As I spend some time with my newly-returned-from-abroad daughter, I thought I would repost something from April 15, 2010 (with slight modifications). This post ran before I had a lot of readers, and yet it's had steady, positive feedback.
Knowing God's Will, and Catholic Freedom
Among my real life friends and my blogger friends, I've noticed that many devout Catholics get extremely stressed when trying to discern God's will: Should I adopt this particular baby, should I marry this particular man, should I quit my job, should I move, should I (fill in the blank)? How do I make sure that this choice is God's will and not my own? Ack!! Help!
It's a very great thing to want to do God's will in all things, and it's nothing short of inspiring to hear and feel the sincerity of these pure-hearted women (and men, but it's mostly women who worry like this). My friends are my spiritual mentors in so many ways. I have learned and grown so much from them! Hugs and kisses to you all!!
However, I started to notice that many faithful, Magisterium-loving Catholics are so afraid they might somehow step outside of God's will that they become anxiety-ridden. The angst they feel in not wanting to offend God by making the "wrong" choice is severe, and it can be debilitating.
But we are Catholics, and that kind of burden is unnecessary! Here is what is so freeing about our Catholic Faith: When our intentions are good and the choices before us are moral, we are free!
Let me restate it another way: As long as we are not choosing something evil, we are free to embrace any path that God opens before us. So, you are free to choose to adopt that baby, to marry that man, to take (or quit) that job, to move to that city, to buy that house, or any other morally licit option. You are also free to choose not to adopt that baby, marry that man, etc.
This is the beauty of Catholicism. Our free will is the greatest gift God gives us, allowing us the dignity to choose our own path, as long as we do not choose sin. Sin is the only thing that offends God, the only thing that he will not bless, and the only thing that is not within His will for us. If we are not choosing sin, then we remain in a state of grace. This is a beautiful, liberating truth, which leaves little room for fear and anxiety!
But then, of course, the question becomes: How do we choose between two moral options?
Well, remember, we are talking about two moral and licit options (immoral choices are never acceptable). If God places two or more moral choices before us, then we should go with the choice which brings us the most interior peace. If we feel more tranquility at the thought of choosing Option A, then we go with Option A. Option A may actually cause us more external suffering or hardship, but that is of no consequence. It's about the peace we feel in our soul.
But wait! This is important! Even if a soul should "miss" whatever path God may have originally laid out for him (i.e., some people do miss their calling as a priest or religious), that person still has not committed a sin if his intentions were good! This is so important for people to know, especially the scrupulous. God will work with whatever path we have put ourselves on. He is pleased to honor our choices. He is not a puppet master pulling our strings. He is a loving Father who delights in seeing His children choose freely.
Think about it in earthly terms: If I am a healthy parent, I will be happy to support my child whether he chooses to be a doctor or an artist or a carpenter. Those are all honorable goals, and though I might prefer he pick one career over another, it's not my choice to make. (Of course, I will not support my child's decision to be an abortionist, or a prostitute, or a loan shark.)
So, instead of agonizing over every movement and decision, enjoy the authentic freedom of being a Catholic! We are so blessed! We are not shackled slaves whose every move is orchestrated and monitored (as so many people think of Catholics...ugh!). We know that the only slavery is slavery to sin. If you are not choosing sin as an option, then put aside your anxiety, and enjoy your God-given freedom!
"The truth is, of course, that the curtness of the Ten Commandments is an evidence, not of the gloom and narrowness of a religion, but, on the contrary, of its liberality and humanity. It is shorter to state the things forbidden than the things permitted; precisely because most things are permitted, and only a few things are forbidden." — G.K. Chesterton