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Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Grace Builds On Nature

Not all of us get to be heroes of a certain sort. We could probably easily find a story of a soldier who sacrificed his life for his brothers-in-arms. That's real virtue and heroism, but absent any other information, it would be natural virtue. To say that it does not merit salvation before God is not to say it is worthless. That is one error. Another error is to say that a person by his or her natural power can please God. That is called "Pelagianism." The Church has always taught rather that salvation consists in friendship with God, and that friendship happens by grace. We can say that grace is the presence and power of God that elevates man above his natural powers, into friendship and likeness with God. The wise people of old say that friends have to share something to be friends. Grace allows us to traverse an infinite distance to be friends with God.

This is no small thing, actually. It could be a mercy of God that we Catholics, even of the faithful sort, are as ignorant as children about this. Most days, the sacraments seem rather ordinary. It's a bit like the day I met Stan Musial. I was 12, but still a bit too young to understand. This was perhaps one of the 10 best baseball players on Earth ever at any time, and I had no idea. Stan didn't care that I had no idea; his magnanimity was greater than my ignorance, as many others surely can attest.

To an infinitely greater degree, Christ's magnanimity is greater than our ignorance. This is why we are always "giving thanks that You have held us worthy to be in Your presence, and minister to You." Christ lovingly brings us to the Father, so that each day, we understand better the greatness of Him who calls us.

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