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105. God's Moving or Changing of Creatures

1. We speak first of bodily creatures. A body is made of matterand form. Matter is common to all bodies; it has no existence ofits own apart from existing bodies. Form, joined substantially withmatter, constitutes a body as an existing material substance of anessential kind. We speak here of matter and form, and we meanprimal matter and substantial form. An existing body isnot primal matter, but secondary matter. And the variabledeterminations of a body (size, shape, color, temperature, rest ormotion, resemblance to other things, etc.) are accidental forms,not substantial forms. Now, God, in creating bodies, joinssubstantial form to primal matter in each case, and so producesactual bodily substances.

2. God can move or effect bodily substance in any way hewills, for he is the universal cause and is also infinite power.Nor is there anything unworthy in the notion of God moving matter.Though matter is the least of creatures, it is a creature, and notunworthy of the operation of the Creator.

3. Speaking now of God's moving of nonbodilycreatures, we say that God moves the intellect of men and angels bygiving them power to understand, and by impressing and preservingin them (directly, or through connatural operation designed by God)the intelligible species by which they understand.

4. God alone is the supreme and universal good which isthe necessary object of the will of intellectual creatures. Godmoves the will by giving it power to act, by making it tend to thegood in universal, and, without destroying its liberty, moving itin its individual choices.

5. God works in all things in such a way as suits theoperation natural to each thing. For it is God who gives creaturesexistence and nature, and works in them to preserve both.

6. God can do things that are not in the establishedcourse of nature so long as such action would not mean acontradiction in God himself. For God as First Cause gives thingstheir determinate essence, and to be such things they must havethat essence. God cannot give an essence and not give it. Since,for example, God has chosen to make man a rational animal, hecannot make a man who is not a rational animal. Thus in theimmediate reference of things to their First Cause, there can be nodivinely imparted movement or change outside the divinelydetermined order. But God can act outside the ordinary course inwhich divine government is exercised through secondary causes. Godcan produce the effects of secondary causes even when such causesare absent, and he can have them produce effects which arealtogether beyond their natural powers, or even in conflict withtheir natural action. Our Lord used clay, spittle, and the watersof a certain pool to cure blindness; he used the flames of thefiery furnace rather to preserve than to destroy the three youngmen.

7. An effect produced by God in the bodily universe,outside the order of created nature, is called amiracle.

8. Miracles differ in greatness, not with reference toGod's power which is infinite and therefore has no greater orless, but with reference to the extent by which miracles surpassthe powers of creatures. There are three grades or orders ofmiracles: (a) The first and greatestorder of miracles is thatof miracles in the very substance of the deed or fact. Amiracle of this type is altogether outside the reach of any createdpower. Such would be the miracle of glorifying a human body, or themiracle of two bodies simultaneously occupying one place. (b) Thesecond order of miracles is that of miracles in thesubject in which they occur. Such, for example, would bethe miracle of raising a dead person to life. Now, nature actuallycan give life; hence, in raising the dead, there is no miracle ofsubstance of the fact. But nature cannot give life to a corpse. Itis utterly beyond the powers of creatures to give life to such asubject. (c) The third order of miracles is that of miracles ofmanner or mode. Such a miracle, for example, would be theinstantaneous healing of a grievous wound or sore. Naturecan heal; nature can heal in such a subject (that is, the personafflicted); but nature cannot heal in this way, that is,instantaneously. Nature heals in a gradual and successive mannerwhich requires much time.

"We must not be behind time in doing good; for death will not be behind his time. "
St Phillip Neri

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"The essence of perfection is to embrace the will of God in all things, prosperous or adverse. In prosperity, even sinners find it easy to unite themselves to the divine will; but it takes saints to unite themselves to God's will when things go wrong and are painful to self-love. Our conduct in such instances is the measure of our love of God."
St Alphonsus de Liguori

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"When the devil has failed in making a man fall, he puts forward all his energies to create distrust between the penitent and the confessor, and so by little and little he gains his end at last."
St Philip Neri

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