For many today, freedom means doing what one likes; and youth, or one’s teenage years, are the time when this view of freedom is normally asserted. Now – with the help of YouCat (the new Youth Catechism of the Catholic Church) – the Church proposes a more accurate idea about what this much-used word is and what its implications are.
Question 286 of the new Catechism asks:
What is freedom and what is it for?
“Freedom is the God-given power to be able to act of one’s own accord; a person who is free no longer acts under the influence of someone else.”
God created us as free men and wills our freedom so that we might decide wholeheartedly in favour of the good, indeed for the greatest ‘good’—in other words, for God. The more we do what is good, the freer we become.
How to remain free
Freedom cannot therefore simply be reduced to the ‘freedom to choose’, because as is explained, if we make the wrong choice, our freedom is affected:
“Evil is only apparently worth striving for, and deciding in favour of evil only apparently makes us free. Evil does not make us happy but rather deprives us of what is truly good; it chains us to something futile and in the end destroys our freedom entirely.
“We see this in addiction: Here a person sells his freedom to something that appears good to him. In reality he becomes a slave. Man is freest when he is always able to say Yes to the good; when no addiction, no compulsion, no habit prevents him from choosing and doing what is right and good.”
Here we have a clear warning that choices have consequences, something which too often is forgotten by those who wave the banner of “Freedom”, meaning the right to do something which, even just a few years ago, would have been considered evil – for example, Euthanasia:
You can order YouCat here.
Of related interest: