Year of Faith: Free will and family habits

On the whole I understand free will, and I am getting to grips with concupiscence – sort of. I am still a bit fuzzy on why baptism forgives sins, returns lost grace but doesn’t heal the bentness of concupiscence.

But there are other things about free will that I sometimes wonder about.

There have been times (quite a few) when I’ve seen how someone has behaved or not behaved and I’ve thought, “Oh well, they can’t help it.” For others I wouldn’t be so quick to let them off the hook. It’s about expectations I suppose. That’s why it’s harder to see a professed Christian do something antithetical to His commandments. But then I wonder sometimes how “free” is free will?

Some families, for example, seem to have a particular kind of “flavour” to them. (Can’t think of another word, sorry).  People within that family culture have the same way of responding to things, sometimes there’s a great family, you know you could ask their help in anything, in fact you’d often not even need to ask, and you’d get it, from any one of them.

Then there are families where you know it’s not worth the effort of begging.

So I wonder, what part does free will play in family structure and individual culpability?

I know there’s the fact that to those who are given more, then more will be expected, but I still wonder whether free will is family based rather than individually based.

There’s even some notion in Scripture that free will is town/city and even country based.  “Woe to you Chorizim…” and all that. Then, both Scripture and private revelation show us angels sent to protect a whole nation. In Scripture it’s St. Michael for Israel and in private revelation we find the angel of Portugal at Fatima.

Going back to free will as an individual personal thing, there’s still a lot of factors that play into it. Is it easier to be a good person when life is easy? Or is it actually harder because you can be lulled into a false comfortableness?

Are Christians better people over all? We’re supposed to be. “They will know they are Christians by their love…” stuff like that. Are fallen Christians worse sinners than those who never knew Christ? Or does it just look worse because Christ is so good?

Talking with a friend recently, we had both noticed something about a group we had just taken part in, where it was gentle, relaxed and all the children mucked in together. There was a kind of “atmosphere” that made seem to make everyone, even new comers, feel welcome. There was a genuine caring in the group.

“Do you think it’s because everyone in the group is Christian?” my friend wondered.

We are all from different church communities, but we all have Christ at the centre of our lives (as much as possible …ok, that sounds like an excuse, and maybe it is…but…anyway, back to the question)

I know the Church teaches that Christ in His Mercy will take all sorts of mitigating factors into consideration when we meet Him in our particular judgement. But I also know we’ll have to account for the decisions we have made to do something we shouldn’t or not do something we should.

We are our brother’s keeper, but how responsible is each person for the horrors commited by his country?

How free is free will?


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