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7. Circumstances of Human Acts

1. Conditions which are outside the essence of a human act and yet touch it or bear upon it, are called circumstances of the human act. Circumstances are accidentals of a human act.

2. Circumstances influence human acts (a) in point of their measuring up to their end; (b) in point of morality; (c) in point of merit and demerit. Therefore, theologians who study human conduct in its reference to God, cannot ignore circumstances, but must discuss, weigh, and judge them, to establish prudent rules for human living.

3. A convenient list of the circumstances of human acts is given by Aristotle (Ethic. iii), and is slightly emended by Cicero. This listing is a series of seven questions to be asked by one who wishes to know all the circumstances of a human act. The questions are: who, what, where, by what aids, why, how, when? Following the suggestion of these questions, we may list circumstances in this manner: (1) circumstance of person,(2) circumstance of quality of the act, (3) circumstance of place, (4) circumstance of helps or influences, (5) circumstance of intention, (6)circumstance of mode or manner, (7) circumstance of time.

4. The most notable of the circumstances are those of intention and quality of the act. The intention of the agent (doer, performer of the act) touches the essential character of a free will-act; quality of the act respects the act itself as a deed done. No other circumstances are so intimately bound up with human acts as these two.

"O Lord, my God, who will seek you with simple and pure love, and not find that you are all one can desire, for you show yourself first and go out to meet those who seek you? "
St John of the Cross, OCD - Doctor of the Church

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"It is vanity to be concerned with the present only and not to make provision for things to come."
Thomas á Kempis

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"Lord, here burn, here cut, and dry up in me all that hinders me from going to You, that You may spare me in eternity."
St Louis Bertrand

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