Glories of Divine Grace
For the Spirit himself giveth testimony to our spirit, that we are the sons of God. And if sons, heirs also; heirs indeed of God, and joint heirs with Christ: yet so, if we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified with him. For I reckon that the sufferings of this time are not worthy to be compared with the glory to come, that shall be revealed in us. Romans 8:16-18
By whom he hath given us most great and precious promises: that by these you may be made partakers of the divine nature . . . 2 Peter 1:4
Not only does grace surpass all natural things, it also surpasses all the miraculous works of GodThus the work of grace is the greatest wonder of Gods omnipotence. It is even greater than His creation of the world out of nothing. It can be compared only with that unspeakable act of God the Father by which He begets from all eternity His own Son, equal to Himself, and in time unites Him with a human nature. Page 12
WHAT IS GRACE?
1. How Deplorable It Is that Men Should Have So Little Regard for Grace 3
2. Grace Should Be Prized Very Highly Because It Is Infinitely Superior to All Natural Things 8
3. Grace Is More Sublime than Miracles 12
4. By Grace We Are Elevated Far Above Nature . . 16
5. Grace Is a Participation in the Uncreated Divine Nature . 20
6. The Participation in the Divine Nature Effects a Supernatural Similarity to This Nature 25
7. Grace Confers Upon Us the Highest Perfection . 29
8. Grace Makes Man Participate in the Divine Cognition . 32
9. Grace Makes Us Partake of Divine Sanctity . . . 37
10. Grace Gives Us a New, Higher Nature 41
11. Grace Is in a Certain Sense Infinite . . 46
12. Grace and the Incarnation of the Son of God . . . 50
13. Grace and the Dignity of the Mother of God . . . 57
14. How Much God Himself Esteems Grace . . . 62
UNION WITH GOD
15. Through Grace We Receive into Our Soul the Person of the Holy Ghost . . 71
16. The Entire Holy Trinity Is Introduced into Our Soul by Grace . . 79
17. Through Grace the Holy Ghost Breathes His Own Life into Us . . . 83
18. Grace Makes Us Children of God by Adoption . 91
19. Divine Grace Makes Us Sons of God 99
20. The Wonderful Nourishment of the Children of God . . . 107
21. Grace Establishes a True Friendship between God and Man . 114
22. The Ineffable Love God Bears toward Us when We Are in the State of Grace . 124
23. The Heavenly Beauty that Grace Gives to the Soul . . . 130
24. Grace Makes the Soul a True Spouse of God . . 138
25. Grace Makes Us Members of the Kingdom of God and Participants of His Dominion Over All Things . . . 148
26. The Intimate Union which Grace Effects Between God and Us . . . 153
HOW GRACE WORKS
27. Light as a Symbol of Grace 167
28. The Wonderful Power Which Grace Has to Destroy Mortal Sin . . . 177
29. Grace Infuses into Our Souls the Supernatural Divine Virtues 183
30. Supernatural Divine Faith 189
31. The Supernatural, Divine Virtue of Hope . 198
32. Divine Charity . 203
33. The Supernatural Moral Virtues 211
34. Through Grace We Receive the Seven Gifts of the Holy Ghost . . 218
35. Sanctifying Grace Brings with It Supernatural Actual Grace . . 228
36. The Inestimable Value that Grace Gives to Our Works as a Source of Merit . . 236
37. Grace Enables Us to Make Satisfaction for the Punishment Deserved for Sin . 248
38. Grace Makes Us Share in the Goods of Christ and of the Saints . . 251
39. The Wonderful Power which Grace Manifests in the Weakness of Our Nature . . . 256
THE EFFECTS OF GRACE
40. Grace Makes Us Worthy of Gods Protection . . 267
41. Grace Obtains Special Protection from the Angels 273
42. Without Grace There Is No True Happiness . . . 278
43. Grace Makes Us Happier than the Favor of Men . . . 285
44. In Grace We Find the Highest Enlightenment, the Truest Liberty, the Greatest Progress . . . 289
45. How Much the Angels Esteem Grace 298
46. We Must Have a Greater Esteem for Grace in Us than the Angels and Saints of the Old Law . . 302
47. How Highly the Saints Valued Grace and How Much They Did for Its Sake . . 306
HOW TO GROW IN GRACE
48. The Acquisition of Grace . . 315
49. Supernatural Faith as the First Preparation for the Reception of Grace . . . 321
50. Fear of God as the Second Preparation for Grace . 331
51. Supernatural Hope as the Third Preparation for Grace . 337
52. Contrition as the Fourth and Last Preparation for Grace . 343
53. The Supernatural Life that We Must Lead When in the State of Grace . . 348
54. The Exercise of Supernatural Love of God 357
55. The Exercise of Supernatural Love of Our Neighbor . 364
56. The Exercise of Supernatural Humility and Chastity . . 371
57. Faith, the Soul of the Life of Grace . . 384
58. Grace and Venial Sin 391
59. The Obligation and Facility of Continual Progress in the Life of Grace 400
60. Preservation of Grace until the End . 413
The Glories of Divine Grace will very likely become the most influential book a Catholic will ever readand one of the most insightful. For it is all about Sanctifying Grace, which is none other than the life of God imparted to our souls at Baptism. The entire purpose of this book is to show us what that fact should mean to us and how it should affect and alter our livesindeed, how we who are baptized should therefore live. Few people, including most Catholics, ever give Sanctifying Grace a thought, other than to ask themselves whether they are in the state of grace. But the author of this bookan eminent German theologian of the 19th centurywrites sixty chapters about the nature of Sanctifying Grace, how it brings about our union with God, how Sanctifying Grace works, the effects of it upon our souls, and how we can and should grow in it.
If anyone with even a modicum of faith can read the first two pages of this book and not continue on through the end, it would be surprising. For The Glories of Divine Grace is not an abstract thesis in theology, but rather a popular book written for all Catholics, to show them what an unbelievable gift God has given mankind in Sanctifying Grace. It is a book written with passion and for the salvation of souls, a book of rare understanding, and a book designed and writtenwith a pen on fireto shock its readers into an understanding of what they have been for so long taking for granted, without ever really knowing what they possess, and which makes them vastly different in the elevation of their nature from those who do not possess this incomparable gift.
What is Sanctifying Grace? It is none other than the life of God Himself imparted to the soul, whereby man is raised, in a true sense, to the divine level and by which man becomes a friend and a child of God, an heir to Heaven, and is thereby and thereafter pleasing in His sightso long as man remains in the state of Sanctifying Grace. Sanctifying Grace is our ticket to Heaven, so to speak. When we die, we will ultimately go to Heaven or to Hell for all eternity, depending on whether or not we have Sanctifying Grace in our souls. The presence or absence of Sanctifying Grace in our souls at the moment of death will decide our eternal salvation or our everlasting damnation. How do we receive this admirable gift? It is received through the Sacrament of the Catholic Church called Baptism. And how can we lose it? We lose it by committing mortal sins, which are those sins 1) of a grievous nature (in themselves, or which we think are grievous), 2) which we fully know to be mortally sinful, and yet 3) which we commit anyway, with the full consent of our will.
How do we gain back Sanctifying Grace? We gain it back through the Sacrament of Penance (Confession) when we confess our sins to a priest with true sorrow and a firm purpose of amendment. We can also gain back Sanctifying Grace by making an act of perfect contrition, which is a prayer of sorrow for having offended God because He is infinitely good and worthy of all our love. (But, having committed a mortal sin, we still have to go to Confession before receiving Communion, even though we have made an act of perfect contrition.)
Ezechiel the Prophet was speaking of Sanctifying Grace when he said: But if the just man turn himself away from his justice, and do iniquity according to all the abominations which the wicked man useth to work, shall he live? [I.e., shall he be in the state of Sanctifying Grace?] All his justices which he has done shall not be remembered: in the prevarication by which he has prevaricated, and in his sin, which he hath committed, in them he shall die [i.e., he will be in the state of mortal sin, with his soul dead to Gods grace, and he will go to Hell if he dies in that state]. (Ezechiel 18:24). Again, Ezechiel has written: And when the wicked turneth himself away from his wickedness, which he has wrought [mortal sin], and doeth judgment and justice, he shall save his soul alive. (Ezechiel 18:27). This is to say that, when a sinner turns away from his mortal sins and repents in accordance with Gods law, he shall gain back Sanctifying Grace.
The term Sanctifying Grace is not used in Sacred Scripture, but Sanctifying Grace is referred to in Scripture time and again, and Fr. Scheeben points out to us in this marvelous treatise many of the passages from the Bible that refer to this precious gift of God. Some Scriptural terms for Sanctifying Grace and its effects are living water, born again, wedding garment, new creation, children of God, divine adoption, life, justice, just, charity, etc. In The Glories of Divine Grace, the author speaks almost always simply about grace, but by this term he means Sanctifying Grace, which is life, spiritual lifethe life of God imparted to the soul, which causes the soul to be (as we say) in the state of grace. This is to distinguish it from Actual Grace, which is a passing help from God to do a certain good thing or to avoid an evil thing. Indeed, the author speaks occasionally about Actual Grace, but for the most part in this book, when he speaks merely of grace, he is speaking about Sanctifying Grace. And when he speaks about the glories of divine grace, he is always speaking about Sanctifying Grace, the grace of God that gives life to the soulsupernatural life, the life of God.
He explains most clearly that this life of God (Sanctifying Grace) is so much above us that we cannot possibly acquire it on our own; that it is strictly a gift which God freely bestows upon us; and that without it, our works (good works) are dead, as far as meriting an eternal reward. But with it, the good or virtuous works that we do have merit in the sight of God and will forever redound to our spiritual credit in eternity. Those who deny the eternal value of good works (i.e., Protestants) are correct with regard to works performed when a person is not in the state of grace, for without Sanctifying Grace in his soul, a person merits by his good works nothing at all for eternity. But when a person is in the state of grace (has Sanctifying Grace in his soul), that person does indeed merit by his good works an eternal reward, because he is now no longer a mere natural human who performs these works, but a child of God who does them. Such deeds done while the life of God is in ones soul have merit for eternity, for they have been done by no mere natural man, but by an adopted son of God, by a living branch on the vine which is Christ.
We see in the parable of the five wise and five foolish virgins, who have lighted lamps in their hands and are awaiting the arrival of the bridegroom and his party (representing Christ coming at the death of an individual to judge him), that when he was late in coming, they slept, and the lamps of the foolish virgins burned out (they had lost Sanctifying Grace); whereas, the lamps of the five wise virgins had been replenished with the extra oil they had wisely brought with them, and thus they were ready, with their lamps burning (their souls in the state of Sanctifying Grace), to go forth to meet their Lord and enter into the marriage feast (representing Heaven). However, the foolish virgins were left outside (representing Hell). Although the term Sanctifying Grace is not mentioned, that is clearly what is referred to in this parable.
And The Glories of Divine Grace again and again cites famous Scriptural passages
that refer to Sanctifying Grace, which is the Catholic term for the life of
God received into our souls at Baptism. As St. Teresa of Avila could come
back to earth and appear in vision to a certain person and state that she
would gladly live her entire life over again, just to be able to say one more
Hail Mary and thus enhance the level of her happiness in Heaven,
then what should not we be doing to grow and grow in Sanctifying Grace while
we can, and thereby gain a higher place in Heaven, where the level of our
will be that much greater? And this is why The Glories of Divine Grace is so influential: because it will motivate us to attempt at every turn in our livesjust as the Saints have doneto continue to grow in divine grace, uninterruptedly, right to the end of our lives. No other book we know of has such power to influence and persuade people to come to understand properly, to co-operate with, and to augment Almighty Gods divine gift of Sanctifying Grace in our souls, so that we will desire ever to increase our store of it.
This is a book that should become a constant companion at ones bedside,
even after a person has once read it, for it is a book thatread a chapter
at a time, now and then will keep before the mind of the Catholic striving
for perfection a constant, continually fresh idea of the greatness of this
gift of Sanctifying Grace, because, having been baptized in Christ, we need
to live as new men, newly created men and women, people raised
up to a level that the unbaptized have no dream even exists! After reading
a few chapters of this book, one will begin to realize why many of the greatest
Saints were people who
never committed a mortal sin, and why some were even so privileged as never to have committed so much as a purposeful venial sin. In these great Saints, grace built upon grace, and their souls grew in Sanctifying Grace unimpeded, so that their spiritual progress was never set back by their falling into mortal sin. Thus were they able ever to advance in the life of God, their unobstructed spiritual growth being the secret of their spiritual greatness. The lesson for us in this regard from The Glories of Divine Grace should be that we should never experiment with mortal sin, because even after having been forgiven mortal sin, there is left a spiritual debt to be paid because of it, and most likely an inclination to that sin, both of which can sometimes take a lifetime to efface by continual penance.
No one would think of putting his hand upon a red-hot burner, even for a few seconds. This would leave a burn mark that would probably last the rest of that persons life. Such a foolhardy deed is somewhat analogous to the effect of mortal sin upon our souls, but with the added effect that mortal sin also throws up a dam before the stream of Gods life-giving grace, impeding it from continuing uninterruptedly its beneficial effect in our soulsuntil we should once again gain forgiveness.
In this book, the author marshalls before our minds all the reasons to abandon sin and to grow in divine grace, because mortal sin drives out Sanctifying Grace. For grace, being of a divine nature and kind, can co-exist with sin as little as God Himself can. (Page 39). The author goes on to score point after point that most people have never ever thought about concerning the action of divine grace. As mentioned, few people ever think about Sanctifying Grace, but without it, we are doomed to Hell; and with it, we are destined for Heaven. Therefore, no study is more important than that which the present book contains. For this book demonstrates, over and over again, that there is no objective in life more important than preserving and growing in Sanctifying Grace. And therefore there is no book, other than the Bible, more important for Catholics to read and understand than The Glories of Divine Grace. It promises to be an absolute revelation to most Catholics. For, as Fr. Scheeben states:
Let us not think that only the great Saints can and should lead a supernatural life. This life does not consist in those extraordinary revelations, ecstasies and miracles with which the Saints are favored by God, but rather in the intimate union with God which grace renders possible for us all and in that holy consecration which the unction of the Holy Ghost communicates to all the actions of true Christians. The common dignity and destiny of all Christians is the foundation upon which the Saints constructed the tall edifice of their virtues and graces; it is the root which in the Saints is developed in all its richness, in all its fullness. We have, then, the same foundation, the same root of sanctity [as the Saints], and if in us it does not attain such splendid development, usually this is because we do not sufficiently cooperate with the work of grace, or perhaps we even place many obstacles in its way. (Pages 354-355).
In another place the author says:
How is it possible that there are still so many men who are unmindful of their high calling and who rather cling to the earth than allow themselves to be borne to Heaven by GodChristians who prefer to move within the limits of their poor nature than to transcend these limits and with the Angels lead a heavenly life.
A paragraph later, he continues:
Be this far from you, dear Christian, if you know the meaning of the Christian name and glory in it! Embrace with your noble heart the grace of God, and as a true child of God, endeavor to become more and more like Christ, your Heavenly Model. Be not guided by the laws of a perverted world, but by the law of grace and of the Holy Ghost. By constant striving after every virtue, keep yourself on the lofty height to which grace has raised you. Soar above the earth and above your own nature through intimate communion with God, your Father. Keep yourself, as much as possible, through constant prayer, in the vestibule of Heaven. This [type of] life alone offers an occupation worthy of your high dignity; in it alone is the realization of the supernatural,
divine life that the children of God should lead. (Pages 355-356).
Prepare yourself, dear Reader, for a book quite unlike any other you have ever read, for a book that will explain to you the real meaning of what it is to be a Catholic, a child of God and an heir to Heaven. You have been born again, this time to an exalted state which it is beyond the reckoning of man adequately to appreciate, but you are about to gain some idea of it as you peruse the pages of The Glories of Divine Grace.
Thomas A. Nelson, Publisher
August 30, 2000
St. Rose of Lima
A CAPSULE PREVIEW
By reason of grace, we are living members of Christ. But every action of a member has the same value as if it proceeded from the head. Whatever the members suffer is considered the same as though suffered by the head. In view of this, every work that we perform in the state of grace is a work of Christ, who lives and acts in His Mystical Body Accordingly, the value and merit of our deeds is, according to St. Thomas (S. Th. 1-2, q. 114, a. 3), not to be measured according to our natural power and dignity, but according to the infinite power of the Holy Ghost, who is in us. This is also one of the reasons why the Apostle calls the Holy Ghost the Spirit of promise, the pledge of our inheritance (cf. Eph. 1:13-14), and us, the children of promise. (Cf. Romans 9:8).
O incomprehensible dignity! O inexhaustible wealth of divine grace! It is not only a great good in itself, but it is a source of numberless supernatural, heavenly gifts. It weighs so much in Gods scales that we miserable, earthly men can, with our insignificant works, balance the whole Heaven. For that which is at present momentary and light of our tribulation, says St. Paul, worketh for us above measure exceedingly an eternal weight of glory. (2 Cor. 4:17). What can give such an immense value to our troubles and sufferings, which are in themselves but trifles? . . .
. . . where grace is concerned, nothing is unimportant, because all these works and sufferings are those of Gods children. Dipped in grace, the chaff becomes gold; filled with its rays, the drop of water becomes the brightest pearl. Thus, every good work, though little in itself, becomes, through grace, of very great value, capable of purchasing for us the greatest treasure, Heaven and God Himself. Pages 238-240
WHAT IS GRACE?
HOW DEPLORABLE IT IS THAT MEN SHOULD HAVE SO LITTLE REGARD FOR GRACE
THE GRACE of God which we are to consider here is a ray of divine beauty, infused by God into the soul of man. There it sheds such a bright and beautiful light that the soul delights the eye of God and is most tenderly loved by Him; it is adopted as His child and spouse and is elevated from earth to Heaven, above all the confines of nature. By grace the soul is received into the bosom of the Eternal Father and, together with the Divine Son, participates in the nature of the Father on this earth, and in His glory in the life to come. Unfortunately, our intellect cannot keep pace with our tongue, which proclaims new wonders at every word that it utters. And how should we be able to understand these sublime heavenly gifts, when even the blessed spiritswho already possess and enjoy themcannot fully comprehend and appreciate their value? They too, in beholding the throne of Divine Mercy, can only admire in deepest reverence His unbounded grace and goodness.
But they must also marvel at our incredible, miserable blindness when we esteem the grace of God so little, seek it so negligently, and lose it so easily. They sorrow over our most unspeakable misfortune when we, by sin, cast ourselves from the throne of that heavenly sublimity to which grace had raised us, a position exceeding the natural dignity of the highest angels. From this height sin casts us into the deepest abyss, into the company of the brutes and of reprobate spirits. And we are not horrified, we do not shudder, we scarcely experience the slightest regret!
St. Thomas teaches that the whole world and all it contains is of less value before God than the grace of a single soul. (S. Th. 1-2, q. 113, art. 9, ad 2). And St. Augustine maintains that the whole Heaven, together with all the Angels, cannot be compared to this grace. (Ep. 1 ad Bonif., cap. 6). It follows, then, that man ought to be more thankful to God for the smallest share of grace than if he had received the perfections of the highest spirits; than if he were made king of heaven and of the whole world, with full possession of all power and dominion. How infinitely superior in value is grace to all the riches of this earth! And yet the least of these riches is often blindly preferred to grace. The most detestable created good induces us to cast away grace sacrilegiouslyin playful jest, as it were. There are always men who wantonly surrender to the enemy of their soul this plenitude of gifts, including God Himself, for the mere indulgence of one sinful, unchaste look. More inconsiderate than Esau, they lose an inheritance greater than the world for the sake of a miserable momentary enjoyment!
Be astonished, O ye heavens, at this, and ye gates thereof, be very desolate. (Jer. 2:12). If one brief, sinful pleasure would cause the sun to disappear from the world, the stars to fall from heaven, and all the elements to be disturbed, who would be so rash and insane, who would be so mad as to sacrifice the whole world to his lust? But what is the destruction of the universe compared to the loss of grace? Yet this loss occurs so easily and frequently to many people. It occurs every day, every moment. How few are those who seek to prevent this loss in themselves or others, or who at least mourn over such a loss! We are awe-stricken at an hours eclipse of the sun; at an earthquake that buries a whole city; at a pestilential disease that swiftly carries off men and beasts in great number. Yet there is an occurrence far worse, far more terrible and deplorable, which we behold thousands of times every day without emotion: the neglect and loss of the precious grace of God by so many men.
Elias could not bear the sight of the destruction of a mountain (3 Kings 19); the prophet Jeremias was inconsolably grieved at the desolation of the Holy City; Jobs friends mourned seven days in silence at his lost fortune. We may eternally grieve and weep, but our sorrow will not even in a slight degree equal the misfortune that befalls us when sin devastates the heavenly garden in our soul; when we cast off the image of Divine Nature; when we lose the queen of virtues, holy charity, and all her heavenly court; when we spurn the gifts of the Holy Spirit, and the Holy Spirit Himself; when we reject the sonship of God, the prerogatives of His friendship and the claim to His rich inheritance; when we squander the price and fruit of the Sacraments and our merits; in a word, when we lose God and all Heaven by the loss of grace.
The soul that loses grace may truly apply to itself the words of Jeremias in his Lamentations: How hath the Lord covered with obscurity the daughter of Sion in his wrath! how hath he cast down from heaven to the earth the glorious one of Israel, and hath not remembered his footstool in the day of his anger! The Lord hath cast down headlong, and hath not spared, all that was beautiful in Jacob. (Lam. 2:1-2). But who considers this great misfortune? Who grieves over it? Who is restrained from new sins? With desolation is all the land made desolate; because there is none that considereth in the heart. (Jer. 12:11). How little we love our true fortune, our true advantage! How little we understand the infinite love with which God comes to offer us His most precious treasures! We act in the same manner as did the Israelites whom God desired to lead out of the slavery of Egypt and the barren desert into a land that flowed with milk and honey. They despised the inestimable gift that God offered them; they despised the manna that God gave them on their journey; they abandoned God, and longed again for the fleshpots of Egypt. Now the promised land was a figure of Heaven; the manna was a type of gracea figure of our nourishment and source of strength on the road to Heaven. But if God lifted up his hand over them [who set at nought the desirable land]: to overthrow them in the desert (Ps. 105:24-26), how great a responsibility do we incur through our disregard for Heaven and grace!
SO LITTLE REGARD FOR GRACE
We disregard grace because we permit ourselves to be too deeply impressed by our senses with transitory things and because we have but a superficial knowledge of lasting, heavenly riches. We must therefore endeavor to correct our error by deep and very careful reflection. Esteem for eternal things will increase in us in the same degree as that for the temporal diminishes. We must draw as near as possible to the overflowing and inexhaustible fountain of divine grace. The glory of its treasures will so delight us that we shall henceforth have contempt for earthly things. Thus we shall learn to admire and esteem grace; and he who admires and praises grace, says St. John Chrysostom, will zealously and carefully guard it. Let us then, with the divine assistance, begin the praise of the glory of his grace. (Eph. 1:6).
And Thou, great and good God, Father of light and of mercy, from Whom cometh every perfect gift (cf. James 1:17), Who hast predestined us to be adopted through Jesus Christ as Thy sons, according to the purpose of Thy will (cf. Eph. 1:5), Who hast chosen us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and unspotted in Thy sight in charity (cf. Eph. 1:4), grant us the spirit of wisdom and revelation in deep knowledge of Him, enlighten the eyes of our heart that we may know what is the hope of Thy calling and what are the riches of the glory of Thy inheritance in the Saints. (Cf. Eph. 1:17-18). Give me light and strength that my words will not be prejudicial to the gift of Thy grace, by which Thou dost raise men from the dust of their mortal origin and receivest them into Thy heavenly court.
Christ Jesus, our Saviour, Son of the living God, by Thy Precious Blood which Thou hast shed for us poor creatures and which Thou didst not consider too great a price for us, grant that I may in some measure reveal the inestimable value of grace to those whom Thou hast redeemed and restored to Thy favor. And Thou, highest and holiest Spirit, Pledge and Seal of Divine Love, Sanctifier of our souls, by Whom the grace and love of God is infused into our hearts, by Whose Seven Gifts this grace and love is developed, Who gives us Thyself with grace, teach us what grace is and how precious it is. Blessed Mother of God, and therefore Mother of Divine Grace, permit me to make known to those who have by grace become children of God and thine own children the treasures for the procuring of which thou hast offered thy Divine Son.
Holy Angels, ye spirits filled and glorified by the light and fire of divine grace, and ye holy souls who have already passed from this place of exile into the bosom of the heavenly Father and there enjoy the sweet fruit of grace, assist me by your prayers, that I may for myself and others dispel the deceptive cloud before our eyes and that I may reveal the sun of grace in its brightest and undimmed splendor, so as to kindle in our hearts a living and everlasting love and desire of that very grace.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Fr. Matthias Joseph Scheeben (1835-1888), one of the greatest Catholic theologians of modern times, was born at Meckenheim near Bonn. He studied at the Gregorian University in Rome under Passaglia and Perrone (1852-1859) and was ordained to the priesthood in 1858, after which he taught dogmatic theology at the diocesan seminary of Cologne (1860-1875). Among Fr. Scheebens writings, The Mysteries of Christianity (1865-1897) has been called his masterpiece and the greatest synthesis of theology written in modern times. He also wrote Nature and Grace (1861), The Glories of Divine Grace (1863), five pamphlets in defense of Vatican Council I, directed against Döllinger, Schulte and other Old Catholics, and a large work called Handbuch der Katholischen Dogmatik (1873-1887). Fr. Scheeben died before completing this work; it was finished by others and reduced to two handy volumes entitled A Manual of Catholic Theology Based on Scheebens Dogmatik (3rd edition, 1906). Fr. Scheeben founded and edited (1867-1888) the Cologne Pastoralblatt and edited for 13 years Das ökumenische Concil vom Jahre 1869, which was later entitled Periodische Blätter zur wissenschaftlichen Besprechung der grossen religiösen Fragen der Gegenwart.
Fr. Scheeben held that a deeper understanding of Catholic dogma should be available to all Catholics. As he wrote in his Preface to the first edition of The Mysteries of Christianity: I cherish the deep conviction that speculative theology is of supreme importance for the truest and highest formation of mind and heart, and that under the guidance of the great doctors of the Church, secure roads must be built, reaching to the very summits of divine truth, roads that can be traveled without excessive hardship not only by a few privileged spirits, but by anyone who combines courage and energy with a sufficiently sound education. . .
In The Glories of Divine Grace, one sees Fr. Scheebens remarkable talent
for bringing out the amazing consequences of revealed truths in a way accessible
to all Catholics. This work is in itself a lifetime accomplishment for any
man; it is obviously a gift of Divine Providence to the world.
Taken from The Glories of Divine Grace by TAN Books & Publishers, Inc.
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