It is a truth of our
Catholic Faith that human reason, even when exercised by fallen
human nature and unaided by divine intervention, would be capable of
demonstrating with certainty the existence of God, and consequently
knowing that God is personal and that God is one. Tertullian said,
"The Supreme Being must be unique and without equal. If God is not
one, then He is not God." This is why God in His divine revelation
teaches that pagans are to be blamed for not honoring the God that
they should have known by their natural reason through a
consideration of His creatures (Romans 1:20). Of course, these facts
about God Himself He also revealed, thereby reinforcing and
supporting such naturally knowable truth. Both divine revelation and
natural reason also teach humanity that deriving from monotheism,
the truth of the oneness of God, the fact that God is completely
distinct from all of His creatures. Pantheism, in all of its forms,
is a violation of human reason as well as a denial of divine
revelation. Finally, human thought correctly used must, therefore,
come to the necessary conclusion that God must be adored and
worshiped, that is, that all human beings instinctively know that
they are required to practice religion and that God must be obeyed.
At least implicitly, all humans, even those unfortunates who have
not yet heard the Gospel, are required by their human condition as
rational animals to practice at a minimum natural morality and
always to proclaim in regard to their Creator, "Thy will be done"
(Matthew 6:10). Their ultimate salvation depends on this. In God, as
Saint Paul teaches, we human creatures "live and move and have our
being... since it is He Who gives to all men life and breath and all
things" (Acts of the Apostles 17:25-30).
Human reason along with
divine revelation teaches that God is provident and personal. He is
not merely some kind of impersonal "force" or "power". Hence, it is
quasi-blasphemous to use such expressions as "May the force be with
you". Nor may God be considered a sort of impersonal "ether"
penetrating the universe, but He is the Existent Essence, (Yahweh,
Elohim, Adonai -God and Lord), and in and identical to that divine
Essence is an all-knowing Intelligence and absolute Free Will. The
theologian and philosopher John of Saint Thomas says it is
legitimate to speak of God as the Self-Subsistent Intellection.
What are called the
attributes of God are in reality identical to His divine Essence.
From a creature’s point of view, however, attributes can be
considered in their individual significance and in their
relationship to each other. Sometimes this relationship folds into
the realm of supernatural mystery. For instance, divine revelation
tells us that God is all-Just and also all-Merciful. From our human
angle absolute justice and absolute mercy seem fundamentally
incompatible and in some measure contradictory. Yet, in God there
can be no contradiction because that would be a an imperfection and
God is absolutely perfect. We know with the certainty of faith that
total justice and complete mercy somehow fit together in God, but we
also realize that how this is possible is something beyond our human
capacity to fully grasp.
Among the attributes of God
which are in His very Being are simplicity and unicity. God is one
in Himself and, therefore, utterly simple, which is to say, in Him
there is no composition, neither physical, metaphysical, nor
logical. God is infinite, that is, without any limits. His infinity
has no indefiniteness or indetermination possible, since that would
involve imperfection. God, therefore, is utterly unchangeable and
impassible. All beings as beings are good, true, and beautiful. But,
created beings, in this, are merely an extremely pale reflection of
the Supreme Being, Who is Truth, Goodness, and Beauty in Himself.
God is almighty, omnipotent, and thus can do all things without
limit. However, He cannot contradict Himself or His perfect wisdom
for that would mean imperfection in Him. (He cannot make a stone so
heavy He Himself could not lift it. There is no limit to His
infinite power.) God is perfect Intelligence and perfect Free Will.
He is identical too with His supreme freedom, His supreme wisdom,
His ubiquity, and His omniscience.
Knowing and Loving
In God there is no "before
and after" but a only total "now". He knows, of course, the past,
present, and future, but He also knows "futurables", that is, all
possibilities and probabilities past, present and future. He knows
every "what would be if". (For instance, He knows what you would be
doing if you would have been born in China in 2300 A.D. instead of
now in America, or what you would have done and what would have
happened to you had you been born in a cave in Africa in the year 20
B.C., etc.) It is in God’s total knowledge, linked with His total
freedom, that we can situate some notion of His loving reality in
our personal predestination (Romans 8:30; Ephesians 1:5). He even
keeps track of the number of hairs on our heads (Matthew 10:30; Luke
In the Old Testament God
confided to Israel that His revelation to them and His choosing them
as His special possession was motivated out of sheer gratuitous love
(Deuteronomy 4:37; 7:8; 10:15). It was out of that love that His
prophets explained that He never stopped loving them and pardoning
their infidelities and sins (Isaiah 43:1-7; Hosea 2; Jeremiah 31:3).
In the New Testament, however, His everlasting love (Isaiah 54:8)
reached its climax and conclusion with the giving of His most
precious Gift: "God so loved the world that He gave His only Son"
(John 3:16). As the Easter proclamation sings to God: "To ransom a
slave You gave away Your Son". The Catechism of the Catholic
Church tells us, "Saint John goes even further when he affirms
that God is Love (1 John 4:8). God’s very Being is Love. By sending
His only Son and the Spirit of Love in the fullness of time, God has
revealed His innermost secret (1 Corinthians 2:7-16; Ephesians
3:9-12). God Himself is an eternal Exchange of Love, Father, Son,
and Holy Spirit, and He has destined us to share in that exchange."
reminds us of the great Jewish Sabbath Prayer" "Hear, O Israel, the
Lord our God is one Lord" (Deuteronomy 6:4; Mark 12:29). Saint
Augustine tells us, "Even when He reveals Himself, God remains a
mystery. If you understood Him, He would not be God." The
Catechism goes on to say, "Faith in God leads us to turn to Him
alone as our first Origin and our ultimate Goal, and neither to
prefer anything to Him nor to substitute anything for Him. The God
of our faith has revealed Himself as He Who Is, (Yahweh), and He has
made Himself known to us as "abounding in steadfast love and
faithfulness" (Exodus 34:6)." "Behold God is great and we know Him
not" (Job 36:26). Saint Joan of Arc said, "Therefore we must serve
God first." Saint Teresa of Jesus said, "Whoever has God wants for
nothing. God alone is enough." Let us always keep those saintly
words in our hearts and minds.