The teaching of the Church concerning grace was particularly developed at the Council of Trent. Consequently, when dealing with grace, it is necessary to refer to authors after the Council of Trent.
If you keep in mind that the Church was a living entity before any Councils, this should serve to place the subject in its proper perspective.
Most heresies in the time of the Apostles arose from the fact that many converts from Talmudism to Catholicism thought they should observe the man-made laws and traditions of the Levitical priests, rabbim, and scribes. Such things as circumcision and the distinction between `clean' and `unclean' meats created much conflict among the first members of the infant Church.
Then, too, there were those among the converts to the Church who were influenced by Greek philosophies of various kinds and other naturalistic ideas.
The Church did not really need `apologists' at that time because the doctrines of Jesus and His Apostles were still fresh in their minds. The Apostles believed what Jesus taught them and they did what He taught them to do. It was just that simple.
Anyone who did not accept the concepts transmitted to them by the Apostles and their legitimate representatives, or did not practice the things that the Catholic community did, were rightly considered "outside the community of the faithful."
The Apostles administered the Sacraments validly and fruitfully even though they had never heard the words "valid" and "fruitful" ever spoken.
For example, St. Paul consecrated Bishops before St. Peter was even aware of the fact. That some of the bishops consecrated by him turned away from the faith is clear from the words of St. John in the Apocalypse.
The same is true of priests ordained by any one of the Apostles: some abandoned the true faith and started their own sects. All this in the time of the Apostles and of St. Paul.
The authority of St. Paul was challenged by the so-called "Judaizers" _ converts from Babylonian Talmudism who called themselves "Jews" but were not. They sought to usurp the authority of the Apostles by setting themselves between the Apostles and the faithful.
Without using the word `grace' in its technical theological meaning, the actions of St. Paul and the first Christians could be described as being the works of supernatural grace, or, lacking this, the works of fallen nature.
What we find today is a universal lack of grace. This seemingly bold statement can only be made as a conclusion of observation in the way that people think and live.
The tragedy is that the majority of people who think they are `Catholic' follow the beasts of the Apocalypse, thinking all the while that they are `good Catholics' or `good Christians.'
Actually, setting aside emotion and sentiment (two things that are very difficult for the undisciplined to do), there can only be authentic Christianity among Roman Catholics and no where else. And, even among them, authenticity depends upon the measure according to which one lives a life of grace.
The Christian, then, is a mystery to the world.
We must consider as a `Christian' one who not only has grace, but one who lives by this grace.
Consequently, a `Christian' is one who is so in his very being; that is, in his actions. A `Christian' is a Christian insofar as he lives as one.
How is the Christian a `mystery' to the world?
There are two meanings to the word `mystery.' The first meaning signifies something unknowable or incomprehensible. In the second meaning it refers to a sensible sign of the divine. The Christian is a mystery in both meanings.
For the moment, we will consider the word `mystery' in its first meaning, namely, as something incomprehensible.
The Christian is incomprehensible to right reason unaided by grace. As a consequence of this, the Christian appears to others as acting unreasonably.
Certainly, the saints and all good Christians appear to those without grace to be acting contrary to what is termed `right reason.'
The Christian is a mystery to the world. By the `world' we must understand those who live and judge according to reason alone and who do not conduct themselves according to the faith.
Consequently, all those are to be considered `of the world' who conduct themselves uniquely according to their reason _ even if that reason is right philosophical reason.
Even those Christians who have the true faith but do not live by it are `of the world'. For them also, the conduct of Christians appears incomprehensible.
If the Christian lives according to the faith, he seems to do things that are against sound reason; and, to do things that are contrary to right reason is to be unreasonable, which, of course, makes the Christian appear as a fool.
This is what causes persecutions. There will be, then, divisions in the world: This is the sword brought to earth by our Lord _ the word of God lived.
As was already stated, the Christian will be a sign of contradiction to the world only in so far as he lives as a Christian. For, our Lord Himself said: "Woe to you when all men speak well of you! In the selfsame manner their fathers used to treat the prophets" 1(Luke 6, 26).
A good example of this may be seen in the present day success of the many false prophets who are supported by failing Christians. Beginning with the `Beast from the earth' _ Karol Wojtyla _ to the multitude of false prophets who profit materially from the foolish people who support them.
All men praise and shower the false prophets with honors and wealth because these prophets are without supernatural grace just as those who follow them are without grace..
These truths cannot be debated nor disputed. In the case of Wojtyla, anyone who would still honestly believe that this man is the Vicar of Jesus Christ is either totally ignorant or worse. The same is true of the many clerical and lay imposters who flood the world with their half-truths and outright lies. The grace of God is not in them. They cannot act according to the manner in which every true and genuine Catholic acts.
They are heretics because they deny the teachings of the Church that are clearly taught in the Holy Scriptures.
The Christian is he who is of God and lives in God. But, the world does not know God. Therefore, the world does not know the Christian. This is proven by two texts from Holy Scripture.
The first proof is found in St. Paul's First Epistle to the Corinthians: "Now we have not received the spirit of the world, but the spirit that is from God, that we may know the things that have been given us by God.
These things we also speak, not in words taught by human wisdom, but in the learning of the Spirit, combining spiritual with spiritual.
But the sensual man does not perceive the things that are of the Spirit of God, for it is foolishness to him and he cannot understand, because it is examined spiritually. But the spiritual man judges all things, and he himself is judged by no man.
For `who has known the mind of the Lord, that he might instruct him'? But we have the mind of Christ" (I Cor. 2,12ff).
The second proof is from I John 3,1: "Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed upon us, that we should be called children of God; and such we are."
The consequence of being children of God is that, as St. John points out, the world does not know us: "This is why the world does not know us, because it did not know him" (Ibid. 3, 1b).
Of course, those who adhere to any other religion likewise do not know us because they do not know the Father Whom they claim to call their "God". For, if they were of God the Father, they would know us and be with us.
Let us consider the implications of this text of Holy Scripture.
`Called' means to be a child of God. This term as used in Holy Scripture, that is, `to be called' means to be that which one is called or to be the thing called. We read this in the prophet Osee: "Say to your brethren: You are my people; and to your sister: Thou hast obtained mercy" (Osee 2,1).
Likewise, we read in the Gospel according to St. Luke: He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Most High; ." (Luke 1,32).
The word `are' is used because it emphasizes the fact of being and living as the children of God. The love of God has made us children of God, and we must live as His children. Only as we live as His children are we truly that, and this is the reason why the world does not understand us.
Again, the word `world' _ as St. Augustine explains it as is found in the homily of Holy Thursday, 2nd Nocturn) refers to all those who have the spirit of the world and often with a negative meaning because the spirit of the world is led by the three concupiscences: the flesh, pride, and avarice. The love of the world, says St. John, is opposed to the love of God (I John 2, 15).
Implications of this text are as follows:
Having become a children of God, Christians undergo a transformation. This transformation makes them lose the form of the world and they take upon themselves the form of Jesus Christ which is the form of God. Now, considered in themselves, God or His Son, are unknown by the world, are not understood by the world, and are therefore, rejected by the world.
Our Lord Himself repeated this many times: In responding to the accusations and questions of the Talmudists, Jesus gave answer: "And the Father himself, who has sent me, has borne witness to me. But you have never heard his voice, or seen his face. And you have not his word abiding in you, since you do not believe him whom he has sent" (John 5, 37-38).
Because they are not of God, but of the world, the Talmudists ("Jews") do not know Him nor His Son.
Jesus addresses this point at great length when He says to the Talmudic priests and rabbis:
"They therefore said to him, `Where is thy father?' Jesus answered, `You know neither me nor my Father. If you knew me, you would know my Father also'(Ibid. 8,19).
Jesus told these apostates from the true that they would die in their sin: "Again therefore, Jesus said to them, `I go, and you will seek me, and in your sin you will die. Where I go you cannot come" (Ibid. 8, 21).
Why will these people die in their sin? And why will everyone following their example and teachings die in their sin? Jesus gives the answer to them and to everyone:
"You are from below, I am from above. You are of this world, I am not of this world. Therefore, I said to you that you will die in your sins; for if you do not believe that I am he (Note: the Messiah), you will die in your sin" (Ibid. 8, 23-24).
Our Lord says: "And the Father himself, who has sent me, has borne witness to me. But you have never heard his voice, or seen his face" (St. John, 5, 37).
Notice that Jesus speaks in an absolute sense: "But you have never heard his voice, or seen his face."
Jesus continues: "And you have not his word abiding in you, since you do not believe him whom he has sent."
Is there life outside of union with the humanity of Jesus? We turn again to the words of Jesus Himself: "You search the Scriptures, because in them you think that you have life everlasting. And it is they that bear witness to me, yet you are not willing to come to me that you may have life" (Ibid. 5, 39-40).
These are so many proofs and examples of the difference between natural life and the supernatural life of grace.
Following are a few more texts that show the difference between those who have grace and those who do not have it The Talmudic Jews do not know Jesus because they do not really know God: "Jesus therefore, while teaching in the temple, cried out and said, `You both know me, and know where I am from. Yet I have not come of myself, but he is true who has sent me, whom you do not know. I know him because I am from him, and he has sent me" (Ibid. 7, 28-29).
Just before His Passion, Jesus uttered the following beautiful prayer: Just Father, the world has not know thee, but I have known thee, and these have known that thou has sent me. And I have made known to them thy name, and will make it known, in order that the love with which thou hast loved me may be in them, and I in them" (Ibid.17,25).
"No one who abides in him commits sin; and no one who sins has seen him, or has known him" (I John 3,6).
Then, there are the powerful words of the last Gospel according to St. John: "He was in the world, and the world was made through him, and the world knew him not" (St. John 1, 10).
The wisdom of the world is incapable of knowing God. Reason alone can prove the existence of a Creator (Master); it can never prove the Trinity, that is, that there is one God, the Father, and that this Father has a Son. How much more so, reason unaided by grace cannot comprehend that I am a child of God and that I conduct myself as a child of God. Because the world cannot understand this, it looks upon it as absurd and foolish.
Finally, the Holy Spirit inspires the Christian and the Christian puts these inspirations into practice. The natural man who lives according to the triple concupiscence or who judges according to natural reason cannot understand him. And, seeing the difference between his own conduct and that of the Christian, he persecutes the Christian.
This same phenomenon occurs in human love. The exchange of love between two lovers is incomprehensible. And because it is incomprehensible, it appears foolish.
1 The `prophets' spoken of here allude to the false prophets.
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