Frankl, a survivor of
"Every day, every hour, offered the opportunity to make a decision, which determined whether you would or would not submit to those powers which threatened to rob you of your very self, your inner freedom; which determined whether or not you would become the plaything of circumstance, renouncing freedom and dignity to become moulded into the form of the typical inmate."
even two people are living together, they discover the necessity of rules. But
we are not living in Christian freedom when our moral behaviour is controlled
by rules and commandments, sanctions, threats or promises, even in God’s name.
In order to illustrate Christian freedom from enforcement, let’s consider the law of speed limits on the road. I willingly accept speed limits when I’m driving because I want to drive safely, without inflicting harm on myself or on others. I don’t need the police to enforce the speed limit on me. Even if I think I can get away without a fine, I don’t exceed the limits.
It is clear what we are freed from: imposition and enforcement. But what are we freed for? What are we freed to do?
There are liberated people, even Christians, church-going Catholics, religious and priests, dare I say even Secular Franciscans, who have obviously been freed from submission to rules, and even from rules and requirements. They have adopted the practice, widespread in our secular society, of reducing requirements to options, and simply doing what they like.
they been freed merely for self-indulgence?
Jesus freed us from slavery to external law but not so that we would fall into slavery to our unbridled passions. Freedom does not consist in doing what we like. Freedom is not licentiousness. It is the power to choose rationally and to act accordingly. It involves a personal choice made with moral responsibility.
Neither a law-enforced life nor a self-indulgent life is the Christian life of freedom. The third and saving possibility is a life led by the Spirit of Jesus. The Spirit-led Christian rejects false freedom where one is free to do what one likes, and chooses true freedom where one is free to do what one should. We are saved from self-indulgence, not by subjection to a set of moral laws and religious practices, but by responding wholeheartedly to good laws and practices, to God’s love, and to the Spirit of Jesus dwelling in us.
So, Christian freedom involves liberation from self-indulgence. We are free to do what we should do, guided by the Spirit of Jesus and responding willingly.
We take the first step in achieving inward freedom when we “choose our selves". This happens when we affirm responsibility for ourselves. This attitude is contrary to blind conformity and it is opposed to routine existence. It is an attitude of being alive and decisive.
It means that we recognize that we exist in this particular spot in the universe at this particular time, and that we accept the responsibilities of our existence. We show the "will to live". We accept ourselves as we are. We accept the responsibility for fulfilling our own destiny, which is God's will for us. We accept the fact that we ourselves must make our own basic choices.
We are free to love, free to serve God's will, free to "serve one another in works of love" (Gal 5:13), free to take on ourselves the radical requirements of the Gospel, free to respond to God's all-consuming love for us, free to give, free to sacrifice, free to die to selfishness, ultimately free to die to our earthly life, when that is required of us.
us pray that we will be free to bear the fruits of the Spirit of Jesus.
Carl Schafer OFM
National Spiritual Assistant SFO-Oceania