God of Many Names (as shared by Elena)

We just had a parish mission at St. Hubert’s, where my family worships. The featured speaker was Lee Nagle, Executive Director of the National Conference for Catechetical Leadership. He spoke during the Mass I attended Sunday evening (and some of the things I was struck by in his reflection may still make there way into a post sometime this week) and he then has a post-Mass session with the teens of the parish. My daughter came home with such enthusiasm about the evening that I asked her if she would write something about the experience that she found powerful.

So, with Elena’s permission, my post today is not my post, but what Elena shared with me. Here is what she wrote:

“One of the things Nagle talked about was how God has many names. Many people, in their prayer, use the common, familiar names for God: Father, God of Mercy and Compassion, God of Love and Truth. But, in fact, including all of the names for Jesus and the Holy Spirit, there are at least 144 different names for God in the Bible. We tend to forget this, however, and by limiting how we name God, we limit God himself. We try to define He Who is Indefinable, and confine Him with our words.

“There is a saying: “God has 100 names; and we only know 99.” As humans, we simply cannot comprehend all that God is, precisely because God is everything and everywhere. We just can’t see it all at once.

“Sometimes God is referred to as “God of brilliant darkness” or “God of deafening silence.” These certainly don’t make sense for those of us who live out our lives in a “normal” fashion. But if you ever go out into the desert and watch the sky at night, “brilliant darkness” and “deafening silence” begin to make sense.

“So the important thing to remember is not to confine God with just one or a few names. In one sense, there is the person, named, and then there is the message of the whole. So we need to remember the message of God, and how God is the all-powerful…the indescribable.”

That should give you something to meditate on today. (And thanks to Elena for sharing this with us.)