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83. Free Will

1. The will is free with the freedom of choice ofmeans. If a man's will were not free, all counsels,exhortations, commands, rewards, and punishments would bemeaningless things. Man does not always act from necessity. Heweighs and considers a course of action; he seeks advice; he judgesthat this way is to be followed, then perhaps changes hisjudgment and decides on that way. Nor does a man act withthe mere sense-judgment of an animal, an instinctive judgment; heworks on understandable motives. Man acts with the unhamperedjudgment of an intellect which shows various courses open forchoice and makes practical and nonnecessitated decision. In a wordman has free will. In the fact that man is rational is involved thefact that he has free will.

2. The term free will, strictly understood, meansthe act of the will making a free choice. But the termfree will is commonly used as a synonym for the will itself. Andthus free will is the will in its character as a faculty fortending to or choosing, without being necessitated, goods uponwhich the intellect is capable of making various practicaljudgments.

3. Free will is an appetitive power, not a knowing power.It operates in the light of knowledge furnished by the intellect.Knowledge is, of course, necessary for the act of free will; choicecannot be made without knowledge of the field of choice. A travelercannot choose a road in total darkness which prevents his seeingany roads at all. But the characteristic act of free will is theact of choosing, and therefore it is a faculty of the appetitiveorder, and not of the cognitional or knowing order.

4. Free will as an act is the will exercising itsconnatural tendency towards good and resultant beatitude bychoosing, without being forced, some particular object apprehendedby the intellect as good or desirable.

"God gives us some things, as the beginning of faith, even when we do not pray. Other things, such as perseverance, he has only provided for those who pray."
St Augustine

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"If you wish to learn and appreciate something worth while, then love to be unknown and considered as nothing. Truly to know and despise self is the best and most perfect counsel."
Thomas á Kempis

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"Before a man chooses his confessor, he ought to think well about it, and pray about it also; but when he has once chosen, he ought not to change, except for most urgent reasons, but put the utmost confidence in his director."
St Philip Neri

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