Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo

By F. K. Bartels

6/15/2013 (2 years ago)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Freedom means always choosing the good, which is a challenge in today's world that must be met with courage and resolve.

Humankind is free to choose to be free to love. God has given us freedom so we may freely choose him. It is only in possessing the power to make the free choice to love, to do the good, that we can choose God and his goodness without coercion. It is in this, in our free choice, that the possibility of love is made real.

Highlights

By F. K. Bartels

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

6/15/2013 (2 years ago)

Published in Living Faith

Keywords: Pope Francis, human freedom, free will, human free will, choices, good, evil, good or evil, Jesus Christ, human destiny, goal of humankind, F. K. Bartels


GLADE PARK, CO (Catholic Online) -- On 7 June, 2013, in the Paul VI Audience Hall, Pope Francis received students along with their teachers and family members from Jesuit-run schools in Italy and Albania. Rather than reading from the text he had prepared, Pope Francis chose to answer questions and dialogue openly with those present. The atmosphere was informal, one of spontaneity and affection--a wonderful characteristic of the way our Holy Father speaks and teaches.

Pope Francis brought up a number of important and fundamental principles involved in properly educating young people, which are integral to an intellectually and spiritually enriched school environment. "School is one of the educational environments where one grows by learning how to live, how to become grown-up, mature men and women" said the Pope.

"Following what St. Ignatius teaches us," the Holy Father continued, "the main element in school is learning to be magnanimous ... This means having a big heart, having a greatness of soul. It means having grand ideals, the desire to achieve great things in response to what God asks of us and, precisely because of this, doing everyday things--all our daily actions, commitments, and meetings with people--well. [It means] doing the little everyday things with a big heart that is open to God and to others."

Pope Francis spoke about how "school broadens not only your intellectual dimension, but also the human one." Inseparably connected to the human dimension, is the concept of human freedom, which is the power to choose this or that, good or evil.

"Before all else be free persons!" said the Pope. "Freedom means knowing how to reflect on what we do, knowing how to evaluate . which are the behaviors that make us grow. It means always choosing the good.... Being free to always choose the good is challenging, but it will make you persons with a backbone, who know how to face life, [and live as] courageous and patient persons."

It is important to further reflect on the concept of human freedom--something often misunderstood today. Also, a correct, adequate understanding of freedom and its proper use is crucial for educators who are engaged in the process of forming others, both young and old alike. If children and others are deprived of a full understanding of the power of freedom through the failings of an inadequate education, our society will continue to deteriorate morally.

In the first place, we must acknowledge where human freedom originates, otherwise we can never hope to correctly understand it or properly and wisely use it. Since God is Creator, the origin of human freedom is self-evident. God created humankind; therefore human freedom originates in God. That is why whenever freedom is used in opposition to the love of God and the true good of others, it is a lie, a false freedom; it then becomes an abuse of the power God himself has given humankind. In doing this, man takes the life-sustaining energy and freedom God supplies and uses it as a weapon against goodness, which always brings harm to himself and to others in society.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church informs us that human 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" (CCC 1730).

We are free to choose to be free to love. God has given us freedom so we may freely choose him. It is only in possessing the power to make the free choice to love, to do the good, that we can choose God and his goodness without coercion. In his superabundant wisdom, God has willed to uphold the freedom he has granted to humankind, even in the face of man's potential for committing indescribable evil, in order for man to be truly free to love. Consequently, man is also free to engage in terrifying actions, which, as history and the present demonstrates, he often does.

Further, nearly always there are attempts to disguise these evil actions as "rights" or as something "good," such as we see today in the case of legalized abortion, which provides perhaps the darkest example of an inhuman freedom exercised without limits.

Abusing freedom, men begin to wrongly think they have the sole power to determine what freedom is, which leads to the mistaken idea that freedom exists to serve only the individual's subjective wants or needs without consideration for what is truly good. Freedom, then, becomes distorted, expanded and exaggerated outside of its proper boundaries. When taken to the extreme, it is trumpeted as the "right" of the powerful to kill the weak.

We might wonder why an individual's power to wield his own brand of freedom could come to be valued over the life of an innocent human person. While there may be a number of interrelated causes, it cannot be denied that the root of sin and its corresponding disregard for authentic freedom is pride. In fact, it was pride that brought on the fall of humankind at the dawn of history (see Genesis 3:1-19). A freedom infected by pride and selfishness is not real freedom at all, but only a dark, counterfeit and destructive shadow of it. Through pride, when man chooses himself over God and others, he denies the very origin and foundation of freedom, and, in that moment, willfully destroys the benefits and fruits that would otherwise be enjoyed by the exercise of authentic human freedom.

When we sin, we choose to wield the power of human freedom in such a way so as to deprive ourselves and others of what is truly good. Evil, then, is a deprivation of the good. While many people today insist on living as if God does not exist and believe freedom originates from man, as if man alone can determine what is good for himself or what makes him free, the very moment we journey down such a path we have begun to dismantle true freedom, tear it down and destroy it, and thus have set ourselves on a course for bringing about its death.

Another cause of the distortion and destruction of authentic freedom so common today is the lack of a proper education. There are countless examples of how people changed their views on freedom and its use after being exposed to a proper understanding of human freedom and human dignity, including the way in which the use of human free will determines one's character and one's final destiny.

In the power to choose is the power to truly live. If you possess God, you possess everything; and it is by your proper free choices that you come to possess God. If you abuse freedom, failing to make proper choices ordered toward true and authentic goodness, you distance or separate yourself from God, who is the source of love, happiness, truth, light, peace, security, and all other good things. To wield freedom wrongly is to war against your own goodness and happiness! Although a flower would never turn away from the Sun and bring about its own death; men choose to do much the same thing by their improper choices of free will.

On the other hand, the more you choose the good, the more you begin to love God for his sake and your neighbor as another self, the happier you become -- you become truly free. In exercising freedom properly, you become a child of light, immersed in the joy and divine light of God.

"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).

God gives to humankind the highest power of movement: the power to choose. It is in exercising this power properly that humankind attaints to its destiny, which is everlasting communion with God. To order our choices toward the infinite and compassionate love of God -- to choose to love God and neighbor--is to live in a fully human way. True freedom, then, is to live always and everywhere for the sake of the love of God.

Our Lord Jesus Christ, true God and true man, offers us the perfect example of the proper use of human freedom. Jesus shows us it is the virtues of charity and holiness, caring for the poor, free and loving obedience, humility, meekness and so forth--God's values and not the world's--that bring us the victory over death. Through faith in Christ and love for him, our hearts are opened to the sending of his Spirit, whose divine love re-creates and transforms us, reproducing Christ within us, that we may freely live as the Father intended, as members of the divine family in the kingdom of God.

Jesus Christ, "the way and the truth and the life" (Jn 14:6), is the Divine Freer of Humankind. His way is the way of salvation, love, and everlasting happiness. These sublime, highly desirable things, for which the heart of humankind unceasingly thirsts, can be attained by no other avenue than by way of the cross. This means living out true and authentic freedom is not easy, and will often bring with it difficulties, trials and persecution. However, after the cross dawns a new day of unending bliss, joy, and perfect happiness. Take heart, my dear friends, for these incomparably sweet things can be tasted even now, here in this place, by those who love Christ to the point of dying for his real, true and authentic human freedom.

-----

F. K. Bartels is a Catholic writer who knows the Catholic Church transmits the fullness of truth and offers the fullest means of salvation; therefore his Catholic Faith is one of the greatest gifts a man could ever receive. He is a contributing writer for Catholic Online. Visit him also at joyintruth.com

---


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

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


Is this where the Annunciation took place? Ancient artwork sheds light an old mystery about the Virgin Mary Watch

Image of The Annunciation, 1859 (oil on canvas), Pinchon, Auguste.

By Marshall Connolly, Catholic Online (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

One of the oldest depictions of the Virgin Mary is casting new light on the Annunciation. A new look at an ancient depiction in the Yale University Art Gallery is making some question what they believe about the Annunciation of the Virgin Mary. LOS ANGELES, CA ... continue reading


How do presidents pray? The beginning of a beautiful tradition Watch

Image of John F. Kennedy praying during the 9th annual Presidential Prayer Breakfast on Feb. 9, 1961 (Prayers for America).

By Abigail James (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

This morning marks the 64th annual National Prayer Breakfast and President Obama's last time attending the remarkable tradition while in office.  LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - On the first Thursday in February, the members of Congress and evangelical ... continue reading


Pope Francis will travel to Mexico as a messenger for peace Watch

Image of Pope Francis has participated in a collective interview, in which he responded to four questions posed by 33 people from various states across Mexico (Catholic News Agency).

By Elise Harris, CNA/EWTN News

Pope Francis will leave for Mexico in just over a week. In a new interview with a Mexican news agency, he told citizens of the crime-ridden country that while there, he hopes to be a messenger of peace, which must be fought for daily. Vatican City (CNA/EWTN ... continue reading


Sparks fly over Pope Francis' interview with Asia Times Watch

Image of Pope Francis did not speak of religion or freedom when praising China as a progressive country (Vatican).

By Kenya Sinclair (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

Pope Francis' exclusive interview on Tuesday afternoon has been met with harsh criticism. Though the pontiff spoke highly of the country, he steered clear of religion and freedom talks. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - According to Vatican Radio, Pope Francis spoke ... continue reading


Sis boom bah! American Circus cheerleaders perform for Pope Francis at the Vatican Watch

Image of Pope Francis enjoyed a cheer by the American Circus, which performed at the Vatican on Wednesday (Reuters).

By Kenya Sinclair (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

Following his general audience at the Vatican, Pope Francis enjoyed cheers, acrobatics and juggling performed by the Italian troupe "American Circus." LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - During the Papal Audience, the American Circus performed before the pontiff and ... continue reading


'I'm gay and I'm a priest, period': Chicago priest opens up about his same sex attraction Watch

Image of Father Michael Shanahan has announced his sexual orientation to the world (Our Lady of Lourdes).

By Catholic Online (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

Twenty-three years after joining the clergy as a priest, Father Michael Shanahan, the pastor of Our Lady of Lourdes parish in Chicago, has publicly admitted he is sexually attracted to other men. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - The news was released via the ... continue reading


Before priests, nuns drop 'gossip bombs,' - bite your tongue, Pope Francis commands Watch

Image of

By Catholic Online (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

"Bite your tongue!" That is the orders of Pope Francis, who said that gossip loving priests and nuns are hindering their cause by the spreading of innuendos and gossip. The pontiff also bemoaned the drop-off in vocations but said those that the church takes must be ... continue reading


Pope Francis: The actor? Watch

Image of Pope Francis is rumored to play himself in the upcoming spiritual film ''Beyond the Sun'' (Paul Haring).

By Kenya Sinclair (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

In the upcoming film "Beyond the Sun," Pope Francis will be making his acting debut. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Radio Vatican denied all claims that Pope Francis "will play himself" in "Beyond the Sun," with Monsignor Dario Edoardo ViganĂ² stating only "video ... continue reading


God sends nun to save elderly man's life Watch

Image of A nun who has yet to be identified saved a man after a tree pinned him to the ground (wiseGEEK).

By Kenya Sinclair (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

In a story that sounds like the plot of a religious film, a nun, who stepped outside to pray, heard the cries of an elderly man caught beneath a tree in the frigid Wrentham, MA night. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Seventy-four-year-old Douglas Goldman was out in ... 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

Daily Readings

Reading 1, Isaiah 6:1-2, 3-8
1 In the year of King Uzziah's death I saw the Lord seated on a high and ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 138:1-2, 2-3, 4-5, 7-8
1 [Of David] I thank you, Yahweh, with all my heart, for you have ... Read More

Gospel, Luke 5:1-11
1 Now it happened that he was standing one day by the Lake of Gennesaret, ... Read More

Reading 2, First Corinthians 15:1-11
1 I want to make quite clear to you, brothers, what the message of the ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for February 7th, 2016 Image

St. Moses
February 7: Arab hermit and bishop who is called "the Apostle ... Read More