In my graduate studies at Duquesne University, Fr. Sean Kealy taught a course on the Old Testament and his words still come to mind when talking about moral law. He encouraged us to view the Ten Commandments not as rules to restrict us, but rather as a Charter of Freedom. For each of the commandments he would explain how living that commandment would liberate one from fear or burden or loss. For example, honoring your parents would free them from the fear of growing old, safe in the knowledge that they would be taken care of when they could not physically or financially care for themselves. What a wonderful society we would have if all the commandments were followed, not because they restrict us, but because they free us!
Following God’s plan leads to happiness and true freedom. As Sri points out in this chapter, who would know better about how to get the best use out of this gift of life than the Creator. God gives us the owner’s manual. We can choose to follow his guidance and direction, or we can foolishly decide we know better, and follow our own path.
We are called to share in God’s divine life, a communion of love. The closing paragraphs of this chapter remind us where true freedom and happiness are found. “It’s only when we live for others and not for ourselves that we will find our happiness.” Created in God’s image and likeness we reflect that image and likeness most perfectly through total self-giving love.
– Deacon Ralph
Moral relativism! I am grateful to see this covered in chapter 14 – as I do spend much time speaking about it in the workshops that I give. Morality really is BLACK and WHITE. There really is one ‘truth’ – there can’t be more than one, the definition of truth itself denies that such a thing is possible. So if you are looking for the meaning of life – if you desire a life in which you are TRULY happy, then look no further! The meaning of life is simply finding true (ultimate, perfect, complete) happiness in God! We make our choices based on what we believe will make us happy. Unfortunately, we tend to assume that happiness will be found in the concrete, created world, rather than the eternal. Although things of this life can make us happy (to a certain degree), we find that we are never truly satisfied and that that happiness is fleeting.
Freedom isn’t the ability to choose whatever you want, it’s the ability to choose God, to choose correctly, to choose truth. When we choose God, we grow in virtue. When we practice virtue, we find that our happiness increases and our dissatisfaction (that usually pervades every aspect of our life) lessens. The self-centered, materialistic, created world doesn’t hold as much attraction and focus as it once did. We become truly free. Freedom and happiness go hand in hand. Practice virtue and see.