The Church teaches that Grace is favor, the free and undeserved help that God gives us to respond to his call … it is participation in the life of God. (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1996, p. 483-486)
Initial grace can be more easily understood as God’s “freely dispensed goodness” in creation. Regardless of built-in entropy, roughly speaking, the deterioration of matter in the universe. Few will say that “being,” (dasein), is not glorious, no matter how long it lasts. One does not need to be a cosmologist or quantum physicist to see the grandiosity of creation. Even the slightest sense of aesthetics can tell the whole story. The height of personal satisfaction comes with a comprehension of the simple goodness emanating from God in creation. Grace also generates virtue; faith, hope, and charity are the result of God’s grace. We share in his goodness and therefore are able to trust in his love and perform good works on his behalf as brothers and sisters in Christ, and as “children of God” regardless of inevitable tragedies which can be the source of great courage in the life of many. The Spirit, the giver of life, is also the source of all charity, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, generosity, gentleness, faithfulness, modesty, chastity and self control. “Virtue is a habitual and firm disposition to do good. Stable dispositions of the intellect and will that governs our acts, order our passions, and guide our conduct according to reason and faith. They can be grouped around the four cardinal virtues of prudence, justice, fortitude and temperance,” all through our cooperation with the grace of God. (Catechism of the Catholic Church: 1833-1834, p. 451)
Those of us who happened to be born into a Christian family or environment, most likely have already received sacramental or sanctifying “grace,” as an infant, through the sacrament of Baptism. A sacrament is “an outward sign, instituted by Christ to confer grace.” The water of baptism, the first of the sacraments, and its accompanying ritual has the deepest significance in our relationship with God, our Father, through Jesus Christ. It is our initiation to “life in the Spirit” and enlists us as members of the Christian communion. Very few people in this world have convinced themselves, that life is not spirit. Most of us inherently know that spirit or soul, is “the life of the body.” Radical Secularism generally works against spirituality and the existence of God. People of that distinction defend the negative hypothesis that there is no God, however, they are unable to provide any positive proof of initial causality by any other conclusive means. Therefore, they become almost completely self oriented, but not necessarily without common ethics or a consensus morality.
Nothing living can survive without water – and from ancient times human beings have inherently understood the connection between the “Creator” and the provision of water for the existence of life. Evolutionary epochs since the Big Bang produced hydrogen and later oxygen through neucleosynthesis, which eventually allowed habitation on our planet. Physicists now believe that a significant amount of water existed in the earth’s early formation. The poetry of Genesis expresses it beautifully:
In the beginning when God created the heavens and the earth,
the earth was a formless void and darkness covered the face of the deep,
while a wind from God swept over the face of the waters.
Then God said “let there be light;” and there was light.
Water, as an ablution, is used in practically all faiths. For Christians, John the Baptizer was the “voice crying in the wilderness;” the one whom Isaiah prophesied to be chosen by God to prepare the way of the Messiah. John was spiritually “cleansing” by the ritual of immersion those who were willing to repent of their sins against the God of Israel and “make straight the path” for the expected Messiah. It was Jesus who gave baptism sacramental significance when he allowed himself to be baptized by John in the Jordan River, “To fulfill all righteousness.” This event also marked the beginning of his public ministry. The water of baptism became the specific effluence of divine grace, as things were made right between God and man by the coming of “the Lamb of God.” Salvation had come through the Jews. Grace, truth, and new life in the Spirit came with the arrival of the “Chosen One of God.” Being “born again” of water and the Spirit would become a necessary step for a regeneration of God’s favor, with the promise of eternal life through the Risen One. A new covenant would be made with the blood of the Lamb – between God and man in Christ Jesus. The “Kingdom of God” was opened to all humanity.
Other clear and distinct sources of the sanctifying grace of God were instituted by Christ with the sacraments, especially the Eucharist which is the “body and blood, soul and divinity” of Christ himself. The seven sacraments are: Baptism, Confirmation, The Eucharist, Penance, Anointing of the Sick, Holy Orders and Matrimony. Those that are received only once, are Baptism, Confirmation, Holy Orders and Matrimony. The others are a continuous source of sanctifying grace through the Holy Spirit in the Church for those who embrace them faithfully and receive them worthily.
Easter Sunday, 2012