Thursday, January 23, 2014
Life in Christ: Grace and Justication
LIFE IN CHRIST
MAN'S VOCATION LIFE IN THE SPIRIT
GOD'S SALVATION: LAW AND GRACE
GRACE AND JUSTIFICATION
1987 The grace of the Holy Spirit has the power to justify us, that is, to cleanse us from our sins and to
communicate to us "the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ" and through Baptism:34
But if we have died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him. For we know that
Christ being raised from the dead will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him.
The death he died he died to sin, once for all, but the life he lives he lives to God. So you also
must consider yourselves as dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.35
1988 Through the power of the Holy Spirit we take part in Christ's Passion by dying to sin, and in his
Resurrection by being born to a new life; we are members of his Body which is the Church, branches
grafted onto the vine which is himself:36
[God] gave himself to us through his Spirit. By the participation of the Spirit, we become
communicants in the divine nature. . . . For this reason, those in whom the Spirit dwells are
1989 The first work of the grace of the Holy Spirit is conversion, effecting justification in accordance
with Jesus' proclamation at the beginning of the Gospel: "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at
hand."38 Moved by grace, man turns toward God and away from sin, thus accepting forgiveness and
righteousness from on high. "Justification is not only the remission of sins, but also the sanctification
and renewal of the interior man.39
1990 Justification detaches man from sin which contradicts the love of God, and purifies his heart of
sin. Justification follows upon God's merciful initiative of offering forgiveness. It reconciles man with
God. It frees from the enslavement to sin, and it heals.
1991 Justification is at the same time the acceptance of God's righteousness through faith in Jesus
Christ. Righteousness (or "justice") here means the rectitude of divine love. With justification, faith,
hope, and charity are poured into our hearts, and obedience to the divine will is granted us.
1992 Justification has been merited for us by the Passion of Christ who offered himself on the cross as a
living victim, holy and pleasing to God, and whose blood has become the instrument of atonement for
the sins of all men. Justification is conferred in Baptism, the sacrament of faith. It conforms us to the
righteousness of God, who makes us inwardly just by the power of his mercy. Its purpose is the glory of
God and of Christ, and the gift of eternal life:40
But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from law, although the law and
the prophets bear witness to it, the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all
who believe. For there is no distinction: since all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,
they are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus, whom
God put forward as an expiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God's
righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins; it was to
prove at the present time that he himself is righteous and that he justifies him who has faith in
1993 Justification establishes cooperation between God's grace and man's freedom. On man's part it is
expressed by the assent of faith to the Word of God, which invites him to conversion, and in the
cooperation of charity with the prompting of the Holy Spirit who precedes and preserves his assent:
When God touches man's heart through the illumination of the Holy Spirit, man himself is not
inactive while receiving that inspiration, since he could reject it; and yet, without God's grace,
he cannot by his own free will move himself toward justice in God's sight.42
1994 Justification is the most excellent work of God's love made manifest in Christ Jesus and granted by
the Holy Spirit. It is the opinion of St. Augustine that "the justification of the wicked is a greater work
than the creation of heaven and earth," because "heaven and earth will pass away but the salvation
and justification of the elect . . . will not pass away."43 He holds also that the justification of sinners
surpasses the creation of the angels in justice, in that it bears witness to a greater mercy.
1995 The Holy Spirit is the master of the interior life. By giving birth to the "inner man,"44 justification
entails the sanctification of his whole being:
Just as you once yielded your members to impurity and to greater and greater iniquity, so now
yield your members to righteousness for sanctification. . . . But now that you have been set free
from sin and have become slaves of God, the return you get is sanctification and its end, eternal
1996 Our justification comes from the grace of God. Grace is favor, the free and undeserved help that
God gives us to respond to his call to become children of God, adoptive sons, partakers of the divine
nature and of eternal life.46
1997 Grace is a participation in the life of God. It introduces us into the intimacy of Trinitarian life: by
Baptism the Christian participates in the grace of Christ, the Head of his Body. As an "adopted son" he
can henceforth call God "Father," in union with the only Son. He receives the life of the Spirit who
breathes charity into him and who forms the Church.
1998 This vocation to eternal life is supernatural. It depends entirely on God's gratuitous initiative, for
he alone can reveal and give himself. It surpasses the power of human intellect and will, as that of
every other creature.47
1999 The grace of Christ is the gratuitous gift that God makes to us of his own life, infused by the Holy
Spirit into our soul to heal it of sin and to sanctify it. It is the sanctifying or deifying grace received in
Baptism. It is in us the source of the work of sanctification:48
Therefore if any one is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has passed away, behold, the new
has come. All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself.49
2000 Sanctifying grace is an habitual gift, a stable and supernatural disposition that perfects the soul
itself to enable it to live with God, to act by his love. Habitual grace, the permanent disposition to live
and act in keeping with God's call, is distinguished from actual graces which refer to God's
interventions, whether at the beginning of conversion or in the course of the work of sanctification.
2001 The preparation of man for the reception of grace is already a work of grace. This latter is needed
to arouse and sustain our collaboration in justification through faith, and in sanctification through
charity. God brings to completion in us what he has begun, "since he who completes his work by
cooperating with our will began by working so that we might will it:"50
Indeed we also work, but we are only collaborating with God who works, for his mercy has gone
before us. It has gone before us so that we may be healed, and follows us so that once healed,
we may be given life; it goes before us so that we may be called, and follows us so that we may
be glorified; it goes before us so that we may live devoutly, and follows us so that we may
always live with God: for without him we can do nothing.51
2002 God's free initiative demands man's free response, for God has created man in his image by
conferring on him, along with freedom, the power to know him and love him. The soul only enters
freely into the communion of love. God immediately touches and directly moves the heart of man. He
has placed in man a longing for truth and goodness that only he can satisfy. The promises of "eternal
life" respond, beyond all hope, to this desire:
If at the end of your very good works . . ., you rested on the seventh day, it was to foretell by
the voice of your book that at the end of our works, which are indeed "very good" since you
have given them to us, we shall also rest in you on the sabbath of eternal life.52
2003 Grace is first and foremost the gift of the Spirit who justifies and sanctifies us. But grace also
includes the gifts that the Spirit grants us to associate us with his work, to enable us to collaborate in
the salvation of others and in the growth of the Body of Christ, the Church. There are sacramental
graces, gifts proper to the different sacraments. There are furthermore special graces, also called
charisms after the Greek term used by St. Paul and meaning "favor," "gratuitous gift," "benefit."53
Whatever their character - sometimes it is extraordinary, such as the gift of miracles or of tongues -
charisms are oriented toward sanctifying grace and are intended for the common good of the Church.
They are at the service of charity which builds up the Church.54
2004 Among the special graces ought to be mentioned the graces of state that accompany the exercise
of the responsibilities of the Christian life and of the ministries within the Church:
Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, in
proportion to our faith; if service, in our serving; he who teaches, in his teaching; he who
exhorts, in his exhortation; he who contributes, in liberality; he who gives aid, with zeal; he who
does acts of mercy, with cheerfulness.55
2005 Since it belongs to the supernatural order, grace escapes our experience and cannot be known
except by faith. We cannot therefore rely on our feelings or our works to conclude that we are justified
and saved.56 However, according to the Lord's words "Thus you will know them by their fruits"57 -
reflection on God's blessings in our life and in the lives of the saints offers us a guarantee that grace is
at work in us and spurs us on to an ever greater faith and an attitude of trustful poverty.
A pleasing illustration of this attitude is found in the reply of St. Joan of Arc to a question posed
as a trap by her ecclesiastical judges: "Asked if she knew that she was in God's grace, she
replied: 'If I am not, may it please God to put me in it; if I am, may it please God to keep me
You are glorified in the assembly of your Holy Ones, for in crowning their merits you are
crowning your own gifts.59
2006 The term "merit" refers in general to the recompense owed by a community or a society for the
action of one of its members, experienced either as beneficial or harmful, deserving reward or
punishment. Merit is relative to the virtue of justice, in conformity with the principle of equality which
2007 With regard to God, there is no strict right to any merit on the part of man. Between God and us
there is an immeasurable inequality, for we have received everything from him, our Creator.
2008 The merit of man before God in the Christian life arises from the fact that God has freely chosen
to associate man with the work of his grace. The fatherly action of God is first on his own initiative, and
then follows man's free acting through his collaboration, so that the merit of good works is to be
attributed in the first place to the grace of God, then to the faithful. Man's merit, moreover, itself is
due to God, for his good actions proceed in Christ, from the predispositions and assistance given by the
2009 Filial adoption, in making us partakers by grace in the divine nature, can bestow true merit on us
as a result of God's gratuitous justice. This is our right by grace, the full right of love, making us "coheirs"
with Christ and worthy of obtaining "the promised inheritance of eternal life."60 The merits of
our good works are gifts of the divine goodness.61 "Grace has gone before us; now we are given what is
due. . . . Our merits are God's gifts."62
2010 Since the initiative belongs to God in the order of grace, no one can merit the initial grace of
forgiveness and justification, at the beginning of conversion. Moved by the Holy Spirit and by charity,
we can then merit for ourselves and for others the graces needed for our sanctification, for the
increase of grace and charity, and for the attainment of eternal life. Even temporal goods like health
and friendship can be merited in accordance with God's wisdom. These graces and goods are the
object of Christian prayer. Prayer attends to the grace we need for meritorious actions.
2011 The charity of Christ is the source in us of all our merits before God. Grace, by uniting us to Christ
in active love, ensures the supernatural quality of our acts and consequently their merit before God
and before men. The saints have always had a lively awareness that their merits were pure grace.
After earth's exile, I hope to go and enjoy you in the fatherland, but I do not want to lay up
merits for heaven. I want to work for your love alone. . . . In the evening of this life, I shall
appear before you with empty hands, for I do not ask you, Lord, to count my works. All our
justice is blemished in your eyes. I wish, then, to be clothed in your own justice and to receive
from your love the eternal possession of yourself.63
IV. CHRISTIAN HOLINESS
2012 "We know that in everything God works for good with those who love him . . . For those whom he
fore knew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the
first-born among many brethren. And those whom he predestined he also called; and those whom he
called he also justified; and those whom he justified he also glorified."64
2013 "All Christians in any state or walk of life are called to the fullness of Christian life and to the
perfection of charity."65 All are called to holiness: "Be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect."66
In order to reach this perfection the faithful should use the strength dealt out to them by
Christ's gift, so that . . . doing the will of the Father in everything, they may wholeheartedly
devote themselves to the glory of God and to the service of their neighbor. Thus the holiness of
the People of God will grow in fruitful abundance, as is clearly shown in the history of the
Church through the lives of so many saints.67
2014 Spiritual progress tends toward ever more intimate union with Christ. This union is called
"mystical" because it participates in the mystery of Christ through the sacraments - "the holy
mysteries" - and, in him, in the mystery of the Holy Trinity. God calls us all to this intimate union with
him, even if the special graces or extraordinary signs of this mystical life are granted only to some for
the sake of manifesting the gratuitous gift given to all.
2015 The way of perfection passes by way of the Cross. There is no holiness without renunciation and
spiritual battle.68 Spiritual progress entails the ascesis and mortification that gradually lead to living in
the peace and joy of the Beatitudes:
He who climbs never stops going from beginning to beginning, through beginnings that have no
end. He never stops desiring what he already knows.69
2016 The children of our holy mother the Church rightly hope for the grace of final perseverance and
the recompense of God their Father for the good works accomplished with his grace in communion
with Jesus.70 Keeping the same rule of life, believers share the "blessed hope" of those whom the
divine mercy gathers into the "holy city, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God,
prepared as a bride adorned for her husband."71
2017 The grace of the Holy Spirit confers upon us the righteousness of God. Uniting us by faith and
Baptism to the Passion and Resurrection of Christ, the Spirit makes us sharers in his life.
2018 Like conversion, justification has two aspects. Moved by grace, man turns toward God and away
from sin, and so accepts forgiveness and righteousness from on high.
2019 Justification includes the remission of sins, sanctification, and the renewal of the inner man.
2020 Justification has been merited for us by the Passion of Christ. It is granted us through Baptism. It
conforms us to the righteousness of God, who justifies us. It has for its goal the glory of God and of
Christ, and the gift of eternal life. It is the most excellent work of God's mercy.
2021 Grace is the help God gives us to respond to our vocation of becoming his adopted sons. It
introduces us into the intimacy of the Trinitarian life.
2022 The divine initiative in the work of grace precedes, prepares, and elicits the free response of man.
Grace responds to the deepest yearnings of human freedom, calls freedom to cooperate with it, and
2023 Sanctifying grace is the gratuitous gift of his life that God makes to us; it is infused by the Holy
Spirit into the soul to heal it of sin and to sanctify it.
2024 Sanctifying grace makes us "pleasing to God." Charisms, special graces of the Holy Spirit, are
oriented to sanctifying grace and are intended for the common good of the Church. God also acts
through many actual graces, to be distinguished from habitual grace which is permanent in us.
2025 We can have merit in God's sight only because of God's free plan to associate man with the work
of his grace. Merit is to be ascribed in the first place to the grace of God, and secondly to man's
collaboration. Man's merit is due to God.
2026 The grace of the Holy Spirit can confer true merit on us, by virtue of our adoptive filiation, and in
accordance with God's gratuitous justice. Charity is the principal source of merit in us before God.
2027 No one can merit the initial grace which is at the origin of conversion. Moved by the Holy Spirit,
we can merit for ourselves and for others all the graces needed to attain eternal life, as well as
necessary temporal goods.
2028 "All Christians . . . are called to the fullness of Christian life and to the perfection of charity" (LG
40 § 2). "Christian perfection has but one limit, that of having none" (St. Gregory of Nyssa, De vita
Mos.:PG 44, 300D).
2029 "If any man would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me" (Mt
34 Rom 3:22; cf. 6:3-4.
35 Rom 6:8-11.
36 Cf. 1 Cor 12; Jn 15:1-4.
37 St. Athanasius, Ep. Serap. 1,24:PG 26,585 and 588.
38 Mt 4:17.
39 Council of Trent (1547): DS 1528.
40 Cf. Council of Trent (1547): DS 1529.
41 Rom 3:21-26.
42 Council of Trent (1547): DS 1525.
43 St. Augustine, In Jo. ev. 72,3:PL 35,1823.
44 Cf. Rom 7:22; Eph 3:16.
45 Rom 6:19,22.
46 Cf. Jn 1:12-18; 17:3; Rom 8:14-17; 2 Pet 1:3-4.
47 Cf. 1 Cor 2:7-9.
48 Cf. Jn 4:14; 7:38-39.
49 2 Cor 5:17-18.
50 St. Augustine, De gratia et libero arbitrio, 17:PL 44,901.
51 St. Augustine, De natura et gratia, 31:PL 44,264.
52 St. Augustine, Conf. 13,36 51:PL 32,868; cf. Gen 1:31.
53 Cf. LG 12.
54 Cf. 1 Cor 12.
55 Rom 12:6-8.
56 Cf. Council of Trent (1547): DS 1533-1534.
57 Mt 7:20.
58 Acts of the trial of St. Joan of Arc.
59 Roman Missal, Prefatio I de sanctis; Qui in Sanctorum concilio celebraris, et eorum coronando merita
tua dona coronas, citing the "Doctor of grace," St. Augustine, En. in Ps. 102,7:PL 37,1321-1322.
60 Council of Trent (1547): DS 1546.
61 Cf. Council of Trent (1547): DS 1548.
62 St. Augustine, Sermo 298,4-5:PL 38,1367.
63 St. Thérèse of Lisieux, "Act of Offering" in Story of a Soul, tr. John Clarke (Washington DC: ICS, 1981),
64 Rom 8:28-30.
65 LG 40 § 2.
66 Mt 5:48.
67 LG 40 § 2.
68 Cf. 2 Tim 4.
69 St. Gregory of Nyssa, Hom. in Cant. 8:PG 44,941C.
70 Cf. Council of Trent (1547): DS 1576.
71 Rev 21:2.