The hidden God
“ADORO te devote, latens Deitas.” So starts that famous Eucharistic hymn composed by St. Thomas Aquinas. It means, “Hidden here before me, Lord, I worship you.” And it continues, “Quae sub his figuris vere latitas,” which means, “Hidden in these symbols, yet completely true.”
The words definitely drip with deep faith and love. They also can trigger an impulse of faith and love if they are truly taken to heart. With faith and love, God becomes vividly present to us, though hidden in some sacramental symbols.
The “hiddenness” of God is precisely meant to provoke our response of faith and love. God only appears to hide from us not because he wants it that way but rather because our natural powers simply cannot discern him without the help of God’s grace through his gifts of faith and love.
Aside from our human limitations, the effects of our sin also serve as a wall that makes us unable to see God. But in reality, God only appears to hide from us. He is actually very much present in us and around us. In fact, he always intervenes in our life.
Remember St. Augustine’s testimony about this point. “Late have I loved you…” he said. “You were within and I was in the external world and sought you there, and in my unlovely state I plunged into those lovely created things which you made. You were with me, and I was not with you. The lovely things kept me far from you, though if they did not have their existence in you, they had no existence at all…”
Of course, God is all around us as well as within us. He is our Creator who has given us our very own existence and that of everything else. He cannot withdraw from us, since the moment he withdraws from us, we will lose our very existence. We will revert to nothing.
We need to learn how to discover God in everything. St. Paul in his Letter to the Romans assures us that God is in everything. We actually have no excuse why we cannot see him in everything.
“What may be known about God is plain to them,” he said, “because God has made it plain to them. For since the creation of the world, God’s invisible qualities, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood from his workmanship, so that men are without excuse.” (1,19-20)
We just have to follow what Christ has advised us to do. “Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” (Mt 6,33) We have to observe the proper priorities in our daily life. We have to continually defend ourselves from the many forces that try to make God not the first priority in our life.
Besides, we are asked to seek God with determination, since many things conspire with our own weaknesses and sinfulness to compete if not replace God in the proper order of things in our life.
“Ask and it will be given to you,” Christ said. “Seek and you will find. Knock and the door will be opened to you.” (Mt 7,7) We should not just be sitting pretty, waiting for some special inspiration to come before we get to see the hidden God.
In this regard, it might be good to develop an athlete’s attitude in seeking Christ. An athlete will do everything—from training exercises to diet to sleeping habits—to keep himself fit for his event. That should also be the case in training ourselves to be able to see God in everything.
As St. Paul said, “Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? Run in such a way as to take the prize.” (1 Cor 9,24)