Rorate Caeli

Lacordaire in Advent: A Hidden God

Itaque nolite ante tempus iudicare, quoadusque veniat Dominus: qui et illuminabit abscondita tenebrarum, et manifestabit consilia cordium: et tunc laus erit unicuique a Deo. (From the Epistle for the Fourth Sunday in Advent - I Cor. iv, 5: "Therefore judge not before the time; until the Lord come, who both will bring to light the hidden things of darkness, and will make manifest the counsels of the hearts; and then shall every man have praise from God.")

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God is the fullness of substance, the fullness of force, the fulness of law; he is infinite substance, absolute force, eternal law. He is yet more, he is the center of all substances, their creator and preserver; the center of all forces, their beginning and their end; the center of all laws, their principle, their sanction, and their majesty. 
As beings are thus formed, from the atom even to God, every being is able to manifest itself in a three-fold manner, namely, by its substance, by its force, or by its law. By its substance, thus bodies appear to us; by its force, thus the soul reveals itself to us; by its law, thus the heavenly bodies, even when invisible, are anticipated by the astronomer through the general movement that governs them, withholding or bearing them away from our view. And consequently God may manifest himself as substance, as force, and as law; as the center of all substances, of all forces, and of all laws. For if an atom possesses the magnificent power of disclosing itself, if from its very dust and nothingness it imposes itself upon our vision, enters our academies, provokes discussion, exhausts our learning for ages, how much more should God possess the right and power to disclose himself! A being that does not do this, is not. For the vocation of every being, without exception, is to appear, to take a field of action and to act in it: and as there is no action without manifestation, to appear is to live. And as God is life, his sole work is evidently his appearing, radiating, conquering; in a word, being in all what he is, namely, the king of substances, the king of forces, the king of laws.

It is true, he now hides his substance from us men, and we may exclaim with the prophet: "Verily, thou art a hidden God!" But if he withholds from us that direct vision of himself, it is not from weakness or from envy, it is from respect for our liberty and for the very relationship which he would have with us. Had we at once seen his substance, the overwhelming splendor of that manifestation would have taken from our soul all its freedom of action; we should have adored God in spite of ourselves, whilst the adoration which God claims from us, and which he has a right to claim, is an adoration of choice and love, springing from our soul and reaching to his own.

It was needful then that God should manifest himself without dazzling our vision and making us the slaves of his beauty; it was needful that we should see him without seeing him, that we should be sure of his presence without being oppressed by it; and this is why he has hidden his substance from us whilst he leaves to us his light, as the sun sometimes gathers clouds to lessen his splendor, remaining still visible in the midst of heaven.

Henri-Dominique Lacordaire
Conférences de Notre-Dame de Paris (1846)

1 comment:

CMI said...

Very beautiful.