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 2016 - Distributed by THE CALIFORNIA NETWORK

Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for May 2016
Universal:
Respect for Women: That in every country of the world, women may be honored and respected and that their essential contribution to society may be highly esteemed.
Evangelization: Holy Rosary: That families, communities, and groups may pray the Holy Rosary for evangelization and peace.



Comments


More Living Faith

Christians stand your ground: Graduating class recites The Lords Prayer in defiance of atheist hate group Watch

Image of East Liverpool's class of 2016 recited The Lord's Prayer at graduation ceremony against an atheist hate group's attempts to silence them (Bob Hill/Screenshot).

By Kenya Sinclair (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

Notorious atheist group Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF) has struck again, this time at an East Liverpool high school in Ohio. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - The Ohio school district was forced to ban The Lord's Prayer after the FFRF complained the prayer ... continue reading


Pope Francis delivers special jubilee Mass for deacons Watch

Image of Deacons enjoy special jubilee Mass (@catholicsthelen/Twitter).

By Elise Harris (CNA/EWTN News)

On Sunday Pope Francis celebrated a special jubilee for deacons, telling them that a good servant is one who forgets themselves, letting go of their own plans and humbly placing their lives at the disposal of those to whom they are called to minister. Vatican City, ... continue reading


First time in 400 years - 61 cloistered nuns go to prison Watch

Image of Nuns (not pictured) asked permission to speak to those God loves (David Maung).

By (CNA/EWTN News)

A group of 61 cloistered nuns from six monasteries in Santiago, Chile made an historic visit to the local Women's Prison Center to spend time with the inmates and attend Mass with them. Santiago, Chile (CNA/EWTN News) - "I don't know if in the 400 years of the history ... continue reading


'I felt that Jesus called me to this': Pope Francis uses drowned refugee girl to share the heart of God Watch

Image of Pope Francis used the death of an innocent to preach to youths (Reuters).

By Ann Schneible (CNA/EWTN News)

The story of a young migrant girl who drowned at sea was at the heart of Pope Francis' address to some 400 children who on Saturday had traveled to the Vatican from the southern Italian region of Calabria. Vatican City, Italy (CNA/EWTN News) - Speaking off the cuff to ... continue reading


WARNING: Exorcist claims demon is targeting families Watch

Image of An exorcist claims a demon continues to attack family members of all ages (Mama/Fandango).

By (CNA/EWTN News)

There's a demon that specializes in attacking the family, said exorcist César Truqui, a priest who participated in a course on exorcism held in Rome last year. Rome, Italy (CNA/EWTN News) - Fr. Truqui warned that everything that is harming the family, including ... continue reading


Vatican liturgy chief calls for priests to face east during Mass Watch

Image of The Vatican's liturgy chief asks priests to celebrate Mass facing east (@Card_R_Sarah/Twitter).

By Kenya Sinclair (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

During an interview, Cardinal Robert Sarah explained the importance of priests facing east during Mass. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - In an interview with French Catholic magazine Famille Chrétienne, Cardinal Sarah, who is the prefect of the Congregation for ... continue reading


'It is abuse of anti-conversion laws': 3 Christians arrested for converting Hindus Watch

Image of Three Christians are the latest victims in ongoing Indian persecution (dph).

By Kenya Sinclair (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

Rev. V. A. Anthony, of Brethren Assembly Church in Satna, his wife Prabha and one unnamed woman have been arrested in Aber, India after being accused of "forced conversions" and blaspheming against Hinduism. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - According to Christian ... continue reading


Like Bartimaeus, We Are Blind: Cry out to Jesus, Lord Help Me to See! Watch

Image of The healing of the Blind man

By Deacon Keith Fournier

The same Jesus who passed by Bartimaeus is alive today. The Good News is that no matter what has happened in our past, Jesus walks into the dusty streets of our lives this day. We simply need the eyes of living faith to see Him and the renewed heart to follow Him ... continue reading


:-D MILLENNIALS REJOICE! New emoji Bible translation is coming! Watch

Image of The Bible has been translated into a less-conventional, more approachable language: emoji (pix11/WPIX-TV).

By Kenya Sinclair (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

In an attempt to make the Bible more interactive and entertaining to millennials, the King James Version (KJV) of the Bible has been translated with help from popular emoticons. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - According to The Memo, the new Bible, marked as ... continue reading


New study reveals Catholics hold highest retention rate - but no one is converting Watch

Image of Catholicism retains believers but is losing the conversion battle (Pinterest).

By Kenya Sinclair (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

A new study revealed Welsh and English Catholics hold the highest retention rate of any denomination but maintain the lowest conversion rates. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - The report, titled the "Contemporary Catholicism in England and Wales," was issued by the ... 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 Reading for Wednesday, June 1st, 2016 HD Video
  • Your Daily Inspirational Meme: God is Good
  • Advent Prayer HD Video
  • Daily Readings for Tuesday, May 31, 2016
  • Christians stand your ground: Graduating class recites The Lords ...
  • St. Mechtildis: Saint of the Day for Tuesday, May 31, 2016
  • WARNING: GRAPHIC IMAGES Killer nanny asks judge for freedom because ...

Daily Readings

Reading 1, Second Peter 1:2-7
2 Grace and peace be yours in abundance through the knowledge of our ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 91:1-2, 14-15, 15-16
1 You who live in the secret place of Elyon, spend your nights in the ... Read More

Gospel, Mark 12:1-12
1 He went on to speak to them in parables, 'A man planted a vineyard; he ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for May 30th, 2016 Image

St. Joan of Arc
May 30: St. Joan of Arc is the patroness of soldiers and ... Read More