On Sunday, when I pray the Nicene Creed and hear the words “begotten, not made” my mind is limited. It is outside the realm of my limited human experience. Persons, places, things, or ideas are easier concepts because they have common realities that I understand.
Pope St. John Paul II’s encyclical letter, Fides et Ratio, sheds some light on this limitation: “It should nonetheless be kept in mind that Revelation remains charged with mystery. It is true that Jesus, with his entire life, revealed the countenance of the Father, for he came to teach the secret things of God. But our vision of the face of God is always fragmentary and impaired by the limits of our understanding. Faith alone makes it possible to penetrate the mystery in a way that allows us to understand it coherently.”
In the Gospel, Thomas’ mind is struggling with a concept too, “Master, we do not know where you are going; how can we know the way?” The Lord’s response is bewildering, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” Faith can be a difficult reality. Jesus is asking Thomas for complete trust in Him. He is not handing him a physical road map, which Thomas might have appreciated. He is asking for relationship, one formed in virtue, specific virtues: Faith, Hope, and Love.
Prayer aids human understanding beyond the grasp of reason. This prayer from St. Elizabeth of the Trinity may be helpful:
O my God, Trinity whom I adore, let me entirely forget myself that I may abide in you, still and peaceful as if my soul were already in eternity; let nothing disturb my peace nor separate me from you, O my unchanging God, but that each moment may take me further into the depths of your mystery! Pacify my soul! Make it your heaven, your beloved home and place of your repose; let me never leave you there alone, but may I be ever attentive, ever alert in my faith, ever adoring and all given up to your creative action.