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Tag Archive: Freedom

“The family is at the center of Santorum’s economic vision”

Posted: Wednesday, January 4, 2012 (11:39 pm), by John W Gillis


Quote of the Day for Wednesday, January 4th, 2012:

James Pethokoukis writing earlier today at the American Enterprise Institute’s Enterprise Blog, in an article called: Santorum vs. Romney is a conflict of conservative visions:

I don’t think Santorum believes tax reform is unimportant. True, throughout his Iowa campaign, Santorum has, in the words of David Brooks, been “picking fights” with supply-siders. Yet Santorum wants to sharply cut tax rates on labor income, capital income, and corporate profits.

Nor does Santorum think cutting the size of government is unimportant. He says he would cut federal spending by $5 trillion within five years and implement Representative Paul Ryan’s entitlement reforms. That’s a pretty Tea Party-friendly agenda.

All necessary but not sufficient for Santorum. He isn’t satisfied with an economy that’s more efficient and competitive if it doesn’t result in stronger families. As it says on his campaign website: “Rick Santorum believes that to have a strong national economy, we must have strong families.” The family is at the center of Santorum’s economic vision. GDP growth is a means, not an end.

Pethokoukis is absolutely right about the difference between the two competing economic visions on the so-called right of our nation’s political divide (so-called because they share a revulsion for the politics and ideology of the left), and it is one major reason why I am supporting Rick Santorum.

Making common cause against leftism does not make either flank of the opposition “right wing”, nor does it make them jointly conservative. A conservative vision of society is not one rooted in the liberal idea of the dog-eat-dog free marketplace of autonomous individualism, but one rooted in love, duty, and prudence. The conservative idea of society is an organic unity, flowing out from intimate interpersonal union, and nourished by virtue and wisdom (i.e. tradition) at each step along the way: from marriage to children to family to community to culture. Some form of this idea has been the stabilizing force in all the world’s great cultures.

The Republican Party reflects a smorgasbord of actors and ideas conservative, liberal, and libertarian. That’s OK – there’s nothing wrong with coalition politics, though it’s a little dangerous to principle when too many people naively or stubbornly insist there is an alignment on values. There is not. There is also much that could be said concerning the affinity between libertarianism’s misappropriation of the term “conservative” and the relentless linguistic manipulation that notoriously characterizes leftist efforts at obfuscation and agitprop, but this is neither the time nor the place to pursue that…

Someone’s set of values will prevail in this election cycle, and in Santorum, Republicans and their enablers have an opportunity to propose an economic vision that rejects the “creative destruction” so central to libertarianism for a sober humanism, one which also rejects both the irresponsible fiscal libertinism of “moderate” modern-day liberalism, and the criminal imbecility of socialism and state-sponsored redistributionism.

Santorum is right: GDP growth is a means, not the end; the end is human flourishing in freedom.

Free Speech and the Peaceful Public Order

Posted: Tuesday, January 11, 2011 (11:19 pm), by John W Gillis


I arrived home from my sister Mary’s funeral Saturday evening, and saw that Arizona Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and several other people had been shot during some kind of meet-and-greet in her congressional district. I’d never heard of Giffords, but was discouraged that such a thing would happen – it’s hard enough just given our political process to get good people to run for public office, and it was of course a terrible tragedy for the people involved. It seemed to me that it had been a long time since something like that had happened.

As I read the AP story published on Boston.com, I began to get increasingly uncomfortable as the report progressively shifted from providing information about the tragedy and background on the people involved, to inserting accusatory innuendo aimed at various opponents of the Democrat Party and overall leftist political agenda: repeatedly finding a way to mention Sarah Palin by name in a setting suggestive of her being a menace to the lives of her political opponents; dredging up a reminder of a man who once threatened Nancy Pelosi over the telephone; dropping in a reference about a mad gunman from California the article tied to “conservatives” while simultaneously reporting that he wanted to “start a revolution” (note to moronic left-wing journalists: conservatives, by definition, are anti-revolutionary); pointing out that Giffords’ TEA Party-backed Republican opponent this past fall had fired a gun at a rally during the campaign; and suggesting in less-than-subtle language that this tragedy should be interpreted as the culminating denouement of “a highly charged political environment” that had hitherto not “reached the point of actual violence.”

I was, needless to say, dripping with disgust at the sleaziness of the journalism by the time I finished the story. Even the sketchy details in the earliest stories were enough to make it obvious that this was the handiwork of a deranged idiot, not an attempted political assassination. But the willingness of the leftist journalist class (and I quickly discerned that several other “mainstream” propaganda channels had picked up essentially the same meme) to immediately exploit the tragedy as an opportunity to try to score political points was just truly revealing – and infuriating.

Over the next several days, as we all know, we have seen an avalanche of contemptible opportunism from the leftists, as they’ve tried not only to pin the blame for the violence on the usual opposition scapegoats (Palin, Beck, Limbaugh, talk radio in general…), but have taken to self-reporting a mysterious hubbub of “concern” over “inflammatory political rhetoric:” an ailment that quite obviously knows no medicine except the silencing of such opposition.

And this new ethic of “civility” is being trumpeted by even some of the most screwball partisans in the leftist media! Even Keith Olbermann is in on the act! Keith Olbermann! This is the man who, on his April 23rd, 2008 “Countdown” show, back when Hilary Clinton was an opponent to Barack Obama for the Democrat nomination for U.S. President, and therefore a legitimate target for leftist bile under the ethics of the revolutionary order, wished on the air for “somebody who can take her into a room, and only he comes out," this on account of the "negativity, for which she is mostly responsible."

Negativity? Gee, sound familiar? This despicable clown all but called for someone to snuff Clinton out in order to save the narrative of the left’s favorite candidate from criticism, and the other left-wing loonies in the so-called “mainstream media” largely yawned and looked the other way. Three years later, he’s in the vanguard of a reactionary assault force intent on suppressing criticism of the leftist agenda by exploiting a personal and national tragedy to call for political speech censorship – or “an end to inflammatory rhetoric.” Priceless. You couldn’t sell fiction this corny.

The history of the leftists, from the Jacobins to the Bolsheviks to the Olbermanns, routinely resorts to characterizing criticism as “extremism” or “reactionaryism” in an attempt to marginalize and suppress it – a useful tactic when you can’t win the intellectual battle, and are stuck trying to sell a bagful of lies. Not only is this chicanery in and of itself, but in the American context, it is thoroughly disrespectful of the reality of what this country has managed to nurture as its political life.

Admittedly, being called a racist, or some other clever form of ”hater,” simply for opposing a puerile and idiotic political agenda, is frustrating (not to mention mendacious on the part of the accusers). On the other hand, for some reason, left-leaning people in this country resent being called socialists simply for trying to advance socialist ideas. And for some other reason, libertarians often want to be called conservatives, even though about the only thing they want to conserve is their bankrolls (and, I suppose, the U.S. Constitution, which is ironically an archetypical document of liberalism).

So while, yes, there are fissures in the political fabric of our society, they are fissures that run only from philosophy to rhetoric – and branding, or marketing. Political violence in the U.S. is virtually unheard of – unlike so many places in the world. Why is the media fixating on the Giffords shooting while giving short attention to those who died in the shooting – including a U.S. District Court Justice and a nine year-old? It may very well be in part because Giffords is a Democrat (the judge, on the other hand, was a G.H.W. Bush appointee), therefore facilitating the propagation of the above discussed agitprop, but I suspect is has more to do with the fact that elected officials are so rarely targeted for violence in the U.S. Even looking more broadly, I can’t recall any political violence in the U.S. in about 40 years, save a couple of abortionists who were assassinated in retribution for their death-dealing. People like Hinckley (and Loughner) are  lunatics, not partisans.

The idea of “overheated political rhetoric” fomenting violence in the USA is absurd – and worse than absurd: it is a dangerous threat to the country’s ability to retain the relatively peaceful political climate we enjoy. The left would like to suppress dissent, but that cannot be allowed to happen. The liberals who formed this country were so much wiser than their unfortunate French cousins precisely because they understood the value of political moderation, and the value of allowing political opposition secure standing.

Some of the people being lambasted by the leftists today for their “inflammatory rhetoric” do indeed go over the top sometimes, and the Ed Schultzes and Keith Olbermanns on the left are even worse; and we’d all be better off if political discourse was always more polite and more thoughtful; but that’s not the important point at all.

Our institution of free speech is crucially important to maintaining not just an environment ripe for good intellectual discourse, but, more importantly, the very requirement of a peaceful public order that is capable of solving its political differences at the ballot box, regardless of how much yelling and screaming precedes it. Only a fool would fail to recognize what a good that political freedom truly is for society.

O Sacred Lord

Posted: Saturday, December 18, 2010 (7:20 am), by John W Gillis


O Sacred Lord of ancient Israel, who showed yourself to Moses in the burning bush, and gave him the holy law on Sinai mountain: come, stretch out your mighty hand to set us free. ("O Antiphon" for Dec. 18th)

I must admit: it is hard, in my circumstances, to relate meaningfully to the desire to be set free. I guess I have it pretty good. Freedom is, ostensibly at least, the fundamental principle of modern democracies. We not only don’t lack it, we could hardly get away from it if we tried. One could make a convincing argument that we have so much freedom, it is problematic.

In a certain sense, I know so much freedom in my life that I become complacent, unable to see well enough past this easy life to notice the darkened corners of creation awaiting the visit of God’s mighty hand. In another sense, freedom is so pervasive that it is vulgarized, reduced to the ability to get away with irresponsibility.

Jean Paul Sartre observed that we are always free, in that we always have choices to make as subjects, and that even seemingly overwhelming constraints in our circumstances never force us into specific responses as persons, as beings. The upshot to that is that there is no legitimacy in the constant refrain of excuses people make for their behaviors. We should not confuse expediencies for necessities.

The concluding prayer to today’s offices implores God to set us free from sin, and there can be no argument that I, like you, am by no means free from it. But I think Sartre’s point is well taken, and that even a total enslavement to sin is still a totally free disposition, in that it is freely chosen by the sinner. What we call compulsiveness is not truly compulsion, even when we have debased ourselves through chronic submission to a point of servile reactionaryism and passivity.

There is a sense in which freedom is an eschatological promise, yes, but it is also a fierce responsibility in this time of trial. We are burdened bearers of the awesome dignity of freedom, and we have no excuses. We call for Him to come, but will he find faith on earth? (cf Luke 18:8)

“She had no free will’’

Posted: Thursday, December 16, 2010 (11:44 pm), by John W Gillis


Quote of the Day for Thursday, December 16th, 2010:

Local man quoted in today’s Boston Globe, after he and his lawyers completed a successful $152M shakedown of tobacco company Lorillard, Inc., in a suit alleging the company was responsible for his mother’s smoking-related death at 54 in 2002:

“She was addicted,’’ William Evans said today. “Obviously, had she had a choice, she would not have smoked, and the record was clear about that. She made over 50 attempts to try to stop smoking and she was addicted. She had no free will.’’

Had she had a choice? She had no free will?

Is there a more brazen example of the lunacy that has spread its tendrils from the sanctimonious halls of academia into the barrios and slums of the modern underclass? It’s bad enough to not be able to grasp the difference between not having self-control and not having free will. It’s bad enough to go looking for a convenient third party to blame your problems on. But when a society allows this kind of legal larceny to go on, nobody’s means are safe from a clever enemy – and when the government is in on the scam like this, there is no place to turn for justice, except for a crapshoot appeals process within the same system that abets the larceny.

Mr. Evans may be a very rich man today, but the rest of us are just as much poorer – and in more than greenbacks. OK, he’ll probably never actually collect, but the principle of the whole stinking thing still stands…

Only If Liberty Is Beautiful… Can It Really Be Worth the Courageous Risk of Life

Posted: Monday, December 6, 2010 (8:29 pm), by John W Gillis


Quote of the Day for Monday, December 6th, 2010:

With the Thanksgiving holiday still lingering in the air, I found this excellent article on the continuing value of America’s Puritan forebears over at the always worthwhile First Principles Journal site. Written by Peter Augustine Lawler, it is entitled: Praising the Puritans:

Because the Puritan conception of political freedom wasn’t based on the apolitical, selfish, rights-obsessed, and duty negligent Lockean individual, it both not only demanded virtuous civic participation but also connected political freedom with the creature’s charitable duty to the unfortunate. It set a high or virtuous standard for political competence and incorruptibility, and it didn’t seem to need to rely on institutions with teeth in them to restrain the spirit of faction and boundless ambition of leaders.

Whatever Puritan government was, it was not another name for a band of robbers, just as Puritan freedom could never be confused with another name for nothing less to lose. The Virginians’ view of freedom was finally merely useful or materialistic; it is the liberty of beings with interests and nothing more. The Puritans distinguished themselves by their “beautiful definition of freedom,” “a civil, a moral, a federal liberty,” “a liberty for that only which is just and good.” That’s the liberty for which it makes sense “to stand with the hazard of your very lives.” Only if liberty is beautiful or for the display of the most admirable and virtuous human characteristics can it really be worth the courageous risk of life.

The citizens of New England took care of the poor, maintained the highways, kept careful records and registries, secured law and order, and, most of all, provided public education for everyone—through high school when possible. The justification of universal education was that everyone should be able to read the Bible to know the truth about God and his duties to Him for himself. Nobody should be deceived by having to rely on the word of others; they had the democratic or Cartesian distrust of authority without the paralyzing and disorienting rejection of all authority. That egalitarian religious understanding, of course, was the source of the American popular enlightenment that had so many practical benefits.

readersmIn contrasting the worldviews of two early colonial communities within what would become the United States (Virginia and the New England Puritans), Lawler sketches out a sound defense of the much maligned New Englanders, showing how their characteristic reading of man’s place in the world laid the groundwork for much of what came to be the best of the American genius, and how it could provide an important corrective today to some of the more narcissistic and utilitarian tendencies that threaten to undermine the American community.

HT to Joe Carter over at FirstThings for the link.

O, Adonai

Posted: Thursday, December 18, 2008 (11:36 pm), by John W Gillis


O Sacred Lord of ancient Israel, who showed yourself to Moses in the burning bush, and gave him the holy law on Sinai mountain: come, stretch out your mighty hand to set us free. (“O Antiphon” for December 18th)

I must admit: it is hard, in my circumstances, to relate meaningfully to the desire to be set free. I guess I have it pretty good. Freedom is, ostensibly at least, the fundamental principle of modern democracies. We not only don’t lack it, we could hardly get away from it. One could make, I think, a convincing argument that we have so much freedom, it is problematic.

In a certain sense, I know so much freedom that I become complacent, unable to see well enough past the easy life to notice the darkened corners of creation awaiting the visit of God’s mighty hand. In another sense, freedom is so pervasive that it is vulgarized, reduced to the ability to get away with irresponsibility.

As I was reaching the end of my agonizingly long ride home from work tonight, I was listening to a lecturer reflecting on Jean Paul Sartre’s take on freedom and responsibility. I surely can’t agree with Sartre on everything, but I think he was right on target in his understanding that we are always free, in that we always have choices to make as subjects, and that even seemingly overwhelming constraints in our circumstances never force us into specific responses as persons, as beings. The upshot to that is that there is no legitimacy in the constant refrain of excuses people make for their behaviors. We should not confuse expediencies for necessities.

The concluding prayer to today’s offices implores God to set us free from sin, and there can be no argument that I, like you, am by no means free from it. But I think Sartre’s point is well taken, and that even a total enslavement to sin is still a totally free disposition, in that it is freely chosen by the sinner. What we call compulsiveness is not truly compulsion, even when we have debased ourselves through chronic submission to a point of servile reactionaryism and passivity.

There is a sense in which freedom is an eschatological promise, yes, but it is also a fierce responsibility in this time of trial. We are burdened bearers of the awesome dignity of freedom, and we have no excuses. We call for Him to come, but will he find faith on earth? (cf Luke 18:8)

There’s Bozos and There’s Bozos

Posted: Friday, July 4, 2008 (3:07 pm), by John W Gillis


George Carlin

I have to begin this entry by confessing that, when I heard last week of George Carlin’s earthly demise, I reacted to the news with a feeling of subdued satisfaction and relief, one that was very similar to the feeling of watching the trash collectors drive away from the house after a weekend of cleaning. There was a mild sense of losing something familiar, but more a sense of being done with that which finally had to go.

Now, I realize that was not at all a charitable reaction, nor do I offer any justification for it. I didn’t know George Carlin, and I mostly paid very little attention to him while he was living. But there was a time when I thought he was funny, and there was also a time – an earlier time – when I thought he was more than that.

At one time, Carlin represented to me a kind of secret knowledge –  even a kind of blessed existence – that operated on the other side of a divide that I was being restrained from crossing by the sorry circumstances of my life (that is to say, by my youth). He was a kind of symbol of what was possible, if only I could be freed from the shackles that kept me bound to the boredom of my genteel, supervised, life. For genteel, he surely was not.

I remember in particular being fascinated by the existence of his famous routine on the seven words you could never say on television. I’m not sure I ever heard the routine – perhaps I did, but I can’t remember. What I remember is wanting to hear it.

When it was released in 1972, I was in 6th or 7th grade, and undoubtedly using all of Carlin’s favorite words in common speech with my peers (my own life actually being genteel in theory only), so there was no unknown pleasure waiting to be experienced in the knowledge of the routine’s content, I only wanted to experience the hearing of it. Knowing which words they were was not enough, I wanted to hear them said. Not by my friends, either – that might have had a certain charm, but it was not the real deal.

What I wanted to experience, I know now, was sheer mockery of civility. I wanted to experience the contempt for goodness that this piece trafficked in and pivoted on – in much the same spirit, I realize now, that other boys liked to watch frogs cruelly and contemptuously destroyed by firecrackers. I wanted to cheer on the defilement of purity.

I could be profane all by myself – I didn’t need Carlin. What made the vicarious insolence of indulging in a sophomoric rant like his seem more like “the real deal” than even my own private insolence was precisely the participation factor. In it, I could be a part of something much larger than myself, something of a social movement. It’s actually a perversion of liturgy – a way for me to belong; to be an insider in something that provided a kind of meaning to life.

And this is very ironic, because the mockery and insolence came off as a kind of liberation – a liberation from socially imposed expectations, which would purchase the freedom of independence. But I see now that it can only free one from the expectations of civility. Once across the chasm and into the promised land of irreverence, social expectations don’t disappear, they simply change, and mockery becomes the only acceptable currency, the only real proof of virility. It turns out to be not freedom from expectations at all, but merely an exchange of one master for another: exchanging the good, the true, and the beautiful for the cruel, the cynical, and the profane.

When something sacred is violated, we experience a kind of revulsion that is all too easily distorted into a titillating thrill. The perverse pleasure we take out of the debasement of the good is a masquerade that hides our inability to accept the cross of suffering with God for the sake of overcoming sin. First we feel sick to the stomach, and we get fearful and angry, but if we do not have the character to persevere and overcome, we will end up laughing. Such is the state of so much of what passes for contemporary comedy.

I’d intended to let Carlin’s passing pass without remark – in part because I felt no urge to expose the callousness of my own sense of good riddance – until I was confronted with my very contrasting response to the news of the death yesterday of Larry Harmon, a man I’d never even heard of, but who was largely responsible for the phenomenon called Bozo the Clown.

Frank Avruch as Boston\'s version of Bozo the Clown

I don’t recall much in particular about Bozo. I can picture the face, though it’s almost conflated a bit with Ronald McDonald in my memory. What’s important for my purposes is that the comedic entertainment that Bozo represented was of such a different character than Carlin’s. When I read of Harmon’s demise, I thought “there goes someone whose life work brought delight and wonder into the lives of so many children.” What a contrast to Carlin, whose life work peddled contempt and cynicism to the hearts of so many of those anxious to avoid being contaminated by the sweetness of childhood. Carlin is truly the one of these two contemporaries who deserves the title Bozo.

The NY Times obituary for Carlin says that he himself defended his particularly obnoxious recent “material” by claiming that “his comedy had always been driven by an intolerance for the shortcomings of humanity and society.” Of that, I have no doubt. But if society is going to avoid disintegrating into a fratricidal jungle, we need turn back from this “new way” of unmitigated contempt advanced by bozos like Carlin. Communities, like families, survive, in no small part, on the willingness of their members to overlook each other’s shortcomings. What we should be intolerant of is not human foibles, but the willful and deliberate corruption of the human spirit.

The challenge, for me, is that my community is not only full of people like Larry Harmon, who find a way to put their talents to work in ways that contribute in somehow to the common good, but also of bozos who try their best to tear down the good: to degrade, to demean, to belittle, to mock, to despoil. It’s a challenge to me because such people are a temptation to me to stoop to their level. I realize that Carlin can win the battle for my spirit by either getting me to laugh at his depravity, or by getting me to treat him as he treated others. I fear that the incivility and vulgarity that has come to so permeate my society over my lifetime has become barely recognizable in its ubiquity.

And I fear I remain a long way from being freed from the servility of the caustic inhumanity that makes up the faux-liberated modernism promoted by Carlin, if news of his death can only provide me a sense of satisfaction and an opportunity to call him a bozo. Lord, have mercy on all of us.

Benedict’s Challenge to American Anti-Authoritarianism

Posted: Saturday, April 26, 2008 (10:01 pm), by John W Gillis


Pope Benedict XVI’s Yankee Stadium homily last Sunday was quite a celebration of American Catholicism, but the pontiff never strayed far from his theme of the unchanging need for faithful Christians, as a community rooted in the apostolic heritage, to be a sign of the gospel’s hope for mankind in the face of sin and death, through bearing witness to the unity of the truth found in the Word of God, revealed in the Incarnation of Jesus Christ.

This rootedness is not something Benedict sees simply in the hierarchical form of the Church (even if he makes a point of the necessary visibility of the Church’s apostolic unity), but also in the faithful handing down of the gospel from generation to generation, and in the public presence of the fruits of our life in the Spirit, as manifested in various works of mercy and charity. He praised the “successive waves of immigrants” for the ways they have enriched American society, and called upon their descendants to faithfully follow in their footsteps, so as to “hasten the coming of God’s Kingdom in this land.”

In a society, not unlike the one he himself hails from, that suffers from distorted understandings of freedom, it was important that he speak of what freedom truly means. For too many Americans (and other Westerners), freedom is what excuses one from being subject to authority, or bound to obedience. Even in our families, the idea that parents have, by nature, an authority over their children is coming into conflict with the sensibilities of the age. The notion that children owe their parents obedience is being eroded by the new sensibility, which maintains that parents should reason with children, of any age – that parents owe their children explanations for every decision. Furthermore, it’s a cultural expectation that children will rebel – indeed, must rebel – against their parents, in order to “come into their own.” The public schools are a mess with rampant disrespect. And in the spheres of religion or morality, the idea of the legitimacy of authority has become almost laughable.

The concept of authority is in disrepute, indeed.

In all relationships that are not governed by either the power of actual or implied violence, or the hierarchy of economic dependency in employment, authority is generally viewed as an unwanted relic of a now-overturned, oppressive order from a pre-critical age. But nothing could be farther from the truth. Authority can no more be put aside than air could be put aside – it can be polluted, but it cannot be “replaced” by freedom.

Indeed, what we see happening in Western culture is not at all the disappearance of authority into a new order of egalitarian bliss, but instead the movement of the locus of authority from relationships based on community order, to relationships based on the exercise of dominative power. Authority is being reduced to having the power to exercise one’s will: do this, or I will hurt you, jail you, fine you; this is legal because we have the votes, or we have the money. In short, might makes right. This is the predictable offspring of ideology. In fact, isn’t power the whole point of ideology?

But as the Catholic Church rightfully understands authority, it is not reducible to power. Indeed, power is itself subject to authority, because authority comes from God. Authority is ultimately nothing but the truth. Authority is that which is authoritative. It is reality. It is what is, and reflects Him who said “I am who am” (Exod 3.14).

When human exercise of authority is not in conformance with the revelation of the Author, it ceases to be genuinely reflective of the good, becomes socially dysfunctional, and leads to idolatry. But this is not a valid reason to reject authority itself; it is reason to work to ensure that authority is exercised in conformance with the truth – meaning not as a function of opinion and ideology. The rejection of authority itself is the rejection of the order established by God – it is, in other words, a rejection of reality, and every bit as much a descent into idolatry as any kind of impious authority worship.

This is why freedom cannot be coherently understood as existence outside of, or beyond, authority. Such an existence is an existence in falsehood. Any attempt to be one’s own authority, to make up, or “discover,” one’s own morality – or “reality” – is an attempt to take the place of the Author. And this is not freedom, but rebellion – which leaves one enslaved to sin, as it manipulates the passions.

Freedom, on the other hand, – true freedom – can exist only when it is aligned with reality, when it is grounded in the truth that Christ promised would make us free (Jn 8.32). Freedom must be subject to truth, or it is false. The Holy Father put this quite well in his homily:

The Gospel teaches us that true freedom, the freedom of the children of God, is found only in the self-surrender which is part of the mystery of love. Only by losing ourselves, the Lord tells us, do we truly find ourselves (cf. Lk 17:33). True freedom blossoms when we turn away from the burden of sin, which clouds our perceptions and weakens our resolve, and find the source of our ultimate happiness in him who is infinite love, infinite freedom, infinite life. “In his will is our peace”.

In this, Benedict’s penultimate address during his apostolic visit to America, he left no doubt that he thinks it is time for the Church in America to pick itself up from its recent troubles, seek the unity of faith found in the freedom of a lived fidelity to the living apostolic witness, and go about the task of bearing our own witness to the liberating truth of the gospel – in particular the truth of the Divinely defined dignity of the human person, a truth so often obscured in our day by ideologies – and religions – that would reduce the human person to a means to an end.

Hasten the coming of God’s Kingdom in this land, and bear witness with the authority of the apostolic faith, and so honor our fathers and mothers.

ΑΩ