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Thursday, 1 January 2015

Slavery of the Will; Freedom of the Will Part One

Most of the heresies which are operative in the Church today center around two main ideas; the first concerning the nature of Christ, involving the Incarnation and the Redemptive act of the Cross; the second being the nature of Man and his need for salvation.

The first set of errors revolve around incorrect ideas of Christ as Man and as God, or the study of Christology. The second set of errors revolve around the nature of the creation of humans, their fall, their redemption, grace, sin and free will.

Why it is important for us to recognize the heresies behind the sound bites, and especially the ideas begin pushed by certain German and American cardinals is that we can actually, as lay persons, inform those who are in error and help pass on the truths of the Catholic Church.

That there is forma schism on the horizon should surprise no thinking Catholic. In fact, the faulty document coming out of the Synod reflects some of the oldest heresies in the Church.

Looking at Semi-Pelagianism will help clear the air of these problems, alleviate anxiety and show us the direction we must take.

The entire problem of whether those in irregular marriages or those engaged in homosexual lust can be accepted as full members of the Church at Communion hinges on the acceptance or denial of both Semi-Pelagianism or Molinism.

First, one must look at how the Semis, as I shall called them in this series, deny prevenient grace.

The Council of Trent clarified this definition, which was also discussed and noted in the Council of Carthage, which dealt with the Semis.

... 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.

Before a person converts, God gives the grace of conversion, prevenient grace. This grace comes before conversion, not after. That conversion is a matter of grace means that God gives this grace freely and that men and women freely can accept this grace. This grace is not the sanctifying grace given in the sacraments. 

This grace comes directly from God and is given to all. Whether a person accepts this grace is entirely up to them. The hearing of the Gospel being preached does not give this grace. This grace enlightens the mind to accept the Gospel, which is why we all pray for those we know who are not Catholics, or fallen away Catholics, to convert, to accept prevenient grace.

Now, as I go along in these discussions, I want to point out the faulty thinking of some of the cardinals with regard to the nature of grace, free will, and conversion, which came out in the Synod and in interviews after the Synod.

I do not need to name names, but I have two cardinals in mind who contradicted this idea of prevenient grace by stating that those in mortal sin, such as those in an irregular marriage, get grace by going to Communion to convert.

No, this is not so. Receiving the Lord in the Holy Eucharist gives us sanctifying grace, which is a grace only received by those who are already in grace. Those is sin cannot receive sanctifying grace, which is, as the label indicates, a grace which leads us to greater holiness.

Here comes the crunch line---when one is in mortal sin, one's will is locked in slavery to that sin and other sins. Besides having a soul which is dead and not alive in God, the will has been given over to Satan. The Semis think that a person can will good works without grace, but this is not so. Without grace, the will chooses sin over and over and over. With prevenient grace, the person can convert, and begin anew, repenting and receiving grace in the sacraments for life and growth.

To think that one can do good works without grace is one of the lies of the Semis. Thus, some of the cardinals think that those in serious sin can do good works, can come to holiness without cooperating with the grace of conversion, which may mean either breaking away from the irregular marriage or living in lives of complete chastity, like brother and sister, while together.

Grace first, then conversion, then growth in holiness....Justifying grace not only brings about conversion, but helps one avoid sin going forward.

Second to all of this is that no one can gain any merit for heaven while in serious sin. Merit follows conversion always. Merit comes with a life lived in faith, hope, and love, and in the other virtues.

Faith is a gift of grace which can be refused. When one's will in is slavery to sin, as St. Augustine pointed out, one is inclined to choose evil. After repentance, grace abounds--both actual grace and sanctifying grace. But, one always has free will, although it is harder to choose good, to cooperate with grace, it is not impossible. This is another error of those cardinals who think that one cannot give up sin and choose the life of God in the soul, sanctifying grace. These men think that one cannot choose, that the will is not free, but it is. 

One can see how the gradualists are Semis denying prevenient grace and the gift of faith as necessary for salvation and as prior to growth through the sacramental life of the Church. The Semis also deny, or ignore, that prevenient grace and the gift of faith are gratuitous, absolutely given by God and not earned.

One cannot earn the grace of conversion by receiving Christ in Communion while in mortal sin. There is no "earning" of the grace of conversion.

And here is Garrigou-Lagrange on efficacious grace from Chapter Seven of his book, Grace.

The Council of Orange (Denz., no. 189): “Let no one glory in what he seems to have as if he had not received it from God” (can. 16). This is the formula of the principle of predilection, that is, no one would be better than another if he were not better loved by God.  “No one has anything of his own but sin and lying” (can. 22); “Man does nothing good which God does not enable him to do” (can. 20). Cf. also the Council of Trent (Sess. VI, chap. 13, Denz., no. 806): “For unless they [men] neglect His grace, God perfects a good work as He began it, operating both to will and to accomplish” (Phil. 2:13).  Likewise canon 22 (Denz., no. 832): “If anyone should say either that it is possible to persevere, without the special help of God in accepted justice, or that with it, this is impossible, let him be anathema.” Concerning the mind of the Council of Trent, cf. Father del Prado, De gratia et libero arbitrio, II ,83-91.

to be continued....