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10. The Eternity of God

1. Eternity is the complete possession of boundless perfection, all at once, without beginning, succession, or end, and therefore without any before and after.

2. Since God is immutable, he is not subject to time which consists of continuous change. And since God is infinite, he is not limited by the terminations called beginning and ending.

3. Only God is eternal, for only God is immutable and infinite. Some creatures are called eternal in the meaning that they will never end; such are spiritual beings. And even bodily things are called eternal in the sense that they are not quickly or visibly affected by time; thus we speak of "the eternal hills." But strictly speaking, eternity belongs to God alone, and is identified with the essence of God.

4. Eternity, as duration, differs essentially from time. Time is a matter of before and after, of past and future, but eternity is an all-perfect changeless present. Eternity is an immutable, everlasting now. Thus eternity involves infinity, and so is identified with the pure actuality of God. We can know what eternity means, but we cannot picture it in imagination. Every attempt to envision eternity in imagination results merely in a lengthened view of imaginary time. And time, as we have just noticed, is essentially different from eternity, and even opposite to it.

5. Time is a continuous succession of events or movements (therefore, of changes) which can be numbered, and considered with reference to before and after. But eternity is without succession or movement, and involves no aspects of before and after. Besides time and eternity there is a duration called eviternity that we ascribe to spiritual creatures (souls, angels) which have had a beginning but which have no substantial change and no ending.

6. People often speak of one time as different from another. They use expressions such as "our own times", "the golden age of literature", "grandfather's day", "the twentieth century". But these are only accidental divisions of time; time in itself is really one thing. Similarly, eviternity is one in itself, although it may be accidentally multiplied by referring it to this, and then to that eviternal being.

"Every man naturally desires knowledge; but what good is knowledge without fear of God? Indeed a humble rustic who serves God is better than a proud intellectual who neglects his soul to study the course of the stars."
Thomas á Kempis

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"We must not be behind time in doing good; for death will not be behind his time. "
St Phillip Neri

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"O Lord, my God, who will seek you with simple and pure love, and not find that you are all one can desire, for you show yourself first and go out to meet those who seek you? "
St John of the Cross, OCD - Doctor of the Church

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