Sunday, May 25, 2014

Reflection for Memorial Day

"No one has greater love than this, to lay down one's life for one's friends." --John 15:13

Every year on Memorial Day, we Americans take a break from our normal work routine to gratefully remember and honor all those men and women who have given their lives in military service to our country--those who have died defending our freedom. This annual holiday offers an opportunity to reflect on the true meaning of freedom, as our nation's great Founders understood this term.

Today we often think of freedom as the self-endowed, absolute and inviolable ability to do whatever we want to do, with no regard for an objective moral law. But this is an erroneous conception of freedom which is detached from any responsibility to God and to our fellow human beings, and if we all put it into practice it would result in social chaos and anarchy. By contrast, freedom properly understood is the ability to do what we ought to do--to choose good and reject evil, to live by the Ten Commandments and the teachings of Christ. Moreover, true freedom is a gift from our Creator, and it sets certain basic limits on human behavior for our own good. As Bill Donohue has clearly pointed out in his excellent book Why Catholicism Matters, our nation's Founders believed in "ordered liberty," that is, freedom to do the right thing in accordance with "the laws of nature and of nature's God."

We need to get back to this concept of ordered liberty anchored firmly in the objective and unchanging natural law established by our Creator. It is this concept and its implementation that has made us a great nation. Only if we understand and use our freedom properly will we return to greatness as a nation.

"Eternal rest grant unto them, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon them. May they rest in peace. Amen."

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