Category Archives: Roman Catholicism

The one true church of the Apocalypse, or the harlot of Revelation? You decide.

On the Creation of the Universe: God is Not Greater, Nor Happier, For Having Created the Universe

We’re back to Bossuet, starting another series of Elevations on the Mysteries, III, 1:

Collecting my thoughts in myself, only seeing in me sin, imperfection and nothingness, I see in the same time, above me, a happy and perfect nature: and I say to him in myself with the Psalmist: You are my God, you have no need of my goods (Psalm 15), you have no need of any goods.  What use to me are the multitude of your victims? All is mine, but I have no need of all which is mine: it is enough for me to be and I find in myself all things.  I have no need of your praises: the praises which you give me make you happy, but if you don’t give them to me I have no need: my work praise me.  But then do I not need the praise which my works give me: all praise me imperfectly, and no praise is worthy of me, except for that which I give myself in joy of myself and my perfection.

I am he who is.  It is enough that I am: all the rest is useless.  Yes, Lord, all the rest is useless to you and cannot take any part in your grandeur: you are not greater with all the world, with a thousand millions of worlds than you are alone.  When you made the world, it is by goodness, and not by need.  It is suitable for you to be able to create all that you please; because it is the perfection of your being and the efficacy of your will, not only that you are, but also that all that you wish, be: that he might be, as soon as you want it, as much as you want it, when you want it.  And when you want it, you do not start wanting it: from all eternity you want what you want, and never change: nothing begins in you and all begins outside of you by your eternal command.  Is there something missing because you have not made something you could have made? All this universe which you have made is but a small part of that which you could have made, and after all nothing is before you.  If you have made nothing, being would have missed the things you would not have made; but nothing is missing to you, because independently of all things, you are he who is, and that is all that is necessary for you to be happy and perfect.

O Father eternally and independently of all other things, your son and your Holy Spirit are with you: you have no need for fellowship, and see, one in yourself eternal and inseparable from you.  Content with this infinite and eternal communication of your perfect and happy being, to these two persons which are your equals, which are not your workmanship, but your co-operators, or better said with you the same creator of all your works; who are with you, not by your commandment or by an effect of your all-powerfulness, but by the unique perfection and fullness of your being: all other communication is incapable of adding anything to your grandeur, to you perfection, to your happiness.

 

Daniel-Rops on the One God

From his Sacred History:

 Moses is, in the Hebrew religious history, the man who revealed the name of God.  In the encounter of the burning bush, he had exclaimed, “Behold, when I come unto the children of Israel, and shall say unto them, The God of your fathers hath sent me unto you; and they shall say to me, What is his name? what shall I say unto them?” (Exod. III:13).  And, bold as the question was, God did not conceal the answer.  The importance of the event is not easily understood by the modern mind, but in antiquity men attributed a mysterious power to the name, an irresistible potency.  We retain certain traces of this belief; we feel very strongly that a name describes a character; we speak of a Don Juan, or a Tartuffe; Balzac chose with great care the sounds that should designate his characters; and in the “Our Father” we still praise the name of God which, as the Commandment says, is not to be taken in vain.

In Mesopotamia and in Egypt the knowledge of a name was regarded as sacred.  The ancient Greek philosophers even admitted that there is a connection between things and their names.  To name is to call into existence.  To know the name of a god is to have the power to invoke him.  In the Egyptian legend of Isis we see the god Ra, stung by a serpent, begging the goddess-magician to cure him; and she first of all demands that he should give his name, the secret of his supreme power.  Something that our society, desiccated by rationalism, refuses to understand is regarded in the ancient traditions as one of the spiritual foundations of humanity…

And God said unto Moses, I am that I am: and he said, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, I am…The LORD God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, hath sent me unto you: this is my name for ever, and this is my memorial unto all generations.  (Exodus III:14-15)  In speaking of himself, God says, I am.  When man speaks of Him, he must say, “He is.”  The latter is to be the name of God as we find it throughout the Bible….

What is the meaning of that enigmatic formula, I am that I am? Countless pages have been written on the subject of those simple words.  The study of grammar permits of two interpretations.  Jahweh could signify “it is”–which expresses the metaphysical idea of the uncreated being, which exists in itself which requires no thing and no person in order to be: the God of eternity.  Or it can mean, “it makes to be,” “it realises,” that which creates, sustains, keeps promises, God the creator.  The two interpretations are in fact linked and the tradition of Israel does not separate them.

At all events, the Bible clearly indicates that the knowledge of the divine name marks an advance.  “I am Jahweh,” God further said to Moses. “I appeared unto Abraham, unto Isaac, and unto Jacob, by the name of El-Shaddai, but by my name of Jahweh was I not known to them.” (Exodus VI:3)  El-Shaddai was the God of power, the mysterious and incalculable power by which everything on earth is regulated.   It is the Most High, the Almighty.  Jahweh is something more, the same God, the God of the Patriarchs, but defined..

It would be out of place to carry metaphysical analysis too far.  Moses’ contemporaries probably had only a vague intuition of the immense varieties that were implied.  But what is clearly important is the development that in the course of generations grew from it and which is implicit in the sacred tetragram.  God is unique in His very nature, and not by the exclusive choice of a man or a nation, which differentiates him absolutely from Hammurabi’s Marduk, or the Egyptian Aton.  He is necessarily the God of the Universe, of the whole of humanity, even if He is know and served by a specific nation.  And the virtues which in Him are worshipped–bounty, justice, and benevolence–are the natural attributes of His unique being, since every injustice, every violence, is opposed to harmony and unity…

Here again, we are struck by the human character of this theology.  Its point of departure is an even in history.  Israel, unlike so many nations, does not claim any legendary descent from God; the revelation took place at a moment of time and was transmitted through a man.  Hebraic humanism which is, together with that of Athens and Rome, one of the three foundations of our civilisation, depends entirely upon this simple affirmation.

The Assault on Christians Wasn’t Supposed to Happen This Fast

Back in 2006, before the accession of the current Occupant, I began to write a little novel entitled The Ten Weeks.  It describes, among other things, the result of a democratically elected left-wing government and how it, using the sexual revolution as one of its weapons (and mob action as another), took progressive power in the society.

If we look at history outside the U.S., the progression of left-wing regimes pretty much follows a pattern, one which varies depending upon how, when and where that regime got into the driver’s seat.  But the idea that this was coming has been in the background of this blog since its inception.

However, to tell the truth, even I am surprised at how fast things have come “over centre”.  This is supposed to be a “rights” crusade.  But in a society deeply in debt, with growing economic inequality and a weak moral compass, “rights” are a dicey concept.  That’s especially true when we consider how one-sided these rights are administered, the result of an outcome-based judiciary and administrative system.  It decides what it wants to happen and “interprets” the law to make that decision a reality.  Under those conditions the judicial redress option is too iffy to really count on any more.

So that leaves us Christians with Lenin’s (and Russia’s really) favourite question: what is to be done?  I’ve got a few suggestions that hopefully will take root, especially with our leadership, whose “deer in headlights” stance is all too clear.

The first is to remember what we’re supposed to be doing here.  Our core goal is eternal life; that needs to stay our mission, for ourselves and for those to whom we reach out.  We’ve gotten off track with our attempts to show that who we are and what we do has “social value”.  At this point our opponents don’t care if what we do has social value: if it doesn’t empower them and fit into their ideological lens, they will hate it no matter what it is.

That refocusing of our mission also applies to the other time and energy wasting thing that Evangelicals in particular are bad about: upward social mobility.  There are certainly benefits for drying out, getting off of drugs and being responsible.  But when your opponents only recognise the right to party as the core goal of life, any attempt to instil austerity will be met with opposition.  And trying to move up will likewise engender opposition from an established “clerisy”.  I found the following statement interesting in Rod Dreher’s secret interview with elite-school law professor “Kingsfield”:

“I could still imagine having a kid who was really strong in his faith, and believing that God was calling him to going to a prestige college. I’m not ready to say ‘never’ for that, but I do think there are a lot of kids that we need to steer away from such hostile places, and into smaller, reliably Christian schools where they can be built up in their faith, and not have to deal with such hostility before they’re strong enough to combat it.”

I tire of Christians trumpeting the entrance of their progeny into “élite” schools as a sign that they have “arrived”.  I’ve always taken a jaundiced view of such “advancement”, and now a few people have figured that out.  (I’ll bet that Harvard is wishing it turned down Ted Cruz, but that’s their problem…I’ll deal with the merit issue of these institutions next month).

That leads to the next point: stick together.  That’s not as easy as it looks, but at this point it’s necessary.  If those opposed to us figure out they can split us on stuff, it will be very difficult to live in this society.  That in turn will make two other things which will make our lives easier.

The first is to allow ourselves to enter into patron-client types of arrangements.   That’s the essence of what the LDS church did in Utah with their new law.  The Roman Catholics are probably thinking the same thing; the biggest problem there is disunity among the bishops.  Given the perils of Americans negotiating, this can be a tricky proposition.  It’s a fine line between entering an arrangement and carrying their water.  Getting past that problem, we may not like heading towards a system more like the Ottoman millet system than anything else, but face it: the old Ottoman millet system beats what is fashionable these days, which is ISIS.

One interesting part of this direction is taking place in New York.  It didn’t get much press, but SCOTUS declined to review the appeals court decision that allows the City of New York to boot churches from meeting in schools.  Then Mayor DeBlasio allowed them to continue.  DeBlasio has his shortcomings, but he is one of the few prominent politicians on the left who realises that the LGBT community is not the be-all and end-all of progressive politics.  That, in turn, was doubtless driven by the many non-white groups who have their own opinion of the LGBT community, and they’re a part of DeBlasio’s–and the Democrats’–base as well.

The other thing is to do what we have to do to insure the integrity of our institutions.  Dreher’s “Kingsfield” discusses that in some detail; I would throw in that our ministers should take the Marriage Pledge and get civil marriage out of the church altogether. One thing that would advance this is to lose the idea that church as a private club is bad; I dealt with this in my response to Frank Matthew Powell.  Evangelical churches are obsessed with this open, populist idea of church, but it’s a luxury we’ll find harder to afford as time passes. In Roman times the church was looked at as a collegium, which is a form of private club.

Finally, I also think we need to realise that, if it ever was, the U.S. isn’t our country any more.  That must inform how we act on a number of issues, from military service to how we look at the state to even where we do send our children to college.  (There’s no dishonour going abroad).  Besides, it’s hard to be really fired up about a country that, one the one hand, promotes LGBT rights all over the world and on the other is hell-bent on signing a nuclear agreement with a regime that hangs the same people from hydraulic cranes.

It’s not going to be easy and it’s not going to be fun.  But Our Lord never promised either.

Duck and Cover Catholicism? Maybe, Maybe Not.

R.R. Reno at First Things isn’t happy:

Some months ago, I predicted that Catholicism in America would basically accommodate itself to whatever sexual regime dominates our society. The accommodation won’t be explicit. The Church won’t endorse homosexuality or gay marriage. Instead, the bishops will step aside, avoid controversy, and just stop talking about things that carry a high price for dissent. This duck-and-cover non-statement fits perfectly into this trajectory.

I’m the first to decry the frequently Jesuitical tendency of the of the RCC to deal with issues (they elected one as Pope, after all).  But I think that the RCC, along with other religious institutions, is looking at this differently.

Given what’s going on in Indiana, the easiest way to put this into perspective is to look at another state and another church-defined religion to see how things can work out in another way.

The other state is Utah and the other church-defined religion is the LDS church, the Mormons.  The LDS church and the LGBT leadership basically brokered a deal which carves out exemptions for the LDS church (and anyone else who wants to go along for the ride) to allow them to practice their faith without impositions by pansexualists.  Some on both sides whined about this, but compared to the virtual slugfest we have in Indiana, it’s pretty peaceful and accepted by both sides.

The difference is that, in Indiana and anywhere else where RFRA type legislation is either being considered or on the books, the practices of religious people are protected by such legislation as a matter of right, not because their leadership cut a good deal.  For the LGBT leadership, whose goal is to swap one set of rights for another, this will not do.  For people who think that politics is all about different identity and special interest groups getting ahead through government action, it won’t do either.  Changing that very nature of politics and political life is a core (if unspoken) aim of the left in general and the Democrat Party in particular.

The RCC has a longer history of wheeling and dealing with governments of all kinds, from the Roman Empire onwards.  And, because of its sacramental concept of marriage, it’s in a better place (as, for a different reason, is the LDS church) to deflect public accommodation assaults on its churches to perform same-sex civil marriages.  Civil marriages? It’s marriage system is even ready to dispense with that nuisance, although it’s traditionally loathe (and in places like France, unable) to do so.

So it’s likely, IMHO, that what Reno sees as cowardice is in fact the realisation that the political food fight going on in places like Indiana isn’t their battle.  And they may be right.  The RCC has outlasted Hitler and Stalin; only Mao’s nationalisation of the RCC in China still sticks in the craw.  The RCC knows an undemocratic dictatorship when they see one; why voluntarily go into the political arena when the deck is stacked and the game is fixed?

The group left in the lurch are the Evangelicals, who have relied on “inalienable” rights to protect their status since the beginning of the Republic.  To pull off what the Mormons did in Utah would need a more cohesive leadership (difficult with their diffuse organisation) and a negotiating process with the LGBT counterparts.  Evangelicals view the latter pretty much in the same light as they view Obama’s negotiating with the Iranians.  (What we really need to see is the LGBT leadership go to the mat with the Iranians…)

This process isn’t going be pretty moving forward.  I’m not convinced that the low-laying strategy of the RCC is the best, but what the “Religious Right” has done the last forty years or so hasn’t worked either.  It’s time to get creative, and in a hurry.

What You’re Supposed to Sing on Easter Sunday

Nothing Baptistic on this blog:

Salve-Festa-Dies(Don’t ask me why, they don’t allow embedding on this video, but you can click to go to it on YouTube anyway).

The lyrics are very old, going back to the end of the Western Roman Empire.  The tune is by Ralph Vaughan Williams.

One of the advantages of this hymn is that it can be “recycled” with different lyrics for several feasts, such as Ascension, Pentecost, etc. This makes it easier for the choir and other involved musicians.

Losing this great hymn was one of the “hits” I took when leaving (?) the Anglican-Catholic world.  Hopefully, like Bill Clinton’s Eucharistic Theology, this too can be fixed.

To The Holy Trinity: The Blessedness of the Soul, Image of the Holy Trinity, in the Trinity of His Persons

Wrapping it up for this elevation in Bossuet’s Elevations on the Mysteries, 2,9:

When God made me in his image and likeness, he made me to be happy like him, as much as a creature can be; and, this is why he placed in me these three things, in me who was made to be happy, the idea of my happiness and the love or the desire of this happiness.  There are three things which I find inseparable from me, since I do not exist without being something which was made to be happy. As a result I carry in myself both the idea of happiness and the desire to carry it out, which necessarily follow from this idea.

When people ask me which of these three things I would rather lose, I do not know how to answer.  Because first, I do not want to lose my being: I want, to say so, less to lose my happiness, as without happiness it would be better if I never was, conforming to this word of the Saviour about his unhappy disciple: It would be better if this man had never been.  I do not want to lose my happiness more than my being, neither to more to lose the idea and the love of my happiness more than my happiness, as there is no happiness without this idea and this love.

If there is something in me which has always been with me, it is this idea and this love of my happiness; because I cannot have ever been without fleeing that which harms me and to want that which is appropriate:  that which can only come from the desire to be happy and the fear of not being.  This sentiment begins to appear from childhood and as we carry this coming into the world, one should have this, although more obscurely and more muffled, from the womb of one’s mother.

Here is an idea which is born in us and with us, and a sentiment which comes with this idea; and all this is in us before all reasoning and reflection.

When reason begins to sprout, she does no other thing than to seek good and bad means to make us happy; that which shows this idea and this love of happiness is in the foundation of our reason.

In a certain way, this idea which makes us know our happiness and this feeling which makes us love it, becomes in time our only idea and feeling.  For the feeling, it is clear that all our other feelings relate to this one; and, as an idea, it follows that it is only to fulfil this one that we pay attention to all the others.  Let us suppose that God gives us all and can also take away all which pleases him, then takes everything away, except for our being and the idea of our happiness and the desire which presses us to find it; we will be something very simple; but in our simplicity, we will have three things which will not divide our simplicity, but rather drive all three to its perfection.

Then will we be happy?  Alas not at all!  We will only want to be and by consequence we will not be, as happiness cannot co-exist with need of which the desire is the proof.

So what is necessary to fix all of this to make us happy? It is necessary to fix the confused idea that I have happiness, the distinct knowledge of the object where it consists, and at the same time to change the confused desire of happiness by the actual possession of what it is.

But where can my happiness consist except in the most perfect thing which I know, if I can have it? That which I know to be the most perfect, it is doubtless God, since I cannot find in myself another idea of perfection other than God.  It remains to know if I can have it.  But what is having something, if not knowing it?  Can it be had otherwise than knowing its perfection? I am thus capable of having it, since I am capable of knowing it, as long as in knowing it I am brought to love it, as to know it without loving it, is in effect to know it badly.  After this happy addition which takes place at the knowledge and the idea that I have my happiness, will I be happy? Not at all.  But why? I know and I love God and this in itself, we have said, is to have it: and this is to have that which I know best; and we have said that this is to be happy: thus where am I?  Thus if I be happy, I will desire nothing; can I say that I have nothing to desire? Far from me be this blindness; I am thus not happy.

Thus it is necessary to search in myself what I lack.  I know God, I admit it, but very imperfectly; that which makes up my love for him is very weak, and from there also comes the weakness of wanting both good and bad things.  I have the desire to know God more perfectly than I do: to know him, as Saint Paul says, as I am known; to know him without covering, to discovery, in a word to see him face to face, without shadow, without veil, without obscurity.  When God repairs this, may he say to me as Moses: I showed you everything well; then I will say like Saint Philip, Master, it is enough for us.  But this is not for this life: when this happiness comes to us, we will have nothing left to desire for his knowledge.  But for love, what will this be?  When we will see God face to face, can we make something more than to love?  Doubtless no; and Saint Paul said that love lives eternally without ever being lost.  So will our love be more in this eternal and happy state, unless it is perfect coming from a perfect knowledge?   And he will not be able to change as he does in this life; and he will absorb all of our will into one which will be that of loving God and there will be no more wailing and our tears will be dried forever and our desires will come with our needs.  Then we will be reduced to perfect unity and simplicity; but in our simplicity, we will carry the perfect image of the Trinity; then God, united at the foundation to our being and showing himself, will produce in us the happy vision which will be one sense God himself, he along being object as he is the cause.  And by this happy vision, he will produce an eternal and insatiable love which will not yet be another thing but God himself seen and possessed;  and God will be all in all, and he will be all in ourselves; one God alone in our depths, producing himself in us by the vision and completing himself in unity with us by an eternal and perfect love.

Then our perfect unity will be accomplished in ourselves and will all those who have God with us; and that which makes us all perfectly one, that is what we will be and we will see and we will love, and all that will be in us all the same single life.  And so what the Saviour said will be accomplished: As you my Father are in me and I in you, so they will be one in us; one in themselves and one with all the members of the body of the Church which they make up.

Let us form in us the holy Trinity: united with God, knowing God, loving God: and as our knowledge, at present imperfect and obscure, will come; and that the love in us be the only thing which will never arrive and which will never be lost: let us love, let us love, let us love: let us do without end that which we will do without end in eternity.  O that time is troublesome! The needs weighing down our time carry us!  Who can endure the distractions, the interruptions, the sad necessity of sleep, of nourishment, other needs? But those of temptations, of bad desires, are they not as shameful as they are afflicted?  Unhappy man that I am, who will deliver me from this body of death?  O God, time is long, it is heavy, it bears down.  O eternal God, take time away from me, fix me in your eternity! In waiting, make me pray without ceasing, and pass the days and nights in contemplation of your law, of your truths, of you yourself who is all truth and all good.  Amen, Amen.

To The Holy Trinity: Essential, Personal, Generating and Generated Wisdom

Again with Bossuet in Elevations on the Mysteries, 2,8:

God has possessed me, said Wisdom (Proverbs 8): that is to say, God has generated me in conformance to that word of Eve, when she gave birth to Cain and  said: I have possessed a man by the grace of God.  He has generated me, before doing anything elseI am ordered, and keep my rank through all eternity and from all antiquity, before the world was made: the abysses were not yet and I was already conceived.  God gave  birth to me in the hills: that is to say, before all time and all eternity, because there is nothing except eternity before all time.  But does God only have wisdom which he generated?  To God it does not please! because we we cannot produce in us our word, our interior word, if there was not in us a foundation of reason of which our word is the fruit: even more so, there is in God an essential wisdom, which was primitively and originally in the Father, which made him fruitful to produce in this womb this wisdom which is his Word and his Son, his word, his reason, his intelligence, his bubbling up to say so or the first pouring out of his heart and the only result who he made to truly name father before all time.  It is from this, Saint Paul says, from which all paternity in heaven and earth comes.  It is from there that to us is given, to us who believe in the unique Son, the power to be children of God in his image, in being born neither of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, but of God, who by his good and by the grace of his adoption has allowed us to associate with his unique son.

To the Holy Trinity: Fruitfulness of the Arts

Once more with Bossuet’s Elevations on the Mysteries, 2,7:

I am a painter, a sculptor, an architect: I have my art, I have my design or my idea, I have the choice and the preference which I give to this idea by a particular love.  I have my art, I have my rules, my principles, which I reduce as much as I can to a first principle which is one and it is there where I am fruitful.  With this primitive rule and this fruitful principle which makes my art, I give birth outside of me a picture, a statue, an edifice which in its simplicity is the form, the original, the immaterial model of that which I execute in stone, marble, wood, on a canvas where  I arrange all colours.  I love this design, this idea, this son of my fruitful spirit and my inventive art.  And all this only makes me a sole painter, a sole sculptor, a sole architect: and all of this holds itself together and inseparably united in my spirit; and all this at its root, it is my spirit and has no other substance; and all this is equal and inseparable.  Which ever of the three which one takes, all comes from there; the first which is the art is not more perfect than the second which is the idea, neither the third which is the love.  Art produces one and the other; and one supposes that it exists, when he produces them.  One cannot say whether the beginning or the ending is more beautiful, or to be produced or to produce.  Art which is like the father is not more beautiful than the idea which is the son of the spirit; and the love which makes us love this beautiful work, is also as beautiful as it is; by their mutual relation each has the beauty of three.  And when it will be necessary to bring to light this painting or edifice, the art and the idea and the love come together equally, and in perfect unity, in a kind that this beautiful work feels the effects equally of art, idea, and love or the secret self-satisfaction which one will have for it.  All of this, although immaterial, is too imperfect and too base for God.  I do not dare make the application to him; but from there, helped by faith I raise myself and take my flight and this contemplate of that which God has placed in my soul, when he created him in his likeness, helps me to make my first try.

To the Holy Trinity: Trinity Created Image of the Uncreated and How It is Incomprehensible

Once again in Bossuet’s Elevations on the Mysteries, 2,6:

Let us now return to ourselves.  We are, we understand, we want.  At first, to understand and to want, if it is something, it is not absolutely the same thing: if it is not something, it would not be anything, and there will be neither understanding nor wanting.  But if it is absolutely the same thing, one does not distinguish them, but one does distinguish; because one understands what one does not want, which one does not love, besides what one cannot love or want something which one does not understand.  God himself understands and knows what he does not love, like sin: and we, how many things do we understand that we hate and that we do not want to either do or allow, because we have understood that they will harm us?  We understand about throwing oneself from the height of a tower, and this movement is not less understood than the others: but we do not want to do this, because it is harmful to us.

We are thus something intelligent, something that understands oneself and loves oneself: who does not love what he understands, but who can know and understand that which he does not love: all the while in not loving it, he knows and understands that he does not love it, and that itself, he wants to know: and he does not want to love it, because he knows or he believes that it is harmful to him.  Thus to understand and love are distinct things, but as such inseparable that there is no knowledge without some will.   And if man like the Angel knows all that is, his knowledge would be equal to his being; and , loving himself in proportion to his knowledge, his love would be equal one to another.  And if all this be well ruled, all of this would only act together as the same happiness of the same soul and truly the same happy soul: in that one which by the rectitude of his will conforms to the truth of his knowledge, she would be just.  Thus these three things, to be, to know and to want make one particular soul happy and just, which either cannot either be without being known, or distract from oneself with losing his happiness entirely.  Because what would be a soul which is without knowing, and what would it be without loving itself in the way which it must love itself to be truly happy, that is without loving by relationship with God, which is entirely the foundation of our happiness?

Thus, in our imperfect and defective way, we set forth an incomprehensible mystery.  A Trinity created which God made in our souls, sets forth to us the uncreated Trinity which he alone can show us: and, to set it forth in a better way, he has mixed in our souls which set it forth, something incomprehensible.

We have seen that to understand and want, know and love are acts distinguished from each other: but are they so much so that they are entirely and substantially different things? This cannot be.  Knowledge is nothing else than the substance of the soul affected in a certain fashion, and the will is nothing else than the substance of the soul affected by another.  When I change either thought or will, do I have this want and this thought without my substance being there? Without doubt it is there: and, all of this is basically nothing else than my substance affected, diversified, modified in different ways, but basically always the same.  For in changing thought, I do not change my substance; and my substance remains one, while my thoughts come and go: and while my will distinguishes itself from my soul from where it never leaves, likewise my knowledge goes distinguishing itself from my being from where it equally comes and that both, that is my knowledge and my will, distinguish themselves from each other in such ways and end up successively in diverse objects, my substance is always basically the same, although entering wholly into all different types of being.

See already in me an inconceivable prodigy: but this prodigy extends in all nature.  Movement and rest, things so distinct, are nothing at their root but substance which moves and rests; which changes in truth but not at its root, when it passes from movement to rest and from rest to movement.  For that which moves now, it’s the same thing which will rest soon; and that which rests now, is the same thing which soon will be set in motion.  And straight, zig-zag and circular movement are all different from each other, but they are only of the same substance: and a hundred successive arc motions of the same body are only the same body moved in a circle.  All of this is distinct and one: one in substance, distinct in ways; and these very different ways only have the same subject, the same root, the same and only substance.  I do not know who can claim to understand this perfectly: neither who can explain to oneself how these manners of being adjust to being; neither from whence their distinction in unity and identity comes when they have the same being; neither how they are things, neither how they are not things.  They are things, otherwise if they were a pure nothing, one could truly neither affirm nor deny them; that which is not, in themselves, they cannot stand.  All of this is hard to understand and nevertheless a true thing; and, all of this is a proof that as happens with natural things, unity is a principle of multiplicity in itself, and that unity and multiplicity are not as incompatible as one might think.

O God, before whom I consider myself and am myself a great enigma!  I have seen in me these three things, to be, to understand, to want.  You want me to always exist, thus you have given me an immortal soul, whose happiness or misery will be eternal; and, if you want, I would always understand or want the same thing; for it is such that you want me to always be, when you make me happy by your presence.  If I only want and understand eternally the same thing, that I am a single being, I will only have a single knowledge and a single will, where if one wants it a single understanding and a single will.  Nevertheless my knowledge and my love or my will will be no less distinguished among themselves, neither less identified, that is to say will not be basically less in my being, with my substance.  And my love or my will will be unable to not come from my knowledge; and, my love will always be something which comes from myself, and my knowledge will be no less from me; and always there will be in me three things, knowledge coming from being, knowledge coming forth, and love also coming from both.  And if I be a nature incapable of all accident occurring to its substance, and in which it be necessary that all be substantial, my knowledge and my love would be something substantial and sustain; and I would be three subsistent persons in one substance; that is to say, I would be God.  But because it is not so, I am only made in the image and likeness of God, and an imperfect sketch of this unique substance which is all together Father, Son and Holy Spirit: incomprehensible substance in its triune divinity which is basically only one thing, sovereign, immense, eternal, perfectly one in three persons distinctly subsistent, equal, consubstantial, to whom is due only one worship, one adoration, one love: since one cannot neither love the Father without loving his Son, nor love the Son without loving his Father, nor love them both without loving their eternal, subsistent union and their mutual love.  And to help the faith which bonds me to this incomprehensible mystery, I see in myself a resemblance, imperfect though it is, does not allow something that I cannot understand; and, I am to myself an impenetrable mystery.  And to take away all the pain of losing all my comprehension in God , I begin by losing it first, not only in all the works of nature, but also in myself more than the rest.

To the Holy Trinity: The Holy Spirit: The Entire Trinity

Coming to the third person of the Trinity in Bossuet’s Elevations on the Mysteries, 2,5:

God is thus fertile, God has a Son: but where is the Holy Spirit here, and where is the holy and perfect Trinity which we serve from our baptism onwards? Does not God love this Son and is he not loved? This love is neither imperfect nor accidental in God: the love of God is substantial, like his thought; and, the Holy Spirit who comes from the Father, from the Father and the Son, as their mutual love, is the same substance one to the other: a third consubstantial, and with them the same God.

But why is he not Son, although he is by production the same nature? God has not revealed it. He has well said that the Son be unique, because he is perfect and all which is perfect is unique, and if he can have two sons, the generation of the son would be imperfect.  All which came afterwards, will not be son, and will not come by generation, although of the same nature.  What will thus be this last production of God? It is a procession, without a particular name: the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father: the Holy Spirit is the common spirit of the Father and the Son: the Holy Spirit takes from the Son and the Son sends him like the Father. Human reasonings, shut up: God wanted to explain that the procession of his Word was a true and perfect generation: that which was the procession of his Holy Spirit, he did not want to say, except that there was nothing in nature which represented an action so substantial and entire and singular.  It is a secret reserved for the happy vision.

O God Holy Spirit, you are not Son, since you are the eternal love and subsistant of the Father and the Son: who supposes by consequence the generated Son, and generated like the unique Son because he is perfect.  You are perfect also and unique in your genre, and in your order: you are not a foreigner to the Father and to the Son, since you are their mutual love: those you want to separate them, separate themselves one from another and divide their eternal reign.

You are equal to the Father and to the Son, since we are equally consecrated in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, and you have with them, the same temple which is our soul, our body, all that we are.  Nothing unequal nor foreign to the Father and the Son ought to be named with them in equality: I do not want to be baptised and consecrated in the name of a trustee.  I do not want to be the temple of a creäture: this would be idolatry to build him a temple and, moreover, to be and believe oneself as his temple.