BLTC Press Titles

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Through the Looking Glass

Lewis Carroll

The Picture of Dorian Gray

Oscar Wilde

The Characters of Theophrastus


The Fairy Tale of the Green Snake and the Beautiful Lily

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Thomas Carlyle, Rudolf Steiner


by Henri-Dominique Lacordaire


Three doctrines come before us. One of these affirms that God is condemned by the sovereign majesty of his nature to isolation dreadful to imagine; that, alone in himself, he contemplates himself seeing only himself, and loves himself with a love which has no other object than himself; that in this contemplation and this love, eternally solitary, the nature and perfection of his life consist.

According to the second doctrine, the universe shows us the life of God, or rather it is itself the life of God. We behold in it his permanent action, the scene upon which his power is exercised, and in which all his attributes are reflected. God is not out of the universe any more than the universe is out of God. God is the principle, the universe is the consequence, but a necessary consequence, without which the principle would be inert, unfruitful, impossible to conceive.

Catholic doctrine condemns these two systems. It does not admit that God is a solitary being eternally employed in a sterile contemplation of himself; nor does it admit that the universe, although it is the work of God, is his proper and personal life. It soars above those feeble ideas, and, bearing us with the word of God beyond all the conceptions of the human mind, it teaches us that the divine life consists in the co-eternal union of three equal persons, in whom plurality destroys solitude, and unity division; whose thought corresponds, whose love is mutual, and who, in that marvellous communion, identical in substance, distinct in personality, form together an ineffable association of light and love. Such is the essence of God, and such is his life, both powerfully expressed in those words of the Apostle St. John: —Tres Sunt Qui Testimonium Daret In Ccelo:' Pater, Verbum, Et Spiritus SanctusThere are three who give testimony in heaven: the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost. And these three are one} Here, and very soon after having promised you light, it would seem that I am leading you into a maze of darkness; for, can anything be conceived more formidable to the mind than the terms by which I have just expressed, according to the Scriptures and the Church, the relations that constitute the inner life of God? Do not, however, yield to this first impression; trust rather to my promises, since they are those of the Gospel, wherein it is written :—Ego Sum Lux MundiI am the light of the world. And again :—Qui


Lumen VitjeHe that followeth me walketh not in darkness, but shall have the light of life? Yes, be confi1 I John v. 7. 2 St. John viii. 12.

dent, count upon God, who has proposed nothing to you unnecessary to be believed, and who has hidden marvellous treasures in the most obscure mysteries, as he has hidden the fires of the diamond in the depths of the earth. Follow me, let us pass the pillars of Hercules, and, leaving truth to fill our sails, let us fearlessly advance even to the transatlantic regions of light .

We would understand something of the divine life: the first question, therefore, we have to ask is : What is life? For, as long as we do not know what life is in itself, it is clear that we shall not be able to form any idea of the life of God. What, then, is life? In order to comprehend this, we must learn what being is; for life is evidently a certain state of being. We thus arrive at that first and supreme question: What is being? And we shall solve it by seeking for what is permanent and common in the infinitely varied beings which surround us. Now, in all of these, whatsoever their name, their form, their degree of perfection or inferiority, we find a mysterious force which is the principle of their substance and organization, and which we call activity. Every being, even the most inert in appearance, is active; it condenses, it resists foreign efforts, it attracts and incorporates to itself elements which obey it. A grain of sand is in contest and in harmony with the whole universe, and maintains itself by that force which is the very seat of its being, and without which it would become lost in the absolute incapacity of nothingness. Activity, being the permanent and common characteristic of all that is, it follows that being and activity are one and the same thing, and that we are warranted in making this definition: Being is activity. St. Thomas of Aquinas gave us an example when, having to define God, who is being in its total reality, he said: God is a pure act.

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