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The Choices We Make Determine the People We Become

5/7/2006 - 6:48 AM PST

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By Deacon Keith Fournier
© Third Millennium, LLC
Catholic Online

Too many people in this neo-pagan age have, knowingly or unknowingly, been lured into a new form of idolatry. “Choice” is the new golden calf around which many now worship. As a culture, we have stripped the word of its moral content and try to hide evil under its verbal guise. We have the arrogance to call some choices “rights”, when they are always wrong. “Freedom” can be exercised wrongly. This is obvious in the horror of legalized abortion on demand. We all know that procured abortion is the taking of innocent human life. Even its most vicious advocates rarely debate that issue any longer. They follow instead the way of the modern sophists, seeking to hide the horror of the act under the shadow of the new golden calf - the idol of unencumbered “choice”.

The truth is that some choices are always and everywhere wrong, such as the taking of innocent human life. It should never be chosen, even if there are no apparent legal impediment to killing certain subsets of persons, such as is currently the case with children in the womb. This “culture of death” has expanded the so called “right to choose” to the killing of “unwanted” disabled people like Terri Schiavo and, if left unopposed, will soon set include “unwanted” elderly and infirmed. Authentic human freedom must always be exercised with reference to the truth concerning the inviolable dignity of every human life, at every age and every stage. Otherwise, it becomes a counterfeit.

In the shadow of this new golden calf, we who bear the name Christian have the obligation to learn how to engage the debate of our age over the very nature of human freedom. We need to engage the age with a discussion concerning what it is that is being chosen and help our fellow human beings to understand who we become when we make wrong choices. We need to speak about the nature and the obligations of authentic human freedom and contrast it with the lies of the false equation of liberty with license endemic to the materialism and nihilism of the age.

A champion of authentic human freedom, Pope John Paul II, wrote frequently about the implications of the exercise of human freedom. In one of his letters of instruction on the Christian family he wrote these insightful words: "History is not simply a fixed progression toward what is better - but rather, an event of freedom. Specifically, it is a struggle between freedoms that are in mutual conflict: a conflict between two loves - the love of God to the point of disregarding self and the love of self to the point of disregarding God (John Paul II, Christian Family in the Modern World, n. 6)"

This “conflict between two loves”, this “event of freedom”, is played out in each of our lives on a daily basis. The recurring questions of Eden echo in our personal histories. How will we exercise our "freedom"? At which tree will we make “our” choices? Will it be the tree of disobedience, where the first Adam chose against God’s invitation to a communion of love, or the tree on Golgotha’s hill where the second Adam, the Son of God, brought heaven to earth when He stretched out His arms to embrace all men and women, bearing the consequences of all their wrong choices?

The choice made by Jesus Christ of freely given self- emptying love, was addressed by St. Paul in his letter to the Philippians in these words: “Though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God, a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a servant’’ (Philippians 2:6).The word rendered "Servant" in our English translation is the same word that is used for Deacon in the original Greek. The word translated “emptied” is the Greek word “kenosis”; which literally means to be poured out like water in a basin. Jesus Christ emptied Himself of His Divine prerogative; He poured Himself out completely, for you, me and for all men and women. He became a servant for all of us.

Through His Cross and Resurrection, Jesus has reopened the path to authentic human freedom by overcoming sin and death. As He chose the way of Love, through grace, that same choice can be made by each one of us. This is the essence of the Christian claim. When we make that choice, light is shone upon the very meaning and purpose of our human existence. We were made for God, and in Him, for one another and authentic love. When we choose to love, in the way that Jesus did, we find the path to authentic human freedom and we discover the “mystery of man.”

In their extraordinary “Dogmatic Constitution on the Church in the Modern World” (“Gaudium et Spes”), the Fathers of the Second Vatican wrote of this “mystery of man”. They brilliantly addressed the human vocation, as fulfilled in Jesus Christ, in these inspired and insightful words:

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“The truth is that only in the ...

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