His Ways Past Finding Out
June 16, 2019
“O the depth of the riches both of the
wisdom and knowledge of God!” exclaims St. Paul in today’s Epistle.
It is said that we know less about the deepest part of the world’s
oceans than we do about the farthest reaches of outer space, and it
seems that the same is true about God. We know his heights, that he
is all-powerful, all-knowing, all-just, all-merciful, all-loving,
everlasting without beginning or end. But the depth of his
knowledge, the depth of his love, and all these other infinite
attributes of the Divine Being? These are unknown to us and must
The reason we do not and never can know these
depths is apparent. Our limited ‘finite’ minds can never comprehend
the unlimited and ‘infinite’. It’s quite simply impossible. Even the
greatest scholars and saints, like St. Paul, St. Thomas Aquinas, St.
Augustine and others, had to content themselves with the knowledge
that they would never begin to approach the depths of God’s being.
“Who hath known the mind of the Lord?” asks St. Paul rhetorically.
We must not feel cheated by our lack of knowledge. We must never
think we are being deprived of something we’re entitled to. On the
contrary, we must know our place. For our own humility, our
knowledge of God has its limits. If it did not, we would be God! Our
Creator wants us to be content with the place to which he has
assigned us, and, as the Psalmist says, “O Lord, mine heart is not
exalted; I have no proud looks. I do not exercise myself in great
matters which are too high for me. But I refrain my soul, and keep
it low” (Ps. 130:1-3).
We should note that it is only the
matters that are “too high for me” that’s we’re forbidden to
explore, not the depths of God insofar as we are able. Otherwise, we
would never have had theologians or doctors of the Church, who have
tried their best to understand and teach the ways of God. But we
must know our place. We must remember, for instance, that it was
forbidden for lay people before Vatican II to publish theological
works that had not been thoroughly vetted by the diocesan censor and
given an approval by the bishop. Those words Nihil Obstat and
Imprimatur meant something in those days!
between Rome’s “Anything Goes” attitude and the development of the
Internet, there is no end to the rubbish spouted by people
(including the more pretentious clergy) about things theological.
While we might legitimately explore the bounds of what we know, we
may never claim to expand those limits without Church approval. Some
things are “past finding out” and we must know our place!
FR. BERNARD G. HALL
Dean of Chapter
Guild of St. Peter