Who What is God?


The Annunciation and Incarnation - by ALBANI, Francesco - from The Hermitage, St Petersburg

 

The Incarnation of Jesus Christ within the Womb of Mary implies Three (3) facts:

The Divine Person of Jesus Christ;

The Human Nature of Jesus Christ;

The Hypostatic Union of the Human with the Divine Nature in the Divine Person of Jesus Christ.

Hypostatic Union - A Theological Term used with reference to the Incarnation, within the Womb of Mary, to express the Divinely Revealed Truth that in Jesus Christ, One (1) Divine Person subsists in Two (2) Natures, the Divine and the Human. The Natures are not joined in a Moral or Accidental Union; nor mixed, fused or co-mingled; but they are Substantially United for Eternity.

 

Who What is God?

from various sources

Introduction

Now in the Incarnation we say that there are Two (2) Natures, but only One (1) Person. In the Person of Christ, the Son of God, there are Two (2) Natures, One (1) Divine, One (1) Human. Christ is God, the Supreme Being, the Omnipotent Creator and Lord of the World. The Person, Christ, is the Divine Nature. But He also has a Human Nature, a Human Body and a Human Soul. The One (1) Person is Both God and Man. There are Two (2) "What's" in Christ, but only One (1) "Who". If we ask, "What is Christ?", we must give Two (2) Answers: we must say, "He is God", and "He is Man". But if we inquire, "Who is He?" then we must have only One (1) reply; we must declare, "He is the Son of God". It does not matter that we might also state, "He is the Second Person of the Trinity", or "He is Jesus Christ, the Son of Mary of Nazareth", or " He is the Messiah". All these are only other names for One (1) and the Same Person.

In Christ, then, we have One (1) Divine Person Who exists in Two (2) Natures, One (1) Human, the Other Divine.

The "Nature" of a thing tells us What it is; but the "Person" tells us Who it is. Since the question "What is . . ." gives us a different insight into God and His Creatures than the question " Who is . . .", lets us examine:

littlegoldcross.gif (962 bytes) What is God?

littlegoldcross.gif (962 bytes) What is an Angel?

littlegoldcross.gif (962 bytes) What is Man?

 

What is God?

God is Pure Spirit, the Supreme Spirit. He is Uncreated. He is more than Immortal or Everlasting. He is Eternal - without Beginning or End. He is Creator of All Things. He conserves Creatures in their Existence and moves them to their Acts. God is Infinite in every Perfection. There is no Change in Him - He can neither Increase nor Diminish. Yet in God there is Infinite Activity - a Life of Infinite Knowledge and Love. God is Pure Act. There is in Him no Potency to be realized, nor any Perfection which can be lost.

trinity_ani.gif (6574 bytes) In God, according to Revelation, there are Three (3) Persons, Three (3) Subjects, Intellectual and Free, which have each the Same Intellect and the Same Liberty, the Same Act of Understanding and the Same Free Act, by which all Three (3) are One (1) Principle of External Operation. The Three (3) Divine Persons have each One (1) and the Same Existence.

 

Attributes of God as Known through Natural Reason
(from the Catholic Encyclopedia)

littlegoldcross.gif (962 bytes) God is Infinite. He is Unlimited in every kind of Perfection or that every conceivable Perfection belongs to Him in the Highest Conceivable Way.

littlegoldcross.gif (962 bytes) God is Unity (1). Obviously there can be only One (1) Infinite Being, only One (1) God. If several were to exist, none of them would really be Infinite, for, to have Plurality of Natures at all, each should have some Perfection not possessed by the Others.

littlegoldcross.gif (962 bytes) Simplicity of God. God is a Simple Being or Substance excluding every kind of Composition, Physical or Metaphysical.

littlegoldcross.gif (962 bytes) Divine Personality. When we say that God is a Personal Being, we mean that He is Intelligent and Free and Distinct from the Created Universe. Regarding the Mystery of the Trinity or Three (3) Divine Persons in God, which can be known only by Divine Revelation, it is enough to say here that properly understood the Mystery contains no contradiction, but on the contrary adds much that is helpful to our inadequate Knowledge of the Infinite.

 

Attributes of God as Known through Faith

[ Notāre Bene - The Divine Attributes or Perfections which may thus logically be distinguished are Very Numerous, and it would be a needless task to attempt to enumerate Them fully. But among Them some are recognized as being of Fundamental Importance, and to these in particular is the term Attributes applied and Special-Notice devoted by Theologians -- though there is no rigid agreement as to the Number or Classification of such Attributes.]

alfa1.jpg (3922 bytes) littlegoldcross.gif (962 bytes) Eternity - By saying that God is Eternal we mean that in Essence, Life, and Action He is altogether beyond temporal limits and relations. He has neither Beginning, nor End, nor Duration by way of Sequence or Succession-of-Moments. There is no Past or Future for God -- but only an Eternal Present.

littlegoldcross.gif (962 bytes) Immensity and Ubiquity, or Omnipresence - Divine Immensity means on the one hand that God is necessarily Present everywhere in space as the Immanent-Cause and Sustainer of Creatures, and on the other hand that He transcends the limitations of actual and possible space, and cannot be Circumscribed or Measured or Divided by any Spatial Relations.

littlegoldcross.gif (962 bytes) Immutability - That the Divine Nature is essentially Immutable, or incapable of any Internal Change, is an obvious corollary from Divine Infinity. Changeableness implies the capacity for Increase or Diminution of Perfection, that is, it implies Finiteness and Imperfection. But God is Infinitely Perfect and is necessarily what He is.

littlegoldcross.gif (962 bytes) Omniscient - That God is Omniscient or possesses the most Perfect Knowledge of all things, follows from His Infinite Perfection.

littlegoldcross.gif (962 bytes) Omnipotence, Holiness, Justice and Goodness, Truthfulness, Blessedness, and so forth are self-explanatory.

The position of the Catholic Church declared in the Fourth Lateran Council (1215 A.D.), is again clearly stated in the following pronouncement of the Vatican Council:

The Holy Catholic Apostolic Roman Church believes and professes that there is One living and true God, Creator and Lord of Heaven and Earth, Omnipotent, Eternal, Immense, Incomprehensible, Infinite in Intellect and Will and in all Perfection Who, being One, Singular, Absolutely Simple and Unchangeable Spiritual Substance, is to be regarded as Distinct really and in Essence from the world most blessed in and from Himself, and unspeakably elevated above all things that exist, or can be conceived, except Himself.

Even in Heaven, when God is seen Face-to-face, we will not fully understand Him. Infinite Being can be fully grasped only by an Infinite Intellect. How Imperfect, therefore, is our present understanding of Him! But as Aristotle says, even a little-knowledge of the highest-things is worth more than great-knowledge of lower-things. So we should ever strive to deepen our Knowledge of God.

 

What is Jesus Christ?

As with the Trinity, the concepts of Person and Nature must be known if we are to get some grasp of Jesus Christ as both God and Man. The Hypostatic Union is the Union of Two (2) Natures, One (1) Divine, One (1) Human, in the Person of the Word made Flesh. What is meant by Person/Personality?

The Classic Definition is that of Boethius: Person means an individual substance having a rational nature. Of this definition Saint Thomas gives the following explanation:

Person signifies an individual subject, which is first Intellectual, secondly Free, i.e. : master of his own Acts, one whose Acts are self-initiated. Person, Saint Thomas continues, being the primary subject which bears all Predicates attributable in any way to its Being, is itself incommunicable to any other subject. To each human person, for example, belong and are attributed, his Soul, his Body, his Existence, his Faculties, his Operations, the parts of his Body.

This explanation simply makes precise that notion of Person already held by the Common-Sense of Mankind. In everyday speech, when we speak of Person, we mean that deep inward self-ownership, that Ontological Personality, which is the root, First of the self-conscious Ego, and this we may call Psychological Personality, and Secondly of that self-controlled use of Liberty, which we may call Moral Personality.

Person/Personality, thus defined, is found in Men, in Angels, and, analogically, in God. As previously explained above, in God, according to Divine Revelation, there are Three (3) Persons, Three (3) Subjects, Intellectual and Free, which have Each the Same Intellect and the Same Liberty, the Same Act of Understanding and the Same Free Act, by which all Three (3) are One (1) Principle of External Operation. This same notion of Personality allows us to say that Jesus too is a Person, One (1) sole Intellectual and Free Subject, One (1) Sole Ego, although He has Two (2) Natures, One (1) Divine, One (1) Human, and hence First: Two (2) Intellects, and Secondly: Two (2) Liberties, His Human Liberty, however, completely conformed to His Divine Liberty. When Jesus says that He is the way, He is speaking according to His Human Nature. But when, in the same text, He adds that He is the Truth and the Life, He is speaking primarily according to His Divine Nature, which makes Him Truth Itself and Life Itself. " All things whatsoever the Father hath are Mine".

 

What is an Angel?

Like God, an Angel is a Pure Spirit. Each Angel is an individual Person, with a distinct Personality (Personality is that by which the Intellectual Subject is a Person), and was created immediately by God at the Beginning of Time. The Angelic Powers of Intellect and Will are far more Perfect and Powerful than those of Man because they are not restricted by limitations of the Body. They do not "Know" as we do (i.e. via the Five (5) Senses), but are co-created with a participation of the Divine Knowledge. As Pure Spirits, the Angels have great power over the Material Universe. The Angels are graded in such a way that the second least Angel has all the Perfection of the least Angel and more, the third least Angel has all the perfection of the second least and more and so on to the greatest Angel who has all the perfection of all other Angels and more. The Angels are by nature immortal. They are sometimes called " the Intelligences" and "Separated Substances".

The Angels were not created in their merely Natural State, but were created with Grace and the Supernatural Virtues and Gifts of the Holy Ghost. Those Angels Who chose to Love God above all things were immediately rewarded with the Beatific Vision. Those Spirits who chose to love themselves above all things Lost Grace and Fell into Hell where they, as Devils, Suffer Everlasting Torment. There are possibly more Angels than Men. The Holy Angels are sent by God to help us to Heaven. God permits the Fallen Angels to Tempt us so that we may prove our Love of and Faithfulness to God.

 

What is Man?

Scripture shows Man to be a Unity (1) of Body and Soul: he is One (1) Being, not a Spirit dwelling uneasily in a Body. Yet his Soul will survive Death. Philosophy proves his Unity (1) through the Doctrine of Matter and Form, completely ruling out Dualism and Reincarnation. It also establishes the Spirituality and Immortality of the Soul. All this reinforces what Revelation tells us, and removes the vagueness we might feel in the absence of Philosophy’s Lucid Statements and Compelling Evidence.

The Catholic Faith teaches that Man has been raised to a Supernatural State and that his destiny, as a son of God and member of the Mystical Body of which Christ is the Head, is the Eternal Enjoyment of the Beatific Vision.

 

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