Meditations for Advent: The Creation of the Universe

Gossouin de Metz, L'Image du Monde 
c. 1245

The Creation of the Universe 

Recollected within myself, seeing in myself only sin, imperfection, and nothingness, I see at the same time above me a happy and perfect nature, and I say to him within myself with the psalmist: “You are my God; you have no need of my possessions” (cf. Ps. 16:2), for you have no need of any possessions.

“I am who am [Exod. 3:14]. My existence suffices; all the rest is of no use to me.” Yes, Lord, all the rest is of no use to you and contributes nothing to your greatness. You are no greater with the whole world, or with a thousand millions of worlds, than you are alone. When you made the world, it was by your goodness, and not from necessity. It is fitting that you should be able to create all that you please, for it is part of the perfection of your being and of the efficacy of your will not only that you should exist, but that all that you will should exist — that it should exist as soon as you will it, to the extent that you will it, when you will it. And when you will it, you do not begin to will it: from all eternity you will what you will without ever changing. Nothing begins in you, and everything begins outside of you by your eternal order. Is something lacking to you because you do not do as many things as you are able to do? The whole universe you have made is but a little part of what you could have made, and, after all, is as nothing before you. If you had made nothing, existence would be lacking to the things that you had not willed to make. But nothing is lacking to you, because independent of all things, you are the one who is, and who is everything that it is necessary to be in order to be perfect and happy.

O Father eternal and independent of all things! Your Son and your Holy Spirit are with you; you have no need of society, for here is a society in yourself that is eternal and inseparable from you. You are content with this infinite and eternal communication of your perfect and blessed essence to these two Persons who are equal to you, who are not at all your work, but who are your cooperators; who are like you, not by your commandment, or by an effect of your omnipotence, but by the sole perfection and plenitude of your being. Every other communication is incapable of adding anything to your greatness, to your perfection, to your happiness.

God said: “Let there be light, and there was light” (Gen. 1:3). The king says, “Let them march,” and the army marches, or “Let such and such be done,” and it is accomplished; a whole army stirs at a single word from the prince — that is to say, from the merest movement of his lips. This is the most excellent image of the power of God among human things, but, in the end, it is a defective one. God does not move his lips. God does not strike the air with his tongue to draw forth some sound. God has only to will inside himself, and all that he wills eternally is accomplished as he wills it and in the time he has marked out.

And so he said let there be light, and it was; let there be a firmament, and there was one; let the waters be gathered, and they were gathered; let two great lights be illuminated, and they lit up; let animals come forth, and they came forth. “For he spoke, and it came to be; he commanded, and it stood forth” (Ps. 32:9). There is “none that can resist his voice” (Judith 16:17). The shadow does not follow the body any faster than all things follow the commandment of the Almighty.

O God, how poor is my soul! It is truly nothingness from which, little by little, you draw forth the good with which you wish to fill it; it is naught but chaos, before you have begun to untangle all its thoughts. When you make the light dawn within it through faith, it remains imperfect until you have formed it by charity, and you, who are the true sun of justice, as burning as you are luminous, have embraced me with your love! O God, may you be praised forever by your works. It is not enough to have illuminated me once; without your help I would fall again into my initial darkness. The air needs the sun to illuminate it; how much more do I need you ceaselessly to illuminate me. Ever my prayer should be: “Let there be light!”

Archbishop Jacques-BĂ©nigne Bossuet 


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