Saint Meinrad Seminary & School of Theology

Formation and Education for the Life of the Church

Freedom Road

by Ann Cavera


One year on Palm Sunday, our pastor said something that struck a chord for many of us. As part of his homily he said, "We are not slaves to our weaknesses, failures or sins." For us, Lent has become a season to let go of whatever diminishes our freedom in Christ. Lent has given us a chance to continue to grow in gaining freedom from many things so that we can hold more securely to the one thing that matters.

This is a path that runs counter to what the world thinks of as freedom. Often it isn't easy. Looking back through my own family, I realize freedom was a precious commodity. From outward appearances, my grandmother, the mother of 10 children, seemed to have no freedom.

In spite of an alcoholic husband, she planted her heart firmly in faith and brought all 10 children up to be good, strong, decent men and women. At her funeral, I was surprised when I saw her in the casket. In death, she had an absolutely radiant, triumphant look on her face.  

My mother didn't appear to have much freedom, either. Dad was a man with a quick temper and a need to control. At times he could be so difficult and demanding I once asked my mother why she never left him.

She said that years ago when my brother and I were young, she had decided to stay with him only until we were grown, and then leave. She said that by the time we were grown, she had come to love the broken, vulnerable, hopeful, generous man she knew to be hidden beneath his rough exterior.

Both my grandmother and mother were women of grace and dignity. Only in these past few years have I realized they were women who had anchored their freedom in something beyond their circumstances.   

One year at a retreat, a parishioner spoke about his personal faith. He and his wife had seven children. Three of these, including his only two sons, lost their lives before they became adults. He spoke of accepting all that life brings, including the crosses, and of the freedom he and his wife have found in accepting God's will. He is one of the kindest, freest men we have ever known. 

St. Maximilian Kolbe freely took the place of a prisoner condemned to death in Auschwitz. Franz Jagerstatter refused to serve in Hitler's army and paid for his refusal with his life. Until he was caught and hanged, Lutheran theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer worked underground to defeat Hitler.

People who hold on to Christ, even while drowning in a storm, know where true freedom lies. George Eliot said, "It is never too late to be what you might have been." These final days of Lent are freedom's path, even though they lead to death on a cross. It is never too late to bury our past in Christ and rise in freedom with him.            

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Echoes from the Bell Tower is a blog devoted to observations on Christian faith, spirituality and everyday events, by authors with a connection to the Benedictine values found at Saint Meinrad Archabbey and its Seminary and School of Theology. Contributors include students, permanent deacons, Benedictine oblates and Saint Meinrad monks. Their stories, thoughts and ideas highlight the mission and vision that ring out from the bell towers on this Hill in southern Indiana.