Stanza v


A thousand graces diffusing
He passed through the groves in haste,
And merely regarding them
As He passed,
Clothed them with His beauty.

THIS is the answer of the creatures to the soul which, according
to St. Augustine, in the same place, is the testimony which they
furnish to the majesty and perfections of God, for which it asked
in its meditation on created things. The meaning of this stanza
is, in substance, as follows: God created all things with great
ease and rapidity, and left in them some tokens of Himself, not
only by creating them out of nothing, but also by endowing them
with innumerable graces and qualities, making them beautiful in
admirable order and unceasing mutual dependence. All this He
wrought in wisdom, by which He created them, which is the Word,
His only begotten Son. Then the soul says;

‘A thousand graces diffusing.’

2. These graces are the innumerable multitude of His creatures.
The term ‘thousand,’ which the soul makes use of, denotes not
their number, but the impossibility of numbering them. They are
called grace because of the qualities with which He has endowed
them. He is said to diffuse them because He fills the whole world
with them.

‘He passed through the groves in haste.’

3. To pass through the groves is to create the elements; here
called groves, through which He is said to pass, diffusing a
thousand graces, because He adorned them with creatures which are
all beautiful. Moreover, He diffused among them a thousand graces,
giving the power of generation and self-conservation. He is said
to pass through, because the creatures are, as it were, traces of
the passage of God, revealing His majesty, power, and wisdom, and
His other divine attributes. He is said to pass in haste, because
the creatures are the least of the works of God: He made them, as
it were, in passing. His greatest works, wherein He is most
visible and at rest, are the incarnation of the Word and the
mysteries of the Christian faith, in comparison with which all His
other works were works wrought in passing and in haste.

‘And thereby regarding them As He passed,
Clothed them with His beauty.’

4. The son of God is, in the words of St. Paul, the brightness of
His glory and the figure of His substance.’ [73] God saw all
things only in the face of His Son. This was to give them their
natural being, bestowing upon them many graces and natural gifts,
making them perfect, as it is written in the book of Genesis:
‘God saw all the things that He had made: and they were very
good.’ [74] To see all things very good was to make them very
good in the Word, His Son. He not only gave them their being and
their natural graces when He beheld them, but He also clothed
them with beauty in the face of His Son, communicating to them a
supernatural being when He made man, and exalted him to the
beauty of God, and, by consequence, all creatures in him, because
He united Himself to the nature of them all in man. For this
cause the Son of God Himself said, ‘And I, if I be lifted up from
the earth will draw all things to Myself.’ [75] And thus in this
exaltation of the incarnation of His Son, and the glory of His
resurrection according to the flesh, the Father not only made all
things beautiful in part, but also, we may well say, clothed them
wholly with beauty and dignity.


BUT beyond all this–speaking now of contemplation as it affects
the soul and makes an impression on it–in the vivid contemplation
and knowledge of created things the soul beholds such a
multiplicity of graces, powers, and beauty wherewith God has
endowed them, that they seem to it to be clothed with admirable
beauty and supernatural virtue derived from the infinite
supernatural beauty of the face of God, whose beholding of them
clothed the heavens and the earth with beauty and joy; as it is
written: ‘Thou openest Thy hand and fillest with blessing every
living creature.’ [76] Hence the soul wounded with love of that
beauty of the Beloved which it traces in created things, and
anxious to behold that beauty which is the source of this visible
beauty, sings as in the following stanza: