After the survey heretofore made and the knowledge we now possess about the Holy Trinity, about its essence and its nature, about the persons of the Trinity and their natural and moral relationships, we proceed to consider and gain knowledge of the perfection and blessedness of God, so that we have a full and perfect mental picture of the Holy Trinity. If we hold fast to this as if it were a lighted lamp in the mind, we may walk without stumbling upon the road of speculation and action and every other activity of intelligence and willpower on our part, for it illuminates all.
We accept the concept of the Holy Trinity, of God as one in three, as being the most important and sublime of all the concepts in the realm of the spirit and of moral life. The reason for this is that as we take the existence of the Holy Trinity to be the foremost, the supreme existence in the realm of beings, and as we consider it to be the source and cause of all existence, even so we regard the concept of the Holy Trinity as the source and cause of our mental images and knowledge. Without, it, we have no true mental image and no true knowledge, let alone any deed or act of morality which contains moral worth.
Would the existence of beings that both live and think, be possible without a cause that possesses existence, thought, and life-without some source of being, of living, and of thinking? No, impossible.
From the existence of the Holy Trinity as first cause and source, all beings received existence and possess it still; all that live and think received life and thought. How would the beginning of every true concept and knowledge that guides man to his highest destiny be possible without the knowledge of the Holy Trinity?
The Theanthropos said that eternal life consists simply of the knowledge of the true God, the Holy Trinity, and of the incarnate Logos of God, our Lord Jesus Christ. “And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ. whom thou hast sent” (John 17:3). It follows that the more one partakes of the knowledge of God. the more he enjoys a share of eternal life, and the closer he come to God.
Conversely and proportionately, as man lacks true knowledge of God, he finds himself at a distance from God, and as a result, he remains far from eternal life. Knowledge of God, therefore, is a matter of importance to every man coming into the world, because it is a light in the soul; within the soul it sheds brilliant illumination. Under this supernatural light – of the concept and knowledge of God – the will operates and fulfills its tasks. It is evident that actions taking place in the light proceed well and are honorable, unless the mischievous will of the perpetrator performs them badly through malice. Deeds that are performed in the light with good intent, are deeds of morality, of service. and of value.
No one can think rightly who has not the concept of the true God, just as no one can see who has no light for his eyes. No one can do good work who does not think rightly and has no illumination in his mind. Therefore, the concept of the Holy Trinity is the cause of right thinking, as well as of right and moral action which our will accomplishes freely under the bright light of God. For this illumination presents it as good or evil, just as a lantern gives light in an uneven and stony place.
When we contemplated the Holy Trinity we found perfect existence, perfect thought, and perfect life. We discerned everything that we found there existing in perfection. We found the presence and the qualities of completely perfect and absolute being, from which all insufficiency and all superfluity alike are excluded. Superfluity and insufficiency have no place where there are perfection and completion. We, too, are bidden by Christ to move on toward this very perfection of God: “Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in Heaven is perfect” (Matthew 5:48).
God is wholly perfect existence because He lacks nothing, for He is complete, self-sufficient, and in want of nothing. He is absolute; because of His existence there is no cause that existed before Him. In His existence – and He has in Himself the cause of His existence – He is indispensable, because His nonexistence is impossible.
God is wholly perfect intelligence who thinks the truth in perfection and is ignorant of nothing. His is absolute intelligence, because it does not have another intelligence higher than it, and possesses the cause of its existence in itself. It is an intelligence that must exist of necessity, because its nonexistence is impossible.
God is wholly perfect life, the source of all life and of deathlessness. His is absolute life, because it does not have any other life preceding it. It is a life that must exist of necessity, because the non-existence of an absolute and wholly perfect life from which all life and immortality are derived, is impossible.
Being, living, knowing, and possessing power – in the Godhead are all perfect. But in order to obtain as clear a mental picture as possible of the perfection in the Godhead, one must look at the imperfection of man. Man is the image of God and has the destiny of becoming like his prototype, even like God.
Man, like God, has being and existence, living and life, knowing and thought, ability and power. Man’s being has its cause in the existence of God, who has perfect being and is wholly perfect existence. However, man’s being is imperfect, because he possesses no knowledge of himself, or power, or any other quality which his existence requires to be made perfect.
In a short time the infant emerges from total ignorance and lack of wisdom, and acquires a little, perhaps only very little, knowledge and power. As he advances in this way from knowledge to knowledge, he makes his way forward from power to power also. The transition from his ignorance and weakness to knowledge and power comprises progress. He becomes more perfect in knowledge and power as he progresses.
If we observe man’s progress, we shall see it beginning from the imperfect and moving toward the perfect in obedience to a law. From existence man moves on to life, and from life he moves on to cognition and thought. Existence, life, and thought are the three phases, the three landmarks in human life. Each of these phases lasts a long time and there is considerable distance between them.
From existence to life is a long way. From life to intelligence is a long way. But from the imperfect existence of man to the perfect existence of God is a very long way, indeed. Also, between our imperfect life and the perfect life of God there is likewise a vast difference. Truly, between our imperfect intelligence and the perfect intelligence of God, there is an abyss, a wide gulf in knowledge.
What is man – the image of God in the beginning, or a particle, an indivisible and undivided unit, an insignificant substance (hypostasis) in the universe, without awareness, without life, without knowledge or power? What is God? Is He an existence that is conscious of itself, a unit and an essence that possesses knowledge of itself and of everything, and is also almighty, lacking nothing, the source of all existence, life, and thought? What is God? Is He an immortal existence, the source of life and immortality, an eternal source and supply of all good?
What is our life compared with the life of God? In the beginning we were beings lacking shape and form, imperfect existences such as worthless particles of matter which lack every quality and possess only the fact of their existence.
However, by natural generation, life was added to our imperfect existence, and then our existence became more perfect than it had been previously. When, in the course of time, we received also the spirit of cognition and thought, our existence and our life became more perfect.
But conscious as we are of our imperfection in being, living, knowing, and possessing any power we wish, we desire to make our imperfection become perfection, and add and acquire that which we do not possess. This is what we long to enjoy. We desire perfection – to reach that height wherein we may satisfy our desire for perfection and actually become perfect, by becoming complete and entire.
That stage which we long to achieve is perfect existence, and it possesses eternal and absolute being. It is perfect life which possesses absolute living eternally. It is perfect intelligence which possesses eternal and absolute thought and knowledge. In perfect existence we discover the existence of every being which both thinks and feels. We find the absolute source of beings, which gives being to all beings. This source in no way is altered, changed, or lessened, but always remains the same – unchanged self-sufficient, and complete.
In perfect life we discover the life of all living creatures. We discover life which is absolute, the source of the life of all living things. The perfect life supplies life to everything which lives, but in no manner is changed or altered itself; rather, in the same manner, it always possesses being and living.
In perfect intelligence we find the absolute source of intelligence, knowledge, and science. It supplies the power of thought to every thinking being; yet the source itself abides and remains inexhaustible, full, always the same, unaltered, and unchanged.
As we are imperfect in existence, life, intelligence, and power, so God is perfect, and not only in nature and essence, but also in purpose – for He not only is perfect existence, life, and intelligence, but also is perfect will that plans good perfectly, and equally perfectly detests and objects to evil. In purpose, man becomes like God whenever he wills and consents to good perfectly, not willing that which 1s wicked and evil, but rejecting it.
Then man becomes perfect in life, too, and in intelligence and power, for he lives, thinks, and is strong, as God. Living, thinking, and being strong, as God, he also is like God, and possesses perfect being. However, man’s being is not absolute, for there is only one absolute being which is without cause and which possesses the cause of its existence within itself.
If, therefore, we examine human nature carefully, as the image of God, and perceive the extent and the nature of its imperfection, we shall be elevated spiritually to the concept of the perfection of God. This is the fulfilling of our deficiency; this is infinite goodness filling the infinite void and emptiness within us.
God is goodness; He is perfection itself. Within His existence, life, thought, and all good things are contained. Furthermore, God possesses these qualities to perfection and infinity. Hence He is all-good, complete, and perfect, lacking nothing concerning being, living, thinking, and possessing power. As God grants being to and creates living things, He remains the same. He neither increases nor diminishes in His perfection, but continues to be and to possess perfect being, both before and following His creation of living beings.
God devotes thought to all beings, yet He is inexhaustible in thought, thinking neither more nor less than He should, whether past, present, or future. Indeed, all of which He thinks is in the present, for in the eternal God no time exists, only eternity.
Similarly, in God, there is no progression, for the eternal and infinite being is perfect. God neither progresses nor retrogresses, for progression and retrogression are accidental qualities of imperfect beings. As God creates the universe and rules creation, He is infinite in His power – capable of nothing more or less than that which is desirable according to His perfect plan.
O Lord God, how ineffable and great Thou art! Our mind whirls as it reflects upon even the most insignificant work of Thy wisdom, power, and goodness. We long ardently for Thy perfect being, even though we cannot comprehend it fully. Above all else we desire Thy perfect life, even though we understand it only in part. Lord God, unceasingly we desire Thy perfect intelligence and power, even though we cannot grasp them because of our finite intelligence.
We look for Thee in the creation of the natural world. We look for Thee in the creation of the myriad beings which Thou hast placed before us, in order that through them we may receive the first concept of Thine existence, Thy life, and Thy mind – the very first realization of Thy divine qualities. But what difference there exists between actual being and symbolic conjecture, between knowledge and shadow. How far we are from knowledge of the real state of affairs.
We look for Thee in Holy Scripture through that which Thou dost speak to us in revealing Thyself. We search for Thee in Thy words and in Thy works. Though we believe that Thou dost exist, and that Thou art the creator of all, yet we cannot see Thee as we wish and desire.
We cannot see Thee, dearest God, face to face, but we can see Thy back as did Moses of old. We can see Thee not only in creation, but also in the revelation of Thy Son, our own dear saviour.
We can see Thee in the mysteries of nature and in the Mysteries of grace and of Thy Church which Thou didst erect by the precious Blood of Thine own dear Son. We see Thee now through the holy Mysteries, yet we pray that in the world to come – which is not far off – we shall see Thee face to face, and then, satisfied with the sight of Thee, we shall rejoice eternally.
If we knew that we never would behold Thee face to face, but always in the Mysteries alone, then, O God, our God, we would prefer to exist not at all. For existence without the sight of Thee, without a glimpse of Thy face, would be everlasting torment, everlasting punishment. Therefore, we shall be satisfied, as David declared, with our vision of Thy glory.
We believe fully, O God, that Thou art first in the order of beings. first in the order of living beings, and first in the order of thinking beings. We believe also that Thou art goodness, the goodness which our nature lacks, and for which it longs so that it may be completed and perfected. From our inward longing for Thee we perceive too, the absolute necessity of Thine existence and perfection. We realize the necessity of Thine existence, and of Thy complete wisdom, almighty power, and perfect goodness.
O God, our God – perfect being, complete wisdom, almighty power, and perfect goodness – ineffable unity in trinity and trinity in unity, eternal worship, honour, and glory be unto Thee!
Verily, in the perfection of God there is blessedness, for as God is perfect, He possesses all that it is fitting for Him to have, and lacks nothing required by His perfect essence and nature. He enjoys the greatest possible pleasure from contemplation of truth, and from His own ineffable beauty – beauty of both nature and morality, and from the possession of all that is good.
The boundless pleasure which God enjoys is the life of blessedness which God lives. It is life eternal and immortality, generally termed blessedness. God, who alone possesses these qualities, is the only blessed one, even as St. Paul testified (I Timothy 6:16).
When God contemplates His perfect nature, when He thinks the truth eternally, and when He experiences exaltation from reflection upon the natural and moral unity which exists among the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, He rejoices with perfect joy, for there is no sorrow in God. He experiences no sadness. In the infinite Spirit which He is, God enjoys blessedness forever, world without end. To this we too gaze longingly, and with the hope of salvation and sanctification, we are carried toward it.
O, may we all attain it, so that we may live with our God forever and ever. Amen!