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Thrusday after the feast of the most Holy Trinity

The obscure light of faith

From book "Divine Intimacy - Meditations on the Interior Life for Every Day Of The Liturgical Year"... Presence of God Teach me to believe, O Lord, eve...

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Divine Intimacy

Fr. Gabriel

Presence of God

Teach me to believe, O Lord, even in darkness and obscurity; teach me to believe by relying only on Your word.


I. Through its own efforts, the human mind is able to attain to a knowledge of God the Creator by considering created things; it can know His existence and even some of His perfections, but it cannot attain to the mystery of His intimate life which is beyond the knowledge of creatures, if God Himself does not raise it to this knowledge. God alone knows the mysteries of His intimate life, of the communication ofthis life to man, and He alone can reveal it. Divine revelation enables us to "know" with certainty that such realities exist, and yet, it does not enable us to "see" them; it tells us that God is Triune, but it does not show us the Trinity. It makes us know that God gives us grace, but we cannot see grace. Precisely because we do not see, to adhere to divine mysteries we must believe trustingly in God who has revealed them to us; and this is just what constitutes the act of faith. Faith is certain because it relies on the word ofGod, who can neither deceive nor be deceived; in this sense we can say that faith is clear, "free from errors" (J.C. SC, 12,3), admitting no doubt, since no one can doubt God’s word. But at the same time, it remains obscure, because it does not show us the truths which it proposes for our belief and, therefore, they remain mysteries to us. Let us remember the pitcher that contains a lighted but invisible lamp. This obscure side of faith is, at the same time, both painful and glorious for us. It is painful because we cannot see what we believe, painful because an act of faith often exacts a leap in the dark, a thing repugnant to human nature which likes to be in control, to know what it is doing, and to proceed on known facts. The more elevated supernatural realities are, the greater is their obscurity—even darkness—to the intellect, which is incapable of proceeding without the aid of the senses, and incapable of embracing the infinite. On the other hand, however, it is this very obscurity which constitutes the merit and glory of our act of faith : merit, because it is a wholly supernatural act based not on what we can see and verify, but solely on what God has revealed to us; glory, because our act of faith gives all the more glory and honor to God, the more it relies solely on His word.

II. My intellect does not need the concurrence of my will to believe that two and two make four. The truth is evident and I see it. In the case of divine truths, on the contrary, my intellect remains free to give its assent or not, simply because these truths are not evident to me; and I believe only because I will to believe. In the case of natural truths that I can verify, such as mathematical truths, my adherence to them depends upon the power of my intellect : the deeper my knowledge and comprehension of them, the stronger is my conviction. But in the presence of supernatural truths, my adherence depends upon the power of my will : the intellect is moved by the will. A free upright will, which loves its God, fully believes all that He reveals, not with a cold acceptance, but with a loving adherence which involves all the powers of the soul.

However, since evidence is lacking, doubt may always arise in the mind, and I should not be astonished at this. It is natural for the human intellect to doubt what it does not see and does not understand. Sometimes doubts are caused by ignorance, in which case we have a duty to seek further instruction; but at other times they will be mere temptations which must be overcome by an act of the will : Lord, I believe because I want to believe; I believe, even if I am in darkness, if I cannot see or understand; I believe solely on Your word. This is the way we should act when we experience temptations against faith. Instead of losing ourselves in reasoning about them or becoming discouraged, we must simply adhere by an act of the will. St. Therese of the Child Jesus wrote at the time of her bitter trials against faith : "I try to live by faith, even though it affords me no consolation. I have made more acts of faith during the past year than in all the rest of my life" (St, 9). These painful trials strengthen our faith and make it purer, more supernatural; the soul believes, not because of the consolation that faith gives it, not because it trusts in its feelings or enthusiasm, nor even in the little it does understand of the divine mysteries, but it believes only because God has spoken. When the Lord wishes to lead souls to a more intimate union with Himself, He almost always makes them undergo such trials; then is the moment to give Him testimony of our faith by throwing ourselves, with our eyes closed, into His arms.


"O blessed faith, you are certain but you are also obscure. You are obscure because you make us believe truths revealed by God Himself, and which transcend all natural light. Your excessive light, radiance of the divine truths, becomes for me thick darkness because the greater overwhelms the lesser, even as the light of the sun overwhelms all other lights and even exceeds my power of vision.

"You are dark night for the soul and, as night, you illumine it like that dark cloud which lighted the way in the night for the children of Israel. Yes, although you are a dark cloud, your darkness gives light to the darkness of my soul. So I too can say : the night will be my illumination in my delights. In the way of pure contemplation and union with God, your night, O faith, will be my guide.

"Make me comprehend, O Lord, that to be joined in union with You I must not walk by understanding, neither may I lean upon experience or feeling or imagination, but I must believe in Your infinite Being, which is not perceptible to my understanding nor to any other sense" (cf. J.C. AS II, 3,1-6 - 4,4).

"O faith, you are the great friend of our spirit, and to the human sciences which boast that they are more evident than you are, you can well say what the Spouse said to her companions : ‘ I am black but beautiful. ’ You are black because you are in the obscurity of the divine revelations, which, having no apparent evidence, make you appear black, and almost unrecognizable; but yet you are beautiful in yourself because of your infinite certainty" (cf. St. Francis de Sales).

"Only the beautiful light of faith can light my way to You, O God. The Psalmist sings, ‘ You made darkness Your covert ’ and then, in another place he seems to contradict himself by saying, ‘ You are clothed with light as with a garment. ’ This apparent contradiction seems to me to mean that I must plunge into the sacred darkness, keeping all my powers in night and emptiness; then I shall meet You, O my Master, and the light that clothes You as a garment will envelop me also; for You desire Your bride to be shining with Your light, and Yours alone" (E.T. II, 4).

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Wednesday of the seventh week after Pentecost