Governing Creatures

Father Geiermann elaborates upon the manner in which God governs His creation.

Concerning all creatures: “In creation and preservation God gives every creature its concrete nature and power of action.”

Concerning irrational creatures: “By fixed laws He moves irrational creatures to act for His glory and their individual preservation and development, and concurs in their action. Not having given them intelligence, He gives irrational creatures no more choice of the motive, plan, or purpose of their existence than of their position in the order of causation.”

Concerning rational creatures: “In making angels and man to His image and likeness, however, and destining them for the joys of heaven, God has not only given them an ability and a capacity for action, which He has denied to the lower creatures, but He has also implanted in their natures an inclination for His own motive, place, and purpose of action. This inclination impels angels and man to action, and prompts them to promote their own happiness by the pursuit of truth and goodness in particular, but leaves them free to act in harmony with God’s motive, plan, and purpose, or to substitute their own motive, plan, and purpose in their stead. As an incentive to act in harmony with Him, God offers the reward of heaven for good will, and threatens eternal reprobation for bad will to all intelligent and rational creatures.”

“God’s own goodness gave Him the opportunity to create and preserve the world and to move it to contribute to His glory. In moving individual creatures to act, and in concurring in their action as their First Cause, God provides this opportunity for Himself and for them (1) in the physical order by the fixed laws which He has established for the government of the universe, and (2) in the moral order by the free choice or election of intelligent and rational creatures.”

As an illustration of how God moves irrational creatures, Father Geiermann has us consider a seed that has fallen upon fertile soil. He remarks: “It lies there until it is moistened by rain, and quickened by the warm rays of the sun. This circumstance is the proximate occasion for God to move that seed to germinate and grow, and to concur in its germination and development. At the same time it is the proximate occasion for the germ of life in the seed to assert itself, to sprout and advance, until it attains the highest degree of perfection which its concrete circumstances will permit.”

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

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