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Good morning Padre Angelo,

I’m a 17 year-old who came closer to God in the last few months, who I thank infinitely for all the graces He’s giving me in my spiritual life. I also thank you for your answers to the various questions on your site: they’ve been very helpful.

Back to the topic, I don’t know if I should pose such a philosophical-ontological question about God (if I shouldn’t, please tell me so). You see, I asked myself this question while thinking about various statements from the great Christian philosophers: but let’s take  one step at a time.

Saint Thomas Aquinas says that God is the Being in which essence and being coincide, He can therefore be seen as Being in itself, while His creatures receive their essence from Him. This statement differs from what Aristotle says: that the essence of God (as first unmoved mover) is the same as the essence of man and other things, because he is, like them, a substance.

On the other hand, Saint Augustine of Hippo, who is closer to neoplatonic philosophy, seems to agree with Saint Thomas that God the Father is Being.

Here’s my question: instead of considering God as “Substance” (Aristotle) or God as “Being” (Saint Augustine of Hippo/Saint Thomas Aquinas), why can’t we accept a “thesis” according to which God “transcends” existence, non-existence, Being itself and its categories? And why can’t we accept that Being itself, existence and non-existence are his creatures?

In conclusion, regarding my last question, I was surprised to learn that according to the Lurianic Kabbalah (a Jewish mystical system), the first creature of God was non-existence. I don’t want to get too much into the topic of mysticism, which is too philosophic and too oriental (like, for example, buddhism) and only brings us away from Christ: it was just an addendum from the jewish world.

I would like to know your answer.

Thank you in advance! I bless you in the name of God and I ask you to say a prayer for me.

Kind regards.

Dear young friend,

First of all I thank you for your blessing.

You wrote: in the name of God, which means: with all the power of God.

1. Now, about the problem you posed, we should start out by saying that we talk about God because all created creatures lead us to talk about Him. Since we see that everything has existence, we ask ourselves who did they receive it from and if they will always have it.

Following our reasoning, we come to the conclusion that they received it from somebody who has it in himself and who identifies himself with existence.

And this is God.

2. We therefore say that God is Being because, in our reasoning, we go from the visible things which are in existence to the invisible ones.

In the same way we say, together with Aristotle, that God is substance, deducing this concept from the realities of this world which are built out of substance and accidents.

In God, on the other hand, just like essence identifies itself with existence, everything is substantial and nothing is accidental.

Every quality of God is predicated (is attributed to Him) with the verb “to be” and not with the verb “to have”, as it is for every other being.

3. It is correct to say that God transcends existence because he is not just one among the many existent beings.

Indeed, while all the others have existence and are kept into existence moment after moment by God, only God is the Being above all others.

In this way, we can say that He transcends being, meaning all the creation, visible and invisible.

4. I don’t know what you mean by non-existence.

If by non-existence you mean that it doesn’t exist, then we speak of nothing.

But saying that God transcends nothing means saying nothing about Him.

5. We should rather go further and speak about God not just from the things of this world, but from what God said about Himself, not just when He created the world, but also how He operated in the history of salvation.

We then know God with other categories: that of charity, love, communion and mercy.

This knowledge is by far superior to the other one and it is the knowledge that characterizes Christian theology.

It’s not just a cold knowledge that leads us to an understanding of God, but we establish a relationship.

It’s not just the relationship of a creature with its Creator, but that of a person who becomes, by adoption, a son of God with the Father.

It’s a familiar relationship, a friendship.

It’s an interpersonal relationship of communion.

6. As Saint Thomas points out about this, we are no longer speaking about a Verbum qualecumque, of a Logos however it may be, but of a Verbum spirans Amorem (Summa theologiae, I, 43,5, ad 2), of a Thought and of a Word that communicate Love and give us the ability to love it back in return.

7. You are young, but you’re already capable of starting to walk this path, which helps you to know God from the inside, but also to taste Him, experience Him, to relish in His presence and  communion of life.

This I wish to you with all my heart, together with my wishes for a happy and holy Easter.

I will gladly remember you in my prayers and I bless you.

Father Angelo