The Introduction to The Will of God: Finding and Fulfilling Your Purpose in Life by Fr. Kenneth Baker, S.J. (also available in Electronic Book Format).
Why did God create me? The Baltimore Catechism’s answer is very profound: “God created me to know him, to love him, to serve him in this life and to be happy with him forever in the next life.” There you have the answer to the question of human existence. Many of our contemporaries do not know that answer. Many spend their lives in a pointless search for pleasure and wealth. All of that is terminated by death, which comes to all, and many die in a state of despair. The modern solution, now legal in some states, is to provide them with physician-assisted suicide.
Where then is the meaning of life to be found? The stimulus for offering the reflections in this book is the fact that all the saints of the Church—while differing in personality and spirituality—have one thing in common: they all sought to do the will of God in their lives. I have been a Jesuit for over sixty years, and during that time I have read many lives of saints. What has struck me in all of them is the fact that each and every one sought to find the will of God in his life and then to do it to the best of his ability, in imitation of Jesus Christ, our Lord.
There are many levels or degrees of doing the will of God—going all the way from just avoiding mortal sin, to total dedication to doing God’s will and serving him twenty-four hours of each day. The highest level is called the “mystical marriage”, in which the individual is in conscious union with God in love during every waking moment. Many saints, like Teresa of Avila, after much effort attained this level. Another aspect of doing God’s will is the difference between man and the non-personal things of nature.
By that I mean that elements, plants, animals, and heavenly bodies like the earth and the sun have a fixed nature. They do what they do necessarily. In the material universe only man is free and can choose to do this or that. All subhuman realities strive for their end by the necessity of their nature. They glorify God by being what they are and they do it necessarily. Man, however, freely strives for his end, namely, union with God for all eternity. This means that he can either embrace God’s will or reject it. If he freely embraces it, he will be relatively happy in this life and have the hope of eternal happiness; if he rejects it and chooses some other end in life, such as pleasure or money or power, he will not achieve true happiness in this life, and he will not attain eternal happiness. Here we encounter the mystery of freedom.
Some excellent books on the importance of doing God’s will, to mention just a few, are The Love of God by Saint Francis de Sales, Self-Abandonment to Divine Providence by J. P. de Caussade, S.J., and My Father’s Will by Francis McGarrigle, S.J. In putting together these thoughts on God’s will I have consulted these books. My goal is to provide the modern reader with a brief treatment of the wisdom of the Church on how to reach spiritual perfection, holiness, and intimacy with God by bringing one’s life in all respects into conformity with the will of God.
It is crucial for each person to find out what God’s will is for him in the particular circumstances in which he finds himself. That is not always easy to do. A goal of this book is to help individuals discover what God’s will is for them—both in general, as regards all human beings, especially Catholics, and also in the particular circumstances of each person’s life. Thus, if I keep the commandments and practice love of God and neighbor, what in particular is God calling me to do with my life? It is here that one must reflect on the duties of one’s state in life—married, single, priest, religious, parent, child, student, teacher, employer, employee, and so forth. God calls each one in a different way because each person is unique and the divine grace he gives to each one is different.
It is one thing to know God’s will for oneself, but it is something different to actually do it. For most of us, it is perhaps easier to know God’s will than it is to accomplish it perfectly. So here we will consider not just God’s will in an objective sense but also the practical problem of how to carry it out and do it in daily life. The invocation “thy will be done” in the Our Father stresses the point of doing God’s will—that is the object of “be done”.
My hope and prayer is that this little book will help its readers to find God’s will in their lives and to embrace it according to the grace God gives them. The result will surely be charity, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, fidelity, constancy, and eventually, happiness with God forever in heaven.
by Fr. Kenneth Baker, S.J.
• Also available in Electronic Book Format
God created us for a purpose. Each one of us is unique, but each one has a destiny of eternal happiness. We reach this destiny by freely embracing the will of the God who made us, as it is manifested to us in the circumstances of our daily life.
This book provides the modern reader with guidance on how to reach intimacy with God and happiness with him forever by bringing one's life into conformity with his will. The book consults many sources-the Bible, the teachings of the Church, and the lives of the saints-and in all three the formula is the same: Obey God in all things.
In discerning the will of God, there are many questions to consider: What is the relationship between human freedom and divine Providence? What good can result from sin and suffering? What is a vocation, and how does a person hear this calling from God? These questions are considered in chapters divided according to the verses of Psalm 119, which praise God's commands as expressions of his will.
All the saints of the Church have this in common: They sought to discover the Creator's will for them and then tried to accomplish it to the best of their ability and according to the grace they received from God. The task of all of us is to do likewise.
Fr. Kenneth Baker, S.J., was for many years the editor of Homiletic and Pastoral Review, the premiere magazine for clergy and laity interested in pastoral issues for today's Church. He is the author of Inside the Bible and Fundamentals of Catholicism.
"Bringing a lifetime of experience in prayerful discernment and sound
theology, Father Baker shows what is meant by God's will, how it is
known, and why embracing it is the key to our holiness. These short
chapters are meant to guide the Christian zealous enough to seek out
God's own desires, yet humble enough to follow them."
- Fr. David Vincent Meconi, S.J., Editor, Homiletic & Pastoral Review
"Father Baker helps us to discover God's will and, what is even more,
important how to live God's will! He uses the Holy Scriptures,the
teaching of the Church and the saints to help us become holy and
transformed into the saints that God created us to be. Read this book
and discover what God wants you to do!"
- Fr. Larry Richards, Author, Be a Man!
"Father Baker has long been known as a sound and wise guide both to the
Bible and to the teachings of the Church. In this book, he relates the
most important themes pertaining to the faith-such as love, suffering,
sanctity, sin, grace, providence, and even the Old and New Testaments-to
the imperative of St. Ignatius of Loyola that we must always strive to
know God's will and perfectly fulfill it."
- Kenneth Whitehead, Author, One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic