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Brookline Carmel Bulletin †††††††††††††††††††††††

August 28, 1960

Cogitatio Sancta

(Holy Meditation)

 

Free Will

 

 

Saint John the Evangelist epitomizes all there is to say of God in the simple phrase:God is Love.This phrase explains everything that has ever happened in the course of history.It alone will explain whatever will happen in the future.

 

Love is diffusive of itself.It may be described as the constant and permanent disposition to communicate and to share.A true lover makes a gift of his entire self to the object of his love; body and soul, material possessions; everything the lover has is pressed into the service of the beloved, making of him her servant.Only after he has given himself completely can the true lover rest content.

 

A condition Ďsine qua noní of love, however, is freedom.No true lover forces his affections and his gift of self upon the object of his love.Nor can he bring himself to extort a return of love from the loved one.True love is spontaneous.It proceeds from an inner conviction of the lovableness (goodness) of the beloved.It is always bestowed gratis.There is nothing the lover desires more than that the beloved accept his gift of self and return his love.But to be acceptable to the lover, the return must also be free.Obviously we cannot say that human love is greater than Divine Love, and so all that has been said of human love is true of Godís love to an infinite degree.God has at once made Himself our servant and put it into our power to accept and return His love, if we so wish, by bestowing upon us the gift of Free Will.

 

If we may be permitted to speculate, we may observe that in order to make it possible for us to accept His gifts or not (that is, to truly love us) God had to create a Supernatural Order, leaving it within our power to enter it or remain out of it.Which of us was around to consent to be given the gift of natural life?This proof of Godís love for us was one we were not free to accept or reject.But we are free to accept the gift of sanctifying grace, which gives us God as He is in Himself, making us His children.We are also free to return that love by acting in accordance with His Will.Thus we see that in order to love us truly, God had to make moral evil a possibility.And for us to be convinced of His love, moral evil has to be a reality.What can be more loathsome to God than service that is wrung from His rational creatures against their will?How could He prove this to us unless He suffered men to refuse to love Him?

 

For all that, God does not will moral evil; He permits it.He does not cooperate in it; He concurs in it.If, contrary to His Will, someone wishes to commit murder by administering poison, God does not rob the poison of its power to destroy.If a depraved person wishes to lead an innocent soul into sin by suggestion and instruction, God does not deprive the person of his power to speak nor the victim of his hearing.God sustains in existence the sinners who offend Him, and sustains in operation the laws, which make it possible, leaving all the while the will of the culprit uncoerced.It seems, then, that in thus becoming our servant, God Ďannihilatesí Himself, for error and evil are posited with every sin; God is the complete opposite, Truth and Goodness.Here we see why Jesus, who came to show us the Father, was constrained with desire to go to His Passion and Death upon the Cross.†† Jesus did not frustrate the will of His judges by His almighty power.He allowed Himself to be rejected.God allows Himself to be put out of the life of a sinner.His love demands that he be accepted or rejected freely.

 

Because of the gift of free will no one can rob God of His glory.It is the primary purpose of creation and the necessary effect of Free Will.God is glorified by being true to Himself.Every time a free act is placed it proclaims that God is Love, prescinding from the moral goodness or evil of the act.If there is added the fact that the act is morally good, then God receives another measure of glory.This other glory is the secondary purpose of creation.It can, as is evident, be frustrated.When frustrated, though, it takes nothing away from God, it only detracts from man, who refuses thereby to accept Godís love and share in His goodness.

 

It is considerations such as these that enable us to remain at peace in the presence of moral evil and suffering (the consequence of moral evil).God could not truly love us unless He made us free.Moral evil and suffering are the proofs of Godís love because they are the proofs that we are free.There would be no moral evil unless we had a choice between what we know we should do and what we know we should not.If we ourselves, because we truly love, cannot bring ourselves to force our affections upon someone, nor force a return, how dare we expect God to do so?In fact, if we stop to realize how perfectly God gives Himself to us in giving us Free Will, how the existence of moral evil proves His infinite love for us, we should find ourselves adoring, praising, thanking God for having created the world and ourselves as He did.We should even find ourselves telling Him we are gloriously happy that He made it thus, and that we wouldnít want Him to have made it any other way.

 

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