God Ahead of Us

God Ahead of Us: The Story of Divine Grace

Paul O’Callaghan
Copyright Date: 2014
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  • Book Info
    God Ahead of Us
    Book Description:

    Pope Francis has stated that his own vocation as a Christian came to him as an awareness that “God is ahead of us,” that God thinks about us and looks after us before we even realize it. This is the essence of grace, a love story that begins with God. The present book is an introduction and exploration of that story—of the Christian life as not about humans looking for God, but God seeking us out. The story that unfolds demonstrates that grace is not something secondary or superficial but primary and constitutive, from crucial beginnings in election and creation to the divine actions of justification and renewal, fostering a life of virtue and obedience. Within this context, the book explores the issues of the relationship of grace and freedom, the dynamics of justification, the true meaning of merit, life as a son or daughter of God, the action of the Holy Spirit, the sacraments and the Church, the role of the ascetical life, and the eschatological horizon of the life of grace. In an accessible account, the author narrates the doctrine of grace as directed towards and explained by the fact that God has destined humans to spend eternity in communion with the Triune creator.

    eISBN: 978-1-4514-8974-3
    Subjects: Religion

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Acknowledgements
    (pp. vii-x)
  4. Abbreviations
    (pp. xi-xii)
  5. Introduction
    (pp. 1-14)

    People speak a lot nowadays of humanity’s search for meaning. Yet more often than not they do not really know where to look, what way to direct their lives. Many seem to live out anew the myth of Sisyphus, who was punished for his crime by having to push a heavy stone to the top of a hill. When he was about to reach the peak, the stone slipped and rolled back down again into the valley. Sisyphus returned, started pushing the stone up again, and began his painful pilgrimage anew; but the stone fell back down a second time,...

  6. 1 God’s Plan of Grace and the Predestination of Humanity in Christ
    (pp. 15-24)

    In the mystery of God’s action towards creatures we can recognize the presence of a project of grace, a divine plan or design marked by gratuitous and intimate love, which calls humans to life and invites them to live in communion with the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, a story of love destined to last forever. The content of this plan is hidden mysteriously in the person of Christ, the Word of God made flesh, and communicated to humanity by the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Christ, in the Church. Indeed, Paul speaks of “the mystery which was...

  7. 2 Christian Vocation and the Universal Call to Holiness
    (pp. 25-34)

    The word God directs to the universe is destined to bring about a joyous and decisive response from creatures, from all creatures. According to the prophet Baruch, the very stars listen attentively to the voice of God and place themselves at his disposal, responding joyfully to his call. “Yet he who knows all things knows her; he has probed her by his knowledge—He who established the earth for all time, and filled it with four-footed beasts. He who dismisses the light, and it departs, calls it, and it obeys him trembling, before whom the stars at their posts shine...

  8. 3 The Justification of the Sinner and the Need for Grace
    (pp. 35-44)

    “Those whom he called he also justified” (Rom. 8:30). When God calls, he comes close to us, he calls us to follow him, to accept his love and friendship. Yet when Godjustifies, the process of giving grace is accomplished and crowned. With justification humans become truly children of God, inheritors of eternal life, a new creature, or as Paul often puts it, simply “saints.” In other words, in justifying humans God establishes a permanent relationship with them, a path where there is no going back. Even when believers forfeit the “state of grace” and lose friendship with God by...

  9. 4 The Christian, Child of God in the Spirit
    (pp. 45-64)

    Grace originates in God, in God alone. It is, no more and no less,God’s own life, shared by humans. Through God’s self-giving the human person is divinized, made capable of living a divine life. But God who is considered as “one” in his nature and external actions (usually called actionsad extra), exists and lives within (ad intra) as a Trinity of persons: the God who justifies is Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Divine grace, by which humans share in God’s own life, places them in a direct relationship with God one and three. The person who is justified...

  10. 5 The Transformation of the Human Creature by Grace
    (pp. 65-76)

    The grace by which we become children of God is presented in Scripture not only as divine life within humans, but also as a created power: light, movement, perfume, wind, beauty. God transforms humans as he divinizes them. The life of grace in a Christian is perceived as a quiet glow, as a deep power, which profoundly changes believers, and leaves a mark on the lives of those who are near them. The Christian becomes, as Josemaría Escrivá says,alter Christus, ipse Christus:“another Christ,” one in whom the style and behavior of Christ shine forth, and even more, “Christ...

  11. 6 The Theological Virtues Faith, Hope, and Charity
    (pp. 77-102)

    Grace elevates human beings in their entirety, divinizing them through and through. Grace therefore also elevates and transforms their faculties, intelligence, memory, and will. Thus God acts in and through believers. The properties of human action remain substantially intact, for humans are still, are always, creatures. But God acts in them and through them more directly, giving them what might be called a “supernatural organism,” made up of virtues and special gifts.

    On the basis of many New Testament texts, the Church teaches the existence of three so-called “theological virtues”: faith, hope, and charity (cf. 1 Thess. 1:2f.; Rom. 5:1–5;...

  12. 7 Divine Grace and Free Human Response
    (pp. 103-128)

    In the preceding chapters we have considered the life of grace—God giving himself to humans—in all its power and realism. Grace comes from God, from the very heart of the Trinitarian inner life. It springs from God’s fidelity, from his love and omnipotence. Yet we must examine things also from the side of humans. We are happy to agree that humans can accept or reject gifts that come from other people. We do so all the time—in fact it is our right to do so, since they are creatures like us. But does the same thing apply...

  13. 8 The Fullness and Ultimate Meaning of Divine Grace Glory and the Blessed Virgin
    (pp. 129-138)

    “Those whom he justified he also glorified,” concludes the text from the Letter to the Romans (8:30) that we have been glossing throughout this volume, as we attempted to understand, as best we could, how the arcane design of God is fulfilled throughout history, that is, the “narrative” of divine grace. If we ask why God made the world, for what purpose, we can say: for glory. And why did he predestine and call humans? Again, for glory. Why did he justify humans, why did he forgive their sins and fill them with his own life? For glory: for immortality,...

  14. Suggested Further Reading
    (pp. 139-142)
  15. Bibliography
    (pp. 143-146)
  16. Index of Names
    (pp. 147-149)
  17. Back Matter
    (pp. 150-150)