Interior Freedom by Jacques Philippe
I once attended a talk about the pursuit of one's vocation in life given by 2 brothers from St. Michael's Abbey. What resonated with me is the statement that one of them said which goes along this line:
....The only thing that God will bow down to is Human Will. Because He does not enforce Himself on you. That's how crazy He is with you. Jesus loves you as if you're the only person to ever exist....
And so this got me pondering about the power of Human Will. Yet often in my journey through life, I find myself seeking for God's will as if my path has already been predetermined for me and I, the pilgrim, implore His guidance over me as I walk my way home. To understand my point, it is imperative to state here that I personally believe in the power that is greater than I.
With this, it begs the question: "Do I really have an absolute freedom over my life?"
Thankfully, just about last year, I found some relevant answers to my profound curiosity about this aspect of my faith. A friend of mine introduced me to this book entitled "Interior Freedom". It was a great book that paved the way for me to understanding what it means to be truly free as a Christian.
While I thumbed through each page, I could not help myself from writing down the points that stood out to me the most. Every line spoke to my soul. I definitely recommend reading the entire book.
Here are some of my favorite lines from the book:
We find confinement unbearable, simply because we were created in the image of God, and we have within us an unquenchable need for the absolute and the infinite.
We have this great thirst for freedom because our most fundamental aspiration is for happiness; and we sense that there is no happiness without love, and no love without freedom.
Human beings were created for love, and they can only find happiness in loving and being loved.
Only love, then, can satisfy us; and there is no love without freedom. The kind of love that is the result of constraint, or self-interest, or the mere satisfaction of a need does not deserve the name love.
There is True love, and therefore happiness, only between people who freely yield possession of the self in order to give themselves to one another.
"You were within me, and I was outside myself, and sought you outside myself!" - St Augustine
Love, and only love, can overcome evil by good and draw good out of evil.
"Being free also means consenting to what we did not choose."
There is a paradoxical law of human life here "one cannot become truly free unless one accepts not always being free!
This means consenting to our personal limitations, our weaknesses, our powerlessness, this or that situation that life imposes on us, and so on. We find it difficult to do this, because we feel a natural revulsion for situations we cannot control. But the fact is that really makes us grow are precisely those we do not control.
"Love is so powerful in deeds that it is able to draw good out of everything, both the good and the bad that it finds in me" - St. Therese of Lisieux
We need to accept our limitations, but without ever resigning ourselves to mediocrity. We need to desire to change, but without ever refusing, even subconsciously, to recognize our limitations or accept ourselves.
The secret actually is very simple. It is to understand that we can only transform reality fruitfully if we accept it first. This also means having the humility to recognize that we cannot change ourselves by own efforts, but that all progress in the spiritual life, every victory over ourselves, is a gift of God's grace. We will not receive the grace to change unless we desire to; but to receive the grace that will transform us, we must "receive" ourselves--- to accept ourselves as we really are.
"Above all, never despise yourself. It is difficult to despise ourselves without offending God in us."
For a very long time I considered low self-esteem to be some kind of virtue. I had been warned so often against pride and conceit that I came to consider it a good thing to deprecate myself. But now I realize that the real sin is to deny God's first love for me, to ignore my original goodness. Because without claiming that first love and that original goodness for myself, I lose touch with my true self and embark on the destructive search among the wrong people and in the wrong places for what can only be found in the house of my Father.
If we have enough faith to believe Him capable of drawing good out of whatever befalls us, He will do so.
"This slight momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison" - St. Paul
"What ruins our soul is not what happens outside, but the echo that it awakens within us." - Christiane Singer
Projecting our fears into the future cuts us off from reality and prevents us from dealing with the present situations as we should. It saps our best energies.
If we try to live like that and deepen our relationship with God and our prayer life, so that we can perceive his presence within us and live as much as possible in communion with his indwelling, we shall discover something wonderful: the interior rhythm of grace that our life follows at its deepest level.
"I have created you without you, but not save you without you."
"What I'm not capable of doing by my own strength, I hope for from you, O my God. Not by virtue of my merits, because I have none, but by virtue of your mercy alone."
We are created to love. Whether we are or aren't aware of it, one of our deepest aspirations is to give ourselves to another.
"We obtain from God as much as we hope for from him." - St Therese de Lisieux
Human beings are more than the sum of the good they can accomplish. They are children of God, whether they do good or cannot manage to do anything. Our Father in Heaven does not love us because of the good we do. He loves us for ourselves, because he has adopted us as his children forever.
"When you no longer believe in what you can do for God, continue believing in what God can do for you."
*Full credit to the author of the book, Jacques Philippe for the italicized lines above.