God has created us with the frightful gift of freedom. We are not puppets on a string. We are not predetermined in our actions. We have the freedom of choice to do good and to avoid evil. The reason? God has created us for love. God who is perfect love wills to give himself to us.
God loves us and he wills that we love him in return. Not because he is selfish, but because he is generous and wants to fill us with love. Love cannot be coerced. Love must be free. And so God gives us the freedom to love him by doing the good that leads to him. But, this also means he leaves us free to do the evil that turns us away from him and our true happiness.
It is true: we do not all share the same beliefs. But we do share that conviction that our faith matters more than anything else. We need to support one another. And we need to defend one another’s freedom — to hold our beliefs and to live according to those beliefs.
We are not the inevitable products of history or economics or any other determinist equation. We’re free, and therefore we’re responsible for both the beauty and the suffering we help make. Why does God allow wickedness? He allows it because we – or others just like us – choose it. The only effective antidote to the wickedness around us is to live differently from this moment forward. We make the future beginning now.
Words are important. The freedom to worship is an exclusive term that relates only to the way people express their relationship with God inside the walls of the church. Freedom of religion carries the wider meaning of religious expression beyond the walls of the church into the public arena.
Fear paralyzes; hope liberates.
For us Catholics, as for many other devout believers, religion is worship; and, worship of God includes works of charity. The two are inseparable. We love God above all and we love him in all. We cannot allow some of our leaders to take away from us our God-given and constitutionally recognized right of full freedom of religion.
It is in the power of God, in our Faith, that we find true freedom.
We can choose to be downtrodden because of the attacks that continue on innocent life and our faith or we can choose, as Father Giussani proposes, to depend on our Lord as we continue to follow Him faithfully and witness to our faith in the public square.
The foundation of security, justice and peace in an open society must be based on respect for the dignity of every person, ally or enemy. There can be no compromise on the moral imperative to protect the basic human rights of all individuals.
It seems paradoxical yet it is true that as growth in freedom leads to self-mastery it also leads to genuine concern for others. Self-mastery, which is acquired through grace, perseverance, obedience and other virtues, frees us to direct our talents, thoughts and desires to the fulfillment of God’s plan, without undue concern about any difficulties that it may entail. Because we now know that only in God can we be freed from slavery to sin and selfish inclinations, we are now more determined to fulfill His plan for our lives. We find freedom by heeding the words of the Virgin Mary (Jn 2:5), “Do whatever He tells you.
If a government or a society is bent on control, is bent on limiting human rights, they know that religious thought and religious action have to be controlled, dominated and eradicated first.
Christian faith is about liberation from evils such as hatred, violence and death, and a personal encounter with the One who heals, befriends, directs and delights!
Only through a right understanding of the moral order will we be able to live in freedom, peace and liberty the inalienable rights granted to us by our Creator. With this understanding, faith and politics do play an important role of integrating the moral order with society so that all might live in peace, freedom and liberty.
I invite you to be counter-culture in this climate of relativism, to have faith that God’s commandments indeed lead to life, true freedom and happiness and guarantee our authenticity.
While all of us struggle with temptations against love, which are temptations against true freedom, and while we are familiar with weaknesses of will and intellect caused by original sin, the natural inclinations we have within us do not hinder freedom. In fact, they are actually freedom’s source planted within us by God.