Essay / Uncategorized

Voice of the Father (Hugh of St. Victor)

In his work On the Three Days, Hugh of St. Victor considers some pretty profound trinitarian theology, giving special attention to how the Father loves the Son. It’s a complex meditation, and maybe all I need to say is that it is very Augustinian, and very invested in recognizing that since the Son is the Father’s own Wisdom, the Father loves his Wisdom more than he loves anything made through his Wisdom; in fact, he loves all the products of his Wisdom externally by choice precisely by loving his Wisdom internally by nature.

So, there’s a lot going on there. But after working through it, Hugh brings it all to final expression in an extended commentary on the words, “This is my beloved Son, in whom in am pleased; listen to him.” Hugh exhorts his readers, “Listen whether the voice of the Father is in harmony with what we are saying.” And from there he launches into his meditative recital of what the Father would say of his love for the Son, if he said it in the terms Hugh has been developing:

This,” He says, is my beloved Son in whom I am pleased.” He did not say separately, “I am well pleased,” nor did He say separately, “He pleased me.” Nor, indeed, did He say conjointly: “I am well pleased,” and “He pleased me’; but He said, “I am well pleased in Him,” that is, “what pleases me regarding myself is in Him, not outside of Him, because what I am He is. For because I am not other than He, I cannot be pleased outside of Him.

This is my beloved Son in whom I am pleased.’

“Whatever pleases me does so in Him and through Him. For He is the Wisdom through whom I made all things. In Him I have eternally arranged whatever I have made in time.

And the more perfectly I see each work of mine to be in harmony with that first arrangement, the more fully I love it. Do not think that He is only the mediator in the reconciliation of humankind, for through Him also the creation of all creatures becomes praiseworthy and pleasing in my sight.

In Him I consider all the works I do, and I cannot not love what I see is similar to Him whom I love. The only one that offends me is the one who departs from His likeness.

“Therefore, if you wish to please me, be like Him, ‘Listen to Him.‘ And if by chance you have departed from His likeness by acting badly, return by imitating Him. In Him are given the command and the counsel; the command so that you may remain steadfast, the counsel so that you may return.

Would that you had kept the commandment! But because you have transgressed the command, at least listen to the admonition, ‘Listen to Him.‘ An angel of great counsel is sent to you, and the one who was given to created things for their glory is the same one who comes to the lost for their healing. ‘Listen to Him.’

He is the creator and He is also the redeemer. As God, He Created you with me; He alone came to you as a human being with you. ‘Listen to Him.‘ For He is the form; He is the medicine; He is the example; He is the remedy. ‘Listen to Him.‘ It would have been a happier situation to have always maintained His likeness, but now it will be no less glorious to return to imitation of Him. ‘Listen to Him.’

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