Reflection on #1.“Who You Are” (Unpublished Writings of St. Maximilian Kolbe #1270 Vol. II)
St. Maximilian Kolbe expresses the greatness of “Who You Are.” He notes the superiority of human beings to God’s creation of physical reality and the animal kingdom. We have the capacity to reason and have a free will. “Quite rightly, you feel superior to the irrational creatures around you, to stones, even if precious; to flowers, although pretty and attractive; to animals, though very useful. You feel you are master of what is around you, and rightly so.” We have the power to reason and to reflect on ourselves and our actions. We can choose what to do in given situations such as – what to eat, where to go, what to buy, what to believe, who to trust, etc. We have free will to make deliberate choices every day. The intellectuals who say we have no free will begin with the assumption that we don’t have a free will. They begin with a premise based on an abstract concept that is not substantiated by empirical evidence. Every day we make choices for good or evil.
Although circumstances and our human inclinations influence our decisions, we still have the ability to make a choice for our best interest or for our detriment on a conscious level. I can choose to take care of my health or to ignore it completely until my body rebels against the abuse it suffers from neglect – lack of rest, inadequate nutrition, lack of exercise, physical abuse of our body, etc. Sound reason helps us to perceive with clarity and to choose wisely. Decision-based mainly on an emotional level tends to restrict our capacity to involve reason and the will blindly follow the dictates of the feelings. The will needs to be guided by the spirit of love, the intellect illumined by the light of truth and the body needs to be respected as a temple that houses the transcendence of the Holy Spirit.
The purity of the will is determined by the spirit of love that motivates our actions. Love is the force that emancipates the will from the bondage of selfishness.
We have a free will, even if it is restrained by our demanding emotions that seek gratification through the pleasures of life. Whether the decision is rational or emotional in nature, we still have the free will to choose which one to follow. However, if the feelings are not held in check by the spirit and guided by sound reason, it is much harder to exercise a free choice. Feelings can control our actions if we allow them to be in control of our higher faculties of the intellect, the will, and the spirit. This may give the illusion that we are not free to make choices if the body is not subservient to the soul and the latter to the spirit.
God’s will surmounts the downward pull of our self-centeredness if we make the effort to trust in Him. Doing His will makes us capable of rising to the lofty heights of responding to the dignity of living and being a child of God.
By Annette Leib (President of MI Canada)