A meditation for the Advent season
Humbly I adore thee, verity unseen, Who thy glory hidest ‘neath these shadows mean; Lo, to thee surrendered, my whole heart is bowed. Tranced as it beholds thee, shrined within the cloud.
This 13th century contemplation sings of love for a truth, which, although not fully visible, is no less truly known. For Aquinas, the truth is Jesus; known and adored, yet shrouded in ineffable mystery.
Mystery. Whether I speak of God or truth (that which is unalterably, reliably real) or virtues (laudable principles, which, when practiced, make for good living) or the meaning of life, there is mystery.
Mystery. Not a riddle to be resolved by reason (if I only knew more, I’d figure it out). Rather something beyond the fullest grasp of my comprehension (the more I know, the more I know I don’t know).
Yet the nature of mystery, it seems to me, is to call continually, saying, “Come.”
There is, however, an inherent problem with mystery. It’s mysterious! Resistant to my quest for answers. For it’s one thing for me to acknowledge life’s ambiguity in the abstract; in a calm moment, saying, “Life’s only consistency is its inconsistency.” It’s another matter to face uncertainty in the concrete corridors of my life, at the intersection of circumstance and decision, crisis and action when my choices, however sincerely made, might prove disastrously wrong. For then, I long for the comfort of certainty.
In this, there is another danger of running too fast, too far in the other direction. To equate faith with certainty and, even worse, with conformity that inhibits questioning and favors answers, the clearer and firmer, the better.
This is not the mentality of Advent; the season of preparation for Christmas, which, for Christians, celebrates the greatest mystery, the grandest incomprehensibility of all: God taking flesh to dwell among us. Hence, Advent, to mystery’s constant call, beckons the response, “Yes!”
So, what does “yes” look like?
© 2022 PRA
 Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274), Dominican philosopher and theologian