Knowing God – St. Hilary of Poitiers

A quote from St. Hilary of Poitiers (4th Century AD), quoted by Olivier Clement in THE ROOTS OF CHRISTIAN MYSTICISM ( a book I would highly recommend to everyone).

 “I began the search for the meaning of life.  At first I was attracted by riches and leisure… But most people discover that human nature wants something better to do than just gormandize and kill time.  They have been given life in order to achieve something worthwhile, to make use of their talents.  It could not have been given them without some benefit in eternity.  How otherwise could one regard as a gift from God a life so eaten away by anguish, so riddled with vexation, which left to itself would simply wear out, from the prattle of the cradle to the drivel of senility?  Look at people who have practiced patience, chastity and forgiveness.  The good life for them meant good deeds and good thoughts.  Could the immortal God have given us life with no other horizon than death?  Could he have inspired us with such a desire to live, if the only outcome would be the horror of death?   ….  Then I sought to know God better… I discovered the books which the Jewish religion says were composed by Moses and the prophets.  There I discovered that God bears witness to himself in these terms:   ‘I am who I am,’ and ‘Say this to the people of Israel, “I AM has sent me to you”‘ (Exodus 3:14).  I was filled with wonder at this perfect definition which translates into intelligible words the incomprehensible knowledge of God.  Nothing better suggest God than Being.  ‘He who is’ can have neither end nor beginning… and since God’s eternity cannot contradict itself, in order to assert his unapproachable eternity, God needed only to assert solemnly that he is.” 

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