Grace enables us to know what we ought to do and not to do, and to act accordingly

January 1, 2022 • 3 min

From The Sinner’s Guide, page 148
By Venerable Louis of Granada



The heavenly light and wisdom with which God enlightens the just form the third reward of virtue.

And this blessing, as well as all the others, is the effect of that grace which not only rules our appetites and strengthens our will, but removes the darkness of sin from our understanding and enables us to know and fulfil our duty.

St. Gregory tells us that ignorance of our duty as well as inability to do our duty are alike punishments of sin. [“Moral.,” L. 25, c. 9.]

Hence, David so frequently repeats: “The Lord is my light” against ignorance, “the Lord is my salvation” [Ps. xxvi. 1.] against weakness.

On the one side He teaches us what we should desire, and on the other He strengthens us to execute our desires.

And both of these favors are bestowed on us through grace. For in addition to a habit of faith and infused wisdom which teach us what we are to believe and practise, grace imparts to us the gifts of the Holy Ghost.

Four of these gifts relate particularly to the understanding:

  • Wisdom, which instructs us in spiritual and sublime things;

  • Knowledge, which informs us of the things of earth and time;

  • Understanding, which helps us appreciate the beauty and harmony of the divine mysteries; and

  • Counsel, which guides and directs us amidst the difficulties which we encounter in the path of virtue.

These gifts are so many rays of light which proceed from the divine centre of grace, and in Scripture are called an unction or anointing. “But you have the unction from the Holy One, and know all things.” [1 St. John ii, 20.]

Oil has the double virtue of giving light and healing, and fitly represents the divine unction which enlightens the darkness of our understanding and heals the wounds of our will.

This is the oil which exceeds in value the purest balsam, and for which David rejoiced when he said: “Thou, O Lord! hast anointed my head with oil." [Ps. xxii. 5.]

It is evident that the Royal Prophet did not speak here of a material oil, and that by the head he designated, according to the interpretation of Didymus, the noblest part of the soul, or the understanding, which is illumined and supported by the unction of the Holy Spirit.

Since it is the property and function of grace to make us virtuous, we must love virtue and abhor sin, which we cannot do if the understanding be not divinely enlightened to discern the malice of sin and the beauty of virtue.

For the will, according to philosophers and theologians, is a blind faculty, incapable of acting without the guidance of the intellect, which points out the good it should choose and love, and the evil it should reject and hate.

The same is true of fear, of hope, and of hatred for sin. We can never acquire these sentiments without a just knowledge of the goodness of God and the malice of sin.

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