St Athanasius
(c. 297- 373)

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If people ask, ‘Why did the Saviour not appear by means of other and nobler parts of creation, and use some nobler vehicle, such as the sun, or moon, or stars, or fire, or air, instead of human nature merely?’ let them know that the Lord came not to make a display, but to heal and teach those who were suffering.  Someone just wanting to make a display would simply appear and dazzle the beholders; but someone seeking to heal and teach would want to give himself to those in need, and to come to them in a form that they could understand.  Otherwise he would only trouble the very people who needed him, and make God invisible to them.  Now nothing in God's creation had gone astray in its relation to God except human beings.  Why, neither sun nor moon nor heaven nor the stars nor water nor air had swerved from their order: but knowing their Creator and Lord, the Word, they remained as they were made.  But human beings alone, having rejected what was good, then invented lies for themselves instead of seeing the truth, and gave to creatures the honour due to God alone.  With good reason then, while human beings were not yet able to recognise Him in the whole, the Word took to Himself a part of the whole, the human, and united Himself with it, so that human beings could know Him in the part; and since they could not perceive His invisible presence, they might be able at any rate, from what resembled themselves, to think of Him and to contemplate Him.


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In their many different idioms the classical spiritual writers have attempted to throw light on the eternal question of union with God. 
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