Freedom

An Essay By Aisling // 7/6/2004

I. What It Is

When some think of freedom they probably picture a person who is perfectly and happily satisfied, who can get what he wants, think what he wants, say what he wants and in all that have a right to. When I think of freedom I picture a little child standing at the top of a great hill, with the wind blowing over him; or a bird soaring in the deep, blue sky, so full of joy that it sings. The first picture would be more closely categorized as physical freedom, I think, while the next two would be something of a deeper element. The visual side of spiritual freedom. Still I would have to say that I do not see an example even of physical freedom in someone who need never fear contradiction or confrontation. The man who takes freedom for a right to go ahead and have fun is a man who is caught in the strongest chains of the most terrible captivity. For it is a true though sad fact that the human will, if left alone, will wander into evil ways. Hence God gave each of us a soul, the gift of reason, a free will, and a conscience. He led us to the water but He chose not to make us drink, for He could have if He so wished. That is the base of physical freedom, our capability of choosing what we please. But as soon as one chooses sin, they have stepped off the way of true freedom, in every sense, and into captivity. We are given the freedom to choose freedom--and can we, then, choose slavery?
Physical freedom draws a fine line between good and evil which is very hard to walk upon. But we all must, for our human weakness puts us on the line even while God's grace keeps us from falling off. Physical freedom is two things: it is justice, and it is mercy. Justice allows us freedom of speech, freedom of life, political freedom and social freedom. Mercy allows us the freedom to have those things. Physical freedom is the right to act freely, but also dependence of the body on the soul, or the evolving of the physical around the spiritual. The acceptance of defeat, the submission of our own wills. This is the essence of living in freedom. Offering up the freedom we have to God, we receive from Him a return of a hundredfold, if not in this life then in the next. Often times so much emphasis is put upon physical freedom that I think people forget there can be no true freedom unless there is first spiritual freedom.

Spiritual freedom is the acceptance of our human need of God. Our abandonment of ourselves to Him, and our openness to His Spirit. Spiritual freedom is the strongest and only beautiful form of captivity. Yet to be truly captured by God we must first allow it, and to allow it we must love Him dearly. Hence, we cannot truly be captured unless we love Him totally, for then we are captive of that very love. Yet if we love Him purely, which I have said we must to be completely taken captive, we then do not see our captivity as that. We see it as the only kind of freedom we could ever wish. The freedom of being the instrument of God, freedom for God to move. If we become, ourselves, as nothing, then there is room for Him to fill us. So caught up in His will we become the effect of the freedom that beats in His love. We are the channel through which He can flow. This is spiritual freedom, the total openness to God's will, so that nothing is left but Him. The complete submission to His design, and acceptance of His every wish. Then we are free to do the most beautiful thing possible. To do what God wants us to.
Now I suppose it is almost impossible, only almost, for someone to be completely transformed into this perfect state of nothingness and to be such a complete, utter and entire instrument of God, and channel for His will. However many a man has come near it, or desired to, which is half the battle. This is the kind of relationship God desires to have with us, for though it may seem at first sight as very unfair on our side, He rewards us with more than we deserve. Even if we received no reward at all He would still be worthy of every human being's total homage and more. God has given us not only the greatest gift He could, but the greatest gift that can ever be given, in all of eternity. Which would be the greatest gift He could give because His power has no restriction. He gave us Himself. He who created everything now coexisting with Him, He who is all our good qualities polished and multiplied forever, He who never began and will never end. This very God cared so much about us, the wretched fallen race of Adam, that He actually would, and did, give us Himself-- and in doing so offered up His infinity, His perfection, His might, His majesty, His immeasurable worth, everything. It might seem I am wandering from my point, but it is in the very fact that we, an unworthy, weak race, were given our very God that makes any freedom possible today.

II. What It Does

Having now explained as best I can what I was inspired to, two kinds of freedom, I will now talk on what comes of freedom. First I shall elaborate on the not-so-uncommon negative effect of freedom. We in our human weakness are hopelessly apt to fall into sin, and freedom is a perfect opportunity. The Enemy loves freedom, or rather hates true freedom passionately but is terribly jealous of anyone who has any form of it. This must be because he is without any freedom, it was all taken away when he rebelled and refused to be just a channel for God's will to flow through. Hence he was cast into the abyss and now his main intention is to bring us all to the same misery he is surrounded by, as the only relief for having to endure it. Every chance he can he grabs at, and freedom offers many an occasion for temptation. However, where there is true and complete freedom the Enemy has no chance, so He must catch us while we are yet young in Christ. While we are growing in freedom of spirit. Yet, even to do this he must often disguise his temptations under progression, his falsehoods under truth.
Physically free we have the ability to do evil--that is putting it as clearly and simply as possible. That is when our freedom of spirit must balance that of our physical selves. Freedom is a good thing. Yet many people hide under this fact, while enjoying false freedom, and use it to justify their wrongdoing. Feasting, and collecting money might be seen as only using our physical freedom, but it is abusing that of our spirits. We can all go through life looking at the half of the cup that is empty, we can all crave money and do almost anything to get it, we can all go around doing damage out of hate and prejudice, we can all indulge ourselves in the pleasures of the senses. Freedom allows us the ability to choose anything. We might say 'I choose freedom', and yet seek it only as a means of pleasure for ourselves. If we do not seek freedom only because we know it is right, and only to better allow the will of God to be done we seek, perhaps, the right thing, but for the wrong reasons. However it is better to seek the right for the wrong reasons than to seek the wrong for the right reasons. Because wrong is wrong, no matter how you look at it, and you can't seek it and still be in the right. We must seek the truth, the good, the right, the life, the light, the freedom that is Christ. For while evil can and often does come of freedom, it is in itself good and so is capable of bringing about good. Our challenge is to pursue it farther than insofar as it gives us comfort and pleasure--we must pursue insofar as it is meant to be pursued. The cup of Freedom must be drunk to the dregs to be drunk at all.

With freedom we can choose virtue, love, suffering, over money, hate, and indulgence. We can choose Christ--and it's nice to know we have all of Heaven voting for us, isn't it? The odds seem sometimes like they should be unquestionable. With our Blessed Lady and myriad of saints and angels to intercede to God Himself for us, why is there any evil? It all depends on us. If we do not ask for help it can't be given, unless others ask for us. If we don't seek we won't find. If we don't knock the door can't be opened. Freedom is the road beneath us. It allows us to go on. And yet there is more than one road. Christ is our staff, if we lean on Him we won't fall. This staff will follow us even is we're going the wrong way, and we can still lean upon it. It's hard to see, sometimes, where the fine line is drawn. Between the true freedom and the fake, the good captivity and the bad. If we accept all Christ sends but never are driven by a crave for more than the necessary, if our intention is to follow Christ, then I think we're pretty well off. I like to think of it this way. Jesus has one billboard and the Enemy another. Jesus' billboard is covered with rocks, clouds, thorns, darkness, and cold, with only His beaten body hanging upon the cross to break the monotony. The Enemy's billboard is covered with flowers, stars, music, light, and warmth, with only himself in the middle grasping it all close to him. If we choose the rocks, the clouds, the thorns, the dark, the cold and the cross we are worthy of flowers, stars, music, light, and warmth. If we choose those things we are only worthy of rocks, clouds, and the rest. And in the end we all get what we're worthy of.

III. The Reward

Sometimes I think it would be better if no one had freedom at all, then no one could do wrong. But would that make them good? Are we bad only because we do wrong? A sin is grave in any case, but when the sinner truly wants to do wrong and enjoys it he is far worse off than one ignorant of the gravity of sin, and who does not wish to hurt or hinder anyone. Just as we are not good only because we do kind things. If we do not want to do them what does it matter? Hence we all must choose, and in the choosing prove who we are. God gave us freedom because without it how were we to ever make up for Adam's sin? Without it no one could ever be proved worthy of Heaven or hell. But, and perhaps most importantly to Our Lord, without it we men would be a lot less happy--we would be deprived of a sweet delight, a wonderful joy. God in His goodness wished it not so, He wished us each to prove our love, and through it come unquestionably into our inheritance. He gave us freedom that we might fully bring glory to Him. That is why we were made, and why our lives are maintained. That is why we must live. He gave us freedom that He might be able to say 'well done, my good and faithful servant', for a puppet cannot be faithful, nor can anything without will. He gave us freedom that He might be able to experience the joy of greeting us at Heaven's gates and knowing we lived our best, though no one can ever earn all He--in His mercy--gives us. Perhaps we can never know all of the reasons why we are free, but I, for one, am grateful.

Because God made us free we have a great responsibility. we must protect and defend our freedom, nurture it, use it wisely, and appreciate and treasure it. Protecting our freedom might sound easy, but what it really means is guarding it against the Enemy and all his falsehoods about what it is to be free, which can be trying, and difficult. It is never accepting his lies, or giving way to his images of how it should be, what we are doing wrong, or where we should change. It means fighting the good fight bravely and falling not into the snares, or turning not from the right road. Of course we all fail sometimes, but we are called to persevere. Freedom un-nurtured is freedom wasted, almost. We must grow in our knowledge, understanding, and appreciation of liberty. We must become more free in Christ and free from sin with every day. More a channel for Him, and more a contradiction to evil and folly. We must use it wisely. We mustn't fall into the habit of seeking luxury, or indulging in everything we want, when we want it, how we want it, and all the rest. Keeping our freedom true and pure, we must use it according to God's design. To bring glory to Him, and to obtain eternal life: our last and greatest reward. Lastly we must treasure it. Oh, how overwhelming to think that almighty God would even care to bless this fallen race with such a liberty, and care to leave us with it, when every day evil grows, and every day He might take it away! Give thanks, praise, honor, laud, glory!
We are the army of Christ, if we fail Him He has no one else to carry on His work here on earth. We have a great responsibility, I say again. Our freedom, properly used, is a strong weapon, a great battlement, a wonderful aid. I wonder if half of man still knows this...
It seems that the concept and understanding of liberty has sadly deteriorated. Do we know it, this freedom? We used to. The men did that fought in the Revolution--that was the miracle that gave us the otherwise impossible victory over England. The men did, also, that fought in the Civil War--that is how slavery was put down and the union preserved. They all did, those who have fought and lived and died for our country, they whose blood has fallen on our own land and upon foreign shores in the World Wars. They saw it, like a luminous vision, within them--they knew what it meant, and because they were able to recognize its worth and beauty, they were willing to die to preserve and advance it.
Let us, then, take heart, for freedom is a beautiful thing, and it is ours! Ours to search, ours to study, ours to treasure and to love. Let us not bring shame to the name of a child of God by abusing this liberty He has mercifully granted us. Let us not betray the many who accepted death that we, today, might live free. Shall they have died in vain? Shall Christ have died in vain? He it was Who first gave us this freedom, while our fellow men have died for their loyalty to His gift.
I will close with these words, which are the spoken cry of the depths of my heart:
LET FREEDOM RING!!!!!

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