Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo

By Deacon Keith Fournier

9/8/2014 (1 year 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 (1 year 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'


Copyright 2015 - Distributed by THE CALIFORNIA NETWORK

Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for February 2016
Universal:
That prisoners, especially the young, may be able to rebuild lives of dignity.
Evangelization: That married people who are separated may find welcome and support in the Christian community.



Comments


More Living Faith

Worldwide Christian persecution among four vital issues behind Pope and Russian patriarch's visit Watch

Image of Both the Catholic Church and Russian Orthodox Church have spoken out clearly to stop the

By Andrea Gagliarducci, CNA/EWTN News

The first, historic meeting between a Pope and a Patriarch of the Russian Orthodox Church does not come from nowhere. Both the Russian Orthodox Patriarchate and the Holy See have been working on such an event for decades. Vatican City (CNA/EWTN News) - In at ... continue reading


Can we set aside our differences?: Catholics and Russian Orthodox Patriarch unite for the first time in 1,000 years Watch

Image of Patriarch Kirill will meet Pope Francis on this historic day (AP).

By Kenya Sinclair (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

The Vatican recently announced the historic meeting between Pope Francis and the head of the Russian Orthodox Church, Patriarch Kirill. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - The meeting is set for Friday and will be the first time the heads of the Catholic and Russian ... continue reading


Oldest copy of Old Testament recognized as world treasure Watch

Image of The oldest surviving copy of the Hebrew Bible has been officially recognized.

By Kenya Sinclair (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

The oldest surviving copy of the Old Testament was officially recognized as a world treasure by the United Nations Educations, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - The Aleppo Codex is the oldest surviving copy of the Hebrew ... continue reading


More than a thousand 'super confessors' released by Pope Francis to tackle 'reserved sins' Watch

Image of One of the Pope's

By Catholic Online (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

Those who commit "reserved sins," transgressions that are deemed especially egregious by the Catholic Church, will have another chance this Jubilee Year. Those who have committed such sins previously only pardonable by the Pope may now seek out the 1,142 ... continue reading


'What could happen if every church would rise up in prayer': Christians join before U.S. Supreme Court to call for prayer Watch

Image of Texas Loves Life stands to protect the unborn (bound4life).

By Kenya Sinclair (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

Christians stand together outside the U.S. Supreme Court to call other believers to pray the pro-life law passes. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - While the Supreme Court considers a Texas pro-life law, Texas Loves Life calls for Christians to pray for the fates of ... continue reading


If 'Jubilee doesn't arrive to the pockets, it's not a true Jubilee,' Pope Francis says Watch

Image of In his continued catechesis on mercy as seen in Scripture, the Pope noted how the Jubilee year is an

By Elise Harris, CNA/EWTN News

For Pope Francis, mercy is not just spiritual, but is something that ought to be expressed in concrete acts of service and in sharing one's goods with the poor, which was a key tradition during Jubilee years throughout Scripture. Vatican City (CNA/EWTN News) - ... continue reading


'You can't have Jesus': NASA accused of censoring use of Christ's name Watch

Image of NASA announces the use of Jesus' name in e-communications is a violation of the First Amendment (SacredHeart).

By Kenya Sinclair (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

Members of the Praise and Worship Club, composed of NASA employees, were shocked to receive a notice from NASA ordering they cease to include Jesus' name in their religious e-mails. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - The use of Jesus' name came up in May 2015, when ... continue reading


MAKE YOURSELF COUNT! Complete this quick Ash Wednesday survey

Image of Take the Ash Wednesday survey so we can better serve your needs.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Catholic Online is conducting a global survey on Ash Wednesday practices. Each reader is asked to participate once. The survey will take less than a minute to complete. The results of the survey will help Catholic Online determine how best to serve your needs in the ... continue reading


Santa Muerte gains popularity throughout Mexico - Will Pope Francis react during his visit? Watch

Image of Santa Muerte's popularity has spread throughout South America (Pinterest).

By Kenya Sinclair (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

Despite the Catholic Church openly saying Santa Muerte is not recognized as a saint, the death saint continues to spread in popularity among Mexican citizens. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - "Santa Muerte is an absurdity," Cardinal Norberto Rivera, Mexico's ... continue reading


Bible-themed luxury resort to be built in San Diego? Watch

Image of Televangelist seeks to build Bible-themed resort (YouTube).

By Kenya Sinclair (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

Televangelist Morris Cerullo has been attempting to build a Bible-themed luxury resort for the past few years - and now there is only one more hurdle to jump. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - After purchasing a foreclosed Mission Valley hotel, Cerullo's plans for ... continue reading


All Living Faith News

Newsletters

Newsletter Sign Up icon

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

Subscribe to Catholic OnlineYouTube Channel

the FEED
by Catholic Online

  • Stations of the Cross - Fifth Station: Simon of Cyrene helps Jesus to ...
  • St. Valentine: Saint of the Day for Sunday, February 14, 2016
  • Can you answer these four challenging questions about Lent?
  • Daily Readings for Sunday, February 14, 2016
  • Prayer in Time of Anger HD Video
  • Saint Valentine and why we offer roses
  • 5 of the best non-traditional ways to celebrate Valentine's Day

Daily Readings

Reading 1, Isaiah 58:9-14
9 Then you will cry for help and Yahweh will answer; you will call and he ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 86:1-2, 3-4, 5-6
1 [Prayer Of David] Listen to me, Yahweh, answer me, for I am poor and ... Read More

Gospel, Luke 5:27-32
27 When he went out after this, he noticed a tax collector, Levi by name, ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for February 13th, 2016 Image

St. Catherine de Ricci
February 13: St. Catherine was born in Florence in 1522. Her ... Read More