God's Divine Providence
from the Catholic Catechism
V. GOD CARRIES OUT HIS PLAN: DIVINE PROVIDENCE
Creation has its own Goodness and Proper Perfection,
but it did not Spring-forth complete from the Hands of the Creator. The Universe was Created
"in a State of Journeying" (in Statu Viae) toward an
Ultimate Perfection yet to be Attained, to which God
has Destined it. We call "Divine Providence" the Dispositions by which
God Guides His Creation toward this
By His Providence God Protects and Governs all
things which He has made, "Reaching Mightily from one End of the
Earth to the other, and Ordering all things Well". For "All are Open and Laid Bare to His
Eyes", even those things which are yet to come into Existence through the Free Action of Creatures.
The Witness of Scripture is Unanimous that the Solicitude of
Divine Providence is Concrete and Immediate; God cares for all, from the Least
Things to the Great Events of the World and its History. The Sacred Books Powerfully Affirm
God's Absolute Sovereignty over the Course-of-events: "Our God
is in the Heavens; He does whatever He Pleases". And so it is with Christ,
"Who Opens and no one shall Shut, Who Shuts and no one Opens". As the Book of
Proverbs states: "Many are the Plans in the Mind of a Man, but it is the Purpose of the LORD that
will be Established".
And so we see the Holy Spirit, the Principal Author
of Sacred Scripture, often Attributing Actions to God
without Mentioning any Secondary Causes. This is not a "Primitive Mode of Speech", but a Profound
Way of Recalling God's Primacy and Absolute Lordship
over History and the World, and so of Educating His People to Trust in
Him. The Prayer of the Psalms is the Great School of this Trust.
Jesus asks for Childlike-abandonment to the Providence
of our Heavenly Father Who takes Care of His
Children's smallest needs: "Therefore do not be Anxious, saying, "What shall we eat?" or
"What shall we drink?" . . . Your Heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first His Kingdom and His Righteousness,
and all these things shall be yours as well".
Providence and Secondary Causes
God is the Sovereign Master of
His Plan. But to carry it out He also makes use of
His Creatures' Co-operation. This use is not a Sign of Weakness, but rather a Token of
Almighty God's Greatness and Goodness. For
God Grants His Creatures not only their Existence, but also the
Dignity of Acting on their own, of being Causes and Principles for each other, and thus of
Co-operating in the Accomplishment of His Plan.
To Human Beings God even gives the Power of Freely Sharing in
His Providence by Entrusting them with the Responsibility of "Subduing" the
Earth and having Dominion over it. God thus enables Men to be Intelligent and Free Causes in
order to Complete the Work of Creation, to Perfect its Harmony for their own Good and that of their Neighbors. Though often Unconscious
Collaborators with God's Will, they can also Enter Deliberately into the
Divine Plan by their Actions, their Prayers and their
Sufferings. They then fully become "God's Fellow Workers" and
Co-workers for His Kingdom.
The Truth that God is at Work in all the
Actions of His Creatures is Inseparable from Faith
in God the Creator. God is the
First Cause Who operates in and through
Secondary Causes: "For God is at work in you, both to Will and to Work for His Good
Pleasure". Far from Diminishing the Creature's Dignity, this
Truth enhances it. Drawn from Nothingness by God's
Power, Wisdom and Goodness,
it can do nothing if it is Cut-off from its Origin, for "Without a Creator the Creature Vanishes".
Still less, can a Creature attain its Ultimate End without the Help of
Providence and the Scandal of Evil
If God the Father Almighty, the Creator of the Ordered
and Good World, Cares for all His Creatures, why does Evil
exist? To this Question, as Pressing as it is Unavoidable, and as Painful as it is
Mysterious, no Quick Answer will Suffice. Only Christian Faith as a Whole,
Constitutes the Answer to this Question: the Goodness of Creation, the Drama of
Sin and the Patient Love of God
Who comes to meet Man by His Covenants, the
Redemptive Incarnation of His Son,
His Gift of the Spirit, His Gathering of the
Church, the Power of the
Sacraments and His Call to a Blessed Life
to which Free Creatures are invited to Consent in Advance, but from which, by a Terrible Mystery,
they can also Turn-away in Advance. There is not a Single Aspect of the Christian Message
that is not in-part an Answer to the Question of Evil.
But why did God not Create a World so Perfect
that no Evil could exist in it? With Infinite Power,
God could always Create something Better. But with Infinite
Wisdom and Goodness, God Freely
Willed to Create a World "in a State of Journeying"
towards its Ultimate Perfection. In God's Plan this
Process of Becoming, involves the Appearance of Certain Beings and the Disappearance of Others, the Existence of the More Perfect alongside the
Less Perfect, both Constructive and Destructive Forces of Nature. With
Physical Good there exists also Physical
Evil as long as Creation has not reached Perfection.
Angels and Men, as Intelligent and Free Creatures,
have to Journey toward their Ultimate Destinies by their Free Choice and
Preferential Love. They can therefore go Astray. Indeed, they have
Sinned. Thus has Moral Evil, Incommensurably more
Harmful than Physical Evil, entered the World.
God is in no way, Directly or Indirectly, the Cause of Moral
Evil. He Permits
it, however, because He Respects the Freedom of His
Creatures and, Mysteriously, knows how to Derive Good
from it: For Almighty God . . . because He is
Supremely Good, would never Allow any Evil
whatsoever to Exist in His Works if He were not so
All-Powerful and Good as to Cause
Good to Emerge from Evil itself.
In time we can discover that God in His Almighty Providence
can bring a Good from the Consequences of an Evil,
even a Moral Evil, caused by
His Creatures: "It was not you", said Joseph to his Brothers,
"who sent me here, but God . . . You meant Evil against me; but God meant it for Good, to bring it about that
Many People should be Kept Alive". From the Greatest Moral
Evil ever Committed - the Rejection and Murder
of God's only Son, Caused by the
Sins of all Men - God, by His
Grace that "abounded all the more", Brought the Greatest of
Goods: the Glorification of Christ
and our Redemption. But for all that, Evil never
Becomes a Good.
313 "We know that in everything God Works for Good for those who
Love Him". The Constant Witness of the Saints confirms this Truth:
Saint Catherine of Siena said to "Those who are Scandalized and Rebel against what
happens to them": "Everything comes from Love, all is Ordained for the Salvation of Man,
God does Nothing without this Goal in Mind".
Saint Thomas More, shortly before his Martyrdom, consoled his Daughter:
"Nothing can come but that that God Wills. And I make me very sure that whatsoever that be, seem it never so
Bad in Sight, it shall indeed be the Best".
Dame Julian of Norwich: "Here I was Taught by the Grace of God that I should Steadfastly
keep me in the Faith ... and that at the same time I should take my Stand on and Earnestly Believe in what our Lord Shewed in this time -
that 'all manner [of] thing shall be Well'".
We Firmly Believe that God is Master of the World and of its History. But the Ways of
His Providence are often Unknown to us. Only at the End, when our Partial Knowledge ceases,
when we see God "Face-to-face", will we
Fully Know the Ways by which - even through the Dramas of Evil and
Sin - God has Guided
His Creation to that Definitive Sabbath Rest for which
He Created Heaven and Earth.
In the Creation of the World, and of Man, God gave the First and Universal Witness to
His Almighty Love and
His Wisdom, the First Proclamation of the "Plan of His Loving Goodness",
which finds its Goal in the New Creation in Christ.
Though the Work of Creation is Attributed to the Father in Particular, it is Equally a
Truth of Faith that the Father,
Son and Holy Spirit together, are the
One (1), Indivisible Principle of Creation.
God alone Created the Universe, Freely, Directly and without any Help.
No Creature has the Infinite (∞)
Power necessary to "Create" in the Proper Sense of the Word, that is,
to Produce and Give Being to that which had in no-way possessed it (to Call into Existence "Out of
Nothing") (cf DS 3624).
God Created the World to Show-forth and Communicate His
Glory. That His Creatures should Share in His
Truth, Goodness and Beauty -
this is the Glory for which God Created them.
God Created the Universe and keeps it in Existence by His
Word, the Son "Upholding the Universe by His
Word of Power" (Hebrews 1:3), and by His Creator Spirit,
the Giver of Life.
Divine Providence consists of the Dispositions by which
God Guides all His Creatures with
Wisdom and Love to their Ultimate End.
Christ invites us to Filial Trust in the Providence
of our Heavenly Father (cf. Matthew 6:26-34), and Saint Peter
the Apostle repeats: "Cast all your Anxieties on Him, for He Cares about you"
(1Peter 5:7; cf. Psalm 55:23).
Divine Providence works also through the Actions of Creatures. To Human Beings
God grants the Ability to Co-operate Freely with His
The fact that God permits Physical and even
Moral Evil is a
Mystery that God Illuminates by His Son
Jesus Christ Who Died and Rose to Vanquish
Evil. Faith gives us the Certainty that
God would not Permit an Evil if
He did not Cause a Good to come from that
very Evil, by ways that we shall Fully Know only in Eternal
Prayer to Divine Providence
O Sweet and Tender Providence of God, into Thy Hands I Commend my Spirit, to Thee I
Abandon myself, my Hopes, my Fears, my Desires, my Repugnance's, my Temporal and Eternal Prospects. To Thee I Commit the Wants of my
Perishable Body, to Thee I Commit the far more Precious Interests of my Immortal Soul, for whose interests I have Nothing to Fear while
I withdraw it not from Thy Bosom. Though my Faults are many, my Misery Great, my Spiritual Poverty Extreme, my Hope in Thee surpasses all.
It is Greater than my Difficulties, Stronger than Death. Though Temptations should Assail me, I will Hope in Thee, though I should Sink
beneath my Weakness, I will Hope in Thee still, though I should Break my Resolutions a Thousand Times, I will look to Thee Confidently
for Grace to keep them at last; though Thou shouldst Slay me, even then will I Trust Thee, for Thou art my God, my Father and my Friend.
Thou art my Kind, my Tender, my Indulgent Parent, and I am Thy Loving Child, who Cast myself into Thy Arms and Beg Thy Blessing, who put
my Trust in Thee, and so Trusting, shall Never be Confounded.
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