Participation in the Divine Nature

“‘What is essential and substantial in God,’ says St. Thomas, ‘exists in the soul, which partakes by grace in the Divine love, as a quality superadded to its nature.’ Elsewhere the Angelical Doctor, in agreement with St. Basil, compares the soul to iron, which is in itself cold, black and hard, and without beauty, but when laid in a furnace becomes penetrated by its heat, and, without losing its own nature appears brilliant in colour, flexible, and red-hot. God, we know, dwells in inaccessible light. He is, to use our human words, a furnace of Divine love. God thus, in descending to the creature He has made, or receiving him into His bosom, can without destroying the nature of man penetrate it with His Divine light and heat, so that its natural lowliness and defects disappear, and it is seemingly absorbed altogether in God.”

“Theologians say that a certain participation in the Divine perfections is found in all things that God has created. All things more or less resemble God in their existence, in their life, in their force, or activity; so that, as the Apostles teach, the invisible glory of God may be seen and considered in created things. . . . In material things we see but the print of His footsteps. They may reveal themselves as the work of His hands, but they do not represent His nature. Our souls, and all pure spirits such as the Angels are by their very nature made to the likeness of the Divine Nature; for like God they are spiritual, rational, and possessed of free will. Yet their nature is finite, they are created out of nothing, and if not upheld by their Creator would fall back into nothingness.”

“The participation in the Divine Nature, therefore, which we enjoy by means of grace consists in this, that our nature assumes a condition peculiar to the Divine Nature, and becomes so similar to the Deity that, according to the Fathers of the Church, it is in a sense deified. We do not speak, therefore, of a dissolution of our substance in the Divine Substance or of a personal union with it, such as existed in our Divine Saviour, but only of a glorification of our substance into the image of the Divine Nature. . . . We are made to His likeness in a supernatural manner, and our soul receives a reflex of that glory which belongs to God alone.”

Quotations from Alice Lady Lovat, The Marvels of Divine Grace: Meditations Based on the “Glories of Divine Grace” (Original Treatise by Fr. Nieremberg, S.J., Entitled “Del Aprecio y Estima de la Divina Gracia”) (London: R. & T. Washbourne, Ltd., 1917).

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