To borrow a phrase from a priest friend of ours, my husband and I are “red-hot Catholics”. It’s a zeal that has endured since we both discovered the richness and truth of the faith not too many years ago.
Faith wasn’t always important to us, though. Before we met, my not-yet husband at the time and I were each busy taking our pick of the daily specials on the worldly buffet. But all of that eventually gets old. While people may scoff at the seemingly mundane routine of married couples, social scenes, chasing career goals, and keeping up with the Joneses, eventually finds itself in the dictionary under “banal”. Been there, done that, seen it, heard about it. When we step back from our noisy lives, most of us will inevitably ask, “Is this all there is?”
While we can get caught up trying to attain the life that the media sells us, hopefully, time and maturity, sprinkled with grace, reveal to us that a real life, truly lived, isn’t styled and air-brushed. For me and my husband, the Catholic faith picked up where that revelation left off, and has shown us that we are all made for so much more.
Our morally relative world sees religion, with all its rules, as confining and unnecessary. Spoiler Alert: It is neither. Consider our traffic safety laws. We may not always find it easy to keep it at 60 on the interstate, but reasonable people understand our need to follow the laws, and agree that there is a benefit to all of us when we all abide by them. Those same benefits, but at a much deeper level, are achieved through Christian living.
Rules are needed in every aspect of our lives, not just for safety, but for good health, etiquette, etc.: Brush your teeth so you don’t get cavities; Don’t hit your brother when he takes your spot on the couch; Always wear clean underwear in case you’re in an accident.
So it follows that we need rules for our spiritual life as well.
Which is why I was glad to see Pope Francis speak about the freedom that comes from following the Ten Commandments. It’s an unexpected freedom for most, but true freedom nonetheless.
“We must not see the Ten Commandments as limitations to liberty. No, they are not this, but we must see them as indications for liberty. They are not limitations but indications for liberty! They teach us to avoid the slavery to which the many idols reduce us that we build ourselves – we have experienced this so many times in history and we are experiencing it also today. They teach us to open ourselves to a dimension that is larger than the material, to live respect for persons, overcoming the avidity for power, for possession, for money and to be honest and sincere in our relations, to protect the whole of creation and to nourish in our planet lofty, noble and spiritual ideals. To follow the Ten Commandments means to be faithful to ourselves, to our more authentic nature, and to walk towards the genuine liberty that Christ taught in the Beatitudes.” -Pope Francis
In our common longing for such freedom, we all owe it to ourselves, at the very least, to consider this point-of-view, and ask ourselves whether these commandments could truly be a help to us. If we’re really being honest, how can they not?
Read more from the Pope on this subject here and here.
(all pictures are from Grandma & Grandpa’s garden last year)