Thursday 22nd February 2018

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God The Sanctifier Of Men… Other Christs

September 17, 2017 Our Catholic Faith No Comments

By RAYMOND DE SOUZA, KM

Part 3

In a previous article, I mentioned that sanctifying grace makes us brethren of Christ. It is, by the way, one more reason to have devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of Christ and Mother of us, our common Mother. The reason is quite simple to understand: Christ is the Head of the Church, and we are its members. A mother does not give birth only to the head of a child, but to the whole child, head and members. Since she is the Mother of the Head, and we are the members, she is our Mother, too.
Yes, sanctifying grace makes us other Christs. It makes us brethren to Him and to one another. Sharing in His life, we are joined to Him as the living branches are joined to the vine-stock (John 15:5), or as the members of the living body are joined to its head. The divine sap, as it were, that runs through the vine also runs through its branches. This is how we share in Jesus’ divine life.
“Brethren of Christ” is no empty name! If we could live next door to Jesus’ carpenter shop in Nazareth, and had the opportunity to live in Jerusalem, who would move? But sharing in His Life by divine grace is infinitely superior than living next door to Him. And who would forfeit that loving intimacy with Him which it denotes, and with which no human friendship can be compared?
More: As brethren of Christ, the Holy Spirit is enthroned in our souls by sanctifying grace. A change happens in the soul and it is caused by sanctifying grace. The change is wrought by all Three Divine Persons of the Blessed Trinity. However, being a work of divine love, it is properly ascribed to the Holy Spirit.
Is there a chance of losing this change, this indwelling of God in us? Can we stop that indwelling of the Holy Spirit in us? Yes, unfortunately, we can. Mortal sin is the element of death that makes us God’s enemies. This is so because His divine presence is incompatible with serious sin, for, as the Church prays, “He is Himself the remission of all sins.”
Another interesting thing to know is that every soul is unique in a certain sense, because each one reflects one or more aspects of God. Now, since God has an infinite number of aspects, the variety of reflections is mind-boggling! And a soul in state of grace is a real work of art, and the Holy Spirit is the Divine Artist who makes our soul like the soul of Jesus.
Just as the Holy Spirit unites Father and Son in eternal love, so it is He who unites us as other sons to the Father. It is He who draws us into sharing the life of the Blessed Trinity.
Having made us other Christs, the Holy Spirit takes up His dwelling in our soul. He makes it His temple, and sets up His throne there: “Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, which you have from God” (1 Cor. 6:19)? The Father and the Son are with the Holy Spirit in this indwelling: “If a man loves me,” says Christ, “he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him” (John 14:23).
The “love” of which He speaks here as uniting the soul to Father and Son is the Personal Divine Love, the Holy Spirit. St. Augustine says: “Love, therefore, which is of God, is properly the Holy Spirit, by whom the Love of God is shed abroad in our hearts, that Love by which the whole Trinity dwells in us.”
You may ask: “OK, it looks great, marvelous, outstanding, but…why don’t I see any of these things?” The reason is that we are here talking about spiritual realities, and not material ones. And our eyes are geared to see material realities, not spiritual ones.
Thus, the beauty of sanctifying grace is hidden to our eyes in this life. Just as a blind man cannot see the radiance of the sunlight being poured upon him, we cannot see the radiance of the divine presence in us. The soul of the just man reflects the very light of the Godhead, yes, and it shines with a radiance like that of Christ Himself in His Transfiguration on the mountain! But we cannot see it with our material eyes. . . .
If we could see the beauty of this precious gift of sanctifying grace in us, it would be almost impossible for us ever to lose it by mortal sin, for all things else — wealth, rank, power, or anything we may name — would seem to us by contrast to be as valueless as a speck of dust.
But God grants us no such vision in this life. It is His holy will to try us. He wants us to believe for a little while without seeing, until at death faith is changed into sight.
Since sanctifying grace places us at the height inaccessible to the natural power of even the greatest of archangels, it is clear that it can come to us from none other than God Himself. God alone — i.e., the Blessed Trinity — is the source of all Grace; but He imparts it to us through the Human Nature of Christ.
Christ as Man is the living instrument of God; He is the arm of God. God is the principal cause of grace; Christ as Man is the instrumental cause.
Naturally, with sanctifying grace we receive the divine virtues of Faith, Hope, and Charity. Faith opens our eyes to all that we must believe and do in order to be saved; hope buoys us up and encourages us to struggle and persevere; charity makes us the friends of God.
In Heaven, faith will be changed to sight; we will see what we have believed in; and, with the attainment of all we desired, the need for hope will disappear. But charity will remain: It draws us near to God in this life, and it will unite us ever so much more closely to Him in the embrace of love throughout the life to come.
Finally, sanctifying grace grants us the moral virtues, which are all those other virtues which are necessary for a good Christian life. They may be grouped under the four main headings: Prudence, Temperance, Justice, and Fortitude.

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(Raymond de Souza, KM, is available to speak at Catholic events anywhere in the free world in English, Spanish, French, and Portuguese. Please email SacredHeartMedia@Outlook.com or visit www.RaymonddeSouza.com or phone 507-450-4196 in the United States.)

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