The Catholic faith teaches freedom is a gift from God. In this fifth (and final) excerpt from my, TRANSFORMED BY CHRIST series, I complete the discussion centered on the important question: Does God want us to be Free?
Thank you for reading,
You can read the first part of this stream by pressing HERE.
EXCELLENCE NOT POPULAR?
Fighting for equality over liberty can lead to laws that attempt to force everyone to be the same. That ideology leads a culture to a place where we no longer honor hard work or personal uniqueness. In that ideology, Christianity must become just another religion among many who espouse the same middle of the road beliefs.
It is a dangerous reality that today, we are moving away from liberty and toward a full embrace of equality of result (in this context, equality = everyone being the same). We are rapidly moving toward forced sameness, rather than uniqueness that comes from being free. We are moving toward mediocrity, rather than greatness born from living in true freedom and liberty (ask yourself: Does God want us to be Free?).
We see this pursuit of equality on our children’s baseball fields, and other sporting events, where all participants receive awards and trophies even when they have come in last. Our culture has lost the knowledge that failure and hardship create stronger and better people. None of us enjoys failing, and we dislike losing; however, those events help to make us stronger, they help to shape us into free and productive people. Our culture is moving toward a model in which hard work and striving for the absolute best is archaic and meaningless. We can apply this to our faith life—those who strive for personal holiness receive frequent scorn and ridicule.
To reach for our absolute best, we must experience failure, which teaches us how to work and climb. Liberty is unique, and most people in history did not experience authentic freedom. We can reach for Heaven, and for the stars, only when we are free.
Citizens of the United States have long held the belief that hard work and excellence could allow a poor person to rise above their poverty (which has happened over-and-over in this nation). The opportunity for excellence works only under a system that provides liberty. Excellence (and uniqueness) means nothing in a structure that says all people must be the same, which is a central reason liberty for all is vastly more important than equality of result for all.
If this nation continues along those paths, we will indeed become like the frog in the pot. We will slowly boil in a pot of sameness and increasing state control. The nation and culture we love will disappear.
Does God want us to be Free?
If one looks around the globe, it is not difficult to discern that we in the United States (along with many nations in the West) live free and comfortable lives. We are a strange lot because we have short memories. History is replete with nations and governments who have enslaved their people, and who have kept their populations in poverty. Yet, many people today are considering governmental systems historically known to bring near slave-like conditions.
There are many examples of the horror’s governments have brought upon its citizens (though the cases are too numerous to cite in this limited space).
Today, we are witnessing an increasing number of citizens citing “Socialism” as a possible path for the USA. This is a shocking development considering the realities of life during the twentieth century with two World Wars and a Cold War teaching us the dangers of Socialism and Communism. In a short span, we have forgotten history.
Nations implementing a socialist government have attempted to make the system look appealing, almost preferable, to other forms of government. However, we know from a rational look at those nations that in the end, under socialism, it is the people who suffer, who have freedoms slowly taken away, who often scrounge for simple basic needs (food, shelter, etc.). To those suffering under that system, authentic freedom is nothing but a dream.
The United States was born from the deeply held desire of our founders to live a free life, to make their own choices. Yet, our system of government is tenuous at best. If we do not strive to hold our liberty, it will be lost. Consider these statements from the Catechism and from an encyclical by Pope Pius XI:
CCC 2425 The Church has rejected the totalitarian and atheistic ideologies associated in modem times with “communism” or “socialism.”…
If Socialism, like all errors, contains some truth (which, moreover, the supreme pontiffs have never denied), it is based nevertheless on a theory of human society peculiar to itself and irreconcilable with true Christianity. Religious socialism, Christian socialism, are contradictory terms; no one can be at the same time a good Catholic and a true socialist (Pius XI’s Quadragesimo Anno, 120).
It takes little research to learn about the damage and death systems based on socialism have brought to the world. In current times, many people are adopting a sympathetic view of socialism—which is a sign of a lack of knowledge of real history. Of the many things we have discussed, it must be made clear that freedom and liberty cannot coexist under systems such as Socialism. Some may object by stating that the USA already has social programs in place, which is undeniably true; however, social programs do not equate to Socialism. Let us consider a definition from Meriam Webster:
1: any of various economic and political theories advocating collective or governmental ownership and administration of the means of production and distribution of goods
2 a: a system of society or group living in which there is no private property
b: a system or condition of society in which the means of production are owned and controlled by the state
3: a stage of society in Marxist theory transitional between capitalism and communism and distinguished by unequal distribution of goods and pay according to work done
[Bolding added for emphasis}
Freedom and liberty are God-given, yet many times in history, humans have been enslaved and oppressed by systems that lead to such horrors. Ultimately, the system we have in the USA is far from perfect—it has its issues and problems, we must strive to make our system work for all citizens. However, we are free people with the ability to choose the path our lives will take. Our system continues to reward hard work and ambition.
Perhaps, we have enjoyed our liberty for so long that we have begun to take it for granted. Let us renew our knowledge of history—and let us not shy away from the lessons we learn from the horrors we see in those studies.
Our founders shed much blood, and life, to create a system under which we enjoy our freedoms. Let us never forget that we must work to maintain liberty, for what we hold (regarding personal freedom) is unique in history, it can easily be lost if we do not hold tight to that most precious gift.
WHAT CAN WE DO?
Catholics and all Christians can spend time learning the faith and the Bible. Those who study the Bible, the Catechism, and the early Church Fathers and Doctors will learn the truths of the faith often missed in this culture. The Church calls every Catholic to work to learn their faith. We must form our conscience in the full truths Jesus left to His Church.
- We serve each other and our nation when we improve our lives and our walk with Christ. Such commitments cause a ripple effect that can extend from person-to-person. Catholics and all Christians should decide to follow their faith entirely, rather than treating the faith as if it is something from which they can pick and choose what they will follow.
- We can learn about United States history, notably the American Revolution—to increase our knowledge of why liberty is critical. If you enjoy reading contemporary authors, the following titles are sound:
David McCullough, “1776.”
David McCullough, “John Adams.”
- We can take a cautious approach before casting votes by studying the issues from a faith perspective. The condition of our wallets should not be the reason to choose any candidate. We should select candidates that will do the right thing. Sometimes it is difficult to place the needs of our nation ahead of personal needs, yet the Lord calls us to care about those around us. If we refuse to help renew this nation, who will do the work for us?
- We must get off our couches and move into life as authentic, faithful Catholics. The Lord calls us to make a difference. Jesus said that a lamp must not be hidden; it must sit on a stand for all to see. Jesus also said we are to be the salt of the world. Our faith must be something we work on, and it must be something we share with the world, or it becomes a near meaningless faith. Consider this passage:
- What does it profit, my brethren, if a man says he has faith but has not works? Can his faith save him? If a brother or sister is ill-clad and in lack of daily food, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled,” without giving them the things needed for the body, what does it profit? So faith by itself, if it has no works, is dead. [James 2:14-17 RSVCE, italics added]
- We should teach our children the faith in strong terms, not watering-down the truths. We should also teach our children liberty is a gift we must protect, or it will be lost for future generations. Many children today do not receive sound faith formations in their homes. There are many reasons for the lack of proper formation for children, yet no matter the reason, we must do a better job raising our children in the faith. Faith helps our children discern right from wrong while living in a culture that does not know how to make those discernments.
- We can get involved in the political process and work against the anti-faith and anti-liberty tide that is marching across the country.
- We can ask for help from our Risen Lord. We should pray for this nation, and we should pray for our leaders. God can and does work wonders when many righteous people pray in common.
Liberty is a precious God-given gift. The Lord desires for us to be free. We must never become complacent regarding the liberties we hold, and we must stand against implementing (dangerous and harmful) forms of government, such as Socialism and Communism. Seeking comfort is natural, life can distract us or lull us into inactivity; therefore, we must struggle against living a lukewarm life. Through faith, we can help the Church bring the truths of the Gospel to the world.
Thank you for reading,
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