The Seed of Glory: Catholic Teaching on Theology of Grace Pt. 2.4 – Mystical Theology on Grace

by Aug 8, 20210 comments

2.4 Mystical Theology on Grace: The Principle of the Interior Life

Link to the full series of posts here.

I would also like to share a bit from the mystical theology traditions and their view of how infused sanctifying grace and virtues work in our lives. I can’t help but sense the centuries of wisdom that are behind these ideas and see how it just seems to map onto our experience so well.

First, for Catholics, the whole point of justification is to be adopted as sons and daughters into God’s family and begin working towards our full union with God through God’s gifts.

Although our filiation is adoptive and not natural, the adoption itself is not purely juridical or, so to speak a fictio juris. It is something very real, for actually it is a certain participation in the eternal filiation itself. God does whatever He says. For Him, to speak is to produce; and when He calls us sons, He makes us to be precisely that.1[1]

FN: 1 Cf. Ilia, q.23, a. 1, ad 2um: “Wherefore as by the whole work of creation the Divine goodness is communicated to all creatures in a certain likeness, so by the work of adoption, the likeness of natural sonship is communicated to men.”

Through our adoption, we recieve sanctifying grace which is the spiritual life blood (the sap of the vine – John 15) that enables us to grow in holiness.

From what has been said it can be seen clearly how the soul becomes supernaturalized, transformed, and, at least initially, deified in its very essence and all its faculties through adoptive filiation, vivification by the Holy Ghost, and the indwelling of the entire Trinity. That which formerly could not perform any functions other than those of mere earthly life, and even many of those with difficulty and imperfectly, now finds itself possessed of divine potencies and energies capable of performing glorious works. Now the soul lives a truly heavenly life whose connatural goal is the full vision and possession of God.

I. THE POWER OF GRACE AND ITS MANIFESTATIONS

That sanctifying grace which lifts us to the dignity of sons of the Most High is an endless source of power which enables us to soar from earth to heaven, from the human to the divine. It is the mystical fount of living water which the Savior promised to us and merited for us and, like a jet of infinite pressure, it springs forth from our hearts unto life eternal.

Our Lord Jesus Christ, who, by infusing His grace in us, gives us the inestimable power to become sons of God, is that symbolic bridge between earth and heaven which St. Catherine of Siena saw.18 All of us are able to pass over this bridge and thus arrive at the otherwise inaccessible heights of the divinity, where the face of the Father is seen and intimate fellowship is possessed with the divine Persons….

As St. John says, grace is the seed of God which regenerates us so that we may be able to live as gods even now. According to the expression of St. Peter, it is a real and formal participation in the divine nature. St. Paul calls it true eternal life, which begins to develop now and will flourish forever in glory when, being manifested as we are, we shall appear like unto God, seeing Him as He is and knowing Him as we are known by Him.[2]

green leafed vine plant

In this filial adoption, our nature is elevated to a supernatural state by God’s infused grace which allows us to grow in holiness so that we may be perfected and one day dwell with God, seeing him face to face.

The first distinctive note of this divine adoption is its reality. The Angelic Doctor2 states that God, by adopting us, makes us capable of enjoying His eternal heritage. Through it also He grants us a rebirth in His own Spirit; and thus we pass from a purely natural life to the life of grace, which is the seed of glory and a true participation in the divine nature.3

The essential joy of the saints, as St. Bernard says, is to possess God, to see Him, to be with Him, and to live in Him, for in Him are contained all riches and glory…Here, then, is the great mystery of our deification through grace. Here, as St. Leo says, is the greatest of gifts: the privilege of calling God by the sweet name of Father,13 and Jesus Christ by the name of Brother. By virtue of our adoption as sons there is restored to us that likeness to God which we would have had in the state of original justice. At the same time, through the life of grace, there is communicated to us a new image; and so faithful is this image that we are truly deified and made living reproductions of God, participants in His nature, His Spirit, and His divine life. So it is that we are His true sons and we can in all truth be called gods. “I have said: You are gods and all of you the sons of the most High” (Ps. 81:6). But we are created gods, whereas He alone is the living and eternal Yahweh who, being God by nature, can make us gods by participation.14 He is the deifying God; we are deified gods.15 By the same token that we ought to glory in that lofty dignity, we ought also to act in conformity with it to the end that God will be glorified in us as we glorify ourselves in Him, as St. Leo observes.16 In all things we should act and shine forth as sons of God, that our light may illumine the rest of men and that by our good works we may glorify the heavenly Father.17[3]

FN: 2 See Ilia, q.23, a. 1.

FN: 3 “If we are adopted sons of God,” says Terrien (Grace et la gloire, I, pp. 78, 98), “not in any manner whatsoever, but through a rebirth in Him, how could it be that our adoption does not imply a certain divine reality within us? Can there be any generation without a certain communication of nature between the father and the son? And what would that communication be in this case but a transfusion of the infinite substance into the regenerated man? … Such is the constitutive perfection of the sons of God in its supreme reality. It effects in us an irradiation of the most elevated, intimate, profound, and naturally incommunicable divine substance. Therefore he who is in God’s grace, as His son, is exalted above all created nature.”

“How greatly this adoption exceeds that of men!” exclaims Father Monsabre (Conference 18). “All the tenderness of the human heart is impotent to transform the nature of an adopted son who, to his credit or discredit, preserves in his veins the blood of his progenitors. Nothing can be changed through adoption; the most that can be granted to the adopted son is a title with its accompanying rights. But God goes beyond that. He works in the very core of our substance and He reengenders us supernaturally, communicating FI is own nature to us… . We are called His sons because we are truly that: Nominamur et sum us. Hence the title of gods in the beautiful expression of St. Augustine: Si filli Dei facti sum us, et dii factisum us ” (In Ps. 49).

FN: 13 Sermo de Nativitate: “This gift by which God calls man His son and man calls God his Father exceeds all other gifts.”

FN: 14 St. Augustine, In P s. 4 9 , no. 1: “H e calls men gods because they are deified by His grace and not because they are born of His substance.”

FN: 15 Eadmer, a disciple of St. Anselm, writes in his Liberdesim ilit., chap. 66: “God makes other gods, but in such a fashion that H e alone is the God who deifies and we are the gods who are deified.”

St. Augustine, Sermo 66 : “God desires to make you a god; not by nature as is His own Son, but through grace and adoption… . Cease, then, to be a son of Adam. Put on Jesus Christ, and then you will no longer be a man; and ceasing to be a man, neither will you be a liar.”

FN: 16 Sermo 29 de Nathitate , chap. 3.

FN: 17 Matt. 5:16. “The son of adoption whose works correspond to his birth,” observes Terrien (La grace et la gloire, I, 272), “can truly apply to himself the words of the only-begotten Son: He who sees me sees also the Fath e r (John 14:9), not to exalt himself, but to exalt Him who has done such great things in him. For I am a mirror wherein the divine face shines forth; a portrait of Himself which He has made by communicating His grace to me.”

Even charity, which must be present for our faith to be a living/saving faith (Galatians 5:5–6, 1 Cor 13:2), is a supernatural gift that is infused in us at justification. This is not a part of our natural potential, it is a part of our supernatural state that is elevated by God’s grace.

And the more pleasant and copious this abode of God in the saints, the more animated they are by His Spirit and the more inflamed with the fire of His charity, which is translated into good works. “If anyone love Me,” says the Savior, “he will keep My word, and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and will make Our abode with him.” (John 14:23) “If we love one another,” adds the beloved disciple, “God abideth in us, and His charity is perfected in us. In this we know that we abide in Him, and He in us, because He hath given us of His Spirit.” (I John 4:12–14.) So charity, as the Angelic Doctor observes, is not a virtue proper to man as such, but so far as he is made God.10

God cannot tolerate those who love and serve Him with lukewarmness and He begins to vomit them out (Apoc. 3:15) because they possess Him only in part. Yet He incessantly knocks at the doors of all, desiring that they receive Him whole-heartedly, so that He may celebrate with them the banquet of friendship (ibid., 20). Though most close their doors to Him and are deaf to the sweet voice which says: “Give Me thy heart,” as many as receive Him He makes fellow citizens of the saints and, what is more, His servants and true sons.[4]

FN: 10 Cf. Ia Ilae, q.62, a. 1, ad ium: “A certain nature may be ascribed to a certain thing in two ways. First, essentially; and thus these theological virtues surpass the nature of man. Secondly, by participation; … and thus, after a fashion, man becomes a partaker of the Divine Nature: so that these virtues are proportionate to man in respect of the Nature of which he is made a partaker.”

In justification our old nature is not destroyed, but elevated. This enables the new mode of life that seeks after God and beatitude with Him.

The supernatural is not a violent imposition nor an interpolation of the natural, destructive of its continuity and harmony. It is an elevation of that nature, which, without losing any of its true perfections, becomes clothed in all its aspects with marvelous enchantments and powers and is truly deified, or rather, raised to a divine order. The supernatural is not, then, a disruption of the natural, but an ordination to a higher state. It is not a foreign and violent tiling, but an interior, comforting, and harmonious reality, a new mode of life which entirely penetrates, ennobles, and elevates the natural, just as the rational life ennobles and elevates sensitive life, and sensitive life ennobles and elevates purely organic life.[5]

green trees on forest during daytime

Here is more on how sanctifying grace does not destroy our nature, but rather elevates it to a supernatural state. This grace is not God’s own or is not a part of our nature, rather, it is a created grace from God given to us gratuitously. Also, faith and hope can exist without charity but they are not salvific when they do. Charity alone will remain in heaven as we will not need faith or hope since we will be in the presence of God.

This supernatural life does not take anything away from nature nor impede its full development. Rather it heals it, completes and perfects it. Grace raises nature from the abasement in which it finds itself; it strengthens and enriches the energies of nature and directs them to an incomparably higher goal. Grace renders easy the performance of good works and prompts us to perform more perfectly and for nobler reasons the very works which we are obliged to do according to the natural law. At the same time it enables us to work divinely and to produce the works of eternal life in conformity with our higher calling…

Since God is infinitely nobler than our humble nature, or even any other possible nature, in order to deify us, to make us like unto Himself and His true sons, He must work in us a most profound renewal anti transformation. That internal and proper form by which He makes us just and godlike, not reputedly or in appearance merely, but truly so, is that which, for lack of another name, is called grace or created justice. It is so called to distinguish it from that justice by which He Himself is just…

If this grace were part of nature itself, or rather of natural creation, it would be unable to deify that nature. At best our nature, on receiving that new form, would participate with some other higher natural being; it would not enjoy the ineffable participation in the divine life itself.

Grace being a participation in eternal life, cannot perish in the state of glory; neither can charity, which will never disappear. Faith and hope, implying imperfection, will vanish in glory. Therefore these last two virtues are not inseparable properties of grace and can subsist without it. Although souls possessing only faith and hope do not have life, the Holy Ghost arouses in them certain corresponding acts in order thereby to dispose them to receive life.46[6]

I think it is very important to note, again, that this righteousness we receive is not God’s very own righteousness, but rather is a created grace that comes along with the Holy Trinity (uncreated grace) dwelling inside of us. I think this is an essential component of the disagreement over infused and imputed righteousness. While this could be a huge topic in its own right, one of the primary explanations I have heard for why we do not receive God’s very own righteousness is this would be receiving God’s very own substance which would make us into God. Instead, we receive sanctifying grace from God that makes us righteous and lets us partake in God’s nature (theosis/deification/divinization) so that we can be friends with God and eventually receive the beatific vision.

49 Matt. 5:14; Eph. 5:8; I Thess. 5:5. “If grace appeared in Jesus Christ,” observes St. Gertrude (Exercises, no. 5), “it is because it already existed in Him… . When one speaks of grace, two types must be considered; uncreated grace, which is God Himself; and created or communicated grace, through which we participate in God… . Grace is the communication which God makes to us of that which He is by nature. In other words, when we receive created grace it is through a participation with uncreated grace, which is God. Thereby we become sharers in the divine nature.”

St. John of the Cross, Living Flavin of Love, stanza II, no. 34: “The substance of this soul, although it is not the substance of God, for into this it cannot be substantially changed, is nevertheless united in Him and absorbed in Him, and is thus God by participation in God, which conics to pass in this perfect state of the spiritual life.”

“The divine substance,” says Fr. Godinez (Teologia Mistica, Bk. IV, chap. 11), “can be so intimately incorporated with the soul that the soul acts in imitation of divinity and knows and loves divinity. Then God is like a soul which assists our own soul, through which He produces salutary acts which neither habitual grace nor charity could produce outside this union.”[7]

Through grace, Christians are all given a new mode of life, one of good works flowing out from the sap of the vine of Jesus that we are engrafted into. Doing the will of God should lead to the Christian increasing in this deifying grace.

Moreover, deifying grace increases with each good work which is prompted by divine charity; and the glory corresponding to each increase of grace is such that to gain it, all the labors of the world could be considered well spent.8 How many benefits do they lose who spend their lives on trifles, when at each moment they could be making themselves more and more like to our Savior and amassing treasures of enduring grace and glory!

Divine adoption, then, truly deifies us. It gives us a divine being, regenerates us, creates us anew in Jesus Christ, makes us participate in His own Spirit and thereby communicates to us a new and mysterious life. We receive, together with this life, a copious array of potencies and proportionate energies by which we can live, grow, and work as true sons of God, called from the kingdom of darkness to the participation of His eternal light. By means of these new powers we can discover the road to true life and thus arrive at the enjoyment of God’s delightful presence.9[8]

Sanctifying grace doesn’t just elevate our nature, it also heals our wounds from original sin.

Even if our nature possessed its primitive integrity as it was in Adam, we could say little more than we have said about this mysterious deification which we should feel, enjoy, and admire in silence, rather than seek to describe. Since our nature was deeply confused, wounded, and corrupted through sin, to be deified it must not only be elevated, but also renewed, cured, purified, and restored to its primitive integrity so that the natural image of the Creator may once again shine forth in it in full splendor. Then upon this natural image there must be superimposed the likeness of the living God, one and three, as He is in Himself.

Hence it follows that purely elevating grace is not sufficient, but there is required a type of grace which heals at the same time that it elevates our nature. Hence also the laborious and most fruitful work of purification and renewal must accompany this entire process of deification, or rather of illumination and union, and this even after a soul has worked hard and long. Even the most valiant saints found this work of purification very painful, for there is no one who does not feel unspeakable sorrow and agony in stripping himself “of the old man with his deeds, and putting on the new”; 19 to purge himself of every trace of the old leaven of malice and iniquity in order to become “the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.” 20

Without this work of purification, which so commends itself to our cooperation and generous efforts, we would enjoy nothing more than a painless and easy growth comparable to that of well-fed and healthy children. We would receive and react to the beneficent and delightful impulses of the vivifying Spirit without any resistance or obstacle and even with great satisfaction and pleasure. But as those vital impulses are tasted and enjoyed more and more intensely we experience the bitterness and pain of extricating ourselves from vicious habits and from the seeds of malice which are so deeply rooted that they cannot be completely eradicated save at the cost of poignant suffering. Especially at the beginning, when we are still full of evil, we must use the greatest possible self-violence so that the seeds of malice will not dominate us. We must die to ourselves that we may live for God alone, for it is only after we have been greatly purged of the taste for earthly things that we can have a palate healthy enough to taste and enjoy divine things.21[9]

Here, we see that sanctifying grace is destroyed in us through mortal sin. Through repentance, we can return to friendship with God and receive back the grace we lost.

Since grace is eternal life, the introduction of this new life produces in us a profound renewal and transformation. It is indisputable that we die to the supernatural life if we have the incomparable misfortune to commit a grave sin and that we rise from death to life when we return to the friendship of God through sincere repentance. For, as we are reborn through baptism, through penance we are resurrected. We recover the life which was lost and we again become living members of Christ, holy temples of God, and saints in the incipient stage.[10]

We battle concupiscence throughout our life, which is battling the bad habits we have formed before we were justified and our attachments to them. Nonetheless, sanctifying grace has cleansed us of all ontological stains of sin in our adoption. We are then given a blank spiritual slate and the means to cooperate with God towards staying in His friendship and growing in the new theological virtues he infused inside of us.

As a result of sin, which places an obstacle to grace and which must be destroyed by justification, the infinite goodness and mercy of the Father stand out in greater contrast. Although He looks upon sinners as His enemies. He yet desires to deify them and is ready to offer them life even after they have renounced it so ungratefully.21 This fact should prompt us to correspond with God by a more fervent and disinterested love, seeing what love He has shown in offering us pardon so frequently and so readily and in bidding us to share in His glory. Yet He also desires that we truly merit glory, although from Him comes the power of meriting. Therefore, in crowning our works, says St. Augustine, He crowns His own gifts.22 Although grace instantaneously vivifies us and translates us from the shadows of death to the kingdom of light, destroying the sin which made us archenemies of God, it does not, on that account, completely destroy the fomes peccati, the disordered concupiscence which inclines us to evil. By dint of our own efforts and with the help of grace, we must subdue and conquer it, expurgating and rooting out the ferment of evil, all remnants of vice, and every seed of sin and corruption. And since vicious habits are so deeply rooted in us and have become, as it were, a second nature, thence follows the painfulness of the task in banishing them entirely. Thence the ceaseless vigilance and sacrifices entailed in the work of our purification; thence our inability to progress in sanctity and justice without exerting violence to rid ourselves of all obstacles.[11]

FN: 21 St. Augustine, Confessions , VII, chap. 16.

Infused grace and deification/divinizaiton/theosis as the historic teaching of the Church

Church Fathers - Wikipedia

Here, Fr. Arintero says theosis/divinization was always taught in the church. It was such a default position that even the heretics, such as Arius, held to it. Also, Aquinas explains (FN 39) that God dwells in us in a way that no creature can. Because God is in us, our justification/renewal must be full, not partial (simul justus et pecattor).

Sublime Notions of the Fathers Concerning Deification

So common were these ideas concerning deification that not even the heretics of the first centuries dared to deny them. The holy Fathers extracted from these concepts an admirable defense for the divinity of the Son and Holy Ghost against the Arians and Macedonians. The Scriptures, said the Fathers, present these two Persons to us as vivifying, sanctifying, and divinizing of themselves the souls in which they dwell and to whom they are communicated. They impress on souls the divine likeness and make them participants in the divine nature. Yet only God, who is life, holiness, and deity by nature, can of Himself and through His own communication, vivify, sanctify, and deify.

To dwell in the soul, to vivify and refashion it, God must penetrate it substantially, and this is proper and exclusive to God.39 No creature, says Didymus, can penetrate the very essence of the soul; the knowledge and virtues which adorn it are not substances but accidents which perfect its potencies. But the Holy Ghost dwells substantially in the soul in company with the Father and the Son.40[12]

Here is the footnote from above to #39 that has Aquinas explaining that God dwells in us in a way that no creature can. He sanctifies us and it is because He is in us that justification must be full, not partial (not simul justus et pecattor).

FN: 39 St. Thomas teaches (Contra Gent., Bk. IV, chap. 17): “For no creature is infused into a spiritual creature, since it is impossible to participate in a creature, and rather it is the creature that participates. Now the Holy Ghost is infused into the souls of the saints, so that they participate in Him as it were.” He adds (chap. 18): “For, since the devil is a creature, as we have seen above, he cannot fill a man as though a man could participate of the devil; nor can he dwell in a man’s soul participatively or substantially. But he is said to fill some men by the effect of his wickedness… . Whereas the Holy Ghost, being God, dwells in the soul by His substance, and makes us good by participation of Him; for He is His own goodness, since He is God; which cannot be true of any creature. This, however, does not hinder Him from filling souls of holy men by the effect of His power.” He is not content with communicating His gifts to us, but He Himself comes with them in person. The Holy Doctor, always so moderate in his criticisms, holds the contrary opinion to be a manifest error: “… the error of those who say that the Holy Ghost is not given, but that His gifts are given,” and then he adds: “The Holy Ghost is possessed by man, and dwells within Him, in the very gift itself of sanctifying grace” (la, q.43, a.3). He explains this by the following significant words: “We are said to possess only what we can freely use or enjoy… . By the gift of sanctifying grace the rational creature is perfected so that it can freely use not only the created gift itself, but enjoy also the divine person Himself” (ibid., ad turn). Speaking in another place of the power of the sacraments: “The interior sacramental effect is the work of God alone: … because God alone can enter the soul wherein the sacramental effect takes place” (Ilia, q.64, a.i).[13]

Here, again, Fr. Arintero states that it seems all the early Church Fathers saw the Holy Spirit as residing in us and deifying us. They all seem to speak of infused grace and gifts from the indwelling Holy Spirit.

It is the Holy Ghost, says St. Cyril, who imprints on us the divine image; and if He were nothing more than a simple dispenser of grace, then we should be made to the image of grace, and not to the image of God.41 But no; He Himself is the stamp which impresses on us that divine image and thus He refashions us, making us participate in the divine nature itself.–12 This divine stamp or character which is impressed upon us, says St. Basil, is a living thing; it molds us within and without, penetrating into the very depth of the heart and soul, and in this way it refashions us and makes us living images of God.43 Thus He consecrates us at the same time that He seals us and effects in us a living pledge of the heavenly heritage, as the Apostle says.44

He is like a divine balm which penetrates and transforms us with its unction (spiritualis unctio) and makes us exhale the fragrance of Christ so that we can say with the Apostle: “For we are the good odor of Christ” (cf. II Cor. 2:15). What we receive is His own divine substance and not simply the odor of balm.45

He is a fire which penetrates us most intimately; and, without destroying our nature, He inflames it and gives it all the properties of fire.46 He is a light which, illuminating souls, makes them luminous and resplendent, radiant with grace and charity as truly divine suns, for He makes them like unto God Himself and what is more, He makes them gods.47 He is a most sweet guest (dulcis hospes animae) who comes to converse familiarly with us, to delight us with His presence, to console us in our labors, to encourage us in our difficulties, to advise us and prompt us to good, and to enrich us with His precious gifts and fruits. Dwelling within us, He makes us holy and living temples of God and, conversing familiarly with us, He makes us His friends and therefore His equals, to a certain extent,48 and worthy of the name of gods.49 And if through the indwelling of the Holy Ghost, say St. Epiphanius and St. Cyril, we are temples of God and God Himself abides in us, how can He be less than God? 60 “It is necessary that He be God,” says St. Gregory Nazianzen,51 “if He is to have the power to deify us.”

“Therefore, it is not to be understood,” observes St. Cyril,52 “that any creature deifies. This is proper to God alone, who, communicating His Spirit to the souls of the just, makes them conformable to His natural Son and therefore worthy to be called sons and even gods… . For it is the Spirit who unites us to God and by communicating Himself to us makes us participants in the divine nature… . If we do not possess the Holy Ghost we can in no way become sons of God. For how could we be so and how could we participate in the divine partnership if God were not within us and if we were not united to Him by the mere fact of receiving Flis Spirit?”[14]

FN: 41 “A. Is it not the Spirit who impresses on us the divine image and sets upon us after the manner of a seal supramundane beauty? B. Not as God, but as the dispenser of divine grace. A. Then He Himself is not impressed upon us, but through Him grace is thus impressed? … If so, then man should be called, not the image of God, but the image of grace” (St. Cyril Alex., Dial. 7 de T rin it.).

FN:42 ’’You … were sealed with the Holy Spirit of the promise, who is the pledge of our inheritance …“ (Eph. 1:13 f.). ”If, being sealed with the Holy Ghost, we are refashioned to God, how could that be something created, by which the image of the divine essence and the signs of the uncreated nature are impressed upon us? For the Holy Ghost does not depict the divine nature in us after the manner of a painter … , but since He Himself is God … He is impressed on the hearts of those who receive Him, like a seal upon wax, but invisibly. He depicts His own nature through a communication and likeness of Himself to the beauty of the archtype, and He restores to man the image of God” (St. Cyril, Thesaurus, assertio 34).

FN:43 “How shall the creature ascend to the likeness of God unless it share in the divine character? Further, the divine character is not such as is a human character, but it is a living and truly existing image, the cause of similitude by which all who participate therein are constituted images of God” (St. Basil, Contra Einiovt., Bk. 5).

FN:44 Cf. II Cor. 1:21 f.: “Now He that confirmeth us with you in Christ, and that hath anointed us, is God; who also hath sealed us and given the pledge of the Spirit in our hearts.”

FN:45 St. Cyril of Alexandria, In Joan., Bk. XI, chap. 2: “If the fragrance of spices transmits its strength to the clothing and transforms into itself, as it were, those things in which it resides, why cannot the Holy Ghost, since He naturally exists in God, make those in whom He resides, participants of the divine nature?” “He abounds in the faithful, not now through the grace of visitation and operation, but through the presence of His majesty’; and there flows into the vessel, not now the odor of balsam, but the very substance of the sacred ointment” (St. Augustine, Sermo 185, de Temp.).

FN:46 Cf. St. Cyril of Jerusalem, Catecheses, 17: “If the fire which interiorly penetrates the density of iron, turns the whole thing into fire … , why are you astonished if the Holy Ghost enters into the innermost recesses of the soul?”

St. Basil, Contra Eunotn., Bk. 3: “Just as iron thrown into the midst of a fire does not lose the nature of iron; and yet, having been inflamed by’ the blazing fire, it will have received the entire nature of fire and in its color, heat, and activity is changed into fire; so, by’ reason of the communion which they have with Him who is holy by His very nature, the powers of the soul receive His entire substance and possess, as it were, an innate sanctification. The difference between them and the Holy Ghost is this, that the Spirit is holiness by nature whereas sanctification is in them by participation.”

FN:47 Cf. St. Basil, De Spiritu Sancto, chap. 9, no. 23: “The union of the Spirit with the soul is not effected by His drawing near according to place. Shining on those who are purged of all dross, He makes them spiritual through union with Himself; and, as bodies become bright and shining when a ray of light falls upon them, and from their brilliance they diffuse a new luster, so souls that possess the Spirit within themselves and are illumined by the Spirit, themselves become spiritual and send forth grace to others. Hence, the likeness to God and that than which nothing more sublime could be desired, that you should become god.”

FN:48 “Friendship either discovers equals or makes them” (Seneca).

FN:49 Cf. St. Cyril, In Joan., I, 9: “For that reason we are called gods, not only because we have been raised to supernatural glory by divine grace, but because we now possess God dwelling and abiding in us. Otherwise, how are we temples of God, according to Paul, possessing the Spirit dwelling within us, unless the Spirit be God by nature?”

FN:50 St. Epiphanius, Haeres., 74, no. 13: “If we are called the temple of God by reason of the indwelling of the Holy Ghost, who would dare repudiate the Spirit and reject Him from the substance of God, stating that we are not the temple of God because of the Holy Ghost who dwells in the souls of the just, as the Apostle clearly affirms?”

“Only the indwelling of God makes a soul a temple of God” (St. Thomas, In I CoT. 3:16, lec. 3).

FN:51 Orat. 34: “If the Holy Ghost is not God, let Him first be made God; and then at last He shall deify me.’ But being deified oneself does not suffice to give the power to deify others; only He who is God by nature can communicate a participation in divinity. St. Thomas says: ”For it is necessary that God alone should deify, bestowing a partaking of the a Divine Nature” (Ia Hae, q.112, a.1).

52 De Trinitate, Dial. 7.

Next up, we are going to finish up our focus on the theological look at grace by looking specifically at the idea of theosis/divinization.

5 I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.

Blog End


  1. Arintero, Fr. John G. O.P. The Mystical Evolution in the Development and Vitality of the Church. P.86  ↩
  2. ibid. p. 91  ↩
  3. ibid. P.86–90  ↩
  4. ibid. P.109  ↩
  5. ibid. P. 57–58  ↩
  6. ibid. P.77–79  ↩
  7. ibid. P.79–80  ↩
  8. ibid. P. 46–47  ↩
  9. ibid. P.91  ↩
  10. ibid. P.92  ↩
  11. ibid. P.93  ↩
  12. ibid. P.29–30  ↩
  13. ibid.  ↩
  14. ibid. P.30–32  ↩

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Fullness of the Truth Pt. 5: Conclusions

Fullness of the Truth Pt. 5: Conclusions

Link to the entire series of posts This was the hardest intellectual, emotional, and spiritual journey I have ever gone through. It certainly has not been without costs, either. And yet, I wouldn't ever take my decision to join the Catholic Church back, for though I...

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