“When Jesus prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane before His Passion, He renounced what He willed in obedience to the Father’s will. Yet this raises a question that the Church Fathers and Saint Thomas Aquinas attempted to resolve: How can Jesus, Who is God Himself and perfectly obedient to the Father, will anything as man that is opposed to the Father’s will? For if He did will anything of the sort, His human will would already be sinful for departing from God’s will. But if Christ did not have such a will, then it seems He could not renounce His will, as He clearly does.
To answer this question, Saint John Damascene, who adapted his thought from Saint Maximus the Confessor, distinguishes between thelesis and boulesis. He identifies thelesis as the natural powerof willing that someone has. That power, to will something, has natural objects—such as, in the case of human beings, to live. Christ has a natural power of willing, and through that power he would ordinarily will to live.
According to Damascene, whereas thelesis describes the power to will something, boulesis describes what someone actually wills: that this person actually seeks to attain what he wills. Christ has a human power by which he naturally would will to live (thelesis), but instead he actually moves to obey the Father and submit himself to those who crucified him (boulesis).
The difficulty with this picture, however, is that Jesus would not be renouncing something he actuallywills or desires. Rather, he’d merely be renouncing something that He could (and would normally) will. Thus, He in fact is renouncing no actual will at all.
For this reason, Aquinas reassigns the terms thelesis and boulesis. Neither of them refers to the power of willing this or that good. Rather, thelesis describes the act of willingan end—something that is good in itself. Yet, not everything that I wish for in this way moves me to do anything about it. That is, I do not intend every good end that I will. For instance, suppose I will to live for 175 years. Too bad. I might will that good in the sense that I wish for it, but I never intendit because there are no means that I can choose by which I can accomplish that end. Every act of thelesis is a wish, but not every such act is an intention accompanying a choice of means.
If thelesis describes the will for an end, boulesis describes the act of willing the means to an end. In order to bring about the end I will through thelesis, I will the means to that end through an act of boulesis—an act of choice. But, unlike thelesis, every act of boulesis involves the person moving himself to do something. Then, upon choosing the means, the prior act of thelesis for some good becomes not only a wish but also an intention.
Jesus in the garden actively wills (thelesis) to preserve his life because he naturally wishes for something that is good in itself. That is not against God’s will: God made us so that we would naturally wish for good things. But Christ also wills (thelesis) to be obedient to the Father and save the human race, which involves choosing (boulesis) to submit to suffering and death.
In this way, Christ’s will is in perfect conformity to the Father’s will, and he has a will that he renounces. Jesus wills (thelesis) to preserve his life. But he renounces it in the sense that he does not intend to preserve his life because that would involve choosing (boulesis) to reject the Father’s will—his will would move him against the Father. Instead, he intends to lovingly obey the Father (thelesis) by choosing (boulesis) to submit himself to the cross.
With this explanation, Aquinas gently adjusts the Fathers’ solution and opens up something of Jesus’ heart, making it a little easier for the rest of us to know Him and imitate His example of loving obedience to the Father.”
Love & truth,
Summa Catechetica, "Neque enim quaero intelligere ut credam, sed credo ut intelligam." – St Anselm, "“Si comprehendus, non est Deus.” -St Augustine, "Let your religion be less of a theory, and more of a love affair." -G.K. Chesterton, "And above all, be on your guard not to want to get anything done by force, because God has given free will to everyone and wants to force no one, but only proposes, invites and counsels." –St. Angela Merici, “Yet such are the pity and compassion of this Lord of ours, so desirous is He that we should seek Him and enjoy His company, that in one way or another He never ceases calling us to Him . . . God here speaks to souls through words uttered by pious people, by sermons or good books, and in many other such ways.” —St. Teresa of Avila, "I want a laity, not arrogant, not rash in speech, not disputatious, but men and women who know their religion, who enter into it, who know just where they stand, who know what they hold and what they do not, and who know their creed so well that they can give an account of it, who know so much of history that they can defend it. I want an intelligent, well-instructed laity… I wish you to enlarge your knowledge, to cultivate your reason, to get an insight into the relation of truth to truth, to learn to view things as they are, to understand how faith and reason stand to each other, what are the bases and principles of Catholicism, and where lie the main inconsistences and absurdities of the Protestant theory.” (St. John Henry Newman, “Duties of Catholics Towards the Protestant View,” Lectures on the Present Position of Catholics in England), "We cannot always have access to a spiritual Father for counsel in our actions and in our doubts, but reading will abundantly supply his place by giving us directions to escape the illusions of the devil and of our own self-love, and at the same time to submit to the divine will.” —St. Alphonsus Ligouri, "The harm that comes to souls from the lack of reading holy books makes me shudder . . . What power spiritual reading has to lead to a change of course, and to make even worldly people enter into the way of perfection." –St. Padre Pio, "Screens may grab our attention, but books change our lives!" – Word on Fire, "Reading has made many saints!" -St Josemaría Escrivá, "Do you pray? You speak to the Bridegroom. Do you read? He speaks to you." —St. Jerome, from his Letter 22 to Eustochium, "Encounter, not confrontation; attraction, not promotion; dialogue, not debate." -cf Pope Francis, "God here speaks to souls through…good books“ – St Teresa of Avila, Interior Castle, "You will not see anyone who is really striving after his advancement who is not given to spiritual reading. And as to him who neglects it, the fact will soon be observed by his progress.” -St Athanasius, "To convert someone, go and take them by the hand and guide them." -St Thomas Aquinas, OP. 1 saint ruins ALL the cynicism in Hell & on Earth. “When we pray we talk to God; when we read God talks to us…All spiritual growth comes from reading and reflection.” -St Isidore of Seville, “Also in some meditations today I earnestly asked our Lord to watch over my compositions that they might do me no harm through the enmity or imprudence of any man or my own; that He would have them as His own and employ or not employ them as He should see fit. And this I believe is heard.” -GM Hopkins, SJ, "Only God knows the good that can come about by reading one good Catholic book." — St. John Bosco, "Why don't you try explaining it to them?" – cf St Peter Canisius, SJ, Doctor of the Church, Doctor of the Catechism, "Already I was coming to appreciate that often apologetics consists of offering theological eye glasses of varying prescriptions to an inquirer. Only one prescription will give him clear sight; all the others will give him at best indistinct sight. What you want him to see—some particular truth of the Faith—will remain fuzzy to him until you come across theological eye glasses that precisely compensate for his particular defect of vision." -Karl Keating, "The more perfectly we know God, the more perfectly we love Him." -St Thomas Aquinas, OP, ST, I-II,67,6 ad 3, “But always when I was without a book, my soul would at once become disturbed, and my thoughts wandered." —St. Teresa of Avila, "Let those who think I have said too little and those who think I have said too much, forgive me; and let those who think I have said just enough thank God with me." –St. Augustine, "Without good books and spiritual reading, it will be morally impossible to save our souls." —St. Alphonsus Liguori "Never read books you aren't sure about. . . even supposing that these bad books are very well written from a literary point of view. Let me ask you this: Would you drink something you knew was poisoned just because it was offered to you in a golden cup?" -St. John Bosco " To teach in order to lead others to faith is the task of every preacher and of each believer." —St. Thomas Aquinas, OP. "Prayer purifies us, reading instructs us. Both are good when both are possible. Otherwise, prayer is better than reading." –St. Isidore of Seville “The aid of spiritual books is for you a necessity.… You, who are in the midst of battle, must protect yourself with the buckler of holy thoughts drawn from good books.” -St. John Chrysostom