De veritate EN 249



The proposition that habitual grace is required for the union in question can be understood in two ways: (1) It is required as a principle causing the union. To hold that the union in Christ is brought about by grace in this sense smacks of the heresy of Nestorius, who held that the humanity is united to the Word in Christ in no other way than on the basis of a perfect likeness in grace. (2) It is required as a disposition. This in turn can be of two kinds: either necessary or suitableónecessary, as heat or rarity is a disposition necessary for the form of fire, because matter cannot be the proper matter for fire unless it is taken together will heat and rarity; or suitable, as beauty is a disposition suitable for marriage.

Some therefore say that habitual grace is a necessary disposition, as making human nature capable of being assumed. But that does not seem to be true. For grace is rather the end of that assumption than a disposition for it. Damascene says that Christ assumed human nature in order to cure it. But that curing is accomplished through grace. Habitual grace in Christ is accordingly to be understood rather as an effect of the union than as a preparation for that union. This is indicated in the of John (s: 84.): "We saw him as it were the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth," as if the fullness of grace belongs to Him by the very fact that He is the Only-begotten of the Father through the union.

Thus habitual grace is not to be understood as a disposition for the union except as suitable. In this sense habitual grace can be called the grace of union, though more fittingly and more in conformity will the meaning of the saints the grace of union is understood as the very existence in the person of the Word, which is conferred upon the human nature without any previous merits; but for this, habitual grace is not required as it is for the fruition, which consists in an operation; for a habit is not a principle of being but of operating.

Answers to Difficulties:

These are obvious from what has just been said.


Parallel readings: I Sentences 17, 2, 4 ad 3; a. 2 ad 3; III Sentences 13, 1, 2 sol. 2; in Joan., C. 3, lectura 6, ß (P 10: 357 Sum. Theol., 111,7, 11; Comp. theol, I, 215.


It seems that it is, for

1. Everything finite is measured. But the grace of Christ is not measured, because the Spirit has not been given to Christ by measure, as we read in John (3:34). The grace of Christ is therefore infinite.

2. For any finite thing whatsoever God can make a greater. But God could not have given Christ greater grace, as the Master says. Then the grace of Christ is infinite.

. The answer was given that the grace of Christ is said to be finite, not because God could not give greater grace, but because the soul of Christ was notable to receive greater, for its entire capacity was filled will grace.óOn the contrary, according to Augustine "the good of a creature consists in measure, species, and order; and where these three characteristics are great the good is great, and where they are small, the good is small." Consequently, as a creature grows in goodness, the measure grows, and as a result the amount of its capacity is increased; for a thingís measure depends upon its capacity, as Augustine says. Thus the more his grace is increased, the more the capacity in the soul of Christ is increased.

4. Anselm proves that God had to be incarnated because atonement for human nature could not be made except through infinite merit, which could not be that of a mere man. From this it is evident that the merit of Christ as man was infinite. But the cause of merit is grace. The grace of Christ was therefore infinite, because an infinite effect can proceed from a finite cause.

5. The charity of a wayfarer can increase to infinity, because how ever much a man advances in this life, he can always advance still further. Now if the grace of Christ were finite, the grace of some other man could increase to such an extent that it would be greater than Christís, and so that man would be better than Christ. But that is inadmissible.

6. The capacity of Christís soul is either finite or infinite. If it is infinite, and its entire capacity full, then He has infinite grace. If, on the other hand, it is finite, and for anything finite God can make something greater, then He call make a greater capacity than that had by Christís soul; and so He can make Christ better. But that seems to be absurd.

7. It was answered that God could make a greater capacity as far as He is concerned, but a creature would not be able to receive it.ó On the contrary, the most excellent creature stands at an infinite distance from God. There are therefore an infinite number of inter mediate degrees between God and the most excellent creature. Thus for any created goodness or capacity God can make a better.

8. Nothing finite has power over an infinite number of things. But the grace of Christ had such power, for it had power over the salvation of an infinite number of men and over the effacement of an in finite number of sins. The grace of Christ was therefore infinite.

To the Contrary:

1í. Nothing created is infinite; otherwise a creature would be equal to the Creator. But the grace of Christ was something created. There fore it was finite.

2í. It is written in Wisdom (x 1:21): "Thou hast ordered all things in measure, and number, and weight." But nothing infinite has definite weight and measure. All things, therefore, which are made by God are finite; and so the grace of Christ is not infinite.



The occasion for the introduction of this question was the passage in John (3:34): "For God doth not give the Spirit by measure." We must therefore get an understanding of these words in order to get at the truth of the present question.

There may first of all come to mind an interpretation of those words in which the Spirit is said not to be given to Christ in measure, because the Holy Spirit, who is infinite, filled Christ by means of grace. But that interpretation is not in accord will the meaning of the text. For the words under discussion are introduced in order to distinguish between Christ and John [ Baptist] and all the saints, as the Gloss points out. In that interpretation Christ does not differ in this respect from creatures; for the Holy Spirit, who is the third per son of the Trinity, both is infinite in Himself and dwells in each one of the saints.

For this reason another interpretation is set down in the Gloss: the words in question refer to eternal generation, in which the Father gave the Son an infinite nature, so that by "spirit" is understood the spiritual divine nature. The Gloss accordingly says: "That there should be a Son just as great as the Father, the Father begot a Son equal to Himself." But this meaning does not agree will the words that follow; for the passage continues (Jn 3,35): "The Father loved the Son," so that it is to be understood as if the love of the Father for the Son is the reason for the giving that is spoken of. Nor can it be said that love is the reason for the eternal generation, since personal love is rather from the generation. Essential love, of course, pertains to the will; but we do not grant that the Father begot the Son by will.

Still another interpretation is accordingly given in the Gloss: the statement refers to the union of the Word will the human nature. For the very Word of God, which is the divine wisdom, is communicated to each creature in some definite measure inasmuch as God has spread indications of His wisdom through all His works, according to the words of Ecciesiasticus (1:20): "And he poured her (wisdom) out upon all his works, and upon all flesh, according to his gift: and bath given her to them that love him." But the Word Itself is united to the human nature in Christ fully, without measure, so that by "the spirit" which is not given "by measure" is understood the Word of God. Hence the Gloss explains: "As the Father begot the Word full and perfect, so It is united to human nature full and perfect." But this interpretation also does not agree in all respects will the following words. For the gift of which the words under discussion speak was made to the Son, as is shown in the words which are added (Jn 3,35): "The Father loved the Son: and He hath given all things into his hand." Now by the union nothing has been given to the Son, but it has been given to a man to be the Son.

The words in question therefore seem to refer properly to habitual grace, in which the Holy Spirit is shown to have been given to the soul of Christ, the union by which that man was the Son of God being presupposed. Now this grace, absolutely speaking, was finite; but in a certain sense it was infinite.

To get a clear understanding of this matter we should bear in mind that finite and infinite are taken will reference to quantity, as the Philosopher makes clear.10 Now there are two kinds of quantity: dimensive, which is referred to extension; and virtual, which is referred to intensity; for the excellence (virtus) of a thing is its perfection, as the Philosopher teaches: "Anything is perfect when it attains its proper excellence"; and the virtual quantity of each form is considered according to the degree of its perfection. Both kinds of quantity are differentiated into many species. Under dimensive quantity are included length, width, and depth, and potentially number. Virtual quantity is distinguished into as many classes as there are natures and forms, whose degree of perfection constitutes all the measure of quantity that they have.

Now it sometimes happens that what is finite as regards one sort of quantity is infinite as regards another. This is easily seen if we take dimensive quantity in both cases, for we can conceive a surface which is finite in width but infinite in length. It is also clear if we take one dimensive quantity and another virtual; for if we conceive an infinite white body, its whiteness will not on this account be infinite in intensity, but only (indirectly) in extension; for something whiter might be found. The same is no less evident if both quantities are virtual; for in one and the same subject different virtual quantities can be taken into consideration on the basis of different formalities of the attributes predicated of this subject. Thus if a thing is called a being, virtual quantity is considered in it will regard to the perfection of existing; and if it is called sentient, this quantity is considered will regard to the perfection of sensing; and so on.

With regard to the formality of existing, then, only that can be infinite which includes all the perfection of existingóa perfection which is capable of being diversified in an infinite number of different modes. In this respect only God is infinite essentially, because His act of existing is not limited to any determined perfection but cm braces every mode of perfection to which the formality of being can extend. For this reason He is essentially infinite. This kind of infinity cannot apply to any creature, for the act of existing of every creature is limited to the perfection of its own species. if, then, we conceive of a sentient soul which has in it whatever can contribute in the perfection of sensing in any way whatsoever, that soul will be finite essentially, because its act of being is limited to a particular perfection of existing, namely, sentience, which is surpassed by another perfection, intelligence. Yet it would be infinite as regards the formality of sentience, because its sentience would not be limited to any definite mode of sensing.

In like manner I say of the habitual grace of Christ that it is essentially finite because its act of being is limited to a particular species of being, that of grace; yet it is infinite in the line of grace. For, al though a personís perfection in point of grace can be considered to be of any one of an infinite number of modes, no one of them was wanting to Christ, but He had grace in all the fullness and perfection to which the formality of this species, grace, can extend.

This interpretation [of the words quoted at the beginning of this reply] the Gloss expressly sets down, saying: "God gives the spirit to men by measure, to the Son not by measure; but just as He begot His Son wholly from Himself, so to His incarnate Son He gave His spirit wholly, not in part, not by any subdivision, but universally and generally." Augustine also says that Christ is the head, in which all the senses are located; but in the saints, to whom the spirit is given by measure, there is only, as it were, the sense of touch.

Thus it must be said that the grace of Christ was finite essentially, but it was infinite in the perfection of the specific formality of grace.

Answers to Difficulties:

1. This answer is obvious from what has been said.

2. Because grace is finite essentially but infinite in the lime of grace, God can make a better essence than that of grace, but nothing better in the genus of grace, since the grace of Christ includes everything to which the specific formality of grace can extend.

3. The capacity of a creature is predicated on the potency of reception which it has. Now the potency of a creature to receive is of two kinds. One is natural; and this can be entirely fulfilled, because it extends only to natural perfections. The other is obediential potency, inasmuch as it can receive something from God; and such a capacity cannot be filled, because whatever God does will a creature, it still remains in potency to receive from God. Now a measure which increases when goodness increases is determined by the amount of perfection received rather than by that of the capacity to receive.

4. Form is the principle of act; but in so far as it has existence in act, it is not possible for an action infinite in intensity to proceed from a form whose essence is finite. Hence even the merit of Christ was not infinite in the intensity of the act, for He loved and knew finitely. But it had a certain infinity from the circumstance of the person, who was of infinite dignity; for the greater the one who humbles himself, the more praiseworthy his humility is found to be.

5. Even though the charity or grace of a wayfarer can increase to infinity, it can never arrive at equality will the grace of Christ. That something finite can by a continuous increase attain to any finite degree however great, is true if the same sort of quantity is referred to in both of the finite factors (for example, if we compare a lime to a lime or whiteness to whiteness), but not if different sorts of quantity are referred to. This is evident in dimensive quantity; for no matter how much a lime is increased in length, it will never reach the width of a surface.

The same likewise appears in virtual or intensive quantity; for no matter how much the knowledge of one who knows God by a like ness may advance, it can never equal the knowledge of a possessor, who sees God through His essence. Similarly the charity of a way farer cannot equal the charity of a possessor; for a person is differently affected toward things which are present and toward those which are absent. In like manner also, however much the grace of a man who possesses grace in the lime of a particular participation may increase, it can never equal the grace of Christ, which is full in every respect.

6. The capacity of Christís soul is finite, and God can make a greater capacity and a better creature than the soul of Christ if the latter is separated in thought from the Word. Yet it does not follow that He could make Christ better, because Christ has His goodness from an other, that is, from union will the Word, from which point of view His goodness cannot be conceived to be greater.

7. The answer to this is clear from what has just been said.

8. From the circumstance of the person Christís soul has power over an infinite number of things; and that is also the source from which His merit has infinity, as was said above.


Parallel readings: III Sentences 13, 2, I; a. 2 sol. I; in I Cor., c. 11, lectura I (P 13: 234b-2 in Ephes., c. I, lectura 8; in Colos:., C. I, lectura Sum. Theol., III, 8, r & 4; Comp. Theol., 1, 254.


It seems that it does mot, for

1. It is characteristic of the head to have an influence upon the members. But Christ in His human nature does not have an influence upon men, that is, not a spiritual influence, because such an influence relates especially to the soul. For, as is brought out in the comment in the Gloss on John 5:2, taken from Augustine, souls are vitalized by the Word of God; bodies, by the Word made flesh. Therefore Christ in His human nature is not the head of the Church.

2. It was said in answer that Christ has an influence upon souls efficiently in His divine nature and dispositively in His human nature.ó On the contrary, the ministers of the Church, as dispensers of the sacraments, dispose men for spiritual life; for a sacrament is a dispositive cause of grace. But the ministers of the Church are not called the head of the Church. Then neither is Christ as a dispositive cause to be called the head of the Church.

3. The Church would have existed even if man had not sinned, but the Word of God would not have assumed human nature, as is said in a comment in the Gloss upon the words of the first Epistle to Timothy (1:15): "Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners." But the Church cannot be without a head. Christ is therefore not the head of the Church in His human nature.

4. It was said that, had man not sinned, Christ would have been the head of the Church inasmuch as He is the Word of God, whereas after that sin He is the head inasmuch as He is the Word made flesh.ó On the contrary, for the full reparation of mankind it is required that man should not be indebted for his salvation to anyone to whom he was not previously indebted. For this reason, as Anselm says, reparation could not be made by an angel. But if Christ had been the head of the Church before only as the Word, man would not have been indebted to any creature for his salvation, whereas after his sin he is indebted to Christ in His human nature if Christ is the head in this nature. It would therefore seem that full reparation of mankind has not been effected. But that is inadmissible.

5. The good angels and men belong to one Church. But there is one head of the one Church. Since Christ is not the head of the good angels, who have never sinned and are, moreover, not like Him in nature, it therefore seems that He is not the head of men either in His human nature.

6. The head is a member of the body. Christ, however, is not a member of the Church, so it seems, because to be a member implies partiality and therefore imperfection. Christ is therefore not the head of the Church.

7. According to the Philosopher, "the heart is the source of sensation, motion, and life." Now if Christ deserves any name by reason of a spiritual influence, it is rather heart than head, particularly since the head undergoes the influence of the heart, whereas Christ does not undergo that of any member of the Church.

8. The Church is the congregation of the faithful. But Christ did not have faith. Then if Christ is the head of the Church, He will not be like the members. But that is contrary to the notion of a head.

9. The head does not come after the members. But many of the members of the Church carne before Christ. Consequently Christ is not the head of the Church.

10. The answer was given that, although Christ did not then exist in the real order of things, He did exist in the faith of the fathers On the contrary, as head of the Church Christ imparts grace to its members. Now if it fulfils the notion of a head that Christ existed in the faith of believers, it accordingly seems that the supply of grace in the Old Testament was equal to that in the New. But that is false.

11. What does not exist cannot act. But when Christ existed only in the faith of the fathers, He did not have existence in Himself in His human nature. He could therefore not exercise influence, and so could not be the head.

12. Every proposition whose subject is a conceptual being and the predicate is a real being is false; for example, if one were to say that a genus or species runs. But as existing in faith Christ is designated as a conceptual being. Since to be head or to exercise influence implies a real being, it therefore seems that the proposition "As existing in faith Christ is the head of the Church" is false.

13. There is one head of one body. But Christ is the head of the Church in His divinity. Then He is not the head in His humanity.

14. A head does not have a head. But God is Christís head (1Co 11,3). Christ is therefore not the head of the Church.

15. It belongs to the notion of a head to have all the senses that there are in the body, as Augustine points out. But there are some spiritual senses in the Church that are not in Christ, namely, faith and hope. Christ is therefore not the head of the Church.

16. On the words of the Epistle to the Ephesians (1:22): "He hath made him head...,"the Gloss comments: "Things are subjected to Him as their head, from whom they originate." Now men and angels do not originate from Christ in His human nature but in His divine nature. Consequently Christ is the head of the Church not in His human but in His divine nature.

17. Augustine says that to enlighten souls is an act proper to God alone. It is therefore not proper to Christ in His human nature. Consequently Christ in His human nature is not the head of the Church.

To the Contrary:

1'. To the words of the Epistle to the Ephesians (1:22): "He hath made him head over all the church," the Gloss adds: "in His humanity."

2í. The union of the head will the body is based upon a conformity in nature. Now Christís conformity to the Church is not in His divine nature but in His human nature. Therefore Christ in His human nature is the head of the Church.



The term head as applied to spiritual beings is taken in a transferred sense from the head of a physical body. To see in what sense Christ is the head of the Church we must accordingly consider the relation ship of a head to the members of a body.

The head is found to stand in a twofold relationship of distinction and conformity to the other members. There is distinction in three respects: (1) in point of dignity, because the head fully possesses all the senses, but the other members do not; (2) in point of government, because the head governs and regulates all the other members in their acts by means of both the external and the internal senses, which have their seat in the head; ( in point of causality, for the head causes sensation and motion in all the members, and hence physicians say that the nerves and everything pertaining to the apprehensive and motive powers of animals originate in the head. The conformity of the head to the members is also found to be threefold: (1) in nature, for the head and the rest of the members are parts of one nature; (2) in order, for there is a union of order between the head and the members inasmuch as the members are of service to each other, as is pointed out in the first Epistle to the Corinthians (12:25); (3) in continuity, for the head is continuous will the other members in a physical body. In accordance will these points of conformity and distinction the term head is attributed metaphorically to different beings in different ways.

There are some things among which there is conformity in nature. To one of these the term head is attributed only by reason of its eminence or dignity. Thus the lion is said to be the head of the animal kingdom, or a certain city is called the head of the realm because of its dignity. Isaias (7:8), for instance, says: "The head of Syria is Damascus." Certain other things have mutual conformity in a union of order, being ordained to one end. Among these the term head is attributed by reason of government, which is concerned will the relation to an end. Thus princes are called the heads of the people. For example, it is written in Amos (6:1): "Ye great men, heads of the people..." But where there is continuity, head is predicated by reason of influence, as a spring is called the head of a river.

In these three different ways Christ in His human nature is called the head of the Church. He is of specifically the same nature as other men; and so the name head belongs to Him by reason of His dignity, on the grounds that grace is found more abundantly in Him. In the Church we also find a unity of order, since the members of the Church are of service to each other and are ordained to God; and in this respect Christ is called the head of the Church as its ruler. We also find in the Church a certain continuity by reason of the Holy Spirit, who, being one and numerically the same, fills and unites the whole Church. Christ in His human nature is accordingly called the head by reason of His influence.

In causing spiritual sensation and motion a thing can be understood to be operative in two ways: (1) As a principal agent. In this way it belongs to God alone to pour grace into the members of the Church.

(2) Instrumentally. In this way the humanity of Christ also is the cause of that in-pouring. For as Damascene says, just as iron burns because of the fire joined to it, the actions of Christís humanity were salutary because of the divinity united to it, of which the humanity was like an instrument. This seems to be enough for the notion of a head. For even the head of a physical body does not exercise its influence upon the members except by reason of its latent power.

In the second and third respects in which something is called a head Christ in His human nature can be called the head of the angels, and He can be called the head of both angels and men in His divine nature; but not in the first respect, unless we take the community involved to be based on their generic nature, seeing that man and the angels have in common the rationality of their nature; and in addition a community of analogy, seeing that, as Basil points out, the Son has in common will all creatures the reception of His nature from the Father, by reason of which He is called "the first horn of every creature" (Col 1,15).

If, then, we are to speak properly, the whole Christ in both of His natures together is the head of the whole Church in the three respects mentioned. And the Apostle proves that Christ is the head of the Church in these three respects, saying (Col 1,18-20): "He is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the first horn from the dead, that in all things he may hold the primacy" (referring to government): "because in him, it bath well pleased the Father that all fullness should dwell" (referring to dignity): "and through him to reconcile all things" (referring to influence).

Answers to Difficulties:

1. Vitalizing both souls and bodies is attributed to the divinity of the Word as the principal agent and to the humanity as an instrument. The life of souls, however, is attributed to the divinity of the word and the life of bodies to the humanity by a kind of appropriation in order to bring out the conformity between the head and the members, in the same way in which the passion is called the cause of the forgiveness of sin, and the resurrection, the cause of justification.

2. The other ministers of the Church neither dispose men for spiritual life nor contribute to it by their own power but do so by the power of another, whereas Christ does this by his own power. This is why Christ could bring about the effects of the sacraments by Him self, for the whole efficacy of the sacraments was in Him as its origin; but the other ministers of the Church cannot do so. Hence they can not be called the head unless perhaps by reason of governing, in the same sense as any prince is called a head.

3. If we assume the opinion that Christ would not have become incarnate if man had not sinned, then before the sin Christ would have been the head of the Church in His divine nature alone, but since the sin He must be the head of the Church in His human nature as well. For by sin human nature has been wounded and immersed in sensible things so that it is no longer sufficiently suited to the invisible govern merit of the Word. For this reason medicine had to be applied to the wound through Christís humanity, through which He made atone merit. He also had to assume a visible nature in order that man might be recalled to invisible things through a visible exercise of govern merit.

4. Christís human nature takes on a certain infinity in dignity by being united to the divine nature personally. As a result it is not insulting to man to be indebted for his salvation to Christ in His human nature, because the human nature works by the power of the divine, as has been said. Thus we venerate Christ in both His natures will the same veneration, that of latria.

5. Christ is the head of the angels not only in his divine nature but also in his human nature, because even in his human nature He en lightens them, as Dionysius teaches. Thus Fie is said in the Epistle to the Colossians (I:16) to be the head of all principalities and powers. Yet Christís humanity is related differently to angels than to men in two respects: (1) as to His conformity in nature, being in the same species as men but not as the angels; (2) as to the end of the Incarnation, which was carried out principally for the sake of manís liberation from sin; and so Christís humanity is ordained to the influence which He exercises upon men as the end intended, whereas His influence upon the angels is not the end of the Incarnation but a consequence of the Incarnation.

6. Christ is expressly said by the Apostle (1Co 12,27) to be a member of the Church: "You are the body of Christ and members of member." Now He is called a member by reason of His distinction from the other members of the Church, but Fie is distinguished from the other members by reason of His perfection (because grace is in Christ in its fullness, but not in any one of the others), just as the head of a physical body is distinguished from the other members. Hence there is no need of attributing any imperfection to Christ.

7. The heart is a hidden member, but the head is apparent. By the heart, accordingly, the divinity of Christ or the Holy Spirit can be meant; but by the head, Christ Himself in his visible nature, which is under the influence of the nature of the invisible divinity.

8. Christ had perfect knowledge of the things about which others have faith. Thus as regards knowledge l-le is confirmed to the others as the perfect to the imperfect. That is the sort of conformity that is conceived between the head and the members.

9. Christ as man is the mediator between God and men, as is said in the first Epistle to Timothy (2:5). Now God is said to justify us in two ways: principally by his own action inasmuch as He is the efficient cause of our salvation, and also by our operation inasmuch as He is the end known and loved by us. In the same way, then, Christ as man is said to justify us in two ways: (1) By His own action, inasmuch as He merited and atoned for us. In this respect He could not be called the head of the Church before the Incarnation. (2) By our operation in His regard, in the sense that we are said to be justified by faith in Hum. In this respect He could be the head of the Church in His humanity even before the Incarnation. In both ways, more over, He is the head of the Church in His divinity, both before and after the Incarnation.

10. Because the merit of Christ was not yet actual, nor was there atonement before the Incarnation, there was not the same fullness of grace as there was afterwards.

11. Christ has a claim to the title of head not only by His own action, but also by our action in His regard. The argument therefore proves nothing.

12. The predicates "to be the head" or "to exercise influence" in the sense of "through our operation in His regard, inasmuch as we believe in Him" are not real beings but only conceptual. Hence the conclusion does not follow.

13. "The one Christ is God and man." Consequently, from the fact that Christ is the head of the Church in His humanity and in His divinity it cannot be concluded that the Church has two heads.

14. We do not say in exactly the same sense that God is the head of Christ and that Christ is the head of the Church. The difficulty is therefore arguing from an equivocation.

15. Whatever perfection there is in faith and hope belongs to Christ in its entirety. Only the imperfection which they contain is denied in His regard.

16. Although in one respect Christ is the head in His divinity, the possibility of His being the head in His humanity in another respect is not thereby removed; for we draw our spiritual origin from Christ in His humanity, as is written in John (1:16): "of His fullness we have all received."

17. It is proper to God alone to enlighten souls principally and effectively. It is not in this sense that Christ in His humanity has a spiritual influence upon us, but in another, as has been said.


Parallel readings: III Sentences 13, 3, 2 sol. 1 & 2; In Joan., c. I, lectura 8, ß 3; Sum. Theol., III, 8, 5.


It seems that it is not, for

1. The Apostle in writing to the Colossians (1: 19) places the head ship in Christ "because in him, it hath well pleased the Father that all fullness should dwell," as appears in the passage quoted above. But all the fullness of the divinity dwells in Christ from the union. Besides the union, then, no grace is required for Him to be the head.

2. Christ is the head of the Church in so far as He works for our salvation. But, as Damascene says, the action of His humanity conferred salvation upon us inasmuch as the humanity was in a way "the instrument of the divinity." Now since an instrument does not require any habit but moves only when moved by the principal agent, it seems that Christ did not require habitual grace in order to be the head.

3. The action of one man can contribute to the salvation of another in two ways: (1) Inasmuch as he acts as an individual person. Then grace is required in order that his action may be meritorious for him self or for another. (2) As a person representing the community. This applies to the ministers of the Church, who work for the salvation of others by administering the sacraments and pouring forth prayers to God in the name of the Church. No grace is needed for this but only a power or state, for such actions are performed not only by good but also by wicked men. Now Christ as head of the Church is considered as a person representing the community, and all the ministers of the Church are His vicars. He therefore had no need of habitual grace in order to be the head.

4. Christ was the head of the Church because His merit was infinite. Thus He was able to exercise an influence upon all the members of the Church and will out their sins. But He did not get the infinity of His merit from habitual grace, which was finite. Christ was there fore not the head by reason of any habitual grace.

5. Christ is the head of the Church inasmuch as He is the "mediator of God and man" (1Tm 2,5). But He is the mediator of God and man inasmuch as He is intermediate between God and men, having divinity God and humanity will men. Now this comes from the union. Consequently the union alone without habitual grace is enough for the headship.

6. One subject has one life. But grace is the life of the soul. In one soul there is therefore one grace; and so in Christ besides the grace which is His as an individual person there is not required any other habitual grace by which He is the head.

7. Christ is the head because He influences the members of the Church. But no matter how much grace He had, He could not influence them unless He were God and man. Consequently no habitual grace by which He is the head is required, but He has this position from the union alone.

To the Contrary:

1í. There are the words of John (1:16): "of His fullness we all have received: and grace for grace." Thus He had some grace by which He in turn poured out grace upon us.

2í. The head of the Mystical Body has some resemblance to the head of a physical body. But for the perfection of a physical body it is required that the power of sensation be in the head most fully in order that it can communicate sensation to the members. In Christ too, then, for Him to be the head the fullness of grace is required.

3í. Dionysius says that those who have the office of enlightening, perfecting, and cleansing others first have light, cleanness, and perfection themselves. But as head of the Church Christ cleanses, enlightens, and perfects. In order to be the head, therefore, He must have the fullness of grace, by which He is pure, full of light, and perfect.

De veritate EN 249