I will exalt you my God the King, and I will bless your name forever and ever! Every day I will bless you, and I will praise your name forever and ever!
O God, help me understand, I pray, why you created the universe, including human beings, including me. For you have taught me that there was a time when only you were, that is, only you are eternal. All other things have a beginning, and what’s more, all other things are the work of your hands. You are עשׂה שׁמים וארץ, “Maker of heaven and earth”, that is, according to the Hebrew merism, the Maker of all other things. This you have taught me, Father. But why did you create these other things, including me? I had been taught by others that you created all other things for yourself. According to these teachers, you properly love only yourself and can only love yourself. Therefore, your creation of other things was an act of self-love. You created other things in order to exhibit your glory in these things. Now, my God, of course you love what you are, that is, you value being compassionate, pitying, slow to anger, abundant in loving kindness, and so on, just as we value these in ourselves and others. And, my God, of course you love yourself with the self-love which all rational beings should exhibit, namely, the concern for one’s own well-being. So in these respects it is correct to say that you love yourself. But the self-love my teachers attributed to you is altogether different than these things, Father, and I believe they erred in attributing this self-love to you. You have since enlightened me, I believe, that the attribution of this self-love to you stems from Aristotle’s conception of the Prime Mover which influenced what became the so-called “classical” conception of God. According to Aristotle, the Prime Mover is noēsis noēseōs, “thinking of thinking”, or as is commonly rendered, “thought thinking itself.” This Thought Thinking Itself became in Jewish, Christian, and Muslim speculation the God who only thinks of himself, that is, the God who only loves himself.
But, Father, I do not believe this is who you are. While those who make you this believe they thereby make you great, I believe they unwittingly make you small. Indeed, I believe they make you nothing but the Supreme Narcissist. But my God is not the Supreme Narcissist! He is the Supreme Father, the Perfect Father! It is when I remember this, that you are our Perfect Father, that I believe light is shed on the answer to my question: why did you create the universe, in particular, human beings, including me? And this light is from you, for you have taught me, most of all through Jesus, my Lord, to always remember above all in my thinking about you that you are our Perfect Father. And doing this, I believe the answer to my question is revealed to be this: you created us because you loved us. But how can this be, one may ask, seeing that we did not exist prior to creation so that you could love us; for how is it possible to love something before it exists, or someone before she exists? But it is possible! Do not human couples, more or less imperfectly to be sure, do so when they decide to try to have a child? Again, it is true that they are more or less imperfectly moved by love for the child they wish to beget depending on the goodness of their character, and I do not doubt that sadly many couples are not moved at all by love for the child they wish to beget. Nevertheless, it seems clear to me, Father, that human couples do, or at least some human couples do, albeit imperfectly, love their children before they beget them, and what’s more, choose to beget them, again albeit imperfectly, precisely because they love them, love them before they beget them. What we find with human couples is I believe, Father, a reflection of what is true of you, what is perfectly true of you. As good human couples choose to beget children because they love the children, so you chose to beget us, as it were, because you loved us. And indeed the more that human couples choose to beget children because they love the children, even before they are born, the more they reflect you, which is why the better is the character of human couples, the more they are actuated by this motive in their decision to beget a child.
So, Perfect Father, it is not because you loved yourself that you created us; it is because you loved us! You wished to share with us blessedness, or happiness. And in what does this happiness consist? Well, Father, have you not fitted a wider universe for us in which to exist, and does not this wider universe provide for us delights of almost endless variety? There is food and drink, sexuality, knowledge and understanding, art and beauty, and so on and so forth. Is it not obvious that these things you have created for us to enjoy and in enjoying them to be blessed, or happy? But, Father, there is still something lacking in these, not lacking absolutely but lacking relatively. That is, in and of themselves, these things are all good and therefore provide enjoyment and so happiness. Yet the sensitive human heart feels there must be yet something more, something greater. The sensitive human heart knows that all these goods, as genuinely good as they are, are yet none of them summum bonum, highest good. And the sensitive human heart knows that the happiness produced by the enjoyment of each of these goods is, though genuine happiness, yet in no case summa felicitas, highest happiness. And how could it be otherwise, my God?! For no matter what goods you surround us with, none of those goods are you! You are Summum Bonum! You are Summa Felicitas! This is why inquietem est cor nostrum donec requiescat in te, as Augustine wrote. “Our heart is restless until it rests in you” because the goods you have surrounded us with, though they all be truly good, cannot compare with the Good which is you, their Creator. And therefore the happiness provided by the enjoyment of these goods cannot compare with the happiness provided by loving fellowship with you, their Creator. In this sense, then, I can affirm with Augustine, fecisti nos ad te. “You made us for yourself” not as an act of self-love as the “classical” theistic tradition has it, but as an act of love for us. You created us because you loved us and so wished to share with us blessedness; and loving us perfectly as a Perfect Father, you did not and do not withhold from us Summum Bonum and Summa Felicitas. That is, you do not withhold from us yourself! Oh Father, thank you for not withholding yourself from us! Thank you for not withholding yourself from me! I shall in turn not withhold myself from you. Oh help me, Beautiful Father, Perfect Friend, Lover of my Soul, my God and my King, not withhold myself from you! I know you will grant me this wish Father! For so great is your love! So great is your love!