391. 4. The atmosphere of a love for little children is an atmosphere of protecting and maintaining those who cannot protect and maintain themselves. We said above in no. 386 that effectuations of useful ends by the Lord by means of the atmospheres emanating from Him are Divine providence. This providence is also meant therefore by an atmosphere of protecting and maintaining those who cannot protect and maintain themselves. For it exists from creation that things created must be preserved, safeguarded, protected, and maintained - otherwise the universe would fall to ruin. But because this cannot be done by the Lord directly in the case of living beings to whom He has bequeathed free judgment, He does it indirectly through His love implanted in fathers, mothers and nurses. They are not aware that their love is a love from the Lord in them, because they do not perceive the influx and still less the omnipresence of the Lord. However, who does not see that this is not attributable to nature, but to Divine providence operating in and through nature? And who does not see that such a universal phenomenon could not exist except from God, through some spiritual sun which is at the center of the universe, and whose operation, being without space and time, is immediate and present from first things in last ones?
 But how this Divine operation, which is the Lord's Divine providence, is received by animate beings, will be told in the discussions that follow.
Although mothers and fathers protect and maintain their little children because they cannot protect and maintain themselves, that is not the cause of this love, but is a rational reason arising from the love as it enters into the intellect. For in consequence of that reason alone, without the infusion of love to inspire it, or without the law and its penalty to compel him, a person would no more provide for his children than a statue.