Return of the Prodigal Son by Pompeo Batoni - 1773

Evolution for the Catholic Student

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Thursday, October 4, 2012

The Fathers Speak: St. Clement of Alexandria

The Fathers Speak:
St. Clement of Alexandria

          St. Clement was born about A.D. 150, to pagan parents.  He converted to Christianity and became the director of a school for catechumens in Egypt.  Persecution forced him to leave Egypt in the early third century.  In the text below, he shares a meditation on God and on natural faith.

          [It is not] possible to predicate any parts of [God].  For what is one is indivisible, and thereby infinite – not in regard to its being clearly inconceivable, but in regard to its being without dimensions and not having limits, for which reason it is without form and name.  And if we somehow name Him, we do not do so properly, when we supply such names as the One, or the Good, or Mind, or That Which Is, or Father, or God, or Creator, or Lord.  We so speak not as supplying His name; but in our need we use beautiful names so that the mind may have these as a support against erring in other respects.
          For each one by itself does not express God, but all together they are indicative of the power of the Omnipotent.  Predicates are expressed either from what belongs to things themselves, or from their relationship to each other; but nothing of this is applicable in reference to God.  Neither is he apprehended by the science of demonstration; for it depends upon primary and better known principles, while there is nothing antecedent to the Unbegotten.
          That which in other ages was not known has now been clearly shown and has now been revealed to the sons of men.  Indeed, there was always a natural manifestation of the one almighty God, among all right thinking men; and the majority, who had not entirely divested themselves of shame in the presence of the truth, apprehended the eternal beneficence through divine providence…The Father and Creator of all things, therefore, is apprehended by all means of an innate power and without instruction, in a manner suitable to all…Nor is it possible for any race to live anywhere, whether they be tillers of the soil or nomads, not even be they city-dwellers, without being imbued with faith in a Higher Being.