The Universality and Inequality of Actual Grace

Father Geiermann concludes his discussion of the five properties of actual grace by elaborating upon the universality and inequality of actual grace.

Concerning the universality of actual grace, he writes: “Grace is universal. God gives sufficient grace for salvation to every one. According to the parable in the Gospel, He gives every servant at least one talent. Man is ordinarily prepared for this talent by parental influence and the ministry of the Church. Where this external assistance is wanting God brings man to a knowledge of the truths necessary for salvation by the special guidance of His Providence, and stimulates his mind and will by actual grace. If man, then, follows the dictates of his conscience in all sincerity, the influence of grace and the dispensations of Divine Providence will conduct him eventually to the knowledge of the truth and the possession of all the other blessings of a child of God.”

“By the special dispensation of His Providence God makes the circumstances of time and place favorable at least once for even the most hardened sinner to accept the grace to pray, and follows this up with the grace of conversion in proportion as the sinner cooperates. . . . To the unbeliever God gives at least the grace to pray. . . . Even for the children that die without Baptism either from some natural cause or through the fault of parents God had prepared sufficient grace. For ‘God wills all men to be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth’ (1 Tim 2:4) and ‘Christ died for all’ (2 Cor 5:15).”

Concerning the inequality of actual grace, note that “God gives actual grace in sufficient measure to be truly and relatively sufficient for all to keep out of mortal sin. ‘God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that which you are able’ (1 Cor 10:13).” Yet, grace is given in different measure to each. Father Geiermann explains: “The inequality in the distribution of grace arises from a twofold source, the inequality of glory to which God has destined persons, and the inequality of good will with which different persons and nations co-operate with grace. As there are various choirs of angels in heaven, so God has destined souls to different degrees of sanctity and glory.”

“Practically speaking, however, the inequality of good will in mankind accounts most for the inequality in the distribution of grace. . . . The fact is that the best of us have squandered enough grace to make saints out of the worst of us if they had eagerly received and cooperated generously and perseveringly with it.” God might well ask us: “What is there that I ought to do more to my vineyard, that I have not done to it?” (Isa 5:4)

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

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