Saturday, 8 March 2014
On the Divine Relations and Communicable Divine Nature
''There is in God actually, or in the order of reality, only one being, which is not purely absolute or purely relational, neither mixed nor composite, or resulting from either of these, but most eminently and formally possessing that which is relational and that which is absolute. So in the formal order, or in the order of formal reasons, in Himself, not in our mode of speaking, there is in God only one formal reason or essence. This is neither purely absolute nor purely relational, neither purely communicable nor purely incommunicable, but most eminently and formally containing both that which is absolutely perfect and that which the relational Trinity demands. We are in error, however, when we proceed from the absolute and relational to God because we imagine that the distinction between the absolute and the relational is prior to the divine nature. The complete opposite is true, for the divine nature is prior to all being and all of its differences; it is above being, above one, etc...It remains that (God) is both communicable and incommunicable'' - Cajetan.
Commentary: There is a particularly certain danger of regarding the divine relations as something superimposed onto the perfect and complete divine essence. We are not to consider the Persons as being mere accidents existing consequent to the deity, almost as a secondary formation distinct from the Godhead or as having no subsisting reality apart from the reflection of our minds. Nor is the distinction due to the economy of salvation where God appears in time in different guises to communicate some heavenly lesson to frail man. There are no accidents in the actus purus not is there any potentiality for perfectibility in Him. It must be stated here that the Thomists posit a minor virtual distinction between the divine Persons and the divine essence. Our concept of the divine nature implicitly contains paternity while the blessed in their glory intuitively yet not exhaustively know the personal and subsisting divine relations. The obstacle appears to be the fact that while the divine nature is communicated entirely to the Word by the Father, it does not follow that paternity is included in the transmission of the essence. It is for this reason that we say the paternity of the Father is altogether incommunicable or the formal distinction between the Persons would be confused and the divine ''order'' would arise merely from human constructs of reason. There is however an absolute identity of the Father and the Godhead, He truly is God, yet He is not the Son, nor the Spirit, Who each fully possess the entire divine essence. Let us consider prayerfully the dictum of the Council of Florence, ''In God all things are one where there is no opposition of relation''. This supernatural mystery can not by reason alone be demonstrated and it would have remained far above the reaches of man if God had not revealed it to us. A consideration of the cosmos may lead man to an analogous knowledge of the creator of all but there is nothing in nature that can point man infallibly to the Triune nature of God as He is in Himself. On the level of natural theology only a consideration of de Deo uno may be made.