Perfections of God

Presence, Power

Presence, Power posted in Eleison Comments on October 12, 2019

While “Western civilisation” is crumbling around our ears, faster and faster, it is very necessary to remember that “Our help is in the name of the Lord,” and in the intercession of His Mother, and in nobody and nothing less. But few people, even Catholics, fully realise just how close to us and how powerful Almighty God is. If they did realise, they might turn rather more easily to prayer, which is in fact the only serious obstacle today to the advance of evil. By a just punishment for the apostasy of mankind, God has let fall under the control of His enemies every other means of influence and power.

But who is God? “Father Almighty, maker of heaven and earth, of all things visible and invisible.”

Firstly, Father. “Maker of Heaven and earth,” but not just a manufacturer who manufactures a product and then leaves it to make its own way in the world. The best comparison to illustrate God’s care and His love for the creatures that He makes, is with the love of a human father for his children which will extend normally to his or their death, and beyond. But a human father’s love is finite, God’s love is infinite.

Secondly, Almighty. Perhaps the simplest way to grasp the might or power of God is to accept the Church’s teaching that God is the Creator, and every other being that exists is a creature which God created, and that creation is out of nothing. Whenever we human beings “create” anything, it is always out of some pre-existing material, for instance a chair out of wood, a house out of bricks, the bricks out of sand, and so on. The more I think about it, the more difficult it becomes to imagine anything being created out of nothing, for the good reason that all changes I know around me are out of something. If I could grasp something coming out of nothing, I would begin to see the meaning of “Almighty.”

Thirdly, maker of all things. Of all things material or “visible,” to the very end of the farthest galaxy – St Ignatius of Loyola used to stand outside his room in Rome and just gaze at the stars at night to profit by the demonstration of God’s infinite power. And much more, of all things spiritual or “invisible,” like the soul that gives life and the faculties of reason and free-will to every human being alive, to say nothing of the whole non-material nine Orders of angels. You doubt that they exist, because they are immaterial? Do you still doubt that there is a far more than human intelligence ordering the evil around us today?

But while many people may be ready to admit that nothing could come into existence without a Creator, what few people grasp is that the creative action of God continues for every moment that the existing thing continues to exist, so that if God for one moment ceased to maintain in existence an existing thing, it would instantly drop back into the nothingness out of which it came. A comparison may help. To start an electric train, its driver must pull towards him what is called the “dead man’s switch,” but he must keep pulling it towards him for the train to keep moving, because the switch or lever is spring-loaded so that if he lets go, the lever will automatically spring back and the train will stop. In this way the train is protected from racing onwards uncontrolled if the driver, for instance, dies at the switch. Thus the train starts by the lever first being pulled, but the same lever must go on being pulled for the train to run.

In the same way God creates a creature in its first moment but it would drop back into nothing if He did not maintain that creative action, or “conserve” the creature for the duration of the thing’s existence. In other words just as the first pull on the lever starts the train but the same lever must go on being pulled for the train to run, so the only difference between God’s creating a creature and conserving it is the difference between the first moment of its existence and every succeeding moment. Thus every moment that I exist, God is active inside me, creating-conserving both my soul and my body. Thus He is more present to all of me than I am to myself, doing what God alone can do, namely hold me out of nothing. And I doubt that He is powerful? Or I doubt that He is close to me? Or I doubt that He cares for me?

Kyrie eleison.

Flowers Speak

Flowers Speak posted in Eleison Comments on June 2, 2012

God is infinite Being, infinite Truth, infinite Goodness, infinitely just and infinitely merciful. So teaches his Church, and the idea is grand and beautiful, so I have no objection. But then I learn that his Church also teaches that for just one mortal sin the soul can be damned for all eternity to sufferings harsh and cruel beyond all imagination, and that is not so nice. I begin to object.

For instance, I was never consulted before my parents decided to bring me into existence, nor was I consulted on the terms of the contract, so to speak, of my existence. Had I been consulted I might well have objected to such an extreme alternative between unimaginable bliss and unimaginable torment as the Church teaches, both without end. I might have accepted a rather more moderate “contract,” whereby in exchange for a shortened Heaven I would have faced the risk of only an abbreviated Hell, but I was not consulted. An endlessness of either seems to me to be out of all proportion to this brief life of mine on earth: 10, 20, 50 even 90 years are here today, gone tomorrow. All flesh is like grass – “In the morning man shall flourish . . . in the evening he shall fall, grow dry and wither” (Ps. LXXXIX, 6). Along this line of thought God seems so unjust that I seriously wonder if he really exists.

The problem obliges us to reflect. Let us suppose that God does exist; that he is as just as his Church says he is; that it is unjust to impose upon anybody a heavy burden without that person’s consent; that this life is brief, a mere puff of smoke compared with what eternity must be; that nobody can be in justice due for a terrible punishment if he has not been aware of committing a terrible crime. Then how can the supposed God be just? If he is just, then logically every soul reaching the age of reason must live long enough at least to know the choice for eternity that it is making, and the import of that choice. Yet how is that possible for instance in today’s world, where God is so universally neglected and unknown in the life of individuals, families and States?

The answer can only be that God comes before individuals, families and States, and that he “speaks” within every soul, prior to all human beings and independently of them all, so that even a soul whose religious education has been null and void is still aware that it is making a choice each day of its life, that it alone is making that choice for itself, and that the choice has enormous consequences. But once again, how is that possible, given the godlessness of a world all around us like ours today?

Because the “speaking” of God to souls is far deeper, more constant, more present and more appealing than the speaking of any human being or beings can ever be. He alone created our soul. He will continue to be creating it for every moment of its never ending existence. He is therefore closer to it at every single moment than even its parents who merely put together its body – out of material elements being sustained in existence by God alone. And the goodness of God is similarly behind and within and underneath every good thing that the soul will ever enjoy in this life, and the soul is deep down aware that all these good things are mere spin-offs from the infinite goodness of God. “Be quiet,” said St. Ignatius of Loyola to a tiny flower, “I know who you are speaking of.” The smile of a little child, the daily splendor of Nature at all times of day, music, every sky a masterpiece of art and so on – even loved with a deep love, these things tell the soul that there is something much more, or – Someone.

“In thee, O God, have I hoped, let me never be confounded” (Ps. XXX, 2).

Kyrie eleison.

More Cheerful

More Cheerful posted in Eleison Comments on January 28, 2012

Your Excellency, please tell us something more cheerful!

God exists. He is all-powerful, all-knowing, all-just, but his mercy is also boundless. He is in perfect control of all that is happening in the world. Neither the Devil nor his human servants, including the criminals now running the world, can lift a finger without his permission. He knows every detail of their diabolical plans and is using every single one of them to fulfil his own Providential design.

But how then can he be allowing so much evil in our world? Because while he never wants evil, he wants to allow it, so as to bring out of it a greater good. Many prophecies indicate that out of today’s global corruption will arise tomorrow the greatest triumph ever of the Catholic Church, e.g. Our Lady of Fatima; “In the end my Immaculate Heart will triumph.” What is happening right now is that Our Lord is using his enemies to purify his Church.

But could he not have found a less unpleasant way of purifying his Church than for us to have us go through today’s unbelievable corruption? If it depended only on him, undoubtedly he could have found other ways of purifying his Church, but if you and I knew all that he knows – foolish thought! – and if above all you and I wanted, as he does, to respect the free-will that he gives to all human beings, then there is every likelihood that you and I would see that the way he is choosing to do things is the best.

And just what does man’s free-will have to do with it?

God does not want robots or merely irrational animals to share with him in his bliss. Now even he cannot give to his creatures a deserved happiness which they have done nothing to deserve, because that is contradictory and his power is over all being, not over non-being such as things contradictory. But if creatures are at least in part to deserve his bliss, then he must give them free-will, which if it is to be for real, must be able to choose the opposite of what he wants for it, and if it is really able to choose evil, then that is what will happen, more or less often.

But you say that the true Church follows Our Lord in teaching that narrow is the path to Heaven and few there be that find it (Mt.VII, 14). How can it be worth God’s while to have created, just today for instance, a mass of human beings, if only relatively few reach Heaven? How can so many falling into the horrors of Hell not be too high a price to pay for the relatively few reaching Heaven? Because God works in quality, not in quantity. That a mere ten men could have saved from his wrath the whole city of Sodom (Gen. XVIII, 32) proves how precious to God is one single soul responding to his love, over a large number that by their own free choice do not want his love. “I would have gone through the whole Passion just for you,” said Our Lord once to a soul. He would say it to any soul.

Do you mean that if, when the world worries and torments me, I merely stick all the more closely to God, then he takes account of it, for me and for those around me? I might almost want the world to be still worse! Now you are getting the idea!

Kyrie eleison.

Fatal Turn – I

Fatal Turn – I posted in Eleison Comments on August 16, 2008

Man, says Vatican II (Gaudium et Spes), is the only creature that God wants for its own sake. Typically for Vatican II, this statement has two possible meanings, one orthodox and the other profoundly revolutionary. Unfortunately for the “conservatives” who try to maintain that the Council was Catholic, it is the revolutionary meaning that clearly corresponds to the key doctrine of another Council document, Dignitatis Humanae, and is therefore the Council’s true meaning.

Amongst all the material creatures on this earth, man alone is rational, i.e. endowed with faculties capable of knowing and loving God. All the rest of material creation serves only as a trampoline for man to bounce his short life on, until either he jumps to Heaven or crashes into Hell, and as soon as the last soul appointed by God to make that choice has done so, then all material creation will be consumed by fire, says Scripture (II Peter), because it will have served its purpose. In this sense it is true that God wills all creatures for man, and man alone for himself.

But that God wants man for man’s own sake is absolutely false in relation to God because God cannot want any creature, even man, for anything other than for the sake of God himself. God is Self-Being, Self-Good, totally Self-Sufficient, totally Self-Perfect. He can be in no want outside of His Divine Self-Being, because that would be in Him a need, a lack, an imperfection. That does not exclude his wanting to create creatures other than himself – look around! – but it does exclude his wanting them ultimately for anything other than for his own Goodness. Penultimately, i.e. prior to ultimately, he may want them for their own sake, for instance man to share in his Bliss, but ultimately he can only want them for his own Goodness, otherwise he would be needing them to perfect him – blasphemy!

St. Thomas Aquinas explains this ultimate and penultimate willing of God by a comparison with sweet and sour medicine, Ultimately I take the medicine, sweet or sour, only for my health, but if the medicine is sweet then penultimately I can be taking it also for its sweet taste. Ultimately God can want nothing but his own Goodness. Only penultimately can he want any creature for its own sake, e.g. man, to share in the Divine Bliss.

Does the distinction seem subtle? In the present case it is all the difference between man being centred on God, as the true Catholic religion knows, or God being centred on man, which is what the false religion of Vatican II is promoting – the “turn towards man.” Stay tuned for the proof from Dignitatis Humanae that the centring of God on man is the Council’s true meaning.

Kyrie eleison.