Short Response: Denier of God’s Gratuity?

In the Jan/Feb 2012 issue of The Angelus, Fr. Dominique Bourmaud, SSPX states:

“Pius XII had little time for the new theology and its avant-garde teachers. They represented for him the rear guard of the old modernist wave so forcefully condemned by St. Pius X in Pascendi of 1907. The again reiterated the condemnation of the new – old – trends in Humani Generis: ‘Others [de Lubac] destroy the gratuity of the supernatural order, since God, they say, cannot create intellectual beings without ordering and calling them to the beatific vision…'” (Angelus, 10-11)

Notice the “de Lubac” in brackets. Fr. Bourmaud provides a quote from Blondel/de Lubac to support his accusation that de Lubac does indeed deny the gratuity of the supernatural order by denying that God could create an intelligent being without ordering them to the beatific vision: “The supernatural is ‘absolutely impossible and absolutely necessary to man.'” That’s it? Really? I hope that Fr. Bourmaud can find something better than this to support his claim. Let’s take a quick look at this quote. 

First, to say that the supernatural is “absolutely necessary to man” is not to say that God could not have created man without ordering him to the supernatural. It is simply a recognition of the reality of man: the supernatural is absolutely necessary for man because that is how God created us. Isn’t this what the SSPX teach their children? From the Baltimore Catechism we read: “Why did God make us? God made us to show forth His goodness and to share with us His everlasting happiness in heaven.” Does not the very fact that God did not have to create us in this way show the complete and absolute gratuity of the supernatural order?

Second, de Lubac said that the supernatural is “absolutely impossible… to man.” The only way man can achieve the supernatural, the beatific vision and everlasting happiness with God is by the grace of the Most Holy Trinity. This grace is given though we do not deserve it. Does not this also show the complete and absolute gratuity of the supernatural order?

If the SSPX desire to show that de Lubac is a modernist then they are going to have to do better than this.


This conference given by David Bentley Hart, while not concerned with the above topic, does make reference to gratuity and the relationship between the natural and supernatural order. His comments towards the beginning of the video shed light on the framework found in the Thomastic commentaries from which I presume Fr. Bourmaud is working.

Dr. Hart: Love and Knowledge in Scotus 


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