Before Time Began
Pope John Paul II
An Explanation

This Mini-Book is unlike the other works the Lord has given me to write. The others were born of light, light that was given to me as each book unfolded.

This work is different, for it is the fruit of a spiritual experience. It began one morning after Holy Communion and continued throughout various stages as this book was being written. Each paragraph was lived, so there was much time between writings, as if the experience of each part had to be lived and savored before going on.

I am not sure what benefit or light the reader of these pages will receive. I only pray that some of the same experience will penetrate the souls of all who read it. It is my hope that it will make many understand God's personal choice of them and the burning love He has for each soul He created.

It was written exactly as it was lived and so it may not always be in any particular order of thought. Since I did not understand the experience fully, I was only able to express my feelings rather than the purpose of the reality of being somewhere before time began.

BEFORE TIME BEGAN

Lord God, what is this strange experience? My soul seems to stand alone on a huge sphere — a sphere as big as the earth. I stand tall and unafraid and yet I am aware of looking out into nothingness. It is almost as if time reversed itself and I stand in the void before creation. I wait in silence. Although my faculties operate in the midst of daily occupations, joys and distress, my soul is somehow separated from these realities and at the same time immersed within them. All goes on as usual but with a constant awareness of being alone, looking out into a void. There are times my soul cries out "Yahweh" but no answer is heard. While silence is the only response, there is an awareness of Presence. Although this Presence is the God my heart seeks, the distance is vast. Is my sense of Presence only His Gaze? Is this pure faith, with nothing on which to hang?

I feel as though I were somehow present in the nothingness — in the non-existence as the ALL looked out into the void before anything was made. What a contrast — the ALL and nothingness. Did nothingness in all its bleak nakedness cry out to God who is Existence Itself and say — without saying —"Let me become — Give me existence"? The void was silent and helpless — waiting. My soul watches God and the void face each other. The feeling of helplessness is overwhelming as I wait in total dependence upon the Word to speak so that nothingness can be. Is this when my soul sings out "Yahweh" in a long cry for life and then waits for the Divine Will to make its decision known? Is this a glimpse of the instant before moments began?

Is this not an exercise in Faith? Sometimes faith places me before nothing that visibly assures me of God's love or concern. But as the void once faced God and waited for existence, my soul waits for that depth of Faith that ever keeps its eyes on the ALL — the Lord, God Almighty. Oh God, let the arms of your omnipotence enfold my nothingness and permit me to see you in Faith.

As I stand alone I find myself facing the void, waiting upon His Voice to speak — waiting for the beginning — feeling alone yet aware of Someone — looking for signs of life, of existence, existence of what seems to be a mere thought of me. It is as if God extracted from His Infinite mind the thought of me that was His before He created anything. He placed that thought — me — on this sphere to wait for existence, in order that I might taste the feeling of my total dependence upon Him for my very breath. Does He want me to feel what it would mean never to have been born — to be humbled at the realization that there was a chance I would never have been?

This experience is a mystery to me — a terrifying waiting period as I face the void. The thought that is me, stands so still, looking around, wondering from whence shall come the Voice that placed me there. Will He make the decision that I will "be" or shall I be merely a thought of what might have been?

The silence is a quiet silence. It is not like the deafening silence that comes suddenly from an absence of noise. The void too is different from the darkness that descends from an absence of light. There is only a sense of Presence for the nothing that is before me has no sound, no being, no existence, no darkness.

I hear the "thought" that is me, cry out again in a long plaintive chant "Yahweh, give me being — give me life — let me live!" Silence is the only response to my cry. I wait, facing the void, knowing that the answer to that plea is hidden — as I was once hidden — in the Infinite Mind of the only Existent One.

This is a truly strange experience. I am here writing this page and yet my soul at times finds itself on that sphere or place where I wait for the Divine decree to decide whether or not I shall be. I have an awareness of being and not being at the same time. Has God somehow placed my soul before time began so I may experience my total dependence upon Him? There are times the Enemy tries to make me believe that this experience is really a vision of my place for all eternity. It then becomes a kind of solitary confinement as if I were to be there forever — separated from God, my loved ones and the entire throng of saints in heaven. Then it is that my soul cries out — "Oh God, if this place is Your decree for me forever, if it would please You to see me here for all eternity, then Your Will be done. Even if you do not hear my voice or are touched by my anguish, still shall I cry out in this shoutless void — 'My God, Yahweh, I love You!" I would wish that the sound of that cry of love would somehow pierce the void and reverberate through timeless space and one day reach Your throne. I would be satisfied if somehow You did not know from whence it came. Would it, if that were possible, thrill Your Heart by its sound?

The terrifying thought of never seeing Your Face does not last long, my God, and I realize the Enemy wishes to spoil some work You have begun in my soul. I trust Your judgments, Your Wisdom and Your Love. I am again at peace, gazing into Nothingness — waiting for Someone very distant to return my gaze. I am not aware of Faith, though I'm sure it must be present. Hope is elusive as if it were peeking around some hidden corner of the void, waiting to be discovered. Love — where is love here's There seems to be love in the Presence around me, but as yet it is very general — it does not direct itself to me — there is no point of contact — no thrill of recognition — no natural outpouring as the love within one flows out and touches the love of another to become one love. I wait for Being — for acceptance — for love.

Where is Love and does Love know me? Is there the chance that He will not call me to Be? Am I not guaranteed creation by the fact I am in His Mind? No, it is not true. There is no guarantee. The thought of me that is in His mind must be called forth — He must look at me — discern — make a decision and then choose me to Be. The agony of waiting is beyond expression. When He sees what weaknesses I will possess — what rebellious moments I will indulge in — will the knowledge of His power in weakness override the failures He sees in me? When He sees my feeble efforts to try and try again — will that sway His decision in my favor?

I remain looking out into the void but it is somehow different. There is a sudden warmth — a feeling of Someone looking at me. I look around and out into the void and though there is no form that says "Presence," there is a kind of general Presence that is turning toward me. It all happens very slowly and very gently. It is a breath-taking moment. Fear wants to creep in.

Though the experience is new, I already fear the Presence will look, see and then pass me by. It seems the time of decision to choose has come. Has the One to whom I cry out heard my voice? Is He turning my way?

I begin to feel an awareness, an awareness of love. It is attentive, caring, gentle and secure. Though the void still looms ahead, it somehow does not seem important. However, for the first time I am aware of suddenly being in the midst of other "thoughts" that might be. There are millions upon millions of them. The awareness of Love is still here, but it is as though each one of the millions has the same look of attentive love as I have. I am alone, yet not alone. It is possible that they too wish and cry out for being? Will He hear each cry? Will each voice of such a throng reach His ears? Will it be like the mighty roar of an ocean or will each one be heard individually? Will He ever hear my cry in the midst of so many? the number of "thoughts" of possible human beings grows from millions to billions. I am surrounded by so many, who like myself, cry out for Being.

Every moment of this experience brings with it the realization that my chances for life are getting slimmer by the minute. I am immersed in an ocean of possible human beings and yet I still stand alone on this sphere. He sees me and knows me. I feel no rebellion or anxiety, only a burning desire to Be, to be able to return the care, love and attention I am beginning to feel. I am the recipient of something I cannot return.

I am aware of an unruffled anxiety as I stand in the midst of this shoutless void, seeking an invisible reality. I no longer cry out "Yahweh" for it seems so fruitless. I only wait and wait and wait.

There is a quiet submission in my soul, a kind of dependence that is deeply aware of facing a power beyond my comprehension. The power is without limit and yet gentle. It is as if there were a certain caution in that power, for fear the strength of it might blow me away.

I see a Light. It is separate from the void. It does not take the void away by its presence. It moves gently over all the "thoughts" that might one day be. Is it searching or choosing? It passes over each one as if it saw everything that "thought" might become. How awesome is the sight! As the Light passes from one to another, that thought totally disappears. Does the Light take that thought back into itself or is it totally gone? I see in its place only more of the void — nothingness in the place of what might have been. The Light moves on to another and another. Will it pass me by as it has already done to so many? Those who are passed by shall never be. What was their potential? What might they have done, spoken, written, sung? What multitudes will never be because those who are passed by will never be in a position to give life? I am frightened at the awesome reality of the gift that life is, in the face of this experience.

As the Light moves from one to another, I do not see even one remain. They are disappearing by the millions. I begin to perceive a new warmth. The Light is coming closer. I am no longer frightened. I wait in peace as every "thought" is replaced by more and more of the void. It happens quickly and yet never seems to end. There are so many, but the Light touches each one as it sweeps over them all.

I am conscious of possessing three faculties. They are empty, however, as if brand new. There are no feelings that a body possesses — only all thought — as if my soul were being formed by light as it nears the "thought" of me. Yes, something is happening as the Light comes nearer to me. There are three distinct faculties forming. There is not three of me, but the thought of me is now capable of three distinct operations. I know I have the ability to remember, though there is nothing to recall. I can reason, but the Light is beyond my comprehension. I can choose, but there are no choices to make.

I feel akin to the Light. It is as if we were somehow alike. Has the Presence only made me see what the thought of me really is? No, the Light is coming closer. I see others disappear before me, around me, above me, beneath me. I am alone. The Light envelops me and covers me with its Shadow. For the first time I hear a Voice say, "You shall be." I am astounded, surprised, grateful. I am notable to respond. Infinite Love has made a decision — I shall be!! It is hard to believe. Every other thought that might have been, just totally disappeared and I have been chosen to be. Why me? Why me? I am grateful and humbled by the choice.

I see the Light that decided my existence begin to move out and cover the void and the same Voice that said, "You shall be," says, "Let there be light" and a different kind of light appears, far inferior to the Light that is power.

Yes, one day, after millions of years, the thought of me in the mind of God will take form. He will fit me with a body. The memory, intellect and will that was given to me as a gift will be mine to use freely as I will. I will have the opportunity to make choices in His favor as He made one in mine. I will live and love and be loved. I will see beauty, hear sounds, discern and form opinions, cry and laugh, experience the thrill of learning and the joy of sharing. I shall live in a specific time in history and make a print in its sand of time. I shall be a part of a whole, a member of the human race.

I continue to stand on the sphere with assurance instead of doubt. It is now a place of wonder — a place where the soul and God live alone, a place of rest and contentment; a place where everything is seen for what it is outside of God, a place to face the truth and speak to God as a friend speaks to a friend, a place to wait upon His Will. I thank you, Oh God, for this experience of faith, of Your love and the gift of life.

My parents said, "Amen — so be it."

THE END

The experience you have just read is over. Looking back I am only now aware that it was given to me to make a point of knowledge, a reality. It brought home God's personal love and choice of me. When He created my soul in my mother's womb, the thought of me, in His mind before time began, became a reality.

I shall cherish this experience and pray that all those who read it will somehow understand that special choice. I am sure some aspects of this book are not clear, but that is due to an inability to clearly portray the mysterious.

We praise Him for all those He has created and chosen to be. We admire His wisdom and stand awestruck at the sight of His Love.

_______

The author prays that all those who read this booklet will have a deeper awareness of the Father's Mercy, the Son's Love and the Spirit's Power.

Printed with the ecclesiastical approval of
JOSEPH G. VATH, D.D.
Bishop of Birmingham
Alabama, USA

©1976 Eternal Word Television Network, Inc.

Scripture Quotations taken from Jerusalem Bible unless otherwise indicated


Provided Courtesy of:
Eternal Word Television Network
5817 Old Leeds Road
Irondale, AL 35210
www.ewtn.com