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Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Who is God?

I'm not sure I'm going to be able to articulate myself at all in this post, but I'm going to try. And if you are struggling in your faith, don't read this post. Maybe I shouldn't even be writing it.

OK, here goes:

I don't know who God is.

Maybe I'm still under the influence of my New Age dabblings, or maybe I never have really had a relationship with God. Maybe the relationship I fancy I have with Christ is really just a fabrication of my active imagination.

Yes, I know God is a Trinity, I know He consists of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. I know that He entered History about 2,000 years ago and since then everything has been different.

I know these things with my intellect, but do I really know them with my heart? Do I know them with my soul?

Do I really have a soul?

Do I really have a heart?

Is it possible for your heart to be divorced from your soul?

I can't seem the grasp the idea of God actually caring about us, about intervening in our lives. Or calling us. I can understand Jesus, because He was human (although I also have a hard time really grasping His reality). And the Holy Spirit...yes, I've been to Life in the Spirit, even spoke at one of the seminars, but even He seems so impersonal to me. A mighty wind, tongues of flame...a force that directs us when we are open to God's will?

And here's what REALLY disturbs me: I've experienced bona fide miracles, some of which I won't put on my blog, but those close to me know of them and have seen the evidence. My life has changed since my return to the Faith.

For you Carmelite-minded readers, this is NOT a withdrawl of consolations, this isn't the illuminative way, etc etc. And for those of you who dabble...this is also NOT the Dark Night. (Given the proper definition and context I learned on Sunday in class...oh, boy, is that idea misunderstood by the vast majority of people who claim to recognize it in themselves or another!)

I'm not sure what this is, but I know what it's not. Grad school is good for that.

Sometimes I ask myself if I really believe in God. Sometimes I think I don't. I look for God, but I can't see Him. I look at Christ...and see a statue. I look for the Holy Spirit and see an idea.

I feel almost paralyzed by this.

But I can't deny this: when I walk into the church, as I will tomorrow morning, and see the Blessed Sacrament exposed in the monstrance, even if I have no emotions, it never fails that my heart LEAPS, and I'm immediately grateful to be there.

I ask myself if I really believe, and so often, I think I don't. But I can't deny something like that which cannot be explained. I know that my intellect can't grasp the mystery of God, and it's not supposed to. And my intellect can't grasp how bread can be changed into the Body and Blood of Christ.

But there's something within me that believes, even when my intellect says it's impossible.

So here I sit, wondering if there's a God, wanting to know that there's a God, even wanting to deny His existence.

But I can't deny the evidence of a miracle that I can observe daily, I can't deny what happens to me when I see the Blessed Sacrament, no matter what the state of my soul.

I don't know who God is. I can't prove He exists. I can't prove He loves us.

But I can make a decision, to believe or not to believe. All the miracles in the world maybe aren't sufficient...or necessary. And so I'm choosing to believe, because no matter what my earthly experience, I also can't believe that this life is all there is. I can't look around the shambles of my own life and decide it's meaningless. I can't help but see that we are all drawn towards and designed for something greater, something beyond ourselves.

What that is, no I don't know. I can't tell you because I don't understand. I don't know who God is.

But I know I want to meet Him.


Anonymous said...

Nicely said! You put into words how many of us feel but are afraid to speak.

Anonymous said...

First, I'm glad you mentioned the grave misunderstanding so many have of the dark night. If people really knew what that meant they would realize the arrogance with which they use it so often. Anyway, that's an aside.

You asked if it is possible for the heart to be separated from the soul? I think instead what you might be suffering is a separation of the mind from the heart - the intellect from the will. Both of these are faculties of the soul. You know what God is (Trinity, etc.), but you seem to be struggling with who God is. And if you don't know who God is, it becomes difficult to love God as you desire.

Remember your desire, though, and focus on that. The desire is the function of the will, and that you desire God, even if you don't seem to know who He is, is itself an indication that you love Him, at least on some level. Continue to do what you do, receive the Sacraments, persevere in prayer, and eventually God will reveal to you who He really is, and you will only love Him more.

You yourself are very much expressing the mind and heart of Augustine, who wrote, "What then is it that I love when I love my God? Who is He Who is above the summit of my soul?" This great mystic and doctor of all doctors of the Church struggled just as you are now. Take comfort in the communion of the saints. If you have not done so yet, pick up Augustine's Confessions. You may find yourself a kindred spirit there, and a guide along your journey to know the God Who Is. For my part, I will pray for you.

Peace in Christ,

Anonymous said...

trying to grasp the infinite in the finite mind - we learn - we acknowledge - and then we learn we have a lot more to learn. it's a never ending battle.

Adoro said...

Michael ~ Thank you for your very well-thought comment. Much of what you're commenting on was really a rhetorical device, not an actual question, however with that, I do think you hit the nail on the head. As far as Augustine....I'm heavily under his influene, having just come off a semester in which we deeply read the Confessions. (Check out the quote to the side near the top....from Confessions!) :-)

And you know, you are the SECOND person to remind me of Augustine in two days, in different contexts. Perhaps the dear Saint is hanging out very close to me these days.

Warren said...

The closest I can come to saying who God is, is that when my sons were born, I held them in my arms, and I thought, whoever created me loves me this much, that he made all this, and then built into this universe, a way to express to me what it means that God is a father, because he has given me this gift of being a dad. And that's who God is. I got a moment of insight. But then it is gone again. And that is our human condition. There will be moments when I'm feeling so close, and moments when the honest thing to do is to admit that I wonder if God exists. The trouble I have with athiests is they seem stuck. To be alive, is to be not stuck. Dead is stuck. Alive is moving.

I love this line from a Bruce Cockburn song. He says, "My shadows follow me everywhere. I guess that means I'm travelling towards light.".



Hidden One said...

All I know is that God is the Omnipotent being who never ever ever lets me down, always holds on to me in some way even when I let go, causes transubstantiation, and dwells in tabernacles with candles lit nearby. He loves me, and He said never to worry, so that is to what I apply to my faith to.

{Aside: No one should EVER read Dark Night without having read [and reread] and slowly digested The Ascent of Mount Carmel. Ever. Ever. Ever. Or else. Period. Categorically speaking. Only when we read The Ascent do we realize that St. John of the Cross was writing a climbing guide to people approaching the foothills of a mountain that dwarfs Mount Everest while pretty much sitting at the peak. Even the mystic heights spoken of in Dark Night do not approach his sublime level. Remember how much of that poem that he never got around to explaining!}

Adoro said...

Warren ~ So true..they DO seem stuck!

Hidden One ~ My goodness, the misperceptions on that! A few years ago I bought "Dark Night", and I still have read only a few portions, and have not read The Ascent. Having now had a lecture on them, I'm SO GLAD I never read it! Much of what people are missing is that they think it is a type of depression, and nothing could be further from the truth1 If someone is depressed and calling it a "dark night", then they reveal they AREN'T! There's JOY in the dark night!

Hidden One said...

Indeed - as a general rule of thumb, people who think that they are going through the Dark Night are usually only a page or two into The Ascent. [I'm not saying that I'm past there, but but thanks to God I do know that.]

Banshee said...

You might be a little dry, but honestly, I think you're just experiencing a sort of negative knowledge of God. Like people who go to Japan and learn to empathize a lot with Japanese people, and then go through a stage where they realize how different they are from Japanese people and how little they've learned.

Maybe I worry about this stuff too little, but I'm one of those people who's always being swept along by some kind of emotion or crazy thought. So I tend to just assume most stuff that bugs me is just more annoying temporary things my mind is going through.

Of course, I assume this while doing a lot of screaming and crying and angsting and moaning, but there you go.

Joe of St. Thérèse said...

Finite attempting to comprehend infinite = very difficult. One of these days I'm going to have to find the piece I wrote on this very subject and share it...just not anytime soon