Authentic Freedom

I really enjoy this holiday. 

Yes, I have my fair share of experiences with fireworks; I relish any opportunity to sing "I'm proud to be an American"; And indeed, this morning I enjoyed watching my former Jr. High bandmate and fellow trumpeteer Joey Chestnut scarf down 61 hot dogs (and propose to his girlfriend - congratulations, Joey). 

Celebrating our freedom is a beautiful thing.

But what does freedom really mean? In a recent letter to his parishioners, I was reminded by Fr. Jeremy Leatherby of the words of Pope St. John Paul the Great on freedom. Maybe as we celebrate today, these words might resonate in our hearts louder than any firecracker or liberty bell:
“Nowadays it is sometimes held, though wrongly, that freedom is an end in itself, that each human being is free when he makes use of freedom as he wishes, and that this must be our aim in the lives of individuals and societies. In reality, freedom is a great gift only when we know how to use it consciously for everything that is our true good.
When freedom does not have a purpose, when it does not wish to know anything about the rule of law engraved in the hearts of men and women, when it does not listen to the voice of conscience, it turns against humanity and society.
Freedom consists not in doing what we like, but in having the right to do what we ought.
True freedom is not advanced in the permissive society, which confuses freedom with license to do anything whatever and which in the name of freedom proclaims a kind of general amorality. It is a caricature of freedom to claim that people are free to organize their lives with no reference to moral values, and to say that society does not have to ensure the protection and advancement of ethical values. Such an attitude is destructive of freedom and peace.
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. 
These words [of Christ, “You will know the truth, and the truth will make you free”] contain both a fundamental requirement and a warning: the requirement of an honest relationship with regard to truth as a condition for authentic freedom, and the warning to avoid every kind of illusory freedom, every superficial unilateral freedom, every freedom that fails to enter into the whole truth about man and the world.”
As Father Leatherby reminded his parishioners: "Let us remember this July 4 that the fullness of freedom can only be found in and through Jesus Christ, who is the way, the truth and the life."

Celebrate well, dear friends.