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abyss of disproportion, which exists between nothingness and being. Creation, all powerful as it is, does not, in itself, imply the filling up of that abyss. If the disproportion could ever cease to be an obstacle to the union aspired to, it would be by God himself going that whole length, and then imparting something of his own divine energies to the creature that had once been nothing. But, what is there in man, to induce the Infinite Being, whose magnificence is above the heavens, to stoop so low as that? This is the language of reason.
But, on the other hand, who was it that made the heart of man so great and so ambitious, that no creature can fill it; how comes it, that whilst the heavens show forth the glory of God, and the firmament declareth how full of wisdom and power is every work of his hands,1 how comes it, we ask, that in man, alone, there is no proportion, no order? Could it be, that the great Creator has ordered all things, excepting man alone, with measure, and number, and weight ?* That one creature, who is the' master-piece of the whole creation; that creature, for whom all the rest was intended, as for its king; is he to be the only one that is a failure, and to live as a perpetual proclaimer that his Maker could not, or would not, be wise, when he made Man? Far from us be such a blasphemy! God is love, says St. John ; 3 and love is the knot which mere human philosophy can never loosen, and therefore must ever leave unsolved the problem of man's desire for the Infinite.
Yes, God is charity; God is love. The wonder, in all this question, is not our loving and longing for God, but that he should have first loved Ms.1 God is love; and love must have union; and union makes the united like one another. Oh! the riches of the Divine Nature, wherein are infinite Power, and Wisdom, and Love! These three constitute, by their divine relations, that blessed Trinity, which has been the light and joy of our souls, ever since that bright Sunday's Feast, which we kept in its honour. Oh! the depth of the divine counsels, wherein that which is willed by boundless Love finds, in infinite Wisdom, how to fulfil in work what will be to the glory of Omnipotence!
1 Pa. xviii. 2. * 1 St. John, iv.
2 Wisd. xi. 21. 4 Ibid. iv. 10.
Glory be to thee, 0 holy Spirit! Thy reign over the Church has but just begun this Year of grace, and thou art giving us light whereby to understand the divine decrees. The day of thy Pentecost brought us a new Law, a Law where all is brightness; and it was given to us in place of that Old one of shadows and types. The pedagogue, who schooled the infant world for the knowledge of truth, has been dismissed; light has shone upon us through the preaching of the Apostles ; and the children of light, set free, knowing God and known by him, are daily leaving behind them the weak and needy elements of early childhood.1 Scarcely, O divine Spirit! was completed the triumphant Octave, wherein the Church celebrated thy Coming and her own birth, which that Coming brought, when all eager for the fulfilment of thy Mission of bringing to the Bride's mind the things taught her by her Spouse,2 thou showedst her the divine and radiant mystery of the Trinity, that not only her Faith might acknowledge, but that her adoration and her praise might also worship it; and she and her children find their happiness in its contemplation and love. But, that first of the great mysteries of our faith, the unsearchable dogma of the Trinity, does not represent the whole richness of Christian revelation; thou, 0 blessed Spirit, hastenest to complete our instruction, and widen the horizon of our faith.
'Gal. iii. 5, 24, 25; iv. 9. 'St. John, xiv. 26.
The knowledge thou hast given us of the essence and the life of the Godhead, was to be followed and completed by that of his external works, and the relations which this God has vouchsafed to establish between himself and us. In this very week when we begin, under thy direction, to contemplate the precious gifts left us by our Jesus when he ascended on high; ' on this first Thursday, which reminds us of that holiest of all Thursdays,—our Lord's Supper,—thou, O divine Spirit, bringest before our delighted vision the admirable Sacrament, which is the compendium of the works of God, one in Essence and three in Persons; the adorable Eucharist, which is the divine memorial2 of the wonderful things achieved by the united operation of Omnipotence, Wisdom, and Love. The most holy Eucharist contains within itself the whole plan of God, with reference to this world of ours; it shows how all previous ages have been gradually developing the divine intentions, which were formed by infinite love, and, by that same love, carried out to the end,3 yea, to the furthest extremity here below, that is, to Itself; for the Eucharist is the crowning of all the antecedent acts done by God in favour of his creatures; the Eucharist implies them all; it explains all.
Man's aspirations for union with God,—aspirations, which are above his own nature, and yet so interwoven with it, as to form one inseparable life,—these strange longings can have but one possible cause, and it is God himself—God who is the author of that being called Man. None but God has formed the immense capaciousness of man's heart; and none but God is willing or able to fill it. Every act of the divine will, whether outside himself or in, is pure love, and is referred to that Person of the Blessed Trinity who is the Third;
1 Pa. lxvii. 19. 2 Ibid. ex. i. 3 St. John, xiii. 1.
and who, by the mode of his Procession, is substantial
and infinite love. Just as the Almighty Father sees
all things, before they exist in themselves, in his only
Word, who is the term of the divine intelligence,—
so, likewise, that those same things may exist in
themselves, the same Almighty Father wishes them,
in the Holy Ghost, who is to the divine will what the
Word is to the infinite intelligence. The Spirit of
Love, who is the final term to the fecundity of Persons
in the divine essence, is, in God, the first beginning
of the exterior works produced by God. In their
execution, those exterior works are common to the
Three Persons, but they are attributed to the Holy
Ghost, inasmuch as he, being the Spirit of Love,
solicits the Godhead to act outside Itself. He is the
Love who, with its divine weight and influence of
love, sways the Blessed Trinity to the external act of
creation; infinite Being leans, as it were, towards the
deep abyss of nothingness, and out of that abyss,
creates. The Holy Spirit opens the divine counsel,
and says: Let us make man to our image and likeness!1
Then God creates man to his own image; he creates
him to t/ie image of God,2 taking his own Word as
the model to which he worked; for that Word is the
sovereign archetype, according to which is formed
the more or less perfect essence of each created being.
Like him then, to whose image he was made, Man
was endowed with understanding and free-will. As
such, he would govern the whole inferior creation,
and make it serve the purposes of its Creator, that is,
he would turn it into a homage of praise and glory to
its God; and though that homage would be finite,
yet would it be the best of which it was capable.
This is what is called the natural order; it is an
immense world of perfect harmonies; and, had it ever existed without any further perfection than its own natural one, it would have been a master-piece of God's goodness; and yet, it would have been far from realising the designs of the Spirit of Love.
1 Gen. i. 26. 2 Ibid. 27.
VOL. X. P
With all the spontaneity of a will which was free not to act, and was as infinite as any other of the divine perfections, the Holy Spirit wills that Man should, after this present life, be a partaker of the very life of God, by the face-to-face vision of the divine essence; nay, the present life of the children of Adam here, on this earth, is to put on, by anticipation, the dignity of that higher life; and this so literally, that the future one in heaven is to be but the direct sequel, the consequent outgrowth, of the one led here below. And how is man, so poor a creature in himself, to maintain so high a standing? how is he to satisfy the cravings thus created within his heart? Fear not: the Holy Ghost has a work of his own, and he does it simultaneously with the act of creation; for the Three Persons infuse into their creature, Man, the image of their own divine attributes; and, upon his finite and limited powers, graft, so to say, the powers of the divine nature. This being made for an end which is above created nature; these energies superadded to man's natural powers, transforming, yet not destroying, them, and enabling the possessor to attain the end unto which God calls him ;—is called the supernatural order, in contradistinction to that lower one, which would have been the order of nature, had not God, in his infinite goodness, thus elevated man above his own mere state as man, and that from the very first of his coming into existence. Man will retain all those elements of the natural order, which are essentials to his human nature; and, with those essential elements, the functions proper to each: but, there is a principle, that, in every series, that should give the specific character to the aggregate which was the end proposed by