Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo

By Deacon Keith Fournier

9/8/2014 (4 months ago)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

This struggle against sin is waged daily and engages our human freedom, the exercise of choice

Let us consciously reflect on our own choices today. What informs our daily decisions? Do we seek to inform the exercise of our freedom with the truth? Are we aware of the effect of sin in our daily lives? Are we struggling against it and taking advantage of every opportunity to receive God's grace? What are we choosing and who are we becoming as a result?

Christianity is the religion of freedom

Christianity is the religion of freedom

Highlights

By Deacon Keith Fournier

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

9/8/2014 (4 months ago)

Published in Living Faith

Keywords: sin, the moral life, choice, human freedom, beatitude, happiness, sin, morality, holiness, discipleship, Deacon Keith Fournier


CHESAPEAKE, VA (Catholic Online) - Jesus, speaking to the crowd in the Gospel, notes that they can read the signs in weather patterns but fail to read the signs of the times. (Luke 12: 54-59) We do not need to look very far in our own day to see that there is a moral collapse around us.

Men and women of this age are making wrong choices and experiencing the consequences. The signs of the times are evident. However, there is another way, the Way of the Lord. We are sent to change the climate of this age.

However,we also need to look in our own lives to see the effects of wrong choices. We need to honestly acknowledge the struggle we face as we try to choose to follow the Lord - but often choose against Him. The struggle to do what is good - even though we know it is right.

That is the struggle against sin. That struggle is a part of being a Christian and, when recognized and engaged in, can actually end up strengthening us for our mission. That is, if we learn to rely on God's grace.

St. Paul expressed the struggle in his letter to the Roman Christians: Brothers and sisters: I know that good does not dwell in me, that is, in my flesh. The willing is ready at hand, but doing the good is not. For I do not do the good I want, but I do the evil I do not want. Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells in me. So, then, I discover the principle that when I want to do right, evil is at hand.

For I take delight in the law of God, in my inner self, but I see in my members another principle at war with the law of my mind, taking me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members. Miserable one that I am! Who will deliver me from this mortal body? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord (Romans 7: 18-25)

This struggle against sin is waged daily and engages our human freedom, the exercise of our human choice. There is a problem. Our freedom has been fractured by sin. It can only be healed by God's grace. To progress in authentic freedom calls for our constant vigilance in prayer and responding to the Lords regular communication of His Divine Life, his Grace.

One of the truths of life in this world is that what we choose determines who we become. Choosing not only has consequences outside of us, it changes us. This is what we call the moral life. The Catechism of the Catholic Church addresses human choice in these insightful words:

"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." (Cf. Rom 6:17)" (CCC#1733)

When we make good choices we can begin to learn to develop the habits which form Christian character, by cooperating with God's grace. Conversion of life is an ongoing process. In his letter on the Moral Life entitled the Splendor of Truth, Blessed John Paul responded to the call of the Second Vatican Council to re-root Catholic moral teaching within the Bible, which is the "soul of theology". (Dei Verbum #24)

In the first chapter he used the Lord's encounter with the Rich young man to present a moral theology of choice. It was not the man's possessions which made him choose to say no to the Lord's invitation. It was his disordered relationship to them which impeded his exercise of freedom.

The possessions possessed him. He went away sad.

Through this encounter, Saint John Paul II explains the path to proper human development and formation of conscience.

Two years after issuing The Splendor of Truth, John Paul released another Encyclical letter entitled Evangelium Vitae, (The Gospel of Life) It continued his work of laying a firm foundation for a proper understanding of the meaning and implications of human choice.

In that letter he discussed the threats against the dignity of human life which have been caused by the redefinition of the word freedom, what he called a "counterfeit notion of freedom".

Part three of the Catholic Catechism is entitled "Life in Christ". It reminds us that the vocation of man and woman is to beatitude, which can also be translated happiness. It treats the morality of human acts, the role of the passions, proper formation of the conscience, the cultivation of the virtues and the rejection of sin. In explaining the morality of human acts, the Catechism offers a profound insight concerning a the wrong exercise of freedom: "Mortal sin is a radical possibility of human freedom, as is love itself."

Authentic Human Freedom can never be realized in decisions made against God and against what is good. That is because our human freedom is, according to the Catechism, "patterned on God's freedom." The Catechism quotes John Paul's letter on the moral life, the Splendor of Truth, to help us understand.

Patterned on God's freedom, man's freedom is not negated by his obedience to the divine law; indeed, only through this obedience does it abide in the truth and conform to human dignity. This is clearly stated by the Council: "Human dignity requires man to act through conscious and free choice, as motivated and prompted personally from within, and not through blind internal impulse or merely external pressure. Man achieves such dignity when he frees himself from all subservience to his feelings, and in a free choice of the good, pursues his own end by effectively and assiduously marshalling the appropriate means. (VS #42)

The New Testament is filled with examples of this connection between what we choose and who we become as a result. For example, we become adulterers when we look at a woman with lust (Mt. 5:28); what comes out of our "heart" (the biblical meaning of heart is that center of our moral personality, where freedom is exercised, human choices are made and character is formed) is what makes us "unclean" (Mk 7:14-23).

The capacity to make choices reflects the Imago Dei, the Image of God, present within each one of us. The Fathers of the Second Vatican Council wrote in their document on the Mission of the Church: "Authentic freedom is an outstanding manifestation of the divine image within man." (GS #17) Freedom must be exercised in reference to the truth.

That is why growth in true freedom requires a relationship with the God who is its source and the Savior, who alone can set us free from the law of death of which Paul writes. Jesus addressed this connection between freedom and truth: If you remain in my word, you will truly be my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free. (John 8:31)

In The Splendor of Truth, John Paul warned of the "death of true freedom" (#40) . In The Gospel of Life he wrote of freedom's "essential link with truth" and "inherently relational dimension." (#19) In a later encyclical letter on Faith and Reason he wrote:

It is not just that freedom is part of the act of faith: it is absolutely required. Indeed, it is faith that allows individuals to give consummate expression to their own freedom. Put differently, freedom is not realized in decisions made against God.

For how could it be an exercise of true freedom to refuse to be open to the very reality which enables our self-realization? Men and women can accomplish no more important act in their lives than the act of faith; it is here that freedom reaches the certainty of truth and chooses to live in that truth.
(#13)

Let us consciously reflect on our own choices today. What informs our daily decisions? Do we seek to inform the exercise of our freedom with the truth? Are we aware of the effect of sin in our daily lives? Are we struggling against it and taking advantage of every opportunity to receive God's grace?

What are we choosing and who are we becoming as a result?.As we repent of our sin and prepare to receive the Eucharist, let us ask the Lord to come and take up residence within us. Then, as we receive Him at the Altar, let us ask Him to heal our fractured freedom so that we can choose Him and His ways today.

-----

Deacon Keith Fournier is Founder and Chairman of Common Good Foundation and Common Good Alliance. A married Roman Catholic Deacon of the Diocese of Richmond, Virginia, he and his wife Laurine have five grown children and six grandchildren, He serves as the Director of Adult Faith Formation at St. Stephen, Martyr Parish in Chesapeake, VA. He is also a human rights lawyer and public policy advocate.

---


Pope Francis: end world hunger through 'Prayer and Action'


2014 - Distributed by THE NEWS CONSORTIUM

Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for January 2015
General Intention:
That those from diverse religious traditions and all people of good will may work together for peace.
Missionary Intention: That in this year dedicated to consecrated life, religious men and women may rediscover the joy of following Christ and strive to serve the poor with zeal.



Comments


More Living Faith

Play with your children, Pope Francis commands fathers Watch

Image of

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

While some of his comments have provoked controversy, Pope Francis in a private audience this week said something that very few people would argue with. The Pope commanded that all fathers take time to play with their children - and not be so absorbed with work ... continue reading


Archbishop reprimands Catholic lawmaker, says no true Catholic can dissent from church teaching on abortion Watch

Image of Archbishop Cordileone said in a written statement, that

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, in a press conference on January 22 at the Capitol, was asked twice whether an unborn child 20 weeks into pregnancy is a human being. Pelosi finally replied that a woman has "the right" to abort her child. Archbishop ... continue reading


Religious persecution uniting Christians worldwide in 'Ecumenism of blood,' Pope Francis says Watch

Image of

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

"In this moment of prayer for unity, I would also like to remember our martyrs, the martyrs of today," Pope Francis said as he was speaking to members of a number of Christian Churches. Gathered in the Basilica of Saint Paul Outside the Walls this past weekend, ... continue reading


Andrew M. Greenwell: Jesus is the Heart and the Marvel of the Gospel Watch

Image of Since the incarnation of the Word, the

By Andrew M. Greenwell

If pursued, and pursued rightly (that is, without moral or intellectual prejudice), metaphysics leads us to a threshold, a threshold we might call the limina fidei, the threshold of faith.  Reason takes us to a place where we know God--that He is.  But ... continue reading


Who Are My Mother and Brothers? We are the Family of Jesus Watch

Image of

By Deacon Keith Fournier

Through our Baptism, we are invited into the very family of God. When we choose to respond to grace and live in obedience to the will and the Word of God; we enter into an eternal relationship with God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. We actually become a part of ... continue reading


St Francis DeSales Challenges Us to Live a Life of True Devotion Watch

Image of Today in our Liturgical calendar in the Latin Rite of the Catholic Church, we remember St Francis DeSales (1567-1610). The Saints are all given as examples to emulate. They are our companions on the journey, men and women like us who responded to God's invitation to become like Jesus. They pray for us because we are joined with them in the eternal communion of love. They also put legs on the Gospel, showing us what holiness looks like.

By Deacon Keith Fournier

I say that devotion must be practiced in different ways by the nobleman and by the working man, by the servant and by the prince, by the widow, by the unmarried girl and by the married woman. But even this distinction is not sufficient; for the practice of ... continue reading


Hey Main Stream Media - Do Your Job! Media Bias on March for Life Watch

Image of The hundreds of thousands who gatherred in Washington, DC were virtually ignored by the mainstream media because they gave a voice to children in the womb intentionally killed by procured abortion

By Catherine Contreras

What do you get when over 500,000 people attend the March for Life in Washington DC? Yup. A biased main stream media barely covering it, again. OAKLAND, CA (Catholic Online) - On the 42nd Anniversary of Roe v Wade, the Supreme Court decision legalizing abortion in ... continue reading


Arlington Diocesan teachers provide English Language Learners with special support Watch

Image of Fourth-grade students work on personalized language arts activities at St. Thomas More Cathedral School in Arlington. (Christine Stoddard, The Arlington Catholic Herald)

By Christine Stoddard, The Arlington Catholic Herald

Step into Sarah Conrad's pre-kindergarten classroom at St. Thomas More Cathedral School in Arlington and you'll see the usual suspects: tiny furniture, storybooks, brightly colored posters and educational toys. But you'll also notice that laminated labels abound. ... continue reading


'Self righteousness is not going to change peoples' attitudes and save babies,' Cardinal says Watch

Image of Cardinal Sean O'Malley says that the abortion issue in the United States is a call for those of all faiths to action.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

In delivering his homily at the March for Life vigil in Washington D.C., Cardinal Sean O'Malley said that indifference is the "greatest enemy" of the pro-life movement, adding that "to change people's hearts we must love them." Speaking at the Basilica of the ... continue reading


Eighth Annual Stand Up 4 Life Rally|Walk in Oakland, California! Watch

Image of Walk for Life in California

By Catherine Contreras

"If Black lives matter, they have to matter in the womb first. Because if Black lives don't matter in the womb, they don't matter anywhere else. So join us and help us speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves." - Walter B. Hoye II, Founder and President of ... continue reading


All Living Faith News

Newsletters

Newsletter Sign Up icon

Stay up to date with the latest news, information, and special offers

Daily Readings

Reading 1, Hebrews 10:11-18
11 Every priest stands at his duties every day, ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 110:1, 2, 3, 4
1 [Of David Psalm] Yahweh declared to my Lord, 'Take ... Read More

Gospel, Mark 4:1-20
1 Again he began to teach them by the lakeside, but ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for January 28th, 2015 Image

St. Thomas Aquinas
January 28: St. Thomas Aquinas, priest and doctor of the Church, patron of ... Read More

Inform, Inspire & Ignite Logo

Find Catholic Online on Facebook and get updates right in your live feed.

Become a fan of Catholic Online on Facebook


Follow Catholic Online on Twitter and get News and Product updates.

Follow us on Twitter