“If we let Christ into our lives, we lose nothing, nothing, absolutely nothing of what makes life free, beautiful and great. No! Only in this friendship are the doors of life opened wide. Only in this friendship is the great potential of human existence truly revealed. Only in this friendship do we experience beauty and liberation.”
-Pope Benedict XVI
I understand how it feels. The feeling that we have no control over what we do. Someone is always telling us what to do: where to go, when to get up, when to be home, what to wear (or what not to wear for that matter) - the list is endless. The reality check of growing up is coming to understand that a lot of other people make our decisions for us. For now, we have to live with it because that is what it means to be young. Most of us are not ready to have a job, pay the bills and live in that fast paced grown-up world. So what do we do now? Be upset at the world because we seem to have no freedom? We could, but would that be the best use of our time and truly lead us to be happy? I think you know the answer…
The above mentality is the same when it comes to our spiritual lives. Young people today have a chip on their shoulder because we feel burdened by rules and a Church that seems to be concerned about telling us the fun things that we can’t do. We claim our freedom is once again being taken from us so we make choices to sit around and be bitter, and yell about the injustices that are happening against us. I write this with a smile on my face because not only was I there, but I have a feeling that most of you know exactly what I am talking about.
The truth is that some of you will sit around with this outlook on life and are absolutely miserable. When we live in a reality where we are the victim and everyone else is out to limit our freedom, power, and fun, life just becomes a journey that is, in the end, binding and not freeing at all. Don’t be surprised if life just becomes a continuous cycle of yearning for freedom and never actually feeling free.
You see my friends, freedom is not what we think it is. We live in a culture and a country that is all about freedom. We often translate this idea of freedom into this zealous idea that we want to be free to do whatever we want, whenever we want, wherever we want. And any type of authority or rules that could limit freedom is a deal breaker, we don’t want anything to do with it. And this way of thinking has led us to where we are at. We are miserable, no one trusts us, and we are not happy.
I think we have gotten it all wrong. We do desire freedom, but we are falling into our culture’s cheap imitation and proposal of a so-called “free life.” Sure it looks pretty romantic, but the warning signs are flashing and the proof is around us. Are the ones that have this freedom that our culture proposes truly happier? Just take a look around. I think it is pretty safe to say that if you look under the surface there is only confusion, hurt and desperation. Our young hearts are being let down, and they long for more.
True freedom is found in Christ. Pope Benedict XVI states, “freedom is not simply about enjoying life in total autonomy, but rather about living by the measure of truth and goodness, so that we ourselves can become true and good”. Being free my friends, is not about doing whatever we want, but about doing what we should do. Not because we have to or our forced to do it, but because we know with the truth and goodness in our hearts that it is the right thing to do. Being free is about embracing our duties and responsibilities as young people and completing them with joy and a generous heart. (You know like cleaning our rooms, doing homework, and going to Church…all the things we roll our eyes at when we are asked to do them!) Being free is about realizing that rules in themselves, while good, are very elementary when it comes to understanding the life we should live. Freedom comes when we move beyond the rules and embrace the deeper goodness from acting rightly.
Our hearts long for this freedom and somewhere deep inside we are afraid it. We feel that if we embrace it and truly start to live it, we will lose something - when in fact we will lose nothing. As far as I am concerned when it comes to our culture and world, there is nothing truly good or true to lose, only so much to gain. When we choose Christ and make our lives about Him, the potential of what our lives could be is truly great and limitless. We will never know until we start to think about freedom differently and start to live it in our lives.
In Christ there is nothing to lose….only so much to gain
God Bless You,
Question of the week: Are you free?
* Catholic News Agency columns are opinion and do not necessarily express the perspective of the agency.