attributes, divine

Characteristics which we conceive as belonging to God. Though God is absolutely one and simple, yet to enable us to form a better idea of Him and to unfold as far as possible what is implied in saying that He is All-perfect, we apply or attribute to Him certain perfections which we find in creatures. In doing so, however, we do not use the words in the sense in which we apply them to creatures but with a far different meaning: what is limited and often imperfect in creatures is infinite and perfect in God. These perfections implying neither limitation nor defect are called pure, e.g., justice, goodness, truth, power, freedom. When an attribute suggesting limitation is used in speaking of God, e.g., "at the right hand of God", it is a figure of speech. Among the Divine attributes most modern authorities select aseity, or self-existence, as the most distinctive characteristic, the one from which the others may be best and most rigorously deduced, and therefore they call it the metaphysical essence of God. The attributes of God most commonly mentioned are: almighty, eternal, holy, immense, immortal, immutable, incomprehensible, ineffable, infinite, intelligent, invisible, just, loving, merciful, most high, most wise, omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent, patient, perfect, provident, self-dependent, supreme, true.

New Catholic Dictionary

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