Sanctifying Grace – Divine Blood

Sanctifying Grace – Divine Blood

In previous articles (here and here), it was stated that because of its immateriality and supernaturality, the Church’s theologians utilize various analogies to explain Sanctifying Grace, the foundation of the spiritual life.  The first article explained one of these analogies, namely that of Sanctifying Grace being the supernatural soul of the soul, and the second used the analogy of an iron bar and fire to explain how Sanctifying Grace makes one participate in the Divine Nature.  This article will explore a third analogy, that of Sanctifying Grace being divine blood.

When one is without Sanctifying Grace, due to either Original Sin or actual Mortal Sin, one is an enemy of God and a vessel of wrath (see Rom 9:22).  But, as was explained previously, Sanctifying Grace makes one a friend with God.  But, what is more, not only does one become a friend of God, Sanctifying Grace also affects one’s divine adoption, so that the possessor is made an adopted child of God.  In his work The Theology of Christian Perfection, Fr. Antonio Royo Marin, O.P., explains divine adoption as follows (p. 16 in 1962 Jordan Aumann, O.P. translation):

Purely human or legal adoption is…entirely extrinsic to the nature of the one adopted.  It confers on the one adopted, before human society, the rights of a son, but without infusing in the adopted the blood of the family, and hence without causing any intrinsic change in the nature and personality of the adopted son.  On the other hand, on adopting us as His sons, the one and triune God infuses sanctifying grace in us, which gives us a mysterious real and formal participation in the divine nature itself.  It is an intrinsic adoption which places in our souls, physically and formally, a divine reality which makes the blood of God circulate in our souls.  (We speak metaphorically to capture a sublime truth.)  In virtue of this divine infusion, the soul shares in the very life of God.  It is a true generation, a spiritual birth, in imitation of natural generation, and it reflects, analogically, the eternal generation of the Word of God.  As St. John says explicitly, sanctifying grace not only gives us the right to be called sons of God, but it makes us such in reality: “Behold with what manner of love the Father has bestowed upon us, that we should be called children of God; and such we are”.

— 1 John 3:1

There is much which can be drawn from the above.  In the first place, the supernatural birth of a Christian by Baptism, which is the ordinary means of first receiving Sanctifying Grace, mirrors the eternal birth of God the Son from God the Father.  Such an insight should make all of the baptized hold in greater honor their own sacramental birth.  Additionally, at this new birth, there is an infusion, as it were, of the blood of one’s new Father into the adopted child, an effect which sets divine adoption apart from natural adoption.  This divine blood is, in this analogy, Sanctifying Grace.  By this divine transfusion, one becomes a member of God’s family in a way which is as profound as it is real and in a way which has no correspondence on the natural level.  Not even the action of becoming blood brothers can capture what happens when one is divinely adopted.  

In becoming blood brothers, the blood of the two is mixed a little and eventually the mixed blood is removed from the system.  This is a highly symbolic act, but it does not replace the blood flowing through the veins of the two with new blood.  Prior to divine adoption, however, the soul, which is dead in sin, can be understood as a corpse with a circularity system, but no blood.  With the infusion of Sanctifying Grace, the veins of the corpse are filled with divine blood which brings life, supernatural life, where there was once death, for life is in the blood (see Lev 17:11). 

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