The MOST Theological Collection: Grace, Predestination and the Salvific Will of God: New Answers to Old Questions

"Foreword by Bertrand de Margerie, S.J."


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Father William G. Most gives us an example of intellectual fortitude as he reconsiders, after the attempts of so many great names of the past, the mystery of predestination.

He sees it contained in Scripture that there is a predestination to heaven, or to membership in the Church.

He reaches a beautiful understanding of this revealed truth by linking predestination with the analogy, also revealed, presenting God as Father. As in a human family, the father wants the good of all his children, and loves them, not on account of their merits, but because he is good, and does not disinherit any of them except for grave and persistent offenses, so the heavenly Father does not deprive any of his adopted children of his inheritance except in the case of a persevering rejection of his offer of salvation. He predestines gratuitously, and even, through extraordinary means, saves some of those who initially and during a long time resisted his graces. He predestines before any prevision of merits, but after the foresight of the lack of any ultimate resistance.

Despite the curious absence of the words "destiny," and "predestination" from the subject index of the Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC), I think this important document of the Church’s Magisterium has gone in the same direction as Fr. Most in its explicit treatment of the topic.

Exposing the plan of God (1, 50, 235, 257), the CC states (600), "When God establishes his eternal plan of "predestination" he includes in it each person’s free response to his grace."

In their fight against temptations of presumption and of despair, Christians exercise the virtue of hope, expecting God’s help in attaining their personal salvation and the forgiveness of their sins. "Despair is contrary to God’s goodness, to his justice, for the Lord is faithful to his promises and to his mercy (2090-2092).

Death brings to a conclusion man’s temporal pilgrimage, "the time of grace and mercy which God offers man so as to work out his earthly life in keeping with the divine plan and to decide his ultimate destiny."

The working out of our earthly lives is exercised very specially in the prayer of petition to the Mother of God asking her to intercede for us "now and at the hour of our death" (which might come now). We should, moreover, "entrust ourselves to St. Joseph the patron of a happy death" as his own death was in the society of Jesus and Mary (CCC 1013-1014).

In his work as a biblical scholar and as a Catholic theologian, Fr. Most has shed some beautiful light on the mystery of personal predestination inside the collective predestination of the People of God.

Bertrand de Margerie, S. J.