One of the terribly destructive philosophies is a false notion of freedom. The sinful world, going all the way back to Satan’s deceit in the garden, thinks of freedom as being able to do whatever I please. In effect those who hold this, flaunt their false notion of freedom saying in effect, “I will do what I want to do, and I will decide if it is right or wrong. No one will tell me what to do.” It is freedom in the abstract, freedom for its own sake, rather than for the sake of being able to do what is right.
That this notion of freedom is false is evident from its fruits. For although many, in modern times, claim to march under the banner of freedom from being told what to do, it becomes clear that many of them end up it a terrible state of increasing slavery and bondage.
For this era when a false notion of freedom is exulted is also an era of increasing addiction to alcohol, drugs, pornography, sex, and a general lack of self control. And with greed and materialism, whatever we have is never enough. There is thus a bondage to things, a kind of incapacity to live without endless numbers of things and creature comforts. Therefore we also see increasing bondage to credit, both personally and nationally. We simply “cannot” stop our runaway spending. There is also an increasing lack of ability to make and keep commitments and many feel “compelled” to divorce, leave the priesthood and religious life.
None of this shouts the freedom that so many boast of. Rather there is evident, bondage, inability, compulsion, addiction, and an out of control quality to modern life.
You will thus know by its fruits that false freedom is not true freedom. It masquerades in the “sheep’s” clothing of liberty, but underneath it is the ravenous wolf of bondage. Many cry “Liberty!” when they really mean “libertine” and “licentious.” They are headed straight for bondage. St. Augustine said,
For of a perverse will, was a lust made; and a lust served, became custom; and custom not resisted, became necessity. (Confessions 8.5)
The Catechism also says,
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.” (CCC # 1733).
And thus we arrive at the definition of true freedom which is “the capacity to obey God.”
And what are the fruits of true freedom? An increasing liberation from the power of sin, the increasing capacity to do what is right and just by the power of God. True freedom brings greater self control, the ability to moderate one’s desires and have them submitted to right reason. True freedom brings serenity, for one’s life is in greater balance and harmony.
By true freedom, the innumerable sorrows of false freedom listed above are largely avoided and one’s life is simpler, more focused, and one enjoys the results of a disciplined and reasonable life. Sorrows and suffering are not eliminated but are diminished for many of their sources in excess, addiction and compulsion are removed. True freedom ushers in, by God’s power, the life that Jesus Christ died and rose to give us.
So what do you want, the fake freedom of the world, or the glorious freedom of the children of God? (Rom 8:21)
22 Replies to “What is the Christian Understanding of Freedom and how is it different from the World’s fake freedom?”
Oh, Monsignor, you are so right! Now that I am getting divorced and have committed to remaining single, I am finally free from seeking the “holy grail” of romance. I live a life of prayer and penance and it is true freedom. 🙂
First of all; in the article I see a valuable humility for myself when the Catechism report shows that someone, before me, described “slavery to sin” which is seemingly paraphrased from John 8:31-38.
Saint Paul, in Galatians 3:10-14, described the law (Mosaic legal code?) as a curse. Could he have meant that the law was instituted for those who would not, or could not, yet understand the principles which the law was meant to lead us to live by but, through our Savior’s teachings and passion we can now understand – if only we open our hearts to God and accept what is to be learned in the teachings, such things as loving our enemies can lead us to foil the “divide and conquer” of our true enemy?
The fact that a major bank calling their credit card “Freedom” is a true sign that our world has lost the true meaning of freedom.
The Law itself is not a curse. Paul says those who use the Law for justification or salvation are under a curse because righteousness only comes from faith in the atoning work of Jesus Christ. The Law exists so we may more clearly see our sin (and come to Christ for redemption), and so that we may see the best way to love and honor God. “It is for freedom Christ has set us free!” Galatians 5:1 No matter what tyranny may befall us in the hands of an unjust and imperfect human government, we always have true freedom in Christ. Praise be to God!
Thank you, very much indeed.
Indeed, we moderns connote licentiousness as freedom, only to find ourselves slaves to our desires and even become covetous and in bondage to our wants. Eventually, when we grow old, we will realize that what we need are plainly basic and that is to live a simple life with not much wants and desires but only what is necessary. Only when we turn our lives to HIM who said, I AM the Way, the Truth and the Life can we realize the true Joy and simplicity to live life here in our exile. That must be the reason why St. Augustine blurted, my soul is restless until it rests in GOD and St Teresa de Avila’s Solo DIOS basta. In prayer, there is freedom. That is why St. Joseph of Cupertino levitates, Sts. Padre Pio and Martin de Porres bilocate. There, that is freedom. Bless the LORD, oh my soul and let all that is within me bless HIS Holy Name.
Neat video. I want true freedom.
I think of true freedom as the freedom to be what God made me to be. God made every one of us with a certain set of skills and temperaments that are perfectly aligned to our mission in life. To be free to fulfill that mission, which is to love god and Neighbor in a way specific to those talents, is the ultimate freedom. But we are subjected to all kinds of temptations that lead us away from that freedom. When we succumb to those temptations and sin, we have lost that freedom. Fortunately for us, Jesus and the church provide a way back to freedom through the sacrament of reconciliation.
I will direct you to John Salza’s work
‘How seven Popes failed to consecrate Russia’ available from
Please stop I have not posted the other 5 comments you are filling this box with. Rome released the Third secret. The Pope attested to it. Unless you say Benedict is lying. Sister Lucia says the consecration has been made. And don’t start all the black helicopter conspiracy stuff, this is NOT going to be a clearing house for accusations of conspiracies, impostors etc et al.
Roma locuta. I know this is not doctrine, but it is enough for me that Rome has released the secret. We’re done here.
NB This is not a matter of saving faith, you should read the scriptures more and meditate on what is certain rather then read lots of stuff from people who seem to wear tin foil hats and hold sinful suspicion against Church leaders and engage in calumny and slander against them.
As a Catholic Christian, I have a duty to prevent the people of God being led astray and harmed.
You are a deluded priest with a blog harming the people of God… So, you please stop… and blog about things you actually know about.
Why is it that devotees of various putative revelations now show their contempt for the authority of the Church so openly? Half a century ago one could find devotees of secret prophecies and secret revelations, as I can attest from various references to private revelations by the good nuns who taught me in elementary school. But the good sisters were utterly loyal to the Church, at least in public. The rejection of ecclesiastical authority is a sign of the muddled times in which we live. It is the Church, the authority of the Magisterium, which instructs us as to which private Revelations are worthy of belief, and it is the Church which shapes our consciences. “Supreme Conscience” apparently shapes his/her own conscience, rather like Monsieur Lefebvre, deciding that his conscience directed him to be more Catholic than the Pope. All this arises from a false feeling of freedom, the sense that each of us is free to interpret Church teachings as we please. It fascinates me that this false sense of endowment is found just as strongly on the right wing of Catholicism as on the left.
Hey, Supreme Conscience. Can I please offer some friendly advice? When you reach an impasse over a point of faith, you shouldn’t assume the call to be charitable has been temporarily suspended. Calling someone (especially a Christian brother) “deluded” is not charitable.
Maybe you really passionately disagree and feel like you absolutely have to make your point. I’ve had that kind of argument before. If I get so exercised that I want to call someone names though, I have to step back and ask myself why I feel entitled to do that. At that point, it is better to resort to prayer than to keep arguing.
Msgr Pope is not leading people into errors with his blog, but instead, trying to help people identify the world’s errors and turn back to God.
The world also has a messed up idea regarding “bondage”: Marriage or religious vows are treated as a proverbial “ball and chain,” and children as a trap.
For the time I started visiting this site, I have found almost all the articles of Msgr. Pope very interesting to read. It makes sense to me. In fact I will like to know more about who is Monsignor Charles Pope. I will like to have his direct email. I write from the city of Lagos Nigeria.
Well, welcome to the site!
God Bless You and the people of Nigeria!
Dear Msgr, I want to ask What is the proper title of the current Pope? Is it Pope Francis 1, or simply Pope Francis? I have seen some people addressing him as Pope Francis 1. Does adding 1, or not adding 1, matter?
As a good rule of thumb, if it’s something that allows you to be selfish or self-centered, it’s a false freedom. It it’s something that opens up new possibilities for generosity or service, it’s real freedom. Real freedom allows us to accomplish God’s mission for us in life, and that is never a life of pampered self-indulgence.
American religious freedom historically has been based on religious Truth, specifically the Bible. I find it hard to believe false religions qualify based on this American criteria. All human belief is not true or relative.
“FREEDOM is not to be able to do good or evil, but to be able to recognize evil and naturally avoid it, and to always do what is good naturally and spontaneously.”
Quoted in “Jesus: Fallen?”
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