Christian freedom

Archbishop Chaput delivered an important talk at Notre Dame this week, titled Remembering who we are and the story we belong to:

What Christians mean by “freedom” and “equality” is very different from the secular content of those words.  For the believer, freedom is more than a menu of choices or the absence of oppression.  Christian freedom is the liberty, the knowledge and the character to do what’s morally right.  And the Christian meaning of “equality” is much more robust than the moral equivalent of a math equation.  It involves the kind of love a mother feels for each of her children, which really isn’t equality at all.  A good mother loves her children infinitely and uniquely — not “equally,” because that would be impossible.  Rather, she loves them profoundly in the sense that all of her children are flesh of her flesh, and have a permanent, unlimited claim on her heart.

So it is with our Catholic understanding of God.  Every human life, no matter how seemingly worthless, has infinite dignity in his eyes.  Every human life is loved without limits by the God who made us.  Our weaknesses are not signs of unworthiness or failure.  They’re invitations to depend on each other and become more than ourselves by giving away our strengths in the service of others, and receiving their support in return.

This is the truth in the old legend about heaven and hell.  Both have exactly the same tables.  Both have exactly the same rich foods.  But the spoons in both places are much too long.  In hell people starve because they try to feed themselves.

Fewer Americans are practicing as Christians. Those simply identifying as Christian is progressively declining, too. Chaput speaks on this: “Losing people who are members of the Church in name only is an imaginary loss. It may in fact be more honest for those who leave and healthier for those who stay.” I agree.

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