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The act of existence without which there would be nothing

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The act of existence without which there would be nothing

“To be, or not to be, that is the question” – William Shakespeare

Why Children Know Better

“Let the little children come to me; do not stop them; for it is to such as these that the kingdom of God belongs. Truly I tell you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will never enter it.” – Mark 10:13-16

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Know things as they are

Children constantly contemplate the nature of being (metaphysics). St. Thomas Aquinas taught that metaphysics is the supreme science, the science that directs all other ''secondary'' sciences.


By doing metaphysics, the innocent child sees that everything that has being is in some way one and unified, true or intelligible, good and thus desirable, beautiful and therefore pleasing.

Why things exist

Metaphysics culminate in the consideration of the nature of God, and as "first science", both because it considered the first causes of things, and because, in his estimation, it is first in importance.

Theology, it need hardly be said, derives its conclusions from premises which are revealed, and in so far as it does this it rises above all schools of philosophy or metaphysics. At the same time, it is a human science, and, as such, it must formulate its premises in exact terminology and must employ processes of human reasoning in attaining its conclusions. For this, it depends on metaphysics. Sometimes, indeed, as when it deals with the supernatural mysteries of faith, theology acknowledges that metaphysical conceptions are inadequate and metaphysical formulae incompetent to express the truths discussed.

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The act of existence

St. Thomas Aquinas articulates a basic error in secular thinkers to the effect that they do not isolate the actual existence of things as a feature of them. That is why these thinkers fail to arrive at the notion of a creator, while those who do so have reached a consideration of things in terms of their very being. St. Thomas held that existence is an act of things (actus essendi), the act of being:

“Existence itself is the most perfect of all things, for it is compared to all things as act. For nothing has actuality, except inasmuch as it is. Hence existence itself is the actuality of all things, and even of forms themselves.

Existence is a perfection. Existence is the most fundamental act, the actuality of all things; and such merits for it the title of perfectissimum.

The metaphysical principle of actus essendi relates to the revelation of God as He Who is (Ex 3:14), and to how we as humans perceive God’s essence. Aquinas elaborates on the fact that God’s essence is not perceived as sense data; rather, the essence of God can only be understood partially in terms of the limited participations in God’s act of being, that is, in terms of God’s effects in the real world.

true, good, one, and beautiful

Equally extensive with the nature of Being are the properties good, true, one, and beautiful. Every being is good, true, one, and beautiful, in the metaphysical sense.  Children understand that very easily.

These properties, goodness, truth, oneness, and beauty, are called transcendental, because they transcend, or exceed in extension, all the lower classes into which reality is divided.

The possession of actus essendi is what makes a subsisting thing unique and distinct from all other subsisting things. Thus, in what actually exists as a subsisting extramental thing, there is an essence which makes the subsisting thing what it is (a horse, for example), and the actus essendi which makes the subsisting thing a real, individual, existing thing. The metaphysical principle of actus essendi is the “act of all acts, the perfection of all perfections”, and “a proper effect of God” – St. Thomas Aquinas

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Intermediary Beings

The Devil and the other demons are but a part of the angelic creation, and their natural powers do not differ from those of the angels who remained faithful.

In their original state they are endowed with supernatural grace and placed in a condition of probation. It was only by their fall that they became devils. This was before the sin of our first parents, since this sin itself is ascribed to the instigation of the Devil: “By the envy of the Devil, death came into the world” (Wisdom 2:24).

And war broke out in heaven; Michael and his angels fought against the dragon. The dragon and his angels fought back, but they were defeated, and there was no longer any place for them in heaven. The great dragon was thrown down, that ancient serpent, who is called the Devil and Satan, the deceiver of the whole world—he was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him. (Apocalypse 12:7-9)

evil is a privation of Being

When a creature turns away from God, the creature turns away from the Source of its  Being. Setting any combination of earthly goods over against God is nonsense because God is the source of All Goodness.

Privations is at the basis of evil, as the lack of good that should be there. Evil is a privation of Being.  The existence of a real, personal being, the Devil or Satan, the source of all unbelief and of every kind of moral and spiritual evil in the world, tries to tempt human beings into disobeying God.

Moral evil is not limited to the circumstances of life in the natural order, but includes also the sphere of religion, by which man’s welfare is affected in the supernatural order, and the precepts of which, as depending ultimately upon the will of God.

All evil is essentially negative and not positive; i.e. it consists not in the acquisition of anything, but in the loss or deprivation of something necessary for perfection. Evil is attributed to the action of created free will. Man has himself brought about the evil from which he suffers by transgressing the law of God.


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