First abuse by Man of his Freedom - by DOMENICHINO - from Musée des Beaux-Arts, Grenoble
Man's First abuse of his Human Liberty/Freedom was by Adam and Eve.
Lyrics from America the Beautiful
Bishop Fulton J. Sheen said that Freedom is not the right to do what we want, but rather the right to do what we should do.
Freedom/Liberty is not Synonymous with License. Liberty is Freedom exercised under the Restraints of Justice so that its Exercise results in Injury to no one. In contrast, License is Freedom exempt from the Restraints of Justice and therefore, Injurious to others in Infringing their Freedom, as well as Violating other Rights.
When no Distinction is made between Liberty and License, the 'freedom of the strong' can Destroy the 'freedom of the weak', as with Abortion and Euthanasia. For the Freedom of any one individual to be Compatible with an equal measure of Freedom on the part of all others, the Freedom of Each must be Limited, and Limited precisely for the purpose of preventing the Freedom of one from Encroaching Upon or Destroying the Freedom of others. Hence Maximization of Freedom for all, with an equal measure of Freedom for each, is impossible without the Restraints of Justice, which Confines the Freedom of 'doing as one pleases', to conduct that in no way Injures anyone else.
Freedom vs License is not a New Thing
From the Vatican's Instruction on Christian Freedom and Liberation we learn that: Man's history unfolds on the basis of the Nature which he has received from God and in the Free Accomplishment of the Purpose towards which the Inclinations of this Nature and of Divine Grace orient and direct him . . . . By obeying the Divine Law inscribed in his Conscience and received as an Impulse of the Holy Spirit, Man exercises True Mastery over himself and thus realizes his Royal Vocation as a child of God.
All Men have this Divine Law inscribed in their Heart as evidenced by Hammurabi's Code of Laws written by the heathen King of Babylon circa 1760 BC, well-before God chose to Fully Reveal His Divine Word in the Person of Jesus Christ.
There are many who, under the Pretext of Freedom, seem inclined to reject all Submission to Authority and make-light of the Duty of Obedience.
Freedom, as shown, is the Power, rooted in Reason and Will, to act or not to act, to do this or that, and so to perform Deliberate Actions on one's Own Responsibility. By Free Will one shapes one's own life. Human Freedom is a Force for Growth and Maturity in Truth and Goodness; it attains its Perfection when directed toward God, our Beatitude.
Man, enticed by the Evil One, abused his Freedom at the very beginning of History. He Succumbed to Temptation and did what was Evil. He still desires the Good, but his Nature bears the Wound of Original Sin. He is now Inclined to Evil and Subject to Error. Man is divided in himself. As a result, the whole life of Men, both Individual and Social, shows itself to be a Struggle, and a dramatic one, between Good and Evil, between Light and Darkness.
As long as Freedom has not bound itself definitively to its Ultimate Good which is God, there is the possibility of choosing between Good and Evil, and thus of growing in Perfection, or of Failing and Sinning. This Freedom characterizes properly Human Acts. It is the basis of Praise or Blame, Merit or Reproach.
The more one does what is Good, the Freer one becomes. As ratified above by the great English writer John Milton (author of the epic poem Paradise Lost) there is no True Freedom except in the service of what is Good and Just. The Choice to Disobey and do Evil is an Abuse of Freedom and leads to 'the Slavery of Sin'. Man's Freedom is Limited and Fallible. In fact, Man Failed. He Freely Sinned. By refusing God's Plan of Love, he Deceived himself and became a Slave to Sin. This First Alienation engendered a Multitude of Others. From its outset, Human History attests the Wretchedness and Oppression born of the Human Heart in consequence-of the Abuse of Freedom. Remember the words of Saint Peter in 2 Peter: Live as Free Men, yet without using your Freedom as a pretext for Evil (2:16).
Freedom makes Man 'Responsible' for his Acts to the extent that they are Voluntary. Progress in Virtue, Knowledge of the Good, and Ascetics enhance the Mastery of the Will over its Acts. Prudence is a Virtue that directs Reason to Choose Rightly the proper means to attain the end-in-view (i.e. the Will of God). It is the most important of all the Moral Virtues, for it directs all the other Virtues in Choosing the proper means in attaining their respective goals. Without this Virtue one will not Choose Well nor live Rightly as regards the Final Goal of his Life. It is not enough to want to do Good, one must know the means he must Choose to achieve that Good.
Freedom is exercised in Relationships between Human Beings. Every Human Person, created in the Image of God, has the Natural Right to be recognized as a Free and Responsible Being. All owe to each other this Duty of Respect. The Right to the Exercise of Freedom, especially in Moral and Religious Matters, is an Inalienable Requirement of the Dignity of the Human Person. This Right must be recognized and protected by Civil Authority within the limits of the Common Good and Public Order.
The Exercise of Freedom does not imply a Right to say or do Everything. It is False to maintain that Man, 'the Subject of this Freedom,' is 'an individual who is Fully Self-Sufficient and whose Finality is the Satisfaction of his own interests in the Enjoyment of Earthly Goods'. Moreover, the Economic, Social, Political, and Cultural conditions that are needed for a Just Exercise of Freedom are too often Disregarded or Violated. Such situations of Blindness and Injustice Injure the Moral Life and involve the Strong as well as the Weak in the Temptation to Sin against Charity. By deviating from the Moral Law Man Violates his own Freedom, becomes Imprisoned within himself, Disrupts neighborly fellowship, and Rebels against Divine Truth.
By His Glorious Cross Christ has won Salvation for all Men. He Redeemed them from the Sin that held them in Bondage. 'For Freedom Christ has set us free' [Galatians 5:1]. In Him we have communion with the 'Truth that makes us free' [Cf. John 8:32.]. The Holy Spirit has been given to us and, as the Apostle teaches, 'Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is Freedom' [2 Corinthians 3:17]. Already we Glory in the 'Liberty of the children of God' [Romans 8:21].
The Grace of Christ is not in the slightest way a Rival of our Freedom, when this Freedom accords with the Sense of the True and the Good that God has put in the Human Heart. On the contrary, as Christian experience attests, especially in Prayer, the more docile we are to the Promptings of Grace, the more we grow in Inner Freedom and confidence during Trials, such as those we face in the Pressures and Constraints of the Outer World. By the Working of Grace the Holy Spirit educates us in Spiritual Freedom in order to make us Free Collaborators in His Work in the Church and in the World: Almighty and Merciful God, in Your Goodness take away from us all that is harmful, so that, made ready both in Mind and Body, we may freely accomplish Your Will. [Roman Missal, 32nd Sunday, Opening Prayer: Omnipotens et misericors Deus, universa nobis adversantia propitiatus exclude, ut, mente et corpore pariter expediti, quae tua sunt liberis mentibus exsequamur.]
Freedom makes Man a Moral Subject. When he acts deliberately, Man is, so-to-speak, the Father of his Acts. Human Acts, that is, Acts that are Freely Chosen in consequence of a Judgment of Conscience, can be Morally Evaluated. They are either Good or Evil.
Remember, Freedom means Self-Determination, and should not be confused with License. Those who think that we are Free when we can do whatever we want, make this Confusion prompted by the Father of Lies. No. We easily Lose our Freedom if we do whatever we want, for we may want what is Bad for us. What is Bad for us Limits our Freedom, as Drug-Addicts learn to their Great Regret. So, too, those who are Self-Indulgent soon find that their Passions and Desires for the pleasures of Sex and Food control them. Unchecked, any of our Desires Exercise Dominion over us and Inhibit our Freedom.
True Freedom comes with Self-Mastery and Moral Integrity, which we achieve when all our Desires and Actions are habitually under the control of Right Reason. To be Truly Free the Will must follow the Guidance of Right Reason and seek what the Intellect Rightly Judges to be Good. Moral Integrity ensures that we are always Masters of Ourselves, Self-Determining and Truly Free.
Audio Clip on