The metropolitan archdiocese of Halcyon includes not only the city proper, but surrounding areas. A suffragan diocese runs through a portion of the city as well, giving the residents a degree of choice when attending services. Thus, the priest who presides over the church at the corner of Holden and Justice Ave. is familiar with strangers who walk in with questions.
Today’s guest is a young woman - no, a teenager. Father Freeman realizes after a moment that she’s not as old as he first thought. She simply carries herself with a maturity and self-assurance rare for her age. Surely her hair is dyed, but he doesn’t hold that against her. God judges the heart, not the hair.
Well, except for Samson. Freeman allows himself a bit of amusement at the joke.
“Welcome, miss. Can I help you?”
The girl nods immediately. “I have some questions about… about a creator, and my role in his plan.”
Who said kids these days aren’t spiritual? Freeman smiles warmly and gestures to a nearby pew. “God is–”
The girl fidgets. “I’d … I’m sorry, I’d feel more comfortable if we just talk about ‘my creator’. Is that alright?”
“Of course.” Freeman rubs his hands together. At what level should he talk to this girl? He decides to aim at the middle. “Well then. Your creator created you with dignity and rationality. You can act as you will, but the creator wants you to cleave to him of your own accord.”
The girl bobs her head, a look of concentration on her face. So far so good, thinks Freeman. “Your creator offers grace. Through the sacrament, you receive the power to exercise your will, and the guidance your reason requires.”
“Then I’m to love my creator of my own free will.” Freeman’s visitor turns this around. “But I’m made to love him, aren’t I? That’s the plan. I have to freely choose to fulfill my purpose?”
The priest nods slowly. This isn’t the usual line of questioning he gets. Where to park (out back, pull around the corner), what time the softball tournament will start (9:30, please arrive half an hour early if you’re organizing), whether mutants are people (God loves all his creations), that sort of thing. But this isn’t bad. He’s having to think, anticipate, and frame. It’s good. “You are fettered by sin. Your creator wants you to be free. Grace is the key.”
“Grace…” The girl frowns. “Alright. So basically, it has to be my choice. What if I don’t?”
Freeman hates this talk. There’s no happy answer. Either someone wants Heaven for all “good people”, which includes just about everyone except Iron Flag, or someone wants to argue about how it makes God an evil tyrant. He has faith, though. This girl doesn’t seem the sort. He endeavors to be honest, but not too blunt. “It is ultimately your choice. Your creator will not force you to be with him. What will face you is not punishment, but the pain of separation from your creator.”
The girl looks downcast, and Freeman tries to cheer her up. “Free will is a grand gift from your creator. You weren’t just made a robot.”
He apparently said the wrong thing. That flash of anger was unmistakable. But what? No matter. He switches tracks immediately. “What I mean is, depriving you of authority over your ultimate fate would be an affront to your dignity. Your creator made you that way out of love, knowing that you might stray. He will suffer as much as you, if you separate yourself from him. But he would suffer more if he dictated your destiny.”
This causes a flash of pain on her face, and Freeman feels himself at a loss.
The girl clasps her hands together. “But my creator still constructed me a certain way. My abilities, my interests, my potentialities. I feel strongly that I should use these to help people, wherever and however I can.”
Freeman feels immense relief. “Yes, my child, that is what your creator wants. True saving faith is a daily exercise. It’s a work of love that will take your whole life to see accomplished.”
The girl smiles. “I guess I can do that,” she says at last. “Thank you, sir. You’ve been helpful.”
Father Freeman lets out a pent-up sigh, and grins. “I hope you’ll consider attending our services. I would love to talk more with you about these topics, if that’s all right, miss…?”
“Newman. Aria Newman.” The girl waves, heading for the door. “Thanks again!”
author: Bill G.