Questions and Answers about God and His Providence
God is the Supreme Being, infinitely perfect, who made all things and keeps them in
(a) This universe did not always exist; it came into existence at the beginning of
(b) All things depend on God; they begin and continue to exist by the power of God.
- What do we mean when we say that God is the Supreme Being?
When we say that God is the Supreme Being we mean that He is above all creatures, the
self-existing and infinitely perfect Spirit.
(a) God is above all created things--the mineral, vegetable, and animal kingdoms, men,
and angels. Some likeness of God is in every creature, from the highest to the lowest. The
highest angel, however, is but a weak reflection of the infinite perfection of God, who is
the infinite Creator and Governor of the universe.
A spirit is a being that has understanding and free will, but no body, and will never
(a) The soul of man is a spirit which does not die because it is simple, having no
integral parts, and because it is spiritual, that is, entirely independent of matter in
its being and in its own proper acts; it does not depend on creatures for existence and
cannot be destroyed by them.
- What do we mean when we say that God is self-existing?
When we say that God is self-existing we mean that He does not owe His existence to any
(a) God is the first and completely independent source of all being, Every other being
is given existence, God is His own existence; God is His own life, or
He who is.
(b) It is a manifest contradiction to hold that God, who is self-existent, could have
been brought into being by anyone else.
- What do we mean when we say that God is infinitely perfect?
When we say that God is infinitely perfect we mean that He has all perfections without
(a) God has in Himself, in an eminent degree, the perfections of all things that ever
existed or will or can exist. He is the cause of all perfection in creatures. The
perfections of created things are in God in an infinitely superior manner.
(b) Every creature, even the highest angel, is finite for it has the limitation of
dependence on the Creator for its existence.
- What are some of the perfections of God?
Some of the perfections of God are: God is eternal, all-good, all-knowing, all-present,
- What do we mean when we say that God is eternal?
When we say that God is eternal we mean that He always was and always will be, and that
He always remains the same.
(a) If God had a beginning or if He could cease to be, He would be limited and would
not be infinitely perfect or self-existing. If God changed the change would be either for
the better or for the worse. In either case God would not be infinitely perfect.
(b) Spirits such as angels and the souls of men are eternal in the sense that they will
live forever, but both angels and the souls of men, unlike God, had a beginning and are
subject to change.
- What do we mean when we say that God is all-good?
When we say that God is all-good we mean that He is infinitely lovable in Himself, and
that from His fatherly love every good comes to us.
(a) Things are good and lovable in the degree that they are perfect. Since God is
infinitely perfect, He is all-good and infinitely lovable in Himself, and all goodness of
creatures must come from Him.
- What do we mean when we say that God is all-knowing?
When we say that God is all-knowing we mean that He knows all things, past, present,
and future, even our most secret thoughts, words, and actions.
(a) God's knowledge is not gained like ours, by proceeding step by step from things
known to those unknown. By knowing Himself perfectly, God knows from eternity all things
past, present, and future, and even all things possible. Every creature, in its actions,
depends entirely on God, and any goodness in creatures is but an imperfect reflection of
God's perfection. Through His infinitely perfect knowledge God knows the extent to which
creatures share His perfections.
(b) God's knowledge of the future does not take away our freedom, but leaves our wills
free to act or not to act.
(c) We are responsible for our free actions, which will be rewarded by God if they are
good and punished by Him if they are evil.
- What do we mean when we say that God is all-present?
When we say that God is all-present we mean that He is everywhere.
(a) God is everywhere:
first, by His power, inasmuch as all things are under His dominion;
second, by His Presence. inasmuch as nothing is hidden from Him;
third, by His essence, inasmuch as He is in all things as the cause of their being.
- If God is everywhere, why do we not see Him?
Although God is everywhere, we do not see Him because He is a spirit and cannot be seen
with our eyes.
(a) Although we cannot see God, the splendid order and beauty of creation should
constantly remind us of His wisdom, His power, His goodness, and His nearness to us.
God sees us and watches over us with loving care.
- What is God's loving care for us called?
God's loving care for us is called Divine Providence.
(a) Divine Providence is God's plan for guiding every creature to its proper end.
- What do we mean when we say that God is almighty?
When we say that God is almighty we mean that He can do all things.
(a) God can do anything that is not opposed to His perfection, or that is not
self-contradictory. The impossibility of God's doing anything wrong or acting falsely does
not limit His divine power, since wrongdoing and falsity in themselves are evil and are
manifest defects: they cannot be associated with an infinitely perfect Being.
(b) Although God, the first cause of all things, actually does all things, He does not
thereby deprive the creature of its power of causality nor of its freedom of action. A
creature is never more than a secondary cause, that is, always dependent on God, always a
finite being. When this secondary cause is intellectual, it is constituted by Almighty God
as a free agent.
- Is God all-wise, all-holy, all-merciful, and all-just?
Yes, God is all-wise, all-holy, all-merciful, and all-just.
(a) God, the first cause of all things, in His wisdom knows these things perfectly and
disposes them to their ends according to appropriate means.
(b) If we do not understand why or how God does certain things or permits them to
happen, it is because our limited minds cannot understand His secrets nor see the
universal plan of creation.
(c) Because God is all-holy, He is entirely free from all sin and imperfection and is
infinitely good and lovable.
(d) Because God is all-merciful, He gives to each creature even more than is its due.
He rewards the good more fully and punishes the wicked less severely than they deserve. He
is always ready to help His creatures and to forgive repentant sinners.
(e) Because God is all-just, He gives to each creature what is due to it. God rewards
the good and punishes the wicked partially in this life and more fully in eternity.
- Can we know by our natural reason that there is a God?
We can know by our natural reason that there is a God, for natural reason tells us that
the world we see about us could have been made only by a self-existing Being, all-wise and
- Can we know God in any other way than by our natural reason?
Besides knowing God by our natural reason, we can also know Him from supernatural
revelation, that is, from the truths found in Sacred Scripture and in Tradition, which God
Himself has revealed to us.
(a) Supernatural revelation is the communication of some truth by God to a creature
through means that are beyond the ordinary course of nature. Some revealed truths, for
example, the mystery of the Blessed Trinity, are strictly beyond the power of the human
mind. We could never know such truths unless God revealed them. Other truths, for example,
the immortality of the soul, while not beyond the power of the human mind, are objects of
revelation because God has revealed them in a supernatural way. Although these latter
truths could be known without revelation, they are grasped with greater ease and certainty
once God has revealed them.
(b) God's public revelation of truths to men began with Adam and Eve and ended at the
death of Saint John the Apostle.
(c) Divine revelation contained in the Old Testament is called pre-Christian. It can be
first, Primitive revelation, made to Adam and Eve
second, Patriarchal revelation, made to the patriarchs, for example, to Abraham and
third, Mosaic revelation, made to Moses and the prophets.
(d) Christian revelation contains the truths revealed to us by Jesus Christ, either
directly or through His apostles.
(e) The Church does not oblige the faithful to believe private revelations given, at
certain times, to individuals. For our edification, however, the Church permits the
publication of some private revelations. Those to whom private revelations are given are
obliged to believe them when they are certain that the revelations are from God.
(f) Sacred Scripture, or the Bible, is the word of God written by men under the
inspiration of the Holy Ghost and contained in the books of the Old and the New Testament.
(g) Inspiration is the act by which God moves and directs the sacred writers faithfully
to commit to writing all those things and only those things that He wishes them to write.
The sacred writers act as free instruments of God, who is the principal author of Sacred
(h) Tradition is the unwritten word of God--that body of truths revealed by God to the
apostles, and not committed by them to writing but handed down by word of mouth. These
truths, which were later committed to writing, particularly by the Fathers of the Church,
have been preserved and handed down to the present day.
Yes, there is only one God.
(a) Reason can prove that there is only one God. The assumption that there could be two
infinitely perfect gods or two infinitely supreme beings independent of each other, is an
(b) Revelation confirms our reasoning that there is only one God.
The Baltimore Catechism, no. 3, Lessons 1-3.
Electronic text (c) Copyright EWTN 1997. All rights reserved.
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