Now since all things other than God are the effect and work of the
Creator himself, their having ability and being is a limited power
and existence, and being as they are created out of nothing, they
are circumscribed by the effects of their nothingness, while their
tendency of themselves towards nothingness means that we receive
our existence, preservation and activity moment by moment from the
Creator himself, along with whatever other qualities created
things may have, just as we receive their insufficiency to any
action of themselves, both with regard to themselves and to
others, in relation to him whose operation they are, they remain
as a nothing before something which exists, and as something
finite before what is infinite.
For this reason let all our actual contemplation, life and
activity take place in him alone, about him, for him and towards
him who is able and capable to produce with a single nod of his
will things infinitely more perfect than any that exist now.
No contemplation and fruition of love, whether intellectual or
affective, is more useful, more perfect and more satisfying than
that which is of God himself, the Creator, our supreme and true
Good, from whom, through whom and to whom are all things. He is
infinitely satisfying both to himself and to all others, who
contains within himself in absolute simplicity and from all
eternity the perfection of all things, in whom there is nothing
which is not himself, before whom and through whom remain the
causes of all things impermanent, and in whom dwell the unchanging
origins of all changing things, while even the eternal reasons of
all temporal things, rational and irrational, abide in him.
He brings everything to completion, and fills all things, in
general and in particular, completely and essentially with
himself. He is more intimately and more really present to
everything by his being than each thing is to itself, for in him
all things are united together, and live in him eternally.
What is more, if someone, out of weakness or from lack of
intellectual practice, is detained longer in the contemplation of
created things, this supreme, true and fruitful contemplation may
still be seen as possible for mortal man, so that there may take
place an upward leap in all his contemplations and meditations,
whether about created things or the Creator, and the appreciation
of God the Creator himself, the One and Three, may surge up with
in so that he come to burn with the fire of divine love and the
true life in himself and in others, in such a way as to make him
deserving of the joy of eternal life.
Even in this one should bear in mind the difference between the
contemplation of faithful Catholics and that of pagan
philosophers, for the contemplation of the philosophers is for the
perfection of the contemplator himself, and consequently it is
confined to the intellect and their aim in it is intellectual
knowledge. But the contemplation of the Saints, and of Catholics,
is for the love of him, that is of the God they are contemplating.
As a result it is not confined in the final analysis to the
intellect in knowledge, but crosses over into the will through
love. That is why the Saints in their contemplation have the love
of God as their principal aim, since it is more satisfying to know
and possess even the Lord Jesus Christ spiritually through grace
than physically or even really but without grace.
Furthermore, while the soul is withdrawn from everything and is
turned within, the eye of contemplation is opened and sets itself
up a ladder by which it can pass to the contemplation of God. By
this contemplation the soul is set on fire for eternal things by
the heavenly and divine good things it experiences, and views all
the things of time from a distance and as if they were nothing.
Hence when we approach God by the way of negation, we first deny
him everything that can be experienced by the body, the senses and
the imagination, secondly even things experienceable by the
intellect, and finally even being itself in so far as it is found
in created things. This, so far as the nature of the way is
concerned, is the best means of union with God, according to
And this is the cloud in which God is said to dwell, which Moses
entered, and through this came to the inaccessible light.
Certainly, it is not the spiritual which comes first, but the
natural, (1 Corinthians 15.46) so one must proceed by the usual
order of things, from active work to the quiet of contemplation,
and from moral virtues to spiritual and contemplative realities.
Finally, my soul, why are you uselessly preoccupied with so many
things, and always busy with them? Seek out and love the one
supreme good, in which is all that is worth seeking, and that will
be enough for you. Unhappy therefore is he who knows and possesses
everything other than this, and does not know this. While if he
knows everything as well as this, it is not from knowing them that
he is better off but because of This. That is why John says, This
is eternal life, to know Thee, etc. (John 17.3) and the prophet
says, I will be satisfied when your glory becomes manifest. (Psalm