“I don’t like the Catholic Church, or any church or prayer community for that matter. Too many rules. Too strict. Very restrictive. Burdensome.”
I often hear this statement from nominal Christians who have either left the church or refuse to join one. They say they want to be free. Free from the oppression of rules and teachings. They don’t want anybody telling them what’s right or wrong. They want to be their own standard of morality. They call it freedom.
I call it ignorance.
You see, they equate being free to being unrestrained. There is a difference. Let me tell you what I mean…
Take for instance, a guitar string that is unattached to any guitar. It is unrestrained. By itself, it seems free. Free to dangle. Free to sway. Free to move. But it is useless. It does not produce any sound. It does not bless anybody with its music. It does not fulfill the purpose for which it exists.
But once a guitar string is attached to a guitar, it then becomes significant. Together with the other guitar strings, it produces beautiful music. It then fills the room with melody that soothes the soul and fires up the heart. It blesses. it serves the very purpose for its existence.
A self-professed believer who insists on living his Christian life according to his own terms is like an unattached guitar string. He is unrestrained and is able to do whatever he wants regardless of any morality. In a sense, he is his own morality. But he does not reach his full potential to bless the world.
On the other hand, a Christian living out his Christian life in the context of a church or community, is like a string attached to a guitar. The rules and the way of life teach him discipline and shape him to become the person God wants him to be. He reaches his full potential and fulfills his purpose in life. He is blessed and becomes a blessing. Like a wild stallion tamed by his master, his strength is harnessed to perfection. He then becomes truly free!
Freedom is not the unrestrained ability to do anything you want but the distinct capacity to become who you were made to be.
I write this blog a few days before the Feast of the Covenant of my community, Ang Ligaya ng Panginoon. It was nineteen years ago when I joined Ligaya as a young student from the University of the Philippines. The last nineteen years were not easy years but years of real fulfillment. Through the covenant and the way of life of my community, I was molded and chiseled to become the man I am today. Sure, it was difficult. But it was all worth it.
I love the Catholic Church and my community, Ligaya ng Panginoon.
Through them, I am truly free to become who God wants me to be!
Happy Feast of the Covenant, my Ligaya!