Do those who die before reaching the age of reason ever get a chance to exercise their free will?

As I understand Church teaching, a person is incapable of exercising his free will and of committing sin before reaching the age of reason and, if a person is baptized and dies before reaching the age of reason, he goes straight to heaven. How does the person’s free will enter into this? It doesn’t seem right that God would ever force anyone into heaven against their will. I know they don’t get a chance in this life but do those who die before reaching the age of reason ever get a chance to exercise their free will and choose for themselves whether or not they want to serve God?

Is it wrong to think that, at the moment they die and their soul is freed from the limitations of their immature brain, those who die before reaching the age of reason are then given the chance, like every other rational creature, to exercise their free will and that some, even of the baptized, choose not to serve God and end up in hell?

We are of course free to choose whether we accept private revelation, but I find the perspective expressed in Marcel Van’s Conversations to be quite illuminating:

*JESUS: "Remember this well. When the intelligence of little children is still undeveloped, the same applies to will. Intelligence is used to understand whether a thing is good or bad and the will is used to act in accordance with what the intelligence discerns. These two faculties are essential [700], and it is these essential faculties that little children lack. It is therefore necessary for another will to settle within the hearts of these little children. If this will acts in accordance with good, it is equivalent to the little children acting in this way of their own volition.

However, for this will to manifest itself, it must act in accordance with good, with truth itself. If this will acts in a way opposed to good, to truth, it will not produce any effect.

You must place your will within the hearts of little children. In this way they will also belong to the Holy Church. Should they come to die before attaining the use of reason, they will nonetheless ascend to Heaven with Me, for they will have your will with them. You have the will to believe everything the Holy Church teaches you to believe, and you also possess the will to love Me. Because of this, the children will share your will and their souls will belong to the Holy Church and to Me in their entirety. These children may know nothing, but within them resides the will of another who knows, and though they may not know, they will know.

Do you understand this, little brother? Offer Me your will and I will put it in the souls of children on earth. Henceforth you can rest assured that all little children already belong to me.

Little brother, this notion of will I have revealed to you was not known until now. Little children were always saved in this manner without man ever realizing it. Come little brother, banish your sadness and be joyful. You are the apostle of children. It was necessary for you to know this.

Children saved in this manner are baptized in Love itself. They are allowed to confess their faith in love. This act of love is accomplished by will." *

In short, these children are given a model to emulate rather than simply being immediately confronted with the presence of God and told to accept Him. I don’t know if this entirely answers your question, but perhaps it’ll give you some material to work with in your attempt to resolve this issue.

Thank you for the insight.

The question is based on the premise that voluntarism is correct.

In Thomism, the will necessarily chooses in accordance with the intellect. This is what makes it free. So when a baptized infant, whose intellect is uncorrupted, dies, they freely choose God.

It is only when one accepts the voluntarist premise that it is possible for the will to disobey the intellect, that this is even an issue.

IOW, Hell hath no rights.

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