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

"Pt. 1: Research in the sources of revelation - Ch. 11: The conformity of the human will with the will of God"


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167. All ascetical theologians agree that no one can come to perfection unless his will is perfectly conformed to the will of God; and, in turn, that if someone has conformed his will perfectly to the will of God in all things, that one most certainly will be perfect. For example, St. Teresa in her great work, the Interior Castle, writes:1 "The whole task of the one who is beginning mental prayer . . . is to work and to prepare and dispose himself as diligently as possible to make his will conformed with the will of God; and it is quite certain that in this consists all the greatest perfection that one can attain in the spiritual way."

Now, the more a soul grows in holiness, the more it desires the salvation of all men. Hence St. Paul himself said:2 "I have become all things to all men, that I might by all means save some." And Pope Pius XI taught:3 "But from this perfection of the Christian life which retreats obviously bring . . . another most choice fruit flows . . . that is, the desire to gain souls for Christ. We call this the apostolic spirit. For it is the true effect of love that the just soul, in which God dwells by grace, is marvellously inflamed with the desire of calling others to share in the knowledge and love of that infinite Good which it has attained and possesses."

But, if God Himself did not truly, sincerely, and vehemently desire the salvation of all-if, on the contrary, He willed to desert4 many without consideration of demerits-then, the more a soul would grow in sanctity, the less it would be conformed to the will of God. But this is impossible.

168. Furthermore, in heaven itself even the least soul is entirely conformed to the will of God. Yet, if any soul in heaven knew that even one of those whom it had loved in this life was being punished in hell because God, without even considering the demerits of that one, had given him only graces such that it would be metaphysically inconceivable for him to be saved,5 and so that he was totally incapable of6 "distinguishing himself" in regard to reprobation-how could the soul in heaven fully acquiesce in such a will of God?

It is true that many in heaven do see their friends or dear ones in hell. But it is one thing to see them there totally because of their own fault, because they gravely and persistently resisted a rich abundance of grace; it is another thing to see them there because they received a kind of grace which7 "is certainly not of itself sufficient for salvation."

169. Conclusion: Desertion without consideration of demerits is incompatible with the common and certain ascetic doctrine on the conformity of the human will with the will of God.


1 Interior castle 2.1.8.
2 1 Cor 9:22.
3 Mens nostra. AAS 21.694-695.
4 Cf. § 51.
5 Cf. §§ 118-120.
6 Cf. § 6.8.
7 Cf. note 15 on the introduction to this book.