Divine Providence

As of a child on his mother’s lap, so the Lord takes care of us. Physically, the baby has already been endowed with instinct to search for the nipple of his mother and to suck:

On the other hand, we do not come to a strange land: among the planets of our solar system, the terrestrial globe is the only one which is habitable: we have the instinct to breathe and the atmosphere contains the vital oxygen in the adequate proportion, we feel thirsty and the earth has plenty of water; we are hungry and there is food of all kinds. We are thirsty for tenderness and our parents take care of us and give us their love. Our eyes open and light greets us every morning.

And what shall we say about our spiritual life? The life of our soul is incomparably more important than the life of our body. The Lord gives us the means to be in His grace, to be His adopted children: He infuses us with His blessing grace and if we have the bad luck to offend Him, He makes repentance possible by means of His virtual grace. He gives us the help of the Church with her hierarchy and priesthood and the sublime sacraments. He cultivates in us virtues such as faith, hope and charity. He gives us the teachings and the example of the saints and the prophets: He gives us the help of apparitions, specially those of the Blessed Virgin and the help of private revelations in order to confirm our faith and to understand the signs of the times.

The fact is that God is not only the eternal being, source of every being, but that without Him, nothing would keep on existing, since created beings are sustained by God in their existence. Therefore, nothing exists without God wanting or allowing it (in the case of evil, to reach a higher goodness, so from a sickness some repentance can appear which returns us to the arms of our Father in Heaven). Therefore, nothing happens without God’s will or permission.

God is the Father; let’s accept everything as coming with love from His hand. Saint Thomas Moore, just before his martyrdom, comforts his daughter as follows: “Nothing can happen to me that God doesn’t want. And everything He wants, as bad it seems to us, is really the best” (letter)

It can happen that we suffer from a serious sickness or that a beloved person dies and because of our sorrow (or the sorrow of a loved person) our soul converts and returns to God, so that a bad thing serves a very good purpose: the salvation of our soul.

The child who takes a bitter medicine from his mother in order to be healed cries and calls his mother bad; but once he has been healed, praises such bitter medicine and his mother, who administered it to him out of love; also, our Father in Heaven sends bitter challenges to us but it is for our health and for the health of other people.

Jesus asks us for a childlike abandonment to the Father’s providence (“Therefore do not be anxious saying “What shall we eat?” or “What shall we drink?” or “What are we to put on?” …for your Father knows you and that you need all these things. But seek first the kingdom of God and His justice, and all these things shall be given you besides” (Mt 6, 31-33; cf.10, 29-31)), trusting that everything is for our own good and joining our suffering to those of Jesus Christ in His painful Passion.

In the Gospels, Jesus tells us that “Yes, every hair on your head is numbered” and that God takes care even of little birds (“Are not five sparrows sold for two farthings? And yet not one of them is forgotten before God.“Yes, every hair on your head is numbered. Therefore, do not be afraid, you are of more value than many sparrows”(Luke 12, 6-7).

We can freely cooperate with divine Providence, man is raised to the dignity to be the hand of God, when our heart joins His, we can also be cooperators in the wellness of our brothers: “Men, very often unconscious cooperators of the divine will, can freely be part in the plans of God, not only through their actions and prayers, but also through their suffering”  (Col 1, 24) (See Catechism of the Catholic Church, Nº 307).

The Providence of God stretches out to the free action of his creatures: because “all things are naked and open to the eyes of Him, to whom we have to give account” (Hb 4, 13), even what the free action of His creatures will produce (Cc. Vatican I: DS 3003).

(Catechism Nº 302). Every action of His free creatures, even if it is not wished by God, is included in divine Providence, the providence of providences. God foresees every thing, nothing happens by chance for Him. This doesn’t mean that things happen by fatality, but they depend quite a lot on our free decisions:

Prayers and penitence can change the course of events because God allows His will, which is all powerful, depend on the attitude of free men. Thus, Nineveh was saved from destruction (although God had said through the prophet Jonas that it would be destroyed in 40 days) because its inhabitants converted and made penitence.

And the king Ezequias, sick with a mortal disease, prayed to God and He healed him, although the prophet had announced him that he would die.

That’s why we don’t have to think that if God announces a catastrophe, we cannot do anything to avoid it, for prayers and penitence can make that He changes His judgment. (He doesn’t change it really, for His full will is “if you don’t repent, I shall do this”, “if you repent and you change your ways, I shall not do it”).

If a clamor of contrition and prayers raised up from earth to heaven, many catastrophes could be avoided. The just man – and the repented sinner – can pull out great graces from the Lord for himself and for others:

In a private revelation, the Blessed Virgin Mary  says:

“Do not stop at the predictions I make to you in order to make you understand the times in which you are living. As a Mother, I warn you of the dangers in which you are, the threats that are threatening you, of all the evil that can happen to you, just because such evil can still be avoided, the dangers can be averted, it is always possible to change the purpose of the Justice of God by the force of His Merciful Love. Furthermore, if I foresee the punishments, always remember that all can be changed at any time by the strength of your prayers and your repairing penitence. Thus, do not say: How much of what you anticipated has not occurred, but thank with me the Father of Heaven, because  through your answer with prayers and consecration, through your suffering, through the suffering of so many children of mine, He still adjourns the time of Divine Justice, in order that the time of the great Mercifulness can flourish” (January 21st 1984, “To the priests, the favored sons of the Blessed Virgin Mary”, P. Gobbi, private revelation which was looked upon with sympathy by Pope Jean Paul II, but has not yet been officially approved by the Church).

Some sects present serious errors about the Providence of God, especially about  Providence in relation to free people: they are a long way away from the true God, who in the psalms is exalted as follows:“As a father has compassion for his children, so the Lord has compassion for those who fear him”(Psalm 103, 13) and they are also far away from the God of goodness:“Merciful and gracious is the Lord, slow to anger and abounding in kindness”(Psalm 103, 8).

Some of them, conceiving a tyrannical God, assert that every thing occurs according to God’s plan, in such a way that His “providence” would not leave any chance to man’s freedom, so that  man would always do God’s will, the most horrible and awful crimes being therefore the work of God, being such a bad copy of God bad and tyrannical and man merely a puppet in His hands, without any freedom (it would be a Providence which wouldn’t allow the freedom of man).

Other sects conceive a pitiless and evil God, believing in a big clockmaker of a God who, once the world was created, would wind up the big clock of the Universe and fall soundly asleep without taking care of His creatures; there wouldn’t be a God listening to our prayers and taking care of us. Such a parody of the real God would be evil-hearted and without compassion.

In both cases, there is an error on how the providence of God acts with free people: in the first one, denying freedom and not understanding that God’s Providence understands the free actions of men – God never acts wrongly- without  decreasing their freedom nor decreasing God’s omnipotence which shines better with such freedom by extracting good from evil. In the second case, denying the providence and the goodness of God and that God listens to our prayers.

Rational creatures are especially submitted to providence: since they can act with freedom and not by necessity so that they get guilt or merit from their actions; and they receive something as punishment or prize. Yet, divine providence also acts in the action of free choice; human providence is contained in divine providence, which foresees, integrates and surpasses it; in order to fulfill his will, God uses sometimes second causes, for instance the free action of men. (See Saint Thomas of Aquinas, Theological Sum, I, first part, Chapter 22, art. 1, Answer 5).

Even if a free action of man is evil, God extracts some good from it: Joseph, Jacob’s son, was sold by his brothers and sent to Egypt as a slave; yet God used this to save Jacob and his family in times of hunger since Joseph received them (“not you but God sent me here”,says Joseph to his brothers,“Even if you meant evil for me, God thought it good to save the lives of many people”(Gn 45, 8; 50, 20)).

When we refer to the greatest evil of all times, the passion and death of our Lord Jesus Christ: from it God extracted the infinitely good glorification of Jesus Christ and the Redemption of men …”Because the Almighty God…, being supremely good, would never allow that in His works there were any evil if He were not sufficiently powerful and good to obtain some good from the same evil” (Saint Augustin, enchir. 11, 3). (Catechism 311, 312).