Who God Is

The Redemptorist Father Peter Geiermann discusses the supernatural order, beginning with a brief description of God.

Concerning the divine nature: “God is a spirit infinitely perfect, who exists of necessity and on whom all things depend. God’s nature is His essence considered as the sum total of His perfections. Essence makes a being what it is. Thus body and soul constitute the essence of man. The essence of God consists in this, that of necessity God is, and is of Himself, sufficient unto Himself. Hence, when asked about Himself by Abraham, God replied: ‘I am who am’ (Exod 3:14). Nature is essence in the concrete, or considered as the source of action. In God there is no real distinction between essence and nature. The one considers Him who is, the other Him who acts.”

Concerning the divine attributes: “In creatures attributes are qualities really distinct from their nature and essence, but God is a being of such exalted perfection that there is no real distinction between His nature and His absolute attributes, nor between the attributes themselves.” His attributes are “so many different views we may take of God as God.”

Concerning the divine intellect: “The mind of God is His divine nature considered as the source of His knowledge. God understands all things perfectly. He adequately comprehends His divine nature, and in it has the knowledge of all beings. Seeing all things in Himself, God’s knowledge is in no way dependent on the lapse of time or on the free will of man. To Him all things are present, none past or to come.” He knows in minutest detail all that has happened and all that will happen, “whether He positively wills them to happen according to the laws of nature and grace, or whether He merely permits them to happen through the free will of His creatures.”

Concerning the divine will: “The will of God is His divine nature considered as the source of His love, desire, and power. God necessarily loves Himself. He solemnly assures us that He has loved us with an everlasting love. . . . Sin, or moral evil, God can never love, because it is always opposed to what is good. Still, God can and does tolerate sin, though He detests and reprobates it. Having supplied all with superabundant means of doing good, God would have to deprive man of his liberty, if He could not permit or tolerate its abuse. God necessarily desires His own honor and glory. He freely desires the creation, government, and consummation of the world and the happiness of every creature.”

Quotations from Peter Geiermann, The Narrow Way (New York: Benziger, 1914).

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