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Life in Christ

487

2009

Filial adoption, in making us partakers by grace in the

divine nature, can bestow

true merit

on us as a result of God’s gra­

tuitous justice. This is our right by grace, the full right of love,

making us “co-heirs” with Christ and worthy of obtaining “the

promised inheritance of eternal life.”

60

The merits of our good

works are gifts of the divine goodness.

61

“Grace has gone before

us; now we are given what is due. . . . Our merits are God’s

gifts.”

62

2010

Since the initiative belongs to God in the order of grace,

no

one can merit the initial grace

of forgiveness and justification, at the

beginning of conversion. Moved by the Holy Spirit and by charity,

we can then merit

for ourselves and for others the graces needed for

our sanctification, for the increase of grace and charity, and for the

attainment of eternal life. Even temporal goods like health and

friendship can be merited in accordance with God’s wisdom. These

graces and goods are the object of Christian prayer. Prayer attends

to the grace we need for meritorious actions.

2011

The charity of Christ is the source in us of all our merits

before

God. Grace, by uniting us to Christ in active love, ensures the

supernatural quality of our acts and consequently their merit be­

fore God and before men. The saints have always had a lively

awareness that their merits were pure grace.

After earth’s exile, I hope to go and enjoy you in the father­

land, but I do not want to lay up merits for heaven. I want

to work for your

love alone. 

. . . In the evening of this life, I

shall appear before you with empty hands, for I do not ask

you, Lord, to count my works. All our justice is blemished

in your eyes. I wish, then, to be clothed in your own

justice

and to receive from your

love

the eternal possession of

your-

self.

63

60 Council of Trent (1547): DS 1546.

61 Cf. Council of Trent (1547): DS 1548.

62 St. Augustine,

Sermo

298, 4-5: PL 38, 1367.

63 St. Thérèse of Lisieux, “Act of Offering” in

Story of a Soul,

tr. John Clarke

(Washington DC: ICS, 1981), 277.

604

1998

492

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