Monday, 21 May 2012

Grace and sinfulness

Sometimes I wonder how, despite the sacramental bestowal of grace, our human nature remains weak as ever. Does not Thomas say that grace is the bestowal of a habit, and should not that habit take the place of earlier, sinful habits?

Here is an amazing psychological observations from Lonergan and Aquinas. In Grace and Freedom, Lonergan notes that according to Aquinas, the supernatural virtues not merely give the possibility of a type of action, but also make it spontaneous and connatural. However, there remains the objection from experience that the infused virtues do not always seem to make right action prompt, easy and agreeable. Thomas' answer: neither acquired nor infused virtues totally eliminate the evil inclinations of passion. Still, both operate against such inclinations, though in different ways. Acquired virtues make evil tendencies less sensible. The more rarefied infused virtues may not have this effect at all, but they do break the dominion of sin over us. Nor is the persisting sensible difficulty contrary to the nature of a virtue, for as even Aristotle acknowledged, the pleasure proper to virtuous action may be, at time, no more than the absence of regret. Perhaps the more radical answer to the objection may be that readiness, ease and pleasure are the signs, the external consequences, of the virtues, such secondary effects may be covered over by other factors. (Grace and Freedom, CWL 1:49)

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