Church Fathers, Day One Hundred Thirty-Three: St. Hilary of Poitiers says don’t try to limit God

st_hilary_of_poitiers_1Don’t try to limit God

God is always beyond the grasp of our reason, as St. Hilary of Poitiers tells us. Yet we can work toward understanding

It is the Father to whom all existence owes its origin. In Christ and through Christ he is the source of all. In contrast to all else he is self-existent. He does not draw his being from without, but possesses it from himself and in himself. He is in­finite, for nothing contains him and he contains all things; he is eternally unlimited by space, for he is illimitable; eternally before time, for time is his creation.

Let your imagination wander to what you may suppose is God’s utmost limit, and you will find him present there; strain as you will there is always a further ho­rizon towards which to strain. Infinity is his property, just as the power of making such effort is yours. Words will fail you, but his being will not be circumscribed.

Or again, turn back the pages of history, and you will find him ever present; should numbers fail to express the antiquity to which you have penetrated, yet God’s eternity is not diminished.

Gird up your intellect to comprehend him as a whole; he eludes you. God, as a whole, has left something within your grasp, but this something is inextricably involved in his entirety. Thus you have missed the whole, since it is only a part that remains in your hands; and really not even a part, for you are dealing with a whole that you have failed to divide. For a part implies division; a whole is undivided, and God is everywhere and wholly present wherever he is. Reason, therefore, cannot cope with him, since no point of contemplation can be found outside himself and since eternity is eternally his.

St. Hilary of Poitiers, On the Trinity, 2.6

IN GOD’S PRESENCE, CONSIDER . . .

When I try to understand the world, do I find myself limiting my ideas of God’s power by time and space?

CLOSING PRAYER

Father, you have existed since before the beginning, and by your Word you created every­thing. Though my mind and my heart strain to reach up to you, bend down to me, so that I may be strong in faith.
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