A division of internal actual grace, sufficient grace is used in two senses: (1) grace that gives sufficient ability to perform a salutary act, prescinding from the result (grace efficacious with the efficacy of power)—grace is always sufficient in this sense or it would not be grace;(2) purely sufficient grace, which does not obtain a good, free act, but gives sufficient power to produce one—grace inefficacious in the production of a good, free act.
In the First Sense. The conferral of sufficient grace in this sense upon all human beings for their various needs is a corollary of the doctrine of a sincere universal salvific will.
Here one must distinguish between grace proximately and remotely sufficient for a good act. Grace is proximately sufficient if it gives sufficient power to perform the act without additional aid (H. Denzinger, Enchiridion symbolorum, 1536); it is remotely sufficient for an act if further aid is needed—but a grace remotely sufficient for a future good act, e.g., of confession, is always proximately sufficient for another good act, e.g., salutary fear. Thus, sufficient grace is not always given for undergoing martyrdom, because martyrdom is not always impending; but there is always given proximately sufficient grace, which may eventually lead to the heroic act of fortitude that undergoing martyrdom is. Grace is always sufficient for a good act now impending, or it would not be grace, but only remotely for good acts of the future, which may require additional grace.
Grace proximately sufficient to perform a given good act, e.g., to suffer martyrdom, may never be given, because need for it never arises, but everyone receives grace proximately sufficient for present needs. Today a person has not proximately sufficient grace to perform a difficult act that may impend in future, but that person can through today's graces perform today's duties. By doing what is possible now the person sets no obstacles to future graces and is in a position later infallibly to obtain proximately sufficient grace for greater deeds. This is God's understanding of His own word, "sufficient for the day is its own evil" (Mt 6.34).
Purely Sufficient Grace. Grace is also called purely sufficient or inefficacious. That there is such grace, which gives full power to perform a good, free act, even in the presence of contrary difficulties, but which lacks effect due to the will's resistance, is Catholic doctrine; it seems implied by the Second Council of Orange (H. Denzinger, Enchiridion symbolorum, 397) and also by the condemnation of the first two propositions of Jansen (ibid., 2001–02). This is also the meaning of Is 5.1–7, Mt 11.21, 2 Cor 6.1, and is a corollary of the fact that grace is given to men without result.
Purely sufficient (inefficacious) grace was not recognized by the reformers, who recognized no grace but efficacious, nor by the Jansenists, who did not recognize relatively, though purely, sufficient grace. For them all grace relatively sufficient is efficacious. It is gratia magna, more intense than the contrary concupiscence, necessarily drawing the fallen will. Gratia parva, though producing velleities, is insufficient for a free salutary act. It may be called "absolutely" sufficient, because it gives power of action prescinding from contrary concupiscence. Hence, for the Jansenists, purely sufficient grace, which does not work, is not a benefit and is not given with the intention of benefiting.
However, in Catholic doctrine, purely sufficient grace is a grace that is capable of benefiting, a quality not nullified by the recipient's unwillingness. It is given with the sincere intention that the recipient receive good. The grace given is of its nature beneficent, and it is given with the sincere intent of benefiting. This intention is compatible with God's knowledge of the grace's inefficacy, because this is not intended, and with the possibility of giving another grace, for God in order to intend a benefit sincerely need not give one graces he would accept, but those he truly can.
Purely sufficient grace is given by God not because of its inefficacy, nor with the intention of inefficacy, but although it is inefficacious. It is given with knowledge of its inefficacy, but with sincere desire that it be efficacious; for the grace given is truly sufficient, and lacks efficacy only through man's unwillingness, which God does not intend, though He intends to permit it.
Catholic theologians differ in their explanations of the nature of sufficient grace in its relation to efficacious grace (see bÁÑez and baÑezianism; molinism).
See Also: jansenism.
Bibliography: b. beraza, De gratia Christi (Bilbao 1929). p. fransen, Divine Grace and Man, tr. g. dupont (New York 1965). r. garrigou-lagrange, Grace, tr. Dominican Nuns, Menlo Park, Calif. (St. Louis 1957). s. gonzÁlez, Sacrae theologiae summa, ed. Fathers of the Society of Jesus, Professors of the Theological Faculties in Spain, 4 v. (Madrid), v. 1 (1962), v. 2 (1958), v. 3 (1961),v. 4 (1962); Biblioteca de autores cristianos (Madrid 1945–) 3.3:117–142, 284–294. h. lange, De gratia (Freiburg 1929). j. pohle, Grace, Actual and Habitual, ed. and tr. a. preuss (St. Louis 1942). h. rondet, Gratia Christi (Paris 1948).
[f. l. sheerin]