“Prevenient” grace

The One selected to become the Mother of God was given a unique kind of preservative so that She would not be in any way contaminated and thus unfit for Her divine maternity. This intervention of God, this reaching out into history to interrupt the normal flow of the ‘bug’ of original sin is given its precise theological name in the prayer that I will say after the Offertory; the name for it “prevenient grace.”

I dare say that the word ‘grace’ alone is a word that, while common enough in our language, is little understood by the majority of Catholic people. When one adds to that the rare word ‘prevenient’ many will not have a clue to the meaning. And while this usage of some uncommon terminology was one of the major criticisms of the new English text (it is supposed to be too lofty for the comprehension of the lay people), one cannot on that account omit or dismiss the realities such theological words signify.

‘Prevenient grace’ is a gift that God gives ‘before’ or ‘in anticipation of’ some benefit. In this case, God gave to Mary beforehand the gift of sanctifying grace which was not yet given to the rest of humanity until Christ’s redeeming death on the cross.

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