In his installment of _The Catholicism Project_ on Purgatory, Fr. Robert Barron talks about this island in Ireland that’s one of the original “retreat centers,” dating back supposedly to St. Patrick himself. This island is known as the “gate of Purgatory,” and it has a harsh climate. People arrive on Friday, and they get down on their knees. They crawl on their knees and pray. They are not allowed to eat or sleep, or lay down or stand up, for 2 days, and attendants hit them if they do. From Friday through Sunday morning, they crawl on their knees on the rocks and pray, until they arrive at Mass.
Back when the angels were created, God gave them a choice. We don’t know what it was, because the Bible doesn’t tell us, but the usual consensus is that God revealed His plan to create human beings and then have the Word become incarnate among us, and Lucifer balked at the notion of having spirit “tainted” with matter–and, worse, of having to bow down to the God Man. Whatever the exact cause, we know God gave the angels one “choice.” They had a “choice,” and Lucifer, the greatest of all angels, said, “Non servam!” One lowly archangel replied, “Who is like God?” And for that he gained the name “Michael,” meaning “Who is like God?” and was appointed as the new chief of the angels.
Lucifer got 1/3 of the angels to join with him in rebelling against God, and for that one “choice,” God cast them all out of Heaven–FOREVER. JUST ONE choice.
When God *did* create the first man and woman, He gave them complete freedom over creation. He put them in Paradise. He gave them physical immortality. They lived in total peace. We don’t know a lot of particulars about their situation, such as how long they were in that state, but mystics and theologians have offered many speculations over the centuries. We *do* know that God told Adam to care for and guard the Garden. We do know that the Serpent–whom Revelation identifies with the Dragon, Satan, whom mythology experts tell us is cognate to the giant serpent/river god of the Canaanites (not simply a garden snake)–slipped in the garden because Adam was shirking his duty. We know that the serpent tempted Eve–and that Adam was standing right there when it happened.
We know that the temptation was to “be like Gods who know the difference between good and evil.” In other words, Satan tempted them with ‘freedom of choice.’ We know that God gave them only *one* taboo, and they violated that one taboo in the name of choice, and because of that we now have a lot of taboos, and we have our freedom limited by concupiscence and original sin.
We know that our redemption was begun when the Patriarchs said “yes” to God when He made seemingly strange demands of them: pray for a child. OK, now that I’ve given you that child, I want you to sacrifice him. OK, you were willing to do it, but I don’t really want you to. You passed the test. Go away from your homeland into the land I’m giving you. Just kidding. Go into Egypt. Suffer in Egypt. Go into the desert. Suffer there a bit. OK, now go back to the land I promised you. Part the Red Sea. Part the Jordan. Destroy Jericho by marching around it. Fight Goliath with a sling shot. Tell X that he/she/they needs to straighten up, even though the message will likely get you killed.
Our redemption was at hand when a lowly Jewish girl said, “Let it be done to me according to your word.”
Jesus taught us to pray, “Thy will be done,” and He prayed those words at Gethsemane before accomplishing our redemption on the Cross-which He accepted voluntarily.
And today, Satan blinds people to the slaughter of God’s children by getting them to proclaim their “freedom of choice,” “My right to do whatever I want with my body.” But it’s not “your” body; it’s God’s. And the life inside that body is also God’s. You are not the master of your own fate. God is. Your choice is to conform to God or not.