Efficacious Grace

I was reading the Old Catholic Encyclopedia article on Molinism, and it mentions the “dogma” of unequal distribution of efficacious grace. What is this referring too?

Efficacious grace means grace which converts a person so that he repents of his sins. Because many people refuse to repent, it is due to their own fault that they do not get efficacious grace. It is offered by God but rejected by them. The phrase “unequal distribution” refers to the fact that some people accept God’s grace and some people do not. Thus, some get it and some don’t (through their own fault). The distribution is unequal because not everybody gets it, even though everybody is offered it.

Does that make sense?

The Old Catholic Encyclopedia article on Molinism seemed to say what you said, but than in another section seemed to say it was up to GOD to whom is given efficacious grace. Distribution implies the freedom on the part of God, not the human, right?

God certainly does have freedom, but He does not force His grace on anybody. That idea is contrary to Catholic teaching on the freedom of the will. The Council of Trent condemned it in Session 6 Canon 4: If anyone says that man’s free will moved and aroused by God, by assenting to God’s call and action, in no way cooperates toward disposing and preparing itself to obtain the grace of justification, that it cannot refuse its assent if it wishes, but that, as something inanimate, it does nothing whatever and is merely passive, let him be anathema. source I emphasize these words: “If anyone says…that it cannot refuse its assent if it wishes…let him be anathema.”

From this it follows that God does not force His grace on anybody. Canon 17 is also relevant here: If anyone says that the grace of justification is shared by those only who are predestined to life, but that all others who are called are called indeed but receive not grace, as if they are by divine power predestined to evil, let him be anathema. source I emphasize these words: “If anyone says…that all others…receive not grace…let him be anathema.”

From this it seems to follow that God offers His grace to all, but some refuse it. Is that helpful?

Very helpful.So basically the dogma of unequal distribution is the dogma that people go to hell? That however is interesting, because the Catechism of the Catholic Church says that we pray with hope that all men may be saved. Maybe it means for each person, but still it is very poorly worded.

Do you happen to have the section from Trent on efficacious grace?

It isn’t unequal in the sense that everyone is offered grace for living a life leading to salvation. Everyone is offered sufficient grace since Jesus died for all and if some were not offered sufficient grace, then that would be contrary to what Jesus died for.

But there is an inequality in the sense that God does offer to some more grace and special graces that he does not offer to others. One case is the special gifts of teaching, preaching, prophecy, holy orders, and so on. These being special graces to help others.
While others are offered special graces of greater sanctification for drawing closer to Christ. St. Teresa of the little flower compared people to flowers, where there are all types of flowers representing God’s graces flourishing in them, but not all are equal, but all are beautiful.

Further graces are also dependent upon the acceptance of the graces already offered. Since a grace or special grace may be refused.

May God our Father give you grace and peace.

The idea that all men will be saved is contrary to Catholic doctrine and the Catechism does not suggest that universal salvation is possible. Here is a helpful article on the subject: catholic.com/blog/tim-staples/are-there-souls-in-hell-right-now

Do you happen to have the section from Trent on efficacious grace?

I don’t believe it had a whole session on efficacious grace, just a few canons and decrees relating to it in the session on justification. Here is a link to that session: ewtn.com/library/councils/trent6.htm

I guess I’ll have to read through Trent to see if it has the words “unequal distribution of efficacious grace” because if it does that would mean it defined the Thomistic position on efficacious grace. Distribution implies it is given differently on the part of the giver, not given its nature by the acceptance of the receiver.

And the Catechism’s words that that the Church prayers with hope that all men be saved can’t be strained into something else. It would be a very weak hope if it merely meant each individual and not all mean collectively. Oh well, Cardinal Ratzinger DID say the Catechism isn’t superdogma and it wasn’t intended to stop theological speculation.

I don’t think it uses those exact words, but it does have this sentence: “[T]hough He died for all, yet all do not receive the benefit of His death, but those only to whom the merit of His passion is communicated.”

And this: “If anyone says that the grace of justification is shared by those only who are predestined to life, but that all others who are called are called indeed but receive not grace, as if they are by divine power predestined to evil, let him be anathema.”

Distribution implies it is given differently on the part of the giver, not given its nature by the acceptance of the receiver.

I don’t think distribution implies that. One reason is, distribution can be spoken of even when there is no giver. E.g. in mathematics, distribution is a term in statistics that refers to how much of a given thing there is in a population.

And the Catechism’s words that that the Church prayers with hope that all men be saved can’t be strained into something else.

I don’t think you change it to something else by saying that the thing hoped for won’t end up happening. Take any given man from the past and ask if he is in heaven, and I will say, “I hope so.” Take any man in the future and ask if he will get to heaven, and I will say, “I hope so.” But I know that not all men in the past are in heaven, and I doubt that all men in the future will get there.

I doubt they will, and yet I hope they will.

It didn’t define the Thomistic position because otherwise all those years following the Council debating this issue were pointless!

What is this referring too?

Some people accept the actual graces God gives, and receive salvation. However you want to understand that is up to you. But it doesn’t prove one side is correct; it only shows that those who have salvation have received efficacious grace, and those that reject salvation don’t have efficacious grace.

Personally I think it is easier to understand if you just look at it in terms of God giving us grace (Himself). God gives himself to all of us, and insofar as he is “there” his grace is actual. Once we’ve accepted him for ourselves the grace become efficacious.

The idea that all men will be saved is contrary to Catholic doctrine

It would be incorrect for us to say that all men will be saved, but I don’t think it’s contrary to Catholic doctrine to say that it’s possible all men will be saved. Lex orandi, lex credendi.

The law of prayer is the law of faith: the Church believes as she prays. Liturgy is a constitutive element of the holy and living Tradition. - CCC 1124.

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