1 Corinthians 1:8

What does he mean he will sustain till the end ?

Here’s how one translation reads:
"He will also keep you firm to the end, so that you will be blameless on the day of our Lord Jesus Christ."

This has to do with God’s helping us to persevere in the faith.

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But surely his grace will always be available?

Yes, and grace will always be resistible by man. In any case the text speaks of the grace to persevere.

Sure, but that’s a Christian innovation. Prior to Christianity, the idea that you could be irreversibly and eternally rejected by God during your lifetime on earth was in play. So, Paul had to assert that this wasn’t the case in the context of Jesus.

I know this guy can be a bit dubious at times, but Fr. Rippeger once said that sometimes, God withdraws the grace from us finally? And since it’s a free gift from God, we thus cannot earn it back. Thoughts?

Without seeing exactly what he has said, there has been an idea among some rigorists in the past that God might withdraw His grace completely from obdurate sinners, confirming them permanently in their obduracy. This is based on certain Biblical passages that speak of God hardening someone’s heart.

The answer to this is that God is not the efficient cause of the hardening in those cases, but rather, in punishment of the malicious will who has resisted so many extraordinary graces and has confirmed itself in a sustained malice (like, say, Pharaoh did in Exodus 7), as a punishment God withdraws those resisted graces and allows the person what he wills. However, He always provides enough grace, however little, for the person to be converted again, since the duty of conversion and repentance always remains and therefore, since God does not command the impossible, the grace to do it is always available. It just may be more difficult for one with a hardened heart, but it always remains possible.

St. Thomas Aquinas argues against permanent obduracy in Article XI here (note, like the the Summa, he provides the counterarguments–the “difficulties”–first, and then answers them):

A briefer read is in the Catholic Encyclopedia article on Actual Grace. In the section “The universality of actual grace” there is a subsection titled “The universality of grace.” The long second paragraph of this subsection beginning “So far as the category of the just is concerned…” sums up the argument, concluding “Were the rigorist opinion of God’s complete abandonment of the obdurate correct, despair of God’s mercy would be perfectly justified in such souls. The Catholic catechism, however, presents this as a new grievous sin.”

Is this a difference that can be reconciled between traditionalists and more contemporary Catholics, or does it remain an issue that causes division?

Not sure if this is what you mean, but when the CE says “new sin” it means despair of mercy is an additional sin being committed in addition to the prior one which is the object of despair, not that it was some new invention. Despair is well-founded in Tradition as a sin against the Holy Spirit going all the way back. Traditionalists don’t have any problem with it, as far as I can tell.

In any event, I don’t think this idea of a possible total abandonment by God or absolutely permanent obduracy is a “traditionalist” position. I don’t think it was ever the most common approach in the Church at its most popular and it is one that has pretty much completely fallen out of favor even before Vatican II. St. Thomas’s position has always been the prevailing one. For whatever reason, some modern traditionalists tend to try and resurrect some of the old rigorism (probably in an over-compensation for what they see as too much laxity today).

In any event, this stance was never seen as one that ruptured communion so I don’t see any reason it should now. I look at it this way, if you don’t set your mind on persevering in sin to the end in the face of grace, then you don’t need to worry about it!

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Very helpful answer!! Many thanks

God will offer them the grace to persevere to the end.

God will offer to them the grace to persevere to the end.

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