Category Archives: Misconceptions

The Cause of Predestination according to Thomism by Fr. Garrigou Lagrange


Fr. Garrigou-Langrange was an eminent French Dominican Theologian who taught at the Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas, Angelicum in Rome between 1909-1960. Among his famous students were Pope St. John Paul II, who wrote his doctoral thesis under the direction of Fr. Garrigou Lagrange.

Note:  The below article, The Cause of Predestination, is from the *synthesis* section of the Book Predestination by Fr. R. Garrigou-Langrange, O.P. 1939.  pp. 194-205

What is the cause of the predestination and of the election whereby God chose certain persons in preference to others for the purpose of bringing them to eternal life?

The liberty of the divine election in the Old Testament comes to our mind.  Seth was elected, and not Cain; then Noe, also Sem in preference to Ismael, and finally Jacob (Isreal) was chosen.  How does the case stand now as regards each of the elect?

We saw from the definitions of the Church in the councils of Cartage (418) and Orange (529), directed against the Pelagians and Semipelagaisn, the cause of predestination cannot be the naturally good works of certain persons which are foreseen by God, or the naturally good beginning of the will in performing a salutary act (initium salutis), or the perseverance in good works until death without a special grace.

According to the same definitions of the councils of Orange and Trent, which refer to the special grace of final perseverance, it is also beyond doubt that the cause of predestination to glory cannot be because God foresees that certain persons without a special grace would retain their supernatural merits until death:  “If anyone saith that one justified is able to persevered without the special help of God in the justice received or that with this help is not able; let him be anathema.”  St. Thomas, moreover, proves inadmissible the opinion of those who say that God chose these particular persons in preference to others because He foreknew that they would make good use of the grace received (at least at the moment of death), just as the king gives a fine horse to a rider because he foresees the good use he will make of it.  St. Thomas points out that this opinion cannot be admitted; for we cannot eliminate from our salutary acts a part of the good as not coming from the primary cause that is the source of all good; therefore, the good use of grace in the elect is itself an effect of predestination, and cannot, therefore, be its cause of motive.  Furthermore, St. Thomas even says, “Whatsoever is in man disposing him towards salvation, is all included under the effect of predestination,” and therefore this includes even the free determination of his salutary acts.

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The Saints on Humility

Protestant detractors of Catholicism often claim that The Church’s teaching on the intrinsic necessity of works in one’s salvation causes men to be prideful and boast in themselves.   The supposed “works based salvation” that Protestants accuse Catholics of believing will tend to focus on the mind on one’s accomplishments and not the saving work of Jesus Christ.

One way to determine whether or not this is really the case is to read the writings of the Saints and examine what they have said about humility.  Catholic Saints, of course, are held up by the Church as those who have practiced Catholicism with what is called “heroic virtue”.  They are, to put it rather Crudely, “Catholic All Stars”.

So what the Saints have to say on this topic should be able to give the interested reader a snapshot into how a Catholic ought to view him or herself in light of the perfection of God.

With that being said, I have compiled a short collection of quotations which I think represents how the Saints have suggested the Catholic view him or herself.

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