Liberty of Spirit

St Francis of Assisi by Jusepe de Ribera

St. Paul addresses the issue of liberty of spirit when he assures the Romans: “You have not received the spirit of bondage again in fear; but ye have received the spirit of adoption of sons, whereby we cry: Abba, Father.” (Rom 8:15)

Padre Quadrupani gives this definition: “Christian liberty of spirit, so earnestly recommended by the saints, consists in not becoming the slave of anything, even though good, unless it be of God’s will.”

St. Francis de Sales teaches: “He who possesses the spirit of liberty will on no account allow his affections to be mastered even by his spiritual exercises, and in this way he avoids feeling any regret if they are interfered with by sickness or accident. I do not say that he does not love his devotions but that he is not attached to them.”

Quadrupani offers this distinction: “A soul that is attached to meditation, if interrupted, will show chagrin and impatience: a soul that has true liberty will take the interruption in good part and show a gracious countenance to the person who was the cause of it. For it is all one to it whether it serve God by meditating or by bearing with its neighbor. Both duties are God’s will.”

The Padre lists these benefits of possessing liberty of spirit: “It is this Christian spirit of freedom that excludes fear and uneasiness in regard to all those things which God has not permitted us to know. It gives us a sweet and tender confidence as to the pardon of our past sins, the present condition of our souls and our eternal destiny. It reminds us continually that although we have deserved hell, our divine Lord has merited heaven for us, and that it would be doing a great injury to His goodness not to hope for pardon for the past, assistance of divine grace for the present, and salvation after death. Finally, it teaches us to drown our remorse for sin in the ocean of the divine mercy.”

Quotations from Carlo Giuseppe Quadrupani, Light and Peace: Instructions for Devout Souls to Dispel Their Doubts and Allay Their Fears (St. Louis: B. Herder, 1898).

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