I was nineteen the first time I walked into his office for spiritual direction. Nervous and completely unaware of where I was going in my life, I began to share my story with a priest who would become my mentor, guide, and friend.
When I left his office after our first real encounter, he handed me a small yellow post-it note.
On it, he wrote three Scripture passages and told me that these were my prescriptions. I was to pray and meditate on them for the foreseeable future. My sickness, you see, was bondage, bondage to sin and shame. He was undertaking the task of guiding me to the light of freedom. The freedom found only when we live a life rooted in Christ and full of the Holy Spirit.
“Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.” (2 Corinthians 3:17)
The first step in walking towards freedom was for me to examine those places in my life where I had intentionally prevented the Lord from entering, or where I had incorrectly assumed that He had abandoned me. When I was able to invite the Lord into these places, he was able to break chains of bondage, and then his Spirit could breathe new life into me. Freedom for me came when I was able to identify the Lord in every area of my life and acknowledge that even during times of great suffering He was still present, wrapping me in His loving arms, working all things for good.
Walking in the freedom of Christ requires intentionality.
“For freedom Christ set us free; so stand firm and do not submit again to the yoke of slavery.” (Galatians 5:1)
It is necessary that each of us choose to live in the freedom of Christ. In Baptism we are given the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit to help us live the Christian life. The Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches that these gifts help to complete and perfect the virtues of those who receive them and promote docility in the faithful which assists them in readily obeying divine inspirations. We are not left unequipped as we attempt to live a life of freedom.
Freedom is an ongoing process. The Lord is constantly refining and purifying us, so that we may become more like Him. We must daily surrender to His workings.
“I urge you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God, your spiritual worship. Do not conform yourselves to this age but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and pleasing and perfect.” (Romans 12:1-2)
Are we willing to let go of our chains of bondage, our flawed ways of thinking, our expectations and plans? Are we willing to surrender our wills to the Lord, trusting with hope and faith that the freedom found in surrendering to him is the greatest of all? For truly, “He came to lead our lives away from corruption to Himself and gave us freedom in place of slavery.” (Saint Anastasius II of Antioch)
It’s been nearly twenty years since I was given the prescription for freedom. I pray I continue to daily choose to let go of my chains and cling to my Lord.