Reflection: Let us Apply the Splint of the Cross to our Fractured Freedom
When God, in the beginning, created man, he made him subject to his own free choice
Let us keep before us over these next few days this poignant insight from the Catechism: "The more one does what is good, the freer one becomes. There is no true freedom except in the service of what is good and just. The choice to disobey and do evil is an abuse of freedom and leads to "the slavery of sin.(CCC 1733)" Let us choose to change, choose to grow in the likeness of the One who carried His Cross to free us from the power of sin and the final enemy of death
CHESAPEAKE, VA. (Catholic Online) - The Catechism of the Catholic Church in its Section entitled "Life in Christ" offers a powerful synthesis of the Sacred Scripture and Tradition on the mystery, meaning and purpose of human freedom. As we enter into the final days of Holy Week I offer these insights on grace and freedom for our reflection.
It instructs us that "God created man a rational being, conferring on him the dignity of a person who can initiate and control his own actions."God willed that man should be 'left in the hand of his own counsel,' so that he might of his own accord seek his Creator and freely attain his full and blessed perfection by cleaving to him."(CCC 1730)
The citation offered within the text is taken from the Second Vatican Council's Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World ("Gaudium et Spes", # 17) and the Old Testament Book of Sirach 15:14 which reads, "When God, in the beginning, created man, he made him subject to his own free choice." What follows is a line from the 2d century Church Bishop, Ireneaeus of Lyons: "Man is rational and therefore like God; he is created with free will and is master over his acts."
The implications of this gift, our human freedom, are broken open for us in the Catechism in a way that makes it ideal for our reflection as we enter into the three Holy days, the Sacred Triduum. These instructions on the relationship between grace and freedom are grouped together under the topic of "Freedom and Responsibility":
"Freedom is the power, rooted in reason and will, to act or not to act, to do this or that, and so to perform deliberate actions on one's own responsibility. By free will one shapes one's own life. Human freedom is a force for growth and maturity in truth and goodness; it attains its perfection when directed toward God, our beatitude."
"As long as freedom has not bound itself definitively to its ultimate good which is God, there is the possibility of choosing between good and evil, and thus of growing in perfection or of failing and sinning. This freedom characterizes properly human acts. It is the basis of praise or blame, merit or reproach. The more one does what is good, the freer one becomes. There is no true freedom except in the service of what is good and just. The choice to disobey and do evil is an abuse of freedom and leads to "the slavery of sin". (Romans 6:17) (CCC #1731, 1732, and 1733)
We are invited to consider our choices in life. Our freedom has been fractured by sin. We do not always choose the path to our true liberation because of the effects of what St. Paul called the "law of sin and death" (Romans 8:2). We experience the plight summarized succinctly by the Apostle in his letter to the Romans, "What I do, I do not understand. For I do not do what I want, but I do what I hate." (Romans 7:15)
The Catechism, summarizing the teaching of Scripture and Holy Tradition, explains what I am calling this "fracture of our freedom" with these words, "Freedom and sin. Man's freedom is limited and fallible. In fact, man failed. He freely sinned. By refusing God's plan of love, he deceived himself and became a slave to sin. This first alienation engendered a multitude of others. From its outset, human history attests the wretchedness and oppression born of the human heart in consequence of the abuse of freedom.(CCC # 1739)"
One aspect of sin is that it is always an abuse of our use of human freedom. It is a wrong choice. However, in the words of the Apostle Paul, it was "for freedom Christ has set us free" (Gal 5:1). We need an education in how to exercise our freedom properly if our capacity to exercise it properly is to be strengthened. We also need treatment for the fracture to our freedom which was occasioned by the original sin of our first parents - as well as the further weakening caused by the cumulative effect of our own errant exercises of this power of choice. That treatment is the splint of the Cross of Christ. It alone can heal the fracture which sin has brought to our freedom.
In another Section on freedom, the Catechism gives us an insight which has the potential of rewriting the continuing story of our lives: "Mortal sin is a radical possibility of human freedom, as is love itself."(CCC #1861) Remember, because we are created in the Image of God we have the power, the capacity, to make choices. But what we choose not only changes the world around us, it changes us. An early 4th century Church Father, Gregory of Nyssa opined, in a beautiful insight offered in the Catechism:
"We are in a sense our own parents, and we give birth to ourselves by our own free choice of what is good. Such a choice becomes possible for us when we have received God into ourselves and have become children of God, children of the most high. On the other hand, if what the Apostle calls the form of Christ has not been produced in us, we abort ourselves. The man (woman) of God must reach maturity."
We are invited by the Holy Spirit to grow in this maturity through our cooperation with God's grace. Such a re-formation and transformation in Christ is what these Forty Days of Lent were meant to be about. These last few days beckon us to press into the mystery more fully and find the path to mature freedom.
If we embrace the grace offered to us in the sacraments, enter into intentional times of fruitful prayer, spiritual reading, reflection, almsgiving, fasting and the real amendment of our lives - the remedial effects of the Splint of the Cross will be more fully experienced over these days. We will begin to experience the growth of our capacity to exercise true freedom; the freedom of the sons and daughters of God.
Our Catechism instructs us in a section entitled Liberation and Salvation, "By his glorious Cross Christ has won salvation for all men. He redeemed them from the sin that held them in bondage. "For freedom Christ has set us free." In him we have communion with the "truth that makes us free." The Holy Spirit has been given to us and, as the Apostle teaches, "Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. (CCC 1741)"
Beginning today we can glory in the "liberty of the children of God." Let us not just let this opportunity pass by. As men and women who at our deepest core long for true freedom, let us invite the Lord Jesus Christ to set us free. Let us choose voluntarily to apply the splint of the Cross to those areas in ourselves where we know our freedom has been fractured. If we have not yet taken full advantage of the Sacrament of penance, do so now!
It is only by choosing the good, in conforming our choices to the truth as revealed in the Natural Law and fully revealed in the Person of Jesus Christ, that we can grow in authentic freedom and become the men and women whom we were created, and re-created in Christ, to become.
Let us keep before us over these next few days this poignant insight from the Catechism: "The more one does what is good, the freer one becomes. There is no true freedom except in the service of what is good and just. The choice to disobey and do evil is an abuse of freedom and leads to "the slavery of sin.(CCC 1733)"
Let us choose to change, choose to grow in the likeness of the One who carried His Cross to free us from the power of sin and the final enemy of death. Coming to understand more fully the relationship between our freedom and the grace of God is a key to our progress in holiness.
The rich teaching offered to us under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit by the Church in our Catechism points us on the way: "Freedom and grace. The grace of Christ is not in the slightest way a rival of our freedom when this freedom accords with the sense of the true and the good that God has put in the human heart."
"On the contrary, as Christian experience attests especially in prayer, the more docile we are to the promptings of grace, the more we grow in inner freedom and confidence during trials, such as those we face in the pressures and constraints of the outer world. "
"By the working of grace the Holy Spirit educates us in spiritual freedom in order to make us free collaborators in his work in the Church and in the world: 'Almighty and merciful God, in your goodness take away from us all that is harmful, so that, made ready both in mind and body, we may freely accomplish your will.(Prayer of the Roman Missal)(CCC # 1742)"
Copywriter 2015 - Distributed by THE NEWS CONSORTIUM
Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for March 2015
Universal: Scientists: That those involved in scientific research may serve the well-being of the whole human person.
Evangelization: Contribution of women: That the unique contribution of women to the life of the Church may be recognized always.
Rate This Article
Leave a Comment
More Lent / Easter News
- The Resurrecting Power of Mercy
- With Faith Let Us Enter into the Great and Holy Week
- Living Now in the Hope of Eternity: The Resurrection, Are You Ready?
- Create marbled Easter eggs this Easter with an amazingly easy technique
- Who Is God? A Holy Week Reflection
- Holy Week Invites us to Let Go of Self, Embrace the Lord Anew
- Learning To Wait: Accompanying Jesus On His Journey Through Holy Week
- There's still time! Continue to clean house and make room for God as we reach the end of Lent
- Once again Lent is almost over, but did YOU keep this Commandment this year?
- Fr. Paul Schenck: Finding Living Faith on Catechetical Sunday
- The Movie Yellow: Incest as 'Normal' and Cassavates's Slides Into the World of Woes
- The Chicago School Teachers Strike Reveals the Need For School Choice
- The Sexual Barbarians and the Dissolution of Culture
- The Happy Priest Challenges Us to Ask: Who is Jesus to Me?
- Michael Coren on Canadian Public Schools: Teachers, leave those kids alone
- We Cannot Ignore Our Consciences: Cardinal Dolan On Religious Liberty
- In the Face of Danger, Successor of Peter Travels to Lebanon as a Messenger of Peace
- Reflections on the Dignity and Vocation of Women: Who or What?
More Easter / Lent
'So it is written that the Christ would suffer and on the third day rise from the dead' - Luke 24:46
Ash Wednesday marks the beginning of the Season of Lent. It is a season of penance, reflection, and fasting which prepares us for Christ's Resurrection on Easter Sunday, through which we attain redemption. continue reading
Palm Sunday, the Sunday before Easter, commemorates Jesus' triumphal entry into Jerusalem, an event mentioned in all four canonical Gospels. (Mark 11:1.11, Matthew 21:1.11, Luke 19:28.44, and John 12:12.19) ... continue reading
On Palm Sunday, we celebrate the first joy of the season, as we celebrate Our Lord's triumphant entrance into Jerusalem where he was welcomed by crowds worshiping him and laying down palm leaves before him. It also marks the beginning of Holy Week... continue reading
HOLY THURSDAY is the most complex and profound of all religious observances. It celebrates his last supper with the disciples, a celebration of Passover ... continue reading
On Good Friday, each member of the Church tries to understand at what cost Christ has won our redemption. In the solemn ceremonies of Holy Week we unite ourselves to our Savior, and we contemplate our own death to sin in the Death of our Lord ... continue reading
Easter is the principal feast of the ecclesiastical year. Leo I (Sermo xlvii in Exodum) calls it the greatest feast (festum festorum), and says that Christmas is celebrated only in preparation for Easter. It is the centre of the greater part of the ecclesiastical year ... continue reading
For most people the easiest practice to consistently fulfill will be the traditional one, to abstain from meat on all Fridays of the year. During Lent abstinence from meat on Fridays is obligatory in the United States as elsewhere. Christ Himself said that His disciples would fast once He had departed (Lk. 5:35). continue reading
Everything answered from when does lent end, ashes, giving something up, stations of the cross and blessed palms. The key to understanding the meaning of Lent is simple: Baptism... continue reading
Stations of the Cross refers to the depiction of the final hours (or Passion) of Jesus, and the devotion commemorating the Passion. First Station: Jesus is condemned to death... pray the stations now
What did you give up for Lent?
From the humorous to the bizarre, people have had interesting Lenten experiences. Tell us about what you are going to give up for this Lenten Year.
What others gave up »
Tara K. E. Brelinsky - Catholic Online, 3/31/2015
Returning to my seat, I found myself considering all those horrific news reports and the perpetrators that gave them warrant. Jesus died for them, too. Even if they come late to work in ...Continue Reading
Hannah Raissa Marfil (NEWS CONSORTIUM) - Catholic Online, 3/30/2015
One of the most popular traditions during the Lenten Season is the Easter Egg Hunt. The Easter egg symbolizes the resurrection of Jesus Christ, as defined by the early Christians. The tradition, ...Continue Reading
Deacon F. K. Bartels - Catholic Online, 3/30/2015
Want to know who God is? That answer will not come easily, for it involves sacrifice and death to self. There are no shortcuts; there are no "techniques" to learn. However, as Blessed John Paul II ...Continue Reading
F. K. Bartels - Catholic Online, 3/30/2015
The Easter season is a sublime and sacred time in which our heart sings: "The Lord is risen!" The wondrous mystery of the resurrection and eternal life awaits, for if we have lost our life for the ...Continue Reading
On Good Friday, the entire Church fixes her gaze on the Cross at Calvary. Each member of the Church tries to understand at what cost Christ has won our redemption.
In the symbol of the Cross we can see the magnitude of the human tragedy, the ravages of original sin, and the infinite love of God. Learn More
Ash Wednesday marks the beginning of the Season of Lent. It is a season of penance, reflection, and fasting which prepares us for Christ's Resurrection on Easter Sunday, through which we attain redemption.
The ashes are made from the blessed palms used in the Palm Sunday celebration of the previous year. The ashes are christened with Holy Water and are scented by exposure to incense. Learn More
Stations of the Cross refers to the depiction of the final hours (or Passion) of Jesus, and the devotion commemorating the Passion.
ACT OF CONTRITION. O my God, my Redeemer, behold me here at Thy feet. From the bottom of my heart... Pray the Stations
'Christ Himself said that His disciples would fast once He had departed' Lk. 5:35
Abstinence. The law of abstinence requires a Catholic 14 years of age until death to abstain from eating meat on Fridays in honor of the Passion of Jesus on Good Friday. Salt and freshwater species of fish, amphibians, reptiles and shellfish are permitted.
Fasting. The law of fasting requires a Catholic from the 18th Birthday (Canon 97) to the 59th Birthday (i.e. the beginning of the 60th year, a year which will be completed on the 60th birthday) to reduce the amount of food eaten from normal. The Church defines this as one meal a day, and two smaller meals which if added together would not exceed the main meal.
Learn More »