Monday, April 04, 2011

The Causes Of Justification

Final Cause:
The glory of God and of Christ, and eternal life

Efficient Cause:
The God of mercy who, of his own free will, washes[1] and sanctifies, placing his seal and anointing[2] with the promised holy spirit who is the guarantee of our inheritance[3].

Meritorious Cause:
His most beloved and only-begotten Son, our lord Jesus Christ who, when we were at enmity with him[4], out of the great love with which he loved us[5], merited justification for us by his most holy passion on the wood of the cross, and made satisfaction to God the Father on our behalf.

Instrumental Cause:
The sacrament of baptism, which is the sacrament of faith[6], without which justification comes to no one.

Formal Cause:
The justness of God: not that by which he himself is just, but that by which he makes us just and endowed with which we are renewed in the spirit of our mind[7], and are not merely considered to be just but we are truly named and are just[8], each one of us receiving individually his own justness according to the measure which the holy Spirit apportions to each one as he wills[9], and in view of each one’s dispositions and co-operation. For though no one can be just unless the merits of the passion of our lord Jesus Christ are communicated to him; nevertheless, in the justification of a sinner this in fact takes place when, by the merit of the same most holy passion, the love of God is poured out by the agency of the holy Spirit in the hearts[10] of those who are being justified, and abides in them. Consequently, in the process of justification, together with the forgiveness of sins a person receives, through Jesus Christ into whom he is grafted, all these infused at the same time: faith, hope and charity. For faith, unless hope is added to it and charity too, neither unites him perfectly with Christ nor makes him a living member of his body. Hence it is very truly said that faith without works is dead and barren[11], and in Christ Jesus neither circumcision is of any avail nor uncircumcision, but faith working through love[12]. From apostolic tradition, catechumens seek this faith from the church before the sacrament of baptism when they ask for the faith that gives eternal life; and this, without hope and charity, faith cannot give. Consequently, they immediately hear the word of Christ: If you would enter life, keep the commandments[13]. Thus, receiving true and Christian justness in exchange for that which Adam, by his disobedience, lost for himself and for us, the reborn are immediately ordered to preserve the justice freely granted to them through Jesus Christ in a pure and spotless state like a best robe[14], so that they may carry it before the tribunal of our lord Jesus Christ and possess eternal life[15].

-Council of Trent, Session 6

[1] See 1 Cor 6:11
[2] See 2 Cor 1:21-22
[3] Eph 1:13-14
[4] See Rm 5:10
[5] Eph 2:4
[6] See Augustine, Ep. 98 ad Bonifatium (Letter 98 to Boniface) 9
[7] See Eph 4:23
[8] See 1 Jn 3:1
[9] See 1 Cor 12:11
[10] See Rm 5:5
[11] See Jas 2:17, 20
[12] Gal 5:6
[13] Mt 19:17
[14] See Lk 15:22; Augustine, De genesi ad litt. (On the words of Genesis) VI 27
[15] See Rituale Romanum (Roman Ritual), administration of baptism

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