A while back I saw a quote from Cardinal George about the Papal Election last year. He said the reason they chose the man from Buenos Aires is that he was the man in the room who had the greatest inner freedom. There’s a lot of stuff out there about what inner freedom is and how to achieve it, with a predictable variety of ways to go about it. What does Inner Freedom mean?
Taking what we’ve seen of Pope Francis as example, I’d like to list a few things I’ve seen:
-being comfortable in one’s own skin, being a peace with oneself, an ability to set one’s own path
-not being overly bound to detail while being thorough
-being able to laugh and cry where people can see you
-letting people see inner struggle, like the time he wrestled with embracing the leper, but not being defeated by it
-letting one’s voice be heard, but choosing one’s words carefully and charitably
-being comfortably unpredictable without aggression or disrespect
-having compassion for those suffering without being caught up in suffering, and being able to express affection respectfully without worrying about the consequences
-a fearlessness that comes from knowing nothing from the outside can really hurt you, no matter how frightening it may be
-a lack of needing to impress anyone, or curry anyone’s favor
-passion for vital manners of life
-able to stare into the face of Evil without being intimidated or dismayed
-having a life that is an open book, and having nothing important to hide beyond reasonable privacy
That’s probably not all, but it’s a start. You can probably think of a few more things to mention.
Inner Freedom is a good way to describe a special kind of person, such as Pope Francis, and I’ve known other folks like that. They’re people that are almost universally respected, universally liked, charismatic, and influential. It’s a worthy goal for all of us, however how to get there is the question. Inner Freedom isn’t projecting yourself aggressively regardless of context, immaturity, nonchalance, indifference to other’s feelings, or detachment from your surroundings. To go farther, I think we’d have to review 1 Corinthians 13.
Inner Freedom is an excellent goal for all of us. How do we get there? That’s something only found along the way of an intense spiritual journey. Advice for that is all around us, if we’re willing to let go of enough of our selfishness and preconceptions to embrace it. If you get there before I do, please let me know.