The perfections of God are infinitely beyond our senses

February 12, 2022 • 3 min

From The Sinner’s Guide, page 19
By Venerable Louis of Granada

This is what David teaches when he tells us that God “made darkness His covert”; [Ps. xvii. 12.] or, as the Apostle more clearly expresses it, He “inhabiteth light inaccessible.” [1 Tim. vi. 16.] The prophet calls this light darkness because it dazzles and blinds our human vision.

Nothing is more resplendent and more visible than the sun, as a philosopher admirably remarks, yet because of his very splendor and the weakness of our vision there is nothing upon which we can gaze less. So also there is no being more intelligible in itself than God, and yet none we understand less in this present life.

Know, therefore, you who aspire to a knowledge of God, that He is a Being superior to anything you can conceive. The more sensible you are of your inability to comprehend Him, the more you will have advanced in a knowledge of His Being.

Thus St. Gregory, commenting on these words of Job: “Who doth great things unsearchable, and wonderful things without number,” says: “We never more eloquently praise the works of the Almighty than when our tongue is mute in rapt wonder; silence is the only adequate praise when words are powerless to express the perfections we would extol.”

St. Denis also tells us to honor with mute veneration, and a silence full of love and fear, the wonders and glory of God, before Whom the most sublime intelligences are prostrate.

The holy Doctor seems to allude here to the words of the prophet as translated by St. Jerome, “Praise is mute before thee, God of Sion,” giving us to understand, doubtless, that the most adequate praise is a modest and respectful silence springing from the conviction of our inability to comprehend God.

We thus confess the incomprehensible grandeur and sovereign majesty of Him Whose being is above all being, Whose power is above all power, Whose glory is above all glory, Whose substance is immeasurably raised above all other substances, visible or invisible.

Upon this point St. Augustine has said with much beauty and force:

When I seek my God I seek not corporal grace, nor transient beauty, nor splendor, nor melodious sound, nor sweet fragrance of flowers, nor odorous essence, nor honeyed manna, nor grace of form, nor anything pleasing to the flesh.

None of these things do I seek when I seek my God. But I seek a light exceeding all light, which the eyes cannot see; a voice sweeter than all sound, which the ear cannot hear; a sweetness above all sweetness, which the tongue cannot taste; a fragrance above all fragrance, which the senses cannot perceive; a mysterious and divine embrace, which the body cannot feel.

For this light shines without radiance, this voice is heard without striking the air, this fragrance is perceived though the wind does not bear it, this taste inebriates with no palate to relish it, and this embrace is felt in the centre of the soul. [“Confessions,” l. x. c. 6.]

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