Catechism of the Catholic Church
Grace is favour, the free and undeserved help that God gives us to respond to his call to become children of God, adoptive sons, partakers of the divine nature and of eternal life. Grace is a participation in the life of God. It introduces us into the intimacy of Trinitarian life: by Baptism the Christian participates in the grace of Christ, the Head of his Body. As an ‘adopted son’ he can henceforth call God ‘Father,’ in union with the only Son. He receives the life of the Spirit who breathes charity into him and who forms the Church.
Nguyen Thai Son
The question arises, however, as to actually what it is that God gives in giving grace. Since grace in its practical implications includes the gratuitous quality of God’s special love for humanity, it may refer to everything falling within the framework of Christian life. Creation is grace. Christ is grace and so his Spirit. Redemption is grace, since it is what Christ did for us. Salvation is grace as it is what Christ gained for us, etc. If this is the case, grace in its root sense primarily refers to, through the incarnation of Christ and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, the single act of God’s giving Godself to us, and thus transforming us by redemption into the life of God. Grace as such designates an energy of divine self–giving love presently working in us so as to forgive, heal and elevate us. Grace is, then, the daily fruit of the fact that God first loves us by giving God’s self to us, and thus transforming us from within, with its transformative power. It follows that an experience of grace as such is never separated from our daily and natural experience when we, in our freedom, are open to this transformative power of grace.
Because grace is a gratuitous gift of God’s self already given, according to the Letter to the Romans, it does not depend on our claim or merit in order to receive it. There is nothing at all I can do in order to attain this gift. Nor is there something I can do to lose this gift. Grace as gift has been already “sealed” within me as an indwelling of the divine in me. I should not believe in this “sealed” indwelling of the divine as one doctrine among others. Instead, I need to “draw new life from this deep well within me, and then I will naturally believe.”
Thus, the conditions of the possibility of human knowing and the conditions of the possibility of the Christian message being heard primarily rest on God’s constant self–giving in love to everyone and each one. They rest also on every Christian’s openness to the Transcendent via our loving, believing and hoping, which cannot be possibilities without the descent revelation of the loving God. In our daily act of love, faith and hope, we are living a faithful witness, as indicated in the introduction of this thesis, to the majestic power of God’s loving grace, which, surpassing all kinds of differences, gathers and enfolds the whole humanity in one gesture, and at the same time, speaks to each one, in accordance with our most intimate dispositions, and from within the individual situation in life peculiarly to our own.
The daily question addressed to us everyday is that: Do we perceive our human life characterized by our capacity of thinking, questioning and reflecting on the limits of human finite circumstances the emergence of the Transcendent, the incipient self–communication of the eternal mystery in whose light we may understand our lives as graced and loved? The answer to this crucial question lies in our daily mystagogical moment, a moment which attempts to evoke, awaken, and deepen every person’s core experience of being referred to the loving, holy Mystery.