During my high school years, I attended an all male Catholic military school in Washington, D.C. The teachers and staff were always telling us that we needed to become men of character.
They required us to memorize a long list of attributes that expressed what a man of character was like: integrity, courage, diligence, and loyalty, among many others. With just a little help, I can still recite most of them.
Just as my school described a man of character by listing a set of attributes, we can describe God by talking about his attributes. For instance, it helps us to understand who God is if we say that he is just and merciful, or that he is all-knowing and all-powerful, or that he is wise and compassionate. Words like these can give us some very helpful insights, but they also have their limitations. No word, no series of words, no description at all could ever fully describe Almighty God.
The list of attributes I memorized in high school were traits that we were expected to aspire to. They described men that our teachers hoped we would become. But that’s not the way it is with God. He is already just and merciful and kind and wise—absolutely and completely. He doesn’t have to strive to improve himself. He is already perfect.
In this issue, we want to look at some of the key attributes of God because they can help us to enlarge our vision of who he is. I know for me, when I spend time thinking and meditating on who God is, it helps me to appreciate him that much more. I sense his glory and his love more deeply, and it fills me with awe. I feel a bit like St. Ignatius of Loyola, who used to stand on his balcony each evening, gazing at the stars and contemplating the majesty of God.
Here I Am. Sometimes I ask myself: “Why does a God who is so powerful and wonderful want to have a relationship with us?” Likewise, I ask: “Why does he love us so much?” We certainly don’t merit it based on our behavior. And yet the answer is right in front of all of us. God loves us and wants to share his life with us because it’s in his nature. It’s who he is.
Because he is loving and just and faithful, God has promised that whenever we seek him, we will find him. He promises that whenever we try to understand who he is, he will give us more insight. Scripture tells us that Jesus stands at the door of our hearts and knocks—not just once but constantly. Day after day, he is knocking, telling us: “Here I am. I want to be with you; I want you to come and be with me” (Revelation 3:20).
I pray that as you read these articles, the Holy Spirit will enlarge your perspective of who God is. The more we come to know him for who he is—majestic and perfect in every way—the more we will be moved to go out and serve him.
May God bless you.