Tuesday, October 23 – True Freedom

23 Oct – Memorial for St. John of Capistrano, priest

John of Capristrano (1386-1456) was the son of a former German knight who died when John was still young. He studied law at the University of Perugia and was a lawyer in Naples, Italy, before being the reforming governor of Perugia under King Landislas of Naples. When war broke out between Perugia and Malatesta in 1416, John tried to broker a peace, but instead his opponents ignored the truce, and made him a prisoner of war.

During his imprisonment, he came to the decision to change vocations. He had married just before the war, but the marriage was never consummated, and with his bride’s permission, it was annulled. He joined the Franciscans at Perugia on Oct 4, 1416, and was fellow student with St. James of the Marches.

St. John was a disciple of St. Bernadine of Siena, and was a noted preached while still a deacon, beginning his work in 1420. An itinerant priest throughout Italy, Germany, Bohemia, Austria, Hungary, Poland, and Russia, he preached to hundreds of thousands, and established communities of Franciscan renewal. He was reported to heal by making the Sign of  the Cross over a sick person. He wrote extensively, mainly against the heresies of the day.

After the fall of Constantinople, he preached Crusade against the Muslim Turks. At the age of 70, he was commissioned by Pope Callistus II to lead it, and marched off at the head of 70,000 Christian soldiers. He won the great battle of Belgrade in the summer of 1456. he died in the field a few months later, but his army delivered Europe from the Muslims.

– Source: Patron Saint Index
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Romans 5:12, 15, 17-21

Sin entered the world through one man, and through sin death, and thus death has spread through the whole human race because everyone has sinned.

If it is certain that through one man’s fall so many died, it is even more certain that divine grace, coming through the one man, Jesus Christ, came to so many as an abundant free gift. If it is certain that death reigned over everyone as the consequence of one man’s fall, it is even more certain that one man, Jesus Christ, will cause everyone to reign in life who receives the free gift that he does not deserve, of being made righteous. Again, as one man’s fall brought condemnation on everyone, so the good act of one man brings everyone life and makes them justified. As by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so by one man’s obedience many will be made righteous. But however great the number of sins committed, grace was even greater; and so, just as sin reigned wherever there was death, so grace will reign to bring eternal life, thanks to the righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ our Lord.
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Luke 12:35-38

Jesus said to his disciples: “See that you are dressed for action and have your lamps lit. Be like men waiting for their master to return from the wedding feast, ready to open the door as soon as he comes and knocks. Happy those servants whom the master finds awake when he comes. I tell you solemnly, he will put on an apron, sit them down at table and wait on them. It may be in the second watch he comes, or in the third, but happy those servants if he finds them ready.”
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We know that God made man for the purpose of spending eternity with God, and when God gave man freedom to choose to love God, man chose to disobey. He abused his freedom.

Our present-day use of the term ‘freedom’ is somewhat corrupted. We think of freedom as having many choices in life. This idea of freedom is the same as a child with two dollars in his hand standing in a candy store. The freedom is having the power of choice. The problem with our present-day idea of freedom is that we are actually not free to make a choice, because making a choice means giving up our idea of freedom to commit to a certain thing. Just like the child must spend his two dollars to buy a certain candy. If the child does not want to spend that two dollars, he cannot buy any candy. Likewise, if we do not give up our freedom, we cannot make any choice at all. Hence, we see that our idea of freedom is corrupted. That’s not true freedom.

So what is true freedom then? True freedom is the ability to make the right choice. A test of whether we have true freedom is whether or not we have the ability to say ‘no’ to something that is not good for us, and to say ‘yes’ to something that is good for us. In the case of our spiritual lives, sin is bad for us, not just because it offends God, but because it damages our souls and it damages our relationship with God. We are beings made for God and when that relationship with God is damaged, we are harmed as well. Hence, a test of our true freedom is our ability to say ‘no’ to sin, and to say ‘yes’ to whatever leads us to greater union with God.

When we choose to say ‘yes’ to sin and ‘no’ to union with God, we are abusing that freedom. Freedom is therefore something that all of us have; it is a gift from God. However, because of our sinful state that came through original sin, we have a tendency towards sin. Although Christ came to free us from sin, the tendency to sin still remains. But the difference now is that we know that we have the freedom to make the right choice.
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Prayer:
Let us pray for the grace to make the right choice, to use our freedom the way it is meant to be used. Let us remember what St. Paul says: however great the number of sins committed, grace is even greater.

Give Thanks to the Lord for: Grace which is greater than all our sins.

Upcoming Readings:
Wed, 24 Oct – Romans 6:12-18; Luke 12:39-48; Memorial for St. Anthony Mary Claret, bishop
Thu, 25 Oct – Romans 6:19-23; Luke 12:49-53
Fri, 26 Oct – Romans 7:18-25a; Luke 12:54-59
Sat, 27 Oct – Romans 8:1-11; Luke 13:1-9
Sun, 28 Oct – Sirach 35:12-14, 16-18; 2 Timothy 4:6-8, 16-18; Luke 18:9-14; Thirtieth Sunday in Ordinary Time

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Disclaimer: The reflections expressed in this e-mail are the writer’s own. They may not necessarily reflect the teachings of the Catholic Church. Nonetheless we should all be able to learn something from it.

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