Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Anselm's ontological proof of God

Last Saturday’s Office of Readings contains:
From a conference by St. Thomas Aquinas (Credo in Deum)

Again, eternal life consists of the joyous community of all the blessed, a
community of supreme delight, since everyone will share all that is good with all the blessed. Everyone will love everyone else as himself, and therefore will rejoice in another’s good as in his own. So it follows that the happiness and joy of each grows in proportion to the joy of all.

When I read this I was immediately recalled to the ontological proof of St.
Anselm. Consider for a moment a rocket or a plane shooting skyward. It races upward, and at the height of travel, for a brief moment, the passengers are suspended weightless, then gravity takes over and it plunges earthward. I believe that this is how St. Anselm wishes to have us know the proof of God’s existence, not by irefutable logic, but by a direct encounter. For if we meditate on “God is that which a greater than cannot be conceived” our reason races higher and higher, until, for a brief moment, freed from material constraint, it touches “that which a greater than cannot be conceived.” But the necessity of a creature is to be pulled back to earth by the weight of the flesh. As St. Paul said, “when will I be delivered from this body of death?”

To this goal we join him in looking forward to eternal life, when the body, made like that of Jesus Christ, is no longer a body of death, and will not impede our vision of God. What eternal life is like “no eye has seen, nor has it entered into the heart of man.” Yet perhaps St. Thomas gave us a tool not unlike St. Anselm. For imagine if my joy was the sum of mine and yours, and yours the sum of yours and mine. Ours are both now increased, and for a each person added, that sum grows at an unimaginable rate, reaching heights that are inconceivable. No, it cannot be imagined, but perhaps it's magnitude can just be glimpsed for a moment...

God bless,

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