Divine Providence

He gives each of us what we need for salvation


This week we are moving into the section from Saint Francis’ Treatise on the Love of God, about God’s love for us. Be sure to watch the video “Divine Providence and God’s Love for Us” to help deepen your reflection and give you a new way to embrace his timeless wisdom. (If you’d prefer to read St. Francis’ original text, this week’s video covers Chapters 1–8 of Book II, starting with “That the Divine Perfections Are Only a Single But Infinite Perfection.”)

We have a natural desire to love God above all things

In God, there is a simple and pure unity

In God there is neither variety, nor any difference whatever of perfections. He is himself one most sole, most simple and most indivisible, unique perfection: for all that is in him is but himself, and all the excellences which we say are in him in so great diversity are really there in a most simple and pure unity. And as the sun has none of the colours which we ascribe unto it, but one sole most clear light surpassing all colour, and giving colour to all colours, – so in God there is not one of those perfections which we imagine, but an only most pure excellence, which is above all perfection and gives perfection to all that is perfect. …

… God does not therefore employ a simple sufficiency of remedies to convert the obstinate, but uses to this end the riches of his goodness. The Apostle, as you see, opposes the riches of God’s goodness against the treasures of the impenitent heart’s malice, and says that the malicious heart is so rich in iniquity that he despises even the riches of the mildness by which God leads him to repentance; and mark that the obstinate man not only contemns the riches of God’s goodness, but also the riches which lead to penance, riches whereof one can scarcely be ignorant.

Questions for reflection:

  1. What is the difference, as described in the video, between our own multiple actions, and the “unitary act of God”? Explain the comparison made in St. Francis’ analogy of the painter, on the one hand, and on the printmaker.
  2. The speaker in the video quotes St. Francis in saying that Divine Providence is that act “by which God wills to furnish men and angels with the means necessary or useful for attaining their end.” How is that different from the speaker’s point about “supernatural providence”?
  3. Our end is union with God. Consider St. Francis’ view, also that of Duns Scotus, that even if there were not a Fall, there would have been an incarnation. Why, do you think, that would have occurred?
  4. Francis holds that some people receive more graces than others. But all of us receive abundant graces to achieve salvation. How are we then to find our own way in building up the kingdom?

Once again, Francis’ original text, which covers Chapters 1–8 of Book II, is at “That the Divine Perfections Are Only a Single But Infinite Perfection.”

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