Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Human will vs. God's will

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the human will, and in particular, about free will.

I thought I had read somewhere, something about superior will vs. inferior will in regard to our free will.

I have searched around the Internet and cannot find any reference to superior vs. inferior will. Perhaps someone out there in the blogosphere can point me in the right direction?

In the meantime, here are my thoughts: In terms of our free will or as I am calling it for the purposes of this discussion, human will, it would seem to me that we can divide our will into two categories: superior will and inferior will.

By superior will, I would be referring to those times, when through prayer and discernment, we commit ourselves to following the highest will of God, as we can best discern that will.

By inferior will, I am referring to those times when, without prayer and discernment, we commit ourselves (consciously or unconsciously) to following our own desires, our own way, and end up following our inferior will, unenlightened by God. This, of course, probably occurs many times during a single day.

There would be a thousand examples of this, as there are a thousand ways to sin, because that is really what is being discussed here – our concupiscence towards sin.

I’ll use fasting as an example, because I’ve been thinking about that a lot also, as you know if you have been reading this blog for the past few days…

If I get up in the morning with the intention to fast, and I am successful in my commitment to fast, then I have, in my own free will, aligned my will with the Father’s. I have been obedient to His will (which I know because both Jesus in the Scriptures & the precepts of the Church tell me to fast) and I have also exercised my superior will, because I have
chosen to be obedient.

However, if I get up in the morning with the intention to fast, and I am unsuccessful in my commitment because I have chosen, again using my own free will, to eat that cookie or have that piece of steak at dinner, then I have been disobedient to His will and I have exercised my inferior will, because I have
chosen to be disobedient.

Now perhaps this is a discussion that doesn’t need to occur, because you, the readers, already understand this. Perhaps it is only I who don’t understand. Perhaps this is something that if I were more astute, I would already know that the Fathers of the Church have thrown this idea around for centuries, and I just need to be pointed in the right direction.

Or perhaps I’m getting this all wrong and need to be corrected. If so, I would welcome any corrections you might send my way.

But this is the bottom line: How many times during the course of a day, week, month…. do I exercise my inferior will over my superior will, without so much as a thought about it. Free will is something we know that we possess, but how often do we consider how well we are handling our free will? How many times, without even thinking about it, am I choosing to be disobedient to the will of the Father?

If this whole idea of superior vs. inferior will makes absolutely no sense, my apologies. If, however, it resonates with you and you can point me in the right direction in terms of what others have said about this subject, please do so. If my feet are all wet, you can tell me so, too!

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