Ask Fr. Thaddaeus: Free Will & Relationships

Father Thaddaeus Lancton, MIC, the spiritual director of Friends of Mercy, answers questions from club members:

Anonymous asked:
Why did God create the angels and man with free will, knowing full well that Lucifer and humanity would fall? He then sent His only Son, Jesus, to suffer and die for us sinners. This could have been all avoided if the "free will" had not been given to the angels and His first creatures. Is there an answer to this?

Your question is one that has been asked by several people, including St. Faustina (see the Diary of Saint Maria Faustina Kowalska, 1332). Toward the end of her life, she composed beautiful reflections and poetry about the creation of both angels and men (see 1741-1750). I would invite you to read those passages as part of my response (as they are too long to include here). In short, if there were no free will, there also would be no opportunity to love, for love is a choice. Furthermore, to enjoy the beauty of Heaven, we need to love, because Heaven is simply sharing in the giving and receiving of love that has occurred from all eternity within the Trinity. One can choose not to love, and that is hell, precisely where there is no love. If we had no free will, then we would be mere puppets. We would not choose, or even be aware that we exist. We would be like inanimate objects instead of humans. Also, St. Paul succinctly says that God permitted all men to sin that He might have mercy upon all (see Rom 11:32). Our sin serves the revelation of the Father's mercy in Jesus Christ. Indeed, just like the Divine Mercy Image, there is darkness all around Jesus, to highlight that He alone is the Light, as sung at Easter: "Christ our Light!" Finally, the Catechism of the Catholic Church also answers your question: "But why did God not prevent the first man from sinning? Saint Leo the Great responds, 'Christ's inexpressible grace gave us blessings better than those the demon's envy had taken away.' And St. Thomas Aquinas wrote, 'There is nothing to prevent human nature's being raised up to something greater, even after sin; God permits evil in order to draw forth some greater good.' Thus St. Paul says, 'Where sin increased, grace abounded all the more'" (412).

Jeff asked:
Is it wrong to pray to be with a woman that keeps pushing me away and is not ready to be in a relationship? Is it selfish to do so?

Christian love, for it to be genuine, must be free and reciprocal. Your question regards the nature of love for a romantic relationship. If we desire to enter into a relationship with another, especially like that of marriage, then both persons must freely choose to love. In fact, any force regarding the relationship may invalidate the Sacrament of Matrimony, if that force is present when the person makes their wedding vows. The reciprocity of love is built upon it being free. True love is not one-sided, which we see in the Trinity: the Father and the Son mutually love each other equally in the Holy Spirit, who is the bond and union of their love. In marriage, too, there ought to be reciprocal love, and not just one seeking to love while the other is not returning that love. In your case, I would suggest that you simply entrust the matter to St. Joseph and to St. Raphael. The difficulties that St. Joseph had in regard to his marriage with Mary are known through Scripture. Saint Raphael brought about the marriage of Tobias and Sarah. If the heavenly Father wants this relationship, then in His time, it will come about. But allow this woman freedom, and in the meantime, pray for her and offer sacrifices for her. Whether you marry her or not is known to the Father; but you nonetheless are called to love her as a Christian, and in this way help her heal from her wounds. If you should feel some rejection, then you can unite that pain to Jesus' Passion. He, of all men, experienced the pain of not being loved in return. The Lord may be teaching you to partake of His Passion, and like Him, to offer your sufferings for her and her healing and salvation, so that through your wounds, this woman might be healed (see Is 53:5).

Got questions for Fr. Thaddaeus? Email us at or write to Friends of Mercy, Marian Helpers Center, Stockbridge, MA 01263.

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