DIVINE WILL PT. II

       

        Human "deification" is indissoluble from faithful attachment to the Truth (1 Peter 1:22), and thus adhering as closely as possible to the divine scenario (with the right motive - love) becomes decisive in securing genuine fulfillment, and blessedness. Contrary to divine will, is all, which put simplistically, leads away from God, and whatever brings closer to God or "attracts toward God" is in harmony with the will of God: "But that which unites us to God is virtue," (Saint Aquinas). The primary constituents of the divine will, described summarily by Scyprian involve the following: "The will of God is what Christ has done and thought. It is humility in conduct, steadfastness in faith, scrupulousness in our words, rectitude in our deeds, mercy in our works, governance in our habits; it is innocence of injuriousness, and patience under it, preserving peace with brethren, loving God with all our hearts, loving Him as our Father, and fearing Him as our God; accounting Christ before all things, because He accounted nothing before us, clinging inseparably to His love, being stationed with fortitude and faith at His Cross, and when the battle comes for His Name and honor, maintaining in words that constancy which makes confession, in torture that confidence which joins battle, and in death that patience which receives the crown. This it is to endeavor to be co-heir with Christ; this it is to perform the commandment of God, and fulfill the will of the Father" (Heliotropium, pp. 54-55).

       Entering into eternal life is contingent on the adherence to the "moral teaching" or "all saving truth" found in the Sacred Scriptures - on an unbending compliance to divine commandments, which were imparted to protect the greatness of a human person - full observance of which guards his/her image and likeness of God. Authentic obedience to divine precepts is impossible however, without a sincere love for God and one's neighbor: "Jesus shows that the commandments must not be understood as a minimum limit not to be gone beyond, but rather as a path involving a moral and spiritual journey towards perfection, at the heart of which is love (cf. Col 3:14)" (The Splendor of Truth). And, the essential requisite in abiding in love is the steadfast observance of divine precepts: "If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father's commandments and abide in his love" (Jn 15:10). As Saint Augustine inquires: "Does love bring about the keeping of the commandments, or does the keeping of the commandments bring about love?" - replying: "But who can doubt that love comes first? For the one who does not love has no reason for keeping the commandments" (op. cit., The Splendor of Truth, p. 36). Not only virtuousness is entirely connected with belief in God, but being unconformable to any of the divine precepts means being unconformable to all of the precepts. Any virtue in order to be real is true in relation to other virtue that is equally or more important (i.e., as love is): "One man cannot do right in one department of life whilst he is occupied in doing wrong in any other department. Life is one indivisible whole" (The Words of Gandhi, p. 19). True knowledge as true love is a fortifier of all other virtues and "perfections" which can be wholly acquired in the hereafter. Purity of action would thus mean keeping out all imperfection, all limitation, all change, "all becoming, all beginning and end" (A Thomas Merton Reader, p. 238), for "continual change is nothing else than impurity" (Kierkegaard). Until then, we are doomed to - a greater or lesser extent, and for a longer or shorter while - remain inauthentic. For this reason, Tournier concluded: "It is in the face of God that we feel guilty at not having become what He expected of us; at letting ourselves be paralyzed by fear, fashioned by our environment, petrified by routine, sterilized by conformity; at not having been ourselves, at having copied others instead of taking advantage of the particular gifts which God had entrusted to us. Here the opposition between false guilt suggested by society and the responsibility for oneself before God is made clear " (Guilt and Grace, p. 55). The attainment of one's destiny is accordingly dependent upon fulfillment of moral ordinances based on love, or upon subordinacy of one's pursuits and actions to God who "alone is good." Human activity by evincing either its perceptible similitude or dissimilitude to the image of God, has always eschatological import and implications.

       The human will being contrary to the divine will becomes inescapably the source of all evils, and sorrows since it results in refusal to acknowledge and accept what is supremely good, has verifiable existence, is free of falsehood, has true reformatory power and is limitlessly uplifting. Rejecting divine will leads to oppression of spirit and hence gives rise to a gradual degeneration and dying out of the self. Any opposition to divine will, represents diminution of the highest good which is evil since it rejects the "true truth," and existing in untruth makes it difficult to differentiate between truth and untruth. Accepting untruth always suppresses and beclouds the truth, leading a person to assuming a false and threatening identity. And, all that is repudiated cannot be brought into consciousness and perspicacity. Being in opposition to divine will, a person is clearly contending against divinatory caring, and by declining active participation in divine mystery deprives him/herself of ever attaining any true understanding, and knowing the highest love. Saint Chrysostom is in agreement with many in maintaining that our self-willfulness not only corrupts and destroys everything, but it is an "...iron wall, shutting us out, and separating us from God" (op.cit., Heliotropium, p. 253). It is an indication of a disdainful conduct; an excessively high opinion of oneself and an enormous pleasure taken in one's own ability, knowledge and achievement, and as such shall always remain entirely unwarrantable. Haughtiness like this inevitably points the way to ephemerality and self-destruction. False pride is a destroyer of life for the self in its sightless and visionless insolence remains undiscerning where the truth and true love abide, and without love and truth, it ultimately dies. Thus, Saint Bernard explains, that it is our own will which predictably and unavoidably makes us the slaves of the devil, and it is the reason for divine punishment. Our Lord once told a certain holy Virgin that, "I desire that you should know that almost all the punishments by which men are afflicted in the world consist in their own will; for if the will were duly ordered and conformed to My will, it would be free from punishment" (op.cit., Heliotropium, pp. 260-261).

       The seventeeth century most celebrated ascetical writer of Germany, Jeremias Drexelius, in his well know book, "Heliotropium," (or Conformity of the Human Will to the Divine) proclaims that the extent of spiritual maturation is determined by the accord of the human will with the divine will. "Heliotropium," is a Latin term for an ancient plant which had the characteristic tendency of turning to face the sun at all times, even on cloudy days. The plant's name is derived from two Greek words: helio, referring to "sun," and tropos, meaning "turn." The heliotrope, according to the author suitably exemplifies the sensibility of a faithful soul toward the will of God (which is designated by the sun), as an exclusive dictum of life, for he affirms that, "Since whatever is done in the world happens through the Permission or Command of God, it is our duty to receive everything as from the Hand of God, so conforming our will to His most holy Will, through all things, and in all things, as to ascribe nothing to accident, chance, or fortune" (Heliotropium, p. 6). Everything that happens in the world (naturally with the exclusion of sin) is either commanded or permitted by God, while all errors and sins come from the acts of human beings and their free will. Thus, as Ecclus. (11:14) exclaims, "Good things and evil, life and death, poverty and riches, are from God" (evil - meaning evils of nature such as hunger, thirst, grief, and the like), as well as Isaias announces (14:7); "I form the light, and create darkness; I make peace, and create evil; I, the Lord that do all these things," or as Job (1:21) says "The Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away."

Christian Works by Dorothy Kardas, Psy.D. Th.D. 

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