Third in a series’For me, reading Pope Francis’ Exhortation “Christ Lives: Addressed to Young People and to the Entire People of God” is like making a day of prayer. Of course, whenever I read anything that any pope has written I pay close attention to it. However, Pope Francis’ writing and speaking touches me on a special level. This has been true from the start of his pontificate. I continue to hear rumors that some people in the church are trying to force Pope Francis to retire. This is a complete mystery to me. I have found every document that Pope Francis has written inspiring. The following statement from the Exhortation could sum up an entire spirituality, could be a succinct statement about what is happening in our lives because of God’s presence:
About three months ago, I was invited to give a talk to a class of juniors at a Catholic high school. Though in my more than 55 years as a priest and almost as many years as a professor, I have given countless talks, I was a little anxious because an audience of high school students isn’t my usual audience. The subject I was invited to speak about was the great Catholic short story writer Flannery O’Connor.
During the many years that I have been teaching philosophy, I have taught an ethics course only once. However, in some other courses that I have taught, I have tried to provoke the students to reflect on what aconscience is and what factors contribute to the forming of a conscience.
BELIEVE IT OR NOT, I am surprised that I am writing a column about the importance of reading. Does anyone doubt that reading is important?
MY RELATIONSHIP with Catholic novelist Walker Percy has been evolving during the last few years. At the end of a course last semester at St. John’s University, I gave an assignment to students that they had to read one of three novels by Walker Percy and write a reflection on what they read. The essays were quite good and actually led me to admire even more a writer whom I had already admired so much that I had written a book about him.
While reflecting on God’s wonderful gift of freedom to us in my last series of columns, I was reading with the students in my class on personalism at St. John’s University the book by Seymour Cain, “Gabriel Marcel.” Except for Thomas Aquinas, my favorite philosopher is Marcel. When as a young priest I first came upon Marcel’s philosophy, I was stunned by its depth and beauty.
In writing these five columns about the mystery of human freedom, the marvelous mystery that God has given us along with our existence as persons, I have intended to encourage awe and wonder at God’s love for us, a love that we will never comprehend completely. Because we are free, we can say “yes” to God’s self gift and offer ourselves back to God. St. John of the Cross expressed our destiny perfectly: ”In the evening of our lives we will be judged on how we have loved.”
I believe that the more of oneself that one offers in a free action, the more free someone becomes.
Third in a series WHAT HAS BEEN on my mind as I have been writing this series of columns about freedom is that freedom is one of God’s greatest gifts to us. If we study the evolutionary process leading up to the appearance of human beings, we do not find freedom. When human beings appear, […]
Ever since I began reading existentialist thinkers when I started teaching at a four year college seminary many years ago, the mystery of freedom has fascinated me.