What are the effects of grace?
- Sanctifies: Grace is a sharing in the divine life. It is the infused presence of God, a presence that is supernatural, not merely natural. Human persons are not born in a state of grace. And there is nothing we can do ourselves to earn grace. Rather, divine grace is favor, and it is freely bestowed. It is true that we can reject grace. And so we have to cooperate with it. But it is grace that renders the human person holy and favorable to God. So the first effect of grace is that it sanctifies. No one can be truly holy unless he is in a state of grace.
- Beautifies: Grace renders the soul beautiful. For whatever is holy is beautiful. God is the Supreme Beauty, or Subsistent Beauty Itself. If grace is a sharing in the divine life, then grace can only beautify the soul. It has been said that the eyes are the windows of the soul. There is a great deal of truth to this statement. One can readily see the difference between the soul that is elevated by divine grace. There is a splendor in the countenance, a superabundance of a certain humane quality in the eyes that renders the person very attractive.
- Strengthens the will: We are so wounded by Original Sin that we simply don't have what it takes to rise above our inclination to sin and do the good that is pleasing to God. Nor are we strong enough to resist evil. But divine grace enables us to resist evil, and it strengthens the will to do good.
- Enlightens the Mind: In order to do good or resist evil, we have to be able to discern what is truly good and evil. To the perverted mind unenlightened by grace, what is evil appears as good, and what is good appears as evil. Dulling of the intellect is an effect of Original Sin. So grace enlightens the mind, enabling us to see intuitively all sorts of things that we would otherwise be in the dark about.
- Inspires to prayer:Grace inspires us to good works of all sorts, but most importantly it inspires us to draw closer to God. Grace inspires us to pray, to praise God, to adore God, to trust Him, to petition Him, and to thank Him. And of course, the more we enter deeply into prayer, the more beautiful the soul becomes, which manifests physically in the eyes, and the stronger we are made to resist evil and do good, and the more enlightened the mind becomes.
The Gravity of Sin:
Mortal Sin: destroys the grace of God within the soul. Through mortal sin, a person turns his back entirely on God and rejects His friendship.
Three Conditions of Mortal Sin:
- Serious matter - adultery, abortion, killing a person's reputation, etc
- Full knowledge - one cannot be in sin and NOT know it.
- Deliberate consent - one must consent freely and deliberately, as opposed to being momentarily overcome by passion.
Venial Sin: weakens the grace of God within the soul. Venial sin is forgiven through holy communion. A number of unrepented venial sins can lead to mortal sin.
Between these two is serious sin. Serious sin does not completely destroy grace, but seriously deprives a person of grace. It is more than venial sin and one should not receive communion without Confession. It's really impossible to list what sins are serious but not mortal. It depends upon the three conditions of sin. The first condition, serious matter, is obvious. But perhaps he was not as free in his decision as he otherwise would have been.
Douglas McManaman. "What does Divine Grace do for us?"
Reprinted with permission of Douglas McManaman.
Doug McManaman is a Deacon and a Religion and Philosophy teacher at Father Michael McGivney Catholic Academy in Markham, Ontario, Canada. He is the past president of the Canadian Fellowship of Catholic Scholars. He maintains the following web site for his students: A Catholic Philosophy and Theology Resource Page. Deacon Douglas studied Philosophy at St. Jerome's College in Waterloo, and Theology at the University of Montreal. He is the author of Why Be Afraid?, Basic Catholicism, Introduction to Philosophy for Young People, and A Treatise on the Four Cardinal Virtues. Deacon McManaman is on the advisory board of the Catholic Education Resource Center.Copyright © 2008 Deacon Douglas McManaman
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