If there is anything the Catholic Church has taught me it is the value of freedom. I’ve been contemplating freedom in regards to the faith, and proof of that stems from my last post in which I wrote about freedom from detachment to things outside of God’s will, but here, freedom comes with thoughts that enrich the meaning of life and existence.
Today, many people see Christian morality, the doctrine of the church, and even God as this “deal” that promises “if you follow all my rules, I’ll reward you.” In the same way, ‘freedom to do what you please’ can’t come if you love God because there are so many restrictions. As if God actually says, “I just created you, and well, I decided I want you to be miserable. Don’t enjoy this life that I made and instead follow these rules that stop you from bliss.”
Yeah, not what my Bible says.
“Jesus then said to those [Jews] who believed in him, “If you remain in my word, you will truly be my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” –John 8:31-32
Because if this institution was built, upheld, and continues to stand securely well with a message that claims to be “in harmony with the most secret desires of the human heart” (CCC 2126) then it should only follow that if what the Church teaches is objectively true, then our experiences, choices, and decisions—subjective as they are—should offer confirmation to this truth.
We all know what it’s like to feel closed off because we intuitively know what freedom feels like. It’s the picture above of the chains in your life breaking. Maybe you felt this after you stopped manipulating your life with a certain vice, or ending friendships that stopped you from being yourself, or broke up with someone you know was bad for you. It’s freedom in full affect and it’s breathtaking.
Because the choice to follow God’s commandments, especially in times of cavernous temptation, personal suffering, or hardships, is really just a choice “to turn the central part of you, the part of you that chooses to be a little different from what it was before. And with taking your life as a whole, with all your innumerable choices, you slowly turn this central part of you either into a heavenly creature or into a hellish creature: either into a creature that is in harmony with God, and others, and self, or in a state of war and hatred with God, others, and self. To be the one kind of creature is heaven: that is one filled with the essence of joy, peace, knowledge, and power. And to be the other means madness, horror, idiocy, rage, impotence, and eternal loneliness. And each of us is progressing to the one state or the other.” (CS Lewis, Mere Christianity–pg 92).
And each of us has the utmost freedom, to become one or the other. God of the universe is not a God that forces people to do anything, He doesn’t even force us to follow Him. We can choose to “unfollow” God if we wish. But He truly wants the best for us and set up a tradition by ways we can experience total and complete bliss.
So for those of you who have been hesitant to trust fully in God, have said or thought the things I mentioned in the beginning, or have been turned off by the church in some way (maybe through a person, or bad experience) you may find my words to either be uplifting or untrue.
Either way, with complete and utter respect for your freedom, I invite you to reflect on God’s love and take your entire life, all the choices you made (good or bad), and reflect honestly. See if the church confirms her proposal.
And after that reflection, embrace your dignity. Embrace the fact that there is an institution in this world that yearns to do what is best for you, and there is a God who is for you, not against you.
Because the church is a promise for more, a vivid reflection of real love, and ultimately, a choice to involve yourself in the redemption you know you need, not the condemnation you feel.