During a visit to the Major Roman Seminary to celebrate the feast of its patroness, Our Lady of Trust, Pope Benedict XVI discussed the concept of freedom explaining that it is only achieved in service to others.
The Pope’s visit, which took place Friday, began at a “lectio divina” for the seminarians on the Letter of St. Paul to the Galatians. The Holy Father commented on the words of the Apostle of the Gentiles in his Letter to the Galatians - "you were called to freedom."
Benedict XVI asked: "What is freedom? How can we be free? St. Paul helps us to understand this complex question of freedom" when he says "do not use your freedom as an opportunity for self-indulgence, but through love become slaves to one another."
He continued by exposing the differences in the true definition of freedom and the world’s view of the concept: "The absolute self who depends on nothing and no-one seems truly and definitively to possess freedom. I am free if I depend on no- one, if I can do anything I want. Yet this absolute exaltation of self is 'flesh,' in other words degradation of man. It is not the conquest of freedom. Libertinism is not freedom, rather it is the failure of freedom."
"Paradoxically, freedom is achieved through service," he explained.
"Our truth is that we are, first and foremost, creatures, creatures of God, and we live in a relationship with the Creator. We are relational beings, and only by accepting this fact do we enter the truth. Otherwise we fall into lies and there, in the end, we destroy ourselves. ... The only human freedom is shared freedom."
"Man has need of order, of laws, in order to realize his freedom, which is a freedom he shares with others. ... If there is no shared truth about man, ... all that remains is positivism and people get the impression of something imposed from outside, even violently imposed. Hence this rebellion against order and laws, as if they represented a form of slavery."
The Holy Father drew his address to a conclusion by referencing a passage in the Letter to the Galatians in which Paul writes: “If you bite and devour one another, take care that you are not consumed by one another’.”
“We see similar things happen today when, rather than entering into communion with Christ, with the Body of Christ which is the Church, everyone wants to be better than everyone else and, with intellectual arrogance, wants to make it known that they are best.
“This gives rise to destructive polemics,” he continued, “to a caricature of the Church, which should be of one heart and soul.”
By listening to the warning from St. Paul, we must examine our own consciences: “not thinking we are better than others, but discovering ourselves in the humility of Christ, in the humility of the Virgin Mary, entering the obedience of the faith. In this way the great spaces of truth and freedom in love open before us."