Divine Providence; Conformity with the Holy Will
by Fr. Eric Flood, FSSP
(From the July 2009 Newsletter)
Divine Providence, having the Divine intellect as the cause of all things, orders things toward an end. The execution of this providential plan is called divine governance.
Like the prudent person who decides the means to be employed to attain an end, God, from all eternity intends the end and purpose of the universe and provides the means for each soul living in the world to attain its end. Since God is the cause of all being, His Divine plan extends to everything which exists, and His plan of providence has been determined down to the last detail. Yet, it also safeguards the freedom of our actions, for it anticipates the cooperation of our will.
By abandoning our self to Divine Providence, we participate in the wisdom and goodness of God. All events have been foreseen by God from all eternity, and He has willed every reality and goodness. Of course, He does not will evil, but whatever evil occurs, He merely permits for a greater good.
Since nothing can be willed or permitted by God which does not contribute to the manifestation of His goodness and infinite perfections, then our temperament, consequences of heredity, the influences of our emotions—all are known by God and are present to attract, enlighten, and strengthen us for our end: life in Heaven with God.
Thus, our trust in God cannot be too docile, since we should be more convinced of His designs than we are of our own best intentions. By submitting to God’s plan, we will overcome the fear of being deceived by our own emotions or self-love.
This surrendering of self to God doesn’t mean we remain inactive or in a state of quietude; rather, we exert ourselves wholeheartedly and unselfishly as God’s holy plan unveils itself to us. By doing so, we conform ourselves to His good pleasure, however mysterious it may be, for we are certain that it contains nothing contrary to holiness and a good end.
By a constant fidelity to our duty, we enter into that which is unknown to us, but which is comprehended by God. We also let God reveal it to us in the degree he wishes us to understand. We then face every obstacle with firm hope and confident labor. In His hands, our future is entirely dependent on the events controlled by God. Yet we have to remain faithful in our surrender to God, since our free will will try to rise up in contradiction to God’s will.
Our abandonment of self to God should embrace everything in our life and for the remainder of our life. Even our past actions are included, since we have to live with the consequences of our past decisions. Our sicknesses, joys, tribulations, shortcomings, the state of the world, the time we live in, the hour of our death, our riches or poverty—all will require humility, gentleness, and patience to live in the wisdom and goodness of God.
In times of affliction, we become accustomed to saying, “Thy will be done.” Our acceptance of the present trials in a spirit of faith, confidence, and love will become a fount of merit. By abandoning ourselves in the sprit of faith, we realize that “all things work together unto good,” (Rom. 8.28) since God arranges everything for our welfare and permits us to be cast down so that He can raise us up higher than before.
By abandoning our self in a spirit of confidence, we acknowledge that God’s hand is ever helping us against what seem to be insurmountable obstacles in this life. And by surrendering our self in a spirit of love, we are fulfilling God’s plan in the most perfect way and with the purest possible intention.
Thus, by fulfilling the duties of the present moment, we live according to God’s will. Whatever is happening at the moment is a sign that God wills or permits it for our good. Life ought to be seen as a succession of events coinciding with graces attached to each of our actions. This cooperation with the multitude of graces enables us to draw great spiritual strength by following the lead of God.
Why complain in this life, since it is a succession of gifts from God? The present moment is nothing more than the expression of the Divine will towards us, yielding a constant source of grace and merit. Every hour and every minute take on a supernatural significance and remind us that the history of our soul is being written down and will be read for all eternity.
July 5, 2009