Map of Life - Lesson 12


Map of Life: Chp 12 Supernatural Life - How it Works

Map of Life: Contents
Catechsim Series 1: 
Catechism Series 2: Who is man?Dogma of the soulBasic Catholic anthropology
Aquinas 101: 
Summa Theologica:
Companion to the Summa: 
Random articles: 

Ite Missa Est: The Shrinking Universe, The Expanding Universe, Truth


The Supernatural Life - Metaphysics

  1. Recap:

    Introduction: Just as we need a geographical map to know where we are, and how to get to where we want to go in the world, we also need a map of life to know where we are in relation to everything else in life, and how to get to our ultimate goal in life. This map of life is given to us by God through Divine Revelation which is preserved, interpreted and transmitted through the Catholic Church.

    Chapter 1:  Just as we must have faith in the geographical map-maker at the start of a journey, we must have faith in life's map-maker at the start of our journey through life. The map of life tells us

          (a) what man is (a creature composed of body and soul, in the image and likeness of God by the possession of an intellect and a will),

          (b) where he is destined (his finality: supernatural union with God).

    Chapter 2:  We also need an law of life so that we might attain the goal indicated on the map of life. This law comprises the physical law (for all material creatures) and the spiritual law (for intelligent creatures). Some spiritual laws are natural to man (eg. the ten commandments), some are divinely revealed in Scripture or Tradition (e.g. the laws of the sacraments). Some spiritual laws form the basis of man-made laws such as canon laws or civil laws. 

    Chapter 3: The "X" that marks the spot on the map of life is heaven, where our highest faculties (intellect and will) are perfected by a perfect knowledge and love of God, which is only possible with supernatural grace (also called supernatural life, sanctifyfing grace and habitual grace).

    Chapter 4: Adam was created with the means of attaining heaven, but lost supernatural grace, virtues and gifts when he committed the sin of disobedience. It was the first sin of the first man and condemned humanity to a fallen state whereby every man was henceforth conceived in the state of Original Sin. The map of life became blurred to humanity, the path was either lost or impassible, and "X" was unattainable without supernatural help.

    Chapter 5: God then entered into His creation so that man might (a) know the truth about God, and (b) know the law by which he might attain God, and (c) be sanctified by the supernatural life necessary for union with God. He enacted the objective redemption by which the gates of heaven were opened once again.

    Chapter 6: The Catholic Church was founded by Christ to continue His mission after he had ascended into heaven. It's mission is to teach the truth, uphold the law (both natural and divine), and sanctify souls by the sacraments. Like a living being comprising body and soul, the Church has physical body which is its human hierarchy of members on earth, and a spiritual soul which is the Mystical Body of Christ (or some say that the soul of the Church is the Holy Ghost, but this is a matter of attribution). A soul must be a spiritually living member of the Church to benefit from the Redemptive work of Christ.

    Chapter 7: Christ established the Church to teach, govern and sanctify. In its teaching office it teaches with God's authority and has the protection of God so that it will never teach error. We say that the Church teaches infallibly. The official teaching of the Church is expressed in official documents which are known as Acts of the Magisterium. A Catholic assents to the truth of the Teaching Church, not because he agrees, or it seems reasonable, but because it is backed by the authority of God.

    Chapter 8: In the Church's teachings there are many mysteries which are truths about which we cannot know everything. This is because God cannot be entirely known by the finite intelligence of creatures. God reveals mysteries about Himself so that we may know Him better by discovering all the knowable truth in each mystery. The greatest mystery revealed by God is the mystery of the Blessed Trinity by which we may discern the three Persons of the Godhead eternally knowing and loving each other.

    Chapter 9: God's Law is found in men's heart by nature and is deduced by reason (Natural Law), and it revealed to man by Divine Revelation (Divine Law). Natural Law is necessary for man's natural perfection. Natural Law and Divine Law are necessary for man's supernatural perfection. Conscience is the judgement of a practical act here and now against the moral law. Conscience needs to be informed by the natural and divine law. Man is only free if he follows God's law.

    Chapter 10: Suffering is a consequence of Original Sin, but God has desired that suffering be the gateway to union with Him. Following God's law can cause suffering. Involuntary suffering and voluntary acts which cause suffering can expiate our sins, help us grow in mastery over our passions (grow in virtue), and configure us to Christ.

    Chapter 11.1: Being animated by the life of Christ is the perfection of our whole being by which we are members of His Mystical Body and so are incorporated into Christ (the Life). We become animated by the life of Christ by sanctifying grace which is transmitted to us chiefly by means of the sacraments.

    Chapter 11.2:
    Prayer, the sacraments and sacramentals are the conduits of the supernatural life. Prayer is the first duty of every Christian. The Mass is the perfect prayer and the means of confection of the greatest sacrament, the Holy Eucharist. All the sacraments are ordained to the Holy Eucharist.

    Chapter 11.3: The Spiritual Life is life of the soul in relation to God. Its goal is a life lived by supernatural charity, so that all its actions are for love of God. Three stages are recognised in the spiritual life: purgative/humility; illuminative/transparency;  unitive/charity.

  2. The Metaphysics of the Spiritual Life

    Definition: Metaphysics is the study of the most fundamental elements that exist: being as being.

    The metaphysics of the spiritual life is a study of the most fundamental elements of the spiritual life in their natural and supernatural state:

    - the soul: the natural animating principle of man

    - faculties: the powers of the intellect, the will, and the body

    - virtues: the habits of acting (moral virtues: habits of acting according to reason)

    acts: the action of a faculty (eg. to know, to love, to walk)

    - object: the goal of an action (eg. the truth, the good, the destination)

    - supernatural grace: the supernatural animating principle of man

  3. What supernatural grace does to a man: 

    - It makes a man particiapte in the Divine Life which supernaturalises his being and his faculties,

    - it is accompanied by supernatural virtues to enable meritorious supernatural acts,

    - it is accompanied by supernatural gifts (of the Holy Ghost) to make it responsive to inspirations of the Holy Ghost.

  4. Why does God wish to elevate us by sanctifying grace to participate in His Divine Life?

    1)  In order for us to be perfect we must share in the perfection of God. As God IS perfection, we must share in Him. There are three ways creatures share in God's perfection:

       a.    Irrational creatures: These are like God in that they have being (God is pure being). St. Augustine calls them a vestigium Dei (a vestige of God). Irrational creatures, therefore, participate in the being of God.

       b.    Intelligent Creatures (angels and men): These are more like God because they have intelligence. St. Augustine calls them an imago Dei (an image of God). In our catechism we say that God made us in his image. Intelligent creatures, therefore, participate in the being of God and the intelligence of God.

       c.    Creatures in a state of grace: Angels and men in a state of grace share in the very nature of God as God. St. Augustine calls them a similitudo Dei (a similitude of God). This is the closest likeness a creature can have to God. It is the most perfect manner of sharing in His perfection.

    2)    In order to make us "naturally" inclined to God as God, we must share in His nature. Natural inclination follows nature. To have a natural inclination to something supernatural, we must have a supernaturalised nature.

    3)    In order that we might perform co-natural supernatural operations (e.g. to love God as He loves Himself), we need to have supernatural faculties and virtues which, in turn need to be rooted in a supernaturalised nature.

  5. Effects of sanctifying grace

    The three preeminent effects are given by St. Paul (Rom 8:15-17):

    For you have not received the spirit of bondage again in fear: but you have received the spirit of adoption of sons, whereby we cry: Abba (Father). For the Spirit himself giveth testimony to our spirit that we are the sons of God. And if sons, heirs also; heirs indeed of God and joint heirs with Christ: yet so, if we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified with him.

    Adoption is the gratuitous admission of a stranger into a family. Adoption requires three things:

    a)    the same nature

    b)    a gratuitous love and free election on the part of the adopter

    c)    a true right of inheritance

    1)    Sanctifying grace makes us adopted sons of God. Our filiation to God is not natural (only the filiation of God the Son is natural), but adopted, but our adoption by grace goes far beyond the adoption of one man by another:  the adopted son of God shares in the very life of the Father. It is more than possessing the same nature, it is a true generation, a true re-birth which reflects analogically the eternal generation of the word of God.

    2)    Sanctifying grace makes us true heirs of God. This is a consequence of our adoption: "If we are sons, we are heirs also." (Rom 8:17). But we inherit while our Father is still living. We will inherit:

           a.    the beatific vision

           b.    extrinsic goods: His honour, His glory and His dominions."Grace is the beginning of glory, glory is the consummation of grace." St.T : "grace is nothing other than the beginnning of glory in us." (2a2ae q24a3ad2).

    3)    Sanctifying grace makes us brothers and co-heirs with Christ. This a consequence of 1. and 2.. When we say the "Our Father", we say it as brothers and sisters of Jesus. St. Paul says that God predestined us "to become conformed to the image of his Son that He might be the firstborn among many brethren." (Rom 8:29).

    And not for them only do I pray, but for them also who through their word shall believe in me. That they all may be one, as thou, Father, in me, and I in thee; that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me. 22And the glory which thou hast given me, I have given to them: that, they may be one, as we also are one. (Jn 17:20-22)

    Other Effects

    4)    Sanctifying grace gives us supernatural life. This is because grace causes a physical and formal participation in the Divine Life.

    5.    Sanctifying grace makes us just and pleasing to God. The possession of sanctifying grace necessarily implies a state of justice (being ordered to God). Sanctifying grace makes us just because it orders us to God. Sanctifying grace is necessarily incompatible with mortal sin (mortal sin is the privation of sanctifying grace). It is impossible to share in God's nature and to be radically opposed to Him at the same time. 

    6.    Sanctifying grace gives the possibility of supernatural merit. This is because is supernaturalises our acts (because it has supernaturalised our nature)

    7.    Sanctifying grace unites us intimately with God. God is present in our souls not just as a Creator and Conserver (per essentiam, per praesentiam, per potentiam), but as a friend. He is present more intimately than anything else can be. "God is love, and he who abides in love, abides in God, and God in him." (I Jn 4:16).

    8.    Sanctifying grace makes us temples of the Holy Trinity. This follows from our intimate union with God. 

    Jesus answered and said to him: If any one love me, he will keep my word. And my Father will love him and we will come to him and will make our abode with him. (Jn 14:23)

  6. Comity of sanctifying grace: Infused supernatural virtues

  7. Comity of sanctifying grace: Gifts of the Holy Ghost