Recent Posts

Saturday 26 April 2014

Greetings to Friends in Spain

The Heroic Act of Charity

Heroic Act of Charity

O my God, in union with the merits of Jesus and Mary, I offer Thee for the Souls in Purgatory, all my Satisfactory Works, as well as those which may be applied to me by others during my life and after my death. And so as to be more agreeable to the Divine Heart of Jesus and more helpful to the departed I place them all in the hands of the merciful Virgin Mary.

When I make a plenary indulgence, it goes for a soul in purgatory, as I made this offering years ago. Tomorrow, I shall pray for the person in purgatory the longest. One could possibly be there for hundreds of years. Better to work on one's purgatorial sufferings now, I would recommend.

The Motto of St. John XXIII

Obedientia et Pax (Obedience and Peace)

May he grant the clergy and laity of these times both obedience and peace.

If you have not read Mater et Magistra, do it this weekend. This saint came out against contraception, obviously, before Paul VI.

The Adversarial Spirit in The Traditional Church

Be sober and watch: because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, goeth about seeking whom he may devour 1 Peter 5:8 DR
Pointing out error is a good, but being caught up constantly in an adversarial spirit is not a good.
Who is called the Adversary? Satan.
More and more frequently in the Church, I am seeing traditional Catholics who are laymen stepping out of their worlds, their own spheres of influence and condemning things over which they have no authority.
Our lay world provides enough grist for the mill-we are supposed to be evangelizing our families, our friends, our workplace.
To try and pretend we have the right and duty to continually criticize the clergy, including bishops, cardinals and popes reveals hubris and the adversarial spirit.
If one is continually looking for faults and not giving real answers on how to deal with these faults, in other words, giving remedies. one has fallen into the spirit of the adversary.
The adversarial spirit is not kind, charitable nor fair. It judges and does not bear with the burdens of others. There are few who are pure enough in heart, mind and soul to be real critics.
The adversarial spirit causes hatred, dissension, and eventually, schisms and splits in the Church.
If you are finding that you argue too much and are always finding fault, look towards your own sins and failings first.
Those who want to change priests and bishops only have to raise holy boys to become holy men to go out and change the Church as holy priests and bishops.
It is not only naive but wrong to think the crusader spirit must be aimed at the Church first. No. Our enemies are those of the devil and the world, as well as the flesh. If such enemies have inflitrated the Church, even at high levels, we can pray, but our words mean nothing.
Tearing down is not building up.
A person caught up in the adversarial spirit will not find peace in God, but fall into rancor,anger and depression. If you are merely tearing down, you have let satan use you. Eventually, the person with the adversarial spirit becomes a heresiarch. Those people most likely will find themselves judged as they have judged-severely and without mercy.
We are here for the building up of the Church.
In a grown man, the adversarial spirit could be connected to a male being caught up in teen-age rebellion-a sign of the peter pan. The teen thinks he knows better than the parent and rebels against imperfections, not understanding that he himself is a sinner. It is too easy to point out the evils of another, rather than looking at one's own sin.

Ask yourself if you are constantly arguing.

Ask yourself if you are playing into the hands of the great Adversary of the Church.

He has been defeated but is still looking maliciously for souls to bring down with him in defeat.
29 Let no evil speech proceed from your mouth; but that which is good, to the edification of faith, that it may administer grace to the hearers.
30 And grieve not the holy Spirit of God: whereby you are sealed unto the day of redemption.
31 Let all bitterness, and anger, and indignation, and clamour, and blasphemy, be put away from you, with all malice.
32 And be ye kind one to another; merciful, forgiving one another, even as God hath forgiven you in Christ. Ephesians 4:17-32 DR

29 Let no evil speech proceed from your mouth; but that which is good, to the edification of faith, that it may administer grace to the hearers.
30 And grieve not the holy Spirit of God: whereby you are sealed unto the day of redemption.
31 Let all bitterness, and anger, and indignation, and clamour, and blasphemy, be put away from you, with all malice.
32 And be ye kind one to another; merciful, forgiving one another, even as God hath forgiven you in Christ.

The Saint of Love

To live of love, ’tis without stint to give,
An never count the cost, nor ask reward;
So, counting not the cost, I long to live
And show my dauntless love for Thee, dear Lord!
O Heart Divine, o’erflowing with tenderness,
How swift I run, who all to Thee has given!
Naught but Thy love I need, my life to bless.
That love is heaven!

St. Therese of Lisieux

The Attributes Part Four Omnibenevolence continued..

The Doctors of the Church and other saints tell us that God loves all people, but that He does, in His freedom, love people in different ways.

Some are loved more and given more graces. One cannot pretend to be or even want to be the Blessed Mother, or St. John the Evangelist, or St. Padre Pio.

What we are called to do is to allow God to love us as He so desires. One cannot compare one's life or circumstances with anyone, saint or not.

Comparisons drive people into envy and hatred, including self-hated. To compare one's self with another or others is a sin of pride. To accept the small crumb from the Master's table of love is for what I am grateful.

Omnibenevolence watches over us daily. I shall end this section with a quotation from St. Therese.


Hello to Friends in Poland

Good Morning to Friends in England

Good Morning to Friends in Rome

Hello to Friends in The Netherlands

Good Morning to Friends in Germany

Hello to Friends in France

Why are there so many Pelagians and Neo-Ps out there?

Take a minute to read this section. from the book I have been using, among others, the past few days.

Wow, there are a lot of Pelagians and Neo-Pelagians in Catholic circles. Maybe this section will help some of you deal with this persistent heresy, especially in Great Britain. I have highlighted some bits. See my previous posts on grace. One cannot be saved without grace. Period.

by Reginald Garrigou-Lagrange, O. P.
The teaching of the Church on this subject was formulated on the one hand against Pelagianism, and on the other against predestinarianism, Protestantism, and Jansenism.
The meaning and scope of the declarations of the Church against Pelagianism and Semipelagianism are evident, if we bear in mind the principles of these condemned doctrines and the bearing they have on predestination.
1) The Pelagians held that grace is not necessary for the observance of the precepts of the Christian law, but merely for greater facility in their observance, and that by our naturally good works we may merit the first grace. Hence they said the foreknowledge of good works, whether natural or supernatural, is the cause of predestination. Pelagianism was first condemned in the two councils of Carthage and Milevi (416). It was afterward condemned in the Council of Carthage held in 418, but the canons of this council have been assigned by mistake to the Second Council of Milevi. Canon 6 especially has in mind this false teaching, that "without grace we can keep the commandments. . . and that grace is not necessary except for making it easier to keep them."

2) The Semipelagians, as we see from the letters of SS. Prosper and Hilary to St. Augustine, admitted: (1) that man does not need grace for that beginning of faith and good will spoken of as the "beginning of salvation," and that he can persevere until death without any special help; (2) that God wills equally the salvation of all, although special graces are granted to some privileged souls; (3) consequently predestination is identical with the foreknowledge of the beginning of salvation and of merits by which man perseveres in doing good without any special help; negative reprobation is identical with the foreknowledge of demerits. Thus predestination and negative reprobation follow human election, whether this be good or bad.

Such an interpretation eliminates the element of mystery in predestination spoken of by St. Paul. God is not the author but merely the spectator of that which distinguishes the elect from the rest of mankind. The elect are not loved and helped more by God.

Concerning children who die before the age of reason, the Semipelagians said that God predestines or reprobates them, foreseeing the good or bad acts they would have performed if they had lived longer. That means a foreknowledge of the conditionally free acts of the future or of the futuribilia, previous to any divine decree. This reminds us of the theory of the scientia media, which was proposed later by Molina. The opponents of this doctrine reply that such an interpretation would mean that children are marked for reprobation on account of sins they did not commit.
Against these principles, St. Augustine, especially in his writings toward the end of his life(1), shows from the testimony of Holy Scripture that: (1) man cannot, without a special and gratuitous grace, have the "beginning of salvation," and that he cannot persevere until the end without a special and gratuitous grace; (2) that the elect, as their name indicates, are loved more and helped more, and that the divine election is therefore previous to foreseen merits, which are the result of grace; (3) that God does not will equally the salvation of all.
The Council of Orange (529), in condemning Semipelagianism, took many of its formulas from the writings of St. Augustine and St. Prosper. All historians agree that it disapproved of the Semipelagian denials of the gratuitousness of grace and of its necessity for the beginning of salvation and for final perseverance.(2)

That is the minimum and it is admitted by all. But many historians and theologians, among whom are the Thomists and Augustinians, considering the obvious sense of the terms employed by the Second Council of Orange and of the various statements of St. Paul, see therein an additional affirmation of the intrinsic efficacy of grace, presupposed by the principle of predilection.

We shall return to this point. But in any case, from this minimum admitted by all we get three propositions to which all Catholic theologians subscribe. They are: (1) Predestination to the first grace is not because God foresaw our naturally good works, nor is the beginning of salutary acts due to natural causes; (2) predestination to glory is not because God foresaw we would continue in the performance of supernaturally meritorious acts apart from the special gift of final perseverance; (3) complete predestination, in so far as it comprises the whole series of graces from the first up to glorification, is gratuitous or previous to foreseen merits. These three propositions are admitted by all Catholic theologians. But Thomists and Augustinians on the one hand, and Molinists and congruists on the other, differ in their interpretation of them.
a) The first proposition which concerns the beginning of salvation is understood by Molina, in accordance with his principle, as meaning that "whenever the free will by its own natural powers attempts to do what it can, God bestows the prevenient grace, on account of Christ's merits."(3) The Thomists and Augustinians understand this proposition in a different sense, so that it reads: To the man who does what he can with the help of actual grace, God does not refuse habitual grace. This safeguards much better the gratuity of both actual and habitual graces, as defined by the Council of Orange. (4)

b) The second proposition, which concerns final perseverance, is understood by Molinists and congruists as meaning that the actual grace of final perseverance is extrinsically efficacious inasmuch as our consent is foreseen by means of the scientia media. On the contrary, Thomists and Augustinians understand this grace to be intrinsically efficacious; and this seems to be far more in agreement with the tenor of canon ten of the Council of Orange which reads: "God's help is always to be sought even for the regenerated and holy, that they may come to a happy end, or that they may continue in the performance of good works." (5) This canon summarizes the teaching of St. Prosper.(6) Now St. Prosper follows St. Augustine, who considers the great grace of final perseverance as belonging properly to the elect, and as efficacious of itself. "It is a grace," he says, "that is spurned by no one whose heart is hardened, and it is therefore given that the hardness of heart may first be eliminated." (7) Molina, admitting his departure from the teaching of St. Augustine, in opposition to him says: "It may happen that two persons receive in an equal degree the interior grace of vocation; one of them of his own freewill is converted, and the other remains an infidel. It may even happen that one who receives a far greater prevenient grace when called, of his own free will is not converted, and another, who receives a far less grace, is converted."(8) It seems difficult to reconcile this with what the Council of Trent affirms of the great gift of final perseverance, stating that it is a "gift which cannot be obtained from any other than from Him who is able to establish him who standeth (9) that he stand perseveringly, and to restore him who falleth." (10) All these expressions seem to denote a grace that is efficacious of itself and not because of our foreseen consent. The Council of Trent, too, calls this grace "that great and special gift of final perseverance." (11) It is hard to see how this can finally be construed as a case of being placed in favorable circumstances in which God foresaw that of two persons who receive equal help from Him, one would persevere, and the other would not. Is not any devaluation of God's gift a corresponding devaluation of the mystery?

The Council of Trent also says: "No one, moreover, so long as he is in this mortal life, ought so far to presume as regards the secret mystery of divine predestination as to determine for certain that he is assuredly among the number of the predestined; as if it were true that he who is justified either cannot sin any more, or, if he do sin, that he ought to promise himself an assured repentance. For except by special revelation it cannot he known whom God hath chosen unto Himself."(12)
In favor of the Augustinian and Thomist doctrine, the following argument has also in all fairness been brought forward that, according to the Council of Trent, the grace of final perseverance cannot be merited, at least de condigno; for the council states that the just man can merit eternal life, "provided he die in the state of grace."(13) Now this latter cannot be merited, for the state of grace and continuation in the same, since these are the principle of merit, cannot be merited. From this it follows that predestination to the grace of final perseverance, by which one is ultimately disposed for heavenly glory, is not because of foreseen merits. Therefore predestination to heavenly glory, which is included in the former, is also gratuitous.

and more here...There are still other ways in which the Council of Orange has expressed the principle of predilection. Canon sixteen reads: "Let no one glory in what he may seem to have, as if he had not received it." And canon twenty states: "God does many good things in man, which man does not accomplish; but there is no good work done by man which God has not assisted him to do."(23)
Taken from St. Augustine and the three hundred and twelfth of Prosper's sentences, these canons point out that all good comes from God either as the author of nature or of grace; hence it is only through having received more from God that one is better than another. This is also the meaning of canon twenty-two, which reads: "No man can claim as his own anything except lying and sin. If a man hath anything of truth and righteousness it is from that fountain which it behoves us to thirst after in this desert that being, so to speak, refreshed with some of its drops we may not faint by the way."(24) This canon which is taken from the writings of St. Augustine,(25) speaks of God as the author of good things both in the order of nature and of grace; and this is more clearly expressed in canon nineteen.(26) Hence it does not follow that all the works of infidels are sins. Some of them are morally good in the natural order, such as paying one's debts and providing for the support of one's children. But even this natural goodness comes from God, who is the author of all good; and it is not independently of Him that such a naturally good act is performed by this particular man and not by that other, who is permitted to act contrariwise and sin.
All these canons of the Council of Orange, which are taken from the writings of St. Augustine or of St. Prosper show that the least we may say is what H. Leclercq affirms in his French translation of Hefele's work. He writes: "What seems to be an undeniable fact is, that the Church adopted (in the Second Council of Orange) the Augustinian theory in its defense of the fundamental principles against the Pelagians and Semipelagians, of original sin, of the necessity and gratuitousness of grace, and of our absolute dependence upon God for every salutary act."(27) There is no reason therefore to be astonished that Augustinians and Thomists detected from the obvious sense of the terms of this council the principle of predilection, this principle which presupposes the intrinsic efficacy of grace. They also detect this principle in the epistles of St. Paul, for he says: "It is God who worketh in you, according to His good will. For who distinguisheth thee? Or what hast thou that thou hast not received?"(28)
Is it not this that the Semipelagians denied in saying that God wills to save equally all men and that He is not the author but the onlooker of what distinguishes the just from the impious, and the elect from the rest of mankind?

Choices and Alternatives

Years ago, when a certain young man was eight, we were riding in the car with Grandpa and Grandma to a special dinner. Someone who was eight was doing something naughty, like being too squirmy and not using his seat-belt, as boys are apt to do. I was trying to break this habit, and had already had a "mummy discussion" on the subject, but naughtiness continued. He would not use the seat-belt. He was being stubborn, and not sitting up properly.

So, I said, "If you do not stop doing this, there will be consequences. Either you will be grounded for a day, or you will not be allowed to watch the usual Friday night movie." I usually gave choices in consequences.

Silence ensued. until the little British voice piped up, "Are there any other alternatives?"

We act like this with God. He presents us with our sins and, in His Mercy, gives us choices. We can choose from a variety of consequences. If we go ahead and sin, we incur several consequences. If the sin is venial, we remove ourselves from the road of perfection, and deaden our discernment and consciences.

If the sin is mortal, our soul dies, as we have destroyed grace, the life of God in us.

Consequences also come in natural ways, such as losing friends, or worse, as indicated in the mini-series on identity this past week, on the loss of a sense of who we are.

An entire life may be lost to sin. But, God, like most mums, is merciful and full of love and forgiveness. However, we have the unseen consequences of temporal punishment due to sin, which is called purgatory.

Only the saints, who may have had to endure purgatory on earth in order to become perfect, go straight to heaven.

There are no "other alternatives" except avoiding sin and begging God to keep us in His grace. We have the gifts of the Holy Spirit given in confirmation, as well as the virtues of baptism, to lead us to holiness.

Choose well.

Attributes of God Part Four: Omnibenevolence

John 3:16

16 For God so loved the world, as to give his only begotten Son; that whosoever believeth in him, may not perish, but may have life everlasting.
1 John 4:16
Douay-Rheims 1899 American Edition (DRA)
16 And we have known, and have believed the charity, which God hath to us. God is charity: and he that abideth in charity, abideth in God, and God in him.

God is Good. He is the only Perfect Good. His Goodness may be perceived by us through faith or experience as God being all benevolent. Benevolence is kindness, good will, love. That God is All Kindness, All Goodness and All Love was shown to us specifically in the Passion and Death of His Son, Our Lord Jesus Christ.

But, many do not perceive this kindness, good will or love because of the many sins of those around them.

But, the love of God passes our understanding, both in the perceived absence, and in the presence of such love.

Here is only one small section from the book, Providence, which I have been using in some of these posts.

Now that we have spoken of God's intellect and wisdom, a right conception of providence requires further that we consider the nature of His holy will and the love He has both for Himself and for us. Providence in God, like prudence in us, presupposes the love of the supreme good, to which it directs all things. 

No word is so much profaned as love. There is a carnal wisdom which St. Paul calls stupidity and foolishness, and there is also a baser sort of love which is simply the grossest egoism and which often through jealousy is instantly transformed into a raging hatred. But however a soul may sink, it can never quite forget that in true love we have a perfection so exalted and so pure that we should look in vain for any trace of imperfection in it. 

If we were asked whether God can be sad, we at once see that this cannot be. If we were asked whether He can be angry, we promptly understand that the term can be attributed to Him only by way of metaphor to express His justice. If we were asked whether love is to be found formally in Him, without the least hesitation we say that He loves us in the strict and fullest sense of the term. 

Let us see, then, (1) in what way love is in God, in what way He loves. Himself, and (2) the nature of His love for us. We will follow St. Thomas throughout (Ia, q. 19, 20), and while we are speaking of God's love for us we shall see with him what is meant by the will of expression in God and the will of His good pleasure. This distinction is of the first importance for a right understanding of what self-abandonment to Providence must be.
The love of God for Himself 

Love as it is in God cannot consist in a sensible passion or emotion, however well regulated. There can be no sensibility in God, because He is pure spirit. 

But there can be no Divine intellect, with its knowledge of the good, unless there is a Divine will to will --- that good. This will cannot be a simple faculty of willing. It would be imperfect, were it not of itself always in act. The first act of the will is love for the good, a love entirely spiritual as, is the intellect which directs it. The other acts of the will (desiring, willing, consenting, choosing, utilizing, and even hating) all proceed from love, that is the very awakening of the will in its contact with the good which is its object (Ia, q. 20, a. 1). 

In God, then, a wholly spiritual and eternal act of love for the good necessarily exists, and this good loved from all eternity is God Himself, His infinite perfection, which is the fulness of being. God loves Himself as, much as He is capable of being loved, that is, infinitely. This necessary act is not inferior to liberty but transcends it. Indeed this love is identified with the sovereign good, the supreme object of love. From its ardor it is rightly termed a zealous love; it is like an eternally subsisting burning flame, ignis ardens. As the Scripture says, "God is a consuming fire" (Deut. 4:24). 

We do well to contemplate this burning love for the good which exists from all eternity in God, especially when we consider the amount of injustice and jealousy that is in the world and feel in our hearts how feeble at times is our own love for the good, how lacking in constancy and perseverance. 

We read in the Gospel: "Blessed are they that hunger and thirst after justice: for they shall have their fill" (Matt. 5:6). This is that burning love for the good which is mightier than all contradictions, than all weariness and temptations to discouragement we may meet with, a love mighty as death, even mightier than death, as seen in our Lord and the Martyrs. Yet this mighty, ardent love for the good, which must eventually dominate everything in our hearts, is but a spark springing from that spiritual furnace in God, the uncreated love for the sovereign good

The characteristics of this love 

In the first place, it is supremely holy, or rather it is holiness itself; that is to say, it is absolutely pure, and in its purity unchangeable. Absolutely pure, for obviously it cannot in any way be sullied or debased by sin or imperfection, since sin consists in turning one's back on God and His commands, and imperfection is a refusal to follow His counsels. 

And in its purity it is unchangeable. God can never cease to be the sovereign good. He can never cease to know and hence to love Himself. He necessarily loves Himself, and His love not only cleaves unalterably to the sovereign good, but is identified with it, loving it above all things. (Cf. St. Thomas, Ia, q. 19, a. 3, 7.) 

Certain philosophers, such as Kant, have gone so far astray as to see in this love of God preferring Himself to all else, not the absolute holiness it is, but the very height of egoism. They have also maintained that God cannot love Himself above all things, that He could not have created us for His Own glory, but for ourselves alone, and that consequently it is not He but our own personal dignity that should hold the supreme place in our love. 

On the plea of absolving God of egoism, this novel aberration places egoism before us as the ideal we should aim at. It confounds the two extremes, holiness and egoism, because it neglects to define what egoism is. 

Egoism is an inordinate self-love in which self is preferred to God the sovereign good, or to one's family or country. But how can God prefer Himself to the sovereign good, since He is identified with it? 

Hence God in preferring Himself to all things is preferring the sovereign good. For Him to do otherwise would be an intolerable disorder; He would be like the miser who prefers his gold to his own personal dignity. For God to prefer any creature to Himself would amount to a mortal sin in Him, and that is the final absurdity. 

When God creates, therefore, it is not out of egoism at all; on the contrary, it is to manifest His goodness externally. In subordinating everything to Himself He is subordinating us to the sovereign good, and this He does for our greater happiness. Our beatitude is incomparably greater in the possession and love of God through praise than if it were a mere complacency in our own personal dignity. The more we give glory to God, the greater will be our own glory. "Not to us, O Lord, not to us: but to Thy name give glory" (Ps. 113:1). Our greatest glory, O Lord, is to give glory to Thee. 

Garrigou-Lagrange notes in a footnote the problems of evil which are physical. Does the God of Love will these?

Physical evils, sickness, for instance, are not willed by God directly, but only in an accidental way, insomuch as He wills a higher good of which physical evil is the necessary condition. Thus the lion depends for its existence on the killing of the gazelle, patience in sickness presupposes pain, the heroism of the saints presupposes the sufferings they endure. (Cf. St. Thomas, Ia, q. 19, a. g; q. 22, a. 2 ad 2um.)

to be continued....

Attributes of God Part Four: Omniscience

In order to understand God's Omniscience, one must start with the knowledge that God is timeless, eternal, infinite. God's knowledge is unlimited by matter or time. God does not see things in sequences, as we do, but "all at once".

God's knowledge is complete, perfect. God is immutable and knows all.

The mind of man gets bogged down in time with cause and effect, with the decision of good and evil. Man wants to deny that God sees all, good and evil, as then God can be blamed for evil. ("Why does God let such and such happen?")

In this section of the Summa Contra Gentiles, Aquinas writes about Providence, (Summa contra Gentiles, I, 67, 10). But, let me go to Garrigou-Lagrange for an explanation. I have read his books, Providence and Predestination and am shortly to begin those again. These two books tie into his great work on perfection, which I have unpacked on this blog-The Three Ages of The Interior Life.

I shall return to those two former books in a few weeks, but want to give a short view of how both Divine Providence and Predestination fit in with the Attribute of Omniscience.

I can only quote one part in this short series, but I think this section on providence will help some understand the love and good will of the Omniscient God. I have highlighted in red some of the pertinent passages for this post.

The infallibility of providence touching everything that happens, including even our present and future free actions, is stressed in the Old Testament no less clearly than its universal extent. In this connection we must cite especially the prayer of Mardochai (Esther 13: 9-17), in which he implores God's help against Aman and the enemies of the chosen people:
O Lord, Lord almighty King, for all things are in Thy power, and there is none that can resist Thy will, if Thou determine to save Israel. Thou hast made heaven and earth, and all things that are under the cope of heaven. Thou art the Lord of all, and there is none that can resist Thy majesty. Thou knowest all things, and Thou knowest that it was not out of pride and contempt or any desire of glory that I refused to worship the proud Aman.... But I feared lest I should transfer the honor of my God to a man.... And now, O Lord, O King, O God of Abraham, have mercy on Thy people, because our enemies resolve to destroy us.... Hear my supplication.... And turn our mourning into joy, that we may live and praise Thy name.
Not less touching is Queen Esther's prayer in those same circumstances (14: 12-19), bringing out even more clearly the infallibility of providence regarding even the free acts of men; for she asks that the heart of King Assuerus be changed, and her prayer is answered: "Remember, O Lord, and show Thyself to us in the time of our tribulation, and give me boldness, O Lord, King of gods, and of all power. Give me a well ordered speech in my mouth in the presence of the lion: and turn his heart to the hatred of our enemy; that both he himself may perish, and the rest that consent to him. But deliver us by Thy hand: and help me who hath no helper, but Thee, O Lord, who hast the knowledge of all things. And Thou knowest that I hate the glory of the wicked.... Deliver us from the hand of the wicked. And deliver me from my fear." In fact, as we read a little later on (15: 11), "God changed the king's spirit into mildness; and all in haste and in fear [seeing Esther faint before him], he leaped from his throne and held her in his arms till she came to herself." Thereupon, after speedily assuring himself of Aman's treachery, he sent him to his punishment, and leant all the weight of his power to the Jews in defending themselves against their enemies. [34]

From this it is plain that divine providence extends infallibly not only to the least external happening but also to the most intimate secrets of the heart and every free action; for, in answer to the prayer of the just, it brings about a change in the interior dispositions of the will of kings. Socrates and Plato never rose to such lofty conceptions, to such firm convictions on this matter of the divine governance.
Many other texts in the Bible to the same effect are repeatedly insisted upon by both St. Augustine and St. Thomas.
In Proverbs, for instance, we read (21: 1) : "As the division of the waters, so the heart of the king is in the hand of the Lord: whithersoever He will He shall turn it. Every way of man seemeth right to himself: but the Lord weigheth the hearts." Again, in Ecclesiasticus (33: 13) we read: "As the potter's clay is in his hand, to fashion and order it: all his ways are according to his ordering. So man is in the hand of Him who made Him: and He will render to him according to His judgment." Again, Isaias in his prophecies against the heathen (14:24) says: "The Lord of hosts hath sworn, saving: Surely as I have thought, so shall it be. And as I have purposed, so shall it fall out: that I will destroy the Assyrian in My land... and his yoke shall be taken away from them." "This is the hand, " the prophet adds, "that is stretched out upon all nations. For the Lord of hosts hath decreed, and who can disannul it? And His hand is stretched out, and who shall turn it away?" Always there is the same insistence on the liberty of the divine election, on a universal and infallible providence reaching down to the minutest detail and to the free actions of men.
3) For what end has this universal and infallible providence directed all things? Though the psalms do not bring that full light to bear which comes with the Gospel, they frequently answer this question when they declare that God directs all things to good, for the manifestation of His goodness, His mercy, and His justice, and that He is in no way the cause of sin, but permits it in view of a greater good Providence is thus presented as a divine virtue inseparably united with mercy and justice, just as true prudence in the man of virtue can never be at variance with the moral virtues of justice, fortitude, and moderation which are intimately connected with it. Only in God, however, can this connection of the virtues reach its supreme perfection.

Again and again we find in the psalms such expressions as these: "All the ways of the Lord are mercy and truth" (24:10) ; "All His works are done with faithfulness. He loveth mercy and judgment [Heb., justice and right] ; the earth is full of the mercy of the Lord" (32: 4-5) ; "Show, O Lord, Thy ways to me, and teach me Thy paths. Direct me in Thy truth, and teach me; for Thou art God my Savior, and on Thee I have waited all the day long. Remember, O Lord, Thy bowels of compassion; and Thy mercies that are from the beginning of the world. The sins of my youth and my ignorances do not remember. According to Thy mercy remember me: for Thy goodness' sake, O Lord" (24: 4-7)." The Lord ruleth me: and I shall want nothing. He hath set me in a place of pasture. He hath brought me up on the water of refreshment: He hath converted my soul. He hath led me on the paths of justice, for His name's sake. For though I should walk in the midst of the shadow of death, I will fear no evils, for Thou art with me. Thy rod and Thy staff: they have comforted me" (22: 1-5)." In Thee, O Lord, have I hoped, let me never be confounded.... My lots are in Thy hands. Deliver me out of the hands of my enemies, and from them that persecute me. Make Thy face to shine on Thy servant: save me in Thy mercy.... O how great is the multitude of Thy sweetness, O Lord, which Thou has hidden from them that fear Thee! Which Thou has wrought for them that hope in Thee, in the sight of the sons of men. Thou shalt hide them in the secret of Thy face from the disturbance of men. Thou shalt protect them in Thy tabernacle from the contradiction of tongues" (30: I, 16, 17, 20).

God knows who will respond to His grace and those who will not. His knowledge of all does not stop our free will from choosing either to be for or against him. Those who choose to believe in Providence fall into the group who are Predestined to be with God forever. He knows all.

Omniscience is not force, is not the overwhelming of one's will in violence. Love is free and God know who wills to love Him.

Later on in the book, Garrigou-Lagrange writes this:

Abandonment to the divine will is thus one of the fairest expressions of hope combined with charity or love of God. Indeed, it involves the exercise to an eminent degree of all the theological virtues, because perfect self-abandonment to providence is pervaded by a deep spirit of faith, of confidence, and love for God. And when this self-abandonment, far from inducing us to fold our arms and do nothing as is the case with the Quietists, is accompanied by a humble, generous fulfilment of our daily duties, it is one of the surest ways of arriving at union with God and of preserving it unbroken even in the severest trials. Once we have done our utmost to accomplish the will of God day after day, we can and we must abandon ourselves to Him in all else. In this way we shall find peace even in tribulation. We shall see how God takes upon Himself the guidance of souls that, while continuing to perform their daily duties, abandon themselves completely to Him; and the more He seems to blind their eyes, the saints tell us, the more surely does He lead them, urging them on in their upward course into a land where, as St. John of the Cross says, the beaten track has disappeared, where the Holy Ghost alone can direct them by His divine inspirations.

God's perfect knowledge does not mean that He takes away our freedom to love or not to love.

Here is a footnote from Garrigou-Lagrange's book linked above. References are to Aquinas.

The free mode in our choice consists in the indifference that dominates our will in its actual process of tending to a particular object presented as good under one aspect and not good under another, and consequently as unable to exert an invincible attraction upon it (Ia IIae, q. 10, a. 2). This free mode in our choice is still within the sphere of being, of reality, and as such comes under the adequate object of the divine omnipotence. On the contrary, this cannot be so with the disorder of sin. God, in His causation infallible, can no more be the cause of sin than the eye can perceive sound (Ia IIae, q. 79, a. 1, 2).

to be continued...

Attributes of God Part Four: Omniscience, Omnipotence, Omnibenevolence, Omnipresence-first Omnipotence

"Omni" means all, so one can see immediately that God is all knowing, all powerful, all goodness, and all presence.

As "omnipotence" is the easiest to grasp, let me start with a quick view of this Attribute. Of course, this entire series is a horrible, short abbreviation, and mere introduction to the Church's teaching on God. I can only encourage readers to continue with studying Aquinas and his commentators.

The power of God is both logical and infinite. God cannot contradict Himself, which is a teaching wherein we separate ourselves from the second largest religion in the world. Here is Aquinas on the first part of his discussion on God's power.

Power is twofold--namely, passive, which exists not at all in God; and active, which we must assign to Him in the highest degree. For it is manifest that everything, according as it is in actand is perfect, is the active principle of something: whereas everything is passive according as it is deficient and imperfect. Now it was shown above (3, 2; 4, 1 and 2), that God is pure act, simply and in all ways perfect, nor in Him does any imperfection find place. Whence it most fittingly belongs to Him to be an active principle, and in no way whatsoever to be passive. On the other hand, the notion of active principle is consistent with active power. For active power is the principle of acting upon something else; whereas passive power is the principle of being acted upon by something else, as the
Philosopher says (Metaph. v, 17). It remains, therefore, that in God there is active power in the highest degree.
Reply to Objection 1. Active power is not contrary to act, but is founded upon it, for everything acts according as it is actual: but passive power is contrary to act; for a thing is passive according as it is potential. Whence this potentiality is not in God, but only active power.
Reply to Objection 2. Whenever act is distinct from power, act must be nobler than power. But God's action is not distinct from His power, for both are His divine essence; neither is His existence distinct from His essence. Hence it does not follow that there should be anything in God nobler than His power.
Reply to Objection 3. In creatures, power is the principle not only of action, but likewise of effect. Thus in God the idea of power is retained, inasmuch as it is the principle of an effect; not, however, as it is a principle of action, for this is the divine essence itself; except, perchance, after our manner of understanding, inasmuch as the divine essence, which pre-contains in itself all perfection that exists in created things, can be understood either under the notion of action, or under that of power; as also it is understood under the notion of "suppositum" possessing nature, and under that of nature. Accordingly the notion of power is retained in God in so far as it is the principle of an effect.
Reply to Objection 4. Power is predicated of God not as something really distinct from His knowledge and will, but as differing from them logically; inasmuch as power implies a notion of a principle putting into execution what the will commands, and what knowledge directs, which three things in God are identified. Or we may say, that the knowledge or will of God, according as it is the effective principle, has the notion of power contained in it. Hence the consideration of the knowledge and will of God precedes the consideration of His power, as the cause precedes the operation and effect.

Our imaginations cannot grasp the power of God as actual, as we live in a world of potential. God's Knowledge and Will are not separated from His power. All are part of His Divine Essence. 

We are separated, divided in our beings with regard to power, knowledge, will, and action because of sin. Sin separates man's ability to be whole in a way God is Simplicity and Unity. Original sin destroyed this correlation of action, thought, decision, knowledge in all humans, only brought back into harmony through the grace of baptism. 

That God is Infinite, another Attribute, allows us to understand His Omnipotence.

Here is the great Doctor again.

As stated above (Article 1), active power exists in God according to the measure in which He is actual. Now His existence is infinite, inasmuch as it is not limited by anything that receives it, as is clear from what has been said, when we discussed the infinity of the divine essence (7, 1). Wherefore, it is necessary that the active power in God should be infinite. For in every agent is it found that the more perfectly an agent has the form by which it acts the greater its power to act. For instance, the hotter a thing is, the greater the power has it to give heat; and it would have infinitepower to give heat, were its own heat infinite. Whence, since the divine essence, through which God acts, is infinite, as was shown above (Question 7, Article 1) it follows that His power likewise is infinite.
Reply to Objection 1. The Philosopher is here speaking of an infinity in regard to matter not limited by any form; and such infinity belongs to quantity. But the divine essence is otherwise, as was shown above (Question 7, Article 1); and consequently so also His power. It does not follow, therefore, that it is imperfect.
Reply to Objection 2. The power of a univocal agent is wholly manifested in its effect. The generative power of man, for example, is not able to do more than beget man. But the power of a non-univocal agent does not wholly manifest itself in the production of its effect: as, for example, the power of the sun does not wholly manifest itself in the production of an animal generated from putrefaction. Now it is clear that God is not a univocal agent. For nothing agrees with Him either in species or in genus, as was shown above (3, 5; 4, 3). Whence it follows that His effect is always less than His power. It is not necessary, therefore, that the infinite power of God should be manifested so as to produce an infinite effect. Yet even if it were to produce no effect, the power of God would not be ineffectual; because a thing is ineffectual which is ordained towards an end to which it does not attain. But the power of God is not ordered toward its effect as towards an end; rather, it is the end of the effect produced by it.
Reply to Objection 3. The Philosopher (Phys. viii, 79) proves that if a body had infinite power, it would cause a non-temporal movement. And he shows that the power of the mover of heaven is infinite, because it can move in an infinite time. It remains, therefore, according to his reckoning, that the infinite power of a body, if such existed, would move without time; not, however, the power of an incorporeal mover. The reason of this is that one body moving another is a univocal agent; wherefore it follows that the whole power of the agent is made known in its motion. Since then the greater the power of a moving body, the more quickly does it move; the necessary conclusion is that if its power were infinite, it would move beyond comparison faster, and this is to move without time. An incorporeal mover, however, is not a univocal agent; whence it is not necessary that the whole of its power should be manifested in motion, so as to move without time; and especially since it moves in accordance with the disposition of its will.

God is not limited in His power. His power has no limitations of time, the material, nor ordered to any particular end. Again, in the limitations of humans, one has difficulty imagining such a Being of Power Who Is Infinite. But, we can reason that such a God can exist and does.

Many modern people question God's ability to have infinite and complete, that is "all" power. A good discussion on this can be found here.

Aquinas writes:

All confess that God is omnipotent; but it seems difficult to explain in what His omnipotence precisely consists: for there may be doubt as to the precise meaning of the word 'all' when we say that God can do all things. If, however, we consider the matter aright, since power is said in reference to possible things, this phrase, "God can do all things," is rightly understood to mean that God can do all things that are possible; and for this reason He is said to be omnipotent. Now according to the Philosopher (Metaph. v, 17), a thing is said to be possible in two ways.
First in relation to some power, thus whatever is subject to human power is said to be possible to man.
Secondly absolutely, on account of the relation in which the very terms stand to each other. Now God cannot be said to be omnipotent through being able to do all things that are possible to created nature; for the divine power extends farther than that. If, however, we were to say that God is omnipotent because He can do all things that are possible to His power, there would be a vicious circle in explaining the nature of His power. For this would be saying nothing else but that God isomnipotent, because He can do all that He is able to do.
It remains therefore, that God is called omnipotent because He can do all things that are possible absolutely; which is the second way of saying a thing is possible. For a thing is said to be possible or impossible absolutely, according to the relation in which the very terms stand to one another, possible if the predicate is not incompatible with the subject, as that Socrates sits; and absolutely impossible when the predicate is altogether incompatible with the subject, as, for instance, that a man is a donkey.  It helps if one has studied Logic here...

It must, however, be remembered that since every agent produces an effect like itself, to each active power there corresponds a thing possible as its proper object according to the nature of that act on which its active power is founded; for instance, the power of giving warmth is related as to its proper object to the being capable of being warmed. The divine existence, however, upon which the nature of power in God is founded, is infinite, and is not limited to any genus of being; but possesses within itself the perfection of all being. Whence, whatsoever has or can have the nature of being, is numbered among the absolutely possible things, in respect of which God is called omnipotent. Now nothing is opposed to the idea of being except non-being. Therefore, that which implies being and non-being at the same time is repugnant to the idea of an absolutely possible thing, within the scope of the divine omnipotence. For such cannot come under the divine omnipotence, not because of any defect in the power of God, but because it has not the nature of a feasible or possible thing. Therefore, everything that does not imply a contradiction in terms, is numbered amongst those possible things, in respect of which God is called omnipotent: whereas whatever implies contradiction does not come within the scope of divine omnipotence, because it cannot have the aspect of possibility. Hence it is better to say that such things cannot be done, than that God cannot do them. Nor is this contrary to the word of theangel, saying: "No word shall be impossible with God." For whatever implies a contradiction cannot be a word, because no intellect can possibly conceive such a thing.

The second largest religion in the world gets tripped up on the above point. Theologians in that group think that God can contradict Himself, as contradiction is possible. But, the understandings of Perfection and what is possible are missing from their arguments. Their god is movable and contradictory.

Reply to Objection 1. God is said to be omnipotent in respect to His active power, not to passive power, as was shown above (Article 1). Whence the fact that He is immovable or impassible is not repugnant to His omnipotence

Aquinas rightly shows a comparison to help us understand the difference in perfect and imperfect action..

Reply to Objection 2. To sin is to fall short of a perfect action; hence to be able to sin is to be able to fall short in action, which is repugnant to omnipotence. Therefore it is that God cannot sin, because of His omnipotence. Nevertheless, the Philosopher says (Topic. iv, 3) that God can deliberately do what is evil. But this must be understood either on a condition, the antecedent of which is impossible--as, for instance, if we were to say that God can do evil things if He will. For there is no reason why a conditional proposition should not be true, though both the antecedent and consequent are impossible: as if one were to say: "If man is a donkey, he has four feet." Or he may be understood to mean that God can do some things which now seem to be evil: which, however, if He did them, would then be good. Or he is, perhaps, speaking after the common manner of the heathen, who thought that men became gods, like Jupiter or Mercury.

Many in today's world think that evil comes from God, or that the "evil force" is equal to God, as in neo-dualism.

And, as the Church moves to Mercy Sunday, God's omnipotence regarding mercy finds a place in our hearts, as well as in our minds.

Reply to Objection 3. God's omnipotence is particularly shown in sparing and having mercy, because in this is it made manifest that God has supreme power, that He freely forgives sins. For it is not for one who is bound by laws of a superior to forgive sins of his own free will. Or, because by sparing and having mercy upon men, He leads them on to the participation of an infinite good; which is the ultimate effect of the divine power. Or because, as was said above (Question 21, Article 4), the effect of the divine mercy is the foundation of all the divine works. For nothing is due to anyone, except on account of something already given him gratuitously by God. In this way the divine omnipotence is particularly made manifest, because to it pertains the first foundation of all good things.

Reply to Objection 4. The absolute possible is not so called in reference either to higher causes, or to inferior causes, but in reference to itself. But the possible in reference to some power is named possible in reference to its proximate cause. Hence those things which it belongs to God alone to do immediately--as, for example, to create, to justify, and the like--are said to be possible in reference to a higher cause. Those things, however, which are of such kind as to be done by inferior causes are said to be possible in reference to those inferior causes. For it is according to the condition of the proximate cause that the effect has contingency or necessity, as was shown above (14, 1, ad 2). Thus is it that the wisdom of the world is deemed foolish, because what is impossible to nature, it judges to be impossible to God. So it is clear that the omnipotence of God does not take away from things their impossibility and necessity.

If you want to read about what God can do and not, look at the rest of this section for starters.Many agnostics and atheists get hung up on the relationship between God allowing us our free will and the presence of evil in the world. As we are made in God's image and likeness, and as satan was given free will himself, God allows the actions of will, even to the point of allowing, in his permissive will, evil. 

That God does not want evil seems clear, but that His omnipotence allows for freedom strikes some people as a lack of power. I shall come back to this discussion in the next post.

Next post will cover, again painfully briefly, Omniscience