Obtaining Graces

The grace one obtains in life, and therefore sanctity, depends upon participation in Christ, for He is the God-man, the only mediator to the Father. For this reason, Jesus tells us, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father, but by me” (John 14:6). At the same time, however, this implies effort on our part, to freely respond to Him in the means of grace He gives us, especially in the sacraments. This can only take place in and through dying to ourselves:

“Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life. For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his.” (Romans 6:3-5)

Indeed, this is the condition of Christian discipleship:

“If any man would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it; and whoever loses his life for my sake, he will save it. For what does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses or forfeits himself?” (Luke 9:23-25)

Accordingly, one obtains new and everlasting life in Christ – by becoming sons in the Son:

“So then, brethren, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh– for if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body you will live. For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the spirit of sonship.” (Romans 8:12-15)

In practical terms, Pope Pius XII outlines for us in his encyclical Mystici Corporis Christi (On the Mystical Body of Christ – ie., those of us Baptised into Christ) what these imply in our lives:

For although our Savior’s cruel passion and death merited for His Church an infinite treasure of graces, God’s inscrutable providence has decreed that these graces should not be granted to us all at once; but their greater or lesser abundance will depend in no small part on our own good works, which draw down on the souls of men a rain of heavenly gifts freely bestowed by God. These heavenly gifts will surely flow more abundantly if we not only pray fervently to God, especially by participating every day if possible in the Eucharistic Sacrifice; if we not only try to relieve the distress of the needy and of the sick by works of Christian charity, but if we also set our hearts on the good things of eternity rather than on the passing things of this world; if we restrain this mortal body by voluntary mortification, denying it what is forbidden, and by forcing it to do what is hard and distasteful; and finally, if we humbly accept as from God’s hands the burdens and sorrows of this present life. Thus, according to the Apostle, “we shall fill up those things that are wanting of the sufferings of Christ in our flesh for His Body, which is the Church.”

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