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The Paradoxes of True Freedom

November 18, 2009

In our age freedom is a distorted and detached concept, a kind of abstraction. There is little connection of freedom to responsibility , to the common good or to truth.  To the modern world freedom is essentially understood as “the ability to do whatever I please.”  Now the absurdity of such a definition is usually evident in our time as my radical freedom bumps up against your radical freedom and suddenly we’re demanding laws!

For a Christian however freedom is the capacity or ability to obey God. Now this is paradoxical to be sure, especially for the modern world where obedience and freedom aren’t usually linked. But for the Christian, sin is slavery and the truth which God reveals sets us free. Consider these quotes from the catechism:

The more one does what is good, the freer one becomes. There is no true freedom except in the service of what is good and just. The choice to disobey and do evil is an abuse of freedom and leads to “the slavery of sin.” (Catechism of the Catholic Church # 1733)…By deviating from the moral law man violates his own freedom, becomes imprisoned within himself, disrupts neighborly fellowship, and rebels against divine truth (1740)

Consider too the words of the Lord who said,   Truly, truly, I say to you, every one who commits sin is a slave to sin. …[But] if the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed. (John 8:34-35)

The first paradox of freedom is that true freedom is experienced only in relation to what is good and true.

  1. It does not take us long to see how enslaving sin can be. There are bad habits, addictions, compulsions and tendencies that set in as we dabble in sin and these can be very hard to break. We may march under the banner of doing what we please but before long we have to do what our unruly passions demand and it becomes hard to break sin’s hold.
  2. True freedom is the capacity to obey God, to do what is right, to be free to speak the truth courageously, to have the capacity to be chaste, self-controlled, to have authority over our anger and other passions, to have the power to forgive, this is what it really means to be free.

The second paradox of freedom is that, since we are contingent and limited beings,  we can only experience freedom within parameters and by limiting our freedom to a certain extent:

  1. For example suppose I were to demand freedom from laws of  gravity. Suppose I simply wished to reject the limits that gravity imposed on me and in an act of revolutionary freedom and defiance stepped off a tall building. It would surely be the last act of freedom I ever exercised. Only by accepting the parameters of gravity can I really be free. To deny the truth of gravity and act as though it were irrelevant not only enslaves, it kills.
  2. Take another example. I am free to speak and communicate with you, but only if I stay within the limits of grammar, vocabulary, punctuation and so forth. In general with Americans I must limit myself to English properly spoken. Can you read this sentence: open to went found they they it the when was tomb?  Of course you cannot make sense of this “sentence” since the word order is so garbled. So, to be free to communicate with you I have to accept some of the rules of word order. Now at least these were  all intelligible words but what if I were to demand the ability to use whatever words and letters I wanted, whatever punctuation and so forth. Can you read this sentence: bey 887q99y0 eh ‘[;0! you to dsfhi piyt! ??  Of course you cannot read it. It may mean something to me, but I cannot really be free to communicate with you unless I accept some limits that language imposes and operate within them .
  3. Yet another example is driving. I am only free to drive if I operate within basic traffic laws and so do others. Unless we all agree to limit our freedom to drive anywhere at any speed in any direction, we really are not free to drive, there is simply too much chaos to get anywhere. Freedom is exercised only within limits.

The Third paradox of freedom is that my freedom today often exists due to prior constraint:

  1. I am free to play the piano today only because I constrained myself to years of practice. I limited my freedom to go out and play and disciplined myself to practice.
  2. I am free to spend money today only because I previously constrained myself to earn it and save it.
  3. I am healthy and in good shape today only because I limited my food intake and exercised regularly.

The Fourth and religious paradox of freedom is that we are only free by becoming slaves and servants of God:

  1. John 8:36 So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.
  2. John 8:32 Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”
  3. Rom 6:17 But thanks be to God that, though you used to be slaves to sin, you wholeheartedly obeyed the form of teaching to which you were entrusted. You have been set free from sin and have become slaves to righteousness….20 When you were slaves to sin, you were free from the control of righteousness. What benefit did you reap at that time from the things you are now ashamed of? Those things result in death! But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves to God, the benefit you reap leads to holiness, and the result is eternal life.
  4. 1 Peter 2:16 Live as free men, yet without using your freedom as a pretext for evil; but live as servants of God.

Conclusion: the absolute and detached freedom imagined by the world does not exist. Insisting on freedom without any connection to what is good and true does not free, it enslaves. True freedom exists within boundaries and guard rails. Some things must be held constant and unyielding if there is to be freedom. There must be some rules or freedom breaks down and is crushed by anarchy, chaos and power struggle. In the end, what makes us truly free is to obey the Father. This frees us from the slavery of sin and gives the capacity to obey God. Anything less is the slavery of sin.

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Comments (21)

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  1. Bender says:

    Ah, two of my favorite topics — truth and freedom.

    Being a strong lover of liberty, I strugged with this idea for a long, long time, that true freedom was the abiity to do what you ought to do, the ability to do the “right” thing, rather than what you might want to do. If I can’t do what I want, if I am restrained from doing as I please, either by outside influences or by self-restraint, then how can I be truly free??

    It wasn’t until I understood sin as being a privation of the good, a distortion of truth, rather than, for example, a violation of rules or disobedience against God (not connecting the dots between Him and Truth), that it started to click. That, and reflecting on the “self-evident truth” of the “inalienable” nature of liberty.

    True freedom is necessarily restrained. True freedom, by its very nature, is necessarily limited, in that it is inalienable, that is, it cannot be given away. If freedom were able to be given away, if one was free to be unfree and able to choose to be a slave, he obviously would no longer be free or in a state of freedom. The consequence of sin is that, by embracing a false and counterfeit “freedom,” we necessarily become a slave to error, as the Monsignor says, even if we erroneously continue to insist that we are still free.

    True freedom exists only in order, not disorder. A choice or act is freely made only when it is made knowingly, intelligently, and voluntarily, with an understanding of the nature and consequences of that choice or act. If one cannot, because of external factors or because of a defective internal conscience, recognize what is true and what is false, what is good and what is evil, then one cannot make an informed and intelligent choice. Error does not lead to truth, it leads to further error and ignorance of truth. Consequently, making erroneous choices, choosing to do that which is wrong, which is contrary to truth and order (in other words, to sin), distorts and impairs one’s ability to further recognize truth and good over that which is false and evil. To do that which is inconsistent with truth is not freedom, but is instead being confined and controlled by error.

    If you insist on doing as you please, rather than following the road map and the road signs, pretty soon you are going to be on the wrong road going in the wrong direction. Now you are no longer free to get where you had planned to go, you are instead a slave to your own foolishness.

    Freedom necessarily is dependent and contingent upon truth. Thus, it is necessarily limited by truth, including moral truth, such that the ability to engage in something contrary to truth, as one might want to do, is not freedom at all. Eating the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge does not free us, it does not make things clearer, it does not make us like gods, empowered to choose and determine what is right and what is wrong; it only enslaves us to error and sin.

    It is, and only can be, by doing what we ought to do, doing what is right and good, that is, acting in conformance with truth (or, put another way, acting in conformance with Truth, i.e. the Logos, i.e. God), acting in a manner consistent with the truth for which we were made, that one can be free. On the other hand, when one insists on doing as he pleases, without any consideration for truth, and thereby acts contrary to what is right and good, then he strays from the path of truth onto the path of error. And error necessarily leads to more error, until ultimately he is, not merely a slave to error (sin), but is so removed from Truth and Love, i.e. Life, that he is “doomed to die,” and not merely bodily death, but eternal death.

    Freedom does not mean, freedom cannot mean, the freedom to not be free, the freedom to be a slave. Likewise, freedom does not mean and cannot mean the freedom to do that which inevitably leads to death. That counterfeit freedom which acts contrary to God leads only to death. The dead have no rights, they have no freedoms, they are merely dead.

    • Yes I think that your description of sin as a privation, not a positive reality is helpful. TO sin is not to do something per se but to fail to do something. Sin involves the lack of something that should be there.

  2. Loreen Lee says:

    On Kant’s Categorical Imperative.
    It took me many many years to make the following distinction to help relieve the perplexity for me of the age. An astute grounding of Kant’s Categorical imperative, is that he recognizes that freedom is essential for moral action. We cannot be coerced into doing ‘good’. I understand now, that Kant’s whole critique was a preliminary for establishing for him the boundaries and obligations of the moral law. Within the context of the times, he therefore has set for morality, as I understand it, the conditions of freedom as being under a ‘constraint’ of reason. We are to act in every case, ‘as if’ (possible use of the imagination here?) what we did would or could become a universal law. I am still trying to understand this issue. But it seems to me that this would place morality under the dictates not only of reason, but of language, logic specifically. Kant said himself that he wished to show the limits of reason, in order to make room for faith. Then he turned around and wrote a book, showing that it was necessary to place faith within the bounds of reason. It took me many years to see this contradiction. Please correct me, if you feel I am ‘off base’.
    Hegel also said that freedom was the recognition of necessity. Did he assume than that we would find this necessity within the contingencies of the universe and historicity? He never satisfied me, in explaining how it is we would find the necessity that would allow us to be free.
    Sartre said ‘We are doomed to be free’. As an atheist he said that of course he knew that God did not exist, and yet, (here is the important part), he yearned for God. This supports my belief that no atheist is a committed atheist. It is impossible to be committed to atheism. It is only possible to be committed to God.
    But then we come to the choice between the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, and the Tree of Life.
    This strikes a chord for me, in attempting to place it within the modern dilemmas within philosophy. I think it should be stressed that it is the ‘knowledge’ of Good and evil, that contrasts it with the tree of life. This for me opens up the distinction again, between reason, and faith. In other words, within the awareness of choice that beset Eve and then Adam, there was for them an awareness, a knowledge of their capacity within the world. In contrast to this we have the option of faith, which is a faith not in the necessity from contingency, or even in an natural historical faith, but a faith in something greater.
    Words like life and death, can have both literal and metaphorical meanings. I prefer to call them eternal meanings, because undue use of metaphor can leads to superstitious thought as a result. Here the emphasis is not bounded by the ‘universal’ expressed either in language or in the inclusion of the many. Within life, not within reason do we have our choice. Reason in this context, proves to be, like logic, an empty category. We make our choices in life, and for life, both in the immediate context of our daily lives, and the choices of the eternal within the order of the temporal.
    Nietzsche challenges metaphysics by positing ‘The Eternal Return’. In this he does not admit to transformation, and certainly then not to a resurrection. But it does give an illustration of how important every moment of our life is, in making the choices to love, for as he as well as Jesus said: the choice is between good and evil, or love. If there were love, said Nietzsche, we would be beyond good and evil. (This despite his ironic naming of himself as the anti-Christ). I will leave it to you to scan scripture thoroughly, to understand better than I, the message of Jesus with respect to love. But if I could act, with love, in every ‘eternal’ moment, (and every moment is within, at least God’s eternity), then, surely, I could/would do no evil. The difficulty is, that even as I write this, I ‘know’, with reason, what a difficult task that is. And so, caught within the contradictions of reason, I must seek faith, not with the arrogance of my choice, but within the attempt to find true humility.

    • Dear Loreen,
      I think you are way above my pay grade when it comes to philosophy. But, if I understand your basic question, it is: Does love cancel freedom since, if I love I could/would/ do not evil. I would answer that love does NOT cancel freedom but it transposes it. When I love God, I only want what God wants. I do not keep the law because I have to but because I want to. I desire that which God desires. Many years ago I started dating a girl who loved square dancing. I did not like square dancing at all but as I began to love her more I started to love square dancing, not because I had to but just because I did. Love conforms my desidres to the beloved’s I start to want what God loves and deisre to do that more than to sin. The souls in heaven do not sin but they remain free. It is just that Love has so transformed them that they do not want to sin. But what they do (good) they do freely becuase they want to do it not becuase they have to do it. Love does not compell us it conforms us

      • Loreen Lee says:

        Thank you Msgr Pope. I must emphasize that I left out in relation to Kant that he admitted only three IDEAS. Freedom (transcendence of Space? -my interpretation) Immortality (transcendence of time?) and God. The reason I brought in the philosophical discussion was because you started out with the awareness of the ‘difficulty’ of the age, that is the abstraction that is employed. This I have merely translated, after watching the video, into the relation of reason to faith, because I think the troubled situation in the world today is an over emphasis on ‘REASON’. Faith I believe allows, and indeed may arise from ‘feeling’ (as distinguished from emotions). I believe strongly that this is a very serious conflict within modern philosophy. I attempt to read such writers as St. Augustine, the good Angel Doctor, et al. but I find that many of these ‘rationalistic’ difficulties have been resolved within later philosophy – the question of ‘universals’, for instance. Their language is very difficult for me; I find it is often redundant, and exceedingly ‘detailed’. (As in the Encyclopedia on grace). Thank you for responding. (Love in Kant’s terminology would not cancel freedom, it would rise above, or ‘transcend’ the provocations for/of sin. But that’s not Kant, it’s what I am ‘allowing’ Nietzsche.). (I agree that Nietzsche can be ‘dangerous’) (My apologies for jumping from subject to subject: I got off the topic of Freedom with the twist into morality -becoming only reduced to ‘law’ in a post Kantian positivist universe-!). I am merely concerned that the ‘personal’ will become more and more obliterated within the secular state. I note in this respect to Nov. 21 blog on the protest by the N.Y. Bishops on Sanctity of life, marriage, etc. as an example. These difficulties are ‘rooted in philosophy’…….yes!

      • Loreen Lee says:

        Addendum: But you did say that freedom was dependent not only on truth, but the good. So perhaps I was ‘justified’. Thanks.

      • Loreen Lee says:

        Thru love (as per Jesus) we transcend our proclivities to sin (gradually) and thus attain freedom. Mutual agreement here. And love is achieved thru life, not through reasoned discourse. Obviously, from this e-mail. Bring the philosophy (and religion?) down to earth is the gist of the ‘better’ post-moderns. You know what. I’m a bit angry at both of you. I have been trying to figure out why, and transcend this. I keep confessing it, but to no avail. Your a signore, perhaps you can explain to me why this makes me angry, and then I really could overcome it, and not have to confess, confess, confess. I haven’t got God to see myself in his eyes. So sometimes I have to reply on other people. You can ignore this if you want, and just take it as a simple e-mail confession. I think it’s because I’m trying to do, or be good, and I am interpreted as the ‘opposite’, which is not bad, but void.

  3. Bender says:

    This supports my belief that no atheist is a committed atheist. It is impossible to be committed to atheism.

    Perhaps. But it is quite possible to be an anti-theist, and that, I think describes many “atheists” today. It is not that they, in intellectual good faith, do not believe in God. It is that they refuse to believe in God.

    Within life, not within reason do we have our choice. Reason in this context, proves to be, like logic, an empty category. . . . caught within the contradictions of reason, I must seek faith, not with the arrogance of my choice, but within the attempt to find true humility

    But Faith informs us that reason, that is, Logos (the Word, Jesus), is life. Indeed, the Logos is THE Life (and the way, and the truth). Faith, reason, and life are all of a piece. There are no conflicts, no contradictions. Not when they are properly understood.

    Faith and reason are not incompatible. Faith helps reason to discover itself. As Pope Benedict has pointed out, the search for truth never starts from zero, but always presupposes a trust in knowledge, ideas, and data which we cannot always control by ourselves. Faith implies reason and perfects it, and reason, illuminated by faith, finds the strength to rise to knowledge of God and of spiritual realities. Both together, not one or the other, lead to true freedom and true life.

    • Loreen Lee says:

      I’m just practicing arguing philosophy, as an addendum. Something I don’t get the chance to do, as I work alone. So, here’s the test. It is impossible to be committed to atheism, because one has to be committed to ‘something’, and atheism may be denial of the possibility to allow commitment to something outside of the self-rationalization. (I say ‘may’ because II don’t like to accuse. I also try to avoid ‘deductive arguments’. Accussations are to my mind, not an expression of love, (the good) and therefore deny freedom. As with love, in the unprejudiced regard of neighbor illustrated by Jesus, we would allow the other, the atheist in this argument, freedom. Therefore when I am my brother’s keeper, I must tend to HIS needs, (this is straightforward when it comes to giving alms to a beggar, for instance) but perhaps in questions of mind, I need temper my criticism (admonition) of his ‘sins’ as I cannot know either his intentions or motivations (have to leave the difference to you), with love, for a supernal justice. (Shakespeare – The quality of mercy is not strained. etc.). And so as Plato illustrated, with universals, they necessarily spin round one another, with their interconnections. As as we have thus come to justice then, we may find we also have to reinvestigate freedom, from this angle. And so it goes. Everything is interconnected as the Buddhists say. Just a little conceit here. Thanks again. (Within life we have the choice, because criticism of modern philosophy is that reason is abstracted for even, daily life. We make choices in life, not with the deductive rationalizations of the philosophers.) And finally, perhaps I should have used the word paradox, instead of contradiction. (Although they are obviously there). Thanks. (Maybe I just feel that I’m never ‘understood’) Thanks for telling me to have faith. I believe I do. But my understanding that the whole purpose of life, and love, is that faith can grow.

  4. Loreen Lee says:

    Dear Bender:

    Thank you. Am keeping your notes in storage to refer to them later. Because, in ‘knowing myself’, I ‘know’ that it takes a period of time for me to understand philosophical truths. I have to test them within my ‘experience’ as it were.

    Please understand, that my comments are placed within the context of philosophy since Descartes. Different periods of social history assume changing linguistic criterion in which there beliefs, ‘certainties’, are expressed. This is my understanding. The context of ‘modern philosophy’, has produced not only atheism, (no existence of God), as well as a Deism in contrast to a Theism. From these have derived not only atheism, but agnosticism, the profession that we cannot know God, in the sense that we can know, with certainty, the knowledge given to us within science. This is the distinction, which unfortunately, besets the modern dilemmas within modern (since Descartes, Locke, etc. and Kant) philosophy has split, within a modern mind-body split, what you describe in your response.

    I am still looking for ways out of this impasse. At present, within philosophy, the emphasis is on finding understanding through the study of language, its limits, its scope, its structure, etc. etc. I am not convinced that logos is explicitly synonymous with language. Once, caught in a dilemma, I actually thought “OK I’ll close this book with a bang, say it’s over, and that will be the end of ‘everything’.” Well it just didn’t work!!! I proved to myself, at any rate, that my language, was not logos, or the Word of God, from which Creation flows.

    These philosophical concepts and distinctions are difficult to understand. Jesus, is the Way, The Truth, and the Life. This is primary with myself. That I understand, but not within the conditions set by ‘philosophy’ per se. But if you can give me any help in arguing over the concepts within philosophy, (and giving hints on how they relate to our religion) in order to find connections between such philosophical concepts as relativism and absolutism, for instance, and dogma so that I could understand better, I would more than appreciate it. You would be just what I have been looking for because it’s going to be a long, slow prod to work through all of the Catholic literature and find their relevance to my past studies; what within the present eclipse of philosophy and science is congruent with Christianity and what is not. I’m getting on. I’ve been looking for help. Thanks for your comments.

  5. Bender says:

    I am still looking for ways out of this impasse. . . . These philosophical concepts and distinctions are difficult to understand.

    Amen to all that. Too many philosophers make my head hurt. That’s why, as much as I LOVE that Servant of God, John Paul II (santo subito), who was no mere amateur philosopher, I find our current professor pope to be much easier to read and understand. While they are mostly concerned with theology, the writings of Cardinal Ratzinger/Pope Benedict do contain some measure of philosophy, if for no other reason that he always endeavors to examine the entire scope of a given subject. If anyone has not read him, I highly recommend it.

    He has written and given homilies frequently on the matter of belief or nonbelief in God and, following St. Augustine, has been zealous in consideration of the matter of truth. And, unlike most philosophers, who make the simple complex and incomprehensible, our dear Papa takes the complex and makes it surprisingly simple and easy to understand. (But then again, brilliant as he personally is, I think he probably has some help from that Spirit who is Truth.) With him, I have found, the search for truth is made a little easier.

  6. Bender says:

    if you can give me any help in arguing over the concepts within philosophy, (and giving hints on how they relate to our religion) in order to find connections between such philosophical concepts as relativism and absolutism, for instance, and dogma so that I could understand better, I would more than appreciate it.

    Inasmuch as I am not in any real sense a scholar of philosophy (merely a simple lawyer), Mgsr. Pope could probably (most certainly) provide you with more resources than I, but I think John Paul’s encyclicals dealing with philosophy and faith would probably help — Fides et Ratio (Faith and Reason) and Veritatis Splendor (The Splendor of Truth). It’s been a while since I’ve read them, and you would probably find them easier to read than I did, but they are among his many stellar writings.

  7. Loreen Lee says:

    Thank you Mr. Bender.

    Please don’t over estimate my qualifications, etc. I began university at a time when only one woman had been admitted to Faculty. I have more or less been on my own, struggling through these guys which are far more complex than I have the ability to grasp immediately. (And for the most part there has been no way of ascertaining by peer relations, whether my grasp has been correct). And as a single mother, I was only able to attend university part time. But I have kept on with it despite these obstacles. More recently, my status as a woman, has barred me from for instance Opus Dei discussions I have hoped to attend on topics which are perplexing to me, and as this is a recent venture I am still unfamiliar with how to find access to sources. There is one book store which I checked out, unsuccessfully, and I have just checked on line the Catholic Encyclopedia for the encyclicals you recommend. I am grateful, however, because I may get a reply from you or Mgsr. Pope informing me how I might go about this quest in the interest ‘merely’ of more ‘profound'(?) personal conversion. Thank you. (I’m no where near your capacity with truth as indicated by your reference to being a lawyer).

  8. Bender says:

    Ms. Lee — I’m sure you will do just fine. The brilliant Augustine was perplexed for years and years and years. In his hunger and search for truth, he went down many wrong paths and got frustrated more than once, before it all clicked for him. I have no doubt the same will be with you.

    I am, myself, nowhere near the ultimate answers on the matter of truth, but I trust, with faith, that the Light will continue to make things ever clearer. And if not in this life, for me or you, then we can ask God all about it when we, by His grace, see Him in heaven.

    May the Holy Spirit, the Paraclete, the Spirit of Truth, the Spirit proceeding from the Logos and the “I AM,” be with you and guide you and light your path always.

    • Loreen Lee says:

      What a condescending remark!!!!!! I will find material. If it is available. I can do research. I just need a few clues. Thanks.

  9. Dear Loreen,

    I am having a hard time following the dialogue between you and Bender. I am sorry for this but please remember I haven’t studied Philosophy in over 20 years. You mention being caught in a dilemma. Might you summarize that dilema for me is words a simple pastor can understand? THen I might be able to offer some thoughts. 🙂

    • Loreen Lee says:

      Dear Father. My dilemma springs from the polarity between my Christian beliefs and the study I have undergone over more than 40 years in philosophy away from the church. (How do I transpose what I have learned into a context which is congruent with the teaching of the church). I believe Mr. Bender has said what I need. I must have faith. I am going to take Bible Study with a renowned Catholic priest next year after they complete the construction of a new road to that area. I will just, as St. Augustine did trust in God, and remember that if the time is not right (Cant’ quote scripture source here), you are simply not doing it in God’s time. In the meantime I will continue to study more philosophy – Paul Ricoeur’s explanation of the evolution from Eve’s sense of violation, to legal communal sin, to personal guilt for instance clarifies elements in my personal life. – I do find instances of great hope, even among the post-moderns. I have written two books, (philosophical novels) which need to be adapted further to orthodox values. And this may, will absorb my lifetime. Thank you.

  10. Bender says:

    Loreen — not to load you down further but here is the link to a good article from First Things by the renowned scholar Avery Cardinal Dulles, John Paul II and the Truth about Freedom (1995). The first paragraph describes the piece:

    The rootedness of freedom in the truth has been a constant and central theme in the writings of John Paul II. Already in 1964, as a young bishop at Vatican II, Karol Wojtyla criticized the draft of the declaration on religious freedom because it did not sufficiently emphasize the connection between freedom and truth. “For freedom on the one hand is for the sake of truth and on the other hand it cannot be perfected except by means of truth. Hence the words of our Lord, which speak so clearly to everyone: ‘The truth will make you free’ (John 8:32). There is no freedom without truth.” . . .

    • Loreen Lee says:

      Thank You, Mr. Bender. I have kept all dialog, and reference resources. You have both been very helpful.

      • Loreen Lee says:

        Just returned from Mass. Missed most of the Rosary, and only stayed until after the homily. I have been careful with my attendance with the HINI virus and as my cough and occasional sneezing may alarm people. We are not at present allowed to take communion except by placement on the hands. I don’t know the protocol here either. But how delighted to find that today is the ‘Presentation of Mary’, or what as I child was called ‘The
        Annunciation’. Usually I follow the discipline of writing comments on scripture and homily when I get home. So here goes. I was not surprised at what was for me a coincidence to how my mind is working at the moment. I have been trying all my life to rise from being a ‘Mary Magdalene to a Virgin status’. Will leave Maccabees, but the homily on the Sadducees struck right to the point for me, of my changing feelings throughout this discourse. The good father pointed out that Jesus was being tricked. His reply, unlike mine, exhibited no anger however. He spoke to that virginity which is not of the virginity of this world. It is difficult to avoid the confusion in this ‘leap’ to the ‘eternal’, ‘transcendental’ within the limitations of our language. I’m sure it is for you as well as for me. Confusions on this issue abound. On a Catholic blog (New Advent) yesterday, I read that The Virgin (Mother) was the bride of Christ. I am reminded of the priests transposition of the remarks made to Christ that a woman expressed her thankfulness to his mother for having him. The Priest said, that that could be interpreted as a great compliment to Mary, when Christ answered that it is better to praise all those who follow the Word of God. In other words, the Virgin is seen as the carrier of the world. Thus, rather than interpret the Virgin as Mother, as a earthly ‘incest’, we could interpret the confusion that the Bride of Christ is not the Virgin Mother, but the Church, in saying that in the final redemption, all would be virgins, as in today’s scripture, and so the Magdalene too would be in the eternal sense, a virgin. No longer would we prostitute either our bodies, OR OUR MINDS! Hail Magdalene! The Virgin!!!!!! united with the Mother.

        On my resentment, which even Nietzsche said was the proclivity for sin, I must state, in merely pragmatic terms that I actually need more than a hint. I need access. Yesterday blog also contained a message that the church ought to make better use of the Internet. If only for evangelical purposes. These involves potential conflicts with book publishing, but would there not be much to gain. (Eccentric women like myself!!!! would then have access to encyclicals, etc. without having to trouble the clergy. Perhaps I could get a credit card, if I could order on line). Are there not lots of potential ways of making the Liturgy available.

        I am grateful. I have not slumped into my irony, or my anger. Although it is a great temptation. But I realize that that is a defensive reaction. If there has been a venial sin here, therefore, I trust that I have made recompense. You see we really have to judge some of these things, within the light of our conscience – what to confess, and what not to confess.

        On the homily, the priest spoke of the ‘hardness of heart’, (so prevalent in the Old Testament). I felt compensated here, for this was the point which I was attempting to ‘get across’ with my talk of ‘life’ He spoke about the opposition between reason and the heart for instance, which I put under Bishop’s Sheen’s discussion of the Trees within the Garden. Whereas Kant, in a pragmatic world, says that we need freedom in order to find morality, then, within life, or Life, we would need morality in order to become free. Thus I disagree with your use of the word – becoming ‘slaves’ of God. No. Because I am a Child of God. (Even as in the Old Testament) I am Free.