Skip to content

Reflection: Let us Apply the Splint of the Cross to our Fractured Freedom

By Deacon Keith Fournier
4/15/2014 (2 years ago)
Catholic Online (

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


P>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)"


'Help give every student and teacher Free resources for a world-class moral Catholic education'

Copyright 2017 - Distributed by THE CALIFORNIA NETWORK

Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for FEBRUARY 2017
Comfort for the Afflicted.
That all those who are afflicted, especially the poor, refugees, and marginalized, may find welcome and comfort in our communities.


More Lent & Easter

'So it is written that the Christ would suffer and on the third day rise from the dead'

Luke 24:46

Lent Event


Ash Wednesday

March 1, 2017

Image of Ash Wednesday Ash Wednesday marks the beginning of the Season of Lent. It takes place 46 days before Easter Sunday. It is a season of penance, reflection, and fasting... continue reading

Palm Sunday

April 9, 2017

Image of Palm Sunday Palm Sunday, the Sunday before Easter, commemorates Jesus' triumphal entry into Jerusalem, an event mentioned in all four canonical Gospels... continue reading

Holy Week

April 9 - 15, 2017

Image of Holy Week 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... continue reading

Holy Thursday

April 13, 2017

Image of Holy Thursday 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

Good Friday

April 14, 2017

Image of Good Friday 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... continue reading

Easter Sunday

April 16, 2017

Image of Easter Sunday Easter is the principal feast of the ecclesiastical year. Leo I calls it the greatest feast, and says that Christmas is celebrated only in preparation for Easter... continue reading

Stations of the Cross

Every Friday

Image of Stations of the Cross Stations of the Cross refers to the depiction of the final hours (or Passion) of Jesus, and the devotion commemorating the Passion... continue reading

Fasting and Abstinence

Every Friday

Image of Fasting and Abstinence 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... continue reading

Image of 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... continue reading

Ascension of Our Lord

Thursday May 25, 2017

Image of Ascension of Our Lord The Ascension of Our Lord, a Holy Day of Obligation, celebrates the day that Christ, in the presence of His apostles, ascended bodily into Heaven. The Ascension occurred on the 40th day of Easter, a Thursday... continue reading


Sunday, June 4, 2017

Image of Pentecost Pentecost Sunday is one of the most ancient feasts of the Church, celebrated early enough to be mentioned in the Acts of the Apostles (20:16) and Corinthians (16:8)... continue reading

Image of Lent FAQ's 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... continue reading

Mardi Gras

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Image of Mardi Gras In France, the people feasted on foods that would be given up during the forty days of Lent. Meats, eggs, and milk were finished off in one day, giving the holiday its French title of 'Mardi Gras' which means Fat Tuesday... continue reading

Image of Transformed by Easter The Resurrection of Jesus is the crowning truth of our faith in Christ, a faith believed and lived as the central truth by the first Christian community... continue reading

Image of Appearances He is not here, for he has been raised just as he said. - Matthew 28:6. Learn more about the Post-Resurrection Appearances of Jesus Christ... continue reading

Image of Easter Gifts offers a variety of Easter gifts & Easter treats for all ages! Choose a gift for someone special and celebrate the joy of Easter... continue reading

Easter / Lent News

Cultrure of Encounter: A special Lenten operation Watch

Image of

Through its annual rice bowl initiative, Catholic Relief Services has announced it will be promoting a "culture of encounter" in its Lenten ... continue reading

Pope Francis delivers special Lenten message (FULL TEXT: ENGLISH) Watch

Image of Pope Francis warns us against ignoring God's word.

Pope Francis released a beautiful Lenten message titled "The Word." LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Lent begins Wednesday, March 1 and ... continue reading

Did you know the Catholic Church has a birthday? Watch

Image of Pentecost is widely considered the birthday of the Catholic Church.

Happy birthday to the Catholic Church! Happy birthday to you, who are the body of the Church! LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - We're all ... continue reading

8 thought-provoking Easter quotes to inspire Watch

Image of Easter is more than eggs and bunnies.

We all love to celebrate Easter with brightly colored hard boiled eggs, candy, cute pictures of bunnies and chicks and we all love to ... continue reading

The surprising origins of the Easter Bunny -- it's not what you think! Watch

Image of Rejoice! The beloved Easter Bunny has very Christian origins.

The Easter Bunny is a symbol of Easter that is popular in western culture, especially with children. According to folklore, the Easter ... continue reading

The Lent and Easter Season... by

Never Miss any Updates!

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

Catholic Online Logo

Copyright 2017 Catholic Online. All materials contained on this site, whether written, audible or visual are the exclusive property of Catholic Online and are protected under U.S. and International copyright laws, © Copyright 2017 Catholic Online. Any unauthorized use, without prior written consent of Catholic Online is strictly forbidden and prohibited.