Three 20-something women trying to figure out what it means to be lay, Catholic, and modern all at once.

October 26, 2010

"You Must Teach Them How to Use Their Freedom"

I am volunteering for a tutoring center that helps inner city girls do well in school, forms good study habits and good character, and helps the girls build skills to get them into college. The center focuses on girls from grades 4-12. My job is that of an 'adviser' to girls in 11th and 12th grade. No easy task. First, I have five girls I need to chat with for about 20 minutes each (and really, do you know me!?! 20 minutes only!?) and I basically talk to them about what is going on in life. I am to help them instill the cardinal (and theological) virtues in their lives. An even more difficult task.

Last week, we advisers had a training session with a priest who said something very profound that I have been mulling over all weekend. He told us that so often we (as human beings, that is) try to force people into the mold of what we think is right. We tell them ‘Do it this way, Say that, Don’t do this,’ etc. But he said, we cannot do that. For these girls and for all in our lives – we are to teach them how to use their freedom. They will do what they will do because they are simply free to do it. But our responsibility is to teach them how to use their freedom – how to be free. That is really, really hard. And who among us is not enslaved to some bad habit or annoying behavior? Is that not the very essence of sin – to be enslaved and to stifle our own freedom? How do you teach someone how to be free?

So far, I can only come up with this solution: “For you shall know the Truth and the Truth shall make you free.” Christ is Truth and by giving these girls that Truth, they will learn how to use their freedom. It's a delicate balance, I think, between imposition and informed guidance in freedom. And it is a line that I think, especially in jobs of education (and higher education) that we often see very blurred. For example, yesterday Julian spoke of the Gospel of Tolerance that insidiously affects us all. It's the gospel that I see these girls living by. As I said above, they are indeed free to do as they will. And they will often times choose to do the wrong thing. But it is by constantly bearing the person of Christ to them that we can show them (and ourselves) how to live freely.

1 comment:

La Italiana said...

In Veritatis splendor, JPII speaks of Christ's "invitation," not imposition or instruction. I find that word choice particularly helpful with my own students.

Keep up the good work!

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