Natural and Supernatural Virtues

“As by grace we are made true children and friends of God, and God gives all His creatures the power and means to live according to their state and destiny, He must give us, who are His children, the help we require to attain to our supernatural end, which is Himself. We must be perfect as our heavenly Father is perfect. Therefore grace must not only bestow on us the theological virtues by which we are united to God in faith, hope, and charity, but likewise all other virtues which will enable us to live in a manner conformable to our rank as children of God, and to our sublime relation with God and our neighbour.”

“With natural moral virtue we may lead good lives as fathers of families or citizens; but by grace we walk, not in our own spirit, but in that of the Holy Ghost, who produces in us a heavenly morality, meekness, goodness, temperance, and purity, and makes us similar to the Angels, even to God Himself. Thus, an act of supernatural virtue differs almost as much from acts which are performed on natural though virtuous motives, as the rational acts of man differ from those of merely sensual and animal life.”

“Moreover, the supernatural virtues have, besides their sublime nature, and in virtue of it, the additional advantage over the natural virtues that they may be acquired in a moment and with comparatively little labour. The natural virtues are the fruit of our efforts, and we often take a long time to acquire them. The supernatural virtues are far above all efforts of ours to acquire. They are the fruit of the Holy Ghost, who infuses them into us, and whose grace, as St. Ambrose says, knows no tardiness in action. They enter our heart at the moment when we receive grace and charity in justification.”

“The exercise of these virtues, it is true, does not become at once easy and pleasant to us, for our evil habits and inclinations are opposed to them; but they give us light and strength, which, if we correspond with grace, will enable us to overcome all obstacles in the practice of them.”

Quotations from Alice Lady Lovat, The Marvels of Divine Grace: Meditations Based on the “Glories of Divine Grace” (Original Treatise by Fr. Nieremberg, S.J., Entitled “Del Aprecio y Estima de la Divina Gracia”) (London: R. & T. Washbourne, Ltd., 1917).

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The Golden Circle of Supernatural Charity

“‘Now there remain faith, hope, and charity; and the greatest of these is charity’ (1 Cor 13:13). It is the greatest because it is the complement and perfection of faith and hope; for by charity we embrace the highest good which we know by faith, by charity we are united on earth with that which is the object of our hope in heaven.”

“We may possess the faith and hope of the children of God, without being in a state of grace. But when charity is infused into our soul, then the Holy Ghost is likewise given us; and He comes not only to enrich us with His grace, but to dwell in us and consecrate our soul as His temple.”

“This supernatural charity therefore is as great a gift as sanctifying grace itself. As God unites Himself in a supernatural manner to our soul by grace, so we unite ourselves by supernatural love in a mysterious but very real manner with God, and thus complete that golden circle which embraces God and the creature. . . . In grace He loves us with a paternal love in His only begotten Son, and so we must by grace embrace Him with filial love.”

“Love in general is the cause of all that is sweetest and most blessed in our relations with God or with creatures; its very name is synonymous with consolation and happiness. Our heart has been created for the enjoyment of love, and it desires nothing more than to find a worthy object of love with which to unite itself.”

“O human heart, lonely and sad heart that will always love and yet is never satisfied with love! How canst thou remain closed against this grace of Divine love, which alone will satisfy all thy cravings, and fill thee with the torrent of the pleasure of thy God? When thy Lord approaches thee with such love, how canst thou refuse to complete that golden circle which will fasten Himself to thee and thee to Him! Oh, if thou didst know the gift of God, like the Samaritan woman thou wouldst ask the Saviour for the living water, which having tasted of thou wouldst never thirst again.”

Quotations from Alice Lady Lovat, The Marvels of Divine Grace: Meditations Based on the “Glories of Divine Grace” (Original Treatise by Fr. Nieremberg, S.J., Entitled “Del Aprecio y Estima de la Divina Gracia”) (London: R. & T. Washbourne, Ltd., 1917).

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Hope With Patience

“Hope, like charity, has its seat, not in the intellect, but in the will. The will has two acts: the first is to take pleasure in the good it sees, and the second to pursue it with earnestness and confidence. In the same way as faith communicates to our reason a supernatural power of understanding, the infused virtue of hope endows our will with a Divine power and a supernatural confidence, that it may actively pursue and securely attain the highest and infinite good to which nothing created can attain. Hope lifts us above all creatures in order to rest in God alone. It is the source of our confidence of possessing God, the highest supernatural good, for all eternity.”

“St. Paul has been called the Apostle of Divine grace; and, as grace is the foundation of hope, he more than any of the sacred writers has made holy hope the subject of his discourse. In his Epistle to the Romans he goes at length into the grounds we have for hope.” Therein the Apostle writes: “Being justified therefore by faith, let us have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom also we have access through faith into this grace, wherein we stand and glory in the hope of the glory of the sons of God. And not only so, but we glory also in tribulations, knowing that tribulation worketh patience, and patience trial, and trial hope. And hope confoundeth not, because the charity of God is poured forth in our hearts by the Holy Ghost who is given us.” (Rom 5:1-5) And again: “We are saved by hope. But hope that is seen, is not hope. For what a man seeth, why doth he hope for? But if we hope for that which we see not, we wait for it with patience.” (Rom 8:24-25)

“What can we add to these sublime words, except that they are given to us not only to be admired, but to be deeply pondered over, so that with the help of Divine grace they may give rise to the spirit of child-like confidence in God, which more than any other dispositions makes our soul pleasing to Him. For, as a great Saint has said, ‘The measure of our loving confidence in God is the measure of His mercies to us.'”

Quotations from Alice Lady Lovat, The Marvels of Divine Grace: Meditations Based on the “Glories of Divine Grace” (Original Treatise by Fr. Nieremberg, S.J., Entitled “Del Aprecio y Estima de la Divina Gracia”) (London: R. & T. Washbourne, Ltd., 1917).

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The Night of Faith; The Light of Faith

“If by grace we partake of the nature of God, we must also partake of the knowledge proper to the Divine Nature. We must, as the Apostle says, know God in the same manner as we are known. Only when grace is perfected in us in the light of glory will this take place in a perfect manner; but even in the land of exile God will not forsake His children. Even here they shall know Him, and their own dignity and the greatness of their inheritance. And as no one knows the Father but Himself, and His Son with the Holy Ghost, He must reveal Himself by His own Word; and since we cannot by nature grasp or comprehend this Divine Word, He has endowed us with a supernatural light and strength whereby we may attain to this knowledge. Our Blessed Saviour says, ‘No one can come to Him except the Father draw him’ by that supernatural attraction which transcends all earthly experience.”

“Grace bestows on us a supernatural light and a supernatural strength, both of which are necessary for Divine faith. In order to believe it is necessary to know that it is God Himself who speaks to us. This we may know by our natural reason; but unless God illuminated our mind and purified our heart we should be incapable of grasping Divine truth or making any act worthy of salvation. For the truths of religion are of so sublime a nature that the light of reason is as insufficient to understand them as to reveal them to us.”

“A man born blind may receive an accurate account of objects invisible to him, but they must still remain unknown and incomprehensible to him. Our condition with regard to supernatural truth would be the same if God, who reveals them to us by His Word, did not at the same time infuse into us the supernatural light of grace and bring home these truths to us by means of it.”

“Let us not be afraid, therefore, to submit our reason obediently to faith. . . . Faith, then, is a night in comparison to the day of eternal glory; but it is a night illumined with heavenly light, and is as the brightest day in contrast with the light of sense and reason.”

Quotations from Alice Lady Lovat, The Marvels of Divine Grace: Meditations Based on the “Glories of Divine Grace” (Original Treatise by Fr. Nieremberg, S.J., Entitled “Del Aprecio y Estima de la Divina Gracia”) (London: R. & T. Washbourne, Ltd., 1917).

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Faith, Hope, and Charity

“Grace, according to the teaching of the Council of Trent, having eradicated sin from the soul of man, works his sanctification, and infuses into him the three theological virtues of faith, hope, and charity.”

“As grace transforms the nature of the soul, and makes it partaker of the Divine Nature, it glorifies also its faculties, and causes them to be capable of performing acts of a dignity proper only to the Divine Nature. And to this supernatural ability, which can be implanted only by grace, theologians give the name of infused virtue.”

“Infused virtue is, then, very different from the so-called acquired virtues. These [acquired virtues] consist in a certain readiness acquired by our efforts, and by practice, whereby we perform acts naturally possible with greater decision and ease. These virtues may be compared to that fruitfulness which careful irrigation and pruning gives to trees, which causes them to produce in greater abundance; whereas the infused virtues are similar to a tree upon which a plant of infinitely superior merit has been grafted, and which in consequence grows a fruit which the original stock was incapable of producing.”

“Faith, hope, and charity have also been called Divine virtues, because they unite us in a Divine manner with God, have Him for their immediate motive, and can be produced in us only by a communication of the Divine Nature. God therefore endows His children with these virtues, so that they may even whilst on earth, in a land of exile, lead a life worthy of their exalted regeneration, and be united to Him who for all eternity will be the Cause of their beatitude.”

“God, who has made us His children and the heirs of His heaven, gives to every creature all that is necessary for the attainment of its end. By grace, therefore, He endows His children with those virtues without which they cannot be united with Him in a supernatural manner.”

“The Christian is cast upon the stormy sea of life to seek the port of heaven. God in these Divine virtues gives faith as a compass to guide his boat aright, hope as a sure anchor, and love as the mighty propelling power which will bear him swiftly to the haven of eternal rest.”

Quotations from Alice Lady Lovat, The Marvels of Divine Grace: Meditations Based on the “Glories of Divine Grace” (Original Treatise by Fr. Nieremberg, S.J., Entitled “Del Aprecio y Estima de la Divina Gracia”) (London: R. & T. Washbourne, Ltd., 1917).

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Grace: Spiritual Light and Warmth

“The parallel between the sun’s rays and the light of Divine grace may be drawn out at great length. For as light penetrates and transforms and vivifies material bodies with which it comes in contact, so does grace penetrate the soul, and transform it with Divine beauty and splendour. As light illumines the eye, enabling it to see objects which otherwise would be invisible to it, so does grace light up the eye of the soul, or, rather, grants it a new organ of vision by which it may behold a new world. By reason we only perceive the exterior side of truth—that is, the reflex of truth, in the created world, but not the eternal truth itself in its innermost nature. By the light of grace we are enabled to perceive here by faith, hereafter by vision, that life invisible whence the visible world was produced. It introduces us even into the bosom of God, and lets us look into the mysterious depths which only the Eternal Father and His only begotten Son, and the Holy Spirit, can in virtue of Their nature behold. For, as St. Paul says, ‘God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath Himself shined in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ Jesus’ (2 Cor 4:6).”

“Light gives out heat, and when in appearance it is without heat it is only on account of imperfect communication. In the Divine sun, like the material one, light and heat are inseparably united. From the light of the Father and Son proceeds the Divine flame of love, the Holy Ghost; and the action of God in our hearts kindles not only the light of faith, but also that of His Divine love.”

“The light of the sun calls forth life which had been dormant, and preserves and invigorates it. Grace has the same effect on the soul. As a mirror on which the sunlight has been thrown reproduces perfectly the features which are reflected in it, so through Divine grace the true and living image of God is reproduced in our minds and hearts, and this imaging of God will be vivid in proportion to their holiness and purity. The less we defile our soul with venial sin, or stain it with too great attachment to creatures, the more will the light of grace dwell in us and illumine our soul.”

“Blessed are the clean of heart, for they shall see God.”

Quotations from Alice Lady Lovat, The Marvels of Divine Grace: Meditations Based on the “Glories of Divine Grace” (Original Treatise by Fr. Nieremberg, S.J., Entitled “Del Aprecio y Estima de la Divina Gracia”) (London: R. & T. Washbourne, Ltd., 1917).

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The Healing Effect of Divine Grace

Alice Lady Lovat continues her exposition of Father Juan Eusebio Nieremberg’s seventeenth century treatise “Del Aprecio y Estima de la Divina Gracia.” Here and in the next few posts, we shall consider the effect and fruits of Divine grace.

Lovat writes: “Fathers and Doctors of the Church have sometimes called grace the light of God; the sublime image of God being for the spiritual world what the sun is for the material world. The Apostles also constantly use light as a symbol of wisdom and knowledge. ‘God is light,’ St. John says, ‘and in Him there is no darkness’ (1 John 1:5); and St. James speaks of ‘the Father of lights,’ from whom cometh ‘every best gift and every perfect gift’ (Jas 1:17). Grace, as the best and most perfect gift, is also the purest and sublimest light. It is that light by which we are introduced into the inaccessible light of God, which reveals to us the glory of God in all its depths, and lets us behold it, unveiled, face to face.”

“By grace we are born of the light of God, and the fire of the Holy Ghost; we are made ‘children of light’ and children of God; as St. Paul says: ‘You were heretofore darkness, but now light in the Lord’ (Eph 5:8). Therefore St. Peter, addressing souls in a state of grace, tells them: ‘You are a chosen generation; . . . that you may declare His virtues who hath called you out of darkness into His marvellous light’ (1 Pet 2:9).”

The Roman Catechism teaches that Divine grace “is, as it were, a brilliant light that effaces all those stains which obscure the lustre of the soul, and invests it with increased brightness and beauty.”

“The Fathers constantly use the expression of the Sacrament of Illumination for Baptism, by which we are regenerated by grace.”

“By grace we are changed from enemies into children of God. . . . In healing our soul grace does not leave the smallest trace of mortal sin behind. It does not always destroy the inclination to sin which is the fruit of evil habits, but it removes all its guilt; thus, as St. Paul says: ‘There is no condemnation to them that (by grace) are in Christ Jesus’ (Rom 8:1). If our ‘sins are as scarlet,’ God assures us by His prophet, ‘they shall be made as white as snow; and if they were red as crimson they shall be white as wool.'”

Quotations from Alice Lady Lovat, The Marvels of Divine Grace: Meditations Based on the “Glories of Divine Grace” (Original Treatise by Fr. Nieremberg, S.J., Entitled “Del Aprecio y Estima de la Divina Gracia”) (London: R. & T. Washbourne, Ltd., 1917).

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