St Francis of Paola by Francesco Capella

The human person is composed of a body and a spirit, and each part perceives a different kind of light. Archbishop Ullathorne in his book Endowments of Man distinguishes between these two kinds of light.

“We receive two kinds of light, the one corporal, the other mental: the one given to the eyes of the body, the other to the eyes of the soul. The corporal light is a resplendent image of the spiritual light. The two small eyes that are set in our face have no proportion whatever to the vast prospect of earth and heaven that we are enabled to see through them. Compared with the vastness of their objects, our eyes are as nothing. But the eyes are only the instrument, the power of vision is in the soul.”

“How is the vision accomplished?” he asks. “Through the gift of light. But that light is no part of our nature; it is external to us, and we are subject to its influence. It is the medium which God has provided for bringing the forms of all visible things through our eyes to our mind. We can never confound the source of that light with ourselves. The source of that light is the sun, which God has placed at a distance from us, so remote as to exceed the power of imagination to represent that distance. Yet from that distant source of light we receive the power of vision, and warmth, and fostering strength to our earthly frame. Were God to remove the sun from the sphere in which it acts, we might pine away and perish in darkness.”

“The material sun is the visible symbol of the eternal Word of God, who is the Sun of all intelligences, and who sends forth His light and His truth to all minds. ‘That was the true light, which enlightened every man that cometh into the world.’ For the light that makes God known is from God, the light that manifests eternal principles is from eternity.”

“Not that whilst we are in this world we can see the truth of God, even by the light of faith, and much less by the light of reason, for that would be to see God, which is reserved for the life to come. We do not even see the created Sun in Himself, but only in certain rays of His light, as they are reflected and tempered by the atmosphere of this world through which they pass. Yet they make the Sun known to us through its action reflected upon us. So have we received into our minds a certain reflection and participation of the light of eternal and unchangeable truth, tempered indeed to the feebleness of our nature, but revealing to us its Divine Author.”

Quotations from Michael F. Glancey, Characteristics From the Writings of Archbishop Ullathorne (London: Burns & Oates, 1889).

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