"A lay Catholic perspective"

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Embracing Victory

by Christine Kaskiw

POPE JOHN PAUL II in his encyclical letter The Splendor of Truth explains that true freedom is firmly rooted in God. As Christians, the Church exhorts us to re-examine our actions in light of the Gospel. Often, decisions Christians make today do not reflect the Gospel values for society exerts enormous influence on us, particularly concerning matters of faith. The Church, on the other hand, encourages us to sincerely seek God's wisdom in our lives. Accepting this invitation acknowledges that God's providence is love, a love that cares deeply for his people. The reality of God's providence transforms our existence by establishing that our freedom finds fulfillment through following God. Submitting our will to God "does not reduce, much less do away with human freedom; rather it protects and promotes that freedom."[1] Freedom is a gift of love from God. God formed us in love from the moment of conception. In his loving tenderness he gave us "free choice, as motivated and prompted personally from within, and not through blind internal impulse or merely external pressure."[2]

God's love has no limitations and through his Son Jesus, the freedom from sin was won for all eternity. Our faith in Jesus leads us to God the Father. Furthermore the gift of the Holy Spirit is the catalyst that gives us zeal in following Jesus.

Seeking the Holy Spirit through prayer enables us to hear God's voice. Becoming quiet and not focusing on the numerous distractions that pervade our lives opens the door to receive the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit "teaches inwardly about the things to be done... and inclines the affections to act."[3] This is especially evident as the Lord forms us even through the more difficult teachings of the Church. Our outward actions to those closest to us reflect this inward transformation of our hearts.

The Holy Spirit also gives us the grace to accept suffering. This grace is filled with hope that comes from embracing the victory of Jesus' cross in our lives. The action of the cross joins us with Jesus in expressing his tender love for those we encounter. Through loving actions we solidify within ourselves the wonderful reflection of God. This witness becomes a signpost to others, offering them a secure place of peace. Obedience to God brings us such joy as we experience the dignity of being his children. The gift of dignity is the reflection of God's beauty in us that captivates those we meet, touching their hearts with his love.

The joy that awaits us in heaven is salvation for it sets us "free in the face of worldly power and... gives the strength to endure martyrdom."[4] Martyrdom is a gift from God. The laying down of our lives for our brothers and sisters is the purest expression of our love for God. Love expressed through martyrdom witnesses to the freedom that comes from obedience to God.

God invites each us to accept the gift of martyrdom. For some this may be the crown of physically giving our life for our brothers and sisters; but for most of us the martyrdom is experienced through patient love and service to those around us. Love expressed in this manner is the 'full meaning of freedom' to God and one's brethren."[5]

Our Christian witness powerfully reflects God's love for his people and the secure freedom that comes from obeying him through the teachings of the Church. As we seek the Holy Spirit's voice and model our lives after Jesus, we will experience an ever-growing freedom from the cares of the world.

[1] The Splendor of Truth, 35;

[2] Ibid. 42;

[3] Ibid. 45;

[4] Ibid. 87;

[5] Ibid. 87.