Recent election-related events only make sense when we have a Providential vision of history. Most people don’t. As a result, many are confused and depressed now that things have taken a turn for the worse. They don’t know how to deal with the very real evils that overwhelm us. There are even signs of despair.
Our problem is that we suffer from a naturalistic vision of life inherited from Enlightenment thinkers. This vision denies events have any supernatural meaning. Science is deemed sufficient to account for all phenomena. Thus, we tend to interpret events as random sequences of actions, organized according to certain methods and processes.
Our naturalistic culture also teaches us that God is largely absent from the complex interplay of individuals and activities. At best, he is the absent clockmaker who wound up the universe and left it to run on its own.
Thus, modern society evolves with no specific end. Inside this framework, our American way of life radiates optimism about progress and material prosperity. It might be likened to a cruise ship on a never-ending cruise.
When disaster strikes, everything is turned upside down. Thus, personal misfortune has no rational purpose in life. Political defeat is reduced to being the product of intrigue, fraud and conspiracies. With such an outlook, there is a constant attempt to escape from misfortune, engage in wishful thinking or eschew reality to embrace and believe in fantasy. When all else fails, we easily fall into despair and fatalism.
I fear that many now suffer the consequences of this vision after the election shipwreck.
The Existence of Divine Providence
The Church’s teaching on Providence is entirely different. It acknowledges the Creator’s ordering action upon the Universe, which we call Providence. The hand of Divine Providence coordinates the complex conditions by which individuals live together in society. Providence governs the universe and directs the course of affairs with purpose and benevolence.
We can define Divine Providence as “the plan conceived in the mind of God according to which he directs all creatures to their proper end.” Thus, we can explain life with meaning instead of randomness; we can discern a purpose behind the misfortunes we suffer.
The proper end of all creatures is to manifest the glory of God in some way. We glorify God when society lives together in harmony and virtue. Evil, which exists because of our sinful malice, is permitted so that a greater good might come out of it. Even the evildoer eventually must give glory to God when punished by His justice.
The life of a Christian requires that we work with the action of Divine Providence, never against it. Mindful of man’s free will, God requires our intelligent cooperation in carrying out His designs. He expects us to use the resources that in His Providence He places at our disposal. He assists us with His grace and supernatural gifts to aid us when disaster strikes.
The Ways Providence Is Manifested
Providence is manifested in several ways. God often acts through secondary causes to order society when providing for the physical needs required for living together in community. Saint Thomas says that humanity is directed to its end by the God-given means of the natural law, conscience and sanctions. Providence is not fate. God respects our free will so that we might change the course of history. God’s Providence is thus manifested when He answers our prayers and supplications.
God even manifests Himself by permitting evil events to put us to the test as part of His Providential plan. “Almighty God would in no wise permit evil to exist in His work,” says Saint Augustine, “unless He were so almighty and so good as to produce good even from evil.”
The result of this Providential vision is that no matter what happens, everything proceeds with purpose toward its final end of glorifying God. Even in sad and dire times like our own, God always wins.
Political Action Is Under God’s Providence
This conclusion applies to politics, which is the art or science of governing. God’s Providence governs all political action since it mirrors His own governing role. Indeed, the same Providence that directs the course of the affairs of each person with purpose and benevolence also directs and provides for the affairs of families, societies and nations.
Thus, all political events happen inside God’s Providence. When the outcome of an election is good, then leaders and people can work together with God to further His glory by the practice of virtue and the development of a rich culture.
However, when a society falls into decadence, its people work against God’s Providence and try to diminish His glory. God permits that the people suffer the natural consequences of their vices. Political elections will reflect this situation as people get the leaders they deserve. The nation will then be chastised with the scourge of godless leaders, who serve as instruments of God’s justice to bring people back to Him.
Providence and the Recent Elections
Thus, the general election must be seen from the perspective of God’s Providence. There was a reason why it turned out the way it did.
Those who think America did not deserve this chaotic outcome need only reflect that we remain a very sinful nation. Many good things were accomplished over the last few years. However, what we needed was a moral regeneration to return to God. This did not happen. As a nation, we have fallen deeper into sin.
The nation’s collective sins show no signs of abating as sodomy, blasphemy and Satanism are mainstreamed. The reactions are not proportional.
Our Lady’s Fatima Message provided a blueprint for efficacious action that was largely ignored this election cycle.
Those who strive to be good were not good enough to change the downward spiral of our vices. Thus, God has delivered us over to the corruption and evils of the times. No amount of imagining otherwise can change the reality of the outcome…or our culpability.
The greatest of expectations were placed in strictly human, political solutions as if David, the Prophet-King, had never been inspired by God to write: “Put not your trust in princes: In the children of men, in whom there is no salvation” (Ps. 145, 2-3).
Working with Providence
If we maintain the naturalistic vision of history, it will necessarily lead to the scenes of desperation witnessed at the Capitol. We will try to find explanations for what went wrong in conspiracy theories, fanciful lies, apocryphal prophecies and wild rumors that will end in ruin. Nothing will make sense in the terrible days that await us. All will seem lost.
However, not all is lost. The same Providence, which permits evil things to befall us, is also with us. God awaits our repentance and cooperation so that our efforts might bear fruit and give Him glory. We can act with confidence, knowing that God has always come to the aid of His people when they call upon Him.
Our role now is to be attuned to the designs of Providence and act accordingly. Such action includes continued political efforts, which are undoubtedly important. However, we must watch for every opportunity that Providence puts in our path to live, promote and change society to glorify Him. We must work for that missing moral regeneration requested at Fatima that will return the nation to God. If this is done, we can expect much more than what we have lost.
In the naturalistic Enlightenment perspective, history is a random sequence of events, and there is little hope in times of misfortune.
In the Church’s Providential vision of history, God provides in times of crisis. Above all, God always wins.