What is the Church's teaching on God's plan for everyone?

I am having difficulty discussing the issue of “God’s plan” in everyone’s life with my wife.
I was always taught that, even before we are born, God has a plan for everyone’s life. Through faith and reliance on God, and acting in accordance with the Church’s teachings, that plan will be revealed.
My wife has a bit of an issue with this concept. She cannot see how this can be so in a literal sense. Because we come in contact with so many individuals through the course of our life, and because each of these individuals is acting in free will (choices that they make), how can God have a plan “mapped out” for our lives?
I find myself stumbling trying to discuss this with my wife.
Can you explain the Church’s teaching on this subject?
Can you also point me to where in the Cathecism that I could find this subject referenced?

Thank you,

Dear Gregg,

Your wife is stymied by the number of people we come into contact in life who each have free will. How can God keep all this straight—let alone contain all this in a plan? This indeed boggles the human mind. But we have to remember that God is not encumbered with the limitations that we have. We are not dealing with a super human here. God has no limitations.

That being said, the Church does teach that we are predestined while still having free will. No one is predestined to hell. God created everyone for heaven. “For I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will, but the will of him who sent me; and this is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me, but raise it up at the last day. For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who sees the Son and believes in him should have eternal life;” (John 6: 38-40) However, we are free to not choose heaven: “Not everyone who says to me ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of my Father…’”

The Catechism actually has a lot to say on this subject. Just look under “Predestination” in the index at the back. For example: #257 “…God freely wills to communicate the glory of his blessed life. Such is the ‘plan of his loving kindness’ and ‘to be conformed to the image of his Son,: through “the spirit of son-ship.’”

The EWTN website has a number of entries on the subject:


Fr. Vincent Serpa, O.P.

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