vendredi, juillet 02, 2010

The Nature of Sacramental Grace (IV)

By Father Réginald Garrigou-Lagrange
Therefore the sacramental grace of the priesthood, since it is a permanent and intrinsic mode of habitual grace, can be looked upon as a feature of the priest’s spiritual character which is meant to develop and grow to perfection – to the age of maturity in the spiritual life.

It follows that while no growth is possible in the character of Holy Orders, which empowers a man to exercise validly the priestly functions, yet the sacramental grace, having as its aim an increasingly holy celebration of Mass and administration of Penance, is intensified at the same time as habitual grace, which it modifies and strengthens in a special way. True, this is not expressed in so many words in the theological works, but it is deduced as certain from the purpose of these divine gifts.

And thus all are agreed that the sacramental grace of Holy Orders should bear fruit and that it entitles a man to further and higher actual graces – provided no obstacle is put in the way. It develops rather like the features of a child countenance, which change with the different facial expressions of smiling, crying, blinking, etc. Therefore, “how careful we must be not to lose that sacramental grace or prove ourselves unworthy of it by receiving the Sacrament without the suitable disposition.” (Billuart )

The value of our priesthood is also evident in the fact to which we have already alluded – namely, that so far as the Consecration of the Eucharist is concerned, the Bishop himself has no greater power than the priest. And this power of consecrating the body of Christ is far more outstanding than the power of consecrating priests and chalices, because the Holy Eucharist is the supreme Sacrament and Sacrifice, containing not merely the gift of grace but the very Author of grace. So we find St. Thomas, St. Albert, St. Bonaventure, Scotus and Soto of the opinion that the Episcopate is not a separate Sacrament from that of priesthood but is its extension and perfect complement, giving the power to ordain, confirm and govern. It is, therefore, the fullness of the priesthood and is intended to be as fruitful in the Bishop as the grace of priesthood should be in the priest.

Aucun commentaire: