Church unlocks the door to freedom

By  Alejandra Castaneda, Youth Speak News
  • May 4, 2007
As a six-year-old, I always had trouble understanding why I could not have my favourite Mexican candy before dinner. I thought it was unjust that I was not allowed to satisfy my hunger in a manner I saw fit. I felt my freedom was constantly restricted and that my parents did not want me to be a happy child. Back then I believed freedom was doing whatever you wanted, whenever you wanted; therefore I wanted to be free and have my candy.
Freedom, according to Dictionary.com, is “the state of being free or at liberty rather than in confinement or under physical restraint.” My ideas as a six-year-old on freedom reflect those of many today. People directly associate freedom and happiness as one. Consequently, if their “freedom” is restricted, then they think they will inevitably be unhappy.

From afar, restrictions and freedom seem to sit at completely different ends of the spectrum. Nevertheless true freedom goes hand in hand with guidelines and limits.

Catholicism today is constantly criticized for its unchanging commandments and universal rules. Secular society keeps telling the church to get with the times, and eagerly awaits the day (that will never come) when gay marriages, abortion, pre-marital sex, etc. will be allowed.

Catholics are seen as rigid, boring individuals who will never be “free” from their strict religious views. Ironically, even those who seem most restricted and bound are the ones who are truly free. Real freedom is the power of the God-given intellect to know what is good and choose it. Doing whatever we want whenever we want won’t get us anywhere.  Trust me, having seven pieces of Mexican candy did not make me (or my stomach) feel good or “free.”

The restrictions and limitations placed on us by God are actually the keys to happiness. Had I listened to my parents, I would have enjoyed a nutritious meal and a very satisfying dessert.

In Veritatis Splendor, an encyclical written by Pope John Paul II, the late pontiff eloquently states that “God’s law does not reduce, much less do away with human freedom; rather it protects and promotes that freedom.”

Restrictions can be thought of as signs on a road. They tell which way to go and what areas to avoid. Ultimately we want to reach the destination which is happiness. By following the signs, we can achieve the goal quickly and efficiently. Yet we are often told that the best way to reach happiness is to find our own shortcut. Apparently the signs on the road take too long and prevent us from fully experiencing the thrill and adventure. Those that believe this are the people who fail to find happiness, because only by knowing the truth can we be free.

(Castaneda is a Grade 12 student at St. Thomas Aquinas Church in North Vancouver, British Colombia)

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