DAILY CATHOLIC    THURSDAY     July 1, 1999     vol. 10, no. 127


To print out entire text of Today's issue, go to SECTION ONE and SECTION TWO
          Pat Ludwa, a committed lay Catholic from Cleveland, has been asked to contribute, on a regular basis, a lay person's point of view on the Church today. We have been impressed with his insight and the clear logic he brings to the table from his "view from the pew." In all humility, by his own admission, he feels he has very little to offer, but we're sure you'll agree with us that his viewpoint is exactly what millions of the silent majority of Catholics believe and have been trying to say as well. Pat puts it in words that help all of us better understand and convey to others what the Church teaches and we must believe.

          Today Pat treats the meaning of independence and freedom, something we celebrate this coming weekend. He illustrates how those who leave God out of the equation are not attaining freedom but rather everlasting bondage. The only way we can be totally free is by submitting to the Almighty for Jesus has said as much when He says in Matthew 16 that the only way is by taking up our cross and following Him...all the way to Calvary in order to be freed from death at the Resurrection.

Real Freedom!

          Independence Day, July 4th. The day we celebrate our freedom. But are we truly free? Freedom comes at a cost. Those who lived in the Soviet Union had freedom. Freedom from homelessness, freedom from want, etc. But the cost was that there was no freedom of speech, no freedom of thought. In order to create the 'perfect' society, the Soviet Union had to restrict other freedoms. In short, it wasn't freedom at all, but really a sort of slavery.

          In much the same way, we too are free. We are free to succeed and to fail. But whereas we have the freedom of speech, we are not free to go into a crowded theatre and cry "fire!" Our freedom is tempered with laws, rules. True and total freedom is another word for anarchy. Yes, they would be totally free, but their freedom would also mean homes that are fortresses, with iron bars on the windows. We accept these laws, these restraints, these limits of freedom, for the sake of freedom.

          Today, we hear many speak of their right to do as they please, that they are free to live and act any way they choose. In the Church, this is translated as living by their conscience, and that conscience is formed by their own personal experiences; that the Church has no right to restrict what they are to do or what they are not to do; that the Ten Commandments are more like the Ten Suggestions.

          From such groups as Call To Action, Dignity, WomanChurch, and FutureChurch, to name a few, we hear how they promise 'freedom,' free to 'choose', free to live according to their wants and desires, free to be who they are.

          The Apostle Saint Peter says, "These are waterless springs and mists driven by a storm; for them the nether gloom of darkness has been reserved. For, uttering loud boasts of folly, they entice with licentious passions of the flesh men who have barely escaped from those who live in error. They promise them freedom, but they themselves are slaves of corruption; for whatever overcomes a man, to that he is enslaved. For if, after they have escaped the defilements of the world through the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled in them and overpowered, the last state has become worse for them than the first. For it would have been better for them never to have known the way of righteousness than after knowing it to turn back from the holy commandment delivered to them. It has happened to them according to the true proverb, The dog turns back to his own vomit, and the sow is washed only to wallow in the mire"(2 Peter 2:17-22).

          Where once they 'knew' the truth, they have rejected it for what they 'prefer' to be the truth; killing an 'informed' conscience, to create one more to their liking. "All those who refuse to do penance and receive the Body and Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ are blind, because they cannot see the true light, our Lord Jesus Christ. They indulge their vices and sins, and follow their evil longings and desires, without a thought for the promises they made (at their baptism, confirmation, etc.). In body they are slaves of the world and of the desires of their own lower nature….in spirit they are slaves of the devil. They have been led astray by him and have made themselves his children, dedicated to doing his work (to confound and confuse the faithful and lead them away from the truth and God). (St. Francis of Assisi; Letter to all the Faithful)

          "In like manner these men in their dreamings defile the flesh, reject authority, and revile the glorious ones. But when the archangel Michael, contending with the devil, disputed about the body of Moses, he did not presume to pronounce a reviling judgment upon him, but said, 'The Lord rebuke you.' But these men revile whatever they do not understand, and by those things that they know by instinct as irrational animals do, they are destroyed. Woe to them! For they walk in the way of Cain, and abandon themselves for the sake of gain to Balaam's error,…. These are grumblers, malcontents, following their own passions, loud-mouthed boasters, flattering people to gain advantage" (Jude 1: 8-11).

          "But you must remember, beloved, the predictions of the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ; they said to you, 'In the last time there will be scoffers, following their own ungodly passions.' It is these who set up divisions, worldly people, devoid of the Spirit. But you, beloved, build yourselves up on your most holy faith; pray in the Holy Spirit; keep yourselves in the love of God; wait for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life" (Jude 8-11;17-21).

          So we see that freedom doesn't necessarily mean what many think. Christ came to free us from sin, from the bonds, the chains, of sin. Yet many prefer these chains to the 'chains' of Christ. "Come to Me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you, and learn from Me; for I am gentle and humble of heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy, and My burden is light" (Matthew 11:28-30).

          Christ is calling on us to 'bind' ourselves to Him., to be His servants. "For freedom Christ has set us free; stand fast therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery. ….For you were called to freedom, brethren; only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love be servants of one another. For the whole law is fulfilled in one word, "You shall love your neighbor as yourself." But if you bite and devour one another take heed that you are not consumed by one another. But I say, walk by the Spirit, and do not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh; for these are opposed to each other, to prevent you from doing what you would. But if you are led by the Spirit you are not under the law. Now the works of the flesh are plain: fornication, impurity, licentiousness, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, anger, selfishness, dissension, party spirit, envy, drunkenness, carousing, and the like. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such there is no law. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires" (Galatians 5:1; 13-24).

          Imagine the world 'enslaved' by Christ and His Church. We would be free from being used for any reason. Each person, every life, would be loved and cherished as a gift of God. No one would use another for gain or personal gratification. STD's would cease to exist. Poverty would end, wars would be no more.

          But the world is enslaved to other things. So we become enslaved to money, power, pleasure, etc. We see and read how those who are 'worldly' are elevated. Laws are created to empower them, etc. Yet those who follow Christ, have taken His yoke upon them, are ridiculed, mocked, and laws are passed to restrict them, hamper them, silence them.

          A saying goes, "Better to rule in hell than serve in Heaven." It appears our society now lives by that dictum. A new definition of 'freedom' has allowed the gates of hell to spill out over the land. Corporations get richer while their workers get poorer, sexual permissiveness has opened the flood gates of sexual diseases, children killed in their mothers wombs (some just three inches from birth), etc.

          If we truly wish to be free, look to Christ, bound hand and foot to the cross. "Then Jesus told His disciples, 'If any man would come after Me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow Me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for My sake will find it. For what will it profit a man, if he gains the whole world and forfeits his life? Or what shall a man give in return for his life?'" (Matthew 16:24-26).

      Pax Christi, Pat

July 1, 1999       volume 10, no. 127


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