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Economy, Divine


Divine economy is the divine plan ( οκονομία, Eph 3.9; cf. 1 Cor 2.78) hidden in the intellect of God from all eternity before the creation of the world and revealed in the divine acts of salvation, through His Prophets, through Jesus Christ (Rom 16.26), and through His Holy Spirit (1 Cor 2.10). The principal subject of that divine plan, while embracing both the order of nature and of grace (St. Thomas, ST 1a, 22), is salvation realized in and through the incarnation of the Person of the word, who, coming "in the likeness of sinful flesh as a sin offering" (Rom 8.3; cf. 2 Cor 5.21) in a passible human nature, underwent suffering and death and returned to the Father glorified in that flesh through which He had effected for man universal redemption (Heb 9.12).

Divine economy likewise embraces the mystery of the execution of the divine plan of salvation. Creatures to whom God communicates a participation in His causality are secondary agents through whom He acts in applying the fruits of His redemptive act. Through these created secondary agents acting in His name and often through His priestly power, that act is prolonged in space and time, especially in the created sacramental signs that He has endowed with power to communicate grace to men.

Essentially the concept of divine economy is that of the total mystery of Christ (Eph 1.10), whereby both the world of nature and that of grace are ordered through Him to the Trinity. In accordance with this above concept, one of the two major parts of Oriental theology is economy, or "the study of the restoration of the communion between God and men by Jesus Christ" (Congar).

The word economy is used also by the Oriental Christians to signify the theory and practice whereby the canonical power of the Church is applied benignly to particular cases (Congar).

See Also: anthropology, theological; elevation of man; jesus christ (in theology) 3, (special questions), 12; man; supernatural.

Bibliography: o. michel, οίαονομία, g. kittel, Theologisches Wöterbuch zum Neuen Testament (Stuttgart 1935) 5:154155. Dictionnaire de théologie catholique, ed. a. vacant et al., 15 v. (Paris 190350; Tables générales 1951), Tables générales 1:1096. w. trilling and o. semmelroth, "Heil," h. fries, ed. Handbuch theologischer Grundbegriffe, 2 v. (Munich 196263) 1:623633. c. v. hÉris, The Mystery of Christ (Westminster, Md.1950). y. congar, Catholicisme 3:130507.

[m. r. e. masterman]

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