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Dictionary

A modern dictionary of Catholic terms, both common and obscure. Find accurate definitions of words and phrases.

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ABSOLUTE

That which is independent or not related to anything else; or that which is total and complete in itself.

Applied to God, who is the Absolute, it is equivalent to the divine transcendence in two ways. He is absolutely independent of all creation for his own existence and perfections. They totally depend upon him but he is completely self-sufficient himself, since his essence is his existence. He is Being who cannot not be, whereas all others are contingent beings whose existence depends wholly on him who alone is necessary Being.

But God is also absolutely perfect. He is the infinite Being whose attributes are without limitation and whose perfections are without restriction. He is almighty and all good, omniscient and all holy. In a word he is the One in whom there is no potency that cannot be actualized and no possibility that can still be realized. Applied to beings other than God, a thing is said to be absolute when it is considered or conceived in itself and apart from its relation to something else. Thus, absolutely speaking, sin is an unmitigated evil. But considered from the viewpoint of divine providence, sin can be the occasion of much good in the world.

All items in this dictionary are from Fr. John Hardon's Modern Catholic Dictionary, © Eternal Life. Used with permission.

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