Freedom isn’t free

As the old folk song says freedom isn’t free. Its verse tells us that – Freedom isn’t free, you’ve got to pay a price, you’ve got to sacrifice for your liberty. The reflection I share with you today is on freedom and its importance to me. Hopefully all of us in this country share the opinion that freedom is important.

This July we Americans have much for which to be grateful. We are celebrating the 244th year of our independence and our long journey to the ideal of true freedom. As Americans we are highly individualistic. Historically we saw freedom as something belonging to each individual. Most of us realized that this value is embodied in our governmental structure. That has not changed. I believe that majority of us have become more aware of the communal nature of freedom. It is apparent to me, because of recent events, that until everyone in our nation can enjoy the advantages of freedom my own freedom is diminished.

This idea is echoed in St. Angela’s understanding of freedom. She is the mother of all daughters of St. Ursula so it is important for me to understand how she saw freedom. St. Angela did not specifically speak of freedom instead she lived it and encouraged her sisters to do the same.

St. Angela’s appreciation of freedom came from Jesus’ example in the gospels. Jesus’ ministry among the people showed us that all people regardless of station in life were equal in the sight of God. This ideal was instilled in her in her instructions to her company of St. Ursula. The only condition for membership was to joyfully and voluntarily enter the company. A private promise of virginity was made by the sisters. Her sisters had the freedom to live where they wished and to continue to work where they wished. Above all they were to be mindful of the example they were giving of kindness to all those with whom they came in contact. This kind of freedom for women was unheard of in the 1500’s. No habit or particular kind of dress was necessary. They were to dress simply calling no attention to themselves. Each sister was free to find God in her own way since no specific spiritual exercises were demanded of her.

I find this model of freedom appealing for me today; as long as I keep in mind the good of the Ursuline congregation to which I belong. I think Angela would agree with my assessment. I believe that this understanding of freedom can hold much value for today’s world as well as religious groups. I leave you with a paraphrase of one of Angela’s testaments.

“Above all be on your guard not to want to get anything done by force. God has given free will to everyone and wants to force no one, but only proposes invites and counsels.” Tes.3

Sister Carla Murar