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Posts Tagged ‘Free Will’

Essential Truths

In 07 Observations on 2014/02/21 at 12:00 AM

Detailed notes taken by Aida Tamayo on Fr. Robert Barron’s Catholicism Series

EXISTENCE OF GOD
St. Augustine and Thomas Aquinas present a strong case for the existence of God, using math, reason, and logic. Aquinas developed 5 arguments.  Contingency.  Things come into being and they pass out of being.  They don’t carry within themselves the reason for their own existence; there is an extrinsic cause that brought them into being- a cause outside of them…  A flower opens up and withers, a dog is born and dies, a cloud develops and passes away, even the planets are contingent and will end one day.  We haven’t explained the existence of any of it.  We must come finally to some reality which does exist through itself, to some necessary being whose very nature it is to BE.  This is GOD.  Keep this in mind and remember the answer Moses got when he asked God its name: I am who AM. Not a being among many, but the one whose very nature it is to BE.  The theological language is meant to change us spiritually in relation to God.  God is the one I can never control.  Through a sheer act of generous non-violent love, He creates all from nothing.  Personally, I don’t question God’s existence, just His Will when it comes to me.  Working in Faith Formation, with a temperament for reflection, and with Jesus present in the Blessed Sacrament next door, I have the opportunity to experience God daily, and I need no other proof of God’s existence.  I see Him acting everywhere and to me His existence is palpable.

MYSTERY OF GOD – HE WHO IS
This is a reality – Psalm 139 tells us that we cannot grasp God in his transcendence, and we cannot hide from him either.  Adam and Eve learned this hard lesson having tried to do both. We just need to Love Him.  Augustine said:  If you think you understand God, then it is not God.  St. Augustine also knew that our souls are searching for eternal satisfaction and it is not to be found in any terrestrial thing.  Jesus also revealed to us the Trinity: The lover, the beloved, and shared love (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit).

THE QUESTION OF EVIL
If God is benevolent why does he permits evil?  I used to ask myself that same questions until one day I gazed upon the body of Christ on the cross above the tabernacle.  I got it, this is the greatest evil ever committed in the history of humanity:  The killing of Goodness Himself by His own creation, in the most horrible way possible.  We are not talking about sinful men killing sinful men.  We are talking about sinful men killing the One who sustains them, the One in front of whom they should have been prostrated in adoration.  Even after Jesus in His humanity asked the Father to take this cup from him, He still surrendered to the Will of the Father and so this most hideous evil occurred.  Why did God the Father willed that the Son submit to evil? There are a few lessons here.  I finally realized…this has to do with free will, choices, and consequences and God’s perfect balance of justice and mercy… and yes, our place in the order of Creation.

LESSON FROM THE CRUCIFIXION OF THE SON
1. Good over Evil – God allows an evil to occur to bring about a greater good.  (For example, Christ’s death and resurrection).  On the cross the darkness of the human condition met the fullness of divine love and found itself transfigured into light making even death itself a place of hope.  Good and evil meet. Justice and mercy flow. His justice flows from His holiness, His mercy flows from His love. Thus the Suffering Servant.

2. The Suffering Servant – Jesus suffered for our inequities (justice) so that turning to Him we can find mercy.

3. Underserved Suffering – What about evil that befalls us causing underserved suffering like it did Jesus?  Let’s take Job from Old Testament, a righteous and faithful servant who saw everything taken from him.  When Job challenged God on this question, God took Job on a tour of the cosmos, showing Job all the patterns of His designs and how the event of Job’s life is but a dot in the great canvas of God’s Creation.  God looking from eternity has a perfect view of all events and he is always bringing goodness out into existence. Job saw his suffering was not wasted and at the end greater goodness came about in his life.  We lack holiness to offer sufferings directly to the Father for reparation but can join our suffering (deserved or underserved) to Jesus’ suffering to help others.  When we look at our lives, we must include eternity in our range for this to make sense.

FREEWILL, CHOICES AND CONSEQUENCES –

The Church teaches that when God created humanity He gave it a touch of divinity by creating a soul in his image with faculties to reason (intellect), to choose (will), and capacity to remember (memory).  Unlike God the Son who was begotten not created of the same nature as the Father, we are just a creation with limitations and lacking the attributes of the creator.  Our perfection and goodness is tied to our union with God by freely choosing love and fidelity to Him. The moment we take our eyes off God and contemplated ourselves as God’s equal we opened the door for evil.  God cannot commit evil because his essence is love and goodness.  He is the source of Goodness.  If we separate from the source, then our goodness fades away.  What remains is evil.  Evil does not have an origin as does goodness, it is the lack of goodness.

We are made in God’s Image, but we are NOT His equal.  Every time we make a choice there a consequence that will bring us closer to God or set us apart from Him.  Evil in the world is the result of choices humans have made throughout humanity’s existence that negates the goodness of God, because the choice goes against one of God’s laws, whether it is physical, moral, or natural laws.  God is always acting to bring goodness out of evil but if He gave us the freedom to choose, He will respect our choices, thus the suffering.  If more people were making good choices we would see goodness overtaking evil.

Laymen: “Resolve” to Discern God’s Will for You by Fr. McCloskey

In 04 Fr. John McCloskey on 2012/06/15 at 9:11 AM

In one of the scriptural passages most often quoted by Blessed Pope John Paul II during the course of his historic pontificate, a “rich young man” asks the Lord what I consider to be the only question really worth asking once one reaches the age of reason and understands the reality of death: “What must I do to gain eternal life?” As we know, the Lord gives two related answers. One is “to keep the commandments.” After the youth asserts that he has done so since he was a child, the Lord challenges him with a more demanding answer: “Sell what you have, give to the poor, and come, follow me.”

These answers were, without question, the will of God for that young man. After all, God himself was speaking to him. As we remember, he “went away sad for he had great possessions.” We will never know, short of heaven, what great plans the Lord might have had for him if he had said yes. Maybe he would have replaced St. Peter as the Prince of the Apostles. After all, he seemed to have a lot more going for him than the often-simple fisherman, so full of obvious defects alongside his virtues. But the rich young man did not say yes. He was free but clearly attached to the things of this world, and he lacked the generosity needed to follow the Lamb wherever He goes.

A simpler answer to the rich young man’s question would be: “Do the will of God, whatever it is, no matter the cost.” I have written this article to help you discover the will of God for you and then follow it with God’s grace. Ultimately, nothing else—nothing less—will make you relatively happy in this life and eternally and ecstatically joyful in the next.

I should point out at the beginning that there are some general ways for learning the will of God for us that apply to everybody. On the other hand, God also has a specific plan for each one of us, and that may require a little bit or a lot more time to discern. Read the rest of this entry »

Our Will?

In 07 Observations on 2012/06/01 at 9:11 AM

The created will is not destined to be free to exalt itself. It is called to come into unison with the divine will. If it freely submits itself to this unison, then it is permitted in freedom to participate in the perfection of creation. If a free creature declines this unison, it lapses into bondage. The human will continues to retain the possibility of choice, but it is constrained by creatures that pull and pres­sure it in directions straying from the development of the nature desired by God, and so away from the goal toward which it itself was directed by its original freedom. With the loss of this original freedom, it also loses security in making decisions. It becomes unsteady and wavering, buf­feted by doubt and scruples or obdurate in its error.

There is no other remedy for this than the following of Christ, the Son of Man, who not only promptly obeyed his heavenly Father, but also subjected himself to people who imposed the Father’s will on him. The obedience enjoined by God releases the enslaved will from the bonds of creatures and leads it back to freedom. Thus, it is also the way to purity of heart.

Edith Stein (Saint Teresa Benedict of the Cross)

©Institute of Carmelite studies