St-Gregory-the-DialogistCanst thou find out the footsteps of God?  Canst thou find out the Almighty unto perfection? (Job 11:7).

What does he call ‘the footsteps of God,’ saving the lovingkindness of His visitation?

By this we are stimulated to advance forward to things above, when we are influenced by the inspiration of His Spirit.

And, being carried without the narrow compass of the flesh, by love we see and own the likeness of our Maker presented to our contemplation that we may follow it.

For when the love of the spiritual land kindles the heart, He as it were gives knowledge of a way to persons that follow it.

And a sort of footstep of God as He goes is imprinted upon the heart laid under it, that the way of life may be kept by the same in right goings of the thoughts.

For Him, Whom we do not as yet see, it only remains for us to trace out by the footsteps of His love, that at length the mind may find Him, to the reaching the likeness contemplation gives of Him, Whom now as it were, following Him in the rear, it searches out by holy desires.

The Psalmist was well skilled to follow these footsteps of our Creator, when he said, My soul followeth hard after Thee (Ps. 63:8).

Whom too he busied himself that he might find even to attaining the vision of His loftiness, when he said, My soul thirsteth for God, for the living God: when shall I come and appear before the face of God? (Ps. 42:2).

For then Almighty God is found out by clear conception when, the corruption of our mortality being once for all trodden under our feet, He is seen by us that are taken up into heaven in the brightness of His Divine Nature.

But at this present time, the grace of the Spirit which is poured into our hearts lifts the soul from carnal aims, and elevates it into a contempt for transitory things, and the mind looks down upon all that it coveted below, and is kindled to objects of desire above.

By the force of her contemplation she is carried out of the flesh, while by the weight of her corruption she is still held fast in the flesh.

She strives to obtain sight of the splendour of uncircumscribed Light, and has not power; for the soul, being burthened with infirmity, both never wins admittance, and yet loves when repelled.

For our Creator already exhibits concerning Himself something whereby love may be excited, but He withdraws the appearance of His vision from those so loving.

Therefore we all go on seeing only His footsteps, in that only in the tokens of His gifts we follow Him, Whom as yet we see not.

Gregory the Great (c.540-604): Reflections (Moralia) on Job, 10, 13 (on Job 11:7) @ Lectionary Central (slightly adapted).

Advertisements