What God Does

Father Geiermann continues his discussion of the supernatural order by mentioning the internal and external actions of God: “There are two actions of God, each producing a twofold work. One action was necessary, the other free; the first was from eternity, the second began with time; the first was internal, the other external. In the first the Father begot the Son by His knowledge of Himself, and the mutual love of Father and Son became the Holy Ghost. By the second action God created and governs the world for His glory and the welfare of His creatures. . . . By creation He made the world out of nothing and preserves it in existence. By His government of the world God moves every creature to glorify Him by seeking its own happiness.”

Many Church Fathers distinguished between theology and divine economy: theology refers to God Himself, His internal activity, whereas divine economy refers to His external activity, especially concerning the Incarnation of the Word of God and man’s redemption. Father Geiermann says of God’s external activity: “The economy of God’s work is His order and method of manifesting His perfection in and through creation, or His system in the creation, government, and consummation of the world. Three things enter into this economy: the plan to be followed, the means to be employed, and the method to be adopted in manifesting the perfection of God in and through created things.”

Next, he distinguishes man from other spiritual beings. “There are three kinds of beings in the spiritual world: men, angels, and God. Whatever pertains to the perfection of man as man is natural for him. Thus, life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness is natural to man. Whatever pertains to the perfection of angels, but is undue to man as a being of a lower order, is preternatural to him. Thus immortality is natural to angels but preternatural to man as man. Finally, whatever pertains to the perfection of God and is undue to both angels and men, but which God has graciously extended to His creatures, is supernatural to them. Hence, the supernatural order is that part of the economy of God to which man has no natural claim. It includes all that pertains to man’s destiny, redemption, sanctification, and glorification.”

“As creatures of God mankind has no claim to the inheritance of heaven, but God freely bestowed that right by giving mankind a supernatural destiny. When mankind forfeited the means of attaining that destiny through the sin of Adam, God restored it through the work of redemption.”

Quotations from Peter Geiermann, The Narrow Way (New York: Benziger, 1914).

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