The Catholic Faith is About Freedom Because Freedom is About the Truth
by Anthony Lilles
Under the shadow of the cross of Jesus Christ, believers know that the land of the free and the home of the brave can be rediscovered in our time.
Is faith in the Risen Lord a shield against a growing political and cultural absolutism in America today?
If yes, it may explain why a growing number of Catholics refuse to retreat from the public square even as they seem to lose struggles for the sacredness of marriage and life. Christians and other people of prayer engage the marketplace of ideas with even greater vigor. In the meantime, young people are responding to the call to service and lives of prayer with greater courage and enthusiasm than ever. Even as our churches in America and worldwide are burned down and unbridled hatred is unleashed brutally on our brothers and sisters in the Lord, we have good reason to fall to our knees and pick up this shield again in prayer.
The Catholic faith is about freedom because it is about the Truth, the deepest truth about God and about our existence. It appeals to the deepest sanctuary of the heart. If it promotes social institutions, it does so to make space for the voice of conscience in human affairs. Whether it concerns the sacredness of marriage, or of motherhood, or of family, or of life itself, the Church has a responsibility to speak the truth in love.
The Risen Lord died that this voice might be made pure through the forgiveness of sin. All the baptized are obliged to propose this hope with love, no matter how often it is rejected or how deeply it is despised. It is about people being set free to thrive, to live life to the full, to come home to God where they most belong.
As it abandons Christianity, America is diminished under the weight of bad religion. Religion vulnerable to the latest cultural and political fad denigrates the worship of God, making it into a means to an end, rather than an end in itself. It imposes myths that appeal to the imagination in order to raise false hopes about prosperity and security. It takes advantage of those who think that they can keep their faith pure without the authority of the Church. It wants piety locked behind the doors of a Church and kept within the confines of our private lives.
The altar of such political avarice can only bind us to all kinds of heartless programs of social reengineering.
Only the Truth provides the solid ground on which alone human dignity stands. This is the ground on which the authority of the Church rests too. This is why the Church must speak out whenever human dignity is on the line. Anything else is just a slippery slope. Because it offers only a slippery slope, bad religion is always dehumanizing.
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