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Benedict
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« on: June 22, 2021, 01:57:20 AM »

Introduction
Paragraph 1.
"All good things came to me together with Wisdom, and innumerable riches through Wisdom's hands. Wisdom is an infinite treasure to men, which they that use, become the friends of God, being commended for the gifts of discipline." Wisdom 7:11,14
These beautiful words which the Book of Wisdom speaks in praise of the wisdom that comes from God, may also be applied to Divine grace.
The true and heavenly wisdom of which Holy Scripture speaks, is, indeed, that supernatural enlightenment which the sun of eternal wisdom infuses into our souls from the bosom of Divine light.
This wisdom is itself a grace, or rather the most beautiful and glorious fruit of grace in our soul. When, therefore, St. John, in the beginning of his Gospel, wishes to express in a word the whole plenitude of the treasures and gifts which the Son of God brought into this world at His Incarnation, he says:
"We saw His glory, the glory as it were of the only-begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth." 2 John 1:14
Grace again it is which the Apostle Paul, at the beginning and at the end of his Epistles, wishes the faithful:
"Grace to you, and peace from God our Father and from the Lord Jesus Christ."
We do not hesitate, then, to say that grace is the most precious, and, since it contains all other gifts, is the only great good, which is the subject of the Gospel, that joyful heavenly message brought to this earth by the Son of God.
By grace we are made true children of God and acquire the right to the possession of the highest gifts that God can bestow upon His creatures, even to the possession of God Himself, who wishes to become the inheritance of His children, with all His infinite glory and happiness.
"Most great and precious promises" St. Peter tells us, "hath God given us by Him; that by these you may be made partakers of the Divine nature" 2 Peter 1:4
They are most great, because they surpass all created things, be these ever so good and noble, and precious, because they contain the best that God, in His omnipotence, can give us; they are infinitely precious, as is the price paid for them, the blood of the Son of God.
The prince of the Apostles indicates himself the reason of this greatness, when he adds: "that by these you may be made partakers of the Divine nature." Can there be anything greater for a creature than to be elevated from its natural lowliness and nothingness, to participate in the nature of the Creator and be associated with Him?
 This one word expresses the whole greatness and glory of grace, and tells what a great and sublime mystery grace must be. Grace is that "mystery of Christ," of which the Apostle says:
"Which in other generations was not known to the sons of men, as it is now revealed to His holy Apostles and Prophets in the Spirit. That the Gentiles should be fellow-heirs, and of the same body, and co-partners of His promise in Christ Jesus by the Gospel."4
 Grace is that mystery of which the same Apostle says, it hath not entered into the heart of man, but could be revealed to us by the Spirit of God, who searcheth all things, even the profound things of God.5
The more grace is a mystery, the more concealed it is from our natural eye, the more incomprehensible and ineffable it is; the greater must appear to us its value, the higher its glory, and the more comprehensive its riches.
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« Reply #1 on: June 22, 2021, 08:59:46 PM »

2. This sweet and sublime mystery is too little known even among Christians, although the teachings of Holy Scripture and the Holy Church sufficiently enlighten us about it, and the lack of this knowledge is the more lamentable, as the knowledge of the doctrine of grace alone can lead us to understand and appreciate our exalted dignity, our great hopes, and the inexhaustible wealth of the merits of Christ. At the mention of the grace of God, we often represent to ourselves nothing but the restoration of God's favor, lost by sin, or such gifts of Divine love as will assist our weak nature in avoiding sin and in the practice of virtue. Certainly, forgiveness of sins and this protection and assistance must also be accounted effects of God's grace, but these effects alone do not constitute its highest value and its innermost nature. Forgiveness of sin is a grace on the part of God and restores to us that benevolent love which God bestowed upon us before sin. But we must ask: Which love did God bear us previous to our sin; was it a love equal only to the worth of our human nature, or was it a greater, an ampler love, that gave additional beauty to our nature, and elevated it to the heart of God unto a fraternal union with His Divine Son? Grace strengthens our weakened nature against the temptation to evil and in the performance of good works; it facilitates the fulfilment of our duties and the attainment of our last end. But here again the question presents itself: Does grace unite itself with man in his natural condition, and, by cooperating with his inborn virtue, assist and strengthen nature, does grace only temper nature—or does it elevate and transform it, and communicate to it a new nature, a new force, a new life, and new laws of life? A correct solution to these questions is of primary importance, and we can arrive at it easily by a clear and distinct definition of the term "Christian Grace:"

Matthias Joseph Scheeben The Glories of Divine Grace
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« Reply #2 on: June 24, 2021, 05:40:17 PM »

3. Grace means, in the first place, that benevolent love which a superior entertains for an inferior,
 for instance, a master for his servant, a sovereign for his subject, and in our condition, God for His rational creature,
 especially when this love is united to the pleasure and complacency which the former takes in the good qualities and good deeds of the latter.
 At the same time, however, we apply the word grace also to the effect of that love and to the object or the cause of that pleasure.
 Thus we say that we ask a grace of God or of man when we ask Him to grant us a favor on account of the condescending, benevolent love He bears us.
 Holy Scripture, likewise, applies the name grace to that beauty, goodness, and loveliness which render us worthy of the pleasure and love of God:
 "Grace is poured abroad in thy lips: therefore hath God blessed thee forever."6
 But we must add another distinction of importance, viz., that we receive a twofold favor and grace from a superior person;
 first, a certain general, ordinary, merited, and necessary grace; and then, a very special, extraordinary, undeserved, and gratuitous grace;
 and this latter alone is, strictly and properly speaking, grace.
 Let us illustrate this by the conduct of a good and noble sovereign.
 He will truly love all his subjects,though they are inferior to him, or rather on that very account, because they are his subjects,
and all will share his favor and goodness according to their relative position and merit.
If he does no more than this, he fulfils only his duty and obligation, and he may be called gracious and kind,
but he will not be said to receive anyone unto special favor.
This will be the case, then, only when he loves all or some of his subjects in a greater degree and bestows upon them greater gifts than he is in duty obliged,
and their position or services are entitled to claim.
Especially, then, will he be gracious, when of his own free will he embraces his subjects with the full love that he bears his own children and himself;
when in his kindness he condescends to associate with them as with his friends, thereby elevating them from their lowliness and surrounding them with royal honors;
when he, in consequence, raises them above their original condition and makes them, as far as possible, equal to himself and his children.
Let us apply this example to the grace of God, of which royal favor is but a faint shadow.
God is the highest King of Heaven and of earth, because He has created all, because all things are His and are destined for His service and glory.
As He has created all things out of love, so He loves all His creatures ineffably and with most gracious condescension,
but He naturally loves the rational more than the irrational, because they are His image and are capable of knowing and loving Him.
His Divine complacency rests upon them, because He has created them good,
as long as they do not offend Him by mortal sin and remain worthy of His first love by faithful observance of His commandments.
In a certain sense, then, the rational creature can, by its nature already and its natural good works, merit the favor and love of God.
For the same reason we may, according to the opinion of St. Augustine, call every natural good and gift of God a grace,
since God was not obliged to create us and has given us all these natural goods out of gratuitous love.
But when once He has created us, He must, as a good and wise Creator, love us as His creatures, and grant us all those things that are indispensably necessary to attain to our natural destiny.
That favor and grace, then, which we have just mentioned, is grace not in a particular and strict sense, but only in a general sense of the word.
Nor is it the Christian grace, which Christ has brought into this world and which His Gospel, His Apostles, the holy Fathers, and Holy Church proclaim.
This is grace in the highest and strictest sense of the word: a very particular, gratuitous, condescending, and full grace of God, which makes us His particular favorites.
By the first kind of grace God loves us, as we deserve it on account of our nature and our natural good works.
By the latter grace, however, He loves us in a very particular manner, in a supernatural manner, infinitely more than we would deserve according to our nature.
From pure and spontaneous love He descends from the height of His royal throne to our lowliness, in order to elevate us infinitely above our nature.
He loves us with an unbounded and overflowing love, as much, so to speak, as is in His power; He loves us as Himself and as His only begotten Son;
He assumes, therefore, our soul as His child, His friend, His spouse, makes it the associate of His own glory and happiness, and gives Himself to the soul for eternal possession and enjoyment.
As we now, in a perfect and in the Christian sense, call only this supernatural love of God for us grace,
so we in the same sense designate only those gifts of God as graces, that are entirely supernatural and precious above others and proceed from that supernatural love of God.
In the same manner, not every pleasure that God may take in His rational creature is grace in the Christian sense,
but that pleasure alone by which He delights in our soul on account of the supernatural beauty and loveliness it has received from Him by His supernatural love.

The Glories of Divine Grace by Matthias Joseph Scheeben
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« Reply #3 on: June 26, 2021, 11:13:06 PM »

4. Here we must point out a very essential difference between the grace of man and the grace of God:
man may love others more, and confer upon them greater gifts than they desire, but he is unable to make them more amiable and pleasing to himself than they are in themselves.
God, however, by His supernatural love, confers a supernatural beauty and amiability on the soul, by which it becomes similar to Him in His Divine nature and reflects the image of His Divinity.
This internal, real, and supernatural amiability and pleasingness to God of our soul is also called grace,
 and that in an eminent sense, first, because it is the principal effect of God's supernatural love, and again, because it is the special object of His highest pleasure.
It is that which we call habitual, sanctifying grace, the grace of sonship, or simply and directly grace, and which is described by the Roman Catechism in the following words:
 "Grace, according to the definition of the Council of Trent, a definition to which, under pain of anathema, we are bound to defer, not only remits sin, but is also a Divine quality inherent in the soul, and, as it were, a brilliant light that effaces all those stains which obscure the lustre of the soul, and invests it with increased brightness and beauty." (Roman Catechism 3rd Effect of Baptism) We shall, then, in harmony with the use of the Church and the Council of Trent, speak of grace especially in the last sense, when we treat now of its glories and its inestimable value. We must observe, however, that the so-called supernatural actual graces and the virtues of faith and hope, which may be separated from sanctifying grace, are not made to suffer by this distinction, but rather thereby appear in the full lustre of their glory and value. As they serve only to convey sanctifying grace to the soul, or to increase or preserve it, it is evident that their Divine power and great importance is rendered more prominent by portraying the full greatness and glory of the latter.

 The Glories of Divine Grace by Matthias Joseph Scheeben
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« Reply #4 on: August 09, 2021, 03:03:58 AM »

5 Ineffably great are the mysteries that we are about to reveal, and it is difficult to describe them in a manner worthy of their greatness and at the same time suitable to every capacity. Yet we are consoled by the words of St. Leo, spoken with reference to the mystery of redemption, but equally applicable to the mystery of grace: "Although this is difficult, yet the priest is not free to withhold from the faithful the ministry of his word in this great mystery of Divine mercy, because the very ineffableness of the subject furnishes matter for speech, and when that which we say can never suffice, enough always remains to be said. May human weakness, therefore, always succumb to the glory of God, and always find itself insufficient to explain the works of His mercy. May our sense be troubled, our understanding embarrassed, our expression deficient; it is good that whatever knowledge concerning the Divine Majesty we do acquire, we find it less than we wish to possess."9 Moreover, we may confidently hope that the grace whose glories we describe will, if ever, especially now enlighten us and our readers, if we only approach its consideration with childlike simplicity, with a pure heart and deep humility. For as God "resisteth the proud and giveth grace to the humble," so He will let the humble understand the greatness of this grace. To the mysteries of grace the words of Christ are aptly referred: "I confess to Thee, O Father, Lord of Heaven and earth, because Thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them to little ones."10 If, however, Christian reader, in the course of this explanation, now and then something should appear to you altogether singular, new and unintelligible, remember what St. Paul says of the riches of grace:11 "God is able to do all things more abundantly than we desire or understand," and rest assured that we shall advance nothing that is not supported by the clear teachings of Holy Writ, or the distinct utterances of the greatest Doctors of the Church. The following is a synopsis of the contents and division of this work: The first book explains the nature of sanctifying grace, and shows that it is a supernatural quality infused into our soul by God, by which we are elevated above our own nature and participate in the Divine nature or become similar unto it. The second book describes how our soul is united to God in a supernatural and wonderful manner by this elevation, and is made His child, friend, and spouse. The third book continues to explain the effects which grace produces in our soul, especially the supernatural, heavenly, and Divine life it creates in us. The fourth book adds some other effects and prerogatives which ought to lead us to prize grace very highly. The fifth book finally indicates how we may acquire this grace, whose glories and prerogatives we have considered, and how, once having acquired it, we ought to guard and esteem it, and cooperate with it.

The Glories of Divine Grace by Matthias Joseph Scheeben
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« Reply #5 on: August 09, 2021, 03:05:23 AM »

FIRST BOOK.  
OF THE NATURE OF GRACE.
 FIRST CHAPTER.  HOW DEPLORABLE IT IS THAT MEN SHOULD HAVE SO LITTLE REGARD FOR GRACE.
 1. THE grace of God, which we consider, is a ray of Divine beauty, infused from Heaven into the soul of man, and penetrating its innermost nature with such a bright and beautiful light, that the soul delights the eye of God, is most tenderly loved by Him, is adopted as His child and spouse, is elevated above all limits of nature from earth to Heaven. By grace the soul is received into the bosom of the Eternal Father, and at the side of His Divine Son participates in His nature, His life and glory, and inherits the realm of His eternal happiness. But our intellect cannot keep pace with our tongue, whilst it proclaims new wonders at every word that it utters. And how should we be able to understand these sublime heavenly gifts, when even the blessed spirits, who already possess and enjoy these gifts, cannot fully comprehend and appreciate their value? They, too, in beholding the throne of Divine mercy, can but admire in deepest reverence His unbounded grace and goodness. But they must likewise marvel at our incredible, miserable blindness, when we esteem the grace of God so little, seek it so negligently, and lose it so easily. They sorrow over our unspeakable misfortune, when we by sin cast ourselves from the throne of that heavenly dignity, to which grace had raised us, and which exceeded the natural dignity of the highest angels, into the deepest abyss, into the company of the brute and the reprobate spirits. And we are not horrified, we do not shudder, we scarce experience the slightest regret! The Angel of the schools teaches1 that the whole world, and all it contains, is of less value before God than the grace of a single man. Yea, St. Augustine maintains2 that the whole Heaven, together with all angels, cannot be compared with it. It would follow, then, that man ought to be more thankful to God for the smallest share of grace, than if he had received the perfections of the highest spirits and were made king of Heaven and the whole world, with full possession of all power and dominion. How infinitely superior in value, then, is grace to all the riches of this earth! And yet the least of these is often blindly preferred to grace, and the most detestable of them induces us to cast away grace sacrilegiously, and that, as it were, in playful jest. There are always men who wantonly surrender to the enemy of their soul this whole plenitude of gifts, which includes God Himself, only that they may indulge one sinful, unchaste look at an impure object! who, more inconsiderate than Esau, lose an inheritance greater than the whole world, for a miserable momentary enjoyment!

2. "Be astonished, O ye heavens, at this: and ye gates thereof be very desolate."3 Who would be so rash and insane, if one brief sinful pleasure should cause the sun to disappear from the world, the stars to fall from Heaven, and all the elements to be disturbed, who were so mad as to sacrifice the whole world to his lust? But what is the destruction of the universe compared with the loss of grace? Yet this loss occurs so easily and frequently with so many people, I will not say every day, but at every moment: and how few are there that seek to prevent this loss in themselves or others, or that at least mourn and weep over it! We are awe-stricken at an eclipse of the sun, that lasts not even an hour, at an earthquake that buries a whole city, at a pestilential disease that swiftly carries off men and beasts in great number. Yet there is an occurrence far worse, far more terrible and deplorable, which we behold thousands of times everyday with tearless eye, without emotion, when, namely, so many miserable men lose the grace of God every day and neglect the most convenient opportunities of acquiring it again or increasing it. Elias could not witness the overthrow of a mountain;4 the prophet Jeremias was inconsolably grieved at the desolation of the Holy City; Job's friends mourned seven days in silence at his lost fortune. We, indeed, may then eternally grieve and weep; our sorrow will not even in a slight degree equal the misfortune that befalls us when sin devastates the heavenly garden in our soul, when we cast off the reflex of Divine nature, the queen of virtues, holy charity, with all her heavenly following, the gifts of the Holy Spirit and the Holy Spirit Himself; the sonship of God, the prerogatives of His friendship, the claim to His rich inheritance, the price and fruit of the sacraments and our merits; when, in a word, we lose God and the whole Heaven, grace with all its innumerable, precious treasures. The soul that loses grace may truly apply to itself the words of Jeremias in his Lamentations:5 "How hath the Lord covered with obscurity the daughter of Sion in His wrath? How hath He cast down from Heaven to the earth the glorious one of Israel, and hath not remembered His foot stool in the day of His anger. The Lord hath cast down headlong and hath not spared all that was beautiful in Jacob." But who considers this great misfortune, who grieves over it, and who is restrained from new sins by this grief? "With desolation is all the land made desolate; because there is none that considereth in the heart."6 Oh, how little do we love our true fortune, our true advantage, how little do we understand the infinite love with which God comes to offer us His most precious treasures! We act in the same manner as did the Israelites, whom God desired to lead out of the slavery of Egypt and the barren desert, into a land that flowed with milk and honey. They despised the undeserved, inestimable gift that God offered them, despised even the manna that God gave them on their journey, they abandoned Him and longed again after the fleshpots of Egypt. The promised land, however, was only a figure of Heaven and the manna a figure of grace, which is to nourish and strengthen us on the way to Heaven. If, now, "God lifted up His hand over them, who set at naught the desirable land, to overthrow them in the desert,"7 how great a responsibility do we incur by a disregard for Heaven and grace, since the contempt for the prototype was already punished so severely! We disregard grace, however, because we permit ourselves to be too deeply impressed by our senses with the transitory things, and have but a superficial knowledge of the true and heavenly things. We must, therefore, endeavor to correct our error by a deep and careful consideration of both, and the esteem for the eternal things will increase in us, in the same degree as that for the temporal diminishes. We must approach as near as possible to the overflowing and inexhaustible fountain of Divine grace, and the glory of its treasures will so delight us, that we henceforth will contemn the earthly things. Thus we learn to admire and esteem grace, and he who admires and praises grace, says St. John Chrysostom, will zealously and carefully guard it. Let us, then, with the Divine assistance, begin "the praise of the glory of His grace."8 And then, great and good God, Father of Light and of Mercy, from whom cometh every perfect gift,9 who hast predestinated us unto the adoption of children through Jesus Christ unto Thyself, according to the purpose of Thy will,10 who hast chosen us in Thee before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and unspotted in Thy sight in charity, give us the spirit of wisdom and of revelation, enlighten the eyes of our heart, that we may know what is the hope of our calling, and what are the riches of the glory of Thy inheritance in the saints."11 Give me light and strength that my words may not be prejudicial to the gift of Thy grace, by which Thou dost raise men from the dust of their mortal origin and receivest them into Thy heavenly court. Christ Jesus, our Saviour, Son of the living God, by Thy precious Blood Thou hast shed for us poor creatures, and which Thou didst not consider too great a price for us, grant me that I may in some measure reveal the inestimable value of grace to those whom Thou hast redeemed and restored to grace. And Thou, Highest and Holiest Spirit, Pledge and Zeal of Divine love, Sanctifier of our soul, by whom the grace and love of God is infused into our hearts, by whose seven gifts this grace and love is developed, who givest us Thyself with grace, teach us what grace is and how precious it is. Blessed Mother of God, and, therefore, Mother of His Divine grace, permit me to make known to those who have by grace become children of God and thy own children, the treasures to procure which thou hast offered thy Divine Son. Holy angels, ye spirits filled and glorified by the light and fire of Divine grace, and ye holy souls who have already passed from this place of exile into the bosom of the heavenly Father, and there enjoy the sweet fruit of grace, assist me by your prayers, that I may for myself and others dispel the deceptive cloud before our eyes, reveal the sun of grace in brightest undimmed splendor, and by its transcendent beauty kindle in our hearts a living and everlasting love and desire for it.

The Glories of Divine Grace by Matthias Joseph Scheeben
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