God Elevating Us

Transfiguration by Pietro Perugino

Father Cassilly asks, “How are we to share in or partake of the Divine nature?” He explains: “We know what it is to become sharers or partakers in human nature—it is to become a man; and so God the Son, on taking flesh and assuming human nature, is said to have become Man. Of course, we understand that our participation by sanctifying grace in the Divine nature does not make us cease to be creatures, or lose our identity, and much less make us or turn us into God. Such a thought would be pantheistic and blasphemous.”

“The mystery, then, is still unsolved; for mystery there is in this sublime assimilation of our soul to the Deity, a mystery, which all the theologians who speak of it admit is above our comprehension. But, though we cannot understand this participation in the Divine nature, we believe it, for it is plainly writ in Scripture, and taught in the schools.”

Grace makes a soul pleasing to God. And “with the inpouring of grace the Holy Spirit is also given to the soul, and He comes to take up His dwelling in it.”

“It is hard to conceive how companionship, however intimate, with the Person of the Holy Ghost, or with the three Persons of the Holy Trinity, would be a sharing or participation in the nature of God. If one were an intimate companion and associate of a king, he would not thereby be a sharer in his kingly nature or office. . . . Grace, on the contrary, is more than an intimacy with the Divine Persons, it is a participation of the Divine nature. . . . ‘Since grace,’ says St. Thomas, ‘surpasses all power of created nature, from the fact that it is nothing else than a certain participation in the Divine nature which surpasses every other nature, it can be produced by none but God’ (Summa Theologica I-II, 112, 1). In conformity with this doctrine the Fathers also interpret the sixth verse of the eighty-first psalm: ‘I have said: You are gods and all of you the sons of the Most High.’ And their interpretation gains strength from the use Christ made of the text against His enemies, saying, ‘Is it not written in your law, I said you are gods?'”

“The fact, then, remains, however we understand it, and subtlety cannot refine it away, that the just man shares in the Divine nature. So Scripture teaches and the Church repeats.”

Quotations from Francis Cassilly, A Story of Love, 2d ed. (St. Louis: B. Herder, 1917).

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