THE HONOR OF GOD

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

“The honor of God should be the aim in everything”  (St. Ignatius of Antioch)

“The world has heard enough of the so-called rights of man. Let it hear something of the rights of God.” (Pope Leo XIII, Tametsi Futura)

“You are worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honor and power for You created all things, and by your will they exist and were created” (Rev. 4:11).

By honoring God, Creator of the Universe, we honor the very end and purpose for which we exist, our first beginning and last end, the infinite source of all that we have and are. As St. Thomas states: “The end of religion is to pay God reverence and honor” (Summa Theologiae, II-II, q. 81, a. 7, s.c. 2).

“We pay God honor and reverence, not for His sake (because He is of Himself full of glory to which no creature can add anything), but for our own sake, because by the very fact that we revere and honor God, our mind is subjected to Him; wherein its perfection consists, since a thing is perfected by being subjected to its superior, for instance the body is perfected by being quickened by the soul, and the air by being enlightened by the sun.”  (St. Thomas, Summa Theologiae, II-II, q. 81, a. 7, c)

Hence, as the convert to Catholicism, J. R. R. Tolkien, wrote: “The chief purpose of life, for any of us, is to increase according to our capacity our knowledge of God by all means we have, and to be moved by it to praise and give  thanks.” By living with God’s honor as our leit-motif we revolutionize the great untruth of life under the “Dictatorship of Relativism:

“[We] look on things as if man were the centre of them. Man is not the centre. God does not exist for the sake of man. Man does not exist for his own sake. ‘Thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created.’ We were made not primarily that we may love God (though we were made for that too) but that God may love us, that we may become objects in which the divine love may rest ‘well pleased’.”  (C. S. Lewis, The Problem of Pain)

St. Anselm of Canterbury in his work Cur Deus Homo, states as one of the reasons for the Incarnation, the importance of restoring to God the honor that had been taken from Him by sin. For “to sin is nothing else than not to render to God his due.”  In answer to the question “What is the debt that we owe to God?” Anselm replied:

“Every wish of a rational creature should be subject to the will of God…For it is such a will only, when it can be exercised, that does works pleasing to God…He who does not render this honor which is due to God, robs God of his own and dishonors him; this is sin. Moreover, so long as he does not restore what he has taken away, he remains in fault; and it will not suffice merely to restore what has been taken away, but, considering the contempt offered, he ought restore more than he took away.”

St. Anselm noted that God, infinitely just as well as merciful, cannot merely ignore man’s sins since to do so would be to obliterate the difference between justice and injustice, between innocence and guilt, between truth and untruth, and, ultimately, by equating injustice with justice to equate injustice with God Himself and thus betray His own honor. “God maintains nothing with more justice than his own dignity” (St. Anselm).

Our Lord Jesus Christ has shown man how to honor the Most Holy Trinity by living out perfectly the truth of a life absolutely dedicated to God’s honor. As the God-Man approached Golgotha He cried out “To this end have I been born, and to this end have I come into the world, that I should bear witness unto the truth.” [Jn 18: 37].  And by His Passion, shedding his blood in atonement as a living victim, He repaired the outrage of mankind’s sins against God’s honor (Catechism of the Catholic Church, n.1992).

Thus, before His Ascension He could pray to His Eternal Father: “I glorified you on earth, having accomplished the work that you gave me to do” (Jn 17:4). He had restored the honor of the Most Holy Trinity by His wounds and “by his wounds we have been healed” (Isaiah 53:5) for “it was for our sins he was wounded, it was guilt of ours crushed him down; on him the punishment fell that brought us peace, by his bruises we were healed. Strayed sheep all of us, each following his own path; and God laid on his shoulders our guilt, the guilt of us all.” (Isaiah 53: 5-6)

By living under the gaze of the Crucified Christ, by never forgetting His wounds, by resolving that “ I make up in my body what is lacking in the sufferings of Christ for the sake of His Body, the Church” (Col 1:24), the Ignatian unites himself to Christ Crucified as Alter Christus, continuing His work of redemption in history by empowering men to unite themselves through the Sacrifice of the Mass to the redemptive act of the Savior. Thus he prolongs Our Lord’s mission to render honor to the Most Holy Trinity enabling man to vanquish Satan and become fully alive for unending eternal ages.