismissed it for whatever reason. One day God gives to him the prevenient grace that enlightens his intellect in such a way that he “hears God knocking.” Something happens to him, and he just knows that he can’t just dismiss the Gospel as being irrelevant to his life. But he is reluctant to accept that enlightenment from God, because it would entail a radical change in the way he has been behaving. Let us say this happens to him while attending a Billy Graham revival with his believing girlfriend. He went to the revival to appease his girlfriend, but while he is there, he get hit by the conviction of the Holy Spirit like a freight train rushing down the tracks. He feels he needs to go up and make an altar call, but internally he is resisting that calling. So he doesn’t make the altar call. But God doesn’t give up on him, and God gives him even greater enlightenment (because his girl friend is praying for him!) Now the boyfriend really knows that he is in trouble, and that the Gospel can’t just be blown off as the superstitions of the weak minded (which is what he used to think secretly about his girlfriend). God keeps sending him cooperating grace with each new enlightenment of his spirit, and eventually he chooses to accept God’s calling. Then he gets baptized, he and his girlfriend get married, and they live happily until his girlfriend gets the actual grace that convicts her that they both need to become Catholics. She begins resisting the enlightenment that she has received from God to become a Catholic, but God does not give up on her because her mother-in law has been praying for her daugther-in law like St. Monica prayed for Augustine … ;-)

    You wrote:

    So pelagianism or simi-pelagianism is a denial of operative grace.

    I would want to qualify that a bit.

    Pelagianism is the heresy that man does not need any supernatural grace to live a holy (sanctified) life. So that heresy is not just the denial of just operating grace, it is the denial of the necessity of any grace whatsoever. According to Pelagius, God sent us Jesus as an example of how we should live, and man, by his own will power, can force himself to live a holy life if he just makes up his mind to put his nose to the spiritual grindstone. St. Augustine, of course, rejected such a notion. The Christian does need to make the effort to live a holy life if he expects to be saved, but without sanctifying grace, this effort would be doomed to fail.

    One Catholic definition of the heresy of semi-Pelagianism is this:

    … Semi-Pelagianism recognizes the supernatural elevation of man, original sin, and the necessity of inner supernatural grace for preparation for justification and for the achievement of salvation, but limits the necessity and gratuitous nature of grace. Striving to preserve the freedom of the will and the personal co-operation of man in the process of sanctification, the originators of the error came to the following conclusions:

    a) The primary desire for salvation proceeds from the natural powers of man …

    Ref: Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma, Dr. Ludwig Ott

    Semi-Pelagianism recognizes the “the necessity of inner supernatural grace for preparation for justification and for the achievement of salvation, but limits the necessity and gratuitous nature of grace.” The heresy lies in the “limiting”, such that the semi-Pelagian heretics asserted that the “primary desire for salvation proceeds from the natural powers of man.” The Catholic Church rejects that notion, and teaches that actual grace is responsible for the primary motivation that causes the unbapzed man to desire salvation. Which is why Trent denies the heresy of semi-Pelagianism (and Pelagianism) in Session VI , chapter 4. Man’s reasoning ability is not destroyed by irresistible actual grace, man’s reasoning ability is perfected by actual grace. The Catholic Church’s teaching about actual grace entails neither embracing rationalism nor fideism.

  9. Mateo,
    You said:
    “Pelagianism is the heresy that man does not need any supernatural grace to live a holy (sanctified) life. So that heresy is not just the denial of just operating grace, it is the denial of the necessity of any grace whatsoever.”

    Yup–I get that. I just meant that if you denied operative grace you would be espousing a Pelagian view . I didn’t mean to equate or limit this view to only the denial of operative grace, but thanks for stating it clearly.

    Semi-Pelagian views are trickier for me! I notice there is an article on it on Called to communion here: http://www.calledtocommunion.com/2009/08/is-the-catholic-church-semi-pelagian/ I also see in Ott’s book that the error includes the point “a” which you have stated in comment 8. Ott also includes two other statements which Semi-Pelagianism espouses: “b) Man does not require supernatural help to persevere in virtue to the end. c)Man can merit de congruo the first grace by his own natural endeavours.”(page 223 in my book). So if one denied operating grace they would also be denying b, and c.

    Next, in your description in comment 8 of how operating and cooperating grace works you state:

    ”After the reception of operating (prevenient- antecedent) grace, God then gives to the unbaptized adult another kind of actual grace – cooperating grace (subsequent-consequent grace). With this particular actual grace, God works “in us, with us”. God gives the unbaptized adult cooperating grace so that the unbaptized adult has the ability to cooperate with what God wills (which is God’s desire that he or she be justified by the reception of justifying grace). The adult’s free choice to cooperate with subsequent grace brings glory to God, because man would not be capable of cooperating with what God desires, unless God first gave to him the consequent grace gives him the “power to will salvation”.

    So , if I understand you here, you are saying that God gives man cooperating grace which enables man to have the ability to cooperate. It enables man but doesn’t force him, correct? Therefore it is at this point a man can block the cooperating grace? In a summary statement of what Feingold said , the notes on the lecture on this post state :

    “But we can refuse to cooperate with actual grace, and therefore block cooperative grace, which is not efficacious of itself alone. (37′)”

    Around 35′ Feingold says that at any moment in this process I can say no. He then gives the example of St. Aurgustine which Bryan summarizes by saying:

    “Actual grace is resistible (35′)

    Example of St. Augustine’s conversion.
    Operative grace cannot be blocked; it is efficacious by its very nature.
    But we can refuse to cooperate with actual grace, and therefore block cooperative grace, which is not efficacious of itself alone. (37′)”

    So then, we can block cooperative grace, at different stages, but we can not block operative grace. This is what I was trying to state. God takes the initiative with operating grace. Feingold says this grace can work in the intellect and will to be attracted to conversion, to pray, etc. Then Feingold says the next step I have to take, but not by myself–he sustains me–this is cooperating grace—me moving with His help. So we can cooperate or not cooperate. He can give us the operating grace to desire salvation but we can choose to not cooperate with this prompt. We have a freedom at this point to choose. If I choose to respond positively then his cooperating grace aids us and as Augustine says:

    ” God, then, works in us, without our cooperation, the power to will, but once we begin to will, and do so in a way that brings us to act, then it is that He cooperates with us. ” (from quote on post taken from the lecture)

    So is this right?

  10. Kim, you wrote:

    Yup–I get that. I just meant that if you denied operative grace you would be espousing a Pelagian view . I didn’t mean to equate or limit this view to only the denial of operative grace, but thanks for stating it clearly.

    That is why I thought that perhaps I misunderstood you. And I see that I did.

    So , if I understand you here, you are saying that God gives man cooperating grace which enables man to have the ability to cooperate. It enables man but doesn’t force him, correct?

    Exactly! Cooperating grace gives man the ability to cooperate with the enlightenment received from prevenient grace, but cooperating grace does not force a man to cooperate with that enlightenment. The man that chooses to cooperate with subsequent grace is making a real choice, albeit a choice that he could never make without receiving cooperating grace first. If a man chooses not to act upon the enlightenment wrought by prevenient grace, he will still have that enlightenment. God doesn’t erase our memories if we choose not to act upon the enlightenment given to us though prevenient grace.

    … I have set before you life and death, blessing and curse; therefore choose life
    Deuteronomy 30:19

    … as the Holy Spirit says, “Today, when you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion …”
    Hebrews 3:7-8

    The unbaptized man or woman has to choose either blessing or curse, but the choice for blessing is not a choice that comes without first receiving actual grace from God. The choice for curse is the choice to refuse to cooperate with “quickening and assisting” grace.

    The idea that God forces some men and women to become Christians is precisely the error that the Calvinists make when they say things such as “it is inevitable that the elect will choose God”, and that “it is inevitable that the elect will persevere in grace.” St. Augustine never taught that Christians are incapable of committing mortal sins, nor did he teach that Christians are incapable of loosing the salvation that was won for them by the shed blood of Jesus.

    So then, we can block cooperative grace, at different stages, but we can not block operative grace.

    That is what I understand. Operative grace is a type of actual grace, and cooperative grace is a type of actual grace. Operative grace is always efficacious and cannot be blocked. Cooperative grace, which is received subsequent to operative grace, is efficacious only if man chooses to cooperate with God. With cooperative grace, God works “in us, with us.” With operative grace, God works “in us, without us.”

    Operative grace cannot be blocked; it is efficacious by its very nature. But we can refuse to cooperate with actual grace, and therefore block cooperative grace, which is not efficacious of itself alone.

    I would rephrase that statement a bit, since both operating grace and cooperating grace are types of actual grace. This is how I would rephrase the statement:

    “Operative grace cannot be blocked; it is efficacious by its very nature. But we can refuse to cooperate with the actual grace of “quickening and assisting grace” that is received subsequent to operating grace, and therefore block cooperative grace, which is not efficacious of itself alone.”

    Does that make sense? What you wrote is not wrong, as long as one understands that the actual grace that one can block is subsequent grace and not antecedent grace – (antecedent grace = operative grace; consequent grace = cooperative grace –both are types of actual grace).

    Blessing to you kim,

    mateo

  11. Yes, thanks that answers my question!

  12. […] of humanity is also fallen. We inherit the original sin of Adam, which means we are without the supernatural grace needed to be in relationship with God. Our nature itself isn’t depraved, contra […]

Leave Comment

Time limit is exhausted. Please reload CAPTCHA.

Subscribe without commenting