“Do you think that the angels in heaven talk over and ask each other questions about the divine essence?”

Let us now mount up to the heavens and see if there are those on high who know what God is in his essence. But even if there are in heaven beings possessed of this knowledge, we must realize that they will have nothing in common with us. For the distance which separates men from angels is a great one, and this gives us the best of reasons for trying to find out if the angels do have such knowledge. Let us, therefore, listen to the angels so that you may know—and know abundantly—that, not even in heaven, does any created power know God in his essence.

What, then, do you think? Do you think that the angels in heaven talk over and ask each other questions about the divine essence? By no means! What are the angels doing? They give glory to God, they adore him, they chant without ceasing their triumphal and mystical hymns with a deep feeling of religious awe. Some sing: “Glory to God in the highest”; the seraphim chant: “Holy, holy, holy,” and they turn away their eyes because they cannot endure God’s presence as he comes down to adapt himself to them in condescension. And the cherubim sing: “Blessed be his glory from this place,” not that God is surrounded by a place—heaven forbid!—but they are speaking after the fashion of men, just as if they were to say: “wherever he is,” or, “in whatever way he is,”—if indeed, it is safe to speak in this way about God. For our tongues speak with the words of men.

Did you see how great is the holy dread in heaven and how great the arrogant presumption here below? The angels in heaven give him glory; these heretics on earth carry on meddlesome investigations. In heaven they honor and praise him; on earth we find curious busybodies. In heaven they veil their eyes; on earth the busybodies are obstinate and shamelessly try to hold their eyes fixed on his ineffable glory. Who would not groan, who would not weep for them because of this ultimate madness and folly of theirs?

St John Chrysostom

This entry was posted in Citations. Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to “Do you think that the angels in heaven talk over and ask each other questions about the divine essence?”

  1. Fr Aidan Kimel says:

    St John Chrysostom, On the Incomprehensible Nature of God 1.35-36.

    Like

Comments are closed.