First Part, Question 23, First Article:
The Catholic Faith not only proclaims God as creator of all that exists, visible and invisible but that He in His wisdom orders everything to His glory. Through the Word in the Spirit, the Father sustains all being and offers mankind the possibility of sharing in the divine life. Yet human persons are not mere objects brought into existence, such as rocks or desks, but contain intelligence and the capacity of loving, resulting from being formed in the image of God. A stone can only be moved from the outside, it can not resist beyond its weight. However, the offer of freedom in the case of mankind, involves his assent in faith, a handing over to the Lord of his entire being. Therefore, it is appropriate that we ask, does God predestinate men?
Let us commence this discussion with a quotation from the Divine Apostle, Paul in his Letter to the Romans: 'Whom He predestined, them He also called.' (8:30)
Accordingly, it is proper to the wisdom and justice of God that He guides all of His creation including that of mankind to His honour. Now, what is the purpose of His ordering, this predestination? Saint Thomas responds, 'it belongs to providence to direct things towards their end...'. As I have continually stated in my regular and diverse meditations that I have written up so far for Filioque, man in the very depths of his soul has a longing for God. Anything other than the Creator and he will groan for satisfaction, disgusted with the various delights that he has constantly latched on to and cast aside in vexation. His nature can only be fulfilled, brought to its 'end' by returning to its origin. A pursuit and hunger that is insatiable by the delectation of the senses, but which must stretch out of itself to embraces the One, yet at the same time delves into the true nature of man. This is we can properly call our true end, eternal life and the vision of He who is, the source of all being and the fountain of delight.
Yet, the Angelic Doctor states that, 'the end towards which created things are directed by God is twofold' and the end that I have very briefly set forth 'exceeds all proportion and faculty of nature'. This is what I meant when I described the human person stretching forth of his whole being, a prostration at the feet of his Lord, a renunciation of self leading to a recovery of the true self in Christ. Man must be called into this relationship through grace, faith is only initiated by the Most High. Man on his own can do nothing. The blessed vision of Him will satisfy every longing, every thirst for love and peace, which the world cannot dispense. Man is lifted out of time, out of necessity and tribulation into the ever-giving Trinitarian life.
On the other hand, the second end is 'proportionate to created nature, to which end created being can attain according to the power of its nature'. Now, it would be foolish to assert that such an end, brings about an 'emancipation' from God, as the human being posseses only that which is given to him from above. All human efforts in the natural sphere only occur by the gracious action of the Lord to bring us into existence and bestow upon us certain faculties and capabilities. Here we must remember that as a result of the Fall, man's intellect is darkened and its will divided, leading to many errors and misjudgements. Man, through the power granted it, is able to attain a certain degree of happiness and joy of its own nature and striving, however, it is necessary to state that the longing for the Good remains. The human person can feast upon earthly, ephemeral felicity, although such an end is not what the Lord has brought us out of nothing for. We are not mere animals.
'If a thing cannot attain to something by the power of its nature, it must be directed thereto by another'. Such is the case with eternal life.
Through sin, a great gulf exists between man and his God, that we cannot traverse through our own efforts. An arrow, although capable of flying, must be launched by the archer so that it may pierce the target. No matter the quality of material that it comprises, it cannot rise off the ground and assault the mark. Man is directed by His creator, who knows the secret pursuit of the heart and the deepest dimensions of nature. Namely towards fulfillment which is to know the true God and the one He sent, Jesus.
The Dominican continues, 'The reason of that direction pre-exists in God; as in Him is the type of the order of all things towards an end, which we proved above to be providence'. As the Lord is not constrained by time, but exists in the ever-present, eternal 'now', set before Him is the actions of all His works, and through His Word, He brings all to their pre-ordained end. 'Now the type in the mind (that is His plan) of the doer of something to be done, is a kind of pre-existence in him of the thing to be done'. Before I was conceived in my mother's womb, God from all eternity foresaw my existence and the form and pattern of my life, He knew my actions as efficient causes. Such prescience therefore does not put to flight free will.
Therefore, it is right to say that man is predestined by God.