The World's First Love by Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen. Part 5.

The true concept of freedom is, "Freedom is the right to do whatever we ought," and ought implies goal, purpose, morality, and the law of God. True freedom is within the law, not outside it. I am free to draw a triangle, if I give it three sides, but not, in a stroke of broad-mindedness, fifty-seven sides. I am free to fly on condition that I obey the law of aeronautics. In the spiritual realm, I am also most free when I obey the law of God.

In order to escape the implications of freedom (namely, its involvement in responsibility), there are those who would deny individual freedom either communally ( as do the Communists) or biologically (as do some Freudians). Any civilization which denies free will is, generally, a civilization which is already disgusted with the choices of its freedom, because it has brought unhappiness upon itself. Those who make the theoretical denial of free will are those who, in practice, confuse freedom by identifying it with license. One will never find a professor who denies freedom of the will who does not also have something in his life for which he

wishes to shake off responsibility. He disowns the evil by disowning that which made evil possible, namely, free will. On the golf course, such deniers of freedom blame the golf clubs, but never themselves. The excuse is like the perennial one of the little boy who broke the vase: "Someone pushed me": that is, he was forced. When he grows up, he becomes a professor, but instead of saying: "I was pushed," he says: "The concatenation of social, economic, and environmental factors, so weighted down with the collective psychic heritage of our animal and evolutionary origin, produced in me what psychologists called a compulsive Id." These same professors who deny freedom of the will are the ones who sign their names to petitions to free Communists in the name of freedom, after they have already abused the privilege of American freedom.

The beauty of this universe is that practically all gifts are conditioned by freedom. There is no law that a young man should give the gift of a ring to the young lady to whom he [181 is engaged. The one word in the English language which proves the close connection between gifts and freedom is: "Thanks." As Chesterton said: "If man were not free, he could never say, "Thank you for the mustard'."

Freedom is ours really to give away because of something we love. Everyone in the world who is free wants freedom first of all as a means: he wants freedom in order to give it away. Almost everyone actually gives freedom away. Some give their freedom of thinking away to public opinion, to moods, to fashions, and to the anonymity of "they say" and thus become the willing slaves of the passing hour. Others give their freedom to alcohol and to sex, and thus experience in their lives the words of Scripture: "He who commits sin is the slave of sin." Others give up their freedom in love to another person. This is a higher form of surrender and is the sweet slavery of love of which Our Saviour spoke: "My yoke is sweet and my burden light." The young man who courts a young woman is practically saying to her: "I want to be your slave all the days of my life, and that will be my highest and greatest freedom." The young woman courted might say

to the young man: "You say you love me, but how do I know? Have you courted the other 458,623 young eligible ladies in this city?" If the young man knew his metaphysics and philosophy well, he would answer: "In a certain sense, yes, for by the mere fact that I love you, I reject them. The very love which makes me choose you, also makes me spurn them and that will be for life."

Love therefore is not only an affirmation; it is also a rejection. The mere fact that John loves Mary with his whole heart means that he does not love Ruth with any part of it. Every protestation of love is a limitation of a wrong kind of free love. Love, here, is the curbing of the freedom understood as license, and yet it is the enjoyment of perfect freedom for all that one wants in life is to love that person. True love always imposes restrictions on itself for the sake of others whether it be the saint who detaches himself from the world in order more readily to adhere to Christ, or the husband who detaches himself from former acquaintances to belong more readily to the spouse of his choice. True love, by its nature, is uncompromising; it is the freeing of self from selfishness and egotism. Real love uses freedom to attach itself unchangeably to another. St. Augustine has said: "Love God, and then do whatever you please." By this he meant that, if you love God, you will never do anything to wound Him. In married love, likewise, there is perfect freedom, and yet one limitation which preserves that love, and that is the refusal to hurt the beloved. There is no moment more sacred in freedom than that when the ability to love others is suspended and checked by the interest one has in the pledged one of his heart; there then arises a moment when one abandons the seizure and the capture for the pleasure of contemplating it, and when the need to possess and devour disappears in the joy of seeing another live.

And an interesting insight into love is this that, to just the extent that we reject love, we lose our gifts. No refugee from Russia sends a gift back to a Dictator; God's gifts, too, are dependent on our love. Adam and Eve could have passed on to posterity extraordinary gifts of body and soul, had they

but loved. They were not forced to love; they were not asked to say, "I love," because words can be empty; they were merely asked to make an act of choice between what is God's and what is not God's, between the choices symbolized in the alternatives of the garden and the tree. If they had had no freedom, they would have turned to God as the sunflower does to the sun; but, being free, they could reject the whole for the part, the garden for the tree, the future joy for the immediate pleasure. The result was that mankind lost those gifts which God would have passed on to it, had it only been true in love.

What concerns us now is the restoration of these gifts through another act of freedom. God could have restored man to himself by simply forgiving man's sin, but then there would have been mercy without justice. The problem confronting man was something like that which confronts an orchestra leader. The score is written and given to an excellent director. The musicians, well-skilled in their art, are free to follow the director or to rebel against him. Suppose that one of the musicians decides to hit a wrong note. The director might do either of two things: he might either ignore the mistake, or he might strike his baton and order the measure to be replayed. It would make little difference, for that note has already gone winging into space, and since time cannot be reversed, the discord goes on and on through the universe, even to the end of time. Is there any possible way by which this voluntary disharmony can be stopped? Certainly not by anyone in time. It could be corrected on condition that someone would reach out from eternity, would seize that note in time and arrest it in its mad flight. But would it still not be a discord? No, it could be made the first note in a new symphony and thus be made harmonious!

When our first parents were created, God gave them a conscience, a moral law, and an original justice. They were not compelled to follow Him as the director of the symphony of creation. Yet they chose to rebel, and that sour note of original revolution was passed on to humanity, through human generation. How could that original disorder be stopped?

It could be arrested in the same way as the sour note, by having eternity come into time and lay hold of a man by force, compelling him to enter into a new order where the original gifts would be restored and harmony would be the law. But this would not be God's way, for it would mean the destruction of human freedom. God could lay hold of a note, but He could not lay hold of a man by force without abusing the greatest gift which He gave to man - namely, freedom, which alone makes love possible.