31 May 2011

Unfathomable Nature

The name Father has thus been revealed to men; the question arises: What is this Father's own Name? Yet surely the name of God has never been unknown. Moses heard it from the bush, Genesis announces it at the beginning of the history of creation, the Law has proclaimed and the prophets extolled it, the history of the world has made mankind familiar with it; even the pagans have worshipped it under a veil of falsehood. Men have never been left in ignorance of the Name of God.

And yet they were, in very truth, in ignorance. For no man knows God unless He confess Him as Father, Father of the Only-begotten Son, and confess also the Son, a Son by no partition or extension or procession, but born of Him, as the Son of the Father, ineffably and incomprehensibly, and retaining the fullness of that Godhead from which and in which He was born as true and infinite and perfect God. This is what the fullness of the Godhead means. If any of these things be lacking, there will not be that fullness which was pleased to dwell in Him. This is the message of the Son, His revelation to men in their ignorance. The Father is glorified through the Son when men recognise that He is the Father of a Son so Divine.

It is the Father to Whom all existence owes its origin. In Christ and through Christ He is the Source of all. In contrast to all else He is self-existent. He does not draw His Being from without, but possesses it from Himself and in Himself. He is infinite, for nothing contains Him and He contains all things; He is eternally unconditioned by space, for He is illimitable; eternally anterior to time, for time is His creation.

Let imagination range to what you may suppose is God's utmost limit, and you will find Him present there; strain as you will there is always a further horizon towards which to strain. Infinity is His property, just as the power of making such effort is yours. Words will fail you, but His Being will not be circumscribed.

Or again, turn back the pages of history, and you will find Him ever present; should numbers fail to express the antiquity to which you have penetrated, yet God's eternity is not diminished. Engage your intellect to comprehend Him as a whole; He eludes you.

God is everywhere and wholly present wherever He is. Reason, therefore, cannot cope with Him, since no point of contemplation can be found outside Himself and since eternity is eternally His.

This is a true statement of the mystery of that unfathomable nature which is expressed by the Name 'Father:' God invisible, ineffable, infinite. Let us confess by our silence that words cannot describe Him; let sense admit that it is foiled in the attempt to apprehend, and reason in the effort to define. He does not, as men do, receive the power of paternity from an external source. He is unbegotten, everlasting, inherently eternal. To the Son only is He known, for no one knows the Father save the Son and him to whom the Son wills to reveal Him, nor yet the Son save the Father. Each has perfect and complete knowledge of the Other.

Therefore, since no one knows the Father save the Son, let our thoughts of the Father be at one with the thoughts of the Son, the only faithful Witness, Who reveals Him to us.

Listen then to the Unbegotten Father, listen to the Only-begotten Son. Hear His words: The Father is greater than I, and I and the Father are One, and he that has seen Me has seen the Father also , and the Father is in Me and I in the Father, and I went out from the Father, and Who is in the Bosom of the Father, and whatsoever the Father has He has delivered to the Son, and the Son has life in Himself, even as the Father has in Himself. Hear in these words the Son, the Image, the Wisdom, the Power, the Glory of God. Next mark the Holy Spirit proclaiming: Who shall declare His generation? Note the Lord's assurance: No one knows the Son save the Father, neither does any know the Father save the Son and He to whom the Son wills to reveal Him. Penetrate into the mystery, plunge into the darkness which shrouds that birth, where you will be alone with God the Unbegotten and God the Only-begotten. Make your start, continue, persevere. I know that you will not reach the goal, but I shall rejoice at your progress. For He who devoutly treads an endless road, though he reach no conclusion, will profit by his exertions.

Reason will fail for want of words, but when it comes to a stand it will be the better for the effort made.

~ Saint Hilary of Poitiers ~