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109. The Necessity of Grace

2. Man's will also needs supernatural aid tochoose and accomplish supernatural good. This aid is a strengthadded to the natural strength of the will, and bestowed on the willas a gift of God. The name of this gift is grace.

1. A creature depends upon God for its existence and its abilityto act, and also for the exercise of its ability to act. Man'sintellect therefore needs God to know anything whatever. Butman's intellect needs God in a special way to know truths thatlie beyond its natural range. To grasp such truths, the mind of manrequires supernaturallight in addition to its own naturallight. This supernatural light is the light of grace.

3. Speaking absolutely, man can love God above all thingswithout grace, for this is the very drive and purpose of hisnature. But man is fallen; sin has hurt his nature; he can nolonger achieve what ought to be naturally attainable. Therefore,even to love God naturally above all things, man requiressupernatural grace. Certainly, to love God supernaturallyabove all things, man requires grace, and would require it even ifhe had retained his primal innocence.

4. Man cannot fulfill the Commandments of the Law withoutthe help of grace. Before the fall, innocent man could, withoutgrace, perform the works required by the Commandments, but couldnot perform them out of supernatural charity as their perfectiondemands. Therefore, man, innocent as well as fallen, needs thegrace of God to fulfill the law of God.

5. Hence it is clear that man cannot merit heaven by hisunaided efforts. Man labors for a supernatural end, and such an endis, by the very force of ideas and words, outside the range andgrasp of natural powers: the natural cannot compass thesupernatural. To win heaven, man must have divine grace.

6. Indeed, man cannot, without grace, even prepare himselfto receive grace. To prepare himself for grace, man must be turnedto God in a supernatural way; for this supernatural turning to God,supernatural aid is required; grace is required.

7. Man cannot rise from sin without grace. By serious sin,man stains his soul, brings disorder into his natural powers, andincurs the debt of everlasting punishment. And man cannot, withoutgrace, remove these evil consequences of grave sin.

8. Nor, without grace, can a man avoid sin. For the fallof Adam has left man prone to sin, and has dulled his naturalpowers of alertness and ready opposition to its attacks. Withoutsupernatural aid, man must certainly succumb to some of theassaults of temptation. Hence, man needs grace to avoid sin.

9. Once he has attained grace, man is not therebypermanently equipped for doing good and avoiding evil. He needs newgraces, constantly supplied. True, once grace is attained,man's nature is healed and made capable of meritorious acts;his soul has the state or habit of sanctifying grace. But, inaddition to this habitual grace, man needsspecial helps tomeet continual emergencies, unruly tendencies and urges in hisnature, darkness of mind and weakness of will in particular caseswhere he needs to know what to do and needs prompt strength to doit valorously. Man in the state of sanctifying grace needsan unfailing supply of actual graces. Just so, a man inrobust health needs an unfailing supply of food and the otherthings that will keep him in health.

10. Perseverance in God's grace to the end of life requiresthe sustained giving of graces by almighty God, and is itself aspecial grace. The fact that a man has obtained grace is not aguarantee that he will never lose it, nor is it guarantee that, iflost, grace will be recovered and possessed at the time of death.Yet it is of paramount importance that man have grace at the momentof death. He is required to "persevere unto the end," ifhe is to be saved. Hence man needs the special gift and grace ofGod which is called "the grace of final perseverance,"and for this gift and grace he must ever pray.

"Though the path is plain and smooth for people of good will, those who walk it will not travel far, and will do so only with difficulty if they do not have good feet, courage, and tenacity of spirit. "
St John of the Cross, OCD - Doctor of the Church

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"Lord, take from me everything that hinders me from going to You. give me all that will lead me to You. Take me from myself and give me to Yourself."
St Nicholas Flue

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"There is nothing which gives greater security to our actions, or more effectually cuts the snares the devil lays for us, than to follow another person’s will, rather than our own, in doing good."
St Philip Neri

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