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Chapter 26

Responding to
Divine Providence

 

If all would only make use
of the ordinary duties and trials of their state
in the way God intended,
they would all become saints.
—St. Miriam Teresa Demjanovich

 

 

Adam and Eve fell away from God because they wanted to be God, out of intellectual pride and spiritual envy. “You will be like God, knowing good and evil.” (Genesis 3:5)  Deceived by the devil, they wanted to decide for themselves what was right and wrong, true and false, good and evil.  Whereas before the Fall they were naked, a sign of their spiritual purity, humility and open charity, after the original sin they wore “fig leaves,” a sign of their artificial, false and phony ego, their complicated concepts for the blame game, rationalization, self-deception and self-protection, their selfish desires to dominate, manipulate and control others. (Genesis 3:7)  In their original innocence, they were protected by grace and Divine Providence.  Now they need to protect themselves from themselves, from the sin of others, and from the devil.  They went from self-forgetfulness in the presence of God to self-consciousness in the presence of sin.  All is not loss, though.  “The Lord God made garments of skin for Adam and his wife, and clothed them,” a sign of their conversion and restoration in grace to some degree. (Genesis 3:21)  By the divine mercy, they were able, through sincere contrition and spiritual intention, to mystically fulfill St. Paul’s admonition, “Clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ.” (Rom. 13:14)

But to fully restore the original order, God must remove the obstacles to the inflow of grace—to that most precious gift of His divine presence—the supreme good.  These obstacles include—our own disordered desires and concupiscence (inclinations to sin), sinful ways of thinking and acting, false concepts and ideas, those who are a hindrance to our spiritual progress, and the influence of the evil one.  He does so when we cooperate with His will and providence.  As the dirty layers of dust and grime—the vice and crime on the window of our soul—are removed from within us, the warm sunlight of God’s Love will shine in and fill us more and more until we are full.

God allows or brings about everything that happens to us.  If we use these opportunities of Divine Providence to die to our sin and grow closer to Him, we will be well on our way to holiness and happiness.  We will grow up in God and begin to flourish, both humanly and spiritually.

For example, we experience something hard or difficult to deal with.  We can use this cross as something that helps us to stretch and grow, develop and expand, in faith, hope and love, humility and compassion, fortitude and courage.  Or, we can rebel against it, not accept it, in anger and pride, use it to feed self-pity and resentment, and thereby cause our spiritual life and love to shrivel up and die inside of us.

On the other hand, say something good happens to us or we experience some blessing.  We can respond to this with humble joy and gratitude, praise and thanksgiving—giving God all the glory and credit.  Or, we can take credit for it and feel superior to others—thinking that we are better than they—through pride, vainglory or spiritual vanity.  Then again, we could simply take it for granted as if we deserved it and had it coming all along, through a self-complacent and smug presumption.  The choice is ours.

In every situation and circumstance, we will either grow in virtue or vice, closer to God or further away from Him, depending on how we respond with our free will and action, our attitude and intention.  As Christians, we are able to see, more or less clearly, the hand of the Lord at work in our lives bringing about our human and spiritual growth for the sake, ultimately, of our eternal salvation and highest happiness in heaven.  Without faith, we can only see human nature or natural causes at work (excluding superstition).  In the first instance, we believe there is a reason for everything.  Everything has a purpose and meaning—it all relates in some way to our relationship with God, our freedom from sin, our growth in grace and virtue, our love of God and neighbor.  In the second instance, life is meaningless, outside of the human striving for power and control over others, pleasure seeking and the pursuit of self-gratification, ego-building and the acquiring of material things.  The worldview of Christians is otherworldly.  They are concerned about heaven and how to get there, and because of this they are concerned about earth and everything that happens here as a help or hindrance to that end.

 

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