Daily Thought For October 31, 2014

Practicing Freedom As Children of God

In answer to your seventh point, about the spirit of liberty, I shall tell you what I think it is. Every good person is free of committing mortal sins and has no willing attachment to them. Such freedom is necessary for salvation, but that's not what I'm talking about here. The freedom I'm referring to is the "freedom of the children of God" who know they are loved. And what is that? It's the detachment of a Christian heart from all things so that it is free to follow the known will of God. You will readily understand what I'm trying to say if God gives me the grace to explain to you the characteristics and effects of this freedom, and the occasions when it is practiced. 

We pray to God above all, that His name may be hallowed, that His kingdom come, that His will be done on earth as it is in heaven. All this is nothing other than the spirit of freedom; for, provided that the name of God is hallowed, that His kingdom is coming in us, that His will is being done, a free spirit has no other concern. 

First characteristic: The heart that enjoys this freedom is not attached to consolations, but accepts affliction with as much docility as nature can manage. I'm not saying that the person doesn't like or long for these consolations, but just that her heart isn't bound to them. Second characteristic: A person who has this spirit is not emotionally bound to her spiritual exercises; so, if she can't do them because of illness or some emergency, she doesn't get upset. Again I'm not saying that she doesn't like them, but that she is not attached to them. Third, she hardly ever loses her joy, for no deprivation can sadden a person whose heart is attached to nothing. This isn't to say that she can't lose her joy, but if she does, it's never for very long. 

The effects of this freedom are a great inner serenity, a great gentleness and willingness to yield in everything that isn't sin or an occasion of sin; it's a flexible disposition, able gracefully to do the virtuous or charitable thing. For example: try interrupting the meditations of someone who is very attached to her spiritual exercises and you will see her upset, flustered, taken aback. A person who has this true freedom will leave her prayer, unruffled, gracious toward the person who has unexpectedly disturbed her, for to her it's all the same—serving God by meditating or serving Him by responding to her neighbor. Both are the will of God, but helping the neighbor is necessary at that particular moment. We have occasion to practice this freedom whenever things don't go the way we'd like them to; for anyone who is not attached to her own ways will not get impatient when things go otherwise.

from Francis de Sales, Jane de Chantal Letters of Spiritual Direction pp. 138-139

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