Every Sunday we profess in the Creed that we believe in the “resurrection of the body, and life everlasting.” That means we believe that at the end of time, our body will reconstitute and be reunited with our soul, judged, and live that way for the rest of eternity. Predestination means that even before God flung the universe into existence, he as judge knew the verdict for each of us. This is symbolically represented as the Book of Life in Revelation 20:15 that says, “Anyone whose name was not found written in the book of life was thrown into the pool of fire.”
The question that arises in this doctrine is whether or not we have free will. The answer is yes, we have free will. It is one of the basic tenets of Christianity and applies to everything else. When we apply it to the concept of Predestination, it means we write our own destiny. At the same time, since God is all knowing, he knows every minutia of how we will live our lives, without moving us as if we were puppets. God may influence us to do certain things but always leaves it up to us to decide. Even when he gives us grace, we need to cooperate freely with it so it becomes effective in us. In the context of Predestination, God has judged us in what we are going to do, and he can do this even before he created us because all time is present to him. Allegorically, even before creation, those who are deserving of heaven have their names already written in the symbolic Book of Life. The idea of Predestination, then, is not meant to demonstrate our lack of freedom, but instead, a means to show God’s glory.
There is another concept called Double Predestination wherein God is the one who determines where we end up. In this idea, God is not a judge, but the writer of our destiny. Regardless of what we do, we end up where he has determined we will go. If we were to develop this idea, it means God created some of us to be purposely damned. This is something Catholics cannot subscribe to because it goes against that most basic of principles – free will. This idea is dangerous, in fact, because many have questioned the idea of doing good works for it really won’t matter in the end if our destiny is predetermined by God anyway.
As Catholics, we believe that every moment is a moment we write the ending of our personal story. Although we are unsure of that ending, God already knows it. If our ending is unclear to us, we should trust that God knows what is in our hearts, and will give us the grace so that each moment of our life contributes in writing that glorious ending.
We should make Mary our model in this endeavor; she wasn’t given the nitty-gritty of God’s plan for her, but she trusted him fully. In the end, through her Assumption, we are shown the reward that awaits all of us – an eternal life with God in the world to come.
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Joby finished Theology courses from the University of Notre Dame. He is a contributing writer at www.catholic365.com, and teaches in the De La Salle College of St. Benilde where he engages students in conversations about religion, pop-culture, and food.
Did you ever wonder how Mary is a Refuge of Sinners or the Morning Star?
Mary's titles express how the Church presents her, but some are obscured by language and culture. The book A Sky Full of Stars, explains all her titles in the litany so we get to meet Mary face to face.
Bishop Socrates Villegas says, "A Sky Full of Stars must be an obligatory reference material for religion teachers and seminarians. It helps the reader to see the Virgin Mary within the perspective of sound biblical theology and solid Catholic tradition... [and is] also easy to understand."