Distance Between God and Us

Transfiguration by Carl Bloch

The Jesuit Father Francis Cassilly writes: “Friendship, as we have seen, must be based on some sort of equality between the friends. And, on first thought, this seems an impossible condition between God and man.”

“The infinitude of God, it is true, places Him at an immeasurable distance from us. When we consider His immensity as evidenced by the works of His hands and reflect that the heavens and earth cannot contain Him, and at the same time realize that man is but an earth-crawler, limited to time and space, an inhabitant of an insignificant planet amongst myriad suns, an animal consorting with other lower animals, called brutes, the imagination is appalled at the contrast. When we endeavor to compare the plenitude of power, majesty, sublimity, knowledge, wisdom and goodness of the Eternal Being with the dim reflections of these perfections visible in man, the Creator seems further removed from us than worm from highest angel, than the globe we dwell on from the ultimate bounds of the universe.”

“And even these comparisons fail to express the incomprehensibility of God’s greatness, for, after all, between highest and lowest creature there is some proportion in being, since they both have created entity in common.” But, the Infinite Creator is “the perfection of Increate Being,” whereas even the greatest of His creatures has “no existence or even entity of its own independent of Him, and hence of itself is nothingness.”

“Philosophers tells us that they can find no identically common notion between the infinite and finite, and so, when they call God a Being and man a being, they do not use the terms in precisely the same meaning, but analogically, as they say. And that this is true is evidenced in the very writing of the preceding sentence, where “Being” as applied to God is spelled with a capital B, and referring to man, with a small letter, thus showing that the word is applied to each in a differing sense. A man and a horse can both be denominated animals in the same signification, an angel and a clod of earth can both be styled creatures; but Creator and creature cannot be yoked together even in the mind under a perfectly common concept.”

“Whatever man has is not of himself, but of God, and that only by participation and in a limited manner, by a sort of imaging forth, as the reflection of a star from the surface of a placid lake.”

Quotations from Francis Cassilly, A Story of Love, 2d ed. (St. Louis: B. Herder, 1917).

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