As I get older, paternal instincts are coming out in me. I see the joy in students here, and I often see it robbed by decisions made under the influence of a culture that has departed from the truth about the dignity of the human person. I would like to re-propose the truth in some on-line chats.
I do so with some fear and trembling because I do not want to appear to be judging anyone. I have made enough mistakes in this area to understand how easy it is to be fooled. I want to look at some common behaviors and propose perhaps a better way -- a way that protects joy.
These chats are sort of "folk" Theology of the Body, really more common sense than anything else. Let me know what you think.
For the new freshmen, one of the biggest changes for most will be the new degree freedom and responsibility for their lives. An understanding of freedom is thus necessary. Freedom is not being able to do what ever one wants to do. That is called "license." Rather, freedom is the ability to choose the good. Of all of earthly creation only humans can choose good. Plants and animals do good all the time -- like plants turning carbon dioxide into oxygen. But they just do it; they don't choose the good. Only human beings can choose to do good. This is freedom. Ultimately, God made us this way so that we could choose the highest good, which is to love Him!
The more we choose good, the freer we become. When, however, we choose "not the good", we become less free. Here is a little example: if we develop the habit of getting out of bed when our alarm clock first goes off, it becomes easier to get up. We might even begin to think about the need to get to bed at a reasonable time so that we can get up! But if we continually hit the "snooze" or turn the alarm off and roll over, then we are less free to get up when we want and need to. We sleep through things. We have to rush around like crazy people. We are out of control from the very beginning of the day. That is not very joyful. Misuse of freedom = loss of joy.
So remember that "you are free!" (You will hear me say this a lot, quoting a favorite seminary professor and mentor of mine, Fr. Francesco Turvasi.) But remember what freedom is and what it is not!