Continuing his discussion of the varieties of permanent assistance God offers us, Father Geiermann mentions another kind of assistance in the supernatural order: sanctifying grace.
“Sanctifying grace is a divine quality, effected and maintained in the soul by the indwelling of the Blessed Trinity, which imparts to it a supernatural life and distinction. As the incandescent lamp, when charged with electricity, radiates light and heat, so the soul, when born again of water and the Holy Ghost, becomes bright and pleasing in the sight of God. And as the incandescent lamp assumes the qualities of electricity when charged with it, so sanctifying grace imparts a divine quality to the soul. This divine quality, as St. Peter says, makes us partakers of the divine nature (2 Pet 1:4). For, as man by his supernatural destiny receives the potentiality of union with God, and by his innate craving for happiness is impelled towards God, so sanctifying grace gives him divine life or makes it possible for him to co-operate with God. It makes it possible for man to be actuated by the love of God, to promote His glory, to do His holy will.”
“Sanctifying grace is likewise called habitual grace because it inheres permanently in the very nature of the soul and makes it a worthy temple of the living God. It is essentially distinct from the infused virtues, however, which inhere in the faculties of the soul and make it possible for man to act in the supernatural order.”
“Sanctifying grace is also called the grace of justification, because it frees man from the slavery of sin and Satan, gives him spiritual life, and makes him a child of God. It is obtained by a worthy reception of the sacraments of Baptism and Penance, or, when that is impossible, by perfect sorrow for sin, united to an ardent desire to do all that God has ordained for man’s salvation.”
“The peculiarities of sanctifying grace are (1) that without a special revelation no man can have divine certainty of possessing it; (2) that it is increased at every act of virtue; (3) that it is lost by every mortal sin. . . . The increase of sanctifying grace consists in its taking deeper root in the soul, or in a more intimate adhesion to the nature of the soul. It is effected by God in proportion and to the extent that man, by self-discipline and surrender to God, becomes more and more submissive to the influence of grace in the practice of virtue.”
Quotations from Peter Geiermann, The Narrow Way (New York: Benziger, 1914).