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Anonymous wrote:

Hi, guys —

  • How does free will and being "called to a vocation" coexist?


  { How does free will and being "called to a vocation" coexist? }

Mike replied:

Hi Anonymous,

Thanks for the question.

Everyone is called to a certain vocation. We can discover what this vocation is through prayer.
If we do discover that call but choose a different vocation, God respects our free will and our choice.

Whatever vocation we choose, he will do the best to pull as much good out of our alternative vocational choice as possible, and will always be with us.

I hope this answers your question.

My colleagues may have an additional opinion as well.


Anonymous replied:


Thanks for your answer, it helps, but if He is going to pull as much good out of us, then doesn't He still guide us to what He wants.

  • It seems free will is there in a human sense but we can't freely stop His will from being done or is this wrong?


Mike replied:

Dear Anonymous,

Not quite.

Grace builds on nature.

God made our nature:

  • physical
  • spiritual and
  • with a soul that has free will

You said:
but we can't freely stop His will from being done.

Sure we can, by choosing an alternative vocation. If I choose an alternative vocation to the one the Lord wishes for me, His grace was there urging me on, but he still respected my free will to make an alternative choice.

Now let's say I make, not an alternative holy or good moral vocation, but an even worst career choice and because I've been persuaded by:

  • the glamour of T.V. shows I've watched
  • video games I've play, or
  • crap I've been viewing on the internet

and wish to become a mafia hit man.

God will still respect my free will to become a mafia hit man. It's not His desire and he will be urging me to make a holier, more moral career vocation, but he will still respect my free will pulling as much good out of this terrible vocation as he can.

The obvious question then is:

  • Why would God allow someone to become a mafia hit man or even a mass murderer like the "guy" in Aurora, Colorado?

The best answer I've hear is: To pull a greater good out of it. What that good is, we may never know in our life time.

When our choices are such that we make decisions that, not only harm us but, harm others in the future (in the eyes of the Lord; divine eyes we can't see), that is usually when the Lord takes us from this earthly life to our Particular Judgment.

He will always take us home at the highest point of grace in our life.

What I've expressed is purely theological opinion and is not doctrine but if you combine my theological opinion with what the Church teaches from the Catechism below, you should get a fuller answer.

Finally, there is a difference between freedom and license.

  • Freedom is the freedom will to do what we should do.
  • License is the formal permission to do something by a constituted authority for the common good of our country.

    (Like police officers using guns.)

Some examples:

  • No one has the freedom to run a red light while driving.
  • No one has the freedom to kill anyone.
  • No one has the freedom to get an abortion.

I hope this helps,

If I'm off on something, I hope my colleagues will chime in.


From the Catechism of the Catholic Church:

Man's Freedom

1730 God created man a rational being, conferring on him the dignity of a person who can initiate and control his own actions. "God willed that man should be 'left in the hand of his own counsel,' so that he might of his own accord seek his Creator and freely attain his full and blessed perfection by cleaving to him."

Man is rational and therefore like God; he is created with free will and is master over his acts.

I. Freedom And Responsibility

1731 Freedom is the power, rooted in reason and will, to act or not to act, to do this or that, and so to perform deliberate actions on one's own responsibility.
By free will one shapes one's own life. Human freedom is a force for growth and maturity in truth and goodness; it attains its perfection when directed toward God, our beatitude.

1732 As long as freedom has not bound itself definitively to its ultimate good which is God, there is the possibility of choosing between good and evil, and thus of growing in perfection or of failing and sinning. This freedom characterizes properly human acts. It is the basis of praise or blame, merit or reproach.

1733 The more one does what is good, the freer one becomes. There is no true freedom except in the service of what is good and just. The choice to disobey and do evil is an abuse of freedom and leads to "the slavery of sin."

1734 Freedom makes man responsible for his acts to the extent that they are voluntary. Progress in virtue, knowledge of the good, and ascesis enhance the mastery of the will over its acts.

1735 Imputability and responsibility for an action can be diminished or even nullified by ignorance, inadvertence, duress, fear, habit, inordinate attachments, and other psychological or social factors.

1736 Every act directly willed is imputable to its author:

Thus the Lord asked Eve after the sin in the garden: "What is this that you have done?" He asked Cain the same question. The prophet Nathan questioned David in the same way after he committed adultery with the wife of Uriah and had him murdered.

An action can be indirectly voluntary when it results from negligence regarding something one should have known or done: for example, an accident arising from ignorance of traffic laws.

1737 An effect can be tolerated without being willed by its agent; for instance, a mother's exhaustion from tending her sick child. A bad effect is not imputable if it was not willed either as an end or as a means of an action, e.g., a death a person incurs in aiding someone in danger. For a bad effect to be imputable it must be foreseeable and the agent must have the possibility of avoiding it, as in the case of manslaughter caused by a drunken driver.

1738 Freedom is exercised in relationships between human beings. Every human person, created in the image of God, has the natural right to be recognized as a free and responsible being. All owe to each other this duty of respect. The right to the exercise of freedom, especially in moral and religious matters, is an inalienable requirement of the dignity of the human person. This right must be recognized and protected by civil authority within the limits of the common good and public order.

II. Human Freedom In The Economy Of Salvation

1739 Freedom and sin. Man's freedom is limited and fallible. In fact, man failed. He freely sinned. By refusing God's plan of love, he deceived himself and became a slave to sin. This first alienation engendered a multitude of others. From its outset, human history attests the wretchedness and oppression born of the human heart in consequence of the abuse of freedom.

1740 Threats to freedom. The exercise of freedom does not imply a right to say or do everything. It is false to maintain that man, "the subject of this freedom," is "an individual who is fully self-sufficient and whose finality is the satisfaction of his own interests in the enjoyment of earthly goods." Moreover, the economic, social, political, and cultural conditions that are needed for a just exercise of freedom are too often disregarded or violated. Such situations of blindness and injustice injure the moral life and involve the strong as well as the weak in the temptation to sin against charity. By deviating from the moral law man violates his own freedom, becomes imprisoned within himself, disrupts neighborly fellowship, and rebels against divine truth.

1741 Liberation and salvation. By his glorious Cross Christ has won salvation for all men. He redeemed them from the sin that held them in bondage. "For freedom Christ has set us free." In him we have communion with the "truth that makes us free." The Holy Spirit has been given to us and, as the Apostle teaches, "Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom." Already we glory in the "liberty of the children of God."

1742 Freedom and grace. The grace of Christ is not in the slightest way a rival of our freedom when this freedom accords with the sense of the true and the good that God has put in the human heart. On the contrary, as Christian experience attests especially in prayer, the more docile we are to the promptings of grace, the more we grow in inner freedom and confidence during trials, such as those we face in the pressures and constraints of the outer world. By the working of grace the Holy Spirit educates us in spiritual freedom in order to make us free collaborators in his work in the Church and in the world:

Almighty and merciful God,
in your goodness take away from us all that is harmful,
so that, made ready both in mind and body,
we may freely accomplish your will.

In Brief

1743 "God willed that man should be left in the hand of his own counsel
(cf. Sirach 15:14), so that he might of his own accord seek his creator and freely attain his full and blessed perfection by cleaving to him." (Vatican II, Gaudium et Spes 17 § 1)

1744 Freedom is the power to act or not to act, and so to perform deliberate acts of one's own. Freedom attains perfection in its acts when directed toward God, the sovereign Good.

1745 Freedom characterizes properly human acts. It makes the human being responsible for acts of which he is the voluntary agent. His deliberate acts properly belong to him.

1746 The imputability or responsibility for an action can be diminished or nullified by ignorance, duress, fear, and other psychological or social factors.

1747 The right to the exercise of freedom, especially in religious and moral matters, is an inalienable requirement of the dignity of man. But the exercise of freedom does not entail the putative right to say or do anything.

1748 "For freedom Christ has set us free" (Galatians 5:1).

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