Actual Grace

Continuing his discussion of the transient assistance God gives us, Father Geiermann mentions the assistance of actual grace.

“Actual grace is a virtuous impulse which God gives man to act in the supernatural order. . . . It illumines the mind to see the truth, the good, the moral beauty, as well as the opportunity of doing something pleasing to God, the infinite Good, by a particular virtuous action. It inspires or moves the will, already inclined to good in general by its innate desire of happiness, to embrace this opportunity. And by its energy it heals the wounds of sin, that may impede or prevent man from performing this particular act of virtue, and, if he is not in sanctifying grace, it supernaturalizes him for the time and to the extent necessary for him to ask God’s help and by means of prayer to obtain every other divine aid necessary for him to know, love, and serve God.”

“Chronologically actual grace is divided into stimulating and co-operating. The first virtuous impulse which God gives man in the supernatural order is called stimulating grace, because it awakens man to the opportunity, and inclines him to an act of virtue. . . . Stimulating grace is sometimes called a light and an inspiration of the Holy Ghost because it always prompts man to act in accordance with the gifts of the Holy Ghost. . . . The second virtuous impulse is called co-operating grace, because, as soon as the will freely yields to the suggestion of stimulating grace by inclining to this particular virtuous action, God grants an additional grace, which co-operates in man’s action by sustaining, confirming, and crowning his efforts with success.”

“In the order of causation stimulating grace is called remotely sufficient grace because it suffices to enable man to pray, and through prayer to obtain every other grace. In the same sense co-operating grace is also called proximately sufficient grace because it is always sufficient to enable man to perform the action for which it is given. . . . Remotely sufficient grace corresponds to the general dispensations of Divine Providence, which God extends to all mankind. Proximately sufficient grace and efficacious grace, on the other hand, correspond to the special dispensations of Divine Providence.”

Quotations from Peter Geiermann, The Narrow Way (New York: Benziger, 1914).

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