Today on Veteran’s Day, I want to take this opportunity to remind you of something: We have so many freedoms we take for granted. And these freedoms were fought for . . . and paid for at a great price.
Men and women have sacrificed and continue to sacrifice everything to fight for peace and freedom. Many lost their lives, families, peace of mind, and much more. I'm incredibly grateful for all the heroic souls who fought for our freedom and how they resemble Christ in that way.
We’re called to follow in their footsteps by continually defending our freedom. Going off to war in a foreign land isn’t the only way to defend freedom. As a matter of fact, you can honor the veterans and honor God in your everyday actions.
What will you wear?
In many places around the world, people are forced to dress a certain way. (Sorry if this is a sore subject for Catholic school students.) In our country, we have the right to dress how we want. You can honor God by dressing modestly and defending your dignity that so many have fought to protect.
You have the freedom to wear retreat t-shirts and a crucifix around your neck. You also have the freedom to wear something that wouldn't keep you warm in the desert and that doesn’t uphold your dignity. This option would clearly be an abuse of the freedom.
What Will You Say?
We have free speech. You can honor God by speaking in a manner that builds people up. (Ephesians 4:29) The freedom to speak how we want is a two-edged sword. It can be used to honor God or offend God. You can build the Kingdom or tear it down. Gossip, lies, and inappropriate jokes show that you are grateful for the freedom of speech and making full use of it.
However, does what you're saying show that you're grateful for the freedom that Christ gives and making full use of it? It's worth it to stop before you speak and ask yourself, 'Will this lead those who hear it closer to Heaven?' In the words of Plato, 'Wise men speak because they have something to say; fools speak because they have to say something.' Your words are powerful, so pray first.
What Will You Do?
We have the freedom to practice our religion, which is forbidden in some places. You can honor God and the veterans by not only attending Mass regularly, but praying it with all of your heart! Mass isn't just a weekly meeting we have to sit through. It's an intimate encounter with the living God, the central act of worship for us Catholics. It is a sacrifice and a celebration. I've met people from other countries who risk their lives to follow Christ and attend mass regularly – often times we hesitate from doing those things because of the risk to our social lives.
Blessed John Paul II once said 'Freedom consists not in doing what we like, but in having the right to do what we ought.' He was a firm believer in true freedom, freedom in Christ. He believed that people organizing their lives with no reference to moral values, doing whatever they would like to do, and not fighting to 'ensure the protection and advancement of ethical values' was not only false freedom, but actually destructive to freedom.
Inspired by his life and his words, I encourage you today to live in true freedom and follow Christ. Be thankful for the rights you have and the many people who fought to protect them. You can take part in the fight by defending Christian freedom on the battlefields of your home, your school, and your heart.
Make an extra effort to thank any veterans or military families in your community. Look into different ways of supporting troops. Lastly, live in the freedom that we have as one nation under God.