Intentions of the Holy Father for April

Ecology and Justice. That governments may foster the protection of creation and the just distribution of natural resources.
Hope for the Sick. That the Risen Lord may fill with hope the hearts of those who are being tested by pain and sickness.

Liberty in the Land We Love

4 July 2007 - Independence Day

At the Independence Day morning Mass at my parish yesterday, the priest preached about the true nature of liberty. I'd like to share a brief summary of his thinking.

Liberty, he said, is the ability to choose. Our culture mistakenly thinks the ability to choose somehow places the choice in a moral vacuum. That is, because a person is able to choose been option A and option B, the two options must be equally good in moral terms. While this line of thought is true enough when considering which iPod to buy, in moral questions it is not necessarily the case. Some choices are wrong in themselves. Others are not necessarily wrong, but might be less good than better options also available. Do we have an obligation then, always to use our freedom to choose the best good?

Well, he reasoned, we were made for the greatest good, for the greatest happiness. Choosing anything else, that we know to be a lesser good, can never be the right choice for us. In fact, doing so creates a rift within us. The rift that opens is between our conscience, which indicated the best good, and our appetites and passions, to which we surrendered to choose a lesser good. Our conscience, without being linked to our powerful passions, gradually becomes weaker. Our passions, without the governance of our conscience, gradually become more unruly and uncontrollable. Eventually, we will become enslaved to them and have no other choice but to comply with whatever they dictate to us.

St. Augustine writes, "Though a man be a slave, if he be virtuous he is free. And though he be a king, he is a slave to as many masters as he has vices." He might very well have been describing many in our modern society. So many in our culture are unable to control spending habits or are addicted to a range of substances and activities "to take our mind off things." We frequently overeat even at great financial expense and detriment to health. We are absorbed by a false personalization in the "personalized" world of electronic gadgets and anonymous internet relationships, even to the point of neglecting real relationships. We yet somehow think of ourselves as free.

"Free for what?" one just must ask. Free for what? To be happy? It all seems overwhelming to me - even as these vices play out in my own little life - until I remember something key. Our Lord told his apostles about all the horrible things that would seem to overwhelm the world, and then added, "I have said this to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world," Jn 16:33. If we look to a political or military solution for the world's problems, we might get something temporary and fading, as in the various peace accords between Israel and the Arab Palestinians. We might. But if we look to Christ, and cling to Him, then we will overcome with Him.

On a (much) happier note, the fireworks last night were beautiful against the navy-gray sky.

Let's love America and pray for her and work to improve her. Not because she is perfect, but because God has given us to her, and her to us.

1 comment:

Chavo said...

The fireworks were indeed beautiful.