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Catholic Faith
Vol. 4 - #1, Jan / Feb 1998

by Fr. John A. Hardon, S.J.

Q.  How can evil exist if God did not create it? —M.C., Maryland

A.  Evil in general is the privation of a good that should be present. It is the lack of a good that essentially belongs or is due to a being. Evil is therefore the absence of what ought to be there.

Physical evil is the privation of a natural good desired by a human being. It is the absence of some satisfaction desired by a human appetite, whether spiritual or bodily. In general, it may be equated with pain. It is the loss or deprivation of what a person wants.

Moral evil is sin, as distinct from physical evil, which is some form of suffering. It is evil because it is contrary to the will of God; it is moral evil because it is caused by a free, created will acting against the law of God, who does not want moral evil as an end or as a means. The Council of Trent condemned the contrary doctrine. God simply permits moral evil because of consideration of human freedom, and because he has the wisdom and power to cause good to arise from evil. In the end, moral evil will serve the supreme purpose of the universe, the glorification of God, since it reveals both His mercy in forgiving and His justice in punishing.

Q.  Could you provide me a list of good Catholic books to read? —M.L., North Carolina

A.  The most comprehensive list of good Catholic books is contained in The Catholic Lifetime Reading Plan. Originally published by Doubleday, the book is now out of print. However, Grotto Press plans to republish it soon.

Q.  Please explain how and when pride is sinful? —D.K., Washington

A.  As ordinarily defined, pride is the inordinate esteem of oneself. It is inordinate because it is contrary to the truth. It is essentially an act or disposition of the will desiring to be considered better than a person really is. Pride may be expressed in different ways: by taking personal credit for gifts or possessions, as if they had not been received from God; by glorying in achievements, as if they were not primarily the result of divine goodness and grace; by minimizing one’s defects or claiming qualities that are not actually possessed; by holding oneself superior to others or disdaining them because they lack what the proud person has; by magnifying the defects of others or dwelling on them. When pride is carried to the extent that a person is unwilling to acknowledge dependence on God and refuses to submit his or her will to God or lawful authority, it is a grave sin. The gravity depends on how totally a person contemns God or those who take His place.

It is not pride to appreciate the natural or supernatural gifts that we possess. The secret is to see them as the gifts of God and not something which is really our own. Our Lady makes this clear in her Magnificat when she praises God for the wonderful gifts He has given her and used these gifts according to His will.

Catholic Faith
Vol. 4 - #1, Jan / Feb 1998

Copyright © 1998 by Inter Mirifica
No reproductions shall be made without prior written permission

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