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104. Special Effects of Divine Government

1. God creates things out of nothing. He must also preservethings created or they would fall back into nothingness.Preservation or conservation as it is often called, is afundamental effect of divine government. Now, things may bepreserved indirectly by putting them out of the way of danger; thusa mother preserves a precious vase by setting it out of reach ofher romping children. And things may be preserved directly bypositive conserving action; thus one who catches a fragile vase asit is falling preserves it directly. God preserves allthings directly. He also preserves some bodily things indirectly.Spirits need no indirect preserving, for nothing can threaten ordestroy them. The same divine power which gives existence tocreatures (their cause in fieri, their cause in becoming)is exercised to preserve creatures in existence (their cause inesse, their cause in being). Therefore it is justly said that"conservation is a continuous creation."

2. God preserves all creatures, as we have just seen, bypositive sustaining power; that is, God conserves all creaturesdirectly. But he does not conserve all things immediately,that is, without using any creatural means or medium. In some casesGod uses creatures to preserve creatures; thus by air, light,warmth, and the fruits of the earth, God sustains and preservesliving bodies. Yet God is himself present in andto these media.

3. God creates and preserves. The direct opposite ofcreation is annihilation. Conservation keeps creation from beingfollowed by annihilation, that is, complete reduction to nothing.God has the power to annihilate creatures. For he who has power toproduce by his free choice has ability to withdraw that power byfree choice. And if God were to withdraw his creative power fromcreatures, they would simply not exist; they would beannihilated.

4. But, as a fact, God does not annihilate anything. Increating, God establishes an order of things which manifests thedivine goodness; this order is maintained by preserving things, notby utterly destroying them. Divine wisdom would not be expressed increating a thing merely to annihilate it.

"To do God's will -- this was the goal upon which the saints constantly fixed their gaze. They were fully persuaded that in this consists the entire perfection of the soul. "
St Alphonsus de Liguori

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"Before a man chooses his confessor, he ought to think well about it, and pray about it also; but when he has once chosen, he ought not to change, except for most urgent reasons, but put the utmost confidence in his director."
St Philip Neri

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"God commands not impossibilities, but by commanding he suggests to you to do what you can, to ask for what is beyond your strength; and he helps you, that you may be able."
St Augustine

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