Grasping what can be known of God

The Christian contemplative experiences in himself, in the love which is granted to him by the gift of the Spirit, something of the dynamism of love that the unknown God has revealed as his actuality, his presence, his identity, his personal and intimate self-communication.

The loving knowledge of God is then not something to be acquired by objective study but by subjective (personal) identification… St. Paul makes this clear when he compares a man’s consciousness of his own identity to the Spirit “which looks into the depths of God” (I Cor. 2:10).

Now we have received the Spirit of God, and hence the Spirit in us gazes into the abyss of the unknown and unseen Father. We recognize the unseen Father insofar as we are sons, in and with Christ. The Spirit utters in us the cry of recognition that we are sons in the Son (Romans 8:15).

This cry of admiration, of love, of praise, of everlasting joy is at once a cry of glad self-annihilation on the part of our transient human ego and an exultant shout of victory of the New Man raised from the dead in Christ by the Spirit who raised Christ himself from the dead.

Christian contemplation, in one vivid blaze of love and illumination, apprehends at once the reality of God as the totally other and the unknown, as a dynamism of reality, realization and ecstasy, as incarnate in Jesus Christ, as given to us entirely in the Spirit, as taking us entirely to himself in the death and resurrection of Christ.

From Thomas Merton, “Contemplation in a World of Action.” (Emphasis mine.)

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