Chapter 27 – What is Liberty?
Merton gives a straightforward definition of freedom, “to do the will of God.” He considers the lowest limit of freedom is our ability to choose between good and evil. That choice in itself is deceptive, for when we choose evil, it is only because we see it as an apparent good. We are caught in the trap of choosing what we really did not want and therefore not truly free.
The evil one is very clever indeed!
True freedom is the ability to choose what is always good and that is only found in perfect union with God. This insight explains how we, like the angels, retain our gift of free will in heaven, however, our desires will be to always choose what is really good and therefore, to be perfectly free.
In the meantime, we struggle on this earthly journey to discern how to use the gift of free will. Hopefully, we learn from past choices, that, we at times, choose only an apparent good. With that awareness, the words we speak in the Act of Contrition during Reconciliation, “I firmly resolve, with the help of thy grace, to sin no more…,” become a conscious effort to not be fooled again and to strive to be perfectly free.
Title: New Seeds of Contemplation
Author: Thomas Merton
Publisher: New Directions Publishing
Release Date: 1972