Tuesday, June 30, 2009

FATHERS: Comprehendable and Mysterious


But some one will say “if the Divine substance is incomprehensible, why then dost thou discourse of these things?” So then, because I cannot drink up all the river, am I not even to take in moderation what is expedient for me? Because with eyes so constituted as mine I cannot take in all the sun, am I not even to look upon him enough to satisfy my wants? Or again, because I have entered into a great garden, and cannot eat all the supply of fruits, wouldst thou have me go away altogether hungry? I praise and glorify Him that made us; for it is a divine command which saith, Let every breath praise the Lord . I am attempting now to glorify the Lord, but not to describe Him, knowing nevertheless that I shall fall short of glorifying Him worthily, yet deeming it a work of piety even to attempt it at all. For the Lord Jesus encourageth my weakness, by saying, No man hath seen God at any time. (Catechetical lecture 6, Cyril of Jerusalem, CA 350 AD).


It is an unfortunate truism that the mysterious nature of God allows humanity all kinds of excuses for not ascribing God the right praise (lit. ortho-doxa). St Cyril addresses the catechumens in their struggle with this mystery by uncovering their false expectation to know something exhaustively. Cyril points out that many like to tell themselves that one must know God exhaustively to speak of Him or even know him at all. Yet, what in this creation do they know exhaustively? Nothing! Nevertheless, few would argue that there is a joy that results from partaking in the mysteries of this life and we do not question them nearly as deeply. Who is not breathless with amazement when they view the painted dessert from 35,000 feet in the air, or when they look down the Grand Canyon; and who can deny the joy of the balmy breezes of Maimi Beach after sun down? Do we understand these things fully? No, but we do find them worthy of praise. How much more the mysterious one who formed them all.

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