Divine Providence and Prayer vs Predestination

Last week at my RCIA lesson, my Priest discussed the idea of people’s lives being “cut short” when they pass away at an early age or earlier than what we may seem as fair.
My priest made the comment that we can’t really look at it this way because God has, in a way, a perfect knowledge of when we are going to pass and so therefor, we shouldn’t consider lives “cut short” when someone passes.

I sort of felt that this was an endorsement of predestination, which, from my understanding The Church doesn’t necessarily teach.

(I’ve come to a personal understanding of predestination meaning that if we are willing to accept the will of God-we are predestined for the purposes outlined by the will of God, but we must first accept that and strive to do His will perfectly.)

I understand the notion that God obviously has a perfect knowledge and so therefor knows when/how we are each going to pass from this life.

However, this doesn’t necessitate that it’s a “good” thing for someone to pass, right?

We still have free will, and when someone chooses to murder someone, they are working against the will of God albeit God may know in his divine knowledge that it was going to happen.

Divine Providence would appear to be the intervention of God in the world. However, my issue with this is that if God already has knowledge of how things are going to play out, why would his intervention in the realm of time be necessary and do we really affect this with our prayer?

From my understanding, prayer assists us in coming closer to God and the closer we are to God, the easier it is to do God’s will. Is this the “Divine Providence” that we speak of and how does it affect things in time if in a sense all things are predestined?

I know that this is a complex theological question and I hope to get some good discussion out of it. Any help to understand this issue is greatly appreciated. :thumbsup:

Death Welcome to the Christian

Cyprian of Carthage

We ought to remember that we should do not our own will, but God’s, in accordance with what our Lord has bidden us daily to pray. How preposterous and absurd it is, that while we ask that the will of God should be done, yet when God calls and summons us from this world, we should not at once obey the command of His will! We struggle and resist, and after the manner of froward servants we are dragged to the presence of the Lord with sadness and grief, departing hence under the bondage of necessity, not with the obedience of free will; and we wish to be honoured with heavenly rewards by Him to whom we come unwillingly. Why, then, do we pray and ask that the kingdom of heaven may come, if the captivity of earth delights us? Why with frequently repeated prayers do we entreat and beg that the day of His kingdom may hasten, if our greater desires and stronger wishes are to obey the devil here, rather than to reign with Christ? . . . .




God is outside of time. It is not so much that he “forsees” that he has “foreknowedge” but that he “sees” that all of time is before him at once. He is outside of time.

Our “past, present, future” is all before him as it were. Including our free choices, those of others, effects of various happenings around us, and our prayers and those of others…



It is best to go right to the Teachings of the Church: Catechism:

scborromeo.org/ccc/p1s2c1p4.htm#302 (long text on Providence)



600 To God, all moments of time are present in their immediacy. When therefore he establishes his eternal plan of “predestination”, he includes in it each person’s free response to his grace: "In this city, in fact, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel, gathered together against your holy servant Jesus, whom you anointed, to do whatever your hand and your plan had predestined to take place."395 For the sake of accomplishing his plan of salvation, God permitted the acts that flowed from their blindness.396

See my post above.

I think the idea of predestination you may have is calvinistic which says all are predestined to either hell or heaven. Catholic predestination affirms the predestination to heaven, but not to hell as all are called to be saved. I am not sure if there is a particular teaching the Church dictates on this issue, I only know of two Catholic schools of predestination, the Thomistic and the Molinistic. I think you are free to believe in either, or perhaps neither, I’m not sure.

Extreme Calvinistic or “double” predestination says that some people are predestined by God to go to Heaven, and all others are predestined by God to go to Hell, and that human free will or actions have little or nothing to do with it.

Catholic or “single” predestination is the teaching that all humans have the God-given free will to choose good or evil, and that God’s knowledge of all things does not prevent us from exercising our free will. God creates all humans with the desire that they go to Heaven and be happy with Him forever, and does not create anyone with a destiny of damnation.

There’s more to it than that, and there are different views about exactly how it works. But that’s the gist of it.

Thank you all for your wonderful responses. I will most definitely have to see if I can pick up and read the books that have been recommended.

The difference of single predestination which says-“we are all predestined to go to Heaven if we accept, through our own free will, the gift of God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ.”


Double predestination that says- “We are all predestined for Heaven or predestined for Hell.”

My only theological question to this, is that idea that lives are never cut short-what if the life of someone is ended by the murderous intent of another person, who was going against the will of God?

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.