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23. Predestination

1. Providence disposing the supernatural means by which a man gets to heaven is called predestination.

2. On a person who is going to get to heaven, predestination sets no mark or character. For predestination is one phase of providence, and providence is in God and not in the things provided for.

3. As long as a free creature has not attained his goal, he may perversely turn aside and fail to attain it. Man in this life is a wayfarer; he is on the road; his journey is not finished. Man, by his own fault, may reject direction, and fail to reach his true goal. And, since man's goal is supernatural, he cannot reach it by his natural powers alone. He requires supernatural aid. Such aid is offered him, but he may refuse it. Now, inasmuch as God's providence permits a person to reject grace and to commit grave sin (and such permission is essential if the wayfarer is to be free), and so to refuse heaven and choose hell, we have what is called reprobation.

4. God loves, chooses, and predestines all who will use his grace and reach heaven. Hence love, election, and predestination are all within the scope of providence.

5. The whole effect of predestination has its cause in God, for all grace comes from him to dispose a man for salvation (that is, getting to heaven) and to support his efforts to attain it.

6. For those predestined, predestination is certain, for providence does not fail. Yet here we must be careful to avoid confused thought. We must not be misled by the "before and after" view which distorts our grasp of God's dealings with his free creatures. We recall that Scripture tells us that God wills all men to be saved; yet this does not negate God's will that men be free. St. John Damascene says, "God does not will evil, nor does He compel virtue". Man must cooperate with the saving will of God if he is to come to heaven. There is nothing mechanical or fatalistic about predestination, nor does it conflict with the exercise of free will.

7. Only God knows the number of those who will reach heaven.

8. Here on earth we cannot know whether we shall be among the elect in heaven. But we can know that we shall get to heaven if we choose to do so and use the grace of God to make our choice effective. St. Peter tells us (II Pet. 1:10), "Strive ... by good works to make your calling and election sure".

"Whom do you seek, friend, if you seek not God? Seek him, find him, cleave to him; bind your will to his with bands of steel and you will live always at peace in this life and in the next."
St Alphonsus de Liguori

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"It is well to choose some one good devotion, and to stick to it, and never to abandon it."
St Philip Neri

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"It is vanity to be concerned with the present only and not to make provision for things to come."
Thomas á Kempis

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