I recently had a conversation with someone concerning the role of God’s Providence in our lives. The Conversation led to us looking up some definitions in Church documents of exactly what is meant by God’s Divine Providence:
PROVIDENCE: God’s all-wise plan for the universe, and the carrying out of his plan by his loving rule or governance. The eternal world plan and its fulfillment in time are together called divine providence. As expressed by the First Vatican Council (1869-1870), “God in His providence watches over and governs all the things that He made, reaching from end to end with might and disposing all things with gentleness” (Denzinger 3003). Divine providence is universal in that all events, even the most personal decisions of human beings, are part of god’s eternal plan. It is infallibly certain because the ultimate purpose that God has for the universe will not fail. And it is immutable because God himself cannot change. (Etym. Latin providentia, foresight, foreknowledge.)
Creation’s Destiny (Catechism #302-305)
God did not make creation “complete from the beginning,” but willed “a state of journeying.” God always guides all creation toward its ultimate perfection by Divine Providence. “By his providence God protects and governs all things which he has made” (First Vatican Council). God’s care for every creature (from least to greatest) is concrete and immediate. God does “whatever he pleases” (Ps 115:3). Christ opens and no one shuts, shuts and no one opens” (Rev 3:7). “The purpose of the Lord will be established” (Prov 19:21). Scripture, in attributing actions to God without mentioning any other causes, is not using a “primitive mode of speech” but is professing a faith in God’s lordship over all history. Jesus tells us not to be anxious: “Your heavenly Father knows what you need. Seek first his kingdom and all these things shall be yours as well” (Mt 6:31-33).
Inviting Us to Cooperate (Catechism #306-308)
God uses our cooperation. In his goodness, He gives us our existence and by our free will the opportunity to cooperate in his plan. God even invites us to “subdue the earth and have dominion over it (Gen 1:26-28). He invites us to complete his work of creation. As knowing collaborators, we are “God’s fellow workers” (1Cor 3:9). We believe that God, the Creator (the first Cause) is always at work in us (the second cause). “For God is at work in you” (Phil 2:13). We can do nothing without God, especially gain eternal life. “Without a Creator, the creature vanishes” (Second Vatican Council).
We might do well to take to heart the famous saying of St. Padre Pio,
“Pray, hope, don’t worry!”