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 October 2014
Peace:
That the Lord may grant peace to those parts of the world most battered by war and violence.
World Mission Day: That World Mission Day may rekindle in every believer zeal for carrying the Gospel into all the world.



Comments


More Living Faith

Christians shouldn't badmouth others, Pope warns Watch

Image of People are

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Speaking at his weekly general audience in St. Peter's Square this week, Pope Francis says that Christians must set a good example lest they drive people away into atheism. "How many times we've heard in our neighborhoods, 'Oh that person over there always goes ... continue reading


'Structural causes' of poverty must be dismantled, Pope tells activists Watch

Image of

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

In a wide-ranging speech to activists, Pope Francis urged the gathered to join the fight against the "structural causes" of poverty and inequality, calling for a "revolutionary" program drawn from the Gospels. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - "The poor no ... continue reading


God's existence does not contradict the discoveries of science, Pope Francis says Watch

Image of The pontiff reassured that the Big Bang theory, as well as the theory of evolution do not eliminate the existence of God.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

God remains the one who set all of creation into motion, Pope Francis told the Pontifical Academy of Sciences this week. The pontiff reassured that the Big Bang theory, as well as the theory of evolution do not eliminate the existence of God. LOS ANGELES, CA ... continue reading


Yesterday's Faith is Not Enough: How We Can Overcome Pride Watch

Image of Monks in prayer

By Deacon Keith A Fournier

Jesus continued to do what the Father had sent Him to do, in spite of opposition from apparently religious people. We are invited to follow his example. He will give us the grace to do so, if we ask Him. St Josemaria Escriva used a phrase to refer to the kind of ... continue reading


Christian rapper comes out of the closet --as straight Watch

Image of Jackie Hill-Perry is living testament to the power of God to change those who are willing to accept Him.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Christian rapper, Jackie Hill-Perry has come out of the closet --as straight. Hill-Perry says she experienced gender confusion after being sexually abused as a child and sought same-sex relationships until she says God helped her to change for the better. LOS ANGELES, ... continue reading


Every Christian is 'to create unity in the Church,' Pope Francis declares Watch

Image of This creating of unity in the Church, the Pope said, recounting the reading from Saint Paul to the Philippians,

By CNA/EWTN News

In his homily for Mass at the Santa Marta residence on Oct. 24, Pope Francis reflected on the call of Christians to perpetuate unity in the Church by being "living stones" built upon the "cornerstone of Christ." Vatican City (CNA/EWTN News) - This creating of ... continue reading


Abolish death penalty and life imprisonment, Pope Francis declares Watch

Image of The Vatican recently eliminated life imprisonment from its own penal code, Pope Francis noted.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Calling for the abolition of the death penalty as well as life imprisonment, Pope Francis soundly denounced what he called a "penal populism." The world's prescribed cure for crime - punishment, should never overtake the pursuit for social justice, he says. LOS ... continue reading


Making a Difference - Newly beatified pope championed justice and peace

Image of Pope Paul VI addresses the UN during his 1965 appeal for peace.

By Tony Magliano

With numerous armed conflicts raging in various parts of the world, and the Vietnam War worsening, Pope Paul VI on Oct. 4, 1965 proclaimed before the U.N. General Assembly: "No more war, war never again. It is peace, peace which must guide the destinies of peoples and ... continue reading


'War does not begin in the battlefield. Wars begin in the heart,' Pope Francis says Watch

Image of

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Speaking at his weekly general audience in St. Peter's Square, Pope Francis addressed the topic of war. With the majority of the world engaged in some sort of battle, and it's up to the individual to realize that major conflicts begin with little things. LOS ... continue reading


Finding the Path to Peace Through Forgiveness Watch

Image of For he (Jesus) is our peace, he made both one and broke down the dividing wall of enmity, through his Flesh, abolishing the law with its commandments and legal claims, that he might create in himself one new person in place of the two, thus establishing peace, and might reconcile both with God, in one Body, through the cross, putting that enmity to death by it. He came and preached peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near, for through him we both have access in one Spirit to the Father- St Paul

By Deacon Keith A Fournier

In 1999 I was a part of Project Reconciliation led by a true peacemaker, paralyzed police officer Detective Steven McDonald. This trip was a part of Steven McDonald's mission of preaching peace through forgiveness. It had the goal of helping to heal the wounds ... 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, Philippians 1:1-11
1 Paul and Timothy, servants of Christ Jesus, to all ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 111:1-2, 3-4, 5-6
1 Alleluia! I give thanks to Yahweh with all my ... Read More

Gospel, Luke 14:1-6
1 Now it happened that on a Sabbath day he had gone ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for October 31st, 2014 Image

St. Wolfgang
October 31: Wolfgang (d. 994) + Bishop and reformer. Born in Swabia, ... 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