Bread of Life

BREAD OF LIFE
 this is the bread that comes down from heaven so that one may eat it and not die. (john 6: 50)
The miracle of God’s physical presence to us at every Mass is the truest testament to Christ’s love for us and His desire for each of us to have a personal relationship with Him. Jesus Christ celebrated the first Mass with His disciples at the Last Supper, the night before He died. He commanded His disciples, “Do this in remembrance of me” (Luke 22:19). The celebration of the Mass then became the main form of worship in the early Church, as a reenactment of the Last Supper, as Christ had commanded. Each and every Mass since commemorates Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross through the Holy Eucharist. Because the Mass “re-presents” (makes present) the sacrifice on Calvary, Catholics all around the world join together to be made present in Christ’s timeless sacrifice for our sins. There is something fascinating about continuing to celebrate the same Mass—instituted by Christ and practiced by the early Church—with the whole community of Catholics around the world…and in heaven.

THE REAL PRESENCE

Why does the Catholic Church believe Christ is really present in the Eucharist?
The Catholic doctrine of the Real Presence is the belief that Jesus Christ is literally, not symbolically, present in the Holy Eucharist—body, blood, soul and divinity. Catholics believe in the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist because Jesus tells us this is true in the Bible:

“I am the bread of life. Your fathers ate the manna in the wilderness, and they died. This is the bread which comes down from heaven, that a man may eat of it and not die. I am the living bread which came down from heaven; if any one eats of this bread, he will live for ever; and the bread which I shall give for the life of the world is my flesh." The Jews then disputed among themselves, saying, ‘How can this man give us his flesh to eat?’ So Jesus said to them,

"Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink his blood, you have no life in you; he who eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. For my flesh is food indeed, and my blood is drink indeed. He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him” - John 6:48-56
Furthermore, the early Church Fathers either imply or directly state that the bread and wine offered in the celebration of the Lord’s Supper is really the body and blood of Jesus Christ. In other words, the doctrine of the Real Presence that Catholics believe today was believed by the earliest Christians 2,000 years ago!

This miracle of God’s physical presence to us at every Mass is the truest testament to Christ’s love for us and His desire for each of us to have a personal relationship with Him.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

GRACE AND FREEDOM

by MOLINA, LUIS DE

Both sides of the dispute over grace and freedom agree that in addition to creating and conserving contingent beings, God acts as an immediate efficient cause of all the effects produced by created or secondary causes, including acts of free choice.

First, God acts as an immediate general or universal cause of all the natural effects produced through the powers rooted in the essences of natural substances. This immediate causal contribution is called God's general concurrence (concursus generalis) because even though in any given case the effect proceeds as a whole from both God and the relevant secondary causes, the fact that the effect is of one species rather than another is primarily traceable not to God's concurrence but to the natures and causal contributions of the created agents, which for this reason are called particular causes.

So, for instance, when a gas flame makes a pot of water boil, the fact that the effect is the boiling of water rather than, say, the blossoming of a flower is traceable primarily not to God's causal contribution, but rather to the specific natures and causal contributions of the secondary causes (gas, water, etc.). Likewise, any defectiveness in the effect is traced back causally to a defect or impediment within the order of secondary causes rather than to God's causal contribution, which is always, within its own order, causally sufficient (in the sense of "enough") for its intended effect, even when that effect is not produced.
When the intended effect is produced, God's concurrence is said to be efficacious with respect to it; when it is not produced, God's concurrence is said to be merely sufficient with respect to it. If a defective effect is instead produced, its defectiveness is something that God merely permits rather than intends.
This account applies straightforwardly to morally good and evil acts emanating from the power of free choice that rational creatures are endowed with by nature. No such act can occur without God's general concurrence, and in causally contributing to it God intends that the act be morally upright rather than sinful. Nonetheless, because of defects in the free agents with whom God cooperates, his general concurrence is often merely sufficient - and thus inefficacious - with respect to the morally good act he intends.

So even though God must concur causally in order for even a sinful act to be elicited, nonetheless, the act's defectiveness is traced back to the free created agent rather than to God, who permits the defect without intending it. By contrast, when a morally good act is freely elicited, God's concurrence is efficacious with respect to it.

Second, God also cooperates with free human acts by means of the particular causal influence of supernatural grace, merited for the human race by the salvific death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. By this grace, God empowers and prompts human beings to elicit free acts of will that are supernaturally salvific, and he cooperates as a simultaneous cause in the very effecting of these acts.

By eliciting such free acts of faith, hope, charity and the other infused virtues, human agents are able to attain and foster that intimate friendship with God which in its fullness constitutes their highest fulfillment as rational beings. Still, insofar as grace operates prior to the consent of human free choice, it can be freely resisted; and when it is resisted, it is said to be inefficacious, or merely sufficient, with respect to the salvific act God intends.

All this is accepted by both Molina and his Bañezian opponents. Their dispute has to do with the intrinsic character of God's simultaneous causal cooperation with free human acts. Regarding the natural order, Bañezians insist that there is an intrinsic ontological difference between efficacious and merely sufficient concurrence, so that of itself efficacious concurrence necessarily attains its intended effect, whereas of itself merely sufficient concurrence necessarily fails to attain its intended effect.

So God grants intrinsically efficacious concurrence when and only when the human agent freely elicits the morally good act that God intends; and God grants intrinsically merely sufficient concurrence when and only when the human agent freely fails to elicit the morally good act that God intends. An immediate consequence is that God infallibly foreknows whether or not a human agent will freely elicit a morally good act at a given time simply in virtue of knowing whether or not he himself will grant intrinsically efficacious concurrence with respect to that act.

The Bañezians hold a parallel position concerning the grace by which God operates to elicit supernaturally salvific acts. God grants intrinsically efficacious grace when and only when the human agent elicits the supernaturally salvific act God intends; and God grants intrinsically merely sufficient grace when and only when the human agent resists and thus fails to elicit the supernaturally salvific act that God intends.

Molina argues strenuously that this Bañezian doctrine is incompatible with human freedom and falls into the strict determinism advocated by the Lutherans and Calvinists. For even though the Bañezians, like Molina, insist that a free act of will cannot result by natural necessity from antecedently acting causes, they nonetheless assert that an act of will can be free even if God has predetermined to cooperate with it contemporaneously by a concurrence or grace that is intrinsically efficacious (or inefficacious).
This Molina denies: 'That agent is called free who, with all the prerequisites for acting having been posited, is able to act and able not to act, or is able to do one thing in such a way that he is also able to do some contrary thing.' And numbered among these prerequisites is God's fixed intention to confer his general concurrence and grace. So if God has decided to confer only intrinsically efficacious (or intrinsically inefficacious) grace or concurrence in a given situation, the created agent's freedom is destroyed.
Molina's alternative thesis is that God's grace and general concurrence are intrinsically neither efficacious nor inefficacious. Rather, they are intrinsically "neutral" and are rendered efficacious or inefficacious "extrinsically" by the human agent's free consent or lack thereof. Bañezians retort that this position savors of Pelagianism and violates the Catholic doctrine that God is the primary source of morally good and supernaturally salvific acts.

2 comments:

daveg4g said...

Since the controversy over grace in the late 1500s and early 1600s, Thomists and Molinists have been forbidden to accuse each other of heresy.

In 1748 the Church declared Thomism, Molinism, and a third view known as Augustinianism to be acceptable Catholic teachings.

a39greenway said...

Thomas Aquinas declared that special grace is necessary for man to do any supernaturally good act, to love God, to fulfil God's commandments, to gain eternal life, to prepare for salvation, to rise from sin, to avoid sin, and to persevere. Summa Theologiae (hereafter ST) I-II: 109:2-10.