Divine Intimacy § 233

Reflection based upon
Divine Intimacy 233:  God’s Infinite Goodness Is Diffusive

Among what are called “the divine perfections” are God’s goodness, wisdom, justice, and beauty.  Arguably, goodness is the simplest of these perfections.  Parents and teachers talk even with little children about goodness:  not only for loftier reasons, but also for practical reasons, so that there’s harmony in the home and the classroom.  And what’s one of the most difficult lessons for little children to learn about how to be good?  It is how to share.  The look on a little boy’s face, when with arms folded across his chest he refuses to share, suggests something important about goodness and its opposite.

When we reflect on the nature of goodness, whether to aspire to understand God Himself, or to prepare oneself to make a better Confession, or to explain better to schoolchildren what they ought to strive for personally, we need to remember a simple principle.  “Bonum diffusivum est.”  Goodness, by its very nature, diffuses itself:  communicates itself outwards to all in its paths.  Goodness can no more not be diffusive than can the sun not radiate light and heat.

This principle of the natural diffusiveness of goodness helps us to understand both the inner life and the outer life of God.  The inner life of God, sometimes called “the immanent Trinity”, is marked by this principle.  Within “the bosom of the Blessed Trinity”, Father Gabriel of St. Mary Magdalen notes, “the Father communicates to the Son all His divinity—essence, life, goodness and divine beatitude; the Father and the Son together communicate this to the Holy Spirit.”  This inner life of God is “essential, total, unceasing, and absolute”.

When we turn from reflecting upon God’s inner life to reflecting upon Salvation History, sometimes called the work of “the economic Trinity”, we face a challenge:  in fact, two challenges.  The first is to understand the mystery of sin and iniquity.  It’s hard to fathom why we so often and so thoroughly act contrary to the divine example of diffusive goodness.  The second is to repent, and with our efforts at prayer and asceticism, accept God’s grace so as to grow in God’s Image and likeness of boundless goodness.

Fr. Gabriel of St. Mary Magdalen 001

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