A Name for Nothing

Divine providence admonishes us not foolishly to condemn things, but to investigate their utility with care; and, where our mental capacity or infirmity is at fault, to believe that there is a utility, though hidden, as we have experienced that there were other things which we all but failed to discover.

For this concealment of the use of things is itself either an exercise of our humility or a levelling of our pride; for no nature at all is evil, and evil is a name for nothing but the want of good.

~ St. Augustine of Hippo

2 thoughts on “A Name for Nothing

  1. Evil doesn’t exist. All wrong is a distortion of something right. Look for the good lost in the corruption. Isn’t that exactly what Jesus does, “in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.”

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  2. Thanks Jerry! St. Augustine is so insightful about the nature of evil. For example, he argues that evil has no “efficient cause”–in Aristotelian terms–but rather a “deficient cause.” Sounds technical, but one thing it implies is that every evil act or choice, however forceful or habitual it may be, represents a failure to actuate one’s natural potential as a human being (or angelic spirit). The first victim of every sin is the sinner. Sin is its own punishment. God’s additional punishments (or allowances of suffering) are acts of mercy, calls to repent and become who we’re meant to be. Even though we are called (sometimes) to admonish sinners in charity, human responses to others’ sins are rarely as loving as they ought to be. Do we sincerely wish to help the sinner become who God has made him to be? We must remove the logs in our own eyes first . . . Thanks be to God for his merciful assistance!

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