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28. The Divine Relations

1. A relation is the standing of a thing with reference tosomething other. A relation, or relationship, exists between thingsthat can be in some way referred to one another. If the basis ofthe relation is in things, the relation is called real; ifthe basis of the relation is in the mind's grasp and comparisonof things, the relation is called logical or rational.Between sons of the same parents, the relation of brotherhood is areal relation. Between subject and predicate of a sentence, therelation is a logical relation. Now, in God there are realproceedings, and in consequence there are real relations inGod.

2. A real relation in God cannot be an accidental, forthere are no accidentals in God. As a thing, an entity, a realrelation in God is one with the divine essence.

3. Now, a real relation involves contrast inasmuch asreally related things must be really distinct from one another.Hence, real relations in God mean that in God there are realdistinctions. These real distinctions cannot be in the simple andundivided essence of God. They must be really distinct respectswhich exist in God by reason of the divine proceedings. (It is tobe remembered that distinction does not necessarily mean separationor separability. Things are distinct by a real distinction whenthey are distinguished one from another as thing and thing, eventhough they are completely inseparable. Thus, for example, thewhiteness and the coldness of snow are really distinct from eachother, and each is really distinct from the substance of the snow,although there is no separating these things.) The real respects inGod which come from the divine proceedings are real relations andimply real distinction in their terminals (that is, in the divinePersons), but there is neither separation nor separability in God;the divine Persons are one in essence, nature, and substance; theyare one and the same undivided God, eternally existing in absolutesimplicity and unity of being.

4. There are four real relations in God: (a) The relationof the Father to the Son. This is paternity or fatherhood, (b) Therelation of the Son to the Father. This is filiation or sonship.(c) The relation consequent upon the proceeding in which Father andSon are the principle whence proceeds the Holy Ghost. This is thespiration or breathing forth of the Holy Ghost. (d) The relationconsequent upon the same proceeding as considered from thestandpoint of the Person spirated. This is the procession of theHoly Ghost. These real relations in their essence and being asentities or things are one with thesimple and undivideddivine essence; yet they are real relations and hence are reallydistinct in their terminals (that is, in the realities related),which are the three divine Persons.

"God has no need of men."
St Philip Neri

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"Spiritual persons ought to be equally ready to experience sweetness and consolation in the things of God, or to suffer and keep their ground in drynesses of spirit and devotion, and for as long as God pleases, without their making any complaint about it."
St Philip Neri

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"He who wishes to be perfectly obeyed, should give but few orders."
St Philip Neri

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