Chapters on Knowledge
Commentary on the Our Father
Chapters on Knowledge
22. Just as
our human word which proceeds naturally from the mind is messenger of the secret
movements of the mind, so does the Word of God, who knows the Father by essence
as Word knows the Mind which has begotten it (since no created being can
approach the Father without him), reveal the Father whom he knows. As the
Word of God by nature he is spoken of as the "messenger of the great council."
23. The great plan of God the Father is the secret and unknown mystery of
the dispensation which the only-begotten Son revealed by fulfilling in the
incarnation, thus becoming a messenger of the great plan of God the eternal
Father. the one who knows the meaning of the mystery and who is so
incessantly lifted up both in work and in word through all things until he
acquires what is sent down to him is likewise a messenger of the great plan of
24. If it was for us that the Word of God in his incarnation descended
into the lower parts of the earth and ascended above all the heavens; while
being himself perfectly unmoved, he underwent in himself through the incarnation
as man our future destiny. Let the one who is moved by a love of knowledge
mystically rejoice in learning of the great destiny which he has promised to
those who love the Lord.
25. If the Word of God and God the Son of the Father
became son of man and man himself for this reason, to make men gods and sons of
God, then we must believe that we shall be where Christ is now as head of the
whole body having become in this human nature a forerunner to the Father on our
behalf. For God will be in the "assembly of the gods," that is, of those
who are saved, standing in their midst and apportioning there the ranks of
blessedness without any spatial distance separating him from the elect.
37. In the active person the Word grows fat by the practice of the virtues and
becomes flesh. In the contemplative it grows lean by spiritual
understandings and becomes as it was in the beginning, God the Word.
one who is involved in the moral teaching of the Word through rather earthly
examples and words out of consideration for his hearers is making the Word
flesh. On the other hand, the one who expounds mystical theology using the
sublimest contemplative experiences is making the Word spirit.
39. The one who
speaks of God in positive affirmations is making the Word flesh. Making
use only of what can be seen and felt he knows God as their cause. But the
one who speaks of God negatively thorugh negations is making the Word spirit, as
in the beginning he was God and with God. Using absolutely nothing which can be
known he knows in a better way the utterly Unknowable.
61. The beginning
of religious discipleship for men is directed at the flesh. For in our
first acquaintance with religious devotion we approach it in the letter not the
spirit. But gradually going on in the spirit we strip off the grossness of
the words to find finer meanings and so arrive purely at the pure Christ,
insofar as human beings are able, and can say with the Apostle, "And if we
looked on Christ according to the flesh, we no longer look on him in this way."
that is to say, by means of the simple encounter with the Word without the veils
of the mind covering him, we progress from knowing the Word as flesh to "his
glory as the only-begotten of the Father."
Commentary on the Our Father
2. In becoming incarnate, the word of God teaches us the mystical knowledge
of God because he shows us in himself the Father and the Holy Spirit. For
the full Father and the full Holy Spirit are essentially and completely in the
full Son, even the incarnate Son, without being themselves incarnate.
rather, the Father gives approval and the Spirit cooperates in the incarnation
with the Son who effected it, since the Word remained in possession of his own
mind and life, contained in essence by no other than the Father and the Spirit,
while hypostatically realizing out of love for man the union with the flesh.
He gives adoption by giving the Spirit a supernatural birth from on high in
grace, of which divine birth the guardian and preserver is the free will of
those who are thus born. By a sincere disposition it cherishes the grace
bestowed and by a careful observance of the commandments it adorns the beauty
given by grace. By the humbling of the passions it takes on divinity in
the incarnation of his own unmixed glory in becoming genuinely human.
rendered men equal in honor to the angels not only in that "reconciling through
the blood of his cross what is in heaven and what is on earth" [Col. 1:20] and
destroying the hostile forces which fill up the middle space between heaven and
earth, he showed there was only one gathering of earthly and heavenly powers for
the distribution of divine gifts which sings with joy the glory of God with one
and the same will with the powers on high. But even more than this, after
the fulfillment of the dispensation toward us, and after having ascended with
the body he had assumed, he united through himself heaven and earth, joined
sensible to intelligible things, and showed the unity of created nature,
internally coherent in its furthest parts, by virtue and exact knowledge of the
first cause. He showed, I think, by what he accomplished in a mysterious
way, how the Word is the uniting of what is distant and how unreason is the
division of what is united. And we learn how to strive for the Word by
practice so as to be united not only to angels by virtue but spiritually to God
by the separation from creatures.
He gives a sharing in the divine life by
making himself food for those whom he knows and who have received from him the
same sensibility and intelligence. Thus in tasting this food they know
with a true knowledge that the Lord is good, he who mixes in a divine quality to
deify those who eat, since he is and is clearly called bread of life and of
He restores nature to itself not only in that having become man he
kept a free will tranquil and undisturbed in the face of nature and did not
allow it to become unsettled in its own movement in a way contrary to nature
even in the face of those who were crucifying him; he even chose death at their
hands rather than life, as the voluntary character of the passion shows, which
was accomplished by the disposition of love for men by the one who underwent
this passion. But even more than this, he abolished enmity in nailing to
the cross the bond by which nature waged implacable war against itself, and
having called those who are far and those who are near (that is, of course,
those who are under the Law and those who are outside the Law), "and having
broken down the dividing wall of hostility, by abolishing in his flesh the law
of commandments and ordinances, [he created] in himself one new man in place of
the two, so making peace, and reconciling us through himself to the Father and
with each other in such a way that we no longer have a will opposed to the
principle of nature and that thus we be as changeless in our free decisions as
we are in our nature.
He purified nature from the law of sin in not having
permitted pleasure to precede his incarnation on our behalf. Indeed his
conception wondrously came about without seed, and his birth took place
supernaturally without corruption: with God being begotten of a mother and
tightening much more than nature can the bonds of virginity by his birth.
He frees the whole of nature from the tyranny of the law which dominated it in
those who desire it and who by mortification of the sensuality of the earthly
members imitate his freely chosen death. For the mystery of salvation
belongs to those who desire it, not to those who are forced to submit to it.
He effects the destruction of the tyranny of evil which has lorded over us by
trickery. he conquers the flesh which had been overcome in Adam by
brandishing it as an instrument against evil. Thus does he show how the
flesh, which had been bruised first by death, captures its captor and destroys
its life by natural death. The flesh has become both a poison strong
enough to make him vomit out all those who he had swallowed by confining them in
death's dominion, and also a life for the human race, which causes the whole
nature to rise like a loaf for a resurrection of life. It is wholly on
account of this life that the Word who is God has become man (certainly an
incredible fact and story) and willing accepts the death of the flesh. All
of this, as I have said, the words of the Prayer are found to request.