Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Aristotle proclaimed that friendship with God was impossible, because friendship filled a need, and God by definition would have no needs. He was also the man that had asserted there were 'final ends' for everything that existed, and destinies which those things could achieve. Everything that 'is' is able to realize the purpose for which it was intended, because that is how it was made. It would seem to suggest a defect on God's part to have designed a creature that had no hope of achieving its most intense desires. Worse than a defect of judgement, it would be sadism to create a being that could thirst, but could not bring itself to water or even stand the substance when imbibed.

While the terror of eternity has subsided, it having been shown it is not an infinite line of time stretching our being ever more thinly, the soul still wonders how she will take it all in. When beautiful things give us pain, true things blind our sight, and good things reduce us to tears, we are all too aware of how small our capacity is for the great and noble. Like the shining Dawnstar, we love the Sun, but as He draws near to kiss us, we expire and dissolve in His light. Ourselves are too weak for Himself.

As the Angelic Doctor observes:

But man's perfect Happiness...consists in the vision of the Divine Essence. Now the vision of God's Essence surpasses the nature not only of man, but also of every creature...For the natural knowledge of every creature is in keeping with the mode of its substance: thus it is said of the intelligence that 'it knows things that are above it, and things that are below it, according to the mode of its substance.' But every knowledge that is according to the mode of created substance, falls short of the vision of the Divine Essence, which infinitely surpasses all created substance. Consequently neither man, nor any creature, can attain final Happiness by his natural powers. (Summa Theologiae: Prima Secundae Partis, Question V, Article v)

Perhaps then, God will only unveil some of Himself in eternity. There is a certain beatitude man is entitled to by his nature, which is the vision of God in the context of creation, i.e., seeing Him as through a mirror. It is an analogous beholding, just as all of man's knowledge is here on earth: facts drawn up by sense impressions, signs, and measurements. So we would not have a Beatific Vision in the true sense, but in a diluted sense of the idea. (Hontheim, Joseph: The Catholic Encyclopaedia; Volume VII, "Heaven")

Such a proposition is reasonable and our just deserts--assuming we have not so damaged our natures by sin that we do not merit the fellowship of man, much less that of God. However when someone is in love, and after the rigours of good judgement and virtue have had their say about the object of his love, the lover no longer concerns himself with what his beloved deserves, but things that she would like. The more stunned and overwhelmed she is, the better. To invest as much of himself in his giving as possible is his intent, not to meter out according to justice with no thought for mercy.

God, after the judgements which Holiness requires (I ought not to have the same vision as Mother Teresa), is the most generous of all lovers. After Cophetua has won the beggar maid's affection in the guise of a poor man, he will not keep her in her lowly state, but will elevate her to the status of queen. Would this contradict all the rules of his state? Yes, but he is the king, and it is also a law of his that he can make exceptions to the rules. If God can create man, He can create in man the capacity for Himself, though still proper to the mode of man's existence:

For God loveth mercy and truth: the Lord will give grace and truth. (Psalm 83:12)

Just as the human body may be brought to perfect health by medicine, so it is through His assistance that we shall obtain the enjoyment of Himself. It is true that we will not infinitely comprehend Him with our finite intellects, but we may yet possess Him in an act which eternity shall not exhaust. The is the lumen gloriae, the light that allows our intellect to look on God directly, not reflected, and receive Him to the extent our being allows.

Man's more supernatural end has been explained thus:

'Comprehension is twofold: in one sense it is taken strictly and properly...and this in no way is God comprehended either by intellect, or in any other way forasmuch as He is infinite, and cannot be included in any way by the finite being...in the degree of His own Infinity.

But in another sense 'comprehension' is taken more largely as opposed to 'non-attainment'; for he who attains to anyone is said to comprehend him when he attains to him. And in this sense God is comprehended by the blessed, according to the words, 'I held him, and I will not let him go.' (Canticles 3:4)...in this way 'comprehension' is one of the three prerogatives of the soul, responding to hope, as vision responds to faith, and fruition responds to charity. (Summa Theologiae: Prima Pars, Question XII, Article vii)

As Christians, we are told not to emulate the saints or the angels, but God Himself. We have been promised that we shall see His face. How? It is simply a mystery. And so one comes round, after the toild of frenzied, intimidated reason back to these simple words:

When He shall appear, we shall be like to Him; because we shall see Him as He is. (I John 3:2)

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The Problem of Infinity: Let Us Be Made for It! by Rachel Rudd is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Non-Commercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.
Based on a work at foolishnessntears.blogspot.com.


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Domine, spero quia mundum vicisti. Lord, I trust that Thou hast overcome the world. Panie, ufam, żeś pokonał świat.
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