Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo

By F. K. Bartels

6/15/2013 (1 year 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 (1 year 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'


© 2014 - Distributed by THE NEWS CONSORTIUM

Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for September 2014
Mentally disabled:
That the mentally disabled may receive the love and help they need for a dignified life.
Service to the poor: That Christians, inspired by the Word of God, may serve the poor and suffering.



Comments


More Living Faith

Pope Francis asks new bishops to avoid self-promotion, to love their congregations instead Watch

Image of Pope Francis meets with bishops for an audience. The Holy Father had important advice for a group of new bishops yesterday.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Pope Francis has admonished a new generation of bishops against seeking promotion and instead asked them to look after and love their congregations. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - During an address at the Vatican yesterday, Pope Francis spoke to 138 ... continue reading


POPE IN ALBANIA: Pope Francis denounces religious militants during one-day trip Watch

Image of On his first trip as pope to a European country outside of Italy, Pope Francis made no direct reference to Islamic State militants who have seized territory in Syria and Iraq.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

In his one-day trip to the chiefly Muslim nation of Albania, Pope Francis soundly denounced religious militants, declaring that no one act as the "armor of God." LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - "Let no one consider themselves the 'armor' of God while planning ... continue reading


If Christ Has Not Been Raised Our Preaching and Our Faith is Empty Watch

Image of We too,you and me, will be raised from the dead. Only then will our redemption be complete. We are works in progress. However, that new life can begin even now for those with eyes of living faith, hearts filled with His presence, and minds renewed by the Light of the Truth which Jesus has fully revealed and imparts to those who love and follow Him.

By Deacon Keith A Fournier

When we learn to embrace the implications of that empty tomb, and allow grace to work within us, we are made ready for eternity - by living differently every day. The Resurrection provides a framework, a hermeneutic, a lens of meaning, for everything that happens ... continue reading


You Go Into the Vineyard Too! Every Christian Has a Vocation Watch

Image of Priesthood, Diaconate in Christ,consecrated or religious life,lay ecclesial movements, consecrated Christian marriage - every Baptized Christian has a vocation. We just have to learn to live it!

By Deacon Keith A Fournier

The Church is a seed, sign and beginning of the kingdom, making the kingdom present in a world which is wounded by the effects of sin but waiting to be born anew. The Lord continues His work through us. We are the workers in His vineyard. It matters little what ... continue reading


Pope Francis at risk of an assassination attempt by Islamic State Watch

Image of There was an assassination attempt on Pope John Paul II in 1981 by Turk Mehmet Ali Agca. That Pope later forgave his attacker.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Pope Francis at risk of an assassination attempt by ISIL'Band of criminals' could have Pope Francis in its sights prior to his visits to Albania, TurkeyCatholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)Iraq's ambassador to the Holy See warns that there are credible threats against ... continue reading


Patriarchs ask faithful to help 'save Christianity in the Middle East' Watch

Image of Syriac Catholic Patriarch Ignace Joseph III Younan prayed during an ecumenical service in Washington last week.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Five Catholic and Orthodox patriarchs from the Middle East urged Westerners to take action to help ensure that Christians and other minorities can remain in the region. "Christians are not (just) looking for humanitarian aid. They are looking for humanitarian ... continue reading


With just six months to live, news anchorman finds comfort with God Watch

Image of Dave Benton announced on his Illinois show that he had only six months left to live after a long battle with brain cancer.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

An Illinois news anchorman with Champaign WCIA-TV shared heartbreaking news with his viewers on September 11, revealing that after a lengthy battle with cancer, he had only six months to live. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - The 51-year-old anchorman, Dave ... continue reading


Did a Catholic Online candle contribute to a miracle? Here's a yes!

Image of Did a prayer candle have a role in a recent miracle?

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Catholic Online has received many comments thanking us for sharing the prayers of the faithful. Catholic Online has a vibrant prayer community and we are happy to report another miracle. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Mika T.* sent an email to Catholic Online ... continue reading


Pope Francis denounces ongoing global conflict as 'piecemeal' World War III Watch

Image of Pope Francis, who has often condemned the concept of war in God's name, said it would be legitimate for the international community to use force to stop

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

In his visit to the Redipuglia monument, the resting place of 1000,000 Italian soldiers killed during World War I, Pope Francis condemned ongoing conflicts across the globe. "Humanity needs to weep and this is the time to weep. Even today, after the second ... continue reading


Fr Peter M. J. Stravinskas on the Exaltation of the Holy Cross Watch

Image of Rev. Peter M. J. Stravinskas, Ph.D., S.T.D. is the Executive Director of the Catholic Education Foundation.

By Fr Peter M. J. Stravinskas,Ph.D., S.T.D.

Every cross borne by any believer in history gains meaning and becomes life-giving when it is brought into a relationship with the Cross, the Cross from which Jesus reigned as the King of Love and over which He triumphed in His glorious Resurrection.  The ... 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, Proverbs 21:1-6, 10-13
1 Like flowing water is a king's heart in Yahweh's ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 119:1, 27, 30, 34, 35, 44
1 How blessed are those whose way is blameless, who ... Read More

Gospel, Luke 8:19-21
19 His mother and his brothers came looking for him, ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for September 23rd, 2014 Image

St. Padre Pio
September 23: Francesco, named in honor of St. Francis of Assisi, was born to ... 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