The Spiritual Life

Author: Adolphe Tanquerey



by the Very Reverend Adolphe Tanquerey, S.S., D.D.


CHAPTER II The Nature of the Christian Life

#88. The supernatural life which, by virtue of the merits of Jesus Christ, is a participation in God's life, is often called the life of God in us or the life of Jesus in us. Such expressions are correct provided one takes care to explain them, so as to avoid anything savoring of pantheism. We have not a life identical with that of God or our Lord; we only have a life similar to theirs, a finite participation, yet most real.

We may define it thus: a share in the divine life given us by the Holy Ghost who dwells in us, because of the merits of Jesus Christ; a life which we must protect against all destructive tendencies.

#89. We see, then, that as regards our supernatural life God plays the principal role, we a secondary one. It is the Triune God that comes Himself to confer it upon us, for He alone can make us share in His own life. He communicates it to us in virtue of the merits of Christ (n. 78), who is the meritorious, exemplary and vital cause of our sanctification. It is perfectly true that God lives in us, that Jesus lives in us; yet, our spiritual life is not identical with that of God or of our Lord. It is distinct from but similar to the one and the other. Our role consists in making use of the divine gifts in order to live with God and for God, in order to live in union with Jesus and to imitate Him. But we cannot live this supernatural life without a continual struggle against the threefold concupiscence which still remains in us (n. 83). And moreover, since God has endowed us with a supernatural organism, it is our duty to make that life increase in us by meritorious acts and the fervent reception of the sacraments.

This is the meaning of the definition we have given, and this whole chapter is but its explanation and development. From it we shall draw practical conclusions concerning devotion to the Most Holy Trinity, devotion to and union with the Incarnate Word, and even concerning devotion to the Blessed Virgin and the Saints, since all these devotions flow from their relations with the Word of God-made Flesh.

Although the action of God and that of the soul have parallel developments in the Christian life, we shall for the sake of clearness treat of them in two successive articles, one on the role of God and the other on the role of man.


God acts in us either directly, by Himself or through the Incarnate Word, or through the mediation of the Blessed Virgin, the Angels and the Saints.

[I] The Role of the Blessed Trinity

#90. The first cause, the primary, efficient cause and the exemplary cause of the supernatural life in us is no other than the Blessed Trinity, or by appropriation, the Holy Ghost. True, the life of grace is a work common to the Three Divine Persons, for it is a work ad extra, yet, because it is a work of love, it is attributed especially to the Holy Ghost.

Now the Most Adorable Trinity contributes to our sanctification in two ways: the Three Divine Persons come to dwell in our souls; there they create a supernatural organism which transforms and elevates them, thus enabling them to perform Godlike acts.

I. The Indwelling of the Holy Ghost in the Soul1

#91. Since the Christian life is a participation in God's own life, it is evident that none but God Himself can confer it upon us. This He does by coming to dwell in our souls and by giving Himself wholly to us in order that we may first of all render Him our homage, enjoy His presence and allow ourselves to be led with docility to-the practice of Christ's virtues and into the dispositions of His holy soul.2 Theologians call this uncreated grace. Let us then examine first how the Three Divine Persons live in us, and next, what our attitude must be toward Them.

n1. St. THOM., I, q. 43, a. 3; FROGET, "Indwelling of the H. Ghost;" R. PLUS, "God within Us; MANNING, "Int. Mission," I; DEVINE, "Ascet. Theol.," p. 80; TANQUEREY, "Syn Theol. Dog.," III, 180-185. n2. It is upon this truth that Father OLIER bases his spiritual system. See "Catechism for an Interior Life," P. I, C. III: :Who deserves the name of Christian? He who is possessed by the Spirit of Jesus Christ... that makes us live both interiorly and exteriorly like Jesus Christ."--"He (the Holy Ghost) is there with the Father and the Son, and there infuses, as we have said, the same dispositions, the same sentiments and the same virtues of Jesus Christ."


#92. God, says St. Thomas,1 is in all creatures in a threefold manner: by His power, inasmuch as all creatures are subject to His dominion; by His presence, because He sees all, even the most secret thoughts of the soul, "All things are naked and open to his eyes;"2 by His essence, since He acts everywhere and since everywhere He is the plenitude of being itself and the first cause of whatever is real in creation, giving continually to creatures not only life and movement, but their very being: " In Him we live and move and are."3

Yet, His presence within us by grace is of a much higher and intimate nature. It is no longer the presence of the Creator and Preserver who sustains the beings He created; it is the presence of the Most Holy Trinity revealed to us by faith. The Father comes to us and continues to beget His Word within us. With the Father we receive the Son equal in all things to the Father, His loving and substantial image, who never ceases to love His Father with the same infinite love wherewith the Father loves Him. Out of this mutual love proceeds the Holy Spirit, a person equal to the Father and the Son and a mutual bond between Father and Son. The Three are withal distinct one from the other. These wonders go on continually within the soul in the state of grace. The presence of the Three Divine Persons, at once physical and moral, establishes the most intimate and most sanctifying relations between God and the soul. Gathering all that is found here and there in the Scriptures, we can say that God through grace is present within us as a father, as a friend, as a helper, as a sanctifier, and that in this way He is truly the very source of our interior life, its efficient and exemplary cause.

n1. "Sum. theol.," I, q. 8, a. 3. n2. "Heb.," IV, 13. n3. "Acts," XVII, 28.

#93. A) By nature He is simply in us to give us natural endowments; by grace He gives Himself to us that we may enjoy His friendship and thus have a foretaste of the happiness of heaven. In the order of nature God is in us as the Creator and the sovereign Master; we are but His servants, His property. In the order of grace it is different; here He gives Himself to us as our Father; we are now His adopted children; an unspeakable privilege and the basis of our supernatural life. St. Paul and St. John repeat again and again: " For you have not received the spirit of bondage again in fear: but you have received the spirit of adoption of sons, whereby we cry Abba (Father). For the Spirit himself giveth testimony to our spirit that we are the sons of God."1 God, therefore, adopts us as His children and in a way more thorough and more complete than men are adopted in law. By legal adoption men are, indeed, able to transmit to others their name and their possessions, but they cannot transmit to them their blood and their life. "Legal adoption," says Cardinal Mercier,2 "is a fiction." The adopted child is considered by its foster parents just as if it were their child and receives from them the heritage to which their offspring would have had a right. Society recognizes this fiction and sanctions its effects. Withal, the object of such fiction is in no wise changed. But the grace of divine adoption is by no means a fiction... it is a reality. God gives divine sonship to those who have faith in His Word, as St. John says: " He gave them power to be made the sons of God, to them that believed in his name."3 This sonship is not such merely in name, but in very truth: " that we should be called and should be the sons of God."4 By it we come into the possession of the divine nature, "partakers of the divine nature."5

n1. "Rom.," VIII, 15-16. n2. "La Vie Interieure,"' ed. 1909, p. 405. n3. "John," I, 12. n4. "I John," III, I. n5. "II Peter," I, 4.

#94. No doubt, this divine life in us is only a participation, a sharing, "consortes," a similitude, an assimilation which does not make us gods, but only Godlike. None the less, it constitutes no fiction, but a reality, a new life, a life not, indeed, equal but similar to God's and which, on the testimony of Holy Writ, presupposes a new birth, a regeneration: " Unless a man be born again of water and the Holy Ghost... by the laver of regeneration and renovation of the Holy Ghost... he hath regenerated us unto a lively hope... of his own will hath he begotten us by the word of truth."1 All these expressions show us that our adoption is not merely nominal, but true and real, although distinct and different from the sonship of the Word-made-Flesh. By it we become heirs, by full right, to the kingdom of heaven and coheirs of Him who is the eldest-born among our brethren: " heirs indeed of God and joint heirs with Christ... that he might be the firstborn amongst many brethren."2 Is it not, therefore, most fitting to repeat the touching words of St John: " Behold what manner of charity the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called and should be the sons of God!"3

God has for us then the tenderness and devotedness of a father. Does He not compare Himself to a mother that can never forget the child of her womb? "Can a woman forget her infant, so as not to have pity on the son of her womb? And if she should forget, yet will not I forget thee."4 He has most assuredly given proof of this, since in order to save His fallen children He hesitated not to give and sacrifice His only-begotten Son: "For God so loved the world, as to give his only Begotten Son: that whosoever believeth in him may not perish, but may have life everlasting."5 The same love prompts Him likewise to give Himself wholly, and from now on, in a permanent manner to His children by dwelling in their hearts: "If any one love me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him, and will make our abode with him."6 He lives in us as a most loving and most devoted Father.

n1. "John, III, 5; "Tit.," III, 5; "I Peter," I, 3; "James," I, I8 n2. "Rom.," VIII, 17, 29. n3. "I John," III, I. n4. "Isa.," XLIX, 15. n5. "John," III, 16. n6. "John," XIV, 23.

#95. B) He gives Himself also as a friend. Friendship adds to the relations between father and son a sort of equality: "amicitia aequales accipit aut facit." It adds a kind of familiarity, a reciprocity whence flows the sweetest intercourse. It is precisely such relations that grace establishes between us and God. Of course, when it is question of God on one side and man on the other, there can be no real equality, but rather a certain similarity sufficient to engender true intimacy. In fact, God confides to us His .secrets. He speaks to us not only through His Church, but also interiorly through His Spirit: " He will teach you all things and bring all things to your mind whatsoever I shall have said to you."1 At the Last Supper Jesus declared to His Apostles that from that time on they would not be His servants, but His friends, because He would no longer keep any secrets from them: "I will not now call you servants: for the servant knoweth not what his lord doth. But I have called you friends: because all things whatsoever I have heard of my Father, I have made known to you."2 A sweet familiarity will from now on pervade their intercourse, the same that exists between friends when they meet and speak heart to heart: " Behold that I stand at the gate and knock; if any man shall hear my voice and open to me the door, I will come into him and I will sup with him; and he with me."3 What an unspeakable familiarity is this! Never would man have dared dream of it or aspire to it had not the Friend Divine taken the initiative! This very intimacy has been and is an everyday fact not only between Almighty God and His Saints, but between Him and every man who by leading an interior life consents to throw open the gates of his soul to the Divine Guest. To this the author of the " Imitation " bears witness when he describes the oft-repeated visits of the Holy Spirit to interior souls, the sweet converse He holds with them, the consolations and the caresses He imparts to them, the peace He infuses, the astounding familiarity of His dealings with them: " Many are His visits to the man of interior life, and sweet the conversation that He holdeth with him; plenteous His consolation, His peace and His familiarity."4 The life of contemporary mystics, of St. Theresa of the Child Jesus, of Elizabeth of the Blessed Trinity, of Gemma Galgani and of so many others, gives proof that the words of the Imitation are daily realized. There is no doubt that God does live in us as the most intimate of friends.

n1. "John," XIV, 26 n2. "John," XV, 15. n3. "Apoc.," III, 20. n4. "Imitation," II, c. I, v. i.

#96. C) Nor is He idle there. He acts as our most powerful ally, our most efficient helper. Knowing but too well that of ourselves we can not foster the life He has engendered in us, He supplies for our deficiencies by working with us through actual grace. Are we in need of light to perceive the truths of faith which shall from now on guide our steps? The Father of Lights will be the one to .enlighten our intellect pointing out clearly our last end and the means- to reach it. He will suggest to us the godly thoughts that inspire godly actions. Again, do we want strength to give our life its orientation, to direct it towards its last end, the one great object of all our strivings, of all our efforts? The same God and Father will bring to us the supernatural help that gives the power to will and to do: " for it is God who worketh in you both to will and to accomplish."1 When it comes to combating and controlling our passions or overcoming the temptations that at times assail us, once more it is none other than God who gives us the power to resist them and even to draw profit from them: "God is faithful who will not suffer you to be tempted above that which you are able, but will make also with temptation issue, that you may be able to bear it."2 If weary of well-doing and if discouraged we begin to falter, He draws close to sustain us and to secure our perseverance: "He who hath begun a good work in you will perfect it unto the day of Christ Jesus."3 No, we are never alone. Even when devoid of all consolations we think ourselves abandoned, God's grace is ever close at hand as long as we are willing to cooperate with it: "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."4 Leaning on this all-powerful Helper we become invincible: "I can do all things in him who strengtheneth me."5

n1. "Philipp., II. 13. n2. "I Cor.," X, 13. n3. "Philipp.," I, 6. n4. "I Cor.," XV, 10. n5. "Philipp.," IV, 13.

#97. D) This divine Helper is at the same time our Sanctifier. Coming to live in our soul He transforms it into a sacred temple enriched with all manner of virtues: "the temple of God is holy, which you are."1 The God that lives in us is not merely the God of nature, but the Living God, the Blessed Trinity, the infinite source of divine life, whose only longing is to make us share in His holiness. Often this indwelling of God in the soul is attributed or assigned to the Holy Ghost by appropriation, since it is a work of love; but being a work ad extra it is common to the Three Divine Persons. This is why St. Paul calls us alike the temples of God and the temples of the Holy Ghost: "Know you not that you are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?"2

Our soul, therefore, is made the temple of the Living God, a sanctuary reserved to the Most High, a Holy of Holies, a throne of mercy where He is pleased to be lavish with His heavenly favors and which He enriches with every virtue. It follows that the presence within us of a Thrice Holy God, as just described, cannot but sanctify us. The Most Adorable Trinity living and acting within us must, indeed, be the principle of our sanctification, the source of our interior life. This holy presence constitutes likewise its exemplary cause, for being sons of God by adoption we are bound to imitate our Father. This we shall understand better when we examine what our attitude should be towards these Three Divine Guests.

n1. "I Cor.," III, 17. n2. "I Cor.," III, 16.


#98. Possessing such a treasure as the Most Holy Trinity, we ought to make it the object of frequent meditation-- "to walk inwardly with God." Such a thought awakes in us chiefly three sentiments: adoration, love and imitation.

#99. A) The very first impulse of the heart is that of adoration: "Glorify and bear God in your body."2 How could we do otherwise than glorify, bless and thank that Divine Guest who transforms our soul into a sanctuary? From the time Mary received the Incarnate Word in her virginal womb her life was but one perpetual act of adoration and thanksgiving: "My soul doth magnify the Lord... He who is mighty hath done great things to me, and holy is his name."3 Such are, even if lesser in degree and intensity, the sentiments that lay hold of the Christian on becoming aware of the Holy Ghost's presence within him. He understands that being God's dwelling he ought to offer himself constantly as a sacrifice of praise unto the glory of the Triune God. a) He begins his actions by making the Sign of the Cross, in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost, and thus consecrates them all to the Three Divine Persons; he ends them by acknowledging that whatever good he has done must be attributed to Them: Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Ghost. b) He loves to repeat the liturgical prayers that proclaim Their praises: the Gloria in excelsis Deo, which so well expresses all the religious sentiments towards the Most Holy Trinity, especially towards the Incarnate Word; the Sanctus, proclaiming the awful holiness of the Godhead; the Te Deum, the song of thanksgiving. c) This Divine Guest the Christian recognizes as his first beginning and last end. He realizes his inability to praise Him adequately and unites Himself to the Spirit of Jesus who alone can render to God that glory which by right is His: "The Spirit also helpeth our infirmity: for, we know not what we should pray for as we ought; but the Spirit himself asketh for us with unspeakable groanings."4

n1. All these sentiments are wonderfully expressed in the beautiful morning prayer composed by Fathe OLIER, cf. "Manual of Piety." n2. "I Cor.," VI, 10. n3. "Luke," I, 46, 49. n4. "Rom.," VIII, 26.

#100. B) After having adored God and proclaimed his own nothingness, the Christian gives vent to sentiments of the most confiding love. Infinite as He is, God nevertheless stoops down to us like a loving father toward his child, asking us to love Him and to give Him our heart: "My son, give me thy heart."1 He has a strict right to demand this love, yet He prefers to entreat us with the sweetness of affection so that our return may be, so to speak, more spontaneous, and our recourse to Him more confident and childlike. Could we refuse our trustful love to such thoughtful advances, to a solicitude so truly maternal?

Our love should be a repentant love, a love that expiates infidelities past and present; a grateful love that renders thanks to our great Benefactor, the devoted Co-worker who labors without stint and without rest. Above all, it should be the love of friend for friend holding sweet converse with the most faithful, the most generous of friends, whose part we should take, whose glory we should make known, whose name we should forever bless. This love then should not be a mere feeling, but a generous, daring love, forgetful of self to the point of sacrifice and the renunciation of our own wills, by a willing submission to the precepts and counsels of God.

n1. "Prov.," XXIII, 26.

#101. C) Such love will lead us to imitate the Most Adorable Trinity in the measure in which this is compatible with human weakness. Adopted children of an all-holy Father, living temples of the Holy Ghost, we can better appreciate the reason why we must be holy in body and soul. This was the lesson learned by the Apostle and repeated by him to his followers: " Know you not that you are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you? But if any man violate the temple of God, him shall God destroy. For the temple of God is holy, which you are."1 Experience is witness to the fact that with generous souls this is the most powerful motive to turn them away from sin and incite them to the practice of virtue. Temples wherein the thrice Holy One resides can never be too rich in beauty, too glorious in sanctity. It is remarkable that when our Lord wished to propose to us an ideal, a model of perfection, He pointed to God Himself: "Be ye perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect."2 At first sight this ideal does seem too high. But when we recall that we are the adopted children of God and that He lives in us in order to impress upon us His image and to collaborate in our salvation, then we realize that a high rank imposes obligations, "noblesse oblige," and that it is no more than our plain duty to approach ever nearer the divine perfections. It is chiefly in view of the fulfillment of the precept of fraternal charity, the love of our fellows, that Jesus Christ demands of us to keep before our eyes this perfect model, the indivisible oneness of the Three Divine Persons: " That they all may be one, as thou, Father in me and I in thee; that they also be one in us."3 What a tender prayer! St. Paul echoes it later on begging his dear disciples not to forget that since they are but one body and but one spirit, and since they have but one Father who lives in all just souls, they should preserve the unity of spirit in the bond of peace.4

To sum up, we may say that the Christian life consists above all in an intimate, affectionate and sanctifying union with the Three Divine Persons who sustain us in the spirit of religion, love and sacrifice.

n1. "I Cor., III, 16-17. n2. "Matth.," V, 48. n3. "John," XVII, 21. n4. "Eph.," IV, 3-6.

II. The Organism of the Christian Life1

#102. The three Divine Persons inhabit the sanctuary of our soul, taking their delight in enriching it with supernatural gifts and in communicating to us a Godlike life, similar to theirs, called the life of grace.

All life, however, implies a threefold element: a vital principle that is, so to speak, the source of life itself; faculties which give the power to elicit vital acts; and lastly, the acts themselves which are but its development and which minister to its growth. In the supernatural order, God living within us produces the same elements. a) He first communicates to us habitual grace which plays the part of a vital, supernatural principle.2 This principle deifies, as it were, the very substance of the soul and makes it capable, though in a remote way, of enjoying the Beatific Vision and of performing the acts that lead to it.

n1. St. THOM, Ia IIae, q. 110; ALVAREZ DE PAZ, "De vita spirituali ejusque perfectione, 1602, t. I, II, c. I; TERREIN "La Grace et la Gloire," t. I, p. 75 sq.; BELLAMY, "La vie surnaturelle." n2. "Gratia praesupponitur virtutibus infusis, sicut earum principium et finis." ("Sum. theol.," Ia IIae, q. 110, a. 3.)

#103. b) Out of this grace spring the infused virtues1 and the gifts of the Holy Ghost which perfect our faculties and endow us with the immediate power of performing Godlike, supernatural, meritorious acts.

c) In order to stir these faculties into action, He gives us actual graces which enlighten our mind, strengthen our will, and aid us both to act supernaturally and to increase the measure of habitual grace that has been granted to us.

n1. "Sicut ab essentia animae effluunt ejus potentiae, quae sunt operum principia, ita etiam ab ipsa gratia effluunt virtutes in potentias animae, per quas potentiae moventur ad actum". (Ibid., a. 4.)

#104. Although this life of grace is entirely distinct from our natural life it is not merely superimposed on the latter; it penetrates it through and through, transforms it and makes it divine. It assimilates whatever is good in our nature, our education and our habits. It perfects and supernaturalizes all these various elements, directing them toward the last end, that is toward the possession of God through the Beatific Vision and its resultant love.

In virtue of the general principle explained above, n. 54, that inferior beings are subordinated to their superiors,1 it is the part of the supernatural life to direct and control our natural life. The former cannot develop nor endure unless it reigns supreme and keeps under its sway the acts of the mind, of the will and of the other faculties. This dominion in no way dwarfs or destroys our nature, but rather it elevates and completes it. We shall show this in the subsequent study of these three elements.

n1. EYMIEU, op. cit., p. 150-151.

(1) Habitual Grace1

#105. God out of His infinite goodness wills to lift us up to Himself in the measure that our weak nature allows, and for this purpose gives us a principle of supernatural life; a Godlike, vital principle, which is habitual grace. It is also called created grace2 in contradistinction to uncreated grace, which is the indwelling itself of the Holy Ghost within us. Created grace makes us like unto God and unites us to Him in the closest manner: "This deification consists, in so far as is possible, in a certain resemblance to God and union with Him."3 These two points of view we shall explain presently by giving the traditional definition and by determining precisely the nature of the union that grace produces between God and the soul.

n1. See St. THOM., Ia IIae, q. 110 "Syn Theol. Dog.," III, n. 186-191; FROGET, op. cit., IVe P.; TERRIEN, "La Grace et la Gloire," p. 75 ss.; BELLAMY, "La vie surnaturelle, 1895; SCHEEBEN, "The Glories of Divine Grace; MANY, "La vraie vie," 1922, p. 1-79. n2. This expression is not altogether exact, since grace within us is not a substance, but and accident, an accidental modification of the soul. But because it is something finite and can originate only in God, not being merited by us, this name of created or con-created is given to it, to show that it is derived from the power the soul as a created thing has of becoming whatever the Creator wills it to become. n3. "Est autem haec deificatio, Deo quaedam, quoad fieri potest, assimilatio unioque." PS.-DIONYS, "De eccl hierarchia," c. I, N. 3, P.G., III, 373.

A) Definition

#106. Sanctifying or habitual grace is commonly defined as a supernatural quality inherent in the soul, which makes us partakers of the divine nature and of the divine life in a real and formal, but accidental manner.

a) Grace is a reality of the supernatural order, but not a substance, for no created substance could be supernatural. It is but a mode of being, a state of soul, a quality inherent in the soul's substance that transforms it and raises it above all natural beings, even the most perfect. It is a permanent quality remaining in the soul as long as we do not forfeit it by mortal sin." It is, " as Cardinal Mercier says,1 on the authority of Bossuet, "a spiritual quality infused into our souls by Jesus Christ, which penetrates our inmost being, instills itself into the very marrow of the soul and goes forth (through the virtues) to all its faculties. The soul that possesses it is made pure and pleasing in the eyes of God. He makes such a soul His sanctuary, His temple, His tabernacle, His paradise. "

n1. "La Vie interieure," p. 401.

#107. b) This quality, according to the forceful expression of St. Peter, makes us " partakers of the divine nature."1 According to St. Paul, it causes us to enter into communion with the Holy Ghost, "the communication of the Holy Ghost,"2 and St. John adds that it establishes a sort of fellowship between us and the Father and the Son: " our fellowship... with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ."3 It does not make us the equals of God, but it changes us into Godlike beings, makes us like unto God. Nor does it give us the life of the Godhead itself which is incommunicable, but it imparts to us a life similar to God's. Our task is to explain this, so far as the human mind is able to comprehend it.

n1. "II Peter," I, 4. n2. "II Cor.," XIII, 13. n3. "I John," I, 3.

#108. 1) God's own life consists in direct self-contemplation and love of Himself. No creature whatever, no matter how perfect, could of itself contemplate the essence of the Godhead, "who dwells in light inaccessible;"1 but God, by a privilege, gratuitous in every sense of the word, calls man to contemplate this divine essence in heaven. As man is utterly incapable of this, God lifts him up, makes his intelligence transcend its natural capacities, and confers on him this power through the light of glory. Then, says St. John, we shall be like unto God because we shall see Him as He sees Himself, that is to say, exactly as He is in Himself: " We shall be like him: because we shall see him as he is."2 We shall see, adds St. Paul, no longer through the mirror of creatures, but face to face with luminous clearness: "We see now through a glass in a dark manner: but then face to face."3 Since we shall know and love God as He knows and loves Himself, we shall also share in God's own life, even if it be in a finite way. Theologians explain this by saying that the divine essence will come and unite itself with the soul's inmost being, so as to allow us to contemplate the Divinity directly, with the aid of no image or of any created intermediary.

n1. "I Tim.," VI, 16. n2. "I John," III, 2. n3. "I Cor.," XIII, 12-13.

#109. 2) Habitual grace is already a preparation for the Beatific Vision and a foretaste, as it were, of that unspeakable boon; it is the bud that needs but to open to show forth the flower. Habitual grace and the Beatific Vision are, then, one in kind and one in nature.

A comparison, no matter how inadequate, will not be out of place. We can know an artist in three different ways: by studying his works, through friends, or by personal intercourse with him. The first is the kind of knowledge we get of God through His works, by the contemplation of His creatures. This is an inductive, imperfect knowledge; for though creation reveals His wisdom and His power, it tells us nothing of His personal, interior life. The knowledge we derive from faith illustrates the second manner in which we come to know God. On the authority of the sacred writers and, above all, on the testimony of the Son of God we believe what it has pleased Him to disclose to us, not only concerning His works and His attributes, but concerning His personal, interior life. This, we believe that from all eternity He begets the Word, His Son, that there exists a mutual love between Them, and that out of this reciprocal love proceeds the Holy Ghost. We do not, indeed, understand, nor do we in any way see, but we believe with invincible certainty. This faith makes us share in the knowledge that God has of Himself. But this is a veiled knowledge, rather obscure, though none the less real. Only eventually through the Beatific Vision shall we acquire direct knowledge of Him. Still, this second mode of knowledge, as can be readily seen, is at bottom of the same nature as the first, and assuredly far superior to mere rational or reasoned knowledge.

#110. c) This participation in the divine life is formal; it is not simply virtual. Virtual participation means that we share a quality in a different way from that in which it is possessed by the principal where it is found. Thus, reason is simply a virtual participation in the divine intellect, because reason gives us a knowledge of truth, but vastly different from that knowledge of truth which God possesses. Mindful then of disparity and distinction, we can say that such is not the case between the Beatific Vision and faith. Both cause us to know God as He is, not in the same degree, it is true, but the knowledge acquired through either of them is the same in kind.

#111. d) The participation we have in God's life is accidental, not substantial. It is thus distinct from the generation of the Word, who receives the whole substance of the Father. It is likewise distinct from the hypostatic union, which is a substantial union of the divine and human natures in the person of the Word. In our union with God we keep our personality, and therefore, this union is not substantial. This is the doctrine of St. Thomas: " Grace, being altogether above human nature, can neither be a substance nor the soul's substantial form. It can only be its accidental form."1 Explaining his thought he adds that what exists in God substantially is given us accidentally, and makes us partake of the divine goodness.

With such restrictions we steer clear of pantheism and still conceive a very exalted idea of the nature of grace. It reveals itself to us as a likeness of God stamped by Him on our souls: "Let us make man according to our image and likeness."2

n1. "Sum. Theol.," I1 IIae, q. 110, a. n2. "Gen." I, 26.

#112. In order to help us to understand this divine resemblance the Fathers have employed various comparisons. I) Our soul, they say, is like to a living image of the Most Blessed Trinity, for the Holy Ghost Himself impresses His features on us as a seal does on molten wax, stamping and leaving there the divine likeness.1 They conclude that the soul in the state of grace possesses an entrancing beauty since the author of that image is none other than God Himself who is infinitely perfect: "Behold thy likeness, O man; see thy likeness beautiful, made by thy God, the Great Artist, the Master-Painter."2 They rightly reason that, far from disfiguring or destroying such resemblance, we must perfect it more and more. At times they compare the soul to those transparent bodies that receiving the sun's rays become all aglow and reflect in turn a marvelous light all around.3

n1. "Homil. Paschal.," X, 2 P. G., LXXVII, 617. n2. St. AMBROSE, "In Hexaem.," I. VI, c. 8, P.L., XIV, 260. n3. St. BASIL, "Ce Spir. S.," IX, 23, P.G., XXXII, 109.

#113. 2) To show further that this divine resemblance is not merely on the surface, they have recourse to the analogy of iron in the fire. As a bar of iron, they say, plunged into a glowing fire soon acquires the brightness, the heat and the pliancy of fire, so the soul in the fire of divine love is rid of impurities, burns, glows and becomes docile to God's inspirations.

#114. 3) To express the idea that grace is a new life, the Fathers and spiritual writers liken it to a divine branch ingrafted into the wild stock of our nature, there combining with it to form a new, vital principle and, therefore, a life far superior in kind. Yet, in the same way that the branch does not give its life to the stock in all its essence and particulars but only such or such of its vital properties, so sanctifying grace does not give to us God's entire essence but simply something of His life, which is for us a new life. We share then in the life of the Godhead, but by no means possess it. in its fullness. This resemblance of the soul to the Divinity evidently prepares it for a most intimate union with the Most Holy Trinity that dwells in it.

B) Union of God and the Soul

#115. From what we have said concerning the indwelling of the Most Blessed Trinity in the soul (n. 92) it follows that there is the closest and most sanctifying union between our souls and the Divine Guest. But is this all? Is there not something physical besides this moral union?

#116. a) The comparisons the Fathers employ would seem to imply so.

1) A great many of them tell us that the union of God with the soul is like that of the soul and the body. There are in us two lives, says St. Augustine, the life of the body and the life of the soul; the life of the body is the soul, the life of the soul is God.1 Evidently, these are only analogies; let us try to bring out the truth they contain.

The union of body and soul is a substantial union, so much so, that they form but one nature and only one person. The union between God and the soul is different. We retain always our own nature and our own personality and thus remain essentially distinct from the Godhead. However, just, as the soul gives the body its life, so God (without becoming the form of the soul, as the soul is of the body) gives the soul supernatural life, a life not equal to His, but truly and formally like unto His, producing a union that is most real between the soul and God. This implies a concrete reality which God communicates to us and which constitutes the bond of union between Him and us. Assuredly this new relation adds nothing to God, but it perfects the soul and makes it Godlike. Thus the Holy Ghost is not the formal cause, but the efficient and exemplary cause of our sanctification.

n1. "Sicut vita corporis anima, sic vita animae Deus." (Enarrat. in psal. 70, sermo2, n. 3. P. L. XXXVI, 893.)

#117. 2) The very same truth flows from the other comparison made by other authors.1 They liken the union of the soul with God to the hypostatic union. Again, there is an essential difference. The hypostatic union is substantial and personal, for though the human and the divine natures are absolutely different, yet, they constitute but one and the same person in Jesus Christ. The union of God with the soul through grace, on the contrary, leaves us our own personality, essentially distinct from that of God, and unites us to God in a merely accidental manner. "It is brought about in fact through the medium of sanctifying grace, an accident superadded to the soul's substance. Accidental union is the name given by the Scholastics to the union of an accident with a substance."2

None the less it is true that the union of the soul and God is a union of substance with substance,3 that man and God are in contact as closely as the incandescent iron is with the fire which permeates it, as closely as the glowing crystal is with the light that penetrates it. We can sum it up briefly in these few words: the hypostatic union makes a God-man, the union of grace makes deified men. In the same way as the actions of Christ are both divine and human, theandric actions, so those of the just man are Godlike, performed at once by God and by man. They are thus meritorious worthy of eternal life, which is nothing else but direct union with Divinity. We can say with Father de Smedt4 that "the hypostatic union is the type, the model, of our union with God by grace and that the latter is the most perfect imitation of the former that can be found among creatures."

We conclude with this same writer that the union of God and the soul by grace is not a mere moral union, but rather one which contains a physical element and which justifies the name of physico-moral union: "The divine nature is truly and properly united to the substance of the soul by a special bond and in such a way that the soul really possesses the divine nature as if it were personally its own. As a consequence, the soul possesses a divine character, a divine perfection and a divine beauty which is infinitely superior to all possible natural perfection wherever found and in whatsoever creature, whether actually existing or capable of existing.5

n1. BELLAMY, "La Vie surnaturelle," p. 184-191. n2. CARDINAL MERCIER, "La Vie interieure," ed. 1919, p. 392. n3. This is perhaps the though of Cardinal Mercier when he adds (l.c.): "In a sense, however, this union is a substantial one. On the one hand, it takes place between substance and substance without the interference of any natural accident. On the other, it places the soul in direct contact with the divine substance; it places the latter within the immediate reach of the former after the manner of a gift which the soul has the power both to possess and enjoy." In this way are explained the expressions of the Mystics who with St. John of the Cross speak of the divine contact "that takes place between the substance of the soul and the Divine substance in the course of intimate and loving friendship." Father Poulain in "Graces of Interior Prayer," C. VI, has gathered a great many texts from the "Contemplatives" on this point. n4. "Notre Vie surnaturelle," p. 51. n5. Op. cit., p. 49.

#118. b) If we leave comparisons aside and look for the exact theological doctrine on the question, we arrive at precisely the same conclusion. 1) In heaven the Elect see God face to face without the aid of any intermediary. It is the divine essence itself that acts as the principle of knowledge or "species impressa" as it is called.1 This means that there exists between God and the Elect a true and real union that can be called physical; since God can not be seen and possessed unless He be present to them by His essence nor can He be loved unless He be actually united to their wills as the object of their love. But grace is nothing less than the beginning, the inception, the seed of glory.2 Hence the union between the soul and God begun here on earth. by grace is in fact of the same kind as that in heaven; it is real and, in a certain sense, physical, like the latter. The following is the conclusion of Father Froget in his beautiful work, "The Indwelling of the Holy Ghost." Supported by numerous texts from St. Thomas he says: "God is then truly, physically and substantially present in the Christian in the state of grace; this is no mere presence, but a real possession with the initial enjoyment thereto attached."

2) We draw the same conclusion from the analysis of grace itself. According to the teaching of the Angelic Doctor, based on the very texts of Holy Scripture we have quoted, habitual grace is given us in order that we may enjoy the possession not only of divine gifts but also of the Divine Persons.3 But to enjoy anything whatever, adds a disciple of St. Bonaventure, the presence of the said thing or object is absolutely necessary, and therefore, in order to enjoy the Holy Spirit, His presence is necessary as well as the presence of the created gift which unites us to Him.4 If the presence of the created gift is real and physical, should not that of the Holy Ghost be likewise real and physical?

Therefore, our deductions from Dogma as well as the comparisons employed by the Fathers authorize us to say that the union of the soul with God is not merely moral, nor on the other hand substantial, in the strict sense of the term, but that it is so real that it may be justly called a physico-moral union. However, it remains veiled and obscure; its growth is gradual, its effects are perceived more and more clearly in proportion as we make efforts to cultivate faith and the gifts of the Holy Ghost. Fervent souls who long for this divine union are ever possessed of an urgent, desire to advance further each day in the practice of virtue :and the use of these gifts.

n1. "In visione quao Deus per essentiam videbitur, ipsa divina essentia erit quasi forma intellectus quo intelliget." St. THOMAS, "Sum. theol.," Suppl., q. 92, a. I. n2. "Gratia nihil est quam inchoatio gloriae in nobis." "Sum, theol." IIa IIae, q. 24, a. 3.--This is likewise the thought of Pope Leo XIII in his Encyclical, "Divinum iddud munus:" "Haec autem mira conjunctio, quae suo nomine inhabitatio dicitur, conditione tantum seu tatu ab ea discrepat qua caelites Deus beando complectitur." CAVALLERA, "Thesaurus doctrinae cathol.," n. 546. n3. "Per donum gratiae gratum facientis perficitur creatura rationalis ad hoc quod libere non solum ipso dono creato utatur, sed ut ipsa divina persona fruatur." St. THOMAS, "Sum. Theol.," I, q. 43, a. 3. n4. Ps BONAVENTURE, "Compend. Theol. veritatis," 1, I, c. 9.


A) Existence and Nature

#119. In order to act and develop, the supernatural life ingrafted into our souls by habitual grace demands faculties likewise of a supernatural character. These the bounty and liberality of God have given us in the form of infused virtues and gifts of the Holy Ghost. As Leo XIII tells us: "The just man living the life of grace and acting through the virtues that fulfill the function of faculties, stands also in need of the seven gifts of the Holy Ghost."1 In fact, it is only meet that our natural faculties which of themselves can produce but natural acts, should be perfected and deified by infused habits to place them on a supernatural plane and enable them to act supernaturally. Because God's liberality knows no bounds, He has granted us a twofold boon: first, the virtues which, directed by prudence, enable us to act supernaturally with the help of actual grace; then, the gifts making us so docile to the influence of the Holy Ghost that we are, so to speak, moved and directed by that divine Spirit, guided by a sort of divine instinct. Here it must be noted that these gifts, conferred as they are together with the virtues and habitual grace, do not exert a frequent or an intensive action except in mortified souls who have by a prolonged practice of the moral and theological virtues acquired that supernatural docility and ease that render them completely obedient to the inspirations of the Holy Spirit.

n1. "Homini justo vitam scilicet viventi divinae gratiae et per congruas virtutes tamquam facultates agenti, opus plane est septenis illis quae proprie dicuntur Spiritus Sancti donis." LEO XXIII, "Encyc. Divinum illud munus." See the English translation in "The Great Encyclicals of Leo XIII, p. 422-440.

#120. The essential difference between the virtues and the gifts consists in their different mode of action within us. In the practice of virtue grace lets us act under the influence of prudence. In the use of the gifts, once they have reached their full development, grace demands docility rather than activity. We shall go deeper into this question when treating of the unitive way. In the meantime, a comparison will help us to understand it: when a mother teaches her child to walk, she at times simply leads him supporting him at the same time so that he may not fall; at other times she takes him in her arms to help him over some hindrance in the way or to let him rest a while. The first instance illustrates the influence of the virtues, the latter that of the gifts. From this it follows that normally the acts performed under the influence of the gifts are more perfect than those accomplished under the sole influence of the virtues precisely because in the former case the operation of the Holy Ghost is more active and also more fruitful.

B) The Infused Virtues

#121. It is certain from the Council of Trent that at the very moment of justification we receive the infused virtues of faith, hope and charity.1 The common doctrine, confirmed by the "Catechism of the Council of Trent"2 is that the moral virtues of prudence, justice, fortitude and temperance are likewise communicated to us at that same moment. We must remember that these virtues endow us, not with facility, but with a supernatural, proximate power of eliciting supernatural acts. In order to acquire that facility of action which acquired habits give, we need to perform repeated acts of such virtues.

Let us now see how these virtues supernaturalize our faculties.

a) Some of these virtues are theological, because their material object is God, their formal object some divine attribute. Faith, for instance, unites us to God, the Supreme Truth, and aids us to see all, to view all things by His divine light. Hope unites us to God, the source of our happiness, who is ever ready to pour forth upon us all His favors so that our transformation may be perfected, and to tender us His all-powerful help to enable us to elicit acts of absolute trust in Him. Charity takes us up to God, infinitely good in Himself. Under the influence of this love, we delight in the perfections of God even more than if they were our own- we desire to make them known and have them praised; we form with Him a holy friendship and a sweet intimacy. Thus we become more and more like unto Him.

n1. "In ipsa justificatione...haec omnia simul infusa, accipit home, fidem, spem et caritatem." ("Trid.," sess. VI, c.7). n2. P. II, de Baptismo, n. 42.

#122. b) These three theological virtues unite us directly to God; the moral virtues remove the obstacles to that union and thus prepare for and perpetuate it. The object proper of these moral virtues is a moral good distinct from God. Our actions are so regulated by them that, in spite of obstacles from within or without, they are kept in steady course towards God. Thus, prudence makes us choose those means best adapted to the pursuance of our supernatural end. Justice, by having us render to others what is due them, sanctifies our relations with them, so as to bring us close to God and to make us more like Him. Fortitude equips our soul for trials and struggles. It makes us endure suffering with patience and causes us to undertake with holy ardor and daring the most painful and laborious tasks for the glory of God. Lastly, since guilty pleasure would lead us astray, temperance controls our thirst for pleasure and brings it under subjection to the law of duty. All these virtues have their part to play either in removing obstacles or in supplying positive means to press onward towards God.1

n1. In the second part of this work where we shall treat of the illuminative way, we shall explain these virtues in detail. The explanation of the gifts of the Holy Ghost we shall join to the treatment of the unitive way.

C) The Gifts of the Holy Ghost

#123. Here we shall not describe the gifts in detail, but simply show how they correspond to the virtues.

First, the gifts are in no way superior to the theological virtues. This becomes evident if we but think of divine charity. Their function, however, is that of perfecting the exercise of the virtues. By the gift of understanding we can penetrate farther into the truths of faith to discover the hidden treasures and discern the mysterious harmony therein contained. The gift of knowledge makes us look upon creatures from the point of view of their relation to their Maker. The gift of fear, by weaning us from the false goods of earth that might allure us into sin, fortifies the virtue of hope and intensifies the desire for the happiness of heaven. Wisdom makes us relish divine things thus increasing our love of God. The gift of counsel crowns the virtue of prudence by showing us in exceptional or difficult cases what it behooves us to do or not to do. Piety perfects the virtue of religion, making us recognize in God a Father whom we delight in glorifying by love. The gift of fortitude completes the virtue which bears the same name by urging us on to what is more heroic in endurance and in daring. The gift of fear besides rendering easy the practice of hope, perfects temperance by begetting in us a dread of the penalty and of the ills issuing from the illicit love of pleasure.

In this fashion the virtues and the gifts receive their harmonious development in our souls under the influence of actual grace, of which we must now briefly speak.


In the order of nature we can do nothing to bring power into action without the concurrence of God. The same is true in the supernatural order; without actual grace we cannot set our faculties into operation.

#124. We shall explain: (1) the notion of actual grace, (2) its mode of action, (3) its necessity.

A) Notion. Actual grace is a supernatural, transient help given us by our Lord to enlighten our mind and strengthen our will in the performance of supernatural acts.

a) Its action on our spiritual faculties is direct. Now, grace acts on the mind and the will not simply to raise them to the supernatural order, but to set them in motion and cause them to elicit supernatural acts. For instance, before justification, that is, before the infusion into the soul of habitual grace, actual grace makes us see the malice and frightful consequences of sin in order to have us loathe it. After justification actual grace shows us by the light of faith God's infinite beauty and His loving kindness, in order to have us love Him with all our heart.

b) Besides these interior helps, there are others called exterior graces. These latter act directly on our senses and our sensitive faculties. They, therefore, indirectly reach the spiritual faculties, especially since they are often attended by real, interior helps. To this category of exterior graces belong, for instance, the reading of Holy Scripture or the perusal of some spiritual work, the hearing of a sermon or a piece of religious music, a pious conversation, etc. These do not of themselves strengthen the will, but they produce in us favorable impressions which by quickening the mind and rousing the will predispose them towards the supernatural good. Besides, God often gives in addition inward promptings which by enlightening the mind and giving strength to the will, move us on to amendment, conversion or advancement in the way of perfection. This is what we draw from the Book of the Acts where the Holy Ghost is spoken of as opening the heart of a woman named Lydia "to attend to those things which were said by Paul."2 As for the rest, God who knows that it is through things sensible that we rise to things spiritual, adapts Himself to our weakness and makes use of the visible things of this world to bring us to the practice of virtue.

n1. Cf. S. THOMAS, Ia IIae, q. 109-113; TANQUEREY, "Syn Theol. Dog.," III, n. 122-123. Besides Latin works sdd WAFFELAERT, "Meditations theo..," I, p. 606-650; DE BROGLIE, "Confer. sur la vie surnaturelle," I, p. 249; LABAUCHE, "God and Man," IIIe P., C. I; VAN DER MEERSCH, in the Dict de theol: "Grace". n2. "Acts," XVI, 14.

#125. B) Its mode of action. a) Actual grace exerts its influence upon us both in a moral and a physical manner. In a moral way, by means of persuasion and attraction, just as a mother might in teaching her Child to walk, call him to herself with a promise of something good. It influences us physically1 by adding new forces to our faculties, too weak to act of themselves, as a mother not only coaxes her child to try to walk, but actually takes him by the arms and helps him to take a few steps. All schools admit that operating grace acts physically by producing in our souls indeliberate impulses. As to co-operating grace various schools of theology hold different opinions; these differences, however, have but little importance in practice. We shall not discuss them here since we do not wish to base the doctrine of the spiritual life upon questions that are matter for controversy.

b) From another point of view, grace either goes before the free assent of the will or accompanies it in the performance of an act. Thus, for example, the thought of making an act of love of God suggests itself to us without any effort on our part. This is a preventing grace, a good thought that God gives us. If we acquiesce in it and make an effort to -perform the act of love, we then accomplish this through the help of a grace called concomitant. Another distinction analogous to this is the one between operating and co-operating grace: through the former God acts in us without us; through the latter God acts in and together with us, that is with the free co-operation of our will.

n1. This is at least the Thomist teaching thus summarized by Father Hugon, "Tract. Dog.," II, p. 297: "Gratia actualis...est etiam realitas supernaturalis nobis intrinseca, non quidem per modum qualitatis, sed per modum motionis transeuntis."

#126. C) Its necessity.1 The general principle is that actual grace is necessary for the performance Of every supernatural act, since there must be a proportion between an effect and its cause.

a) Thus, when it is question of conversion, that is, of the passing from mortal sin to the state of grace, supernatural grace is needed to perform the preliminary acts of faith, hope, sorrow and love; nay, such a grace is needed even for that devout desire of believing which is the first step, the very starting point of faith. b) Our steadfastness in good, our perseverance unto the hour of death, is likewise the work of actual grace. In fact, in order to persevere one must resist temptations which assail even the justified soul so persistently and tenaciously at times, that without God's help one could not withstand their onslaught. This is why the Savior warns His Apostles immediately after the Last Supper to watch and pray, that is to say, to rely upon grace rather upon their efforts and good will, lest they fall victims to temptation.2 Beside the resisting of temptations, perseverance also implies the accomplishment of one's duty. The constant and strenuous efforts we must put forth in order to fulfill it will not be made without the power of grace. He alone who has begun in us the good work of perfection can bring it to a happy close.3 Only He who has called us unto His eternal glory can perfect and confirm and establish us.4

n1. Cf. "Syn. Theol. Dog.," III, n. 34-91. There we also examine how far grace is needed for the performance of natural acts. n2. "Matth.," XXVI, 41. n3. "Philip.," I, 6. n4. "I Peter," V, 10.

#127. This holds true especially of final perseverance, a singular and priceless gift.1 We cannot merit it strictly speaking. To die in the state of grace in spite of all the temptations that assail us at the last hour, to escape these by a sudden or tranquil death--falling asleep in the Lord --this is truly in the language of Councils the grace of graces. We cannot ask for it insistently enough. Prayer and faithful co-operation with grace can obtain it for us.2

C) We truly have to rely upon the divine favor. Think what this means, if one wishes not merely to persevere in grace, but to grow in holiness each day, to avoid deliberate venial faults and reduce as much as in our power lies even our faults of frailty. To pretend that we could for long escape all the faults that hinder our spiritual progress is to contradict the experience of the choicest souls, souls that sorrowed bitterly over their lapses; it would be to contradict St. John who declares that whoever imagines himself free from sin labors under a delusion;3 in fine, it is to contradict the Council of Trent which condemns those who maintain that justified man can, without a special privilege from God, avoid all venial sin during the whole course of his life.4

n1. "Trid.," sess. VI, Can. 16, 22, 23. n2. S. AUGUST., "De dono persev.," VI, 10, P.L. XLV, 999. n3. "I Joan.," I, 8. n4. Sess. VI, Cap. 23.

#128. Actual grace is, therefore, needed even after justification. We obtain it of the divine mercy by prayer; hence, the stress laid in Holy Writ upon the necessity of prayer. We can also obtain it through our meritorious acts, in other words, by our co-operation with grace; for the more faithful we are in availing ourselves of the actual graces received, the more will the Almighty be moved to grant us new and greater ones.


#129. (1) We must hold in greatest esteem the life of grace, for it is a new life which unites and assimilates us to God. It is a life much higher and richer than our own natural life. As the life of the mind, our intellectual life, is superior to vegetative or sensitive life, so the supernatural life infinitely surpasses mere rational life. This latter in fact is due to man the moment God determines to create him, whilst the former is above the activities and the merit of even the most perfect creature. What created being could ever claim the right of becoming the adopted child of God? Of being made the dwelling place of the Holy Ghost? Of seeing, contemplating God face to face as He sees and contemplates Himself? The Christian life is, therefore, the hidden treasure which we must hold dearer than all created things.

#130. (2) Once this treasure is ours, we must be ready to sacrifice all things rather than run the risk of losing it. This is the conclusion arrived at by Pope St. Leo: "Understand, O Christian, what dignity is yours! Made a partaker of the divine nature, do not by an unworthy life return to your former wretchedness."1 No one should be possessed of a greater reverence for self than the Christian, not indeed on account of any merits of his own, but because of that divine life in Which he shares, because of the Holy Ghost whose living temple he is. The holiness of this temple must not be violated nor its beauty tarnished: "Holiness becomes Thy house, O Lord, unto length of days."2

n1. "Sermones," XXI, 3, P.L., LIV. 195. n2. "Ps. XCIII," 5.

#131. (3) Our plain duty is to make use of, to develop this supernatural organism Which constitutes our greatest possession. If on the one hand it has pleased the divine goodness to raise us to a superior rank, to endow us with virtues and gifts that perfect our natural powers; if at every moment God gives us His aid that we may live and act through those powers, it would be the blackest ingratitude to scorn and despise such gifts and to live a merely natural life without looking for fruits worthy of eternal glory. The more generous the giver, the more active and fruitful the co-operation expected. We shall understand this better still after we have studied the place of Christ in the life of the Christian.

[II] Role of Jesus in the Christian Life1

#132. The Three Divine Persons of the Most Blessed Trinity confer upon us that participation in the life of God described above. It is granted, however, because of the merits and satisfactions of Jesus Christ. On this account He plays a signal part in our supernatural life which is, therefore, called the Christian life.

According to the teaching of St. Paul, Jesus Christ is the head of regenerated humanity, just as Adam was the head of the human race; but, in a far more perfect manner. By His merits Christ regained for us our rights to grace and glory, and by His example He shows us how we are to live in order to sanctify ourselves and merit heaven. More than this, He is the head of a mystical body of which we are the members. Thus, He is the meritorious, exemplary, and vital cause of our sanctification.

I. Jesus, the Meritorious Cause of our Spiritual Life

#133. When we say that Jesus Christ is the meritorious cause of our sanctification, we take the term in its broader sense as implying both satisfaction and merit. " Because of the exceeding great charity wherewith He loved us, by His holy passion on the cross, He merited for us justification and made satisfaction for us."2 Logically, satisfaction precedes merit. The offense done to God must first of all be atoned for to obtain the pardon of sin, before grace can be merited, In reality, however, all the free acts of our Savior were at once satisfactory and meritorious; all had an infinite moral value, as we said above, n. 78. From this truth a few conclusions follow.

A) No sin is unpardonable provided that contrite and humbled we meekly ask for forgiveness. This is what we do in the tribunal of penance where the power of the Blood of Christ is applied to us by His minister. The same is effected in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. There Jesus offers Himself incessantly for us by the hands of His priests as a sacrifice of propitiation, which repairing the injury done to God by sin, inclines Him to forgive us and at the same time obtains for us graces which excite in our souls sentiments of sincere contrition. Christ thus obtains for us the full pardon of our sins and remission of the temporal punishment due to them. We may add that all the acts of our Christian life, when united to those of Jesus Christ, have a satisfactory value both for ourselves and for those for whom we offer them.

n1. St. THOM, III, qqq. 8, 25, 26, 40, 46-49, 57 and elsewhere; BERULLE, "Oeuvres," ed. 1657, p. 522-530; 665-669; 689; OLIER, "Pensees choisies;" PRAT, "Theology of St. Paul," I, 1, III, c. I; 1, IV, c. 3; II, 1, III, IV; MARMION, "Christ, Life of the Soul;" DUPERRAY, "Le Christ dans la vie chretienne"; PLUS, "In Christ Jesus." n2. Co. of Trent, sess, VI, c. 7.

#134. B) Christ likewise merited for us all the grace we need to attain our supernatural end and to develop in us the supernatural life: "Who hath blessed us with spiritual blessings in heavenly places, in Christ."1 He merited for us the grace of conversion, the grace of steadfastness in good, the helps to resist temptation, the aids to profit by trial, the grace of comfort in the midst of tribulations, the grace of renewal of spirit and of final perseverance. He merited all things for us. We have the solemn word that anything we ask the Father in His name, that is, through His own merits, will be granted to us.2 Then in order to inspire us with greater confidence, He instituted the sacraments, visible signs, which confer His grace in all the important events of life and which give us a right to actual graces in time of need.

n1. "Eph.," I, 3. n2. "John," XVI, 23.

#135. C) He has gone further still. In His desire to associate us with Himself in the work of our own sanctification, He has given us the power of satisfying and meriting, thus making us the secondary causes, the agents of our own sanctification. He has, as a matter of fact, made this co-operation a law and an essential condition of our spiritual life. If He has carried His cross, it is that we may follow Him bearing ours: " If any man will come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me."1 It was thus understood by the Apostles. If we would share in His glory, says St Paul, we must share in His sufferings: "Yet so, if we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified with him."2 St. Peter adds that if Christ suffered for us it is that we may follow in His footsteps.3 Moreover, self-sacrificing souls are urged, after the manner of the Apostle of the Gentiles, to undergo suffering joyfully in union with Christ for the sake of the Church, His mystical body: "Who now rejoice in my sufferings for you and fill up those things that are wanting of the sufferings of Christ, in my flesh, for his body, which is the church."4 In this wise these souls share in the redeeming power of Christ's passion and become secondary agents of the salvation of their brethren. How true, how sublime, how consoling is this doctrine! Compare it with the incredible affirmation of certain Protestants who assert, that since Christ suffered to the full for us, there remains for us only to enjoy the fruits of His plentiful redemption without drinking of His chalice. They thus pretend to pay homage to the fullness of Christ's merits. Does not our Christ-given power to merit show forth better the fullness of the redemption by Christ? Does it not do more honor to Christ to manifest the power of His satisfaction by enabling us to join in His work of atonement and co-operate with Him even though in a secondary manner?

n1. "Matth.," XVI, 24. n2. "Rom.," VIII, 17. n3. "I Peter," II, 21." n4. "Coloss.," I, 24.

II. Jesus, the Exemplary Cause of our Spiritual Life

#136. Jesus was not content to merit for us; He willed to be the exemplary cause, the model of our supernatural life.

In order to develop a life that is no less than a participation in the life of God, we must strive as far as it possible, to live a divine life. Hence, the need we had of a divine model. As St. Augustine remarks, men whom we see were too imperfect to serve us as a pattern and God, who is holiness itself, was too far beyond our gaze. Then, the eternal Son of God, His living image, became man and showed us by His example how man could here on earth approach the perfection of God. Son of God and son of man, He lived a Godlike life and could say: " Who seeth me seeth the Father."1 Having revealed the holiness of God in His actions, He can present to us as practical the imitation of the divine perfections: " Be you therefore perfect as also your heavenly Father is perfect."2 Therefore, the Eternal Father proposes Him to us as our model. At His baptism and His transfiguration He said: "This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased."3 Because He is well pleased in Him, the Eternal Father wills that we imitate His only-begotten Son. Thus with perfect assurance our Lord tells us: "I am the way... no man cometh to the Father but by me... learn of me because I am meek and humble of heart... I have given you an example that as I have done to you so you do also."4 At bottom the Gospel is no more than a relation of the deeds and traits of our Lord's sacred person proposed to us as a model for our imitation: "Jesus began to do and to teach."5 Christianity in turn is nothing more than the imitation of Christ. St. Paul gave this as the sum-total of all our duties: "Be ye followers of me as I also am of Christ."6

n1. "John," XIV, 9. n2. "Matth.," V, 48. n3. "Matth.," III, 17; XVII, 5. n4. "John," XIV, 6; "Matth.," XI, 29; "John," XIII, 15. n5. "Acts," I 1 n6. "I Cor.," IV, 16; XI, I; "Eph.," V, I.

#137. a) The following are the qualities of the model given us. Jesus is a perfect model. On the admitted testimony of even those who do not believe in His divinity, He is the highest type of virtue ever seen among men. He practiced all virtues to the degree of heroism. His motives were the most perfect: religion towards God, love of His fellow-men, utter self-effacement and horror of sin and its approaches.1 And yet, this model is withal capable of imitation; it is universal, magnetic, powerful.

n1. This is very well explained by Father Olier, "Catechism for an Interior Life.", Part I, C. I.

#138. b) All men can imitate Him. Indeed, He willed to bear all our weaknesses and miseries and even our temptations; He willed to be like us in all things, sin excepted " For we have not a high-priest who can not have compassion on our infirmities: but one tempted in all things like we are without sin."1 During thirty years He lived an ordinary life, hidden and obscure; He was subject to Mary and Joseph, working as an apprentice, a wage-earner, a toiler, " the carpenter's son."2 This has made Him the perfect model for the great mass of men who have but lowly duties to perform and who must work out their sanctification amid humble occupations. His public life was one of zeal. This He exercised, now by training His Apostles, His chosen ones, now by evangelizing the multitudes. He underwent hunger and fatigue, enjoyed the friendship of a few, and had to bear the ingratitude and even the enmity of others. He had His successes and reverses, His joys and His sorrows. In a word, He passed through the vicissitudes of the man who lives close to his friends and in daily contact with the people. The sufferings of His passion have given us the example of heroic patience in the midst of physical and moral torture, endured not only without complaint but with a prayer for His persecutors. And we must not reason that because He was God He suffered less. He was also man, a man possessed of the most perfect, and therefore the most delicate sensibility. So, He felt and felt more keenly, more vividly than we ever could, the ingratitude of men, the defection of His friends, the treason of Judas. He tasted weariness and grief and terror to the full, so that He could not stay the groaning of His heart, He could not halt the prayer that if possible the bitter chalice might pass from Him. Lastly, on the cross He let escape that woeful cry of utter dereliction, torn from the recesses of His soul, and revealing abysmal depths of interior sorrow: "My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me!"3

n1. "Heb." IV, 15. n2. "Matth.," XIII, 55. n3. "Matth.," XXVII, 46; "Mk.," XV, 34.

#139. c) A universal model is also a magnetic one. Speaking of the manner of His death, He foretold that once He be lifted up from the earth He would draw all things to Himself: "And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all things to myself."1 The prophecy has come true. Gazing upon what Jesus has done and suffered for them, generous souls are smitten with love for Him and for His Cross.2 In spite of the abhorrence of nature they bravely carry their interior or exterior crosses to become more like their Lord and Master, to give Him a proof of their love by suffering with Him and for Him, to share more richly in the fruits of His redemption, to join Him in working for the sanctification of men. This is revealed in the lives of the Saints who seek after crosses more eagerly than worldlings do after pleasure.

n1. "John," XII, 32. n2. This is the meaning of the prayer of the Apostle St. Andrew who, crucified for His Master, lovingly greeting the Cross, saying: "O bona crux."

#140. d) This attraction is all the stronger since He adds thereto all the power of His grace. All the actions of Christ before His death were meritorious; they merited for us the grace of performing actions similar to His own. When we observe His humility, His poverty, His mortification and all His other virtues, we are drawn to imitate Him, not merely by the persuasive force of His example, but by the impelling power, the efficaciousness of the graces which He merited for us by practicing such virtues.

#141. There are especially certain actions of our divine Savior that transcend all others. To these we must unite ourselves since they are the source of greater grace; they are His mysteries. At His incarnation our Lord offered us all with Himself to the Eternal Father to consecrate us to Him. This mystery then merited for us the grace of self-renunciation and of union with God. The mystery of His crucifixion gained for us the grace of crucifying our flesh and its concupiscences. The mystery of His death obtained for us the grace of dying to sin and to the causes of sin.1 The truth of this will be better realized by considering how Jesus is the head of a mystical body of which we are the members.

n1. OLIER, "Catechism for an Interior Life," P. I, c. XX-XXV.

III. Jesus the Head of a Mystical Body or the Source of our Spiritual Life1

142. The doctrine of the mystical body is contained in substance in the words of our Lord:2 "I am the vine and you the branches." Here He asserts that we draw our life from Him as the branches do from the stalk. This comparison brings out the notion of our participation in the life of Christ. It is easy to pass thence to the conception of the mystical body in which Jesus, the Head, communicates His life to the members. St. Paul is most insistent on this teaching so fruitful in its consequences. A body must have a head, a soul and members. These three elements we shall now describe, following the doctrine of the Apostle.

n1. "Sum. Theol.," III, q. 8; PRAT, op. cit., I, ed. 1920, p. 358-369; DUPERRAY, op cit., C. I-II; MARMION, "Christ the Life of the Soul," p. 79-92; PLUS, op. cit. n2. "John, XV, 5.

#143. (1) The head plays a threefold role in the human body: it is first of all its most prominent and preeminent part, its center of unity, holding together, controlling and directing all the members; it is the source of a vital influx, for life and movement proceed from it. This threefold function is exercised by Christ in the Church and in the souls of men. a) He is without question the most prominent and preeminent among men. As God-man He is the first-born of all creatures, the object of the divine complacency, the exemplar of all virtues, the meritorious cause, the source of our sanctification, who on account of His merits was exalted above His brethren and before whom every knee must bend in heaven and on earth.

b) He is the center of unity in the Church. Two things are essential to any complete organism: variety of organs and the functions they fulfill, and a single, common principle. Without these we should have a mass or a motley gathering of living beings with no tie to bind them together. After having given diversity of members to the Church by the establishment of a hierarchy, Jesus Christ still remains its center of unity; for it is He who as the invisible but real Head of the Church gives impetus and direction to its rulers.

c) He is likewise the vital influx, the principle of life that quickens all the members. Even as man He received grace in all its fullness to communicate it to us: "We saw him full of grace and truth... from whose fullness we have all received and grace for grace."1 He is in fact the meritorious cause of all the graces bestowed upon us by the Holy Ghost. The Council of Trent does not hesitate to affirm the reality of this influx,, this vital action of Jesus upon the just: "For the same Christ... does infuse virtue into those that are justified... as the head unto the members."2

n1. "John," I, 14, 16. n2. Sess. VI, c. 8.

#144. (2) A living body must have not only a head but also a soul. The Holy Ghost is the soul of that mystical body whose head is Christ. This Holy Spirit infuses charity into the souls of men and also the graces Christ merited for us: "The charity of God is poured forth into our hearts by the Holy Ghost who is given to us."1 This is why He is called the Vivifier; "I believe in the Holy Ghost... the Vivifier". This is what St. Augustine had in mind when he said that the Holy Ghost is to the body of the Church what the soul is to the human body: " What our soul is to the body, the Holy Ghost is to the body of Christ, which is the Church."2 These words have been adopted by Leo XIII in his encyclical on the Holy Ghost. This same Spirit dispenses the sundry spiritual gifts, the diversity of graces-- charisms--"To one the word of wisdom, to another the word of knowledge, to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another divers kinds of tongues... but all these things one and the same Spirit worketh, dividing to every one according as he will."3

n1. "Rom.," V, 5. n2. Sermo 187, De Tempore. n3. " Cor.," XII, 6-11.

#145. Nor can this twofold action of the Holy Ghost and of Christ work at variance. On the contrary, one completes the other. The Holy Ghost comes to us through Christ. When Jesus was on earth His holy soul possessed the Spirit in all its fullness, and by His actions and above all by His sufferings and death He merited for us the communication of this same Spirit. It is, therefore, because of Him that the Holy Ghost comes now to impart to us Christ's life and virtues and to make us like unto Him. Thus we see how on the one hand Jesus being man could alone be the head of a mystical body composed of men, since the head and the members must be one in nature; and we see on the other hand how as man He could not of Himself bestow the grace required for the life of His members. This the Holy Ghost does, but He does it in virtue of Christ's merits. Hence, we can say that this vital influx takes its origin in Christ in order to reach His members.

#146. (3) Who are the members of this mystical body? All those who have been baptized. It is baptism that incorporates us into Christ. St. Paul says: "For in one Spirit were we all baptized unto one body."1 For this reason he adds that we have been baptized in Christ, that in baptism we put on Christ,2 that is to say, we participate in the interior dispositions of Christ. This the "Decree to the Armenians" explains, saying that by baptism we become members of Christ and of the body of the Church.3 From this it follows that all the baptized are Christ's members, but in various degrees. The just are united to Him by habitual grace and the privileges that come with it; sinners, by faith and hope; the blessed, by the beatific vision. As regards infidels, they are not actually members of Christ's mystical body, although as long as they live upon earth they are called to become such. Only the damned are irrevocably excluded from this wonderful privilege.

n1. "I Cor.," XII, 13. n2. "Rom.," VI, 3; "Gal.," III, 25; "Rom.," XIII, 17. n3. DENZINGER-BANN., n. 696.

#147. (4) The Consequences of this Doctrine. A) This incorporation forms the basis of the doctrine of the communion of Saints. The just upon earth, the souls in purgatory and the blessed in heaven are all integral parts of Christ's mystical body. As such they all share in His life, come under His influence, and are obliged to love and help one another. St. Paul tells us: "If one member suffer anything, all the members suffer with it; or if one member glory, all the members rejoice with it."1

n1. "I Cor.," XII, 26.

#148. B) This is what makes all Christians brothers. From now on there is neither Jew nor Greek, neither freeman nor slave; we are all one in Christ Jesus.1 We are all in closest fellowship so that what is profitable unto one is profitable unto all others. No matter how great the variety of gifts, or how great the diversity of offices, the whole body derives gain from whatever good there is in each member, and each member in turn shares in the common good of the body. This doctrine reveals to us the reasons why our Lord could say that whatever we do to the least of His little ones we do unto Him;2 for the head is one with the members.

n1. "Rom.," X, 12; "I Cor." XII, 13. n2. "Matth.," XXV, 34-40.

#149. C) From St. Paul's teaching it follows that Christians are Christ's complement. God has in fact "made him head over all the Church, which is his body and the fullness of him who is filled all in all."1 The fact is that Jesus, Himself perfect, needs an increment in order to form His mystical body. From this point of view He is not sufficient unto Himself; in order to exercise all His vital functions He requires members. Father Olier concludes: " Let us yield our souls to the Spirit of Jesus Christ so that Jesus may have an increase in us. Whenever He finds apt followers, He expands, grows and diffuses Himself within their hearts, filling them with the same spiritual fragrance wherein He abounds."2 This is how we are able and are called to fulfill those things that are wanting of the sufferings of Christ, our Savior, for His body, which is the Church,3 suffering even as He did, that His passion, so full in itself, be likewise fulfilled in His members through time and space. There is no doctrine more rich, more fruitful, than this doctrine of Christ's mystical body.

n1. "Eph., I, 23. n2. "Pensees," p. 15-16. n3. "Coloss." I, 24.


#150. From all that has been said concerning the role Jesus Christ plays in our spiritual life, it follows that in order to foster this life an intimate, affectionate and habitual union with Him is demanded of us, that is, devotion to the Incarnate Word. " He who abideth in me and I in him, the same beareth much fruit."1 The Church brings this home to us when at the end of the Canon of the Mass she reminds us that through Him we receive all spiritual blessings, that through Him we are sanctified, quickened, blessed; that through Him, with Him and in Him is given to the Father Almighty in union With the Holy Ghost all honor and glory. A whole system of spiritual doctrine is here contained: having received from God all things through Christ, through the same Christ we must give God glory, through the same Christ we must ask further graces, with Christ and in Christ we must perform all our acts.

n1.BERULLE (called the Apostle of the Incarnate Word), "Discours dc l'Estat et des Grandeurs de Jesus." n2. " John," XV, 5.

#151. (1) Jesus is the only perfect adorer of His Father. In the words of Father Olier, He is the perfect worshipper of God, the only one that can offer Him infinite homage. It is clear, therefore, that in order to pay our debts to the Most Blessed Trinity, we can do nothing better than unite our every act of religion with the perfect worship of Jesus Christ. Nor is this difficult. Jesus being the head of a mystical body whose members we are, adores His Father not merely in His own name, but in the name of all those that are incorporated into Him. He puts into our hands, He places at our disposal the homages He pays to God Almighty; He allows us to make them our own and to offer them to the Blessed Trinity.

#152.(2) With Him and in Him can we best make our petitions for new graces efficacious. He is the High-priest, "always living to make intercession for us."1 Even when we have had the misfortune of offending God, He pleads for us and takes our part all the more eloquently as with His prayers He offers also the Blood He shed for our redemption. " If any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the just."2 More, He endows our prayers with such worth that if we pray in His name, that is, trusting to His infinite merits and uniting our poor prayers with His perfect prayers, we are certain of having our petitions granted. " Amen, amen, I say to you; if you ask the Father anything in my name, he will give it you."3 The fact is that the value of His merits is imparted to His members, and God can not refuse anything to His Son. "He was heard for his reverence."4

n1. "Heb.," VII, 25. n2. "I John," II, 1. n3. "John," XVI, 23. n4. "Heb.," V, 7.

#153. (3) Lastly, it is in union with Jesus Christ that we must perform all our acts, by keeping, as Father Olier so aptly puts it, "Jesus before our eyes, in our heart and in our hands."1 Now, we keep Jesus before our eyes when we think of Him as the ideal, the model, we are to imitate; when like St. Vincent de Paul we ask ourselves: "What would Jesus Christ do were He in my place?" We keep Jesus in our heart by drawing into our soul the dispositions of His own heart, His purity of intention, His fervor, in order to perform our actions in the spirit in which He performed His. We have Jesus in our hands when we carry into action with generosity, determination and constancy the inspirations which He suggests to us. Then, our life is, indeed, transformed and we live Christ's own life. "I live, now not I, but Christ liveth in me."2

n1. "Introd. a la vie et aux vertus chret.," c. IV, p. 47. n2. "Gal.," II, 20.

[III] The Part of the Blessed Virgin, the Saints and the Angels in the Christian Life

#154. Assuredly there is but one God and one principal mediator, Jesus Christ: " For there is one God: and one mediator of God and man, the man Christ Jesus."1 However, it has pleased the Divine Wisdom as well as the Divine Goodness to grant us protectors, intercessors and models that are, or at least appear to be, closer still to us. Such are the Saints, members of Christ's mystical body, who having reproduced in their own lives the divine perfections and the virtues of Christ, are concerned in the welfare of their fellow-members, their brethren. By honoring them we honor none other than God Himself, since they reflect the divine perfections. In asking them to intercede for us before the Almighty, it is none other than God whom we really invoke. Lastly, since their own sanctity depends solely upon their imitation of the divine Model, upon the measure in which they themselves have reproduced His virtues, when we imitate them we do nothing else but imitate Jesus Christ Himself. Far from detracting, then, from the worship due to God and to the Incarnate Word, devotion to the Saints confirms it and carries it out in all its fullness. And since the Blessed Mother of Jesus occupies a unique place among the Saints, we shall first explain the place she holds in the Christian Life.

n1. "I Tim.," II, 5.

I. The Part Mary Holds in the Christian Life1

#155. (1) Its foundation. This rests upon the fact of Mary's intimate union with Jesus, in other words, upon the dogma of her divine Motherhood. Corollaries deduced from this doctrine are her dignity and her office as the mother of men.

A) At the moment of the Incarnation Mary became the mother of Jesus, mother of the God-man, mother of God. If we consider the dialogue between Mary and the Angel, we discover that the Blessed virgin is the mother of Jesus not simply inasmuch as He is a private individual, but inasmuch as He is the Savior and Redeemer of the world.

The Angel does not speak merely of the personal grandeur of Jesus. He tenders Mary a call to become the Mother of the Savior, of the expected Messiah, the Eternal King of regenerated mankind. The whole work of redemption hinges on Mary's "fiat". She is aware of what God proffers her; she accedes without restriction or condition to what God asks of her. Her "fiat" embraces the whole import of that divine invitation, it extends to the entire work of redemption.2 The Fathers, following St. Irenaeus, remark that Mary is, therefore, the Mother of the Redeemer and that, being associated as such with His work of Redemption, she has in our spiritual restoration a part similar to that of Eve in our spiritual ruin.

Mary, the Mother of Jesus, has the most intimate relations with the Three Divine Persons. She is the well-beloved Daughter of the Father and His collaborator in the work of the Incarnation. She is the Mother of the Son with a real title to respect from Him, to His love and, upon earth, even to His obedience. By giving Him His body and blood, the instruments of our redemption, and by sharing in His mysteries, she was the secondary but true agent, the co-worker with her Son in effecting the sanctification and salvation of men. She is the living temple, the privileged sanctuary of the Holy Ghost, and. in an analogical sense, His Spouse; for with Him and under Him she has an active part in bringing forth souls to God.

n1. St. THOMAS, "In Salut. Angel. Expositio;" SUAREZ, "De Mysteriis Christi," disp. I-XXIII; BOSSUET, "Sermons sur la Ste Vierge; TERRIEN, "La Mere de Dieu et la Mere des hommes," III; GARRIGUET, "La Vierge Marie; Dict. d'Apol. (d'Ales)," "Marie"; HUGON, "Marie, pleine de grace;" BAINVEL, "Marie, mere de grace; Syn. Theol. dog.," II, n. 1226-1263. n2. BAINVEL, op. cit., p. 73, 75. The thesis can well be based on the words of the Angel: "Behold thou shalt conceive in thy womb and shalt bring forth a son: and thou shalt call his name Jesus (i.e. Savior); He shall be great and shall be called the Son of the Most High. And the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of David his Father; and he shall reign in the house of Jacob forever." "Luke," I, 31, 32.

#156. B) At the Incarnation Mary became likewise the Mother of men. As we have already stated, n. 142, Jesus is the head of regenerated mankind, the head of a mystical body whose members we are. As such did Mary conceive Him. She likewise conceived His members, all those who form part of Him, those who have been born again and those who are called to incorporation with Him. When she became the Mother of Jesus according to the flesh she became the mother of men according to the spirit. The scene on Calvary only confirms this truth. At the very moment that our redemption is to be completed by the death of the Savior, Jesus says to Mary: "Behold thy son!" Then to St. John himself He says: "Behold thy mother!" This, according to a tradition that goes back as far as Origen, was a declaration that all Christians are the spiritual children of Mary. This double title of Mother of God and Mother of men is the foundation of the office which Mary fills in our spiritual life.

#157. (2) Mary, a meritorious cause of grace. We have seen, n. 133, that Jesus is in the strictest sense the chief meritorious cause of all the graces we receive. Mary, however, associated with Him in the work of our sanctification, merited these graces, not in the same manner as Christ, but secondarily and "de congruo,"1 that is, under Christ and because of Him, in other words, because He conferred upon her the power of meriting for us.

She merited these graces first of all at the moment of the Incarnation when she uttered her "fiat"; for the Incarnation is already the beginning of Redemption. To co-operate then in the Incarnation is to co-operate in the Redemption and in all the graces resulting therefrom, and hence in our sanctification and salvation.

n1. This expression has been ratified by Pope Pius X in his encyclical, "Ad diem illum," Feb. 2, 1904, wherein he declares that Mary has merited for us "de congruo" all the graces that Jesus had merited for us "de condigno."

#158. Besides, Mary whose will was ever in accord with God's will and with the will of her divine Son, associated herself during her whole life in the work of redemption. She brought up Jesus, she nourished and made ready the victim of Calvary. Associated with Him in His joys as well as in His trials, in His lowly labors at the house of Nazareth as well as in His virtues, she also united herself to her Son with tender and generous compassion in His sufferings and death. At the foot of the Cross she again uttered her "fiat", acquiescing in the death of Him whom her soul loved even more than herself while the cruel iron pierced her heart, fulfilling the prophecy of Simeon "Thine own soul a sword shall pierce."1 For many of the Jews present on Calvary the death of Jesus was the execution of a criminal; for a few it was the murder of an innocent man; but for His Mother it was a sacrifice for the salvation of the world. She saw in the Cross an altar, in Her Son a priest, and in His blood the price of our redemption. She suffered in her soul what Jesus suffered in His body, and in union with Him she offered herself as a victim for our sins. What merits did not her perfect immolation gain!

Even after the ascension of Her Son into heaven she continued to acquire merits. The privation of the joy of His presence was a slow martyrdom. Though she ardently longed for the moment when she would be forever united to Him, yet, because it was God's will and for the sake of the infant Church, she lovingly accepted this ordeal and thus secured for us merits without number. Furthermore, her acts possessed the greater merit because born of a perfect purity of intention, " My soul doth magnify the Lord,"2 because they were elicited with such fervor that they fully realized God's will: "Behold the handmaid of the Lord: be it done unto me according to thy word;"3 and lastly, because they were performed in a most intimate union with Jesus Christ, the very source of all merit.

No doubt, all these merits were first and foremost for herself, increasing her own treasure of grace and her titles to glory; but because of the part she took in the work of our redemption, she was also found worthy of meriting in our behalf; as St. Bernard says, she who was full of grace poured forth her overflow of grace upon us.4

n1. "Luke," II, 35. n2. "Luke," I, 46. n3. "Luke," I, 48. n4. "In Assumpt.," sermo II, 2.

#159. (3) Mary, an exemplary cause. Next to Jesus Mary is the most beautiful model offered for our imitation. The Holy Ghost who in virtue of her Son's merits lived in her, made her a living image of Christ. Never was she guilty of the least fault, never did she offer the least resistance to grace; on the contrary, she carried out her words to the letter: "Be it done to me according to thy word." The Fathers, therefore, particularly St. Ambrose and Pope St. Liberius, represent her as the finished model of all virtues; "charitable and full of consideration for all who surrounded her, ever ready to serve them, never uttering a word or doing the least that could give pain, she was all-loving and beloved of all."1

It will suffice to note the virtues mentioned in the Gospel: 1) Her deep faith. She unhesitatingly believed the marvels the Angel announced to her from God. For this faith she was praised by St. Elizabeth under the inspiration of the Holy Ghost: " Blessed art thou because thou hast believed."2 2) Her virginity is revealed in her answer to the Angel: "How shall this be done for I know not man?"3 3) Her humility is evidenced by the confusion she experienced at hearing her praises on the lips of the Angel. and by her expressed determination of ever remaining the handmaid of the Lord at that very moment when she was proclaimed Mother of God. It further betrays itself in that ecstatic prayer, the Magnificat, as well as in her love of a hidden life, while as Mother of God she had a right to be honored above all creatures. 4) Her interior recollection whereby she pondered in silence all that concerned her divine Son: "But Mary kept all these words in her heart."4 5) Her love for God and men which caused her to accept willingly all the trials of a long life, especially the immolation of her Son on Calvary and the painful separation from Him from the time of His ascension to the moment of her death.

n1. BAINVEL, "Le Saint Coeur de Marie," p. 313. n2. "Luke," I, 45. n3. "Luke," I, 34. n4. "Luke," II, 19.

#160. This perfect model is also wonderfully attractive. First, Mary is a mere creature as we are, a sister, a mother whom we are drawn to imitate that we may show her our gratitude, our veneration and our love. Then, she is a model easy of imitation in this way that she sanctified herself in the ordinary, everyday life common to most of us, by fulfilling those lowly household duties of a young woman and a mother, leading a hidden, retired life both in joy and in sorrow, in the heights of exaltation and in the deepest humiliations. We are on firm ground when we imitate the Blessed Virgin. It is the best way of imitating Jesus and of obtaining Mary's all-powerful intercession.

#161. (4) Mary, universal Mediatrix of grace. Long ago St. Bernard formulated this doctrine in the well-known text: "It is God's will that we should receive all graces through Mary."1 It is important to determine the precise meaning of these words. It is certain that when Mary gave us Jesus, the Author and Meritorious Cause of grace, she thereby gave us all graces. But we can go further. According to a teaching which, as time goes on, is becoming unanimous,2 men do not receive a single grace which does not come to them immediately through Mary, that is, through her intercession. It is question, therefore, of an immediate and universal mediation, subordinated, however, to that of Jesus.

n1. "Sermo de aquaeductu," n. 7. n2. The proofs for this assertion will be found in Terrien, op. cit., III.

#162. In order to explain more exactly this doctrine we shall quote Father de la Broise:"1 "The actual disposition of the divine decrees ordains that any supernatural favor accorded to men be granted them by the common concord of three wills and in no other way. First of all, by the will of God, the Giver of all graces; then, by the will of Christ, the Mediator who by right of justice has merited and obtained grace; and lastly, by the will of Mary, a secondary mediator who through Jesus Christ has in all equity (de congruo) merited and acquired graces." This mediation is immediate in the sense that for each grace granted to men Mary interposes the good offices of her past merits and of her actual intercession. This by no means implies that the recipient of a grace must of necessity demand it of Mary. She can intervene unasked in our behalf. Her mediation is also universal, that is, it covers all the graces given to men since the fall of Adam. However, it remains always subordinated to the mediation of Jesus; for if Mary can merit and obtain graces, it is solely through the mediation of her divine Son. Thus, Mary's mediation simply emphasizes the import and richness of Christ's own mediation.

This doctrine has been confirmed by an Office and Mass in honor of "Mary Mediatrix," which Pope Benedict XV granted to the dioceses of Belgium and to all the dioceses of the Christian world that should request it.2 The teaching is therefore safe and we can make practical use of it. It can not but inspire us with an immense confidence in Mary.3

n1. "Marie, mere de grace," p. 23-24. n2. Cardinal Mercier by letter of January 23, 1921 makes the fact known to his flock in the following terms: "For years past the Belgian episcopate, the Faculty of Theology of the University of Louvain, all the Religious Orders of the nation, have been addressing their requests to the Sovereign Pontiff to have the title of the Blessed Virgin, "Mediatrix of All Graces", authentically recognized. His Holiness, Benedict XV, has just granted to the churches of Belgium and to all those of the Christian world that will so request, a proper Office and Mass for the thirty-first day of May in honor of Mary Mediatrix." n3. On this subject see: BITTREMIEUX, "De Mediatione Mariae; O'CONNOR, "Our Lady Mediatrix of Graces;" HUSSLEIN, "All Graces through Mary;" and many articles in Catholic Reviews of recent years.


#163. Since Mary plays such an important part in our spiritual life, we must entertain a great devotion to her. Devotion means devotedness, and devotedness means the gift of self. We shall be devoted to Mary, then, if we give ourselves entirely to her and through her to God. In so doing we simply imitate God who gives Himself and His Son to us through Mary. We shall give her our intellect by holding her in most profound reverence, our will by an absolute confidence in her, our heart by the gift of a tender and childlike love; in fine, our whole being by copying as far as possible all her virtues. #164. A) Profound veneration. Veneration for Mary has its foundation in her dignity as Mother of God and in the consequences of this dignity. We can never adequately honor and esteem the one whom the Word-made-Flesh reveres as His Mother, the well-beloved daughter whom the Eternal Father contemplates with loving eye, and whom the Holy Ghost regards as His chosen sanctuary. The Father wishing to associate her so intimately in the work of the Incarnation shows her the utmost respect; He sends her an Angel who hails her full of grace and who awaits her "Fiat". The Son reveres, loves and obeys her as His Mother. The Holy Ghost comes and takes His delight in her. When, therefore, we venerate the Blessed virgin we join with the Three Divine Persons in esteeming what They Themselves esteem.

No doubt, we must not exaggerate or indulge in any excess as regards this devotion to Mary. We must especially avoid anything that might suggest equality of Mary with Almighty God such as making her the source of grace. As long, however, as we see in her but a creature possessed of no grandeur, no holiness, no power save such as her Creator bestowed upon her, there can be no danger of sinning by excess. It is then God Himself whom we honor and venerate in her.

Our veneration for Mary must, moreover, surpass that which we give to the Angels and the Saints, for her dignity as Mother of God, her office of Mediatrix and her exalted holiness place her above all other creatures. Thus the devotion we accord her, although ever remaining what is technically called "cultus duliae" (veneration), that is, the cult that we pay to created beings as distinct from the worship (adoration) which we pay to God alone (cultus latriae), is nevertheless called by theologians " cultus hyperduliae" to show that it transcends the homage we pay to the Angels and the Saints.

#165. B) Absolute confidence. This confidence is founded on two facts: the power and the goodness of Mary a) Her power consists in an efficacious intercession with God, who will not turn a deaf ear to her whom He honors and loves above all creatures. And there is nothing more fitting than this. Mary gave to Jesus His very flesh, that human nature which made it possible for Him to acquire merit; she co-operated with Him by her acts and sufferings in the work of redemption. Is it not, therefore, most fitting that she should have a share in the distribution of the fruits of redemption? Jesus will, indeed, never refuse her requests, and we can say in all truth that Mary is all-powerful in her supplication, "omnipotentia supplex." b) Her goodness is that of a mother who has for us, the members of Christ, the same affection she bears her own Son; that of a mother who having brought us forth in pain and labor during the anguish of Calvary will measure her love for us only by the price of her sacrifice. Hence our trust, our confidence in her must be firm and universal.

1) It must be firm in spite of our miseries and our sins, for Mary is the Mother of mercy, whose business is not justice, but compassion, kindliness, condescension. Knowing as she does that we are ever exposed to the attacks of the world, the flesh and the devil, she takes pity on us who remain her children even when we have sinned. Thus, no sooner do we give the least intimation of good-will, of desire of returning to God, than she accords us a tender welcome; nay, often her thoughtfulness anticipates our prayer and obtains for us those very graces which produce in our souls the first desire of conversion. The Church, well aware of this, has instituted a feast for some dioceses under the title of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, Refuge of Sinners, a title at first strange to our ears, but fully justified in fact, for it is precisely because she is without blemish, because she has never been tainted With the least sin, that she overflows With compassion for her unfortunate children who, unlike her, have not been exempted from the bane of concupiscence.

2) Our confidence in Mary must-also be universal; it must extend to all the graces we need for conversion, for spiritual growth, for final perseverance, for preseveration amidst dangers, trials and difficulties. St. Bernard is never weary of recommending this trust in the Mother of God:1 "When the storm of temptation arises, when you are midst the reefs and shoals of tribulation, fix thy gaze upon the Star of the Sea, call upon Mary. If tossed by the rising tide of pride and ambition, if lost upon the troubled waters of scandal and contention, look then at the Star, invoke her name. Do the billows of anger, of avarice, of lust batter against thy soul, cast thine eyes upon Mary. Does the greatness of thy crime fill thy soul with terror, does thy wretched conscience beat thee down in shame and the fear of judgment paralyze thy heart, then, when about to sink to the depths of despondency, to plunge headlong into despair, then think of Mary. In perils and in sorrows and in fears think of her, call upon her name. Let her name be ever on thy lips and the thought of her be ever in thy heart. Follow her that the power of her intercession may attend thee; imitate her, for in her footsteps thou canst not go astray; call upon her and thou canst not despair; think of her and thou canst not fail. If she holds thee by the hand how canst thou fall! Under her protection thou shalst know no fear; under her guidance thou shalt not falter; under her patronage thou shalt surely reach the goal." Because we ever stand in need of grace to make progress and to conquer our enemies we must time and again have recourse to her who is so fittingly called Our Lady of Perpetual Help and Mother of Divine Grace.

n1. "Homil. II, de Laudibus Virg. Matris," 17.

#166. C) Our confidence in Mary must be accompanied by filial love, a love like the child's, true, frank and tender. Destined by the Almighty to be the Mother of His Son, and therefore favored with whatever is lovable and endearing, she is the most loving of mothers, thoughtful, kind and devoted. Was not her heart created expressly for the one purpose of loving the God-man, her Son, and for loving Him in the most perfect way? Now, this very love she had for her Son she bears also towards us who are His living members, parts of His mystical body. She reveals this love in the mystery of the visitation where she hastens to bring to her cousin, Elizabeth, Him whom she holds in her womb and whose very presence sanctifies the home of Zachary. Again, she shows her tender love for men at the marriage-feast of Cana, where her delicate thoughtfulness pleads with her Son to spare her hosts the shame of humiliation. On Calvary she consents to sacrifice her dearest Possession for our salvation. In the Upper Room where the disciples prepare for the coming of the Holy Spirit, she intercedes in behalf of the Apostles to draw down upon them in a larger measure the precious gifts of the Holy Ghost.

#167. The most lovable as well as the most loving of mothers, she should be also the best loved mother. This is one of her most glorious prerogatives. Wherever Jesus is known and loved, there Mary is also known and loved Although aware of the vast difference between them, we love them both, but in different degrees. Jesus we love with the love that is due the Godhead; Mary we love under God as His Mother, with a tender, generous and devoted love.

We love her with a love of complacency, delighting in her greatness, her virtues and her privileges; meditating frequently on them, admiring them, rejoicing in them, and congratulating her on her exalted perfections. We love her with a love of benevolence; we sincerely long that she be better known and better loved- we pray that her influence over souls be widespread, and to our prayer we join the force of word and action. We love her with a .filial love, with tenderness and without reserve, with all the abandon, with all the unreasoned, whole-hearted devotedness, With that sweet familiarity and respectful intimacy of a child with its mother. We strive to conform our wills in all things to the Will of Mary and thereby to the will of God. In .fact, this union of wills is the genuine mark of friendship.

#168. D) Imitation of Mary is the most pleasing homage we can render her. In this way we proclaim by our deeds by our life, and not merely by our words that we actually regard her as a perfect model for imitation. We have noted above (n. 159) how Mary, a living picture of her Son, is for us an example of all virtues. If to resemble her is to resemble. Jesus, could we do better than to study her virtues, to ponder them and strive to imitate them in our own lives? There is no better way to accomplish this than to perform each of our actions through Mary, with Mary and in Mary.1 Through Mary, asking through her intercession the graces we need in order to imitate her, going through her to Jesus. With Mary, that is to say, considering her as a model and helper, asking ourselves often what Mary would do were she in our place, and humbly begging her to help us to perform our actions according to her will. In Mary, in entire dependence upon our good Mother, taking her point of view, entering into her plans, doing all things as she did them, for God's honor and glory: "My soul doth magnify the Lord."

n1. This was the practice of Father Olier, popularized by Blessed Grignion de Montfort in "True devotion to the Blessed Virgin."

#169. These are the dispositions we must entertain in offering up our prayers in honor of Mary: in reciting the "Hail Mary" and the "Angelus" which bring back to mind the scene of the Annunciation and recall her august title of Mother of God; in saying the "Sub tuum praesidium," an act of confidence in her who shields us from harm, and the "O Domina mea," a full surrender into Mary's hands by which we give her our entire being; in the recitation of the "Rosary," whereby we unite ourselves to her in her joyful, sorrowful and glorious mysteries which render so easy the sanctification of our joys and sorrows in union with her and with Jesus; and lastly, in the recitation of the "Little Office of the Blessed Virgin," which will often remind those who are privileged to say it of the grandeur, the holiness and the sanctifying mission of this good Mother.


#170. Nature and extent of this act. This is an act of devotion which in itself embodies all the others As explained by Blessed Grignion de Montfort it consists m the entire gift of self to Jesus through Mary. It comprises two elements: first, an act of consecration which is to be renewed from time to time, and then an habitual attitude by which we live and act in entire dependence on Mary. "The act of consecration," says Blessed Grignion de Montfort, "consists in giving oneself wholly to Mary and through her to Jesus as her slave. "Let no one be shocked at the word, "slave," which today seems so repugnant to us, but which has no such evil meaning as explained by this servant of God. A mere servant, says he, receives his wages, is ever free to quit his master's service. He gives his labor only, not his person, not his rights, not his goods. A slave, however, freely agrees to work without wages and, trusting to the master that gives him food and shelter, hands himself over to him forever, with all that he is and has, in order to live in entire dependence on the master in the spirit of love.

n1. GRIGNION DE MONTFORT, op. cit.; A. LHOUMEAU, "La Vie spirituelle a l'ecole du B. Grig. de Montfort," 1920, p. 240-427.

#171. Carrying the application of the simile to things spiritual, the perfect servant of Mary gives himself over to her, and through her to Jesus:

a) His body with all its senses, keeping only the use thereof and pledging himself not to employ them except in accordance with the good pleasure of the Blessed virgin or her Son. Moreover, he accepts beforehand the dispositions of Divine Providence as regards sickness and health, life and death.

b) All worldly possessions, using them solely in dependence on Mary, for her honor and the glory of God.

c) His soul with all its faculties, dedicating them under Mary's guidance to the service of God and the good of souls and renouncing at the same time whatever might compromise his sanctification or imperil his salvation.

d) All his interior and spiritual treasures, his merits, the value of his satisfactory acts as well as the impetratory power his good actions may possess. All these are placed in the hands of Mary to the extent in which they can be given over to another. Let us explain this last point:

1) Our merits properly so called (i. e., de condigno) b which we procure for ourselves an increase of grace and glory cannot be given away. When, then, we make a gift of them to Mary it is not in order to apply them to others, but that she might hold them in trust for us and give them increase It is quite otherwise With the merits called "de congruo," which can be offered for others, and these we leave entirely to Mary's free disposition.

2) In the same manner we allow her1 to dispose of and to apply freely the satisfactory value of our acts and the Indulgences we may gain, since these can be given to others.

3) In virtue of our consecration to Mary we cede to her even the impetratory value of our acts, that is to say, of our prayers and our good actions, in so far as they are endowed with such efficacy.

n1. St. THOMAS, "Supplement," q. 13, a. 2.

#172. Once we have made this act of consecration, we can no longer without her permission dispose of the goods we have made over to her. However, we may and at times we should beg her to favor according to her good pleasure those to whom we are bound by special ties and to whom we are under special obligation. The best way, therefore, of harmonizing our gift of self to Mary and our duties to others is to offer up to her all those who are near and dear to us: "I am all Thine, all mine are Thine." Thus the Blessed virgin will draw on what we have given her, but more still on the treasury of her own merits and those of her Son in order to help those we have committed to her care. Our friends, therefore, will lose nothing.

173. Excellence of this act of consecration. It is an act of holy abandonment, of self-surrender, excellent in itself and containing, moreover, acts of the highest virtues: religion, humility and confiding love.

1) It is an act of religion toward God, the Word-made Flesh, and Mary, the Mother of God. By it we acknowledge God's sovereign dominion and our own nothingness, and proclaim with heart and soul those rights over us which God has given Mary.

2) It is an act of humility, for by it we acknowledge our nothingness and our helplessness. We divest ourselves of everything that we have received from God and restore all to the Giver through the hands of her from whom, under Him and through Him, we have obtained every good gift.

3) It is an act of confiding love, for love consists in the gift of self; and to give oneself entirely and unreservedly presupposes absolute trust and living faith.

It may be said that this consecration if rightly made, and frequently and earnestly renewed, is even of greater worth than the heroic act by which we give up but the satisfactory value of our acts and the indulgences we may gain.

#174. Fruits of this act of consecration. They come from its very nature. 1) By this act we glorify God and Mary in an unparalleled manner: we give ourselves to God forever, with all that we are and all that we have, without measure or stint, and we do so after the manner of Divine Wisdom, that is, returning to God in the very way He chose to come to us, and hence, in the way that is most pleasing to him.

#175. 2) We thereby also insure our individual sanctification. Mary cannot but minister unto the sanctification of those who, having disposed of their persons and goods in her behalf, are, so to say, her own property. She will most assuredly secure for us choice graces to safeguard our little spiritual treasure, to make it grow and have it bring forth fruit in season until the hour of death. She will help us through her superabundant merits and satisfactions and through her powerful intercession with God.

3) A third fruit of this consecration to Mary is the sanctification of our neighbor. This is true especially of the souls entrusted to us. They are certain to gain by our gift. We can be sure that when we leave the apportioning of our merits to Mary's good-pleasure, everything will be done with greater wisdom. She is by far more prudent than we are, more thoughtful and more devoted. Consequently our friends and relatives can only be the gainers.

176. It may be objected that by such an act we alienate all our spiritual goods, above all, our satisfactions and the indulgences and prayers that would be offered up for us, thus rendering our purgatory all the longer. In itself this is true; however, it resolves itself into a question of trust Do we rely more on Mary than on ourselves or our friends? If we do, let us have no misgivings, for she will care for our souls and further our interests far better than we could ever do ourselves. If we do not, then let us refrain from making this act of complete consecration for we might regret it before long. In any event one should not make this act of consecration without reflection and advice.

II. The Share of the Saints in the Christian Life

#177. By their powerful intercession and by their noble example, the Saints in their blessed possession of God minister to our sanctification and help us to progress in the practice of the Christian virtues. Hence, we should venerate, invoke and imitate them.

#178. (1) We should venerate them. All the good they possess is the work of God and His Divine Son. As mere natural beings they are so many reflections of the divine perfections. Their supernatural qualities are the work of that divine grace Which Jesus merited for them. Even their meritorious acts, while being their own in the sense that their free will co-operated With Almighty God, are none the less the precious gift of the Divine Goodness who is ever their first and efficacious cause: "Thou dost but crown Thy gifts when Thou crownest our merits."1 When, therefore, we pay the Saints the homage of our veneration it is God and His Son, Jesus, whom we really honor and revere in them.

We venerate these Blessed Ones as: a) the living sanctuaries of the Triune God who has deigned to dwell in them, to adorn their souls with virtues and with gifts, to prompt their faculties to action and cause them to elicit meritorious acts, and to grant them at last the crowning grace of perseverance to the end. b) We honor them as the adopted and well-beloved children of the Father, who surrounded by His paternal care knew how to respond to His love and to grow more like Him in holiness and perfection. C) We hail them as the brethren of Christ, the faithful members of His mystical body, who drew from Him their spiritual life and cultivated it in abiding love. d) We revere them as temples of the Holy Ghost, as His docile servants, who allowed His inspirations to be their guide rather than blindly follow the bent of a corrupted nature. Father Olier aptly expresses these thoughts: "You will be able to adore with the most profound veneration this life of God communicated to His Saints; you will honor Jesus Christ who animates them all and who through His divine Spirit makes them all one in Himself. It is Jesus Christ Himself who proclaims in them the glory of God; it is He who puts upon their lips their canticles of praise; it is He through whom the sainted glorify God now and through all eternity."2

n1. "Coronando merita coronas et dona tus." St. Augustine. n2. "Pensees choisies," by G. LETOURNEAU, p. 181-182.

179. (2) We should invoke the Saints in order to obtain through their powerful intercession the graces we need. True, the mediation of Jesus Christ alone is necessary and all-sufficient in itself; however, because of the very fact that the Saints are members of the risen Christ, their prayers are united to His. Thus, the whole mystical body of the Savior prays, and with its entreaties it does sweet violence to the heart of God. When, therefore, we pray in union with the Saints we join our petitions to those of Christ's mystical body and thereby insure their efficacy. Moreover, the Saints are glad to intercede in our behalf: "They love us as brothers born of the same Father and they have compassion for us. Seeing our plight and remembering that it once was theirs, they behold in us souls who like themselves ought to contribute to Christ's glory. What joy must they not experience in finding souls to join them in glorifying God!"1 Their goodness and their power must inspire us with full confidence in them.

We are to invoke them especially on their feast-days. Thus we shall enter into the spirit of the liturgy of the Church, and share in the particular virtues practiced by the different Saints.

n1. FATHER OLIER, "Pensees choisies," p. 176.

#180. (3) Lastly and above all, we should imitate the virtues of the Saints. Each one of them strove to reproduce the divine model and each one can address us in the words of St. Paul: " Be ye followers of me, as I also am of Christ."1 In most cases, however, the Saints have cultivated a special virtue which is, so to speak, their characteristic trait. Some have directed their efforts chiefly toward the cultivation of the spirit of faith, hope or charity; others have centered them round the spirit of sacrifice, humility or poverty; others, again, have excelled in the exercise of prudence, fortitude or chastity. We can beg of them their distinctive virtues with the assurance that they have a special power to obtain them for us.

n1. "I Cor.," IV, 16.

#181. This is the reason why we should be specially devoted to those Saints who lived in conditions similar to our own, who discharged the same duties that we must perform and who practiced the virtues that we need most.

We should also have a special devotion to our patron Saints, seeing in the choice made of them on our behalf a providential arrangement. Still, if for special reasons the movements of grace draw us to some other Saints whose virtues correspond better to the needs of our souls, there can be no objection to our cultivating devotion to them.

182. Thus understood, devotion to the Saints is most useful to us. The example of men with the same passions as we have, who, tried by the same temptations, have won the victory with the help of the same graces that are accorded us, is a powerful incentive to make us ashamed of our faintheartedness and to strengthen in us the determination to put forth the efforts constantly required for the accomplishment of our resolutions. We thus naturally apply to ourselves the words of St. Augustine: "Canst thou not do what these have done?"1

n1. "Tu non poteris quod isti, quod istae? "Confessions," VIII, c. II.

III The Share of the Angels in the Christian Life

The part of the Angels in the Christian life has its origin in the relations they have with God and with Jesus Christ.

183. (1) First of all, the Angels show forth God's greatness and perfection. "Each symbolizes individually some attribute or other of that infinite Being. In some we see His power, in others His love, in others His strength. Each is a reproduction of some beauty of the divine Original; each adores Him and glorifies Him in the perfection it portrays."1 It is God, then, whom we honor in the Angels. They are like mirrors reflecting the perfections of their infinite Creator.2 Raised to the supernatural order, they share in the life of God; and victorious in trial, they enjoy the Beatific vision: "Their angels in heaven always see the face of my Father who is in heaven."3

n1. OLIER, "Pensees choisies," p. 158. n2. Ibid., p. 164. n3. "Matth., XVIII, 10.

#184. (2) If we consider their relations with Jesus Christ, it may not appear absolutely certain that they hold their grace from Him; but this much does appear with certainty, that in heaven they unite themselves with Him, the Mediator of all religion, in order to adore, praise and glorify the Majesty of the Most High. It is their bliss to add in this wise a greater worth to their worship: "Through whom the Angels praise, the Dominations adore and the Powers hold in awe Thy Majesty."1 Hence, when we unite ourselves to Jesus Christ to adore God we join at the same time with the Angels and Saints in a heavenly harmony which renders the praise of the Godhead still more perfect. We can well make our own the words of Father Olier: "May all the Angelic Host, the mighty Powers that move the spheres of heaven, forever pour forth in Jesus Christ whatever be wanting to our song of praise. May they forever thank Thee, Lord, for all those gifts both of nature and of grace which from the goodness of Thy hand we all receive."2

n1. "Preface," Roman Missal. n2. "Pensees choisies," p. 169.

#185. (3) From this twofold consideration it follows that they have at heart our sanctification. since we share with them in the divine life, and since we are like them the religious of God in Christ Jesus, they long for our salvation that we may join them in glorifying God and in enjoying the Beatific vision. a) Thus it is with joy that they accept those God-given missions to minister to our sanctification. The Psalmist says that God has entrusted the just man to their care that they may guard him in his way: "For he hath given his Angels charge over thee to keep thee in all thy ways."1 St. Paul adds that the Angels are in God's service as servants to minister unto the welfare of the heirs of salvation: "Are they not all ministering spirits, sent to minister for them who shall receive the inheritance of salvation?"2

In fact, they burn with the desire of rallying elect souls to fill the vacant thrones of fallen angels, and to glorify and adore the Almighty in their stead. victors over demons, they ask but to shield us from the perfidious enemies of our souls. It is our part to ask their timely assistance in order to repel the assaults of Satan. b) They present our prayers to the Most High3 by joining their own supplications to our requests. It is, therefore, to our advantage to call upon them, especially in the hour of trial, and above all, at the hour of death, that they may defend us from the attacks of our enemies and conduct our souls to Paradise.4

n1. "Ps, XC", 11-12. n2. "Heb.," I, 14. n3. "Tob.," XII, 12. n4. That the Angels conduct our souls to heaven is a traditional doctrine, as is shown by DOM LECLERCQ, "Dict. d'Archeol., Les Anges psychagogues," I col. 2121.

#186. The Guardian Angels. Some among the Angels are commissioned with the care of individual souls: these are the Guardian Angels. This is the traditional doctrine of the Fathers, based upon scriptural texts and supported by solid reasons. It has been confirmed by the Church in the institution of a feast in honor of the Guardian Angels. The reasons that support this doctrine flow from our relationship to God, for we are His children, members of Jesus Christ and temples of the Holy Ghost. "Because we are His children," says Father Olier,1 "He appoints to us as tutors the princes of His realm, who hold it an honor to have us in their charge. Because we are His members, He wills that those very spirits that minister unto Him be also at our side to render us their services. Because we are His temples in which He Himself dwells, He wills that Angels hover about us as they do about our churches, so that bowed down in worship before Him they may offer a perpetual homage to His glory, supplying for our neglect and making reparation- for our irreverence." Father Olier goes on to say that God wishes to unite intimately through the agency of His Angels the Church Triumphant and the Church Militant: " He sends this mysterious host of Angels in order that they may by uniting themselves to us and binding us to themselves form one body of the Church of heaven and the Church of earth.

n1. "Pensees," p. 171-172.

187. Our Guardian Angel keeps us in constant touch with heaven. To derive full profit from his guardianship we can do no better than direct our thoughts frequently to our Guardian Angel, making him the object of our veneration, our confidence and our love.

a) We venerate him by hailing him as one of those privileged beings who ever see the face of God and who are to us the representatives of our Heavenly Father. Therefore, we should do nothing that could displease or sadden our Angel; on the contrary, we must strive to give him proof of our respect by emulating his fidelity and loyalty in God's service. This is, indeed, the most touching way in which can attest our esteem for him. b) We show him our confidence, by bearing in mind the mighty protection he furnishes us and his unfailing goodness towards us, his God-given charges. since he is a master in foiling the wiles of the devil, we should invoke him especially when we are assailed by this treacherous foe and in all dangerous occasions in which his foresight and his adroitness will be of great help. We should likewise call for his assistance when determining our vocation, for he better than any other will know the providential designs of God in our regard. Finally, in all important affairs with others it is well to address ourselves to their Guardian Angels that these persons may be well-disposed towards the mission we are about to discharge in their behalf. c) We manifest to our Guardian Angel our love by reflecting that he has ever been and is still our devoted friend, ever ready to render us services the extent and import of which we shall realize only in heaven. By faith, however, we can even now understand, though only imperfectly, something of his good offices toward us, and this suffices to call forth our gratitude and our love. When loneliness weighs heavily upon us, let us remember that we are not alone, that near us hovers a friend, devoted and generous, upon whom we can lean and with whom we can hold familiar converse. Let us bear in mind that honoring our Guardian Angel we honor God Himself whom our Angel represents here below, and let us often unite ourselves to him ill order to give greater glory to God.


188. God, then, has a vast share in the work of our sanctification. He comes to dwell in our souls in order to give Himself to us and to sanctify us. To impart to us the power to rise up to Him, He endows us with a supernatural organism composed of habitual grace, the virtues and the gifts. Habitual grace penetrates the very substance of the soul, thus transforming it and making it Godlike. The virtues and the gifts perfect our faculties and enable them with the help of actual grace to elicit supernatural acts that merit eternal life.

#189. God's love does not stop here. He also sends His Only-Begotten Son, who, becoming one of us, becomes likewise the perfect exemplar, our guide in the practice of those virtues that lead to perfection and ultimately to heaven. The Son of God merits for us the grace necessary to follow in His footsteps in spite of the difficulties that we find within ourselves and all about us. In order to win us over to Himself He incorporates us into Himself, imparting to us through His Divine Spirit that life which is His in all its fullness. Through this incorporation He gives to the least of our actions an immeasurable value, for, we being made one with Him, our actions share in the value of His own actions. With Him, then, and through Him we can give adequate glory to God Almighty, obtain new graces, and become more and more like our Heavenly Father by reproducing in ourselves His divine perfections.

Mary, being the Mother of Jesus and His co-worker, though in a secondary manner, in the work of the Redemption, co-operates in the distribution of the graces Christ merited for us. Through her we go to Him and through her we ask for grace. We venerate and love her as a Mother and strive to imitate her virtues.

Lastly, Jesus, being the Head not only of mankind, but also of the Angels and the Saints, places at our service their powerful assistance as a protection against the attacks of the Evil One and as a safeguard against the weaknesses of our own nature. Their example and their intercession are for us a tower of strength.

What more could God actually do for us? If He has given Himself to us so prodigally, to what lengths should we not go to return His love? to what extent should we not be ready to spend ourselves to promote the growth of that divine life Which He has so generously shared with us?


190, It is clear that, if God has done so much to have us share in His own life, we must in turn respond to His advances, gratefully accept His gift, cherish and foster it in our souls and thus prepare ourselves for that eternal bliss which will crown the efforts we shall have made on earth. This is for us a duty of gratitude. Indeed, the most telling way in which we can show our appreciation of a gift is to use it for the purpose for which it was given. Our spiritual welfare itself demands that we make such a return, for Almighty God will reward us according to our merits, and our glory in heaven will correspond to the degree of grace we shall have acquired by good works: "Every man shall receive his own reward, according to his labor."1 On the other hand, God owes it to Himself to punish with due severity those who willfully scorn His divine gifts and abuse His grace. The Apostle tells us: "For the earth, that drinketh in the rain which cometh often upon it, and bringeth forth herbs meet for them by whom it is tilled, receiveth blessing from God. But that which bringeth forth thorns and briers, is reprobate, and very near unto a curse, whose end is to be burnt."2 God made us free beings and He respects our freedom; He will not sanctify us in spite of ourselves. But He never wearies of urging us to make the right use of the graces He has so liberally dispensed to us: "And we helping do exhort you that you receive not the grace of God in vain."3

n1. "I Cor.," 8. n2. "Hebr.," VI, 7-8. n3. "II Cor.," VI, I.

#191. In order to correspond with this grace we must first of all practice the great devotions of which we have spoken in the preceding article: devotion to the Most Blessed Trinity, to the Incarnate Word, to the Blessed virgin, the Saints and the Angels. Herein we shall find the most powerful motives for giving ourselves entirely to God, doing so in union with Jesus and under the protection of our mighty intercessors. In these devotions we shall also find models of sanctity to point out the way for us; nay more, we shall find supernatural forces that will enable us to realize more fully day by day the ideal of perfection proposed for our imitation.

In explaining these devotions we have followed the ontological order, arranging them according to their intrinsic excellence. In practice, however, it is seldom that we begin with devotion to the Most Blessed Trinity, but rather we generally begin with devotion to our Blessed Lord and our Blessed Lady and then gradually rise to the Holy Trinity itself.

#192. But we must do more than this. We must make use of the supernatural organism wherewith we are endowed and develop it notwithstanding the obstacles to its growth encountered within our own selves and all about us. (1) First of all, since the threefold concupiscence is an ever-abiding foe, which spurred on by the world and the devil, inclines us perpetually towards evil, we must relentlessly combat it and its lusty allies. (2) We are to multiply our merits, since the supernatural organism of which we have spoken is given us for the purpose of producing Godlike acts, acts worthy of eternal life. (3) Because it has pleased Divine Goodness to institute sacraments productive of grace in proportion to our co-operation, we should approach them with the most perfect dispositions. In this manner we shall preserve in us the life of grace; nay, we shall make it grow more and more.

[I]. The Fight against Our Spiritual Enemies

These enemies are concupiscence, the world and the devil. Concupiscence is the foe we carry within us. The world and the devil are the foes from without that feed the fires of concupiscence and fan its flames.

I. The fight against Concupiscence

Saint John describes concupiscence in his well-known text: "For all that is in the world is the concupiscence of flesh and the concupiscence of the eyes and the pride of life."1

n1. "I John," II, 16.


#193. The concupiscence of the Flesh is the inordinate love of sensual pleasures.

A) The evil of Concupiscence. Pleasure in itself is not evil, God allows it when directed toward a higher end, that is, toward moral good. If He has attached pleasure to certain good acts, it is in order to facilitate their accomplishment and to draw us on to the fulfillment of duty The moderate enjoyment of pleasure, if referred to its end --moral and supernatural good --is not an evil. In fact, it is a good act, for it tends towards a good end which is ultimately God Himself. But to will pleasure without any reference to the end that makes it lawful, that is, to will pleasure as an end in itself and as an ultimate end, is a moral disorder, for it is going counter to the wisdom of a God-established order. Such disorder leads to further evil, because when one's sole motive of action is pleasure, one is exposed to love pleasure to excess; one is no longer guided by an end which raises its barriers against that immoderate thirst for enjoyment which exists in all of us.

#194. Thus, God in His wisdom willed to attach a certain enjoyment to the act of eating, to offer us an incentive towards sustaining our bodily forces. But, as Bossuet. remarks, "Ungrateful and sensual men use this enjoyment rather to serve their own bodies than to serve Almighty God... The pleasure of eating enslaves them, and instead of eating in order to live they live rather in order to eat. Even those who know how to curb their desires and who are guided in taking their meals by the needs of the body, are often deceived by pleasure and taken in by its allurement; they soon go beyond due measure; they gradually come to indulge their appetite and do not consider their needs satisfied, so long as food and drink gratify their palate."1 Hence, excesses in eating and drinking. What shall we say of the still more dangerous pleasures of lust, "of that deep-rooted and unsightly sore of human nature, of that concupiscence that binds the soul to the body with ties at once so tender, so strong, so difficult to break; of that lust which brings down upon the human race such frightful disorders?"2

n1. "Tr. de la Concupiscence," C. IV. n2. Ibid., C.V.

#195 . Sensual pleasure is all the more dangerous as the entire body is inclined to it. Our sight is infected by it, for is it not through the eyes that one begins to drink in the poison of sensual love? Our ears are a prey to the contagion; a suggestive word, a lascivious song enkindles the fire, fans the flames of an impure love and excites our hidden tendencies to sensual joys. The same is true of the other senses. And what heightens the danger is that these sensual pleasures act as stimulants one to the other. When those enjoyments which we fancy the most innocent, will, unless we are ever on the alert, lead on to guilty pleasures. The body itself labors under a softening languor, a delicate and responsive sensitiveness that craves relaxation through the senses, quickens them and whets the keenness of their ardor. Man so cherishes his body that he forgets his soul. Over-solicitous for his health, he is led to pamper the body at every turn. All these sensual cravings are but the branches of the same tree, the concupiscence of the flesh.1

n1. In this paragraph we merely give a summary of the fifth chapter of Bossuet's "Treatise on Concupiscence."

#196. B) The remedy for this great evil is found in the mortification of the senses. As St. Paul tells us, "They that are Christ's have crucified their flesh, with the vices and concupiscences."1 But to crucify the flesh, according to Father Olier, " is to fetter, to smother all the impure and inordinate desires we feel in our flesh."2 To crucify the flesh is likewise to mortify our exterior senses, those channels that put us in contact with things about us and stir within us dangerous desires. The motive, at bottom, giving rise to the obligation of practicing this mortification, is none other than our baptismal vow.

n1. "Gal.," V, 24. n2. "Cat. for an Int. Life," Part. I, lesson 5.

#197. Baptism, by which we die to sin and are made one body with Christ, obliges us to mortify in ourselves all sensual pleasure. "According to St. Paul, we are no longer debtors to the flesh that we should live according to the flesh, but we are bound to live according to the spirit. If we live by the spirit let us walk according to the spirit which has written in our hearts the law of the Cross and has given us the strength to carry it."1 The symbolism of baptism by immersion (the more common way of administering baptism in Apostolic times and in the early centuries) teaches us the truth of this doctrine. The catechumen is plunged into the water and there he dies to sin and the causes of sin. Coming out he shares in a new life, the life of the Risen Christ. This is St. Paul's teaching: "We that are dead to sin, how shall we live any longer therein? Know you not that all we who are baptized in Christ Jesus are baptized in His death? For we are buried together with Him by baptism into death: that as Christ is risen from the dead by the glory of the Father, so we also may walk in the newness of life."2 Thus, the baptismal immersion represents death to sin and to the concupiscence which leads to sin. The coming out of the baptismal waters typifies that newness of life through which we are made sharers in the risen life of the Savior.3

Hence, our baptism obliges us to mortify the concupiscence that remains in us and to imitate our Lord who by the crucifixion of His flesh merited for us the grace of crucifying our own. The nails wherewith we crucify it are the various acts of mortification we perform.

This obligation of mortifying our love for pleasure so imposes itself upon us that our spiritual life and our salvation depend upon it. "For if you live according to the flesh, you shall die: but if by the spirit you mortify the deeds of the flesh, you shall live."4

n1. Ibid., lesson 5. n2. "Rom.," VI, 2-4. n3. "It does not alter the thought of the Apostle to express it in the following theological language: The Sacraments are efficacious signs which produce "ex opere operato" the effects which they signify. Now, baptism represents sacramentally death and the life of Christ. It follow that it causes in us a death, mystical in its essence, but real in its effects; a death to sin, to the flesh, to the old Adam; and a life in agreement with that of the Risen Christ." (Cf. PRAT, "The Theology of St. Paul," II Book 5, C. 2.) n4. "Rom.," VIII, 13.

#198. In order to obtain a complete victory, it does not suffice to renounce evil pleasures (this we are strictly bound to do), but we must, in order to be on the safe side, sacrifice all dangerous ones, for these almost invariably lead us to sin: "He who loves danger shall perish in it."1 Besides, we must deprive ourselves of some lawful pleasures in order to strengthen our wills against the lure of forbidden ones. In fact, whoever indulges without restraint in all lawful pleasures, is in proximate danger of falling into those that are sinful.

n1. "Eccli.," III, 27.


#199. A) The evil. The concupiscence of the eyes comprises two things: all unwholesome curiosity and inordinate love of the goods of this world.

a) The curiosity of which we speak consists in an excessive desire to see, to hear, to know what goes on in the world, the secret intrigues that are woven there; not in order to derive any spiritual profit therefrom, but to indulge our craving for frivolous knowledge. Nor is this curiosity confined to present-day happenings; it may cover the events of past centuries, as when we delve into the history of bygone days to seek not what will be a wholesome inspiration but what may please our fancy. A special object of this curiosity is the pseudo-science of divination whereby men make bold to peer into things hidden and into events to come, the knowledge of which God has reserved to Himself. This phase of curiosity "constitutes an aggression upon the rights of God Almighty and an attempt to wreck the confidence and trust wherewith man should abandon himself to his Providence."1 Furthermore, this curiosity extends to true and useful science when men give themselves over to its pursuit without moderation or to the detriment of higher duties. Such is the case of those who read indiscriminately every kind of novel, play or poetry, "for all this is nothing less than an excess, a morbid disposition of the soul, the shriveling up of the heart, a miserable bondage allowing us no leisure to turn our thoughts upon ourselves, and a source of error. "2

n1. BOSSUET, l. c., C. 8. n2. BOSSUET, l. c.

#200. b) The second form of the concupiscence of the eyes is the inordinate love of money, regarded either as a means for the acquisition of other goods such as honors or pleasure, or considered as an object of attachment in itself an object which we delight to see and finger and in which we find a certain sense of security for the future. The latter is avarice properly so-called. Both expose us to the commission of numberless sins, for cupidity is the prolific source of all kinds of fraud and injustice.

#201. B) The remedy. a) To combat vain curiosity we must recall to mind that whatever is not eternal is not worthy of winning and captivating the thought of immortal beings such as we are. "The fashion of this world passeth away";1 but one thing abideth, God and the possession of God, which is heaven. We must, therefore, heed only what is eternal, "for whatever is not eternal is as nothing." No doubt, present-day events as well as those of the past may and ought to engage our interest, yet only in so far as they contribute to the glory of God and the salvation of men. When God created this world and all that exists He had but one end in view, to communicate His divine life to those creatures He had endowed with intelligence--angels and men--and to recruit His Elect. All else is secondary and should not be made the subject of our study, save as a means of leading us to God.

n1. "I Cor.," VII, 31.

#202. b) As regards inordinate love of the goods of this world, we must bear in mind that wealth is not an end in itself, but the means given by Providence to minister to our needs. God ever retains the supreme dominion over all things, and we are but stewards who shall have to render an account of the use we have made of our temporal possessions "Give an account of thy stewardship."1 It is wise, then, to give a large portion of what is over and above our needs in almsgiving and other good works. This is in truth to enter into the designs of God who wills that the rich be, so to speak, the treasurers of the poor; it is to make in the bank of heaven a deposit which will be returned to us with a hundredfold interest upon our entrance into eternity. "Lay up to yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither the rust nor the moth doth consume, and where thieves do not break through or steal."2 This is the way to detach our hearts from earthly goods so as to raise them to God; for as our Lord adds: "Where thy treasure is, there is thy heart also."3 Let us then seek first the kingdom of God, holiness, and all other things shall be added unto us.

If we would be perfect we must go further and practice evangelical poverty. "Blessed are the poor in spirit."4 This may be achieved in three ways according to our attractions and opportunities: 1) by selling all our goods and giving the proceeds to the poor. "Sell what you possess and give alms."5 2) By having all things in common, as is done in religious communities. 3) By renouncing the right of using the capital which we retain refraining, for instance, from making any outlay not sanctioned by a prudent spiritual director.6

n1. "Luke," XVI, 2. n2. "Matth.," VI, 21. n3. "Matth.," V, 3. n4. "Matth.," XIX, 21. n5. "Luke," XII, 23, XVIII, 22, "Matth.," XIX, 21. n6. OLIER, "Introd.," C. XI; "Chevrier, Le veritable disciple," p. 248-267.

#203. Whichever way is adopted, the heart must be freed from its attachment to riches if it would take its flight towards God. This is what Bossuet urges: "Happy they who in the lowly seclusion of God's house delight in the bareness of their narrow cells, in the beggarly appointments that satisfy their wants in this earthly existence--a shadow of death--there to gaze solely upon their weakness and the heavy, oppressing yoke of sin. Happy those consecrated virgins who no longer seek to appear before the world and who would fain hide themselves from their own eyes beneath the sacred veil that shrouds their form! Blessed that sweet restraint wherewith we guard our eyes lest they light upon vain things, the while we say with David: " Turn away mine eyes, that they may not behold vanity."1 Happy those who, living in the world according to their state of life, remain undefiled and unfettered,... those who can say with Queen Esther: "Thou knowest, O Lord, how I scorn this emblem of pride (her crown); how I abhor the glory of the wicked and ungodly; how thy handmaid hath never rejoiced save in thee, O Lord God of Israel.2

n1. "Ps. CXIII," 37. n2. "Esth.," XIV, 15-18.


204. A) The evil. "Pride," says Bossuet, "is a profound depravity; it is the worship of self; man becomes his own god through excessive self-love."1 Forgetful that God is his first beginning and his last end, he overrates himself; he considers himself the sovereign lord and master of those qualities, real or imaginary, which he possesses without referring them to God. From this arises that spirit of independence, of self-sufficiency, that finally brings man to renounce allegiance to God and His representatives on earth. Hence, also,, that egotism which prompts him to do everything for self as though he were himself his last end; that vain complacency in his own excellence as though God were not its source; that conceit in his good works as though they were not above all the result of God's action on the soul. Hence, again, the tendency to exaggerate the good qualities he possesses, and to attribute to himself others that he lacks. Hence, too, the disposition to prefer self to others and at times, like the Pharisee, to despise others.

n1. L.C., C. X, XXIII.

#205. This pride is accompanied by vanity, which seeks inordinately the esteem, the approbation, the praise of men. It is called vainglory, for, as Bossuet points out, " if it be but an empty or undeserved applause, what an absurdity to delight in it! If it be genuine, why the further folly of rejoicing less at truth itself than at the tribute paid to it?"1 A paradox, indeed, that one should be more solicitous for the esteem of men than for virtue itself, that man should find cause for greater humiliation in a blunder committed in the sight of all than in a real fault committed in secret! This failing once yielded to is not slow in bringing others in its wake. It gives rise to boasting, to speaking of self and one's achievements; to ostentation which courts the public eye with finery and display; to hypocrisy which makes a show of virtue while careless about its practice.

n1. "Tr. de la Concupiscence," C. XVII.

#206. The effects of pride are deplorable. This vice is the arch-enemy of perfection. 1) It robs God of the glory due Him and thereby deprives us of many graces and merits, since God can not allow Himself to be made an accomplice in our pride: "God resisteth the proud."1 2) It is the source of many sins, such as sins of presumption which are punished by lamentable falls and enslavement to shameful vices; sins of discouragement at seeing oneself fallen so low; sins of dissimulation because of the hardship of confessing certain sins; sins of resistance to superiors, of envy and jealousy towards the neighbor, etc.

n1. "James, IV, 6.

207. B) The remedy consists: a) in referring all to God, recognizing that He is the author of all good and that, being the .first principle of all our actions, He must be likewise their last end. This is what St. Paul means when he asks: "What hast thou that thou hast not received? And if thou hast received it, why dost thou glory, as if thou hadst not received it?"1 From this he concludes that all our actions must tend to the glory of God: "Therefore, whether you eat or drink, or whatsoever else you do, do all to the glory of God."2 In order to give these actions greater value, let us be mindful of doing them in the name and through the merits of our Lord Jesus Christ: "All whatsoever you do in word or in work, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, giving thanks to God and the Father by him."3

n1. "I Cor., IV, 7. n2. "I Cor.," X, 31. n3. "Coloc.," III, 17.

#208. b) since, however, our nature inclines us to self-seeking, we must, in order to react against this tendency, remember that of ourselves we are but nothingness and sin. No doubt, there are in us good qualities, natural and supernatural, which we are to hold in high regard and which we must cultivate; but coming as they do from God, is it not to Him that the glory is due? When an artist creates a masterpiece, it is he and not the canvass that is to be praised.

Of ourselves we are mere nothingness. "This is," says Father Olier, "what we have been from all eternity; the being wherewith God has clothed us is of His creation and not of ours; and whatsoever He has given us remains His own property by which He wills to be honored."1

Again, of ourselves we are but sin in the sense that by concupiscence we tend to sin; so much so that, according to St. Augustine, if we do not fall into certain sins we owe it to the grace of God. "To Thy grace it is due that some evil I left undone. For what might I not have done, seeing that I loved even fruitless misdoing."2 Father Olier thus explains this doctrine: "This I can say about it: there is no conceivable sin, no imperfection or disorder, no blight of error, no confusion with which our flesh is not teeming. Likewise, there is no fickleness, no folly, no stupidity of which mortal flesh is not capable at any moment."3 Assuredly, our nature is not totally corrupt, as Luther affirmed. With God's concurrence, natural and supernatural,4 it is capable of some good, even of a great deal of good, as is evident in the case of the Saints. But since God is ever the first and principal cause of this good, it is to Him that thanks must be given.

n1. "Cat. for an Int. Life," Part I., lesson 15. n2. "Confessions," ii, C. 7. n3. "Catechism," P. I, lesson 17. n4. Theology teaches (Syn. theol. dog.," III. n. 72-91) that fallen man can do some good in the natural order with the mere natural concurrence of God; but that in order to observe the whole of the natural law and repulse all grievous temptations, a preternatural or supernatural help is needed.

#209. We conclude with Bossuet:. "Trust not overmuch in thyself, for this is the beginning of sin. Covet not the glory of men, for having received thy reward only torments shall await thee. Glory not in thine own self, for whatsoever of thy good works thou dost attribute to thyself, thou takest away from God, its author, and thou placest thyself in His stead. Shake not off the yoke of God's law; say not to thyself with the haughtiness of the proud: I shall not serve; for if thou servest not unto justice, thou shalt be the slave of sin and the child of death. Say not: I am not unclean, and reckon not that God has forgotten thy sins because thou thyself rememberest them no more, for the Lord shall rouse thee saying: See, look at thy paths in that vale obscure. I have followed thee along thy ways. I have counted thy steps. Resist not the counsel of the wise and be not angry at correction; for this is the consummation of pride, to rebel against the truth itself when it reproves thee, to kick against the goad."1 If we follow this advice we shall be stronger in our fight against the world, the second of our spiritual enemies.

n1. "Tr. de la Concup.," C. XXXI.

II. The Fight against the World1

210. The world we speak of here is not the total aggregate of men upon the earth, among whom are found both choice souls and irreligious men; but the sum-total of those who oppose Jesus Christ and are the slaves of the threefold concupiscence. These are: 1) unbelievers, hostile to religion, precisely because it condemns their pride, their love of pleasure, their lust for riches; 2) the indifferent, who do not want a religion that would stir them out of their apathy; 3) hardened sinners, who love sin because they love pleasure and are loath to part with it; 4) worldlings, who believe and even practice their religion, yet, combine with it the love of pleasure, of luxury and of ease, and who not unfrequently scandalize their neighbor by giving them occasion to say that religion has but little influence on morals. This is the world .which Jesus cursed because of its scandals: "Woe to the world because of scandals!"1 Of this world St. John says: "The whole world is seated in wickedness."2

n1. Meyer, "The World in Which We Live." n2. "Matth.," XVIII, 7. n3. "I John," V, 19.

#211. (1) The dangers of the world. The world which through visits, letters and worldly literature worms its way into the heart of Christian families, even into religious communities, constitutes a great obstacle to the attainment of salvation and perfection. It stirs up and feeds the fire of concupiscence; it seduces and terrorizes us.

212. A) It seduces us with its maxims, with the show of its vanities and with its perverse examples.

a) It holds up maxims directly opposed to those of the Gospel. It actually extols the happiness of the wealthy, of the powerful, of the ruthless, of the upstart, of the ambitious, of all those who know how to enjoy life. On the lips of worldlings is ever the cry: "Let us crown ourselves with roses before they wither."1 Must not youth have its day, must not each live his life to the full? Many others do this and Almighty God can not damn all mankind. One has to make a living, and were one to be scrupulous in business one could never become wealthy.

b) The world seduces us with the show of its vanities and pleasures. Most worldly gatherings cater to curiosity, to sensuality, and even to lust. Vice is made attractive by being concealed beneath the guise of what are called "innocent fashions and amusements," but which are none the less fraught with danger. Such are, for instance, immodest dress and immodest dances, especially such as seem to have no other purpose than to occasion wanton looks and gestures. What must be said of most theatrical performances, of public entertainments, of the lewd literature that one encounters at every turn?

c) The world seduces us with its evil examples. At the sight of so many youths living solely for pleasure, of so many men and women who make light of their marriage vows, of so many business-men who do not scruple to enrich themselves by questionable means, the temptation to follow suit is, indeed, very strong. Moreover, the world is so tolerant of human weaknesses that it actually seems to encourage them. A home-breaker is considered a sportsman; the financier, the business-man who amasses his wealth dishonestly is called a clever fellow; the free-thinker is considered a broad-minded man who follows the light of his conscience. How many men are thus encouraged to lead a life of sin!

n1. "Wisdom," II, 8.

#213. B) When the world fails to seduce us it attempts to terrorize us.

a) At times this takes the form of an actual, organized persecution against the faithful. Those that make public profession of their faith or send their children to the Catholic school are denied promotion in certain departments of business or of civic life.

b) At other times, the world turns timid souls from the discharge of their religious duties by mockery and jest. It refers to them as hypocrites and dupes believing still in antiquated dogmas. It holds up to ridicule parents whose daughters are modestly dressed, asking them if it is thus that they hope to make a match for them. Many souls are in this manner, in spite of the protests of conscience, driven to conform through human respect to fashions and customs that offend against Christian modesty.

c) Sometimes the world resorts to threats. Individuals are served notice that their religious affiliations disqualify them for certain positions, or they are made to understand that their prudishness will make them unwelcome guests at entertainments; or again, they are told that if their conscience stands in the way of business they must either do as every one else does--deceive the public and make more money--or be ready to lose their positions.

It is but too easy to let ourselves be won over or terrorized, for the world has its accomplice within our own hearts, in our natural desire for high places, for dignity and for wealth.

214. (2) The remedy.1 To resist successfully this dangerous trend one must have the courage to look upon life from the point of view of eternity, and regard the world in the light of faith. Then the world will appear to us in its true colors, as the enemy of Jesus Christ, to be fought against with all our might in order that we may save our souls; it will appear to us as the scene of action for our zeal whither we must carry the maxims of the Gospel.

n1. TRONSON, "Examens partic.," XCIV-XCVI.

215. A) since the world is the enemy of Jesus Christ, we must accept as our standard of life that which is opposed to the maxims and examples of the world. We must repeat to ourselves the dilemma proposed by St. Bernard: "Either Christ blunders, or the world is astray; but it is impossible for Divine Wisdom to blunder."1 since there exists a manifest opposition between Christ and the world, a choice on our part is absolutely necessary, for no one can serve two masters. But Jesus is infallible Wisdom itself. Hence, He has the words of eternal life, and it is the world that blunders. Our choice, therefore, will be quickly made, for as St Paul says, "We have received not the spirit of this world, but the Spirit that is of God."2 To wish to please the world, he adds, is to displease Jesus Christ: "If I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Jesus Christ."3 St. James says: "Whosoever, therefore, will be the friend of this world, becometh an enemy of God."4 Hence, the following practical resolutions.

a) Let us read and reread the Gospel, reflecting that it is the Eternal Truth that speaks to us, and praying its Divine Author to make us understand, relish and live its maxims. It is thus that we become true Christians and such is the price we must pay if we would become real disciples of Christ. Whenever we hear or read maxims that go counter to those of the Gospel let us courageously say to ourselves: This is false, since it is opposed to infallible Truth itself.

b) Let us likewise avoid dangerous occasions so numerous ill this world. No doubt, those that live outside the cloister must of necessity mingle more or less in the world; yet, they must keep themselves free from its spirit by living in the world as those that were not of it; for Jesus asked His Father not to take His disciples out of the world, but to keep them from evil: "I pray not that thou shouldst take them out of the world, but that thou shouldst keep them from evil."5 And St. Paul wants us to make use of this world as though we did not use it.6

e) This attitude towards the world is incumbent above all upon ecclesiastics. They should be able to say with St. Paul: "The world is crucified to me, and I to the world."7 The world, ruled as it is by concupiscence, can have no charms for us. Just as we are to it an object of repulsion, for by our character and even by our garb we stand as a condemnation of its vices; so the world in turn can not but inspire us with a like antipathy. Hence, we must dispense with social visits purely worldly in character, in which we should be out of place. No doubt, we shall have to make and receive such visits as courtesy, business, and above all, zeal for souls impose; but they shall be brief. We shall not forget what is said of our Lord after His resurrection, that He came among His disciples but rarely, and only in order to complete their training and to speak to them of the kingdom of God.8

n1. "Sermo III, de Nativitate," n. I. n2. "I Cor.," II, 12. n3. "Gal.," I, 10. n4. "James," IV, 4. n5. "John," XVII, 15. n6. "I Cor.," VII, 31. n7. "Gal.," VI, 14. n8. "Acts," I, 3.

#216. B) We shall not, then, venture into the world except to exercise there our zeal either directly or indirectly, that is to say, to carry there the maxims and examples of the Gospel. a) We must not forget that we are "the light of the world."1 Without turning our conversation into a sort of sermon (which would be out of place) we shall judge everything, persons and things, by the light of the Gospel. Thus, instead of proclaiming the rich and the powerful the happy ones of this world, we shall note in all sincerity that there are sources of happiness other than those of wealth and success; that virtue does not go without its reward even in this world; that the pure joys of home and hearth are the sweetest; that the consciousness of duty done is a source of satisfaction and comfort to many unfortunate souls; that the peace of a good conscience is worth infinitely more than the intoxication of pleasure. A few examples will bring home these remarks. But it is chiefly by his own example that a priest is a source of edification in conversation. A profound impression is created upon those who listen to him if he is in every sense of the word a man among men, a Christian gentleman utterly devoted to the service of souls; if his whole bearing, as well as his words, reflects candor, good-fellowship, cheerfulness, charity, in a word, true sanctity. No one can help admiring those who live according to their convictions; and a religion which knows how to promote solid virtue is held in high regard. Let us, therefore, carry into practice the saying of our Lord: "So let your light shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven."2 The exercise of this apostolate is not limited to priests. Men of conviction among the laity can practice it with real success, as persons are less on their guard against their influence.

n1. "Matth.," V, 14. n2. "Matth.," V, 16.

#217. b) It is for such select souls and for priests to infuse into the more timid Christians the courage to fight the tyranny of human respect, of fashion and of legalized persecution. The best means of effecting this is to band together into societies those influential laymen who have the courage of their convictions, and who fear neither to speak nor to act accordingly. It is in this manner that the Saints brought about in their times the reformation of morals. It is also in this manner that in our great centers of learning, the universities, solid groups have been formed that know how to make their religious practices respected and how to steady the weaker brethren. On the day when such groups shall have been considerably multiplied not in cities alone but in the country-districts as well, the death knell of human respect shall not be long in sounding, and true piety, if not universally practiced, shall at least be held in real esteem.

218. We must make no compromise with the world. We must make no concessions either to please it or to seek its esteem. As St. Francis de Sales rightly says, "No matter what we do, the world shall ever war against us... Let us turn a deaf ear to this blind world; let it cry as long as it pleases, like an owl to disturb the birds of the day. Let us be constant in our designs and invariable in our resolutions. Our perseverance will demonstrate whether we have in good earnest sacrificed ourselves to God and dedicated ourselves to a devout life. "1

n1. "Introd. to a Dev. Life," P. IV, C. I.

III The Fight against the Devil1

#219. (1) The existence of and reasons for diabolical temptation. We have seen, n. 67, how the devil, jealous of the blessedness of our first parents, incited them to sin, and how well he succeeded. Therefore, the "Book of Wisdom" declares that it was "by the envy of the devil that death came into the world."2 Ever since, he has not ceased to attack the children of Adam or to lay snares for them. And even though, since our Lord's advent into the world and His triumph over Satan, the latter's power has been greatly curbed, it is none the less true that we have to battle not only against flesh and blood, but also against the powers of darkness, against the spirits of evil. This is exactly what St. Paul teaches: "For our wrestling is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers of the world of this darkness, against the spirits of wickedness."3 St. Peter compares the devil to a roaring lion prowling about, seeking to destroy us: "Your adversary, the devil, as a roaring lion, goeth about seeking whom he may devour.4

n1. St THOM., I, q. 114; ST. THERESA, "Life by Herself," C. XXX-XXXI; RIBET, "L'Ascetique chret.," C. XVI. n2. "Wisdom," II, 24. n3. "Eph.," VI, 12. n4. "I Peter," V, 8-9.

#220. If divine Providence allows these attacks, it is in virtue of the general principle that God governs men not only directly, but also through the agency of secondary causes, leaving to creatures a certain freedom of action. On the other hand, He warns us to be on our guard, and sends His Angels, particularly our Guardian Angels, to help and protect us (n. 186 sq), to say nothing of the assistance that He gives us directly, or through His Son. By availing ourselves of such helps we triumph over the enemy of our salvation, grow in virtue and lay up to ourselves treasures of merit in heaven. These wonderful ways of Providence show us all the more clearly the great importance we must attach to the affair of our salvation and sanctification, an affair in which both heaven and hell so concern themselves that around the soul, at times within the soul itself, fierce combats rage between the powers of heaven and those of hell,--and it is the eternal life of the soul that is at stake. In order to obtain the victory, let us see how the devil proceeds.

#221. (2) The devil's strategy. A) The Evil One can not act directly on our higher faculties, the intellect and the will. God has kept these as a sanctuary for Himself, and He alone can enter there and touch the mainspring of the will without doing violence to it. The devil, however, can act directly on the body, on our exterior and interior senses, and particularly on the imagination and the memory as well as on the passions Which reside in the sensitive appetite. Thus, the devil acts indirectly on the will, soliciting its consent through the various movements of the sensitive appetite. The will, however, as St. Thomas remarks, remains ever free to give or refuse consent.1

B) No matter how extensive the power of the devil over our faculties, there are nevertheless limits set to it by God Himself, who will not allow him to tempt us beyond our strength. "God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that which you are able; but will make also with temptation issue."2 Whoever leans upon the Almighty in humble trust can be sure of victory.

n1. "Sum. theol.," I, q. III, a. 2. n2. "I Cor.," X, 13.

#222. C) We must not believe, says St. Thomas,1 that all the temptations we experience are the works of the demon. Concupiscence stirred up by habits formed in the past and by imprudences committed in the present, is sufficient to account for a great number of them. " Every one is tempted by his own concupiscence, being drawn away and allured."2 On the other hand, it would be rash to assert, and contrary to the clear teaching of Scripture and Tradition, that there is no diabolical influence in any of our temptations. The envy the devil bears mankind and his desire to bring men into subjection adequately explain his intervention.3

How then will diabolical temptation be recognized ? This is no easy matter, for our concupiscence itself may sufficiently account for the violence of temptation. It may be said, however, that when a temptation is sudden, violent, and protracted beyond measure, the devil is largely responsible for it. One can especially suspect his influence if the temptation casts the soul into deep and prolonged turmoil; if it excites a desire for the spectacular, for strange and conspicuous mortifications, and particularly if it induces a strong inclination to be silent about the whole affair with our spiritual director and to distrust our superiors.4

n1. "Sum. theol.," I, q. 114, a. e. n2. "James," I, 14. n3. "Sum. theol.," I, q. 114, a. I. n4. See the rules for the discernment of spirits in the first and second weeks of the "Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius."

#223. (3) The remedies against diabolical temptation. The Saints, and particularly St. Theresa,1 point out the following remedies.

A) The first is humble and confident prayer to secure the help of God and His holy Angels. If God is for us who will be against us?2 For, "who is like unto God?" Our prayer must be humble, for there is nothing that so quickly puts to flight this rebellious spirit, who, having revolted through pride, never knew the virtue of humility. To humble ourselves before God, to acknowledge our inability to conquer without His help, defeats the schemes of the prince of pride. Our prayer must also be full of confidence. God's own glory is bound up with our triumph and we may, therefore, fully trust in the power of His grace. It is likewise a good practice to invoke the intercession of St. Michael, who, having once obtained a signal victory over Satan, will gladly complete his triumph in us and through us in the day of our struggle. He will have a powerful ally in our Guardian Angel provided we place our trust in him. But above all, we must not forget to have recourse to the Blessed virgin. Her foot did crush the serpent's head and she is more terrible to the demon than a whole army in battle array.

n1. "Life by Herself," C. XXX-XXXI. n2. "Rom.," VIII, 31.

#224. B) The second means consists in making use in all confidence of the sacraments and the sacramentals. Confession being an act of humility routs the devil; the absolution which follows applies to us the merits of Jesus Christ and renders us invulnerable to the thrusts of the enemy. Holy Communion brings into our hearts Christ who triumphed over Satan and who now fills him with terror. Even the sacramentals, the sign of the Cross, or the prayers of the Liturgy, said in the spirit of faith in union with the Church, are a precious help. St. Theresa recommends in a special way the use of holy water,1 perhaps because of the humiliation Satan must suffer at seeing himself baffled by such a simple device.

n1. "Life by Herself," C. XXXI.

#225. C) The last means against diabolical temptation is an utter contempt of the devil. It is once more St. Theresa who assures us of this. "These cursed spirits torment me quite frequently, but they do not frighten me in the least, for I am convinced that they cannot stir except by God's leave. Let this be known well, that every time we make them the object of our contempt, they lose their strength, and the soul acquires over them greater ascendancy. They have no power except against cowardly souls who surrender their weapons. Against such they do show their power."1 It must be, indeed, a bitter humiliation to those proud spirits to be contemned by weaker beings such as men are. As we have said, if we humbly lean on the strong arm of God, it is our right as well as our duty to despise them. "If God is for us who will be against us?" The evil spirits can bark; they cannot harm us unless through lack of prudence or through pride we put ourselves into their power. Thus it is that the fight that we must wage against the devil, the world and the flesh strengthens us in the supernatural life and enables us to make spiritual progress.

n1. Ibid.


#226. (1) We have just seen that the Christian life is a warfare, a harassing warfare that entails a lifelong and intricate maneuvering ending only with death, a warfare of supreme importance since it is our eternal life that is at stake. As St. Paul teaches, there are within us two men: a) the regenerated man, the new man, with tendencies which are noble, supernatural, divine. These the Holy Ghost produces in us through the merits of Christ and the intercession of the Blessed virgin and the Saints. We strive to correspond to the higher tendencies by making use, under the influence of actual grace, of the supernatural organism wherewith God has endowed us. b) But there is also in us the natural or carnal man, the Old Adam, with all the evil inclinations which remain even after Baptism, with the threefold concupiscence inherited from our first parents. This concupiscence is stirred up and intensified by the world and the devil; it is an abiding tendency inclining us toward an inordinate love of sensual pleasure, of our own excellence, and of the goods of this world. These two men necessarily engage in conflict. The Old Adam, the flesh, seeks pleasure without regard to the moral law. The spirit in turn reminds the flesh that there are forbidden pleasures and dangerous pleasures which must be sacrificed to duty, that is to say, to the will of God. The flesh, however, is persistent in its desires; it must, therefore, with the help of grace be mortified and, if need be, crucified. The Christian, then, is a soldier, an athlete, who fights unto death for an immortal crown.1

n1. "II. Tim.," II, 1-7. St. Paul describes the Christian's armor in "Eph" VI, 10-18.

#227. (2) This warfare is constant, for in spite of all our efforts we can never fully divest ourselves of the Old Adam. We can but weaken him, bind him, while at the same time we fortify the New Man against his attacks. At the outset the fight is keener, more obstinate, and the counter-attacks of the enemy more numerous and more violent; but as we by earnest and persevering efforts gain one victory and then another, our enemy weakens, passions subside and, except for certain moments of trial willed by God to lead us to a higher degree of perfection, we enjoy a relative calm, a pledge and a foretaste of final victory. All success we owe to the grace of God. We must not forget that the grace given us is the grace for struggle and not the grace for peace; that we are warriors, athletes, ascetics; that like St. Paul we must fight on to the end if we would merit the crown. I have fought the good fight: I have finished my course: I have kept the faith. As to the rest, there is laid up for me a crown of justice, which the Lord the just judge will render to me in that day."1 This is the means of perfecting in us the Christian life and of acquiring many merits.

n1. "II Tim.," IV, 7-8.

[II] The growth of the spiritual life by merit1

228. We progress, indeed, by the fight we wage against our enemies, but more still by the meritorious acts which we perform day by day. Every good act freely done by a soul in the state of grace and with a supernatural intention, possesses a threefold value for our spiritual growth, inasmuch as it is meritorious, satisfactory and impetratory.

a) The meritorious value means an increase of sanctifying grace and a corresponding right to a higher degree of glory in heaven.

b) The satisfactory value contains a threefold element: I) propitiation, by which with a contrite and humble heart we turn God auspiciously towards us and incline Him to forgive our trespasses; 2) expiation, that is to say, the effacement of guilt by the infusion of grace; 3) satisfaction, which in view of the element of suffering accompanying our good works, cancels wholly or in part the punishment due to sin. This happy result is not merely the outcome of good works properly so-called, but also, as the Council of Trent teaches, of the willing acceptance of the ills and sufferings of this life.2 What is more consoling than to be able to turn all manner of adversity into gain for the purification of the soul and closer union with God?

c) Lastly these same acts, when they embody a request to the Divine Mercy for new graces, possesses also an impetratory value. As St. Thomas justly remarks, we pray not only when we explicitly make a request to Almighty God, but whenever we turn our hearts to Him or direct any act of ours towards Him; so much so, indeed, that our life becomes a continual prayer when our activities are constantly directed towards God. "Man prays whenever he so acts in thought, word and deed as to tend towards God; hence, life is a constant prayer if wholly directed towards God."3 Is not this an effectual means of obtaining from Him for ourselves and for others whatever we desire?

For the end we have in view it will suffice to explain:1) the nature of merit; 2) the conditions that increase the merit of our good works.

n1. St. THOM., I-II q. 114; TERRIEN, "La Grace et la Gloire," II, p. 15 ff; LABAUCHE, "Man," P. III, C. III; HUGON in "La vie spirituelle," II (1920), p. 28, 273, 353; TANQUEREY, "Syn theol. dog.," III, n. 210-235; REMLER, "Supernatural Merit;" WIRTH, "Divine Grace," C. VIII; SCHEEBEN, "Glories of Divine Grace." n2. Sess. XIV, "De Sacramento poinit.," Cap. 9. n3. "In Rom.," C. I, 9-10.

I. Nature of Merit

Two points must be made clear: (1) What we mean by merit; (2) What makes our actions meritorious.


#229. A) Merit in general is a right to a reward. Hence, supernatural merit of which we speak here is a right to a supernatural reward, a right to a share in God's life, a right to grace and glory. Since, however, God is in no way obliged to make us share in His life, there must exist a promise on His part that confers upon us an actual title to such supernatural reward. Merit, then may be defined: a right to a supernatural reward arising both from a supernatural work done freely for God's sake, and from a divine promise to give such a reward.

#230. B) There are two kinds of merit : a) merit properly so called (de condigno) to which a recompense is due in justice, because there exists a sort of equality, a real proportion between the work and the reward. b) e other kind of merit, called de congruo, is not based upon strict justice; its claims are simply those of a certain fitness, since the reward outweighs by far the work done. The following example gives an approximate notion of this distinction. A soldier acquitting himself bravely on the battlefield has a strict right to his pay, but he can lay only a claim of fitness to a citation or a decoration.

C) The Council of Trent teaches that the works of the justified man truly merit an increase of grace, eternal life and, should he die in this state, the attainment of glory. #231. D) Let us recall briefly the general conditions for merit. a) A work to be meritorious must be free. If man acts through constraint or necessity, he is not actually responsible. b) The work must be supernaturally good in order to be in proportion with the reward. c) When it is question of merit properly so-called, the work must be performed in the state of grace, for it is this grace that causes Christ to dwell in our souls and makes us share in His merits. d) The work must be performed during our life on earth, for God has wisely decreed that after a period of trial wherein we can merit or demerit, we should reach the end where we shall forever remain fixed in the state in which we die. These are the conditions on the part of man. To them is added on the part of God the promise which gives us a real right to eternal life. As St. James says: "The just receive the crown of life which God hath promised to them that love Him."1

n1. "James," I, 12.


#232. At first sight it seems difficult to understand how very simple, ordinary and transitory acts can merit eternal life. This would be an insuperable difficulty if these acts were produced by us alone. But as a matter of fact they are the result of the co-operation of God and the human will. This explains their efficacy. God whilst crowning our merits, crowns His own gifts, for our merits are largely His work. To enable us to understand better the efficacy of our meritorious acts let us explain the share of God and the share of man.

A) God is the first and principal cause of our merits: "Not I, but the grace of God with me."1 In fact, it is God who has created our faculties; God who has perfected them, raised them to a supernatural state by the virtues and by the gifts of the Holy Ghost; God who by His actual grace calls us to perform good works and assists us in doing them. He is, therefore, the first cause exciting the will to action and giving it new energies that enable it to act supernaturally.

n1. "I Cor.," XV, 10.

#233. B) Our free will, responding to God's solicitations, acts under the influence of grace and the virtues and thus becomes a secondary, but real and efficacious cause of our meritorious acts, since it truly co-operates with God. Without this free consent there can be no merit. In heaven we can no longer merit, for there we cannot help loving that God whom we clearly see to be Infinite Goodness and the Source of our beatitude. Besides, our cooperation itself is supernatural. By habitual grace the very substance of our being is deified; by the virtues and the gifts of the Holy Ghost our faculties are likewise deified, and by actual grace even our acts are made Godlike. Once our actions are deified there exists a real proportion between our works and grace, which latter is itself a Godlike life, as well as between our acts and glory, which is the full development of that life. No doubt, the acts themselves are transitory, while glory is eternal; yet, as in our natural existence transient acts produce states of soul that endure, it is but just that the same should hold good in the supernatural order, and that virtuous acts producing an abiding disposition to love God be rewarded by a lasting recompense. Lastly, since our soul is immortal it is fitting that such recompense should endure forever.

#234. C) It might be objected that in spite of this proportion between act and reward, God is in no manner constrained to bestow a recompense so great and so enduring as grace and glory. We fully grant this, and we acknowledge that God in His infinite goodness rewards us above our deserts. Hence, He would not be bound to have us enjoy the Beatific vision through all eternity had He not promised it. But He has promised it by the very fact that He has destined us for a supernatural end. His promise recurs repeatedly in Holy Writ wherein eternal life is represented as the reward promised to the just, and as a crown of justice: "The crown which God hath promised to them that love Him... a crown of justice which the just judge shall render unto me."1 Therefore, the Council of Trent declares that eternal life is at once a grace mercifully promised by Jesus Christ, and a recompense which in virtue of this promise is faithfully awarded to good works and to merit.2

n1. "James," I, 12; "II Tim.," IV, 8. n2. Sess. VI, Cap. 16.

#235. From the fact that merit is based on this promise of God, we can infer that merit is something personal. It is for ourselves and not for others that we merit grace and life everlasting, for the divine promise goes no further. It is different with our Lord Jesus Christ, who having been made the moral head of the human race, has merited for each of His members, and this in the strict sense of the word. We can, indeed, merit for others, but by no title of justice, simply "de congruo," that is, by a title of mere fitness. This fact is in itself most consoling, because this merit is joined to the one we gain for ourselves and thus it enables us to co-operate in the sanctification of our brethren whilst working at our own.

II. Conditions for Increasing Merit

#236. These conditions evidently proceed from the different causes that concur in the production of meritorious acts, hence, from God and from ourselves. We can always count upon God's liberality, for He is always munificent in His gifts, and therefore, we must center our attention principally upon our dispositions. Let us see what can improve these dispositions either on the part of the one who merits or on the part of the meritorious act itself.


237. There are four principal conditions . the degree of habitual grace or charity, our union with our Lord, our purity of intention, our fervor.

a) The degree of sanctifying grace. To merit in the proper sense of the word, the state of grace is required. Hence, all things being equal, the more habitual grace we possess, the greater is our power for meriting. This, no doubt, is denied by some theologians on the ground that the amount of habitual grace does not always influence our acts so as to render them better, and that at times holy souls act negligently and imperfectly. But the doctrine we maintain is the common teaching, based on the following reasons.

1) The value of an act even in human affairs depends largely upon the dignity of the person that performs it, and upon the degree of esteem in which he is held by the rewarder. Now, what constitutes the dignity of the Christian and what makes him dear to the heart of God is the degree of grace, that is, of divine life to which he has been raised. This is why the Saints in heaven or the saints on earth have such great power of intercession. Hence, if we possess a higher degree of grace we are worth more in the eyes of God than those who have less; we please Him more, and on this account our actions are nobler, more agreeable to God, and therefore, more meritorious.

2) Besides, this degree of grace will ordinarily exercise a happy influence on our acts. Living more fully a supernatural life, loving God more perfectly, we are led to improve the quality of our acts, to put into them more charity, to be more generous in our sacrifices. Now, every one grants that such dispositions increase our merits. Let no one say that at times the contrary happens. This is the exception, not the rule. We had that in mind when we said: all other things being equal.

How consoling is this doctrine! By multiplying our meritorious acts we daily increase our stock of grace. This store of grace enables us to put more love into our works and thus further the growth of our supernatural life: "He that is just, let him be justified still."1

n1. "Apoc.," XVII, II.

#238. b) Our degree of union with our Lord. The source of our merit is Jesus Christ, the Author of our sanctification, the chief meritorious cause of all supernatural good, the Head of the mystical body whose members we are. The closer we are to the source, the more we receive of its fullness; the closer we approach to the Author of all Holiness, the more grace we receive; the closer we are to the Head, the more life and activity it imparts to us. Does not our Lord Himself tell us this in the beautiful allegory of the vine? "I am the vine and you the branches... he who abideth in me and I in him, the same beareth much fruit."1 We are united to Jesus as the branch is to the stem and, therefore, the closer our union, habitual and actual, with Him, the more we receive of His vital influence. This is why all fervent souls, all that wish to become fervent, have ever sought a more and more intimate union with our Lord. This is why the Church herself asks us to perform our actions through Him, with Him and in Him. Through Him, for: "No one cometh to the Father but by me;"2 with Him, by acting in union with Him, since He consents to be our co-worker; in Him, in the virtue, in the power that is His very own, and above all, with His intentions. In the words of Father Faber: "To do our actions by Christ is to do them in dependence upon Him, as He did everything in dependence upon His Father and by the movements of His Spirit. To do our actions with Christ is to practice the same virtues as our Lord, to clothe ourselves with the same dispositions, and to act from the same intentions, all according to the measure of the lowliness of our possibilities. To do our actions in Christ is to unite ours with His, and to offer them to God along with His, so that for the sake of His they may be accepted on high."3

If we thus perform our actions in union with our Lord, He lives in us, inspires our thoughts, our desires and all our acts in such a way that we can say with St. Paul: "I live, now not I, but Christ liveth in me."4 It is evident that acts performed under the influence of Christ's life-giving action and with the aid of His all-powerful cooperation, have a far greater value than those done by ourselves even with the help of ordinary grace and with only habitual union with Christ by sanctifying grace. In practice, then, we should unite ourselves frequently with our Lord, especially at the beginning of our actions; we should make our own His perfect intentions, fully conscious of our inability to do anything good of ourselves and confident that He is able to overcome our weakness. Thus we strive to carry out the advice of St. Paul: "All whatsoever you do in word or in work, all things do ye in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ."5

n1. "John," XV, 1-6. n2. "John," XIV, 6. n3. "Growth in Holiness," p. 467. n4. "Gal.," II, 20. n5. "Colos.," III, 17.

#239. c) Purity of intention or perfection of the motive under which we act. For our actions to be meritorious it is enough, according to many theologians, that they be inspired by any supernatural motive: fear, hope or love. It is true that St. Thomas requires that our actions be at least virtually under the influence of charity through a preceding act of love the influence of which still endures. He adds, however, that this condition is fulfilled in all those that perform any lawful action whilst in the state of grace: " For those in the state of grace every act is meritorious or demeritorious."1 In fact, every good act springs from some virtue; but all virtues converge into charity which is the Queen of virtues just as the will is the Queen of faculties. And charity ever active directs all our good acts towards God and gives life to all our virtues. If, however, we want our acts to be as meritorious as possible, we need a more perfect, a more actual intention. The intention is the principal element in our actions; it is the eye that sheds its light upon them and directs them towards their end; it is the soul that animates them and gives them their worth in God's sight: "If thy eye be single, thy whole body shall be lightsome."2 Now, there are three elements that bestow special value upon our intentions.

n1. "Quaes. disp.," de Malo. q. 2, a. 5, ad 7. Hence it appears that what St. Thomas calls virtual intention, modern theologians call habitual. n2. "Matth.," VI, 22.

#240. 1) since charity is the Queen and the soul of all virtues, every act inspired by it will have by far more merit than acts inspired by fear or by hope. It is important, then, that all our actions be done out of love of God and the neighbor. In this way even the most ordinary actions, like meals and recreations, become acts of charity and share in the merits of that virtue. To eat in order to restore our strength is lawful and, in a Christian, it is meritorious; but to do this in order to work for God and for souls is to act from a motive of love which ennobles our action and bestows on it greater meritorious value.

241. 2) since acts of virtue animated by charity lose none of their own value, it follows that an act done from more than one motive will thereby be more meritorious. Thus, an act of obedience to Superiors prompted both by respect for their authority and by the love of God whom we see in their persons, will possess the twofold merit of obedience and of charity. In this way one and the same act may have a threefold or a fourfold value; for instance, when I detest my sins because they offend God, I can also have the intention of practicing penance and humility. Thus, I make this one act thrice meritorious. It is, therefore, useful in performing our actions to propose to ourselves several supernatural motives. We must, however, avoid all excess and preoccupation in seeking to multiply intentions, for this would disturb the soul. The prudent way is to make use of the intentions that suggest themselves more or less spontaneously and to subordinate them to that of divine charity. In this manner we shall increase our merits without losing our peace of soul.

242. 3) since our will is fickle, we must form and renew frequently our supernatural intention. Otherwise, it might come to pass that an action begun for God would be continued from curiosity, sensuality or self-love, and thus lose in part its worth. We say: in part, for since these secondary motives do not utterly destroy the first, the act does not cease to be supernatural and meritorious. When a steamer leaves Cherbourg for New York, it is not enough to direct it once and for all towards her destination. The tides, gales and ocean-currents tend now and again to change her course, and it is necessary that the pilot be constantly at the helm to keep her in her path. It is the same with the will. It is not enough to direct it towards God once for all or even once a day. Human passions and external influences will soon throw it out of course; we must, therefore, by explicit acts bring it back frequently in the direction of God and of charity. We should be careful to realize and to mean what we say when we recite the morning-offering: "I offer up to Thee, O my God, my thoughts, words, acts and sufferings of this day; grant that they may all tend to Thy glory and my salvation." We should renew this offering before every important action of the day. If we are faithful to this practice, God will gradually give us the facility to renew the offering even in the course of our actions, without depriving us of the requisite attention to do our work well.

243. d) Fervor or intensity of our actions. Even in the accomplishment of good works, it is possible for us to be careless and remiss; or, on the other hand, we may act with vigor, with all the energy at our command, making use of all the actual graces placed at our disposal. Evidently, the result in either case will be very different. If we act halfheartedly we acquire but little merit and at times become guilty of venial sins, which do not, however, entirely destroy our merit. If, on the contrary, we pray and labor and sacrifice ourselves whole-heartedly, each of our actions merits a goodly share of sanctifying grace. Without entering here into debatable questions, we can say with certainty that, since God renders a hundredfold for what is done for Him, a fervent soul acquires daily a great increase of grace and becomes perfect in a short time, according to the words of Wisdom: "Being made perfect in a short space, he fulfilled a long time."1 What a mighty incentive to fervor! In truth, it is well worth the while to renew our efforts unceasingly and resolutely.

n1. "Wisdom," IV, 13.


#244. Subjective dispositions are not the only conditions that increase merit; there are also objective circumstances that contribute to render our actions more perfect. These are chiefly four:

a) The excellence of the object or of the act itself. There is a hierarchy among the virtues; the theological excel the moral. Hence, the acts of faith, hope and charity have greater worth than those of prudence, justice, temperance, etc. But, as we have said, the latter can, through the intention of the subject, become also acts of charity and thus share in the special worth that attaches to this virtue. In like manner acts of religion which of themselves have God's glory directly in view, are more perfect than those that look directly to our sanctification.

b) As regards certain actions, quantity may have some influence on merit. All other things being the same, a gift of a thousand dollars will be more meritorious than a gift of a hundred. But in this matter quantity is often a relative thing. The mite of the widow who deprives herself of much of her substance has a greater moral value than the princely gift of the rich man who simply gives a portion of his superfluous goods.

c) The duration of an act likewise may render it more meritorious. To pray or to suffer for an hour is worth more than to pray or to suffer for five minutes; for protracted prayer or suffering call forth more effort and more love.

#245. d) The difficulty inherent to the performance of the act also increases merit, not precisely inasmuch as it is a difficulty, but inasmuch as it demands greater love and a more strenuous and sustained effort. For instance, to resist a violent temptation is more meritorious than to resist a light one; to practice meekness with a choleric temperament and in spite of frequent provocations from others is more difficult and more meritorious than to do so with a nature that is gentle and mild or when others are kind and considerate. We must not conclude, however, that the ease acquired by the repetition of virtuous acts necessarily diminishes our merit. Such facility, when used to sustain and to strengthen the supernatural effort, contributes to the intensity or fervor of the act, and in this way it rather increases our merit, as we have already explained above. Just as an efficient worker in the measure that he becomes proficient in his work avoids all waste of time, material and energy, and thus realizes larger gains with less labor, so the Christian who has learned to make better use of the means of sanctification saves time and effort, and thus with less trouble to himself gains greater merit. Because the Saints through the practice of virtue make acts of humility, obedience, religion, with greater facility, they are not therefore entitled to less merit; just the contrary, since they make acts of love of God with greater ease and frequency. Moreover, they continue their efforts to make sacrifices whenever necessary. In short, difficulty increases merit, not inasmuch it is an obstacle to be overcome but inasmuch as it calls for more energy and more love.1

We must add that these objective conditions have a real influence on merit only inasmuch as they are freely accepted by us, and thus react on our interior dispositions.

n1. EYMIEU, "Le Gouvernement de soi-meme," I, Introd., p. 7-9.


#246. The logical conclusion of all this is the necessity of sanctifying all our actions, even the most ordinary. We have already said it: all our actions can become a source of merit if done with a supernatural end in view and in union with our Lord, who even in the workshop at Nazareth never ceased to merit for us. What progress can we not thus make in a single day! From the moment we awake until we retire at night the meritorious acts which we can perform, if we are recollected and generous, may be numbered by the hundreds. Indeed, there is a growth of the Godlike life of grace in our souls not only through every act of the day, but through every effort to make each action more perfect; through every effort to dispel distractions at prayer, to apply our minds to our tasks, to keep back an unkind word, to render a service to others. Likewise, every word inspired by charity, every good thought turned to good account, ill short, all the movements of the. soul directed by our free-will towards good are so many means of increasing merit.

#247. It may be said in all truth that there is no means of sanctification more efficacious, more practical, than the supernaturalizing of our ordinary actions,--and this means is within the reach of every one. It is of itself sufficient to raise a soul within a short time to a high degree of holiness. Every act becomes a seed of grace and glory, since it gives us an increase of sanctifying grace and a right to a higher degree of heavenly bliss.

#248. The practical way of thus converting our acts into merits is to recollect ourselves for a moment before we begin them, to renounce positively all evil or inordinate intentions, to unite ourselves to our Lord, our model and our Mediator, with a keen sense of our own weakness, and to offer through Him every act for God's glory and the good of souls. Thus understood the oft-renewed offering of our actions to God is an act of self-renunciation, of humility, of love of our Lord, of love of God, of love of the neighbor. It is, indeed, a short-cut to perfection.1

n1. All spiritual writers recommend this practice in some form or other. See RODRIGUEZ, "Practice of Christian Perfection," P. I, tr. 2, 3; OLIER, "Introd.," C. XV; TRONSON, "Examens," XXVI-XXIX; FABER, "All for Jesus;" "Minting Money"; "Growth in Holiness," p. 463-468.

[III] Growth of the Christian Life through the Sacraments1

#249. We grow in grace and perfection not only by means of meritorious acts, but also by the reception of the Sacraments. Sensible signs instituted by our Lord Jesus Christ, they symbolize and confer grace. God, knowing how easily man is drawn to external things, willed in His infinite goodness to attach His grace to material objects and visible actions. It is a matter of faith that our sacraments contain the grace they symbolize and that they confer it on all those who place no obstacle in the way;2 and this not solely in virtue of the recipient's dispositions, but "ex opere operato," that is, in virtue of the sacramental rite itself. The sacraments are instrumental causes of grace, God ever being the principal cause, and our Lord the meritorious cause.

n1. St. THOM., III, q. 60-62; SUAREZ, disp. VIII; DE BROGLIE, "Conf. sur la vie surnat.," III; BELLEVUE, "De la grace sacramentelle;" TANQUEREY, "Syn.," III, n. 298-323; MARMION, "Christ the Life of the Soul," p. 65 and ff. n2. "Council of Trent," Sess. VII, Can. 6.

#250. Besides habitual grace, each sacrament produces a special grace which is called sacramental grace. This does not differ specifically from sanctifying grace, but, according to St. Thomas and his school, it adds to it a special energy calculated to produce effects in harmony with the purpose of each sacrament. Be this as it may, all agree that it gives a right to special graces at the opportune moment for the more easy performance of those obligations which the reception of the various sacraments imposes. The Sacrament of Confirmation, for example, gives us the right to special actual graces of strength for combating human respect and for confessing our faith in the face of all.

There are four things we should dwell on: (1) sacramental grace, proper to each sacrament; (2) the dispositions necessary for the fruitful reception of the sacraments; (3) the special dispositions required for the sacrament of Penance; (4) those required for the reception of Holy Communion.

I. Sacramental Grace

The Sacraments confer special graces which correspond to the different stages of life.

#251. a) In Baptism a grace of spiritual regeneration is given by which we are purified from the stain of original sin, are born to the life of grace. A new man is thus created within us, the regenerated man that lives the life of Christ. According to the beautiful teaching of St. Paul, "We are buried together with Him (Christ) by baptism into death; that as Christ is risen from the dead, so we also may walk in newness of life,"1 Hence, the special or sacramental grace given us is: 1) a grace of death to sin, of spiritual crucifixion which enables us to oppose and to curb the evil tendencies of the Old Adam; 2) a grace of regeneration that makes us one with Christ, causes us to share in His life, renders us capable of living in harmony with His sentiments and examples and thus makes us perfect Christians. Hence, the duty for us of combating sin and its causes, of adhering to Jesus Christ and imitating His virtues.

n1. "Romans," VI, 3-6.

#252. b) Confirmation makes of us soldiers of Christ. To the grace of Baptism it adds a special grace of strength that we may with generosity profess our faith in face of all enemies, in spite of human respect that keeps so many from the practice of their religious duties. This is why the gifts of the Holy Ghost already given us in Baptism are conferred again in Confirmation, for the special purpose of enlightening our faith, of rendering it more vivid, more discerning, and of strengthening our will against sin. Hence, the duty of cultivating the gifts of the Holy Ghost, especially those that make for militant Christianity.

#253. c) The Eucharist nourishes our souls, which like our bodies need food for sustenance and strength. None but a Divine Food can nourish a Divine Life. The Body and Blood of Christ, His Soul and His Divinity transform us into other Christs, infusing into us His spirit, His sentiments and His virtues. This will be developed further, (n. 283).

#254. d) Should we have the misfortune of losing the life of grace by mortal sin, the Sacrament of Penance washes away our sins in the Blood of Jesus Christ poured upon us by absolution (cf. n. 262).

#255. e) As death approaches we need to be fortified in the midst of the anxiety and the fear inspired by the memory of past sins, by our present failings, and by the thought of God's judgment. By the anointing of our senses with the Holy Oils the Sacrament of Extreme Unction infuses into our souls a grace of comfort and spiritual solace that frees us from the remains of sin, revives our trust, and arms us against the last assaults of the enemy, making us share the sentiments of St. Paul who, after having fought the good fight, rejoiced at the thought of the crown prepared for him. It is important, then, to ask in good time for this Sacrament, that is as soon as we become seriously ill, in order that we may receive all its effects, in particular, restoration to health should this be God's will. It amounts to cruelty on the part of those attending the sick to hide from them the seriousness of their condition and to put off to the last moment the reception of a sacrament from which flow such abundant consolations. These five sacraments suffice to sanctify the individual. There are two others instituted to sanctify man in his relations to society, Holy Orders and Matrimony. The former gives the Church worthy ministers, the latter sanctifies the family.

#256. f) Holy Orders bestow upon the ministers of the Church not only the marvelous powers of consecrating the Body and Blood of Christ, administering the Sacraments and preaching the word of God, but also the grace of exercising these powers in a holy manner. This Sacrament gives them in particular an ardent love for the Blessed Eucharist and for the souls of men, together with a firm determination of spending and sacrificing themselves entirely. We shall speak later on of the high degree of sanctity at which God's ministers should aim.

257. g) In order to sanctify the family, the cradle of society, the Sacrament of Matrimony gives to husbands and wives the graces they so urgently need: the grace of an absolute and abiding fidelity so difficult to the human heart; the grace of reverence for the sanctity of the marriage-bed; the grace of devoted and steadfast consecration to the Christian education of their children.

#258. At all the important stages of life, for every duty, individual or social, we receive through some Sacrament a wonderful grant of sanctifying grace. That such a grace may be turned to account, we receive likewise through each Sacrament a right to actual graces that urge us and help us to practice the virtues to which we are bound. It is our task then to correspond to these graces by bringing to the Sacraments the best possible dispositions.

II. Necessary Dispositions for the Fruitful Reception of the Sacraments

The amount of grace produced by the Sacraments depends both on God and on us.1 Let us see how this grace can be increased.

n1. Thus the Council of "Trent," Sess. VI, Ch. 7: "The Holy spirit distributes to each according as He wills, and according to each one's disposition and cooperation."

#259. A) No doubt, God is free in the distribution of His gifts. He may, therefore, grant more or less grace through the Sacraments, according to the designs of His Wisdom and His Goodness. But there are laws which God Himself has laid down and by which He wills to abide. Thus, He declares again and again that He cannot turn a deaf ear to prayer well said: "Ask and it shall be given you: seek and you shall find: knock, and it shall be opened to you."1 This holds good especially if our prayer is supported by the merits of Christ: "Amen, amen, I say to you: if you ask the Father anything in my name, He will give it to you."2 If, therefore, when we receive a Sacrament, we pray With humility and fervor and in union with our Lord for a greater measure of grace, we shall obtain it.

n1. "Matth.," VII, 7. n2. "John," XVI, 23.

#260. B) On our part two dispositions contribute to the reception of an increase of sacramental grace, namely, holy desires before approaching the Sacraments, and fervor in receiving them.

a) The ardent desire of receiving a Sacrament with all its fruits opens and dilates the soul. This is an application of the principle laid down by our Lord: "Blessed are they that hunger and thirst after justice: for they shall have their fill."1 Now, to hunger and thirst for the Holy Eucharist or for Absolution is to open wide our hearts to the divine communications. Then will God replenish our famished souls: "He hath filled the hungry with good things."2 Let us then be like Daniel, men of desire, and let us long after the fountains of living water, the Sacraments.

b) Fervor in the actual reception of the Sacraments will make the soul still more receptive; for fervor is that generous attitude of refusing Almighty God nothing, of allowing Him to act in all the fullness of His power and of co-operating with Him with all our energies. Such a disposition expands the soul, renders it more apt for the effusions of grace, more responsive to the action of the Holy Spirit. From this co-operation of God and the soul spring forth abundant fruits of sanctification.

n1. "Matth," V, 6. n2. "Luke," I, 53.

#261. We may add here that all the conditions rendering our actions more meritorious (cf n. 237), perfect at the same time the dispositions we must bring to the reception of the Sacraments, and consequently increase the measure of grace conferred upon us. We shall understand this better when we apply this principle to the Sacraments of Penance and Eucharist.

III. The Dispositions Required to Profit Well by the Sacrament of Penance1

The Sacrament of Penance purifies our souls in the Blood of Jesus Christ, provided that we are well disposed, that our confession is sincere, and that our contrition is true and genuine.

(1) Confession

#262. A) A word concerning grave sins. We speak but incidentally of the accusation of grave faults. This we have treated at length in our Moral Theology.2 Should one that is tending toward perfection have the misfortune, in a moment of weakness, of committing any mortal sins he should confess them clearly and sincerely, mentioning them at the very beginning of his confession and not half concealing them midst a multitude of venial sins. He should state in all sincerity and humility the number and species of these sins, and the causes that brought them about, and ask his confessor most earnestly for the remedies that will work a cure. He must, above all, have a deep sorrow for sin together with a firm purpose of avoiding in the future, not only these sins themselves, but also their occasions and causes.

Once these sins have been forgiven, he must keep within his soul an abiding and a lively sense of sorrow, and a sincere desire to repair the evil done, by an austere and mortified life, by an ardent and self-sacrificing love. An isolated fault immediately repaired, even though grave, is not for long an obstacle to our spiritual progress.

n1. Besides consulting treatises of Theology, see: BEAUDENOM, "Spiritual Progress"; ST. FRANCIS DE SALES, "Introduction to a Devout Life," P. 1, C. 19; P. II. C. 19; FABER, "Growth in Holiness," C. XIX, XX; MANNING, "Sin and its Consequences," "The Love of Jesus for Penitent Sinners:" TISSOT, "Profiting by Our Faults;" MOTHER MARY LOYOLA, "First Confession;" MARMION, "Christ the Life of the Soul," P. 11. C. IV. n2. "Syn. theol. moral., De Paenitentia," n. 242 and ff.

#263. B) Deliberate Venial Faults.1 Venial faults are of two kinds: those that are deliberate, that is, committed with full knowledge that one is about to displease God and with a deliberate selfish preference for a created good to the divine will. The others are such as are committed through surprise, fickleness, frailty, lack of vigilance or courage, and regretted on the spot, with the firm purpose of committing them no more.

Sins of the first category are a very serious obstacle to perfection, specially if the sins recur frequently and the heart is attached to them, for example, willfully keeping petty grudges, habitually forming rash judgments, speaking ill of others, yielding to the attraction of inordinate, natural affections, stubbornly holding to one's own judgment, to one's own will. These are cords that bind us to earth and prevent us from taking our flight toward God. When one willfully refuses Almighty God the sacrifice of one's tastes, of one's way, one can hardly expect of Him those choice graces which alone can lead to perfection. Such faults should be corrected at any cost. The better to achieve this task, we must take up successively the different species or categories of faults, for example, faults against charity, then those against humility, against the virtue of religion, etc. We must make a full avowal of them in confession, chiefly of those more humiliating to us, as well as of the causes that make us fall into such sins. Lastly, we must make firm resolutions to avoid these causes entirely. In this manner, each confession will be a step forward in the way of perfection.

n1. MEYER, S.J., "The Science of the Saints," Vol. I, C. XIII.

#264. C) sins of Frailty. Having once overcome deliberate faults, we set upon those proceeding from frailty, not indeed to avoid them altogether--this is impossible--but gradually to diminish their number. Here again, we must have recourse to the same expedient of dividing the task. We may, no doubt, accuse all the venial sins we remember; but this we do rapidly and then we stress some particular faults; for instance, distractions in prayer, failings against purity of intention, lack of charity.

In the examination of conscience and in confession we shall not content ourselves with saying: "I have been distracted in my prayers "--which tells the confessor absolutely nothing--but we shall rather put things thus: "I have been distracted or careless during such or such a spiritual exercise, the reason being, that I failed to recollect myself properly before beginning it," or "because I had not the courage to repel at once and with determination the first vagaries of my mind," or again "because after having repelled distractions for a while I did not persevere and remain steadfast in the effort."

At other times we shall accuse ourselves of having been long distracted on account of an attachment to study or to a friend, or owing to some petty grievance.

The accusation of the causes of our sins will suggest the remedy and the resolution to be taken.

#265. In order to insure the effectiveness of the confession, whether it be question of deliberate faults or not, we shall end the accusation by formulating the resolution for the coming week or fortnight of "combating in earnest this source of distraction, that attachment, such preoccupation." In the next confession we shall be careful to render an account of our efforts, for instance: "I had taken such resolution, I kept it so many days, or kept it only in this regard, but I failed in this or that point."

Evidently, confession practiced in this manner, will not be a matter of routine but will on the contrary, mark a step forward. The grace of absolution will confirm the resolution taken and not only will it increase habitual grace within us, but it will also multiply our energies, causing us to avoid in the future a certain number of venial faults and to grow in virtue with a greater measure of success.


#266. In frequent confessions stress must be laid on contrition and on the purpose of amendment which necessarily goes with it. We must ask for it with earnestness and excite it in ourselves by the consideration of supernatural motives. These are always substantially the same, even if they vary with different souls and with the different faults accused. The general motives for contrition have their source in God and in the soul. We shall briefly indicate them.

#267. A) As regards God, sin, no matter how trivial, is an offense against Him; it is resistance to His will; it constitutes an act of ingratitude toward the most loving and most lovable of fathers and benefactors--ingratitude that is all the more hurtful because we are His privileged friends. Hence God says to us: "For if my enemy had reviled me, I would have borne with it..., but thou a man of one mind, my guide, and my familiar, who didst take sweet meats together with me, in the house of God we walked with consent."1 Let us lend a willing ear to His well-merited reproaches, and hide our face in shame and humiliation.

Let us hearken also to the voice of Jesus, telling us that because of our transgressions His Chalice on the Mount of Olives was made more bitter and His agony more terrible. Then out of the depths of our misery let us humbly ask for pardon: "Have mercy on me, O God, according to Thy great mercy... Wash me yet more from my iniquity..."2

n1. "Ps." LIV, 13-15. n2. "PS. L," Meditation on this psalm is a splendid preparation for confession.

#268. B) As regards the soul, venial sin does not indeed of itself lessen sanctifying grace, but it does affect the existing intimacy of the soul with God. What a loss this is! It brings to a standstill or, at least, it hampers our spiritual activity, clogging, as it were, the fine mechanism of the spiritual life. It weakens the soul's power for good by intensifying the love of pleasure. Above all, if it be deliberate, it predisposes to mortal sin, for in many matters, especially in what concerns purity, the line of demarcation between venial and mortal sin is so narrow, and the charm of forbidden pleasure so alluring, that the borders of mortal sin are easily crossed. Every sin committed means a yielding to and therefore a strengthening of some impulse of our lower nature; it means likewise a weakening of our wills and a lesser grant of grace. When this is repeated, it is easy to understand how the way is prepared for mortal sin.

When we ponder over these consequences of venial sin, it is not difficult to conceive a sincere regret for our negligences and a desire to avoid them in the future.1 In order to have this good purpose take an actual, definite form, it is well to make it bear upon the means that should be taken to reduce the chances of subsequent falls, according to the method we have indicated above (N. 265).

n1. BEAUDENON, op. cit, t. II, ch. II.

#269. In order to insure still further the presence of contrition, it is a good practice to accuse one of the more serious faults of the past for which we are surely sorry, especially a fault that is of the same species as the venial sins we deplore. Here we must be on our guard against two defects: routine and negligence. The first would make of this accusation a mere empty formula devoid of any real sentiment of sorrow; the other would render us unmindful of any actual regret for the venial sins presently accused.

The practice of confession carried out in this manner, the advice of the confessor, and above all, the cleansing power of absolution will be effectual means of disentangling ourselves from the meshes of sin and of advancing in virtue.

lV. Dispositions Required to Profit Well by the Sacrament of the Eucharist1

#270. The Holy Eucharist is both a sacrament and a sacrifice. These two elements are most closely united; for the Sacrifice of the Mass makes present the victim which we receive in Holy Communion. Communion is not, according to the common teaching, an essential part of the sacrifice; it is, however, an integral part since it is by virtue of communion that we partake in the sentiments of the victim and share in the fruits of the sacrifice.

The essential difference between the one and the other is that the sacrifice refers directly to the glory of God whilst the Sacrament's immediate end is the sanctification of our souls. These two objects are but one in reality, for to know and love God is to glorify Him. Each, therefore, contributes to our spiritual progress.

n1. St. THOM., III, q. LXXIX; SUAREZ, disp. LXIII; DALGAIRNS, "Holy Communion;" HUGON, O.P., "La Sainte Eucharistie;" HEDLEY, "The Holy Eucharist."


#271. A) Its Effects. a) The Sacrifice of the Mass first of all glorifies God and glorifies Him in a perfect manner, for here Jesus Christ, through the ministry of the priest offers again to His Father all the acts of adoration, gratitude and love which He once offered on Calvary,-- acts which have an infinite moral value. In offering Himself as victim, He proclaims in a manner most significant God's sovereign domain over all things--this is adoration; in giving Himself to God in acknowledgment of His benefices, Christ offers to Him a praise equal to His gifts-- this is thanksgiving, and it constitutes the eucharistic worship. nothing can prevent this effect from taking place, not even the unworthiness of the minister,2 for the worth of the sacrifice does not depend essentially upon the one through whose ministry it is offered, but on the worth of the victim and on the dignity of the chief priest--no other than Jesus Christ Himself.

This is what the Council of Trent teaches in declaring that this unspotted offering cannot be stained by the unworthiness or malice of those who offer it; that ill this divine sacrifice is contained and immolated, in an unbloody manner, the same Christ that offered Himself in a bloody manner upon the altar of the Cross. Hence, adds the Council, it is the same victim, the same sacrificing-priest who offers Himself now through the ministry of priests and who once offered Himself upon the Cross. There is no difference, save in the manner of offering.3 Thus when we assist at Mass, and all the more when we celebrate Mass, we render unto God Almighty all the homage due to Him and that in a manner most perfect, since we make our own the homage of Jesus, Priest and victim.

Let no one say that this has nothing to do with our sanctification. The truth is, that when we glorify God, He is moved with love toward us, and the more we attend to His glory the more He attends to our spiritual concerns. By fulfilling our duties to Him in union with the victim on the altar, we do a signal work for our own sanctification.

n1. Besides the works already cited, cf. BENEDICT XIV "De ss. Missae Sacrificio;" BONA, "De Sacrificio Missae;" LE GAUDIER, op. cit. P. I, sect. 10a; GIHR, "The Holy Sacrifice of teh Mass;" OLIER, "La Journee chretienne," Occupations interieures pendant le saint sacrifice, p. 49-65; CHAIGNON, S.J., "The Holy Sacrifice; BACUEZ, S.S., "Du divin sacrifice;" E. VANDEUR, O.S.B., "The Holy Mass Explained;" CARD. VAUGHAN, "The Mass;" HEDLEY, "Retreat," C. 24; "Retreat for Priests," C. 13; "A Bishop and his Flock," C. 10; DUNNEY, "The Mass;" MARMION, "Christ the Life of the Soul," P. II, C. VII. n2. In other words, this effect is produced, "ex opere operato," by the very virtue of the sacrifice. n3. Sees. XXII, cap. I-II.

#272. b) The Divine Sacrifice has besides a propitiatory effect by the very virtue of its celebration ("ex opere operato," as theologians say). It means that this Sacrifice, by offering to the Almighty the homage due to Him together with an adequate atonement for sin, inclines Him to bestow upon us, not sanctifying grace directly (this is the effect proper to the sacrament), but actual grace, which produces in us true repentance and contrition, thus securing for us the remission of even the greatest sins.1

At the same time the Sacrifice of the Mass is satisfactory in the sense that it remits without fail to repentant sinners at least part of the temporal punishment due to sin. This is why the Holy Synod adds that Mass can be offered not only for the sins and satisfactions and needs of the living, but also for the relief of those that have died in the Lord without having sufficiently expiated their faults.2

We can easily see how this twofold effect of the Sacrifice, propitiatory and satisfactory, contributes to our progress in the Christian life. The great obstacle to union with God is sin. By obtaining pardon for it and by causing its last vestiges to vanish, a closer and more intimate union with God is prepared: "Blessed are the clean of heart: for they shall see God."3

How comforting to poor sinners thus to see the wall of separation crumble down!--a wall that had kept them from the enjoyment of divine life!

n1. This is the teaching of the Council of "Trent," sess. XXII, c. II. n2. Loc. cit. n3. "Matth.," V, 8.

#273. c) Holy Mass produces also "ex opere operato" an impetratory effect and thus obtains for us all the graces we need for our sanctification.

Sacrifice is prayer in action and He Who with unspeakable groanings makes supplication for us at the altar is the same whose prayers are always heard: " He was heard because of His reverence."1 Thus the Church, the authoritative interpreter of the divine mind, prays there unceasingly, in union with Jesus, Priest and victim, "through Jesus Christ Our Lord," for all the graces which her members need, for health of body and soul, "for their longed for salvation and well-being,"2 for their spiritual growth, asking for her faithful children, specially in the Collect, the particular grace proper to each feast. Whoever enters into this stream of liturgical prayer with the required dispositions is sure to obtain for himself and others the most abundant graces.

It is clear, then, that all the effects of the Holy Sacrifice concur to our sanctification--this all the more effectively, since we do not pray alone therein, but in union with the whole Church and above all in union with its invisible Head, Jesus Christ, Priest and victim, Who, renewing the offering of Calvary, demands in virtue of His Blood and His supplications that His merits and His satisfactions be applied to us.

n1. "Hebr., V, 7. n2. Canon of Mass.

#274. B) Dispositions required to profit by the Holy Sacriflce.1 What dispositions should we have in order to profit by such a powerful means of sanctification? The fundamental and all-inclusive disposition is that of humble and trusting union with the dispositions manifested by Christ on the Cross and renewed now on the Altar. We must strive to share His sentiments of religion and make them our own. In this way we can all carry out what the Pontifical demands of priests: "Realize what you do, and imitate the victim you offer." And this is precisely what the Church through her Liturgy urges us to do.2

n1. The fruits of the Mass, described above, are obtained in various degrees according to the inscrutable decrees of God, first by the celebrant, then by those for whom the Holy Sacrifice is offered, by those whom the priest remembers at the altar, and finally by all those who assist at Mass. We speak here only of these last. n2. Cf. E. VANDEUR, O.S.B., "The Holy Mass; The Following of Christ," Bk. IV, C. 8-9.

#275. a) In the "Mass of the Catechumens" (as far as the Offertory, exclusive) she would have us form sentiments of penitence and contrition (the "Confiteor," "Aufer a nobis," "Oramus te," "Kyrie eleison"); of adoration and gratitude (the "Gloria in excelsis"); of supplication (the "Collect"), and of sincere faith (the" Epistle," "Gospel" and "Creed").

b) The grand drama follows: 1) The offering of the victim at the "Offertory" for the salvation of the whole human race, "For our salvation and that of the entire world"; the offering of the Christian people together with the principal victim, "We beg of Thee, O Lord, in humble spirit and with contrite hearts," followed by a prayer to the Most Holy Trinity to deign to bless and receive the offering of the entire mystical body of Christ. 2) The Preface heralds the great action itself. At the Canon wherein the mystic immolation of the victim is to be renewed, the Church summons us to join with the Angels and Saints, but chiefly the Incarnate Word, in thanking God Almighty, in proclaiming His Holiness, in imploring His help for the Church, for its visible head, its bishops and faithful children, and particularly those assisting at the Sacrifice and those to whom we are bound by closer ties of love.

Then the priest, uniting in fellowship with the Blessed Virgin, with the Holy Apostles, Martyrs, and all the Saints, moves in spirit to the Last Supper, becomes one with the Sovereign Priest, and with Him utters once more the words Jesus spoke in the Cenacle. Obedient to His voice, the Word-made-flesh descends upon the altar with His Body and Blood, silently adoring and praying in His own name and in ours. The Christian people bow in adoration of the Divine victim; they unite with our Lord's own sentiments, His acts of adoration, His requests, and they strive to immolate themselves with Him by offering their own small sacrifices "through Him, and with Him and in Him."

c) The "Our Father begins the preparation for Communion. Members of Christ's mystical body, we repeat the prayer He Himself taught us. We thus offer with Him our acts of religious homage and our entreaties, asking most of all, for that eucharistic bread that will deliver us from all evil, and will give us, together With the pardon of our sins, peace of soul and abiding union With Christ: "And never permit that I be ever separated from Thee." Then, like the Centurion, protesting their unworthiness and begging humble pardon, the priest and the faithful eat the Body and drink the Blood of Christ. Priest and people are thus united most intimately to Jesus, to His inmost soul and through Him to the very Godhead, to the Most Blessed Trinity.

The mystery of union is completed. We are but one with Jesus, and since He is but one with the Father, the sacerdotal prayer of the Savior at the Last Supper is realized: "I in them, and thou in me: that they may be made perfect in one."1

n1. "John" XVII, 23.

#276. d) But one thing remains--to thank the Almighty for such a stupendous gift. This is done at the "Postcommunion" and the prayers that follow. The blessing of the priest bestows on us the affluent riches of the Triune God. The last Gospel recalls to us the glory of the Incarnate Word, who has come once more to dwell among us, whom we carry within us full of grace and truth, that we may throughout the day draw life from life's Source, and live a life like unto His.

It is evident that to assist at Mass or to celebrate it with dispositions such as these is to sanctify ourselves and to nurture in the best possible manner that spiritual life that is within us.


#277. A) Its Effects. The Holy Eucharist, as a sacrament, produces in us an increase of habitual grace, "ex opere operato," by its own virtue. In fact, it has been instituted to be the food of our souls: "My flesh is meat indeed, and my blood is drink indeed."2 Its effects are, therefore, analogous to those of material food; it maintains, increases, and repairs our spiritual forces, causing at the same time a joy that, if not always sensible, is nevertheless real. Jesus Himself, whole and entire, is our food; His Body, His Blood, His Soul, His Divinity. He is united to us to transform us into Himself; this union is at once real and moral, a transforming union, and by nature, permanent.

Such is Christ's doctrine as found in St. John's Gospel and summarized by Father Lebreton:3 "The union of Christ and the Christian as well as the life-giving transformation resulting therefrom are consummated in the Eucharist. Here there is no longer a question of adhering to Christ merely by faith, nor of being incorporated into Him through Baptism. This is a new union that is at once most real and most spiritual by which, it may be said, we are made not only one spirit but in a sense one flesh with Christ." "He that eateth my flesh and drinketh my blood, abideth in me and I in him."4

"This union is so intimate that Our Lord does not hesitate to say: "As I live by the Father, so he that eateth me the same also shall live by me."5 No doubt, this is only an analogy; yet if the analogy is to hold, we must see here not merely a moral union based on a community of sentiments, but a real physical union which implies the mingling of two lives or rather the sharing by the Christian in the very life of Christ." This we shall try to explain.

n1. ST. THOM., q. 79; TANQUEREY, Syn. Theol. Dogm., t III. p. 619-628; DALGAIRNS, Holy communion, p. 154 and foll.; H MOUREAU, Dict de Theol (Mangenot) under the word, Communion; P. HUGON, La Sainte Eucharistie, p. 240 and foll.; MARMION, Christ the Life of the sould, P. II. C. VIII.; LEJEUNE, Holy communion; HEDLEY, The Holy Eucharist; MOTHER LOYOLA, Welcome; Spiritual Combat, c. 53-57; Introd. to a Devout Life, P. 11, C. XXI; THE FOLLOWING OF CHRIST, B IV; Approved Prayer-Books. n2. "John, VI, 55. n3. "Les Origines du dogme de la Trinite," 1910, p. 403. n4. "John," VI, 57. n5. "John", VI, 58.

#278. a) This union is real. It is a matter of faith, according to the Council of Trent, that the Holy Eucharist contains truly, really, and substantially the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ, With His Soul and His Divinity--hence Christ whole and entire.1 Therefore, when we receive Holy Communion we receive veiled under the sacred species the real and physical Body and Blood of Christ, together with His Soul and His Divinity. We are, then, not only the tabernacles but the ciboriums wherein Christ lives, where the angels come and adore Him, and where we should join the heavenly Spirits in adoration. More, there exists between Jesus and ourselves a union similar to that existing between food and him who eats it--with this difference, however, that it is Jesus that transforms us into Himself, and not we who transform Him into our substance. The superior being is the one to assimilate the inferior.2 It is a union that tends to subject our flesh more and more to the spirit and to make it more chaste--a union that sows ;n the flesh the seed of immortality: "He that eateth my flesh and drinketh my blood hath everlasting life, and I will raise him up in the last day."3

n1. Sess. XIII, can. I. n2. This is the remark made by St. AUGUSTINE ("Confessions," lib. VII, c. 10, n. 16, P.L., XXXXII, 742). He puts these words on the lips of the Lord: "I am the food of great souls, grow and you shall be able to eat of me; but you shall not change me into yourself like you do material food., it will be you that shall be changed into me." n3. "John," VI, 35.

#279. b) To this real union is added another union, spiritual in its nature, most intimate in its character, most transforming in its effects. 1) It is most intimate, most sanctifying The soul of Christ, in fact, unites with ours to make us but one heart and one mind with Him--"cor unum et anima una." His imagination and His memory, so righteous and so holy, unite themselves to our own imagination and our own memory to discipline them and turn them toward God and the things of God, by bringing their activities to bear on the remembrance of His benefactions, on His rapturous beauty, on His inexhaustible goodness. His intelligence, true light of the soul, enlightens our minds with the radiance of faith; it causes us to see and value all things as God sees and values them. It is then that we realize the vanity of worldly goods and the folly of worldly standards; it is then that we relish the Gospel truths, so obscure before because opposed to our natural instincts. His will so strong, so constant, so generous, comes to correct our weakness, our inconstancy, our egotism, by communicating to our wills its own Divine energy, so that we can say with St. Paul: "I can do all things in Him who strengtheneth me."1 We feel now that effort will become easy, that temptation will find us immovable, that steadfastness will no longer be above our strength, since we are not alone, but cling to Christ like the ivy to the oak, and thus share in His power. His heart, aglow with love for God and for souls, comes to enkindle our own, so cold toward God, so tender toward creatures. Like the disciples of Emmaus we say to ourselves: "Was not our heart burning within us, whilst He spoke to us in the way:?"2 It is then that under the action of this divine fire we become conscious at times of a well-nigh irresistible impulse toward good, at others, of a sober yet firm determination to do all things, to undergo all sufferings for God and to refuse Him nothing.

n1. "Philip.," IV, 13. n2. "Luke," XXIV, 32.

#280. 1) It is evident that a union such as this is truly transforming. Little by little our thoughts, our ideas, our convictions, and our judgments undergo a change. Instead of weighing the worth of things with the world's standards, we make the thoughts and the views of Jesus Christ our own; we lovingly accept the maxims of the Gospel; we continually ask ourselves the question: What would Jesus do if He were in my place?1

2) The same is true of our desires, of our choices. Realizing that both self and the world are in the wrong, that the truth abides only in Jesus, the Eternal Wisdom, we no longer desire anything but what He desires, that is, God's glory, our own salvation and that of our brethren; we will only what He wills, "not my will but thine be done," and even when this holy will nails us to the Cross, we accept it with all our heart, certain that it bids fair for our spiritual welfare and that of our fellows.

3) Our heart in like manner gradually frees itself from its more or less conscious egotism, from its lower natural affections and attachments, that it may love God and souls in God, more ardently, more generously, more passionately. Now we love no longer divine consolations, be they ever so sweet, but God Himself; no loner the comfort of finding ourselves midst those we love, hut rather the good we can do them. We live now, but we live a more intense life, a life more supernatural, more divine than we did in the past. It is no longer self, the old Adam, that lives, thinks and acts, but Jesus Himself, His spirit, that lives within us and vivifies our own: "I live, now not I, but Christ liveth in me."2

n1. "We become one with Jesus. That is, we have the same "will" as He has. What He loves, we love; what He desires, we desire; what He says ought to be done we long to do and do; His judgments are ours; His behavior under every kind of condition, under all circumstances of persons and occurrences, is the behavior we are always striving to reproduce in our own life and action. Thus, it is no exaggeration to say that in the Holy Communion, Jesus Christ gives us His own heart, taking our heart away. His Heart is the Heart of charity, of purity, of sacrifice." BISHOP HEDLEY, "Retreat," p.279 n2. "Galat.," II, 20.

#281. c) This spiritual union can be as lasting as we wish, as Our Lord Himself testifies: "He that eateth my flesh and drinketh my blood, abideth in me and I in him.1 He desires to tarry with us eternally. It rests with us, His grace helping, ever to remain united to Him.

How is this union maintained? Some authors have thought with Schram2 that Christ's soul folds itself, as it were, in the center of our own soul there to remain constantly.--This would be a miracle most extraordinary, for Christ's soul is ever united to His body and this latter disappears with the sacramental species. We cannot, therefore, accept this opinion, since God does not multiply miracles without necessity.

If, however, His soul does depart from us together with His body, His divinity remains with us as long as we are in the state of grace. More, His sacred humanity united to His divinity maintains with the soul a special union. This can be explained theologically as follows: The Spirit of Jesus, in other words, the Holy Ghost, dwelling within the human soul of Christ, remains in us in virtue of the special relationship we have entered into with Jesus Christ by sacramental Communion, and produces therein interior dispositions similar to those of the Holy Soul of Christ. At the request of Jesus, Whose prayers for us are unceasing, the Holy Ghost grants us more abundant and more efficacious actual graces. With a special care, He preserves us from temptations; He causes in us movements of grace, directs our soul and its faculties, speaks to our heart, strengthens our will, rekindles our love, and thus perpetuates within our soul the effects of sacramental Communion. To enjoy these privileges, however, one must evidently practice interior recollection, hearken attentively to the voice of God, and be ready to comply with His least desire. Thus Sacramental Communion is complemented by a spiritual Communion which renders its effects more lasting.

n1. "John," VI, 56. n2. "Instit. theol. Mysticae," #153.

#282. d) This communion brings about a special union with the Three Divine Persons of the Holy Trinity.1 In virtue of the indwelling of each Divine Person within the other--circumincession--the Eternal Word does not come alone into the soul; He comes with the Father forever generating His Son; He comes with the Holy Ghost forever proceeding from the mutual embrace of the Father and the Son: "If any one love me, my Father will love him and we will come to him and we will make our abode with him."2 No doubt, the Three Divine Persons are already in us by grace, but at the moment of Communion they are present within us because of another, a special title: as we are then physically united to the Incarnate Word, the Three Divine Persons also are, through Him and by Him, united to us, and They love us now as They love the Word-made-Flesh, Whose members we are. Bearing Jesus in our hearts, with Him we bear the Father and the Holy Ghost. Holy Communion, then, is an anticipation of Heaven, and, if we are possessed of a lively faith, we shall realize the truth contained in the words of the "Imitation," that "to be with Jesus is a sweet paradise."3

n1. Cfr. BERNADOT, "De l'Eucharistie a la Trinite." n2. "John," XIV, 23. n3. "The Imitation of Christ," Bk, II, C. 8.

#283. B) Dispositions to profit well by the reception of the Eucharist.1 Since the object of the Eucharist is to effect an intimate, transforming, and permanent union with Christ and God, whatever in our preparation and thanksgiving fosters that union will increase the effects of Holy Communion. a) The preparation will have the form of an anticipated union with Our Lord. We take for granted the union of the soul with God by sanctifying grace as already existing; without it, Communion would constitute a sacrilege.2

1) There is first the more perfect accomplishment of all our duties of state in union with Jesus and in order to please Him. This is the best means of drawing unto us Him Whose whole life was a continual act of filial obedience to the Father. "For I do always the things that please Him"3 This practice we explained in N. 229.

2) The second disposition should be a sincere humility, based, on the one hand, on the exalted sanctity of Jesus Christ and, on the other, upon our lowliness and our unworthiness: "Lord, I am not worthy..." This humility creates, so to speak, a void within the soul, emptying it of its egotism, its pride, its presumption. Now, the more we empty ourselves of self, the more ready we make the soul. to let itself be inhabited and possessed by God.

3) To this humility must be added an ardent desire to be united to God in the Eucharist. Realizing our helplessness and our poverty, we should long for Him Who alone can give strength to our weakness, enrich us with His treasures and fill the void within our hearts. Such a desire will, by dilating the soul, throw it wide open to Him Who in turn desires to give Himself to us: "With desire I have desired to eat this pasch with you."4

n1. Mother M. Loyola, "Welcome;" Lejeune, "Holy Communion; Approved Prayer-Books. n2. Hence, were one conscious of mortal sin, it would be imperative, first of all, to confess it with contrition and humility of heart, not being content with an act of contrition no matter how perfect. Cf. AD. TANQUEREY, "Syn. theol. Dogm.," 1, III, N. 652-654. n3. "John," VIII, 29. n4. "Luke XXIII," 15.

284. b) The best thanksgiving will be to prolong our union with Jesus.

1) It should begin by an act of silent adoration,1 of self-abasement and complete surrender of ourselves to Him Who being God, gives Himself all to us: " O Hidden God, devoutly I adore Thee... To Thee my heart I bow with bended knee."2 In union with Mary, the most perfect adorer of Jesus Christ, we shall abase ourselves before the majesty of the Godhead to bless it, praise it, thank it, first, in the Word-made-Flesh, and then with Him and through Him, in the Most Blessed Trinity. "My soul doth magnify the Lord. . . He Who is mighty hath done great things unto me, and holy is His name."3 Nothing so enables Jesus to take complete possession of the soul, to penetrate its very depths, as this act of self-abasement. This is the manner in which we poor creatures can gives ourselves to Him Who is All. We shall give Him whatever of good is in us since all this good proceeds from Him and has never ceased to be His. We shall further offer Him our miseries that He may consume them with the fire of His love and place in their stead His perfect dispositions. What a wondrous exchange!

n1. Many, forgetting this first act, begin at once to ask for favors without considering the fact that our requests will be all the better received, if first of all, we render our homage to Him Who honors us with His presence. n2. "Hymn of" St. THOMAS. n3. "Luke," I, 46 and ff.

#285. 2) Then take place sweet colloquies between the soul and the Divine Guest: "Speak, Lord, for thy servant heareth... Give me understanding that I may know thy testimonies... Incline my heart unto the words of thy mouth .. " This is the acceptable time to listen attentively to Our Master and Our Friend, to speak to Him with reverence, with candor, with love. This is the moment in which Jesus instills into us His dispositions and His virtues. We must lay our soul open to the divine communications and not only receive them, but also relish them and assimilate them. That this communion may not degenerate into a mere form, it will be good to vary, if not daily at least from time to time, the subject of our colloquies. This can be done by choosing now one virtue and then another, or by the loving consideration of some Gospel-texts, begging Our Lord for help to understand and relish them, and for grace to live by them.

#286. 3) One must not fail to thank God for the lights and the loving sentiments He has vouchsafed to us, to thank Him, too, for the very darkness and weariness of soul in which He has at times allowed us to remain. Even these are profitable to us unto humility, unto the acknowledgment of our unworthiness to receive divine favors; profitable, because they enable us to adhere more frequently by will to Him Who even in the midst of our aridity, pours into us m a hidden and mysterious manner His life and His virtues. We ask Him to communicate to our souls His action and His life. "O Jesus living in Mary, come and live in thy servants.1 We beg Him to accept and transform the little good within us: "Take, Lord, and accept my liberty."2

n1. Prayer of Father de Condren completed by Father Olier. n2. Prayer of S. Ignatius in the "Contemplation on the love of God."

#287. 4) We promise to make the sacrifices required to reform and transform our lives, especially in this or that particular point, and conscious of our weakness we beg earnestly for the courage of carrying this promise into effect.1 This point is of capital importance: each Communion should be received with this end in view, to advance in the practice of some particular virtue.

n1. On the spirit of a victim cf. L. CAPELLE, S.J., "Les ames genereuses"

#288 5) This is likewise the moment to pray for all who are dear to us, for the vast interests of the Church, for the intentions of the Sovereign Pontiff, for bishops and priests. Let us have no fear of making our prayer too universal: this rather gives assurance that we shall be heard.

Finally, we conclude by asking Our Lord to vouchsafe us the grace of abiding in Him as He does in us, the grace of performing all our actions in union with Him, in a spirit of thanksgiving. We entrust to the Blessed Virgin that same Jesus she guarded so well, in order that she may aid us in making Him grow in our hearts. Thus strengthened by prayer we pass on to action.


#289. We have, then, at our disposal three great means of sustaining and expanding that Christian life God has so bountifully begotten within us--means of giving ourselves as whole-heartedly to God as He has given Himself to us:

1) Fighting relentlessly and fearlessly against our spiritual foes. With the help of God and the aid of all the heavenly protectors He has given us, certain victory and the further strengthening of our spiritual life are assured.

2) Sanctifying all our actions, even the most commonplace. Through the oft-repeated offering of them to God, we acquire numberless merits, add largely day by day to our stock of grace, and strengthen our title to heaven, the while we make reparation and atone for our faults.

3) The sacraments, received with right and fervent dispositions, add to our personal merits a rich bounty of grace which proceeds from Christ's own merits. Approaching so frequently the sacrament of Penance and communicating daily as we do, it is in our power, if we will, to become saints. Jesus Christ came and still comes to us to communicate with largess His life to us: "I am come that they may have life and may have it more abundantly."1

Our task is but to lay our souls open to receive this divine life, to foster it and make it grow by our constant participation in the dispositions, the virtues, and the sacrifices of Jesus Christ. At last the moment will come when transformed into Him, having no other thoughts, no other sentiments, no other motives than His own, we shall be able to repeat the words of S. Paul: "I live, now not I, but Christ liveth in me."

n1. "John," X, 10.


#290. At the close of this chapter, the most important of this First Part, we can understand better the nature of the Christian life.

(1) It is a real participation in God's life, for God lives in us and we in Him. He lives in us really--in the Unity of His nature and in the Trinity of His persons. Nor is He inactive there. He creates in the soul a complete supernatural organism that enables it to live a life, not indeed equal, but truly similar, to His, a Godlike life. More, it is He Who gives it movement by His actual grace, He Who helps us to make our acts meritorious, He Who rewards these acts by a further infusion of habitual grace. We also live in Him and for Him, for we are His co-workers. By the aid of His grace, we freely accept the divine impulse, co-operate with it and by it triumph over our enemies acquire merit, and prepare ourselves for the rich effusion of grace given to us by the Sacraments. Withal, we must not forget that even our free consent itself is the work of His grace, and this is the reason why we refer to Him the merit attached to our good works, living unto Him, just as we live by Him and in Him.

291. (2) This life is also a participation in the life of Jesus, for Christ lives in us and we live in Him. He lives in us not only as the Father lives in us--as God, but He also lives in us, as the God-man. He is, in fact, the head of a mystical body whose members we are, and from Him it is that we receive movement and life. He lives within us in a still more mysterious manner, for through His merits and prayers He causes the Holy Ghost to create within us dispositions like those which the same Divine Spirit produced in His own soul. He lives in us really and physically at the moment of Communion, and through His divine Spirit communicates to us His sentiments and His virtues. We too live in Him. We are incorporated into Him and we freely receive His divine impulse. It is likewise by the free action of our wills that we imitate His virtues, even though our success comes from the grace He merited for us. Lastly, it is freely that we adhere to Him as the branch to the vine and open our souls to receive that divine life He so liberally infuses into us. As we have all from Him, it is by Him and unto Him that we live, only too glad to give ourselves to Him as He gives Himself to us, our one regret being that the manner of our giving is so imperfect.

#292. (3) This life is, in a certain measure, also a participation in Mary's life, or, as Father Olier says, a participation in the life of Jesus living in Mary. Desiring that His Holy Mother be a living image of Himself, Jesus through His merits and prayers communicates to her His divine Spirit, Who makes her share to a preeminent degree in His dispositions and His virtues. It is thus that He lives in Mary, and, since He wills that His Mother be also our Mother, He wills that she engender us in spirit. Giving us spiritual life (of course as a secondary cause), Mary not only makes us share in Jesus' life, but in her own as well. At the same time, then, that we participate in the life of Jesus, we participate in that of Mary-- in other words, in the life of Jesus living in Mary. Such is the thought which the beautiful prayer of Father de Condren completed by Father Olier so well expresses: "O Jesus, living in Mary, come and live in thy servants."

#293. (4) Finally, this life is a participation in the lives of the Saints of heaven and of those of earth. As we have seen, the mystical body of Christ includes all those that have been incorporated into Him by Baptism and especially those enjoying the possession of grace and of heavenly glory. All the members of this mystical body share one common life, the life they receive from the Head, which is diffused in their souls by one and the same Spirit. We are then in all truth brethren, having our life from a common Father, a life spiritual, the plenitude whereof is in Christ Jesus, "of whose fullness we have all received." Thus the Saints in heaven and those of earth have our spiritual welfare at heart and aid us in our struggle against the flesh, the world and the devil.

#294. How consoling are these truths! Doubtless, the spiritual life here below is a warfare. Hell fights against us and finds allies in the world, and chiefly in our threefold concupiscence. But Heaven fights for us, and Heaven means not only the host of Angels and Saints, but Christ the victor over Satan, the Most Blessed Trinity living and reigning within the soul. We should, therefore, be full of confidence, being assured of victory, if only we distrust ourselves and rely upon God: "I can do all things in Him, Who strengtheneth me."1

n1. "Phil.," IV, 13.