Giving glory to God with our words

February 5th, 2013

What follows is a short excerpt from  the Catechism of the Summa Theologia, which features short, concise responses to questions taken up by Thomas Aquinas in his foundational work.  This is from Chapter 13, with references to sections in the Summa.
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When we speak of God, or endeavour to express our thought concerning Him, have the words we use a correct meaning?

Most certainly: for these words, although used primarily to designate the perfections in a creature, can be transferred to designate what in God corresponds to these very perfections. (XIII. 1-4)

When applied to God and to creatures, have these words the same meaning or one wholly different?

When applied to God they have the same meaning but in a superlative degree, that is when used to designate perfections in creatures in the fulness of their meaning they truly signify these perfections, or whatever is attributed to God. (XIII. 5)

Then whatever we may tell of God, and however exalted by our expressions concerning Him, for us God ever remains unutterable?

Yes; but in this life we cannot do anything more salutary, more perfect, and more noble than speak of Him and of all that concerns Him even though our thoughts fall short of Him and our speech fail. (XIII. 6-12)

Prayer of St. Anselm (1033-1109)

June 3rd, 2012

Lord, because you have made me, I owe you the whole of my love; because you have redeemed me, I owe you the whole of myself; because you have promised so much, I owe you all my being.  Moreover, I owe you as much more love than myself as you are greater than I, for whom you gave yourself and to whom you promised yourself. I pray you, Lord, make me taste by love what I taste by knowledge; let me know by love what I know by understanding. I owe you more than my whole self, but I have no more, and by myself I cannot render the whole of it to you. Draw me to you, Lord, in the fullness of love. I am wholly yours by creation; make me all yours, too, in love. . .

We love you, O our God; and we desire to love you more and more. Grant to us that we may love you as much as we desire, and as much as we ought. O dearest friend, who has so loved and saved us, the thought of whom is so sweet and always growing sweeter, come with Christ and dwell in our hearts; that you keep a watch over our lips, our steps, our deeds, and we shall not need to be anxious either for our souls or our bodies. Give us love, sweetest of all gifts, which knows no enemy. Give us in our hearts pure love, born of your love to us, that we may love others as you love us. O most loving Father of Jesus Christ, from whom flows all love, let our hearts, frozen in sin, cold to you and cold to others, be warmed by this divine fire. So help and bless us in your Son.

God is everywhere, always . . .

May 29th, 2012
No contemplation and fruition of love, whether intellectual or affective, is more useful, more perfect and more satisfying than that which is of God himself, the Creator, our supreme and true Good, from whom, through whom and to whom are all things. He is infinitely satisfying both to himself and to all others, who contains within himself in absolute simplicity and from all eternity the perfection of all things, in whom there is nothing which is not himself, before whom and through whom remain the causes of all things impermanent, and in whom dwell the unchanging origins of all changing things, while even the eternal reasons of all temporal things, rational and irrational, abide in him. He brings everything to completion, and fills all things, in general and in particular, completely and essentially with himself. He is more intimately and more really present to everything by his being than each thing is to itself, for in him all things are united together, and live in him eternally.

St. Albert the Great, On Cleaving to God, Chapter 9.

(So just to be still . . . present to the One Who is always present . . . here/now . . . loving . . . )

Surrender and resignation

April 27th, 2012
“I ask you neither for health nor for sickness, for life nor for death; but that you may dispose of my health and my sickness, my life and my death, for your glory … You alone know what is expedient for me; you are the sovereign master, do with me according to your will. Give to me, or take away from me, only conform my will to yours. I know but one thing, Lord, that it is good to follow you, and bad to offend you. Apart from that, I know not what is good or bad in anything. I know not which is most profitable to me, health or sickness, wealth or poverty, nor anything else in the world. That discernment is beyond the power of men or angels, and is hidden among the secrets of your providence, which I adore, but do not seek to fathom.”

― Blaise Pascal

Acknowledging God

March 2nd, 2012

- from a sermon by St. Gregory Nazianzen published in the Office of Readings, Feb. 27, 2012 -

Recognise to whom you owe the fact that you exist, that you breathe, that you understand, that you are wise, and, above all, that you know God and hope for the kingdom of heaven and the vision of glory, now darkly as in a mirror but then with greater fullness and purity. You have been made a child of God, co-heir with Christ. Where did you get all this, and from whom?

Let me turn to what is of less importance: the visible world around us. What benefactor has enabled you to look out upon the beauty of the sky, the sun in its course, the circle of the moon, the countless number of stars, with the harmony and order that are theirs, like the music of a harp? Who has blessed you with rain, with the art of husbandry, with different kinds of food, with the arts, with houses, with laws, with states, with a life of humanity and culture, with friendship and the easy familiarity of kinship?

Who has given you dominion over animals, those that are tame and those that provide you with food? Who has made you lord and master of everything on earth? In short, who has endowed you with all that makes man superior to all other living creatures?

Is it not God who asks you now in your turn to show yourself generous above all other creatures and for the sake of all other creatures? Because we have received from him so many wonderful gifts, will we not be ashamed to refuse him this one thing only, our generosity? Though he is God and Lord he is not afraid to be known as our Father. Shall we for our part repudiate those who are our kith and kin?

Attributes of God: Love

February 15th, 2012

There are three things told us in Scripture concerning the nature of God. First, “God is spirit” (John 4:24). In the Greek there is no indefinite article, and to say “God is a spirit” is most objectionable, for it places Him in a class with others. God is “spirit” in the highest sense. Because He is “spirit” He is incorporeal, having no visible substance. Had God a tangible body, He would not be omnipresent, He would be limited to one place; because He is spirit He fills heaven and earth. Second, God is light (1 John 1:5), which is the opposite of “darkness.” In Scripture “darkness” stands for sin, evil, death; and “light” for holiness, goodness, life. God is light, means that He is the sum of all excellency. Third, “God is love” (1 John 4:8). It is not simply that God “loves,” but that He is Love itself. Love is not merely one of His attributes, but His very nature.

There are many today who talk about the love of God, who are total strangers to the God of love. The Divine love is commonly regarded as a species of amiable weakness, a sort of good-natured indulgence; it is reduced to a mere sickly sentiment, patterned after human emotion. Now the truth is that on this, as on everything else, our thoughts need to be formed and regulated by what is revealed thereon in Holy Scripture. That there is urgent need for this is apparent not only from the ignorance which so generally prevails, but also from the low state of spirituality which is now so sadly evident everywhere among professing Christians. How little real love there is for God. One chief reason for this is because our hearts are so little occupied with His wondrous love for His people. The better we are acquainted with His love—its character, fulness, blessedness—the more will our hearts be drawn out in love to Him.

from The Attributes of God, by A. W. Pink

Exhortation to Prayer

February 4th, 2012

(From a Lutheran book on prayers for each day, early 20th C.)

Arise, dear soul, and carefully reflect who He is with whom thous speakest and before whom thou standest when thou prayest. Behold, thou speakest with God, thy Maker, and standest in the presence of Him, the eternal Majesty, whom thousand times thousand holy angels and archangels attend. Therefore, O Christian, enter thou into the closet of thy soul, and beware, lest thou failest to put from thee all sluggishness of heart, and lightest up to thy God a countenance free from blame. Then wilt thou delight in the lord and have power with Him, and prevail. Amen.

On the love of God alone

January 20th, 2012

(This meditation was in today’s Office of Readings in the Liturgy of the Hours.  Keep in mind that by “self-love” and “love of self” the author is referring to selfishness and self-concern and not a healthy care for one’s needs.  He is, however, giving testimony to a love of God that is so forgetful of self-regard as to resolve the matter of bestowing upon oneself any kind of unhealthy attentiveness to self. Apologies for the non-inclusive language, but it’s just impossible to adequately edit out in texts such as this one.)

Whoever is in love with himself is unable to love God. The man who loves God is the one who abandons his self-love for the sake of the immeasurable blessings of divine love. Such a man never seeks his own glory but only the glory of God. If a person loves himself he seeks his own glory, but the man who loves God loves the glory of his Creator.

Anyone alive to the love of God can be recognised from the way he constantly strives to glorify him by fulfilling all his commandments and by delighting in his own submission. It is fitting that God should receive glory, because of his great majesty; but it is fitting for us as human beings to submit ourselves to God and thereby become his friends. Then we too will rejoice in his glory as Saint John the Baptist did, and we shall never stop repeating: His fame must increase, but mine must diminish.

I knew someone who was sad that he could not love God as he would wanted, but who nevertheless loved God so much that his soul was always in the grip of desire for God, for God’s glory to manifest itself in him, for himself to be as nothing in comparison. Such a person cannot be touched by verbal praise or convinced of his being, since his overwhelming humility means that he simply does not think about his own dignity or status. He celebrates the liturgy as, according to the law, priests should; but his love of God blinds him to all awareness of his own dignity. He buries any glory that might come his way in the depth of his love of God, so that he never sees himself as anything more than a useless servant: he is estranged, as it were, from a sense of his own dignity by his desire for lowliness. This is the sort of thing we ought to do, to flee from any honour or glory that is offered us, for the sake of the immense riches of our love of God who has so loved us.

Anyone who loves God in the depths of his heart has already been loved by God. In fact, the measure of a man’s love for God depends upon how deeply aware he is of God’s love for him. When this awareness is keen it makes whoever possesses it long to be enlightened by the divine light, and this longing is so intense that it seems to penetrate his very bones. He loses all consciousness of himself and is entirely transformed by the love of God.

Such a man lives in this life and at the same time does not live in it, for although he still inhabits his body, he is constantly leaving it in spirit because of the love that draws him toward God. Once the love of God has released him from self-love, the flame of divine love never ceases to burn in his heart and he remains united to God by an irresistible longing. As St Paul says: If we are taken out of ourselves it is for the love of God; if we are brought back to our senses it is for your sake.

- by Diadochus of Photiké, “On Spiritual Perfection”

In God we have everything!

January 11th, 2012

The sovereign God wants to be loved for Himself and honored for Himself, but that is only part of what He wants. The other part is that He wants us to know that when we have Him we have everything—we have all the rest.
- A. W. Tozer (1897-1963)

(Pearl of great price!)

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- Related:

To which end, if you have begun to strip and purify yourself of images and imaginations and to simplify and still your heart and mind in the Lord God so that you can draw and taste the well of divine grace in everything within yourself, and so that you are united to God in your mind by a good will, then this itself is enough for you in place of all study and reading of holy scripture, and as demonstration of love of God and neighbour, as devotion itself testifies.

So simplify your heart with all care, diligence and effort so that still and at peace from the products of the imagination you can turn round and remain always in the Lord within yourself, as if your mind were already in the now of eternity, that is of the godhead. In this way you will be able to renounce yourself through love of Jesus Christ, with a pure heart, clean conscience and unfeigned faith, and commit yourself completely and fully to God in all difficulties and eventualities, and be willing to submit yourself patiently to his will and good pleasure at all times.

- On Cleaving to God, by St. Albert the Great: Chapter 5. “On purity of heart, which is to be sought above all things.”

A new year resolution

December 31st, 2011

Another year has gone by! It does seem that the older one gets, the quicker they pass. I am reminded, here, of the words of the Psalmist (90: 12):

Teach us to number our days aright, that we might gain wisdom of heart.

Every day is a gift, and each moment is an opportunity to grow more fully in this “wisdom of heart.” My one and only resolution for 2012 is to live these moments more fully, open to God’s loving guidance. I am also aware that a moment missed is lost forever, but this is not a total tragedy for as long as we are alive we are constantly given another moment, and another . . .

There are many obstacles to living fully in the present moment: selfishness, judgmentalism, a desire to control the outcome, comparing ourselves with others, and so forth. But even to be aware of these attitudes is a way of living fully, and we cannot re-assert our openness to God if we are unaware of our inner storm clouds. Having done so, we can then gently refocus on God’s invitation to be here now in love.

Love seems to be the key. As long as we are willing to give what is required (including simply listening or waiting) and do what needs to be done in the interest of love, we can live more fully in the moment. When this willingness to love is weakened or lost, however, we are “off to the races” with our default, fallen consciousness running the show. Lord have mercy!

May you have many moments well-lived during the coming year.