The Profession of Faith
Providence and secondary causes
God is the sovereign master of his plan. But to carry it out
he also makes use of his creatures’ cooperation. This use is not a
sign of weakness, but rather a token of almighty God’s greatness
and goodness. For God grants his creatures not only their existence,
but also the dignity of acting on their own, of being causes and
principles for each other, and thus of cooperating in the accom-
plishment of his plan.
To human beings God even gives the power of freely
sharing in his providence by entrusting themwith the responsibil
ity of “subduing” the earth and having dominion over it.
thus enables men to be intelligent and free causes in order to
complete the work of creation, to perfect its harmony for their own
good and that of their neighbors. Though often unconscious col-
laborators with God’s will, they can also enter deliberately into the
divine plan by their actions, their prayers, and their sufferings.
They then fully become “God’s fellow workers” and co-workers
for his kingdom.
The truth that God is at work in all the actions of his
creatures is inseparable from faith in God the Creator. God is the
first cause who operates in and through secondary causes: “For
God is at work in you, both to will and to work for his good
Far from diminishing the creature’s dignity, this truth
enhances it. Drawn from nothingness by God’s power, wisdom,
and goodness, it can do nothing if it is cut off from its origin, for
“without a Creator the creature vanishes.”
Still less can a crea-
ture attain its ultimate end without the help of God’s grace.
Providence and the scandal of evil
If God the Father almighty, the Creator of the ordered and
good world, cares for all his creatures, why does evil exist? To this
question, as pressing as it is unavoidable and as painful as it is
mysterious, no quick answer will suffice. Only Christian faith as a
whole constitutes the answer to this question: the goodness of
36 § 3.