Author Topic: What is St. Thomas saying here?  (Read 441 times)

Offline Daniel

  • Feldwebel
  • ***
  • Posts: 2221
  • Thanked: 460 times
What is St. Thomas saying here?
« on: November 18, 2018, 07:40:56 PM »
Quote from: Summa contra gentiles III.159
Chapter 159
THAT IT IS REASONABLE TO HOLD A MAN RESPONSIBLE IF HE DOES NOT TURN TOWARD GOD, EVEN THOUGH HE CANNOT DO THIS WITHOUT GRACE

[1]I As we gather from the foregoing, since one cannot be directed to the ultimate end except by means of divine grace, without which no one can possess the things needed to work toward the ultimate end, such as faith, hope, love, and perseverance, it might seem to some person that man should not be held responsible for the lack of such aids. Especially so, since he cannot merit the help of divine grace, nor turn toward God unless God convert him, for no one is held responsible for what depends on another. Now, if this is granted, many inappropriate conclusions appear. In fact, it follows that he who has neither faith, hope, nor love of God, nor perseverance in the good, is not deserving of punishment; whereas, it is clearly stated in John (3:36): “He who does not believe the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him.” And since no one reaches final happiness without the aids that we have mentioned, it follows that there are certain men who neither attain happiness nor suffer punishment from God. The contrary of this is shown from the statement in Matthew (25:34, 41) that to all who are present at the divine judgment, it will be said: “Come... possess you the kingdom prepared for you” or “Depart ... into everlasting fire.”
[2] To settle this difficulty, we ought to consider that, although one may neither merit in advance nor call forth divine grace by a movement of his free choice, he is able to prevent himself from receiving this grace: Indeed, it is said in Job(21:34): “Who have said to God: Depart from us, we desire not the knowledge of Your ways”; and in Job (24:13): “They have been rebellious to the light.” And since this ability to impede or not to impede the reception of divine grace is within the scope of free choice, not undeservedly is responsibility for the fault imputed to him who offers an impediment to the reception of grace. In fact, as far as He is concerned, God is ready to give grace to all; “indeed He wills all men to be saved, and to come to the knowledge of the truth,” as is said in 1 Timothy (2:4).But those alone are deprived of grace who offer an obstacle within themselves to grace; just as, while the sun is shining on the world, the man who keeps his eyes closed is held responsible for his fault, if as a result some evil follows, even though he could not see unless he were provided in advance with light from the sun.

Can somebody explain what he's saying exactly? It sort of sounds like he's saying that God is constantly giving grace to everyone.
 

Offline james03

  • Hauptmann
  • ****
  • Posts: 8063
  • Thanked: 2550 times
  • The Brutal Clarity of a Winter Morning
  • Religion: Catholic
Re: What is St. Thomas saying here?
« Reply #1 on: November 18, 2018, 10:16:49 PM »
Yes.  This is Actual Grace.   Obviously He does not give Sanctifying Grace to all.  Also, I don't know about "constantly", which would imply every second of every day.
"But he that doth not believe, is already judged: because he believeth not in the name of the only begotten Son of God (Jn 3:18)."

"All sorrow leads to the foot of the Cross.  Weep for your sins."
 

Offline Kreuzritter

  • Wachtmeister
  • ***
  • Posts: 550
  • Thanked: 443 times
  • Religion: Roman Catholic
Re: What is St. Thomas saying here?
« Reply #2 on: November 19, 2018, 05:47:39 AM »
Yes.  This is Actual Grace.   Obviously He does not give Sanctifying Grace to all.  Also, I don't know about "constantly", which would imply every second of every day.

Merely living is an actual grace.
 
The following users thanked this post: mikemac

Offline Daniel

  • Feldwebel
  • ***
  • Posts: 2221
  • Thanked: 460 times
Re: What is St. Thomas saying here?
« Reply #3 on: November 19, 2018, 09:52:11 AM »
Yes.  This is Actual Grace.   Obviously He does not give Sanctifying Grace to all.
What's the difference between "actual" grace and "sanctifying" grace? Are the virtues of faith, hope, and charity to be classed as "actual" or "sanctifying"?
« Last Edit: November 19, 2018, 09:59:23 AM by Daniel »
 

Offline John Lamb

  • Wachtmeister
  • ***
  • Posts: 1416
  • Thanked: 1509 times
  • Religion: Catholic
Re: What is St. Thomas saying here?
« Reply #4 on: November 19, 2018, 05:04:47 PM »
Can somebody explain what he's saying exactly? It sort of sounds like he's saying that God is constantly giving grace to everyone.

Yes, God is indeed constantly giving grace to everyone, just as the sun shines and constantly gives light to everyone. The reason that sinners are accountable for their sins is precisely that they are hardening their hearts and resisting the grace which God is constantly offering to them. If this grace was not being constantly offered then they could rightfully plea that they did not have the means to avoid sinning.

Quote from: james03
Yes.  This is Actual Grace.   Obviously He does not give Sanctifying Grace to all.  Also, I don't know about "constantly", which would imply every second of every day.

I think it is more or less every second of every day, or at least every moment that the free-will is active. I suppose during sleep and during actions which are not fully conscious or deliberate there is not need of an actual grace; however, habitual grace is still active even at these times (e.g. one still has habitual or sanctifying grace in the soul even while sleeping).

Quote from: Daniel
What's the difference between "actual" grace and "sanctifying" grace? Are the virtues of faith, hope, and charity to be classed as "actual" or "sanctifying"?

Faith, hope, and charity are both actual and sanctifying/habitual. You need the habit of sanctifying grace in order to perform particular, actual acts of faith, hope, and charity. Think of it like bodily health. You need the habit of health in order to walk, run, or play football; but in addition to the habit of health, you need the particular or actual movements (e.g. of the muscles) in order to perform these actions. Likewise, in order to perform an act of faith, hope, or charity, you need to have the habit of sanctifying grace in the soul, and on top of that you need the actual graces to move the healthy/sanctified soul to those particular actions. If you lack the habit of bodily health (i.e. if you are sick, or let's say paralysed) then you can't perform the actual movements described above. Similarly, if you lack the habit of sanctifying grace, then you can't perform any act of supernatural faith, hope, or charity. This is why it's said that "in a state of mortal sin, the soul can do nothing meritorious of eternal life", that is, the soul is so sick that it cannot do anything in a healthy manner, in the way that a sick or paralysed body cannot. But just as the habit of health does not leave you when you are asleep and not actively "using" it, so the habit of sanctifying grace abides in your soul even when you are not "using" it. In fact, in the case of infants, they are unable to perform any particular act of faith, hope, or charity, yet if they have been baptised they still do have the habit of sanctifying grace in them regardless.

Some might say that souls in a state of mortal sin can still perform acts of supernatural charity, e.g. a sinner can still, for example, give money to the poor. But I would argue that they cannot do this from a truly supernatural motive without simultaneously entering a state of sanctifying grace. So if a sinner truly did give to the poor out of supernatural charity, then at that same moment it would imply a perfect contrition for his sins and the return of supernatural life / sanctifying grace to this soul, as there would be an implicit sorrow for his own sins and a motion towards God contained within his supernatural love for the poor man.

Also, some would cite St. Thomas who says that a soul in a state of mortal sin can still have the habit of faith. But I would clarify my own statements to say that sanctifying grace refers primarily to charity, and mortal sin relates primarily to the loss of habitual charity; so there can be souls who have the habit of faith and can perform particular acts of faith while still remaining in a state of mortal sin, but this is what the scriptures call a "dead faith". Still, this "dead faith" is a grace of God and is ordered towards that supernatural charity which would make it a "living faith". An habitual faith without habitual charity is still a habitual grace, it's just that not a living one enlivened by charity, and so it is not what is usually called "sanctifying grace" (which is foremost characterised by habitual charity).
« Last Edit: November 19, 2018, 05:07:32 PM by John Lamb »
As many as received him, he gave them power to be made the sons of God, to them that believe in his name. (John 1:12)
 
The following users thanked this post: Non Nobis

Offline james03

  • Hauptmann
  • ****
  • Posts: 8063
  • Thanked: 2550 times
  • The Brutal Clarity of a Winter Morning
  • Religion: Catholic
Re: What is St. Thomas saying here?
« Reply #5 on: November 23, 2018, 01:17:50 PM »
Quote
You need the habit of sanctifying grace in order to perform particular, actual supernatural acts of faith, hope, and charity.

FIFY.  People have faith, and make acts of faith before receiving Sanctifying Grace.

Quote
I think it is more or less every second of every day, or at least every moment that the free-will is active.

This is the "super secret magic power" view of grace.  St. Thomas gives a list of examples of actual graces.  In the past I used one example of this, listening to a moving sermon.  No, God is not sending you actual graces every second of every day.

Sanctifying Grace isn't even "sent" every second of every day.  Sanctifying Grace is a one time affair at Baptism whereby you are reborn and become a partaker of the Divine.  Also after Confession you are restored into this State of Grace.

Quote
An habitual faith without habitual charity is still a habitual grace, it's just that not a living one enlivened by charity, and so it is not what is usually called "sanctifying grace" (which is foremost characterised by habitual charity).
   Throughout your writing you appear to conflate "virtue" with "grace".  These are two separate things.
"But he that doth not believe, is already judged: because he believeth not in the name of the only begotten Son of God (Jn 3:18)."

"All sorrow leads to the foot of the Cross.  Weep for your sins."
 

Offline james03

  • Hauptmann
  • ****
  • Posts: 8063
  • Thanked: 2550 times
  • The Brutal Clarity of a Winter Morning
  • Religion: Catholic
Re: What is St. Thomas saying here?
« Reply #6 on: November 23, 2018, 01:21:52 PM »
Quote
What's the difference between "actual" grace and "sanctifying" grace? Are the virtues of faith, hope, and charity to be classed as "actual" or "sanctifying"?

You are talking about two separate things, virtues and grace.  Virtue is either supernatural or natural.  Grace is either actual or sanctifying.  Actual graces are aids to you.  Sanctifying Grace regenerates you, making you a partaker of the Divine. 
"But he that doth not believe, is already judged: because he believeth not in the name of the only begotten Son of God (Jn 3:18)."

"All sorrow leads to the foot of the Cross.  Weep for your sins."
 

Offline Quaremerepulisti

  • Feldwebel
  • ***
  • Posts: 3823
  • Thanked: 1258 times
  • Religion: Catholic (Byzantine)
Re: What is St. Thomas saying here?
« Reply #7 on: November 23, 2018, 07:34:57 PM »
It's another attempt to reconcile grace with free will.

It's fine, as far as it goes; while it is true that while something of a lower order cannot cause something of a higher order, it nevertheless can, in certain circumstances, prevent something of a higher order from being caused that would otherwise have been caused.

But it doesn't solve the problem, and St. Thomas changed his opinion some time later on to another untenable position.

If grace is ontologically prior to free will, then no one is responsible for lack of grace.
But if free will is ontologically prior to grace (and first in the chain), then God's action is ontologically dependent on something outside of Himself.

Western Christianity simply has no answer for this so it is game over.
 

Offline Daniel

  • Feldwebel
  • ***
  • Posts: 2221
  • Thanked: 460 times
Re: What is St. Thomas saying here?
« Reply #8 on: November 23, 2018, 08:35:57 PM »
Western Christianity simply has no answer for this so it is game over.
I know that you've alluded to this in other threads, but I forget... what do eastern Catholics have to say about this?
 

Offline james03

  • Hauptmann
  • ****
  • Posts: 8063
  • Thanked: 2550 times
  • The Brutal Clarity of a Winter Morning
  • Religion: Catholic
Re: What is St. Thomas saying here?
« Reply #9 on: November 24, 2018, 07:24:17 PM »
Quote
If grace is ontologically prior to free will, then no one is responsible for lack of grace.

No one is responsible for lack of grace (I'm assuming you mean sanctifying grace).  This is the whole Catholic teaching on Limbo.

  How people will be judged, we don't know.  But we know that it will be Just.

Quote
But if free will is ontologically prior to grace (and first in the chain), then God's action is ontologically dependent on something outside of Himself.
  No, because the First Cause of free will is God's Will.  He professes free will.  He is still the First Cause.
"But he that doth not believe, is already judged: because he believeth not in the name of the only begotten Son of God (Jn 3:18)."

"All sorrow leads to the foot of the Cross.  Weep for your sins."
 

Offline Gardener

  • Drink the poison yourself.
  • St. Joseph's Workbench
  • Hauptmann
  • ****
  • Posts: 7847
  • Thanked: 5035 times
  • Religion: Catholic
Re: What is St. Thomas saying here?
« Reply #10 on: November 24, 2018, 07:47:39 PM »
It's another attempt to reconcile grace with free will.

It's fine, as far as it goes; while it is true that while something of a lower order cannot cause something of a higher order, it nevertheless can, in certain circumstances, prevent something of a higher order from being caused that would otherwise have been caused.

But it doesn't solve the problem, and St. Thomas changed his opinion some time later on to another untenable position.

If grace is ontologically prior to free will, then no one is responsible for lack of grace.
But if free will is ontologically prior to grace (and first in the chain), then God's action is ontologically dependent on something outside of Himself.

Western Christianity simply has no answer for this so it is game over.

For someone who claims the East, you sure do think in a Western manner.

What St. Thomas was saying in SCG/III/Q159 is in perfect harmony with the following explanation by an Orthodox Bishop:
http://orthodoxinfo.com/inquirers/predestination.aspx

It's not an either/or situation, but both.

As St. Thomas Aquinas said to his sister when she asked him how to become a saint, "Will it." Why? Because it's the will of God and is calling all people to that. That they blind themselves to it is not His fault, but theirs.
"And what use are the victories on the battlefield if we are ourselves are defeated in our innermost personal selves?" - St. Maximilian Kolbe
 

Offline Daniel

  • Feldwebel
  • ***
  • Posts: 2221
  • Thanked: 460 times
Re: What is St. Thomas saying here?
« Reply #11 on: November 25, 2018, 02:57:11 PM »
Quote
What's the difference between "actual" grace and "sanctifying" grace? Are the virtues of faith, hope, and charity to be classed as "actual" or "sanctifying"?

You are talking about two separate things, virtues and grace.  Virtue is either supernatural or natural.  Grace is either actual or sanctifying.  Actual graces are aids to you.  Sanctifying Grace regenerates you, making you a partaker of the Divine.
But aren't the supernatural virtues a kind of grace, or at least caused by grace? No man can have faith, hope, or charity unless God first gives it to him, right? (And I'm not sure what St. Thomas said, but St. Augustine and many priests of our day seem to use the term "charity" as if it's the same thing as sanctifying grace.)
« Last Edit: November 25, 2018, 04:14:43 PM by Daniel »
 

Offline Michael Wilson

  • St. Joseph's Workbench
  • Hauptmann
  • ****
  • Posts: 6207
  • Thanked: 3818 times
  • Religion: Catholic
Re: What is St. Thomas saying here?
« Reply #12 on: November 25, 2018, 09:54:24 PM »
Charity and Sanctifying Grace are sometimes mistakenly identified as synonymous. Sanctifying Grace is a spiritual quality given to our soul, which makes us participants in the Divine nature, adopted children of God and co-heirs with Our Lord of Heaven. Meanwhile, Charity is that virtue which enables us to love God above all things and to love our neighbor as ourselves for the love of God. The reason for this confusion, is that the loss of S.G. Entails the loss of Charity as well as that of the Supernatural virtues.
The Supernatural virtues are infused into our souls along with Sanctifying Grace, but they are not S.G.
"The World Must Conform to Our Lord and not He to it." Rev. Dennis Fahey CSSP

"My brothers, all of you, if you are condemned to see the triumph of evil, never applaud it. Never say to evil: you are good; to decadence: you are progess; to death: you are life. Sanctify yourselves in the times wherein God has placed you; bewail the evils and the disorders which God tolerates; oppose them with the energy of your works and your efforts, your life uncontaminated by error, free from being led astray, in such a way that having lived here below, united with the Spirit of the Lord, you will be admitted to be made but one with Him forever and ever: But he who is joined to the Lord is one in spirit." Cardinal Pie of Potiers
 
The following users thanked this post: james03

Offline james03

  • Hauptmann
  • ****
  • Posts: 8063
  • Thanked: 2550 times
  • The Brutal Clarity of a Winter Morning
  • Religion: Catholic
Re: What is St. Thomas saying here?
« Reply #13 on: November 25, 2018, 11:17:35 PM »
Thanks Michael.  Yeah, we get to confuse things even more, but M. did a good job.

3 particular virtues are infused into your soul as part of regeneration.  Supernatural Faith, Supernatural Hope, and Supernatural Charity.  You can however strengthen them (or weaken them).  These are given WITH Sanctifying Grace and Sanctifying Grace is the cause of them, but they are not Grace per se as M. pointed out.

The other virtues you develop.  God gives you graces, you pray and fast for them, and you practice them.  There's about 60, but most are kind of obscure.  If you combine them with Charity they are meritorious in the supernatural sense, otherwise they are natural and give temporal benefit.  Also, a virtuous heathen will be much better off than a malicious one in the afterlife.
"But he that doth not believe, is already judged: because he believeth not in the name of the only begotten Son of God (Jn 3:18)."

"All sorrow leads to the foot of the Cross.  Weep for your sins."
 
The following users thanked this post: Michael Wilson

Offline Quaremerepulisti

  • Feldwebel
  • ***
  • Posts: 3823
  • Thanked: 1258 times
  • Religion: Catholic (Byzantine)
Re: What is St. Thomas saying here?
« Reply #14 on: November 26, 2018, 08:23:32 PM »
Western Christianity simply has no answer for this so it is game over.
I know that you've alluded to this in other threads, but I forget... what do eastern Catholics have to say about this?

They deny that God's "will", "knowledge", or anything else one can say about Him are real properties of Him that we can really understand, as opposed to mere anthropomorphisms or convenient human descriptors.  In the East, God is ineffable: we cannot understand Him.  Sure, these anthropomorphisms can help in a confused sort of way, just like all anthropomorphisms do; they give us some idea of the underlying reality.  Nevertheless God is not just being itself but beyond all being, and therefore any and all characterizations we use for finite beings are going to fall far short of the mark.

So, the problem with grace and free will, which is simply Fr. Garrigou-Lagrange's "God determining or God determined; there is no third option" rephrased, vanishes because we simply do not and cannot know what it means for God to "determine" or "be determined" - in reality it is a category error to attempt to apply either of those terms to God - they only apply to finite creatures.