Father Geiermann states that, besides the various kinds of permanent assistance God gives us during our pilgrimage through life, He also gives us transient assistance. “The object of this [transient] divine assistance is to aid man in performing supernatural actions.” There are two kinds of transient assistance: dispensations of Divine Providence and actual grace. The former give us the opportunity to do the good God requires of us; the latter gives us the necessary help to do what He requires.
“The dispensations of Divine Providence are the application of God’s paternal solicitude to the details of man’s life.” These dispensations consist of “the natural combination of minute circumstances, which fill in the details of man’s life, and which God positively ordains or passively tolerates, and by means of which He gives man the opportunity to do that good which He expects of him.” They “furnish the occasion for God to give man actual grace.”
“We may consider the dispensations of Divine Providence in their universal application to mankind, in their special application to every individual soul, and in their most special application to those souls whom God has destined to fill a particular place in His divine plan. The general dispensations of Divine Providence establish man in his place in God’s plan and ordain his relationship to the rest of the world. The special, as well as the most special, dispensations of Divine Providence conduct all of good will to that state in life for which God has destined them, provide them with the special qualifications necessary, and give them the opportunities necessary to do God’s holy will in all things. The dispensations of Divine Providence must permit involuntary temptations as opportunities for practising virtue. . . . And though they must tolerate some sinful deeds, they frequently use even these to teach man mistrust of self, confidence in God, and the necessity of making persevering efforts to work out his salvation.”
Quotations from Peter Geiermann, The Narrow Way (New York: Benziger, 1914).