Over the years, in reading the lives of the saints, I have noted that they have tried to find God’s will in their lives. When they found it, they did all they could to follow it. There are many different paths to holiness—to which we are all called, clergy, laity and religious. St. Paul stated this clearly in 1 Thes 4:3: “This is the will of God, your sanctification.” In his providence God deals with each one of us differently.
Man, in imitation of God, has two spiritual powers—intellect and will. That is why the Bible says we are made in the image of God. Intellect and will always go together. The object of the intellect is being as true, while the object of the will is being as good. Will affirms and desires what the intellect understands and presents to it. Since God is infinite intelligence, it follows that he is also infinite will. But since God is absolutely simple and absolute goodness, his will is identified with his goodness. So the act of willing in God is one of affirmation of himself, love of himself as supreme goodness. In confirmation of this, St. Thomas Aquinas says: “In every intellectual being there is will, just as in every sensible being there is animal appetite. And so there must be will in God, since there is intellect in him. And as his intellect is his own existence, so is his will” (Summa Theologica, I, 19, 1). Also in God there is no real distinction between his will and the activity of his will, as there is in us, since he is absolutely simple, having no composition of any kind. As St. Thomas says, his will is his existence.
Since the object of God’s will is his own infinite goodness, he is absolutely free with regard to all limited, created beings. Each one of them imitates his own being in some limited way, and so is a particular good. God necessarily wills and loves himself, but he is under no necessity to create finite beings such as we find in the material universe because they are all particular goods. God loves all of the things which he has made, but he loves them freely. In Genesis 1 we read that God saw each thing he made “and behold, it was very good” (Gn 1:31).