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Freedom and Docility: A Flourishing Life

I love being free!

Who doesn’t value their freedom? It is one of the most positive words in the history of human language. It is in the promotion of that value that we are often quick to dismiss anything that seems to counter freedom. One such word that seems to do so is docility.

Docility can be defined as easy to control, so what does it mean to be docile to the Holy Spirit? And how can docility and freedom coexist? Let’s take a look.

What Is True Freedom?

It is easy to see freedom as just the license to do whatever one wants, but since freedom is a positive trait, it cannot mean license to do everything. One may consider this like a fish wanting to be free to escape water; even if the fish had the ability to escape and made a choice to do so, it would only lead to ruin and death. Similarly, a lot of choices we can make with our freedom can cause great harm to us and others. That is why for freedom to be seen as truly positive, it has to be looked at in relation to its purpose.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church states that:

"The more one does what is good, the freer one becomes. There is no true freedom except in the service of what is good and just. The choice to disobey and do evil is an abuse of freedom and leads to ‘the slavery of sin’." (CCC, no. 1733)

Freedom is best understood as the freedom to do what is right.

What Is Docility In the Spiritual Life?

When we reflect on the nature of docility in our faith, we find the meaning expressed as an openness to be able to listen to the Holy Spirit in our lives. It is not an openness to be forced to do something, but to ask the Holy Spirit to guide us in our decision making. When we are docile in this way, we are open to being challenged in our notions, to being surprised, maybe even to be open to discomfort in knowing what we have to do even if we don’t initially want to do it.

This type of docility is grounded in prudence and humility. We don’t always know what to do, but when we are docile to the Holy Spirit, we are never afraid to ask for help.

A Beautiful Flourishing

When we combine freedom with this docility, we find a beautiful flourishing of our lives. For it is in using our freedom to do what is right and asking the Holy Spirit for guidance on the right path, that we can truly grow as disciples in this world.

"Christian freedom and Christian obedience are the docility to the Word of God, and to have the courage to become new wineskins, for this new wine that continuously comes." - Pope Francis

Daniel Quintero is a stand-up comedian currently attending Mary, Mother of the Church Catholic Parish. His favorite motto: “Awkwardness does not exist.”

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