St. Thomas of Aquinas helps us understand how we are wired as human beings and how to be the greatest, happiest human possible. This is important to understand so that we can always choose what is good and have the will power to say no to what is bad, sinful, evil and harmful.
In his explanation of our immortal souls, he informs us that it has two faculties; intellect and will. Our intellect is always searching for truth and our will always wants what the intellect perceives as good.
In order to follow Our Savior Jesus Christ and to live the life of holiness He demands, we need God’s help (grace through the sacraments and pray), knowledge of what is right and wrong and their effects on our happiness and peace. With God’s grace and this information, we can move our soul to what is the eternal good, even when we are attracted and tempted to give in to what appears to be “good” in sinful worldly pleasures.
An example can be; I am lonely and need some love. My mind tells me that I can receive love from God. It also reminds me that I can receive love from another person. But it also informs me that to receive love from God, I need to take time to be with Him in prayer. I also know that some people are good and can love me in a holy way, and that others are not so good and can love me in a hurtful way.
So I decide, by using my intellect (thoughts, memories) to move my will power to pursue a life of communication with God and pursue good human friendships. My will will push me to get up and go to the Blessed Sacrament and just be in the loving presence of Jesus. It will also push me to call or visit some people I know to be good Catholics. I think and act.
When it comes to sin, the flesh wants the perceived “good” of immediate pleasure of getting high by smoking marijuana. But the intellect also needs to inform the will that this is not a lasting good, and in fact, is harmful to my soul, brain and lungs. I remember that marijuana causes me to perceive things in a strange way, and to want to do things that I would not do in my clear state of mind. My intellect would also remind me of all the blood on the marijuana by the violence in obtaining this drug from drug dealers and Mexico.
The next step is to pray for the strength from God through Mary to reject the urge to get the easy, sinful “good” and instead turn to the eternal GOOD, God. It would also be good to move the will to be with good family members, read a good book, watch a good DVD or maybe go for a walk.
Knowledge works very powerfully on the will. Once you want some good in the mind, it is pretty easy to follow through and obtain that good. Say you remember how good Mexican food is. It will be easy to move your will to cook some or go and buy some.
When it comes to things like pornography or sex, the mind comes up with the idea of obtaining pleasure from the flesh. Sex is a good “good” if it is between two married people and to bring children into the world. But it is a bad “good” when it is just for sexual pleasure alone or with another person who is not your spouse.
So, when temptations come, you use the intellect by reasoning out the the reasons not to have immoral sexual pleasure perceived as a “good”. Like remembering . Bring to mind, the intellect, God’s loving rules for our good, the offense it is to our good God, the guilt that follows sin, the danger of sending us to hell and the using of ourselves and others.
Then you move the intellect to God through thoughts of Him or memorized prayers. This helps us say no to the body’s desire for a sinful “good”.
The more we practice using our intellect to inform the will, the more we get into the virtue, (good habit) of turning to God, “Good” and turning away, (conversion) from what is sin. Will power is developed, like any other muscle, by exercise. The more we practice control of our will by the informed intellect and desiring what is eternally good, it gets easier and easier to do what God and our Spirit wants and not what our flesh wants.
There are Catholic Christian goods that we all people want and are good to desire; love, happiness, peace, joy and friendship. The Bible says that these are fruits of the Holy Spirit. Since God is Love and Good, we can know that He has the best “Goods” for us. If we live clean, prayerful lives, God will put around us holy healthy love and affection.
The scientific proof of this are children. Look how happy they are, how easily they make friends and how close they are to God. They are not using drugs or alcohol, having sex or looking at pornography. Jesus has it right when He said that we need to be like little children to enter into the Kingdom of God. Thank God we are traditional Catholics and have the knowledge about the Bible and 2000 years of Catholic wisdom.
The original author of this blog passed away in July of 2016. RIP Father Carota.