Freedom is the God-given state of man’s natural existence, which makes it possible for man to achieve his natural end of flourishing in relationships with other people and his supernatural end of a communion of love with the Blessed Trinity. To be loved by the Father and to love Him in return by receiving this great love is the meaning of human life. In communion with the Blessed Trinity is the place where we will find our greatest fulfillment and happiness, ultimately in heaven, but even now in this moment and in every moment of our lives. “The Lord Jesus, when He prayed to the Father, “that all may be one. . . as we are one” (John 17:21-22) opened up vistas closed to human reason, for He implied a certain likeness between the union of the divine Persons, and the unity of God’s sons in truth and charity. This likeness reveals that man, who is the only creature on earth which God willed for itself, cannot fully find himself except through a sincere gift of himself.” God grants us the gift of freedom because He desires us to enter into this deep communion with Himself.
As we begin to discuss freedom, I want to lay the groundwork by giving us a few general solid Catholic principles from which to work. First, I want to explore the idea of teleology. Things (and people) work properly when the truth about them is respected particularly concerning their teleology – a fancy word for intended purpose –and things do not work properly when we do not respect the truth about them.
To illustrate this, I want you all to meet my dad, Dr. Bill Rooney, (see the picture) who is a professor of Soil and Crop Sciences at Texas A&M – so he might know a little bit about gardening. One day, my dad bought a new garden tiller which is used to turn the soil over and make rows for planting in a garden. He was really excited to finally get the new tiller, and use it in the garden. So, upon bringing it home he put some gas in the tank and then excitedly started it up. It ran well for about 2 minutes and then died in a blaze of glory. See, my dad forgot an essential step in running any engine – he forgot to put oil in the engine. This caused the pistons to wear a hole in the block and the engine to become completely destroyed. My dad was sad.
Luckily, in this case a new replacement block could be obtained relatively easily and my dad was tilling the soil in our garden once again because he had learned to respect the truth that engines need oil to function, and acted accordingly. Thus, he was free to use the tiller for its intended purpose, because he respected the truth about the tiller.
In our lives the same principle applies, if we respect the truth about what and who we are, we are free to do what we are meant to do – i.e. live in communion with the Blessed Trinity. But often the damage that is done when we ignore some truth about ourselves, or worse accept the lies of the world or the evil one, is much worse than the destruction of the engine, and is not as easily fixed.
Next time we will talk about obstacles to acting in freedom and reasons we sometimes fail to use our freedom appropriately.