Monday, November 10, 2008

Grace and the Image of God

Q - Actual grace versus the image and likeness of God. Actual grace constantly points us toward God, but doesn’t naturally the fact that we are made in His image do the same thing, to fulfill ourselves as humans our hearts would naturally look toward God, or in some cases something that resembles it?

Also, taint of sin, a little confused by that, how is sin not irrevocably taken away at confession?

A - Thanks for asking. What does it mean to be made in the image and likeness of God? That is a very deep question and one which I cannot address fully in so limited a space. But, suffice it to say that we are called by our creation in God's image to heaven and communion with Him. We are made for Him and His purposes and our imaging of Him reflects this reality.

But, we are in a wounded state where we can't see this reality clearly. This is because we have a tendency to sin - we call this tendency concupiscence. We all struggle with sin because of the freedom we have been given (part of the gift of being made in God's image). But, this is where actual grace comes in.

Actual grace, is different from sanctifying grace. Actual grace is something that works on us from the outside of our souls that pushes us toward God. Sanctifying grace is interior. It makes us pleasing to God and is necessary to go to heaven. We are able to lose sanctifying grace, but since actual grace isn't interior, we cannot free ourselves from it.

Actual grace comes for a time to prod us toward God. We are always free to accept or reject these moments of grace, but they never stop coming until we die. We need this, because even though we are made for God in His image, we are fallen and sin.

As for the taint of sin or stain of sin, this is what concupiscence is - the tendency to sin. We won't be free of this, because we are not fully in communion with God (and therefore our redemption, salvation and justification are not fully complete) until we enter into heaven. Until this happens, we will always have this stain of sin, though we are freed from the guilt of sin by having them forgiven by God.

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