Life in Christ
cooperation between God’s grace and
On man’s part it is expressed by the assent of faith
to the Word of God, which invites him to conversion, and in the
cooperation of charity with the prompting of the Holy Spirit who
precedes and preserves his assent:
When God touches man’s heart through the illumination of
the Holy Spirit, man himself is not inactive while receiving
that inspiration, since he could reject it; and yet, without
God’s grace, he cannot by his own free will move himself
toward justice in God’s sight.
Justification is the
most excellent work of God’s love
manifest in Christ Jesus and granted by the Holy Spirit. It is the
opinion of St. Augustine that “the justification of the wicked is a
greater work than the creation of heaven and earth,” because
“heaven and earth will pass away but the salvation and justifica
tion of the elect . . . will not pass away.”
He holds also that the
justification of sinners surpasses the creation of the angels in jus
tice, in that it bears witness to a greater mercy.
The Holy Spirit is the master of the interior life. By giving
birth to the “inner man,”
justification entails the
his whole being:
Just as you once yielded your members to impurity and to
greater and greater iniquity, so now yield your members to
righteousness for sanctification. . . . But now that you have
been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the
return you get is sanctification and its end, eternal life.
Our justification comes from the grace of God. Grace is
free and undeserved help
that God gives us to respond to
his call to become children of God, adoptive sons, partakers of the
divine nature and of eternal life.
Grace is a
participation in the life of God.
It introduces us into
the intimacy of Trinitarian life: by Baptism the Christian partici
pates in the grace of Christ, the Head of his Body. As an “adopted
42 Council of Trent (1547): DS 1525.
43 St. Augustine,
In Jo. ev.
72, 3: PL 35, 1823.