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from issue no. 01/02 - 2012


Encounter as Grace

The risen Jesus and the apostles on the Lake of Tiberias, a fresco in the Basilica of St Angelo in Formis, Capua (Caserta)

The risen Jesus and the apostles on the Lake of Tiberias, a fresco in the Basilica of St Angelo in Formis, Capua (Caserta)



We publish chapter I and canons 1 and 5 of the Decree on Justification of the Council of Trent Cum Hoc Tempore, which comprises a total of 16 doctrinal chapters and 33 canons.

Its preparation began in June 1546, during the first phase of the Council initiated the previous December and in addition to the inherent difficulty of formulating an appropriate text on a controversial subject in response to the objections of the Reformers, it was also influenced by the very difficult phase in relations in Germany between the Reformed Church and the Emperor Charles V and, among the Catholics themselves, the relationships between the Emperor and Pope Paul III.

Having overcome both these difficulties at least temporarily, the text was approved in the solemn session of 13 January 1547 and, once the Council of Trent ended, was promulgated by Pope Pius IV on 26 January 1564 along with all the other conciliar decrees.

History not only tells us of this process, but also of the fact that the approval of the decree in January 1547 was desired at all costs so that it would be on time for the sermons of the forthcoming Lent. For the benefit of souls, in other words. Delay, it was feared, would result in “damage that the souls of many would suffer” (quoted in H. Jedin, The History of the Council of Trent).

We republish as editorial in this issue of 30Days a commentary (it was not, nor is meant to be anything else) that Don Giussani wrote in 1964, in plain and simple words taken from Sacred Scripture and from life.

The encounter: “The encounters, which He created to make men and women – us! – part of His kingdom, are a pure gift that our nature would not have been able even to imagine or foresee, Grace... But also the capacity to understand that calling is a gift of Grace... And the capacity to verify this call, to recognize its value, is a gift of Grace... And the capacity to adhere to and fulfill the Christian proposal is a gift of Grace”. Grace in the face of which you can only remain in an “attitude of pleading, of prayer... this too made possible only by a gift of the Creator”.



Decree of the Council of Trent De Iustificatione


De naturae et legis ad iustificandos homines imbecillitate


Cap. I Primum declarat sancta Synodus, ad iustificationis doctrinam probe et sincere intellegendam oportere, ut unusquisque agnoscat et fateatur, quod, cum omnes homines in praevaricatione Adae innocentiam perdidissent (cfr. Rm 5, 12; 1Cor 15, 22), «facti immundi» (Is 64, 5) et (ut Apostolus inquit) «natura filii irae» (Ef 2, 3), quemadmodum in decreto de peccato originali exposuit, usque adeo servi erant peccati (cfr. Rm 6, 20) et sub potestate diaboli ac mortis, ut non modo gentes per vim naturae (can. 1), sed ne Iudaei quidem per ipsam etiam litteram Legis Moysi inde liberari aut surgere possent, tametsi in eis liberum arbitrium minime exstinctum (can. 5) esset, viribus licet attenuatum et inclinatum (Denzinger 1521).


Can. 1 «Si quis dixerit, hominem suis operibus, quae vel per humanae naturae vires, vel per Legis doctrinam fiant, absque divina per Christum Iesum gratia posse iustificari coram Deo: anathema sit» (Denzinger 1551).


Can. 5 «Si quis liberum hominis arbitrium post Adae peccatum amissum et exstinctum esse dixerit, aut rem esse de solo titulo, immo titulum sine re, figmentum denique a satana invectum in Ecclesiam: anathema sit» (Denzinger 1555).



Decree of the Council of Trent on Justification


On the Inability of Nature and of the Law to justify man


Ch. I. The holy Synod declares first, that, for the correct and sound understanding of the doctrine of Justification, it is necessary that each one recognise and confess, that, whereas all men had lost their innocence in the prevarication of Adam (Rm 5, 12; 1Cor 15, 22), “having become unclean” (Is 64, 5) and (as the apostle says) “by nature children of wrath” (Eph 2, 3), as (this Synod) has set forth in the decree on Original Sin, they were so far the servants of sin (cf. Rm 6, 20) and under the power of the devil and of death, that not the Gentiles only by the force of nature, but not even the Jews by the very letter itself of the law of Moses, were able to be liberated, or to arise, therefrom; although free will, attenuated as it was in its powers, and bent down, was by no means extinguished in them.


Can. 1. If any one says that man may be justified before God by his own works, whether done through the teaching of human nature, or that of the law, without the grace of God through Jesus Christ: let him be anathema.


Can. 5. If any one says that, since Adam’s sin, the free will of man is lost and extinguished; or, that it is a thing with only a name, or rather, a name without a reality, a figment, indeed, introduced into the Church by Satan: let him be anathema.

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