I have a doubt. Assuming that faith requires intelligence, will and divine grace, and that each person individually responds to grace, my question is, how do we become aware of grace? I will be grateful for your answer. Greetings. R. M.
As St. Thomas explains, the knowledge of the state of grace (that is, that we possess sanctifying grace) can come about in two different ways:
- by revelation, which, evidently, is a particular privilege given to few people.
- by conjecture, that is, through some signs. And such is the ordinary way to attain knowledge of grace.
The Catechism says: “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 (Cf. Council of Trent, 1547; DS 1533-1534). However, according to the Lord’s words “Thus you will know them by their fruits” (Mt. 7:20) – 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”. (CCC, 2005)
As for the signs that allow us to conjecture the state of the soul, there are three main ones that can serve to guide us regarding the state of grace:
- The testimony of a good conscience, which entails: not being conscious of mortal sin; sincere sorrow for sins committed; the purpose of amendment and the horror of sin; the fulfillment of divine precepts; victory in temptations; love for the virtues and the effort to avoid venial sin.
- Delight in divine things, that is: a taste for spiritual books and for the Word of God; devotion to the Eucharist and to Our Lady; frequent reception of the sacraments and mental prayer.
- Contempt for worldly things, which implies: not being attached to the things of the earth; not feeling pleasure in the vanities of the world; fleeing from the occasions of sin.
However, these signs do not give us more than a conjecture, therefore, the Scripture exhorts us to vigilance, perseverance, prayer and trust in God and continuous effort in the work of sanctification:
- Sir 5:5 – Do not be so confident of forgiveness that you add sin to sin.
- Prov 20:9 – Who can say, “I have made my heart clean; I am pure from my sin”?
- Ps 19:12 – But who can detect their errors? Clear me from hidden faults.
- 1 Cor 4:4 – I am not aware of anything against myself, but I am not thereby acquitted. It is the Lord who judges me
Fr. Miguel A. Fuentes, IVE