Two graphs from Garrigou-Lagrange help us understand the workings of grace and the role of the intellect.
One more reference to Thomas seems appropriate, however. Where the will interacts with grace includes that first movement to repentance and the acceptance of justification.
Before one is baptized, if one is an adult, one is given grace to convert, to repent, to change.
After mortal sin, when one has removed one's self from the life of grace, the will is then turned away from God. Grace moves the intellect to choose repentance and to accept grace.
St. Thomas had also said, Ia IIae, q.55, a.4 ad 6: “Infused virtue is caused in us by God, without our action, not however without our consent”; and further, Ia IIae, q.113, a.3: “By infusing grace God at once moves the free will to accept the gift of grace, in those who are capable of this movement.” As Del Prado rightly observes,op. cit., I, 213: The will cannot strictly move itself to this first act of charity, for as a supernatural conclusion is not contained in a natural principle, neither is a supernatural choice contained in man’s primary natural intention. In fact, before the gift of justifying grace, the will of man is turned away from God on account of mortal sin. Hence it is God who must begin to move the free will of man determinately by grace toward the initial volition of supernatural good, as stated in the famous reply to the third objection, Ia IIae, 9.9, a.6. Similarly, Soto, De nat. et gratia, chap. 16. This is the true interpretation of St. Thomas given by Cajetan, Soto, Lemos, etc.; also by the Salmanticenses, disp. V, dub. VII, no. 165.
God moves the will but does not take over the will. This distinction must be made clearly.
Here is G-L on this point, as clarifying the position of Molina.
For Molina holds (Concordia, disp. 42, p. 242) that according to St. Augustine (De gratia et libero arbitrio, chap. 17) “whatever God effects in us that is supernatural, until the moment when He leads us to the gift of justification, whether we cooperate in it by our free will or not, is called ‘operative grace’; that, however, by which He henceforth assists us to fulfill the whole law and persevere . . . is called ‘cooperative grace.’. . . And this is plainly the sense and intention of Augustine in this place when he draws a distinction between operative and cooperative grace, which will be obvious in the clearest light to anyone examining that chapter, notwithstanding the fact that St. Thomas understands Augustine otherwise in the two articles quoted (Ia IIae, q. III, a. 2 and 3), as well as Soto (De natura et gratia, Bk. I, chap. 16) and some others.”
However, Molina is obliged to explain on the following page (p. 243) the words of St. Paul to the Philippians (2:13): “It is God who works in you, both to will and accomplish,” with regard to which Augustine had said: “Therefore, that we will is brought about by God, without us; but when we will, and so will as to act, He cooperates with us.” With regard to this text, Molina says: “But neither does Augustine mean to assert that we do not cooperate toward willing, by which we are justified, or that it is not effected by us, but by God alone. That certainly would be both contrary to faith and opposed to the teaching of Augustine himself in many other places.”
Referring to these last words of Molina, Father Del Prado (op. cit. I, 226) declares: “Does St. Thomas teach something contrary to faith in drawing the distinction between operative and cooperative grace? . . . From the lofty and profound teaching of St. Thomas propounded in this article, wherein all is truth and brilliance, does something follow which is contrary to the Catholic faith and the teaching of Augustine himself? . . . Molina departs from the ways of St. Thomas (since he will not admit that God applies and moves the will beforehand, but). . . . He holds that, while God, drawing the soul morally, stands at the gate and knocks, it is man who begins to open, and man alone who actually does open.” In the Apocalypse (3:20) we read: “I stand at the gate, and knock. If any man shall hear My voice, and open to Me the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with Me.” But man does not open it alone; he opens in fact according as God knocks efficaciously. Otherwise how would the words of St. Paul be verified: “What hast thou that thou hast not received?” In the business of salvation, not everything would then be from God.
So, although the will is moved by the intellect to choose good or evil, God gives the grace both to the intellect, as illumination and then moves the will to choose good. We do not choose good on our own.
This may seem like a subtle distinction from those who insist that God will overcomes our will, or that we are somehow so taken over by the Holy Spirit that we cannot but choose good. We determine the true good and the apparent good, in a cooperative motion in nature, states Thomas.
We desire happiness in general and in nature, and that is the operative motion.
In the supernatural order, operative grace is the inspiration we receive with "docility" in accordance with the gifts of the Holy Spirit. (These words are from G-L's section and graph, page 170 of Grace.
Cooperative grace determines the actual exercise of the virtues in the supernatural order.
And in the supernatural order, one finds operative grace in a person moving towards the final supernatural end. Thomas states, "Through the movement of free will, when we are justified, we consent to the justice of God."
In the supernatural order, also, is found the operative motion of special inspiration, such as poetic, philosophic and strategic inspiration.
We will charity as an action. We will the final end of our existence which is charity. We will cooperating with God's grace, freely consenting to the grace of God. God opens up our heart to accept Him, and gives us the grace to accept Him. This is operative grace. All the gifrs of the Holy Spirit become operative, in humility and docility, given to us and this is operative grace.
G-L's example is piety. The gift of piety in the will can become operative through grace, but through DELIBERATION, that is, through the workings of the intellect.
Natural instincts impel us, but not grace. There is a movement of the will and free choice, St. Paul's famous phrase from Philippians 2:13 is quoted by Thomas and G-L: "For it is God who worketh in you, both to will and to accomplish."
St. Thomas’ opinion. St. Thomas rightly interprets St. Augustine (cf. Del Prado,op. cit. I, 224 and 202); for Augustine declares:7 “God, cooperating with us, perfects what He began by operating in us; because in beginning He works in us that we may have the will, and cooperates to perfect the work with us once we are willing. For this reason the Apostles say (Phil. 1:6): ‘Being confident of this very thing, that He, who hath begun a good work in you, will perfect it unto the day of Christ Jesus.’ That we should will is, therefore, accomplished without us; but once we are willing, and willing to such an extent that we act, He cooperates with us; however, without either His operation or His cooperation once we will, we are incapable of any good works of piety. With regard to His bringing it about that we will, it is said in Philippians (2:13): ‘For it is God who worketh in you, . . . to will.’ But of His cooperation, when we already are willing and willingly act, it is said: ‘We know that to them that love God, all things work together unto good’ (Rom. 8:28).” St. Augustine reiterates this opinion in chapters 5 and 14 of the same book.
Again, writing to Boniface (Bk. II, chap. 9): “God accomplishes many good things in man which man does not accomplish (operative grace); but man does nothing good which God does not enable him to do (cooperative grace).” This is observed by the Council of Orange (c. 20, Denz., no. 193).
Moreover, according to Augustine, operative grace is not simply grace urging equally him who is converted and him who is not, for Augustine repeats in several places, with reference to predestination: “Why does He draw this man and not that? Do not judge if you do not wish to err” (Super Joan., tr. 26; cf. Ia, q. 23, a. 5). This teaching of Augustine is mentioned by St. Gregory (Moral., Bk. XVI, chap. 10) and by St. Bernard (De gratia et libero arbitrio, chap. 14); both are quoted by Del Prado (op. cit., I, 203).
This is well explained by St. Thomas in his Commentary on the Epistle to the Romans (8:14, lect. 3), a beautiful commentary on the present article. Regarding the words: “Whosoever are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God,” he writes as follows: “They are said to be led who are moved by some superior instinct: thus we say of brutes, not that they act, but that they are led or impelled to act, since they are moved by natural instinct, and not by personal movement, to perform their actions. Likewise the spiritual man is inclined to perform some act, not, as it were, mainly by the movement of his own will, but by an instinct of the Holy Ghost.” This does not, however, prevent spiritual men from using their will and free choice, since what the Holy Ghost causes in them is precisely the movement of their will and free choice, according to Phil. 2:13: “For it is God who worketh in you, both to will and to accomplish.”
And regarding cooperative grace, G-L notes,
It is this cooperative grace that is referred to in Sacred Scripture; indeed there is even a comparison made with operative grace; for example, in Ezech. 36:27: “And I will put My spirit in the midst of you [operative grace]: and I will cause you to walk in My commandments, and to keep My judgments, and do them [cooperative grace].” Again in I Cor. 15:10: “But by the grace of God, I am what I am [operative grace]; and His grace in me hath not been void, but I have labored more abundantly than all they: yet not I, but the grace of God with me.” This latter is cooperative grace.
And for the sake of clarity, I repeat:
Conclusion of Father Del Prado (op. cit., I, 21 I ): By operative grace God operates in us without our acting or moving ourselves, but not without our consent. Cf. a. 2: Thus in the instant of justification and in the operation of the seven gifts. In fact, certain operative grace is even antecedent in time to our consent, such, for instance, as vocation and admonition when God stands at the gate and knocks before it is opened. Here, however, the free consent may, broadly speaking, be called cooperation on our part; but not in the strict and formal sense in which the term is used by St. Thomas in this article. On the contrary, by cooperative grace, God works in us, not only with our consent, but with our action or motion. This is the Thomistic interpretation of St. Augustine’s teaching; it is eminently profound and in full conformity with faith.
We must consent.
Referring back to another post of mine in which I quoted the Pope Emeritus, who said that the Holy Spirit does not elect popes, men do.
Men can be moved by the instincts of the Holy Spirit or not be so moved.
The same is true with any person who is living in sin.
One more excellent quotation to help the understanding of operative grace before getting into more detail:
I reply in the affirmative, together with John of St. Thomas and Father Del Prado; for operative grace first enlightens the intellect, then touches the will and causes a sudden desire for the object proposed through the representation of the intellect; and this is the in-spiration that opens the heart, as the heart of Lydia was “opened to attend to those things which were said by Paul” (Acts 16:14). Hence operative grace not only excites by moral movement, but also operates physically, so that by it the heart of man is opened and led not only to indeliberate acts but sometimes to consent as well, for example, in justification or in acts of the gifts of the Holy Ghost.
Now, What does operative grace do in us? What are the effects?
Let me use G-L's own words.
What are the effects of operative grace in us? There are three. (Cf. Father Del Prado, op. cit., I, 234.)
1. The enlightenment of the intellect and the objective pulsation of the heart: this is a moral movement prior to any consent; thereupon the acts are indeliberate, and with respect to this stage operative grace is nothing but a grace which urges.
2. The application of the free will to the holy affection or action, that it may be converted to God; this application is the complement in the secondary cause of the power to operate.
3. The very act of willing, applied to the action, namely, the very act of believing, hoping, and loving: in these acts the will does not remain passive, but elicits the acts freely. However, the will does not properly move itself to such an act as a result of a preceding act, since this act is first in the order of grace and relates to the final end. Hence, contrary to the opinion of Molina, operative grace determinately moving toward these acts is more than a mere urging, and yet liberty is safeguarded, according to St. Thomas.
What about cooperative grace?
Whether cooperative grace produces in us three similar effects. Undoubtedly, for cooperative grace is also a previous movement according to a priority not of time but of causality. But these three effects are in another way, since with cooperative grace the will moves itself on account of some preceding act; thus it wills, presupposing the end already intended. On the contrary, with operative grace the will wills by tending toward the end, and the act of the will resembles that first act of the angels discussed in Ia, q. 63, a. 5, or that first act of the soul of Christ which is considered in IIIa, q. 34, a. 3. In the first instant of His conception, Christ merited not incarnation but the glory of immortality, just as an adult at the instant of justification acquires not the grace of justification but the subsequent grace.
This is an extremely important paragraph. We get all the graces we need for salvation and to avoid sin in baptism. We have to choose the end which is God's Will, and in doing so, cooperate with the grace He has already conferred.
What is significant is that one can choose otherwise. If one is in sanctifying grace, one will most likely choose to continue in sanctifying grace. If one is not in sanctifying grace, that is, in mortal darkness of serious sin, one can still choose by willing the correct end which God has revealed to us through many sources.
Cooperative grace is a deliberate act.
We may now read again the well-known reply to the third objection of Ia IIae, q. 9, a. 6, and easily grasp its meaning: “Occasionally God moves some men especially toward willing something determinate which is good, as in those whom He moves by grace, as stated below,” that is, in our article 2. This is operative grace moving determinately, but with which liberty still remains.
I already covered the entire confusion on grace of the Pelagians and Semi-Pelagians in that series written a while ago, referring to prevenient and subsequent grace. I shall skip that section of Garrigou-Lagrange and go on to the two encyclicals, with this last reminder that the intellect moves the will, in cooperation with grace. And the will responds, in cooperation with grace. But, none of us are automatons, doomed to act or react in one way of the other, living with the great sacredness of free will.
to be continued...tomorrow with Fides et Ratio.