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theologians say that an ordinary Catholic must expressly know and believe the most important dogmas and the truths of the moral law, for instance, the Apostles' Creed, the Decalogue, the six precepts of the Church, the Seven Sacraments, the Our Father.Greater things are, of course, expected from the educated, especially from catechists, confessors, preachers wherefore upon these the study of theology rests as an obligation.This necessity ( necessitas medii ) arises per accidens , and is suspended only by a Divine dispention in cases of extreme necessity, where such an act of faith is either physically or morally impossible, as in the case of pagans or those dying in a state of unconsciousness. The "Sola Fides" Doctrine of the Protestants The Council of Trent (Sess. ix) decrees that over and above the faith which formally dwells in the intellect, other acts of predisposition, arising from the will, such as fear, hope, love, contrition, and good resolution (loc. vi), are necessary for the reception of the grace of justification.
But, in consequence of modern controversies regarding grace , it has become usual and necessary in theology to draw a sharper distinction between the transient help to act (actual grace) and the permanent state of grace (sanctifying grace).
In the process of justification we must distinguish two periods: first, the preparatory acts or dispositions (faith, fear, hope, etc.); then the last, decisive moment of the transformation of the sinner from the state of sin to that of justification or sanctifying grace, which may be called the active justification ( actus justificationis ) with this the real process comes to an end, and the state of habitual holiness and sonship of God begins.
Touching both of these periods there has existed, and still exists, in part, a great conflict of opinion between Catholicism and Protestantism.
Martin Luther stands as the originator of the doctrine of justification by faith alone, for he hoped that in this way he might be able to calm his own conscience, which was in a state of great perturbation, and consequently he took refuge behind the assertion that the necessity of good works over and above mere faith was altogether a pharisaical supposition.
Manifestly this did not bring him the peace and comfort for which he had hoped, and at least it brought no conviction to his mind ; for many times, in a spirit of honesty and sheer good nature, he applauded good works, but recognized them only as necessary concomitants, not as efficient dispositions, for justification.