Friday, July 4, 2014
Let True Freedom Ring...
But is that true freedom?
The Catechism of the Catholic Church describes freedom as, "The power, rooted in reason and will, to act or not act, to do this or that, and so to perform deliberate actions on one's own responsibility." ("On one's own responsibility" being the operative words here!)
It's funny because, despite having free will, and making bad choices at times, we are inclined towards doing good from the time we are very young; from my son saving centipedes and spiders he finds in our house (which he wants to rescue and set free outside), to being moved by pity and empathy to help a suffering soul, as we get older. We are naturally geared for doing the will of God because we are made in His image and likeness and what God creates is good.
The Catechism states that, "The more one does good, the freer one becomes... The choice to disobey and do evil is an abuse of freedom and leads to the slavery of sin."
I recently heard former Atheist turned Catholic author and speaker, Matt Fradd, make a poignant point on the radio. He said, "Freedom is not a destination. It's a daily choice." Fradd should know about the slavery of sin. He openly admits to suffering from an addiction to pornography for most of his life.
Consequently, when we do good, we usually feel good. And, when we do bad, there's usually guilt or restlessness involved.
That is our conscience; that inner voice of reason, which God put in our hearts. Of course, we can distort our consciences through bad behavior. The more we do bad, the less bad we feel.
However, true freedom in the biblical sense of the word, is what Fr. Robert Barron describes in his Catholicism series as "the freedom for excellence." He says, "It's the discipline of the will to make achievements, first possible and then effortless.
That is why football players hold two or three-a-day practices and watch endless hours of film, as they get ready for the start of a new season, or why baseball players take batting practice and fielding drills for hours, and basketball players work on foul shots, jump shots and layups day after day.
The more disciplined they are, the more effortless their skills become, and the freer they are to fulfill their potential.
Through habit and hard work, they train their bodies, just as we train our souls by doing good works, forming our consciences and following the will of God, which is to love.
That is true freedom.
As Abraham Lincoln once said, "Freedom is not the right to do what we want but the right to do what we should."