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The Pope and Free Will

As the fourth leadership trait of St. Pope John Paul in Andrew Widmer’s book, The Pope and the CEO, is to Know What’s Right.  

But the explanation goes on to say, not only knowing what’s right, but having the years of discipline of practicing doing what’s right.

The chapter starts with the Pope saying mass in Chile over the voices of government influenced protestors singing the national anthem.

“John Paul focused on the task at hand and chose to respond to in the way he believed God wanted him to respond….over a period of many years, he had learned the discipline to choose good, even though that choice was difficult…learning to use his free will rightly.”

The challenge of free will is not only to know what’s right, but to consciously choose the correct course of action regardless of the actions and temptations standing in your way.  Free will is only done correctly when it brings your actions and your will with God’s perfect will.

It is not restrictive or authoritarian to understand that God want us to follow His will…He wants us to do it joyfully and willingly.

I can think of many times in my youth and adulthood that my choices go against what I really want or desire, or even what the culture at large thought I should do.  It was my desire and intuition to please God, not the popular culture.    And through prayer and spiritual direction I was able to execute that free will.

Training the will requires habits in good right thinking.

Our thoughts matter.  Our thoughts can lead us in the wrong or right direction.  We must continue to realize our thoughts are the seeds of actions.  It’s not unnatural for our thoughts to occasionally swerve into the great demons of the desert: “gluttony, lust, avarice, anger, sadness, sloth, vainglory and pride.”  The predecessors of cloistered religious, wandering the desert, chose to focus on the mercy of God, their commitments to God and their dependence on God.

Pope John Paul reviewed his will and thoughts every year on his birthday in a disciplined and focused way.

Past, present and what his legacy should be going forward.  This practice of free will makes perfect, as they say.  Free will is a muscle.  The actions of today are reflective of the moral, or immoral actions of our past.

The leader of any organization can fall prey to the demons that followed the early religious, even the Pope.  Just like training our bodies for a marathon, practice, discipline and often prayer will get us through that twenty second mile.

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Liz Banko

Liz is a native New Yorker has found herself living in a number of states with husband, Peter, of 25 years for their commitment to Catholic healthcare.

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