On July 4, 1776 56 members of the Congress in the Colonies declared themselves independent of unjust English rule. The signing of the Declaration of Independence serves as the date of independence for the United States of America. How the notion of independence has changed since then?!
Yes, ‘independence’ from abusive royalty has remained as a common understanding. However, how is independence understood on a personal level? For many, independence means the ability to do whatever I want to do. Therefore, if I want to worship Satan I should be free to do so. If I want to live a homosexual lifestyle I should be free to do so. If I want to kill my unborn baby I should be free to do so. The list goes on in the land of the free. Yet, the mentality to use my freedom to do whatever I want is not independence, but license, and license never frees. This is the message of St. Paul to the Galatians, “But do not use this freedom as an opportunity for the flesh; rather, serve one another through love.” How can sin, which enslaves one’s will, free? Look at the drug, sex, alcohol addict: is he free to say ‘No’ to his addiction? It is a chore to say ‘No’ and why? It is difficult to say ‘Yes’ to love, to give of oneself, to sacrifice for another especially when one’s selfish freedom – sin – must be overcome. Sin enslaves. Of course, with God all things are possible. He is the merciful, loving and all-powerful God!
God has given each of us a free will. He will never cross that will. Yet, He has given us guidance in the Ten Commandments, Jesus’ teachings and the teachings of the Catholic Church on how to use our free will. The teachings of Jesus and His Bride, the Catholic Church, are seen by many to restrict their freedom; to restrict their love. Why? Because they cannot choose whatever they want to do. The Church becomes legalistic and stifling to their happiness. But, how can the all-good, all-loving God - and the Church He founded and promised He would guide – restrict one’s freedom or stifle one’s happiness? God is the one Who has created this world. He defines what is true freedom! It is precisely when we choose according to His Will – when we can say ‘No’ to our selfish desires - that we become truly free and truly joyful. It may not be the easiest road, but one that is free and joyful.
The Blessed Virgin knew true freedom and true joy because she always chose God’s will. She never chose selfishly. Let us ask her to help us choose rightly that we may be truly free and truly joyful.