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At Liberty: Weekly Message for 7-4-17
Ask an American to name something that sums up the nation’s spirit, and you might hear, “The Statue of Liberty,” or, “The Declaration of Independence.”
Liberty and independence are concepts embedded in the nation’s thinking. They are held up as unconditionally good things. But on closer examination, it’s clear that liberty and independence mean different things to different people.
For some people, liberty means the license to do whatever they want. That’s not real liberty. That’s a recipe for chaos. Imagine if people claimed the liberty to drive on whatever side of the road they wanted, or the liberty to stop paying their taxes. Liberty unchecked would bring disaster.
Then there’s “independence,” another slippery notion. The truth is, we are all dependent on God and on one another, even for our very subsistence. Our Lord sustains our very existence at every moment. And deprived of modern amenities – electricity, gasoline – for a week or two, we’d learn in a worldly way how relative that word “independence” is.
The Christian view of liberty is that we use our free will to give glory to God, to choose how we do his will. True freedom allows us to pursue what is true, good, beautiful. True freedom allows us to love.
“Man cannot live without love,” Pope St. John Paul II wrote in his first encyclical. “He remains a being that is incomprehensible for himself, his life is senseless, if love is not revealed to him, if he does not encounter love, if he does not experience it and make it his own, if he does not participate intimately in it.”
Connecting with real liberty means connecting with Our Lord. Perhaps one of retreat guides will help you do that a little better this summer.
Father Edward McIlmail, L.C.
Ask a Priest contributor