Moral theology was the class I most appreciated in graduate seminary. The professor taught my colleagues and me that our choices mold us. The repeated decision for virtue draws us closer to the heart and mind of God, whereas vice pulls away from His glory. It is only in Christ-like living that one finds not license, but “a force for growth and maturity in truth and goodness.” This is authentic freedom.
Freedom is at the heart of the American story. This past Fourth of July marked the 242nd birthday of these United States. Though her founding document asserted that human beings “are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights…among these life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness,” such dignity was not, at the time, afforded to women, slaves, and indigenous people. Moral reckonings were---and still are---required for the ongoing formation of “a more perfect Union.” Without collective self-reflection, the national conscience is jeopardized.
We are, I believe, in the midst of such reckoning. Frankly, who we are is at stake. Can a people remain free when the rule of law is challenged? Or when responsible journalism is called “fake news?” Or when political opponents are demonized? Or when entire peoples and cultures are deemed subhuman. Or recently, when the children of undocumented migrants are separated from their parents?
Ultimately, our choices shape our freedom. Our supreme good, unity with the triune God, is tied to the good of our neighbors. In answer to Cain’s question, we are, in fact, our brother’s keeper (Gn. 4:9). Our national politics has lost sight of this. In freedom’s place we are being offered a ‘me first’ agenda, devoid of care or responsibility towards others. It is a tyranny that will enslave us all, lest we forget the Savior’s admonishment to love one another as He has loved us (Jn 13: 34).
1 Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1731
2 Declaration of Independence
3 Preamble of the Constitution of the United States
Let us pray,
God of justice, Father of truth who guide creation in wisdom and goodness to fulfillment in Christ your Son, open our hearts to the truth of His Gospel, that your peace may rule in our hearts and your justice guide our lives. We ask this through Our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son, Who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God for ever and ever. Amen.
Fr. Daniel O. Kingsley