God is in every person’s life: my dogmatic certainty

Saint Paul teaches that anguish, distress, persecution, famine, nakedness,  peril, or the sword are not sufficient to separate us from God (cf. Rom 8:35). However, could we say the same of vices, drugs or any other thing without making any distinctions? Do these not eradicate the presence of God from our interior?

A similar question could be made if this had been affirmed to us as if it were a dogmatic certainty…then the questions start to multiply. It is left unclear if God inhabits in the same way the soul of a good Christian who practices the commandments, in spite of difficulties and sufferings, and even perhaps falls, as that of a sinner, who doesn’t seek God and even despises Him, living in a scandalous way.

The truth is that this topic is very intricate, and should never be taken lightly. A dogmatic certainty clearly does not allow for ambiguities and lapses when explained to others. Thank God, Catholic doctrine sheds ample light on what the presence of God in our lives really is…

Francis

Papa_Spadaro

I have a dogmatic certainty: God is in every person’s life. God is in everyone’s life. Even if the life of a person has been a disaster, even if it is destroyed by vices, drugs or anything else — God is in this person’s life. You can, you must try to seek God in every human life. Although the life of a person is a land full of thorns and weeds, there is always a space in which the good seed can grow. You have to trust God. (Interview with Antonio Spadaro, August 19, 2013)

Teachings of the Magisterium

Table of Contents

Saint Thomas Aquinas
– God is present in all, but not in the same way: the presence in all creatures and that of grace

Saint Augustine
– God is everywhere by the presence of the divinity, but not by His grace inhabiting souls
– God does not inhabit all – by sin, the sinner himself departs from God

Council of Trent
– Who are the ‘friends of God’?
– God has friends and enemies
– He who loves God keeps His word and His Commandments
– Sinners are ‘children of wrath’ and ‘enemies of God’

John XXIII
– Friends of God by supernatural grace

Catechism of the Catholic Church
– No one can be united with God without freely choosing to love Him

Benedict XVI
– There are people who have totally destroyed their possibility of being with God

Saint Thomas Aquinas

  • God is present in all, but not in the same way

God is said to be in a thing in two ways; in one way after the manner of an efficient cause; and thus He is in all things created by Him; in another way he is in things as the object of operation is in the operator; and this is proper to the operations of the soul, according as the thing known is in the one who knows; and the thing desired in the one desiring. In this second way God is especially in the rational creature which knows and loves Him actually or habitually. And because the rational creature possesses this prerogative by grace, as will be shown later (q.43 a.3). He is said to be thus in the saints by grace. But how He is in other things created by Him, may be considered from human affairs. A king, for example, is said to be in the whole kingdom by his power, although he is not everywhere present. Again a thing is said to be by its presence in other things which are subject to its inspection; as things in a house are said to be present to anyone, who nevertheless may not be in substance in every part of the house. Lastly, a thing is said to be by way of substance or essence in that place in which its substance may be. […] Therefore, God is in all things by His power, inasmuch as all things are subject to His power; He is by His presence in all things, as all things are bare and open to His eyes; He is in all things by His essence, inasmuch as He is present to all as the cause of their being. (Saint Thomas Aquinas. Summa Theologica I, q. 8, a. 3)

Saint Augustine

  • God is everywhere by the presence of the divinity, but not by His grace inhabiting souls

But what causes great amazement is the fact that God, although he is entirely in every place, does not inhabit in all men. In fact, my above-mentioned citation of the Apostle, or this one: ‘Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you?’ (1Cor 3:16) may not in fact be applied to all. That is why, on the other hand, the same Apostle said regarding others: ‘Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him’ (Rom 8:9). Furthermore, who would dare to think, except one who is entirely ignorant of the indivisibility of the Trinity, that the Father and the Son can inhabit someone in whom in the Holy Spirit does not dwell? Or that the Holy Spirit may live in someone in whom Father and the Son do not? In this way, one must admit that God is in all places by the presence of the divinity, but not in all places by the grace with which He inhabits souls. (Saint Augustine. Epistle 187: Treatise on the presence of God, no. 16)

  • God does not inhabit all – by sin, the sinner himself departs from God

Well then, God who is in every place, does not, however, inhabit all; nor does He live in the same manner in all of those He inhabits. […] Then it must be said that those are far from Him, who due to sin have become totally different from Him; and that those are close to Him, who with a holy life receive His similitude, in the same way that one justly says that eyes are so much farther from the light of the earth, as they are blinder.  (Saint Augustine. Epistle 187: Treatise on the presence of God, no. 17)

Council of Trent

  • Who are the ‘friends of God’?

Having, therefore, been thus justified and having been made the ‘friends of God’ and ‘his domestics’ (Jn 15:15; Eph 2:19), ‘advancing from virtue to virtue’ (Ps 83:8), ‘they are renewed’ (as the Apostle says) ‘from day to day’ (2Cor 4:16), that is, by mortifying the members of their flesh (Col 3:5), and by ‘presenting them as instruments of justice’ (Rom 6:13,19), unto sanctification through the observance of the commandments of God and of the Church. (Denzinger-Hünermann 1535, Paul III, Council of Trent, Session VI, Decree on Justification, January 13, 1547)

  • God has friends and enemies

Justification itself follows this disposition or preparation, which is not merely remission of sins [can. 11], but also the sanctification and renewal of the interior man through the voluntary reception of the grace and gifts, whereby an unjust man becomes a just man, and from being an enemy becomes a friend, that he may be ‘an heir according to hope of life everlasting’ (Tt 3:7). (Denzinger-Hünermann 1528, Paul III, Council of Trent, Session VI, Decree on Justification, January 13, 1547)

  • He who loves God keeps His word and His Commandments

For they who are the sons of God, love Christ: ‘but they who love him, (as He Himself testifies) keep his words’ (Jn 14:23), which indeed with the divine help they can do. (Denzinger-Hünermann 1536, Paul III, Council of Trent, session VI, Decree on Justification, January 13, 1547)

  • Sinners are ‘children of wrath’ and ‘enemies of God’

All mortal sins, even those of thought, make men children of wrath (Eph 2:3) and enemies of God. (Denzinger-Hünermann 1680, Julius III – Council of Trent, session XIV)

John XXIII

  • Friends of God by supernatural grace

When, furthermore, we consider man’s personal dignity from the standpoint of divine revelation, inevitably our estimate of it is incomparably increased. Men have been ransomed by the blood of Jesus Christ. Grace has made them sons and friends of God, and heirs to eternal glory. (John XXIII. Encyclical Pacem in terris, no. 10, April 10, 1963)

Catechism of the Catholic Church

  • No one can be united with God without freely choosing to love Him

We cannot be united with God unless we freely choose to love him. But we cannot love God if we sin gravely against him, against our neighbor or against ourselves: ‘He who does not love remains in death. Anyone who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him’ (Jn 3:14-15). Our Lord warns us that we shall be separated from him if we fail to meet the serious needs of the poor and the little ones who are his brethren (Mt 25:31-46). (Catechism of the Catholic Church, no. 1033)

Benedict XVI

  • There are people who have totally destroyed their possibility of being with God

There can be people who have totally destroyed their desire for truth and readiness to love, people n everything has become a lie, people who have lived for hatred and have suppressed all love within themselves. This is a terrifying thought, but alarming profiles of this type can be seen in certain figures of our own history. In such people all would be beyond remedy and the destruction of good would be irrevocable: this is what we mean by the word Hell. (Benedict XVI. Encyclical Spe Salvi, no. 45, November 30, 2007)

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