shrouded in a cloud of unknowing

A mystery may be characterized as “any truth that is unknowable except by divine revelation” and unknowable is defined as “impossible to know, especially being beyond the range of human experience or understanding.” It is only through our arrogance and conceit that we refuse to acknowledge the existence of divine mystery and the reality of the unknowable. Current scientific thought professes with absolute certainty that the unknowable is simply knowledge yet to be discovered; that the unknowable is merely the unknown; that mystery is just a puzzle awaiting a solution.

The truth is that God is beyond our understanding, beyond our knowing; all that is God is a mystery wrapped in a cloud of unknowing. Someone once wrote that “when you come to know God, you are wrong.” In the book, The Cloud of Unknowing, written anonymously in the latter half of the 14th century, we read “For He can well be loved, but he cannot be thought. By love he can be grasped and held, but by thought, neither grasped nor held. And therefore, though it may be good at times to think specifically of the kindness and excellence of God, and though this may be a light and a part of contemplation, all the same, in the work of contemplation itself, it must be cast down and covered with a cloud of forgetting. And you must step above it stoutly but deftly, with a devout and delightful stirring of love, and struggle to pierce that darkness above you; and beat on the thick cloud of unknowing with a sharp dart of longing love, and do not give up, whatever happens.”

The truth is that God is beyond our knowing, a mystery beyond our capacity to discover through our own power. What we know has been revealed through the results of His creation and His Word.

The mystery of the Holy Trinity, Three Persons in One God, strikes at the heart of our feeble attempts to quantify and qualify God. We profess our faith in the Triune God while simultaneously questioning the truth of it. We question even as we bless ourselves with the sign of the cross. We question even as we profess our faith in “one God, the Father almighty, … one Lord Jesus Christ, the Only Begotten Son of God, … consubstantial with the Father; … the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life, who proceeds from the Father and the Son, …

Some may even ask where we find this understanding of Holy Trinity; it comes most concretely from Jesus who told his disciples “Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age” [Mt 28:19-20].

Although we cannot understand it — for it is a mystery shrouded in a cloud of unknowing – The Father creates us, the Son saves us, and the Holy Spirit lives within us. And so we believe.

About the author: Deacon Chuck

Deacon Chuck was ordained into the permanent diaconate on September 17, 2011, in the ministry of service to the Diocese of Reno and assigned to St. Albert the Great Catholic Community. He currently serves as the parish bulletin editor and website administrator. Deacon Chuck continues to serve the parish of Saint Albert the Great Catholic Community of the Diocese of Reno, Nevada. He is the Director of Adult Faith Formation and Homebound Ministries for the parish, conducts frequent adult faith formation workshops, and is a regular homilist. He currently serves as the bulletin editor for the parish bulletin. He writes a weekly column intended to encompass a broad landscape of thoughts and ideas on matters of theology, faith, morals, teachings of the magisterium and the Catholic Church; they are meant to illuminate, illustrate, and catechize the readers and now number more than 230 articles. His latest endeavor is "Colloqui: A journal for restless minds", a weekly journal of about 8 pages similar in content to bulletin reflections. All his reflections, homilies, commentaries, and Colloqui are posted and can be found on his website: Comments are always welcome and appreciated. He is the author of two books: "The Voices of God: hearing God in the silence" which offers the reader insights into how to hear God’s voice through all of the noise that surrounds us; and "Echoes of Love: Effervescent Memories" which through a combination of prose and verse provides the reader with a wonderful journey on the way to discovering forever love. He regularly speaks to groups of all ages and size and would welcome the opportunity to speak to your group.

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