Thursday, March 4, 2010

On Authority - A Catholic Essay

Defining Authority

As I have studied philosophy and theology, discussing those topics with many different kinds of believers, I came to realize that one of the key elements in discerning issues of ultimate truth and priority in life, such as the existence and nature of God, morality, and similar topics, is authority. It is possibly the least discussed topic in these fields, even by Catholics, but it is crucial to a proper understanding of spirituality, truth, God, and human nature.

In order to adequately appropriate the topic of authority in it’s relevance to truth, it must first be defined. Though like all things it’s definition is debated, I have come to define it as the qualification and earned right of someone that affords their opinions greater influence and certainty. This is relevant to many areas of life, particularly in fields such as philosophy, religion, science, politics and power, and also daily life, from the authority of parents over their children, to government leaders over their followers, to God over His Creation. Beliefs regarding authority have taken many different forms over history, even as informal discussions between those who were not academics or clergy, and modern times are an illustration of that development.

In every field, there are different degrees of authority that people can have. For example, in astronomy, a trained astronomer who has a college doctorate, has published works on the topic, has made important discoveries, and has worked on large-scale astronomical projects such as the Hubble telescope, would be more readily approached than someone who has a basic telescope in their backyard, has no formal training, and only looks at the stars for fun rather than systematic study for their view on a particular problem in astronomy. These more qualified people are often called “an authority” in their field, especially in the most important areas. This means that they are more qualified, and thus their opinions are more likely to be accurate to reality than the opinion of someone less qualified, which gives the former person more authority on a given subject than the latter person.

This applies to every area of academic study, but also in daily life. If a grocery store was trying to hire someone to be a manager, they would be much more likely to hire someone with twenty years management experience in a grocery store and a college degree than someone who has worked as a cashier for a year and is under eighteen. Of course, in the human arena, the normal secular world, it is impossible for people to know exactly who is most qualified for a position in each person’s mind, skills and talent. They must go by signs, such as their experience and previous success, knowledge of the subject, and other factors. People will also sometimes allow preference to muddle their recognition of someone’s authority, whether intentionally or unintentionally, such as by hiring someone for a management position because they think they are attractive, or they’re a family member, or because they could pay them less, rather than if they are more qualified. This makes determining who is truly a higher authority in secular affairs often very difficult.

This method of determining authority based on qualification also applies to matters of truth and spirituality. As in secular pursuits, spiritual affairs have different factors for determining qualification and level of authority.. Again, these factors are debated, and with spiritual matters it is much more complex - and important - to assure that the designation of authority is accurate, than in secular matters.

This standard also applies to morality. Although every single mentally healthy, and often even psychologically disordered, person has some sense of morality and conscience, determining what moral system is the best and most true to reality is just as difficult to determine as what is spiritually true. However, authority is crucial in this matter, perhaps even more so than in spiritual matters. Determining what is good and what is bad, and indeed discerning if that process is itself a valid one, must be done by properly qualified people; but who is qualified for such a thing? Again this is based on certain qualifications which should be determined by rational, philosophical study, with a bit of common sense and much prayer.

The Highest Authority

As I said in the previous section, each area of life, such as truth, morality and politics, has different factors to determine who is properly qualified to have authority in their particular area to make their opinions more likely to correspond to reality than someone less qualified. Although the factors are different in each field, there is one set of qualifications that, if met, give the person who meets them ultimate, perfect authority in all areas of life. Namely, these factors, among others, signify that someone who meets them is divine and God. These factors are:

1. Omniscience
2. Ultimate originality (I.e. no beginning)
3. Unending nature
4. Unchanging nature
5. Omnipotence
6. Omnibenevolence
7. Independence from existence
8. Creator of existence
9. Personal
10. Trinitarian

If someone meets these factors, they are perfect and divine, which are the qualifications for being essentially God. By being God, their pronouncements in all areas of human life are perfect, just as they are, and cannot be wrong or superseded by a higher authority, as none exists. God is the highest authority in existence.

Usually, however, God primarily makes statements in areas of truth and morality, and leaves other fields up to human judgment. But God is perfectly loving, and because of this, He did not wish to leave people alone in their limitation and imperfection to inaccurately determine parts of their lives, and especially to interpret what He told them about Himself and matters of truth and morality. And so He became incarnate in the world as Jesus Christ, who has the full authority of God because He is God Himself, and He lived the perfect human life by which all should model their own lives. The Lord also gave to His Church, which is His assembly of believers who are united in the Holy Spirit by Christ’s Body, the authority of God in infallibility by the gift of the Holy Spirit to guide the Church in matters of dogma, presided over by the Pope, who as the pontiff is the mediator between Christ and His Church.

This gift of authority the Lord gave to His Church gives it fundamental authority by the Spirit who guides it, making all of it’s dogmatic proclamations infallibly true. Only by being guided by God directly could the Church have true authority in matters of truth and morality. Without this guidance, humans are the only authorities, and so all spiritual teachings would be susceptible to error in truth and thus unreliable.

Because humans are inherently imperfect, as they do not meet the qualifications of divinity listed above except in a limited fashion, their judgments on truth and morality will always be uncertain. Regardless of how well thought-out, well-reasoned, or how long they have existed, they will always be unreliable fundamentally. Furthermore, because of their permanent imperfection, human judgments will always remain opinions, not truths. Even when members of the Church make personal teachings, such as their own book, a statement in a magazine, or a homily, it is not certainly infallible. Though human opinions may be true in matters of spirituality and morality, it is not because they themselves give the statement certainty, but rather because their opinion corresponds with the pronouncements of God and the dogma of His Church. And because humans inherently have reason and a conscience, we are sometimes capable of discerning a truth in life by ourselves, but not from ourselves. We only identify it in life and in ourselves; we do not create the truth, or make the statement true by any inherent authority we may imagine we have. Only a divine being, which must be God, has the authority to make a statement, especially regarding truth or morality, certainly and infallibly true. The only reason the dogma of the Church is infallibly true is because the determination of dogma is guided by the Holy Spirit, who is Himself God and thus infallible, not because of the people involved therein. The interpretation and application of dogma by the Church, called Tradition, is also infallible, as Jesus Christ transmitted the authority to establish Tradition from the Jewish priests to His Church, certified by the seal of Peter's successor, the Pope.

Human Authority

God is the ultimate authority on all matters, because He is perfect and divine, which is why His judgments should be followed in all possible situations, or the Church’s judgments in more particular situations. Within the Church, Christ established a hierarchy of authorities to govern the it in all ways. Because these offices were established by Christ, they are apart of the fundamental structure of the Church, which is infallibly guided by the Holy Spirit, not merely political positions; particularly the priest and Pope, from which all other clerical offices derive, with lay-offices being appointed by the clergy.

Originally, there were three offices in the Church: Pope, apostolic bishop, and layman. The Pope, as the supreme pontiff, was a bishop himself, St. Peter, as an apostle, but was also appointed by Christ to preside over, lead, and be the head of the Church with the Keys of Heaven, which are essentially symbols of papal authority. The apostles were also chosen and appointed by Christ personally, and they were given authority to determine dogma, Tradition, and other Church functions with the authority of the Holy Spirit. From the apostles, their descendants and appointees, the priesthood, took many different forms within the Church, based both on practical necessity and hierarchical authority, such as the parish priest, the diocesan bishop, etc., the Pope being himself a priest just as St. Peter was both Pope and apostle. And the laymen of the Church are those not given Holy Orders, but who believe in the Church and it’s teachings and who follow it religiously, who also constantly strive for a complete spiritual relationship with God in the clarity of purity and the intensity of contrite and charitable love, implemented by the sacraments and by the good works and faith of the individual layman and collective Body together.

Outside the Church, in matters of secular human affairs, God usually allows humans to determine the specifics for themselves, primarily because they do not relate directly to God and morality, but rather to human society. The secular is important, though, and so the Church offers it’s helpful insights, more based on the qualification certain members of the Church have based on their own merit and their affinity as a spiritually-guided Catholic, but otherwise humans must rely on their innate, God-given reason and conscience to devise political, economic, justice and social systems. These should be guided by the insights of the Church, with her teachings in mind, and love for God and all His Creation, including the environment, as a guiding force in intention and act.

In politics, humans are guided by the Church to develop political systems that uphold the sanctity of life, dignity, freedom, justice, charity and privacy, and that allows them to pursue religion freely. Governments should also work to assist in the development and protection of other nations, working with them in harmonious community for mutual benefit, and also guarding them from the tyrannical attempts often made by other nations or within themselves. The authority to determine the nature of a nation’s political system is of course based on the qualifications of the individual to varying degrees, but because of the diverse nature of politics, these qualifications often differ by nation, the prevailing group and it’s philosophy therein, which can be based on an endless range of sources, including religion, the specific needs of the citizens, or the intentions of the rulers in power. But, because the power and authority that national leaders acquire is given to them by God alone, political leaders must be respected, especially by those with less political authority than that individual. This is not something to be ashamed of or to rebel against, because it is not who the person is that gives them authority; it is their office that has authority, which comes from God alone. Thus, being respectful to a political leader is merely being respectful to the authority given to them by God, though this certainly does not make the person him/herself infallible to any degree.

In every area of secular life, as I have said, there are qualifications that determine the degree of authority one has in that area, and these qualifications, below God’s divinity, often differ by area. In some systems, such as democracy, authority is based on majority rule and popular vote between different candidates, which makes the specific qualifications depend entirely on the preferences of the general populace at the time and on which politicians running for the office most possesses their desired sentiments, as well as any pre-determined requirements for candidacy, such as age. In science, authority is based on their knowledge, aptitude, experience and recognition within the scientific community, beginning with college and continuing in the aknowledgement of that person’s contributions to science by other scientists, and fundamentally in the accuracy of their hypotheses.

Economics and the business world has a somewhat different way of determining authority than politics or science. With business, authority is the power and influence one has in the general economy of a nation, and more specifically, in the particular business they work in. For example, Bill Gates, being a billionaire computer program designer and seller, has a lot of authority in the business world, and especially in the computer industry, because of his accomplishments therein, giving him considerable input and recognition in major economic decisions, projects, etc. Because of his incredible economic success, businessmen look to him for guidance, as a model of success, and in recognition of his influence and power in the economy. In economics, the authority of opinion is also relevant, as those with higher economic authority (as defined above) are more likely to have accurate economic predictions, advice, endeavors, etc., than those with less authority.

However, success in a field is not always the best measure of authority in it. In, say, art and music, one can become wealthy but not be considered very skilled or creative in their work, and vise versa; someone can make very little money or be unpopular with their work, but still be very skilled at it. This explains the frequent phenomenon of musicians and artists often not being popular until after they die, because perhaps during their lifetime they did not fit the particular styles and fads that made some artists famous, even if they possessed greater skill than the more famous artist. If someone is a qualified, skilled artist, the form of authority they have is not so much in their opinions being considered more certain than those with less qualification; rather, their art itself is considered better, and they are thought of as a better artist than someone with less authority.

Subjectivity can often play a part in the role of authority in secular society. This occurs when the specific qualifications for authority are prescribed in a field. Sometimes, what exactly these factors are is up to individual preference more so than objective factors. This is rare, however, because many things considered subjective in nature, such as something being beautiful or not and even sometimes truth (in relativism) in fact have objective, real natures and definitions. This usually only applies to things such as one’s favourite sports team, favourite style of art or music, favourite food, etc.

Rebelliousness Against Authority

Humans are often susceptible to the temptation to rebel against any authority over themselves. This is very common in children, and often carries over to immaturity in adults. Some people think that they are the perfect authority in existence, even above God. This often leads them to prefer to follow themselves and be wrong, than to follow God and be correct, unfortunately. This temptation to rebel comes from the original rebel, Satan, and some people give in to the temptation more readily than others, though it comes to everyone at times in their lives.

This is pride, the belief that oneself is better than others, even God, when no one truly is, and being unwilling to waver in that conviction. Everyone has pride to some degree, though some have it more than others. Hopefully, pride will come only occasionally in one’s life, and one should always strive to limit it’s presence. To do this, however, is a very unsettling process. Once one has rebelled as a teenager against their parents and teachers, rebelled against society as an adult, and rebelled against God as a person, and done so for years, they become comfortable in their habitual pride. They construct an entire lifestyle based around their pride, and sometimes even dream up imaginary possibilities of how they could in fact really be the center of all authority in the universe, even if they know they are not. To get a person like this to change is impossible, because you cannot do it to them; only they can change themselves, by the cleansing help of the Holy Spirit, who unceasingly invites them to purity, if they will accept it with a contrite, genuine, and diligently persistent heart, through the difficulty such a change naturally involves. But many people are not willing to make this change, and so continue living in their comfortable, prideful error, from which sinfulness derives.

This does not mean that all authorities should be followed with complete blindness, or that all authorities are equal in their authority. But there is a difference between rebelling against an authority, and disagreeing with an authority. Rebelling means that you are acting disrespectfully, absorbing their authority into yourself, and making yourself the center and ultimate end of everything. But disagreeing merely means that while you respect the authority of the person, which as I said before can only be given by God truly or else the authority is invalid, you disagree with the person himself/herself, in the interest of making the authority pure, rather than replacing the authority with yourself. And of course the way one should go about disagreeing with people in each different type of authority varies based on the field.

Rebelliousness against authority as I have described it naturally leads away from truth and goodness, towards sinfulness and error. This is why things such as evil political regimes, sinful lifestyles, and erroneous beliefs while knowing the truth come about. By placing oneself at the center of all authority, one offends God and taints one’s soul with individualism. This can lead to things such as relativism, hedonism, and indifferentism.

A Life of Authority

By living a life of authority, these errors and problems can be avoided, and a more harmonious, natural and ultimately happier and more satisfactory life can be led. Authority in all but God's affairs is earned, and one of the purest human pursuits is the attaining of authority in one's chosen field, striving to better oneself towards the qualifying ideals of what one's field considers authoritative. This makes us better people, in mind and body, as the parallel pursuit of spiritual purity grants our soul the same sort of character as any striving for betterment, though it's effects are eternal - if done with selfless intent in simple love of one's field.

On Trinitarianism

On Trinitarianism

Trinitarianism and Monotheism: the Relationship

The Trinity is the most fundamental doctrine of Christian theology for most denominations in Christianity. It is usually described as God the Father, God the Son, and God Holy Spirit, three persons of one single essence, distinct as people but not in essence. But what does this mean? The persons of the Trinity are what is usually contemplated and studied by Christians, but the fact that they are God, that they share one divine essence, often seems forgotten or perhaps accepted without further inquiry. But the fact that the persons of the Trinity are of one essence, a perfect, divine essence, is what makes them God. God is the essence, and because the persons of the Trinity are of that essence, they are God. A favorite analogy for this that I will use frequently in this essay is one of many "images" of the Trinity relationship in life. Imagine three human people. They are each distinct, individual persons, but they all share one essence: all three of them are human. Human is their essence, and they are defined by their humanity and the qualities and attributes constituting what it means to be human. Everything they do extends from their essential humanity. The same applies to God. Of course, there is no separation between the persons and essence of the Trinity, just as a human could not be a person or a human; they could only be both at once. But they are individual, despite their intrinsic bond.

Most people who study, or follow for that matter, Christianity consider it to be merely one more monotheism, alongside Islam and Judaism. Monotheism is defined as religious belief in the existence of a single, personal God that is separate from nature, rather than multiple gods as in polytheism, or a god that is not separate from nature as in pantheism, among other forms of belief in God. And Trinitarian belief is indeed a type of monotheism. There is a problem with this, however. For most monotheistic religions, such as Islam and Judaism, God is a deity; God is equivalent with one person. In Trinitarianism, however, God is an essence, with three persons of that essence. To many Jews and Muslims, this idea is considered polytheistic, which goes against the Bible’s Ten Commandments. In fact, it does not go against them, but merely describes a more perfect, true view of God than other monotheistic philosophies.

Trinitarianism is monotheistic, because there is only one God, but it is unlike most monotheisms because its view of God is not equivalent to one deity person, but rather three deity persons of one single God-essence. Without falling into error, this view of God makes it impossible to fall into an interpretation of God as a tyrant, of His will and commandments being true because of who He is, rather than what He is. But in Trinitarianism, the persons of the Trinity are divine because of what they are: God. Just as human individuals are not inherently special because of who they are, or else status, wealth or power would determine someone's intrinsic value, which they do not. Human individuals are special because they are human - what they are. Their souls bear the dignity of God, in whose image we are all made. If God was merely a person with supernatural powers, as with the deities of the old Greek and Norse polytheisms, He would not be truly divine, but just an imagined human with imagined abilities. But because the persons of the Trinity are of the God-essence, they are truly divine.

This is the difficulty many non-Trinitarian monotheisms fall into: God becoming a tyrant. Because in other monotheisms, God is special because of who He is, rather than what He is. He is more of an emperor than a divine God. Trinitarianism cannot support this fallacy with any validity.

The Essence: an Explanation

The Trinitarian view of God is three persons of one essence. But what is that essence? The essence of the Trinity is God-ity, like humanity; it is the set of attributes that makes the persons of the Trinity God. Those attributes, namely, supernatural or spiritual being, omniscience, omnipresence, omnipotence, omni benevolence, holy, just, and eternal, are what makes something divine, and the only thing divine is God. At the fullest depths of reason, nothing else can be divine except God. Things can reflect God’s divinity by being good, beautiful, holy, and just, as Jesus Christ perfectly exemplified in His life as no normal human could do as well, but only in reflection and imitation, inexact and imperfect. Human dignity derives from us being in the “image” of God, meaning that we directly reflect God’s divine nature, but we are no more God or divine than the image of something in a mirror is the same as the thing itself. But because our soul also has a spiritual nature, like God, we can share in His nature if we are cleansed of the impurities of sin.

Through the aid of the Holy Spirit, humans, despite our limited and fallible nature, are able to be a conduit for divine actions and live in a divinely-guided way, through the Sacraments, and with the good and faithful living Jesus prescribed. By the Spirit, the reflections of God’s divinity in us, namely, our reason and love, are divinized into the perfection of God’s original version of those qualities. But this can only be by the Spirit, and not permanently. Things, places, and events that are made holy, I.e. set apart, by God can be perfect and divine as well, but only because of the intercession of the Holy Spirit in them, such as the perfect offering of the Eucharist, the waters of baptism, the cleansing oils of the anointing of the sick, Holy Orders, marriage, and all the Sacraments, places such as the Vatican, every parish church, and the Holy Land, and objects like the Eucharistic species, the golden chalice holding the Blood, and the parish altar.

God told Moses in the Old Testament that His name is “I AM”, and Christ used that name for Himself in the New Testament equivalently. I AM denotes what God fundamentally is, and, by doing so, it also denotes what divinity is: true, inherent existence and being. Non-changing, unlimited, infinite, perfect Being constitutes divinity, and all which comes from that. Love is the affirmation of Being, and all morality and goodness extend from that. Thus, God is perfectly loving as a self-affirmation of the eternal Being which He is and which existence is a reflection of, especially the human soul. In His love, God created the universe as an artistic affirmation of existence, and He created human souls as images of Himself in order to personally experience His Creation and to converse lovingly with Him about our love of life, to adore God and Creation, as well as each other and ourselves, eternally.

God instilled in humans the ability to discern not only God’s existence, using reason and conscience, but also His nature, the qualities that make Him a divine, perfect God, and by His personal revelation, through Scripture, the Church, and nature, He illuminates and perfects our understanding of His divine essence. Humans are born with a love and desire for life, for the chance to experience Creation. Identifying this in ourselves, we came to understand (with the aid of revelation) that existence is inherently good and the ultimate desire for all mankind, and that the Creator of existence must embody Being in perfect purity and essentiality. All spiritual beliefs, even non-theistic, derive from this and are fulfilled in Catholic Trinitarianism. As Being is the ultimate good, perfect Being, which is inherent, unchanging and eternal, all-good and unblemished by any faults in life that sin has caused, must be what makes God divine.

This is God’s essence, the essence of the Trinity.

Three Persons: one God-Essence

God created existence ex nihilo, which simply means out of nothing. Nothingness, however, is merely a concept. Nothingness cannot exist, or else it would be something. And because God is infinite, there could not, before existence was created, have been a nothingness in which God did not reside. Nothingness simply means that God created the universe, which was not previously there except as a concept in God’s mind, out of no material but the power of His mind and Spirit through His Word, Jesus Christ. Because fundamental Being is the essence of God, His divinity, it is necessarily true that as the ultimate loving affirmation of Being, He would create something outside Himself that was different from Himself because it was not divine, but still with Being.

This inherent desire to create is reflected in the life of living things, in our love to create. We are born with the love of procreation, though humans more fully reflect this in our deeper loving connection to our offspring and spouse, and in our artistic and other creative pursuits, which are sub-creative mimicry of God's creative act. Creativity comes from love. For example, human love of something, such as a tree, inspires him to paint a picture of that tree. And human love of one’s spouse inspires them to make a personification of their love creatively, by having children in procreation. In thankfulness for their existence, children love their parents and honor them for the love parents should give to their children, to affirm their existence and it’s quality.

The human familial relationship is a reflection of the family of the Trinity: the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. While creativity is an essential necessity of God’s nature and character, the derivation of creation in love can only be utterly selfless, and thus utterly good and loving, when it is done for someone else. This is why that children should always be the personification of a complete loving dedication of one spouse to another, a selfless offering of oneself to that person in love. God is where this bond derives from. The Father is the original and beginning, the first and mind of God. There is nothing the Father does not know and nothing that does not derive from Him. Jesus Christ is the Son of the Father, who proceeds from the Father, the perfect product of the Father’s creativity, though as God the Son's existence is eternal and thus not creative, but eternally-proceeding from the Father in a type of creativity. And the Holy Spirit is the love of God, His power and hand in existence, and the personification of the love between the Father and the Son, and between God and His Creation.

The term “Father” is often misunderstood, particularly by proponents of modern liberal feminism, who feel that that masculine term being attributed to God excludes women from Christianity and any significance in life, though it does not. The Father is called that, rather than mother, for two primary reasons: for one, because while women are naturally receptive and passive, the masculine is naturally active, assertive and creative. Men give the potential for life, and women bring that potential into reality, cultivate it, and birth it into existence. God the Father is given a masculine name because He is masculine in behavior, being the ultimate source of everything, the giver of everything, but in reality, the Father is neither masculine nor feminine. He exhibits traits of femininity and masculinity in both Testaments of the Bible. It simply makes more sense, by the Catholic logic I described above, to use a masculine name for Him.

The Father is the mind of God. He knows everything, even things the Son and Spirit do not know. As Christ said, “Even I do not know the hour of my return,” because only the Father knows that. That doesn’t remove omniscience from God of course, because the Father has complete omniscience, and because He is apart of God, He makes up for the few things the Son does not know which can only come from the Father’s mind. From His mind, all things were made, and from His mind, the Son proceeds, the child of love and divine Being.

The Son is, as I have said, the Father’s counterpart of sorts, His child in loving fellowship of creative Being. The Son was also the Father’s primary motivation for creating existence, as He “had Christ in mind from the beginning”, with life being a sort of gift to His Son, and a way for God to experience His Creation personally as he intended to do from it's beginning. He made existence through Jesus, who is the Logos and Divine Word of God.

When God created existence, He gave it a logical order and structure that the rational human mind could identify and then attribute to Him. True randomness in existence is impossible. In randomness, there is order: mathematical probability, regularity, limitation of possible results. But true randomness is nothingness, which in life is exemplified by sin, something that was not originally in the intentions of God for the universe, and something which He will one day completely repair. Order is the opposite of sin. It is an affirmation of being. Though order is not the same as the divine infinity of Being of God, it is like a puzzle: complete, but the pieces are still structured, limited, and with holes between their connection points. Order is thus a sign and reflection of God’s infinite Being.

The title Logos, or Word, for the Son has many meanings, one of which is that He is the order of God, which is perfect and unlimited in infinity, and so Christ is thus the source of the order of existence. The Father made existence through the Word by giving the universe an orderly and logical character, an image of the Son’s own divine Order.

The Son is also God’s desire to not only create existence, but to be apart of it personally, and to then interact with, redeem, and bring to salvation humanity and nature, which He did by becoming incarnate as Lord Jesus Christ. By dying on the Cross, He paid the just penalty for humanity’s sins, removing our guilt and taint and reconciling us to God in redemption, opening up salvation to us through the grace of the Holy Spirit who He gave to us as our advocate. And in His Resurrection, humanity was shown that death, sin and the devil are truly defeated, and were given a preview of the glory mankind will eventually be in ourselves in the New Earth at the End of Time upon Christ’s return.

The Holy Spirit (though there is no real “the”, because Holy Spirit is His name) is the third person of the Trinity. Though commonly thought of as an impersonal spiritual force as His name might suggest, He is just as personal and autonomously intelligent as the Father and Son, and should be treated accordingly.
The Spirit, as He is also called, is the personification of God’s love; but more specifically, of the love between the Father and the Son, which extends out as God’s power in existence, the cause of miracles, grace, and other supernatural changes God makes in existence, all of which are the result and direction of the Spirit’s nature as the love of God.

The Holy Spirit, though with eternal existence like the Father and Son, proceeds from the Father and Son as their love. This proceeding, like that of the Son from the Father, is eternal; there was never a time when only the Father existed, or else God would be lacking and would have changed, neither of which are possible for God to be divine as I described previously.

The Spirit is also God’s primary gift to humanity. Before Jesus, it was given as the human conscience, God’s morality written onto our hearts as our permanent and unchanging human nature based on love and imaginative sympathy, putting ourselves in other’s shoes. And after Jesus had been resurrected, He breathed the Holy Spirit onto the apostles, and from then on it has been transmitted to others in the Church via the Sacraments, which grant grace and the gifts of the Spirit to their valid receivers. The Spirit gives us a direct, personal bond with God that is constant. He is always there in our hearts and minds, ever guiding us towards redemption in baptism first, and then the lifelong pursuit of salvation afterwards. He gives us discernment between good and evil, the ability to love in ways even our conscience could not allow, with utter selflessness and appreciation for the dignity of persons and indeed all of God’s Creation. He is the gift of God to man: Himself.

The persons of the Triune God have always existed together; none of them were created. They are also intrinsically and inseparably connected to their essence as divine God, their species of sorts. And as such, the persons are attributes of the essence, just like omnipresence and omniscience are. For God to be truly, perfectly divine, He must not be merely an impersonal essential divine spirit-force. He must have persons, individuals that not only represent in themselves certain specific attributes of God that could only exist in their fullness in a person, they are also the connection between God and the universe, His life in existence to make Him theistic, rather than an unconnected deistic God.

There are certain attributes that God must have to be divine, so as to truly be whole, perfect Being, which is the fullest and original good, as I described previously. But some of those qualities could not exist only in essence or character; they must exist in persons, individuals with life and activity in themselves. These traits are life, justice and mercy, love, from which goodness extends, holiness and creativity, and all which extends from the personality of God.

God is not physical. He is a different sort of being than we are, a spiritual being. This denotes the attributes of inherent Being described above, but it also necessitates one other attribute: life. By life, I do not mean existence, as something can exist without being alive. Life is activity, autonomous and intelligent. Without life, God would be dead, a mere spirit-force without personality, love or creativity. But life gives God these traits, which He must have to be divine. This requirement is due to a chain of truths: without inherent life, God would be dead, like inanimate physical matter. Inanimate matter was necessarily created, because it cannot create itself or give itself being and existence. Dead matter, being created rather than uncreated, lacks inherent being, and thus must change continuously to remain in existence. For God to have inherent Being, which is the fundamental divine quality He possesses, He must not have been created, and must not change, and so He must have life within Himself, as a sort of necessary proof of His inherent Being, showing that nothing causes His existence but Himself, and that He does not change but only causes change outside of Himself. To have a spiritual being means to have inherent life, as well as inherent Being, which both God and the human soul, as a reflection of God, have. Without life, God's requirement to be divine - intrinsic, perfect Being - is only imperfectly affirmed and represented, and thus His divinity would be removed.

Another required quality for God to possess to be divine is love, which as I described before is an affirmation of Being. Without love, God is dead; His existence is not affirmed, not glorified, merely there. But with love, God’s Being is affirmed by illustrating the life of God in activity, relationships within Himself and with His Creation.

Because of the sin Satan caused in the universe, death is apart of existence now. It is the denial, rather than the affirmation, of Being symbolically by causing the removal of the spiritual life of all living things from their bodies, leaving the bodies nothing but dead matter, though still bearing the dignity of the spirit that was in it. And because of human original sin, we are all tempted to give into Satan’s temptations to live a life of death by sinning. In God’s perfect understanding of the victimization of humanity by Satan, He gave us justice, accompanied by mercy. From the grace of God‘s mercy, humanity is able to repent of our sins, our death removed by the forgiveness we receive by our sorrow.

Some, however, do not repent. For those who do not know about God’s mercy through Christ and the Holy Spirit, He judges by their conscience and their hope in the goodness of Being. But some who are aware of the truth knowingly go against it, doing what is wrong and sinful without repentance. This is not merely wrong. Because sin is death, when one follows it willingly, one aligns oneself with death, inviting it into the body and soul. By God’s justice, He allots death to those who willingly choose it, to varying degrees, and life to those who choose Him over sin. Nothing less could be a perfect affirmation of Being. If God accepted those with death in themselves, He would be affirming death rather than Being, which would make His proclamation of the goodness of Being imperfect, removing His divinity. But, as His justice is combined with mercy, He gives everyone the opportunity to repent of their sins and through penance, have their death removed from them by replacing it with the goodness of life.

Every human was created by God to be with Him forever, and by His love we are able to communicate with Him in life, in modern times primarily by Christ in the Eucharist and the Holy Spirit in many different ways. The persons of the Trinity are our ultimate relating point with God and are the ultimate object of human joy, imitation and sense of belonging in life.

The Mystery of God

Although by God’s perfect love, He made us capable of recognizing His existence and has also interacted with us personally in revelation, the human mind is ultimately limited and fallible. We can never truly understand God, His nature and qualities. But we can understand Him well enough however, by the illuminating power of the Holy Spirit in our minds. There are things about Him we are simply not meant to know while we are alive, and it is an act of faith to accept that truth. We can also never truly comprehend His divinity, both because He is divine, and because we are not. But we can all look forward in hope to the time when the Earth will be renewed, it’s taint of sin removed, and spiritual life imbued into every part of the universe. Our souls will be combined with our bodies, as Christ’s soul and body were combined in the resurrection, and there will be no more death in the world. We will be able to contemplate and love God eternally, to enjoy His Creation, one another, and ourselves in perfect beauty forever, and will exist in the divinity of Being in perpetual, satisfactory happiness.