www.herald-journal.com
Authentic freedom
July 12, 2010
by Fr. Tom Balluff, St. Mary of Czestochowa Church, Delano

I would like to take just a moment to share with you my thoughts on a perspective very near and dear to my heart.

With the economy apparently stalling, the oil spill in the Gulf still out of control, and the different issues being brought to the surface politically (health care/cap and trade) and socially (same sex marriage, pro-life/abortion rights issues, etc.), there seems to be a lot of change everywhere. One issue that will always remain, and is critical to our thinking about all the issues, is that of authentic freedom.

Our country is founded on authentic freedoms – the freedom of speech, the freedom of religion, the freedom to pursue happiness economically, the freedom to vote for those representatives that we believe have the desire for the common good, among many others.

Theologically, I would point to another definition of what authentic freedom is. Let me begin with what I believe freedom is not.

Freedom is not the ability to choose evil and sin – the ability to do bad things. We call the ability to sin, to be selfish, and to choose evil, “license.” All of humanity, from the very beginning, has had the ability to twist what we call our free will. From Adam and Eve, all the way down to our modern day, humanity has had the ability to hurt and destroy each other, and has done so in some pretty tragic ways.

But humanity has also, at times, shown itself to be incredibly noble, honest, and generous. For instance, in the wake of war, natural disasters, and profound tragedies, the best of humanity has come to the aid of those less fortunate.

True authentic freedom begins in the heart of mankind. It comes from choosing virtue and goodness habitually. The more we live our lives as God has intended for us to do, the greater the inner freedom we will enjoy, and the more we will experience a deeper peace and joy that surpasses all understanding.

This inner freedom that comes from being good, opens us up to understand and appreciate more deeply the heavenly realities. We can actually expand a sort of paradise in this life, in this world.

When we choose evil and sin, it makes us miserable. There is no freedom in choosing those things that create a deeper selfishness and ego-centricity in us.

Certainly, our Lord gives us the Ten Commandments to help guide us in our morality. However, with all of the spin that goes on in today’s world, it is hard to know exactly what is right from what is wrong, even with something that seems so apparently clear.

If we truly want that inner freedom, that peace and joy that surpasses all understanding, then we must be willing to spend time in prayer from the heart and to truly be honest with ourselves and others. We must be willing to walk the path that our Lord lays out for us.

If we are truly desiring to live the way God wants us to, even if we need to make tiny baby steps at first, God will never abandon us and will eventually lead us to our heavenly home.

Conversion of heart is about learning to trust God more and more in our daily lives. It is my conviction and belief, seeing how He has worked in me, that if we ask, we will never be turned away.