One of the most fundamental realities separating genuine Catholics from everyone else is presence of sanctifying grace. Without this supernatural grace, there is no justification and no salvation. More than anything else, that which is most ignored by all those who style themselves either as `liberals' or `conservatives' or `traditionalists' is the essential difference between that which is natural and that which is supernatural. The supernatural life of grace elevates man above the natural.
The vital principle of the spiritual life, i.e., the supernatural life, is God Himself. It is God living within the soul that becomes the source of grace. This grace makes it possible for the one possessing it to perform supernatural acts. It is these supernatural acts alone that merit further graces and which, ultimately bring about what is commonly called `salvation.'
Natural acts, even those that are not in themselves sinful are not meritorious for receiving a supernatural reward.
The Holy Ghost is the uncreated grace dwelling within a soul that has been baptized and is in the true Church. Habitual grace is created. It is not identical with uncreated grace. Created grace makes us like unto God and unites us to Him in the closest possible manner: "This deification consists, in so far as is possible, in a certain resemblance to God and union with Him" (Pseudo-Dionysius, De eccl. Hierarchia, c.I, n.3, O.G. III, 373).
Sanctifying grace (habitual grace) is generally 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."
As Bossuet says: "It is 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." (La vie intérieure, p.401).
This unique quality makes us, as St. Peter forcefully states: "partakers of the divine nature" (II Peter, 1, 4). This grace causes us to enter into a relationship with the Holy Ghost: "the communication of the Holy Ghost" (II Cor.13, 13).
We do not become God, nor are we to imagine ourselves as some kind of `emanation' of God as do all pantheistic religions such as Judaism which identifies its nationalism with being God.
Grace imparts to the soul a life similar to God's life. Those who do not have this grace do not participate in this divine life.
Because of the essential difference between the life of supernatural grace and any naturalistic transformation of this doctrine into a form of pantheism, or `panChristism' (such as John Paul II's), Pope Pius XII (a Pope most worthy of genuine canonization) stated in his doctrinal Encyclical Letter "Mystici Corporis Christi" that those who are not united with the true Church in faith and obedience are not only outside the Mystical Body of Jesus Christ, but that "those who are divided in faith or government cannot be living in the unity of such a Body, nor can they be living the life of its one Divine Spirit".
Pope Leo XIII stated in his Encyclical Letter Divinum illud: "Let it suffice to say that, as Christ is the Head of the Church, so is the Holy Spirit her soul."
From these basic truths, we must draw the logical conclusions and practical applications. For, it is clear that we do not live in some kind of idealistic world with no contact with the concrete, physical world. Since our actions express our ideas, it is by our actions that our thoughts and intentions are truly revealed. This, also, is the reason why nothing is done in the Church that is not approved by the Bishop. The Bishop is the divinely appointed shepherd of souls of whom our Lord Himself has said: "He who hears you, hears Me." It is not that the Bishop is a despotic dictator or a democratic tyrant. But, the Bishop is the instrument through which the Holy Ghost works, influencing the entire Mystical Body for its increased growth and sanctification.
It is false, therefore, for anyone to claim genuine union in the Church who does not submit to the legitimate authority divinely possessed by the successors of the Apostles. Anyone in union with heretics _ whether these heretics be laymen, priests, bishops, cardinals, or even popes _ partake in the same penalties as those falling under the censure for heresy. No one can be a genuine Catholic who maintains union with heretics. The same is true of anyone who maintains union with those laymen or priests who are disobedient to their Bishop. They are understandably considered as heretics and/or schismatics who assist at the Masses (Even valid Masses) or receive the Sacraments from such clergyman.
Why is this? Pope Pius XII explained it very clearly: There is no supernatural life in those who separate themselves from their Shepherds either in matters of faith or obedience.
Certainly, as with any heretical sect, the natural life remains as do all natural activities. However, since there is no supernatural life in that soul, there is no salvation possible until the situation is remedied. Consequently, all laity and clergymen are warned and urged not to sin against the Holy Ghost by rejecting the valid and legitimate hierarchy established by this same Holy Ghost. Laity and priests and usurper bishops are separated from the Mystical Body of Jesus Christ and therefore, as Pope Pius XII truly says, such as these "cannot be living the life of its one Divine Spirit."
The faithful should not confuse natural enthusiasm in the name of religion with genuine supernatural zeal which is the fruit of the Holy Ghost.
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