Nature and grace

By Engr. Carlos V. Cornejo

The nature referred to here is to human nature and mother nature.  Human nature that has been wounded due to the original sin, is in need of redemption or restoration to its original state of holiness, the state before original sin was committed by our first parents, Adam and Eve.  Jesus Christ through his death on the cross has gained those graces for restoration and it is up to us to avail of those graces through the Sacraments starting with Baptism, the Sacrament that erases original sin in our souls and gives us grace (aid) to live a holy life, fight sin, and infuses in us the supernatural virtues of faith, hope and love.

Human nature without grace can still do good acts but can’t rise up to a state of holiness.  That’s why there are good natured persons that don’t practice religion.  Good dispositions combined with grace however, produces saints.  We get to wonder, “How did those saints that we venerate in the altars become so good, that we sinners sometimes feel that’s it’s just impossible to imitate them?”   It is a testament to the power of grace more than to the power of human nature.  Once human nature is touched by grace it can do the seemingly impossible.  “When the disciples heard this, they were greatly astonished and asked, ‘Who then can be saved?’ Jesus looked at them and said, ‘With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.’” (Mt. 19:25-26)

Our protestant brethren in the faith tend to separate nature and grace as if they are against each other.  They would say “Just have faith and forget about reason” or they would say “Don’t ask too many questions, just have faith”.  For them it means more miracle less science or more God less man.  Whereas Catholics make the two complementary: grace redeems nature.  Grace aids, elevates and perfects nature.  Faith perfects good works, faith perfects reason and faith perfects science.  Therefore, Catholics have a high view of human nature, of human arts, science, culture, technology, of human things because these can be elevated, made use of and offered up to God.  If God created nature and if it is good, God would raise it and perfect it.  Much like a father would raise and elevate his children.  God would not rival his children. God does not have an ego problem. He wants his children to grow and get a share of his honor and glory.  That’s why God always uses secondary causes (men) for His plan to be carried out in this world, and make it appear that He is not there, but is actually operating at the background.

A concrete example of nature combined with grace, this time mother nature, are the Sacraments.  Water in Baptism has a supernatural effect of washing away original sin.  The bread and wine in the Holy Eucharist are turned into the Body and Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ. Chrism (oil and balsam) used in Confirmation signifies the spiritual anointing of the person turning him or her from a child of God to a soldier of Christ, ready for spiritual battle.

In romantic love, I would always teach my audience that if you put God into your love life or into your romantic relationship, it could become 10 times, 20 times or even 100 times happier because of the effect of grace. “Others, like seed sown on good soil, hear the word, accept it, and produce a crop—some thirty, some sixty, some a hundred times what was sown.” (Mk 4:20) If people in a relationship would exert effort to be close to God, avail of the Sacraments especially regular Confession and Holy Mass, periods of prayer, then their relationship would grow, that instead of just focusing on physical attraction for one another it rises up to true love for each other which is sacrificing for one another.  This does not apply only to romantic relationships but to all human relationships as well such as family life and friendships.  Family life would flourish and friendships are elevated to real concern for one another.  It truly is an “Amazing Grace” as the famous English (from U.K.) song by John Newton would attest to it.


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