Wednesday, 23 April 2014

The Abiding Presence Of The Holy Ghost in the Soul, by Bede Jarrett, O.P. part 2. Degrees of God’s Presence

Father Bede Jarrett OP

1. God is intimate with all creation because He made it, for creation implies that God remains within, supporting, upholding. God is within everything, and therefore He is everywhere. But while we thus believe that God is wholly everywhere, we also believe something which seems the exact opposite, for we believe that God is more in some places than in others, more in some people than in others. How is it if God is wholly everywhere that He can be more here than there? To understand this we must also understand that every created thing shares somehow in God’s being. He communicates Himself to it in some fashion, for apart from Him it could have no perfections. We have a way of saying that we reflect God’s greatness and that we are “broken lights” of Him. But that is far short of the truth; we do more than reflect, we actually have some participation in God, so that St. Thomas boldly takes over a saying of Plato: “The individual nature of a thing consists in the way it participates in the perfections of God” (Summa 1, 14.6). Not, of course, that there is any community of being, but a direct participation.

2. Now since everything participates in God and since some things are more excellent than others, it stands to reason that some things express God better than others. The eyes of a dog often are pitiful to see, because we can note its evident desire and yet its impossibility to express its feelings. The whole of nature has to seeing minds the same pitifulness. It is always endeavouring to express God, the inexpressible. Yet the higher a thing is in the scale of being the more of God it expresses, for it participates more in God’s being. The more life a thing has and the more freedom it acquires, then the nearer does it approach to God and the more divinity it holds. Man, by his intelligence, his deeper and richer life, his finer freedom, stands at the head of visible creation, and, in consequence, is more fully a shrine of God than lower forms of life. He bears a closer resemblance to the Divine intelligence and will and has a greater share in them. It is then in that sense that we arrange in ascending order inanimate creation, the vegetable kingdom, the animal kingdom, and man.

3. Consequently we can now see in what sense God is said to be more in one thing than in another. He is more in it because He exercises Himself more in one thing than in another; one thing expresses more than another the perfections of God because it shares more deeply than another that inner being of God. The more nearly anything or anyone is united to God the more does His power exercise itself in them, so that, since God’s gifts are variously distributed and are of various degrees, we are justified in saying that though He is wholly everywhere, He may be more fully here than there, just as, though my soul is in every part of my being, it is more perfectly in the brain than elsewhere, because there it exercises itself more fully and with more evidence of expression. Thus we say God is more in a man’s soul than anywhere else in creation, since in a man’s soul God is more perfectly expressed. It is therefore with great reverence that I should regard all creation, but with especial reverence that I should look to the dignity of every human soul.