Thursday, December 06, 2007

Contemplating the Immaculate Conception, the Grace of God

"The Lord keepeth thee free from evil, may the Lord keep thy soul. May the Lord keep thy coming in and thy going out from henceforth, now and forever." - (Psalm cxx, 7-8.)

1. Divine Grace is necessary.
2. It is efficient and powerful.
3. It may be resisted.

Introduction. - The Immaculate Conception of Mary is a miracle of Divine Grace. To us also God gives His grace in various though different ways. This grace is the supernatural life of the human soul.

1. Divine Grace is absolutely necessary for our gaining merit and Salvation.

(a) We all are burdened with original sin. "We are by nature children of wrath" (Ephes. ii, 33. God has graciously preserved Mary from original sin, and removed it in our case by Baptism. "God, Who is rich in mercy, for His exceeding charity, wherewith He loved us even when we were dead in sins, has quickened us together in Christ, by Whose grace you are saved" (Ephes. ii, 4, 5);

(b) We all have soiled our souls with actual sins, and from these we may free ourselves only through grace. Divine grace must move us to repentance and reform. Absolution in the Sacrament of penance is by Divine Grace.

(c) Without Divine Grace we cannot resist the temptation to do evil: "Lead us not into temptation."

(d) Without Divine Grace we cannot accomplish any good. "For it is God Who works in you both to will and to accomplish" (Phil. ii, 13). In the good that men do without Divine assistance is lacking the motive that gives it merit; it is done for the sake of reputation or for other worldly purposes.

(e) Without Divine Grace we cannot persevere in virtue. "Wherefore he that thinks himself to stand, let him take heed lest he fall" (1 Cor. x, 12).

2. Divine Grace is efficient and powerful. "I can do all things in Him Who strengthens me" (Phil. iv, 13).

(a) Divine Grace leads to repentance and reform. St. Peter,
St. Paul, St. Augustine, and many others.

(b) Divine Grace assists in conquering sin. "But by the Grace of God I am what I am" (1 Cor. xv, 10).

(c) Divine Grace makes victory easy. "For my yoke is sweet and my burden light" (Matt. xi, 30).

(d) Divine Grace sweetens adversity; for instance, it made virtue bearable to the martyrs.

(e) Divine Grace causes its own increase. "For he that hath, to him shall be given" (Matt. xiii, 12).

3. Divine Grace is not irresistible. It may be resisted. Man is free. Divine Grace does not compel him. We cannot resist the Almighty Power of God, but we can resist Divine Grace. "God made man from the beginning, and left him in the hand of his own counsel. Before man is life and death, good and evil. That which he shall choose shall be given him" (Eccl. xv, 14-18).

(a) God is willing to enlighten you and to show the way. You, however, are at liberty to close your eyes, and to prefer darkness to the light.

(b) God's Grace moves you to do good. You may refuse to listen.

(c) God may arouse your conscience and induce you to pen­ance. It is for you to yield or to refuse.

(d) God's Grace may exhort you to renounce worldliness. You are free to choose.

(e) God's Grace puts before your mind, both eternal punishment and eternal reward. You may choose either.
Adapted from Plain Sermons by Practical Preachers, Vol. II(©1916)
Nihil Obstat: Remegius Lafort, S.T.D
Imprimatur: John Cardinal Farley, Archbishop of New York

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