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Friday, 17 April 2015

Baptismal Graces

The graces given to us at baptism give Catholics tremendous power to deal with spiritual problems.

As the CCC notes, baptism is the gateway to the other sacraments and gives enlightenment to the soul, as well as freeing the soul from Original Sin.

That first grace, of the forgiveness of all sins and Original Sin, opens the soul to receive the theological virtues of faith, hope, and charity which are "infused in the soul", sanctifying grace and the moral virtues, which develop with grace, practice and education.

Baptism informs all these virtues because the person is renewed in sanctifying grace. Grace purifies the natural virtues. Without grace, these virtues either remain stilted or disappear because of the practice of habitual vice. Sin blocks virtue. Sin is an abuse of free will.

Without baptism, the natural virtues, or the cardinal virtues, cannot be "supernatualized".
Confirmation literally "confirms" the graces of baptism.  We get an indelible mark in baptism, and, as noted in the Council of Trent an indelible mark, which enables the person to publicly live his faith.

The other graces we receive in baptism, confirmed in confirmation, involve a power over the spirits of darkness. Those who are in sanctifying grace have the ability to free themselves from most obsessions and oppressions. Even family vices can be dealt with by the person who is living out his baptismal graces.

Humility, or docility to God's Will allows a person to grow quickly in the graces of baptism. But, as the Church is not a democracy and God gives graces according to His Divine Providence, there is a difference in the accidental graces of baptism.

Here is Thomas Aquinas on the subject:

The effect of Baptism is twofold, the essential effect, and the accidental. The essential effect of Baptism is that for which Baptism was instituted, namely, the begetting of men unto spiritual life. Therefore, since all children are equally disposed to Baptism, because they are baptized not in their own faith, but in that of the Church, they all receive an equal effect in Baptism. Whereas adults, who approach Baptism in their own faith, are not equally disposed to Baptism; for some approach thereto with greater, some with less, devotion. And therefore some receive a greater, some a smaller share of the grace of newness; just as from the same fire, he receives more heat who approaches nearest to it, although the fire, as far as it is concerned, sends forth its heat equally to all.
But the accidental effect of Baptism, is that to which Baptism is not ordained, but which the Divine power produces miraculously in Baptism: thus on Romans 6:6, "that we may serve sin no longer," a gloss says: "this is not bestowed in Baptism, save by an ineffable miracle of the Creator, so that the law of sin, which is in our members, be absolutely destroyed." And such like effects are not equally received by all the baptized, even if they approach with equal devotion: but they are bestowed according to the ordering of Divine providence. (I left the links on).

Therefore, saints are not "equal".  Each person is called to holiness according to God's Plan.

St. Catherine of Siena is not the same type of saint as St. Faustina. St. Bernard of Clairvaux cannot be compared to St. Benedict Labre, whose feast day is today, and so on.

The grace of martyrdom is different than the grace of being an abbot, or bishop, or pope. These are not merely "jobs" but vocations accompanied by certain graces.

Those who are not baptized do not have these many graces. Of course, God can give His graces to whom He desires, but baptism is the normal way for a person to be saved and given the means of salvation.

Trent clarifies the role of the sacraments. A few statements...

CANON IV.-If any one saith, that the sacraments of the New Law are not necessary unto salvation, but superfluous; and that, without them, or without the desire thereof, men obtain of God, through faith alone, the grace of justification;-though all (the sacraments) are not indeed necessary for every individual; let him be anathema.

CANON VI.-If any one saith, that the sacraments of the New Law do not contain the grace which they signify; or, that they do not confer that grace on those who do not place an obstacle thereunto; as though they were merely outward signs of grace or justice received through faith, and certain marks of the Christian profession, whereby believers are distinguished amongst men from unbelievers; let him be anathema.

CANON IX.-If any one saith, that, in the three sacraments, Baptism, to wit, Confirmation, and Order, there is not imprinted in the soul a character, that is, a certain spiritual and indelible Sign, on account of which they cannot be repeated; let him be anathema.

CANON V.-If any one saith, that baptism is free, that is, not necessary unto salvation; let him be anathema.
CANON VI.-If any one saith, that one who has been baptized cannot, even if he would, lose grace, let him sin ever so much, unless he will not believe; let him be anathema.

CANON VII.-If any one saith, that the baptized are, by baptism itself, made debtors but to faith alone, and not to the observance of the whole law of Christ; let him be anathema.

CANON XIII.-If any one saith, that little children, for that they have not actual faith, are not, after having received baptism, to be reckoned amongst the faithful; and that, for this cause, they are to be rebaptized when they have attained to years of discretion; or, that it is better that the baptism of such be omitted, than that, while not believing by their own act, they should be baptized in the faith alone of the Church; let him be anathema.

to be continued...