Our Nothingness

Catholic Candle note: Below is an article by one of the Catholic Candle Team, which is the third in a series of reflections related to humility.  Here are the first two in this series:

Objective Truth Series – reflections article #3

Since God is the Sculptor of souls and He naturally begins by attracting souls to humility, then it is fitting that God’s next step is to show man what he is as a creature.[1]  Man is a creature and what a creature!  

And He [God] said: Let us make man to our image and likeness: and let him have dominion over the fishes of the sea, and the fowls of the air, and the beasts, and the whole earth, and every creeping creature that moveth upon the earth.

Genesis, 1:2.

And the Lord God formed man of the slime of the earth: and breathed into the face the breath of life, and man became a living soul.

Genesis, 2:7.

And where else did this “slime” come from, but from God?

In the beginning God created heaven, and earth.  And the earth was void and empty.

Genesis, 1:1-2.

Imagine, dear reader, our condition – to be made of slime, which was once a void!  Why does “slimy” man think that just because God made man in His Image and Likeness, and gave man dominion over the earth and other creatures existing on earth, that somehow man has the ultimate control over everything around him?

Humans know that although man fell through Original Sin, he still has dominion over the earth and other creatures on the earth.  But man’s “dominion” implies governing and having the care over these things, yet not a control of these things in every way.  However, because of Original Sin, man often thinks that because he has the use of reason, he also has the ultimate control over everything around him.  Man forgets his dependence on God.  A man cannot guarantee himself his next breath nor can he guarantee himself anything else.

Oh, if only we humans could have a tangible sense of our nothingness!  We were created from the slime of the earth and the earth was created out of nothing.

When we see our nothingness, then we see our complete dependence on God.  This helps to humble us. We know from what Our Lord said, “Unless you become as little children, you shall not enter the kingdom of heaven.”  Thus, without humility we will never enter the kingdom of heaven.  

How good God is to show us in countless ways our complete dependence on Him!  What a great wonder that God the Son became Man, one with us poor humans!  This is astounding to think of!  Jesus’ Human Nature was created.  This means that His Human Body and Soul were created.  Like us:

this soul, thus vested, did not exist yesterday, and at any moment might turn again to the void if it were not each moment sustained by the Almighty, for the created being, even of a Man-God, is frail and carries within itself the seeds of dissolution ….  What a spectacle this is – the Word face-to-face with the nature He has associated Himself with!  The Soul of Jesus plunges her astonished and enchanted gaze into the depths of this Divine Ocean, depths that are inaccessible even to her.  At all points, her gaze is arrested and she is conscious of an infinite Beyond.  Throughout the centuries of eternity, never will this soul, united to the Word, fully understand the Word.[2]

Thus, the Lord of lords takes flesh to become the Saint of saints!  He knew His created Human Soul and Body was like ours insofar as It was created out of nothing, like ours and would cease to exist if God did not keep It in existence.  Considering this, how much more we can see our nothingness and why Our Lord could truly say, “Learn of Me, for I am meek and humble of Heart.”

We are so dependent on God for everything.  We really can’t help seeing our complete dependence on God.  We depend on God for everything and we are only truly at peace when we see, with all our hearts, our dependence on God.  Very often, God allows us to ponder this truth in our minds.  This is God’s way of instructing us poor creatures and teaching us the habit of pondering this truth – objective truth.  Thus, this beautiful habit, fostered by God, blossoms forth prayers of thanksgiving to God for allowing us to see this basic truth.  We find that we love Him for this truth more and more and this truth takes possession (as it were) of the soul.  Our hearts could burst forth with grateful love of God. May it please God to give us this joy!

Oh, man, oh nothingness,

Created from slime,

Nay, the abyss,

The truth sublime,

Thy creator made you like this.

Dost thou forget,

Your worth is null,

And that thou hast, sin original?

Wounded, ignorant and weak,

You could ne’er speak.

Nor think nor breathe,

Without His leave.

On Him, you depend,

His Goodness wants you,

To be His Friend!

He lets you see,

What you are,

Oh nothingness,

With humility,

He’ll bring you far.

[1]         As St. Ignatius of Loyola points out at the beginning of the Spiritual Exercises, “Man is created …”.

[2]         Path of Humility, Leopold Beaudenom, Burns Oates & Washbourne Ltd., London, ©1920, pp. 128-129.