The Way to Freedom?

Posted by Censor Librorum on May 25, 2008 | Categories: Arts & Letters

Pope Benedict  sent a message of freedom to participants at the 97th “Deutscher Katholikentag.”  This event, organized by German laity, gathered some 500,000 people in Osnabruck, Germany this past week.

Commenting on the theme chosen for the meeting – “He brought me out into a broad place,” a line from Psalm 18 – Benedict wrote that “no small number of people today…are afraid the faith may limit their lives, that they may be constrained in the web of the Church’s commitments and teachings, and that they will no longer be free to move in the ‘broad space’ of modern life and thought.” He went on to add: “…only when our lives have reached the heart of God will they have found that ‘broad space’ for which we were created. A life without God does not become freer and broader. Human beings are destined for the infinite.”

There is an echo of his words in Dorothy Day’s spiritual autobiography, The Long Loneliness.      We get an immediate impression of the peace and happiness that preceded her conversion to Catholicism:

“I have been passing through some years of fret and strife, beauty and ugliness, days and even weeks of sadness and despair, but seldom has there been the quiet beauty and happiness I have now. I thought all those years I had freedom, but now I feel that I had neither real freedom nor even a sense of freedom.”

I think Benedict and Day are both right: we will find true freedom in  scripture, within the sacraments  and in God. But how do you find a way to freedom–that is, discerning the will of God for you and living it every day? What “broad place” are we being welcomed into?thomas-merton.jpg

Thomas Merton’s prayer – “Don’t Know Where I’m Going” comforts and strengthens me in that discernment:

“My Lord, God, I have no idea where I am going

I do not see the road ahead of me.

I cannot know for certain where it will end.

Nor do I really know myself,

            and the fact  that I think that I am following your will

          does not mean that I am actually doing so.        

But, I  believe that the desire to please you  

         does in fact please you.

 And I hope I have that desire in all that I am doing.

I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire.

And I know that if I do this you will lead me by the right road,

           though I may know nothing about it.

Therefore will I trust you always,  

            though I may seem to be lost in the shadow of death.

I will not fear, for you are ever with me,

        and you will never leave me to face my perils alone.”

My pastor said something very wise and comforting about God’s will in one of his sermons.   He said: if God wants us to do something other than what we’re doing, He’ll let us know, like He did to St. Paul.

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