God

Ann Olivier would like a thread on God. So here are two classic texts on the Catholic Christian notion of God. The first from Augustine: ::

What then are you, my God? What, I ask, but the Lord God? For who is the Lord but the Lord? Or who is God but our God (Ps 17:32). Most high, utterly good, utterly powerful, utterly omnipotent; utterly merciful and utterly just; utterly hidden and utterly present; utterly beautiful and utterly strong; constant and incomprehensible; unchanging but changing all things; never new, never old; making all things new and leading the proud into old age without their knowing it (see Job 9:5); always active, always resting; gathering though needing nothing; sustaining and filling and protecting; creating and nourishing and completing; seeking even though you lack nothing [quaerens cum nihil desit tibi]. You love, but not hotly; you are jealous but without anxiety; you repent but without remorse; you grow angry but remain calm; you change your works but do not change your plan; you take back what you find, though you never lost it; you are never in need but rejoice at your gains; you are never greedy, but demand profits (Lk 15:17). People pay you more than you require (see Lk 10:35) so that you may be in their debt, but who has anything that is not yours? Owing nothing, you repay debts; you pay off debts and you lose nothing.And what have we just said, my God, my life, my holy sweetness? Or what does anyone say when he speaks of you? Yet woe to those who do not speak of you, since those who speak most say nothing! [Vae tacentibus de te quoniam loquaces muti sunt. ] (Augustine, Confessions, I, 4:4)

The second is from the First Vatican Council:

The Holy, Catholic, Apostolic and Roman Church believes and acknowledges that there is one true and living God, creator and lord of heaven and earth, almighty, eternal, immeasurable, incomprehensible, infinite in will, understanding and every perfection. Since he is one, singular, completely simple and unchangeable spiritual substance, he must be declared to be in reality and in essence distinct from the world, supremely happy in himself and from himself, and inexpressibly loftier than anything besides himself which either exists or can be imagined. (Vatican I, Dei Filius, ch. 1)

When I read these sentences in a graduate class one day, a Muslim student came up to me afterwards, very excited that this is what Catholics believe about God: "This is what we Muslims believe!" he exclaimed.

Rev. Joseph A. Komonchak, professor emeritus of the School of Theology and Religious Studies at the Catholic University of America, is a retired priest of the Archdiocese of New York.

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