When we say that God is mystery, we mean that the Supreme Being is unknown and unknowable, incapable of being analysed, inexplicable, incomprehensible. This is often described as a basic tenet of Christian faith, and, on one level, we all accept it. On another, however, it seems to be the case that most of us experience enormous difficulty in truly embracing it. In short, although we are usually content to say that God is mystery, we behave as though this were not the case. We have our own pet ideas, our own versions of what God is. These are the products of our intellects and imaginations. Where mystery is concerned, however, those faculties of ours are simply not enough. In fact, they can all too easily get in the way. Well aware of this, the author of The Cloud of Unknowing pointed out that the Supreme Being cannot be grasped by thought. God can be grasped only by love. Unless we take hold of this basic insight, all our religious enterprise, indeed our religion, is likely to be misguided. The first two chapters of this book deal largely – although not exclusively – with mistakes we commonly make in this regard. The rest of the book then turns to the subject of our need to encounter mystery, and discusses the wonders that are revealed to us when we do succeed in opening ourselves up to the incomprehensible God. Within this context, there is a good deal of discussion about a number of related matters, including the kingdom of God, prayer, the concept of poverty in the Gospel message, the concept of miracle, enlightenment, faith, love, and, of course, the mystery of the human person.
Bernard Hoose studied at the Gregorian University in Rome, where he obtained a doctorate in moral theology as well as degrees in theology and philosophy. He lectured for many years at Heythrop College, University of London, and is well known on both sides of the Atlantic and beyond, principally as a moral theologian. This is his first book in the field of spirituality.