Eliphas Levy

FAITH being the aspiration to the unknown, the object of faith is absolutely and necessarily this one thing --- Mystery.

In order to formulate its aspirations, faith is forced to borrow aspirations and images from the known.

But she specializes the employment of these forms, by placing them together in a manner which, in the known order of things, is impossible. Such is the profound reason of the apparent absurdity of symbolism.

Let us give an example:

If faith said that God was impersonal, one might conclude that God is only a word, or, at most, a thing.

If it is said that God was a person, one would represent to oneself the intelligent infinite, under the necessarily bounded form of an individual.

It says, "God is one in three persons," in order to express that one conceives in God both unity and multiplicity.

The formula of a mystery excludes necessarily the very intelligence of that formula, so far as it is borrowed from the world of known things; for, if one understood it, it would express the known and not the unknown.

It would then belong to science, and no longer to religion, that is to say, to faith. {77}

The object of faith is a mathematical problem, whose "x" escapes the procedures of our algebra.

Absolute mathematics prove only the necessity, and, in consequence, the existence of this unknown which we represent by the untranslatable "x."

Now science progresses in vain; its progress is indefinite, but always relatively finite; it will never find in the language of the finite the complete expression of the infinite. Mystery is therefore eternal.

To bring into the logic of the known the terms of a profession of faith is to withdraw them from faith, which has for positive bases anti-logic, that is to say, the impossibility of logically explaining the unknown.

For the Jew, God is separate from humanity; He does not live in His creatures, He is infinite egoism.

For the Mussulman, God is a word before which one prostrates oneself, on the authority of Mohammed.

For the Christian, God has revealed himself in humanity, proves Himself by charity, and reigns by virtue of the order which constitutes the hierarchy.

The hierarchy is the guardian of dogma, for whose letter and spirit she alike demands respect. The sectarians who, in the name of their reason or, rather, of their individual unreason, have laid hands on dogma, have, in the very act, lost the spirit of charity; they have excommunicated themselves.

The Catholic, that is to say the universal, dogma merits that magnificent name by harmonizing in one all the religious aspirations of the world; with Moses and Mohammed, it affirms the unity of God; with Zoroaster, Hermes and Plato, it recognizes in Him the infinite trinity of its own regeneration; {78} it

reconciles the living numbers of Pythagoras with the monadic Word of St. John;<<The author had perhaps no space to continue with a demonstration that the Gospel legend itself is a macedoine of those of Bacchus, Adonis, Osiris, and a hundred others, and that the Mass, and Christian ceremonies generally, have similarly pagan sources. --- O. M.>> so much, science and reason will agree. It is then in the eyes of reason and of science themselves the most perfect, that is to say the most complete, dogma which has ever been produced in the world. Let science and reason grant us so much; we shall ask nothing more of them.

"God exists; there is only one God, and He punishes those who do evil," said Moses.

"God is everywhere; He is in us, and the good that we do to me we do it to God," said Jesus.

"Fear" is the conclusion of the dogma of Moses.

"Love" is the conclusion of the dogma of Jesus.

The typical ideal of the life of God in humanity is incarnation.

Incarnation necessitates redemption, and operates it in the name of the reversibility of solidarity,<<This and many similar phrases employed in the controversies of the period are to-day practically unintelligible. Levi was at one time a kind of Socialist. --- TRANS.>> or, in other words, of universal communion, the

dogmatic principle of the spirit of charity.

To substitute human arbitrament for the legitimate despotism of the law, to put, in other words, tyranny in the place of authority, is the work of all Protestantism and of all democracies. What men call liberty is the sanction of illegitimate authority, or, rather, the fiction of power not sanctioned by authority. {79}

John Calvin protested against the stakes of Rome, in order to give himself the right to burn Michael Servetus. Every people that liberates itself from a Charles I, or a Louis XVI, must undergo a Robespierre or a Cromwell and there is a more or less absurd anti-pope being all protestations against the legitimate


The divinity of Jesus Christ only exists in the Catholic Church, to which He transmits hierarchically His life and His divine powers. This divinity is sacerdotal and royal by virtue of communion; but outside of that communion, every affirmation of the divinity of Jesus Christ is idolatrous, because Jesus Christ could

not be an isolated God.

The number of Protestants is of no importance to Catholic truth.

If all men were blind, would that be a reason for denying the existence of the sun?

Reason, in protesting against dogma, proves sufficiently that she has not invented it; but she is forced to admire the morality which results from that dogma. Now, if morality is a light, it follows that dogma must be a sun; light does not come from shadows.

Between the two abysses of polytheism, and an absurd and ignorant theism, there is only one possible medium: the mystery of the most Holy Trinity.

Between speculative theism, and anthropomorphiosm, there is only one possible medium: the mystery of incarnation.

Between immoral fatality, and Draconic responsibility, which would conclude the damnation of all beings, there is only one possible mean: the mystery of redemption.

The trinity is faith. {80}

The incarnation is hope.

The redemption is charity.

The trinity is the hierarchy.

Incarnation is the divine authority of the Church.

Redemption is the unique, infallible, unfailing and Catholic priesthood.

The Catholic Church alone possesses an invariable dogma, and by its very constitution is incapable of corrupting morality; she does not make innovations, she explains. Thus, for example, the dogma of the immaculate conception is not new; it was contained in the theotokon of the Council of Ephesus, and the

theotokon is a rigorous consequence of the Catholic dogma of the incarnation.

In the same way the Catholic Church makes no excommunications, she declares them; and she alone can declare them, because she alone is guardian of unity.

Outside the vessel of Peter, there is nothing but the abyss. Protestants are like people who have thrown themselves into the water in order to escape sea-sickness.

It is of Catholicity, such as it is constituted in the Roman Church, that one must say what Voltaire so boldly said of God: "If it did not exist, it would be necessary to invent it." But if a man had been capable of inventing the spirit of charity, he also would have invented God. Charity does not invent itself, it reveals itself by its works, and it is then that one can cry with the Saviour of the world: "Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God!"

To understand the spirit of charity is to understand all mysteries. {81}