17 September , Friday – Where will your free will take you?

Sep 17 – Memorial for St. Robert Bellarmine, Bishop and Doctor

St. Robert (1542-1621) wrote the most complete work of his day to defend Catholicism against Protestant attack. He also wrote a children’s catechism and a catechism for teachers. As cardinal-priest, he gave most of his money to the poor. At one point he used the tapestries in his living quarters to clothe the poor, saying that “the walls won’t catch cold”.

He was involved in settling various disputes, including that of King James I and the Vatican in 1607 and 1609, concerning control of the Church in England, action against Galileo Galilei with whom he established a friendly correspondence, but was forced to deliver the order for the scientist to submit to the Church, and issues concerning clerical discipline and Vatican authority. He was proclaimed a Doctor of the Church on 17 September 1931.

  • Patron Saint Index

1 Tim 6:2-12
Lk 8:1-3

…which eventually plunge them into ruin and destruction.

What richness in the words of St. Paul to Timothy! It is difficult to choose just one topic to  reflect upon. I hope that you will go back and read over today’s first reading several times, as I have. 

We’ve heard these words, this message our whole life, have we not? For we brought nothing into the world, just as we shall not be able to take anything out of it; puffed up with conceit, he knows nothing; those who desire to be rich fall into temptation, into a snare, into many senseless and hurtful desires that plunge men into ruin and destruction; fight the good fight of faith; And perhaps the most famous, ‘For the love of money is the root of all evils’…” In summary, it seems that Paul is detailing that to love God first and foremost, through the death and resurrection of Christ, we will be with God forever in heaven. And to choose self and the things created by man above God will result in our not being with God for eternity, i.e. hell. 

So, choose love, money/the world above God, and one will live eternity in hell. Yet today, at least in America, the prominent thought is, “If this loving God that you speak of is real, He would never send anyone to hell”. This is the belief of many atheists, agnostics and even ‘spiritual but not religious’ Christians. But this thought process isn’t taking into consideration our own free will. 

Thomas Merton said two things that come to my mind.

……All the rest were negative. They were only graces in the sense that God, in His mercy, was permitting me to fly as far as I could from His love but at the same time preparing to confront me, at the end of it all. And in the bottom of the abyss, when I thought I had gone farthest away from Him. For in my greatest misery He would shed, into my soul, enough light to see how miserable I was, and to admit that it was my own fault and my own work. And always I was to be punished for my sins by my sins themselves, and to realize at least obscurely, that I was being so punished and burn in the flames of my own hell, and rot in the hell of my own corrupt will until I was forced at last, by my own intense misery to give up my own will. 

Merton goes on to say,

Why should anyone be shattered by the thought of hell? It is not compulsory for anyone to go there. Those who do, do so by their own choice, and against the will of God, and they can only get into hell by defying and resisting all the work of Providence and grace. It is their own will that takes them there, not God’s. In damning them, He is only ratifying their own decision – a decision which He has left entirely to their own choice. Nor will he ever hold our weakness alone responsible for our damnation. Our weakness should not terify us; it is the source of our strength, “Libenter glorabor in infirmitatibus meis uit inhabitect in me vitrtus Christi.” Power is made perfect in infirmity, and our very helplessness is all the more potent a claim on that Divine Mercy who calls to himself the poor, the little ones, the heavily burdened.

Our Father, the Almighty God who is LOVE, gave us all things good and our own free will. And this gift of free will on this earth will allow us the final choice as well.

(Today’s OXYGEN by Gina Ulicny)

Prayer: Father in Heaven, we stand in awe at all the good and beauty that you have created and given to us. Daily, when we open our eyes, ears and hearts, we are in full awe of your love. Our hearts cannot hold all the good that You are, all the love that you shower on us. Lord, we pray that we will live our lives in Your will so that we will choose YOU for eternity.

Thanksgiving: We thank you Father, for all the good that You have given us. The sunrises, the sunsets – the sun! All beauty that fills our senses is your gift to us. Lord, we are so undeserving and so grateful for the truth, beauty and goodness that you have created for us.

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