Created Actuation by Uncreated Act

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The formula used by M. de la taille, SJ, to designate the central conception of his theory of supernatural reality. In the hypostatic union, divine indwelling, and beatific vision, God is conceived as communicating Himself to created reality, which He immediately actuates and unites with Himself; the term of this self-communication is a created, supernatural actuation of the creatures's obediential potency by God, the uncreated Act.

Basic Conception. The theory is an effort at theological understanding of the three mysteries mentioned above, with the help of a metaphysics of act and potency. Whereas the notion of efficient causality suffices for the natural relationship of the created with the uncreated, supernatural union can be grasped in its uniqueness only by conceiving that God makes Himself, analogously, the act of a created potency. As act communicates itself to, perfects, and actuates potency, so God supernaturally communicates Himself to, perfects, and actuates a created reality. Because of His transcendence, however, He does so without being limited by reception in the potency, so that actuation is not information in the technical sense (some proponents speak, however, of a quasi-formal causality). There is a term of the divine self-communication, the created actuation, distinct both from the uncreated act and from the potency being actuated. This real distinction of act and actuation has only one parallel in the natural order: the act of existence proper to the spiritual soul is the act whereby the body exists, but is not the body's actuation; for in death the latter ceases, while the former does not.

Applications. (1) The principal application is to the hypostatic union. The Son of God, according to His personal divine existence, is the uncreated act communicating Himself to His humanity as to a created potency. The term of this self-communication, the created actuation of the humanity, is identically the hypostatic union in its most formal aspect, the foundation of the real relation of union, the created grace of union (see hypostatic union, grace of), the substantial sanctity of Christ as man, and a kind of secondary created existence, whose presence, in place of the natural and proper existence had by other men, is the reason why the human nature of Christ belongs personally to the word. (2) Application is had also in the divine indwelling. The Triune God (or the Holy Spirit) indwelling is the uncreated act actuating the essence of the soul in the state of grace. The created actuation that is the term of this self-communication is sanctifying grace. Some proponents have explained how, according to the theory, sanctifying grace may be the foundation of proper and special relations to each of the Divine Persons. Others have extended the theory to the virtues of faith and charity, as created actuations of man's intellect and will, and to the condign merit of the just man's good actions. (3) The beatific vision is another application of the theory. The Triune God as uncreated act known without objective medium actuates the human intellect through the light of glory as created actuation. (4) The theory has been employed (by P. De Letter) to explain the role of the Holy Spirit as soul of the mysti cal body (see soul of the church). The Spirit, as immanent principle of life and unity, actuates men's sociability by giving them Himself as bond of unity. The created actuation that is the term of this self-communication is twofold: communal graces (or gratiae gratis datae ), including both charisms in the strict sense and graces associated with certain ecclesial functions, and gratia gratum faciens (principally sanctifying grace) in its social aspects.

Appraisal and Significance. Most theologians would agree that the theory represents a brilliant and important attempt at theological synthesis. It has been embraced, often in modified form, by some prominent Jesuits (K. Rahner, G. de Broglie, F. Malmberg, J. Alfaro, P. De Letter, F. Bourassa, R. Gleason, M. Donnelly) and other theologians, while meeting considerable opposition, not least from other Thomists. Critics generally feel that the central analogy with act-potency falls before the dilemma: either the created potency limits the divine act or the relationship is reduced to one of efficient causality. Other serious objections have been made (see Mullaney, Lonergan). Proponents maintain, however, that the soul-body relationship in man, which tradition has canonized as the most apt comparison with the mystery of the Incarnation [H. Denzinger, Enchiridion symbolorum, ed. A. Schönmetzer (Freiburg 1963) 76], already suggests the possibility of act retaining its transcendence while losing nothing of immediacy in its union with potency; this possibility is strengthened by the infinite transcendence of the divine act, and by the fact that potency is here the image of God, open to the infinite. The theory has been described as a metaphysical counterpart of the rich images (soul-body, glowing coal, etc.) used by the Greek Fathers to describe the mystery of man's divinization in the Incarnation and indwelling. From this point of view M. J. scheeben may be claimed as patron. Texts of St. Thomas have, unsurprisingly, been adduced both in support of and in opposition to the theory, which is Thomistic at least in maintaining a real distinction between essence and existence, and perhaps also in attributing to the existence of the formal principle of personality, in the line of L. billot and, it is claimed, capreolus. Its synthetic sweep rather than the details of its analyses make it a major contribution to the theology of man's supernatural union with God.

See Also: homoousios; hypostasis; incommunicability; nature; person (in theology); subsistence (in christology).

Bibliography: m. de la taille, The Hypostatic Union and Created Actuation by Uncreated Act (West Baden, Ind. 1952), the three basic essays. t. mullaney, "The Incarnation: De la Taille vs. Thomistic Tradition," Thomist 17 (1954) 142. p. de letter, "Created Actuation by the Uncreated Act: Difficulties and Answers," Theological Studies 18 (1957) 6092; "The Soul of the Mystical Body," Sciences Ecclésiastiques 14 (1962) 213234. r. gleason, Grace (New York 1962). m. j. donnelly, "The Inhabitation of the Holy Spirit," Catholic Theological Society of America. Proceedings 4 (1949) 3977. b. j. lonergan, De Verbo Incarnato (Rome 1964); De constitutione Christi ontologica et psychologica (Rome 1964).

[t. e. clarke]