Thursday, July 28, 2011

The Specter of Evil vs. The Face of Divine Providence (Hint: it's Providence-1, Evil-0.)

There's a lot of heartache in the world, and a lot of evil. It can feel overwhelming at times... like we're all en route to hell in the proverbial hand-basket. And while those feelings are real, they can overstate the truth of the matter.

Way back at the start of the new millennium, Pope John Paul told us the program for the new evangelization begins with our meditation upon the face of Jesus. That is a practical application for much of life. It's been something the Church has been doing since her inception. With good reason.

My latest column over at Patheos explores the angst we encounter as we wrestle with the question of evil in our world, and in ourselves. Here's an excerpt:

There is not a single aspect of the Christian message that is not in part an answer to the question of evil. (Catechism of the Catholic Church, par. 309.)
There are days when there are just no words, when the specter of evil overshadows us all, and we feel feeble and dwarfed by its presence. Witnessing an unprovoked attack on innocent people -- be it a bombing, a shooting rampage, or some other atrocity -- often renders us speechless. Yet speak we must. There must be words not only denouncing such evil, but also prayers unto heaven that cry out for justice and succor in the aftermath.
And there must be words that announce hope.
Amid shock and dismay, and our wrestling with the presence of evil, there is also God -- who speaks a word in the face of evil and death.
That word is Providence -- Divine Providence.
In our finite minds, we often mistakenly see good and evil as equal powers; they are not.
But our minds are so impressed and distressed by evil that we are tempted to believe it.
The truth is that evil is limited; it comes from created sources. Goodness, by contrast, is an attribute of an uncreated, almighty God -- the Author of creation -- and God’s Providence encompasses and upholds all of creation. Goodness outweighs evil because it originates and flows from God.
God’s Providence is his Work and Will guiding all of creation toward perfection that is yet to be attained. But as creation is in a state of journeying toward that fullness, we will encounter evil along the way. God’s good plan for creation moves forward, even when we do not understand our troubled circumstances. Surprisingly, within that plan, God would choose to use us rather than usurp us; God never ignores our human dignity.
God dignifies human persons by giving them intelligence and free will, inviting us to act with him in a god-like manner. This is precisely so that each person may choose their destiny. 
Find the rest here.

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