Session 9: Finding True Freedom

Resources for participants

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

9A:

  • Do you think there is such a thing as right and wrong? Why?
  • Do you think morality changes from one culture or country or religion to another?
  • Do you think human beings are free? Do you think people can change?
  • What other ideas or questions strike you from this part of the film?

9B:

  • Where do people get their moral values from? What influences them?
  • Who has been the greatest moral guide or inspiration in your life?
  • Do you think we need moral guidance from the bible or elsewhere, or can we work out everything for ourselves?
  • What other ideas or questions strike you from this part of the film?

9C:

  • What would you like to achieve in life?
  • What would you like to be remembered for?
  • When you were a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
  • What other ideas or questions strike you from this part of the film?

 

READINGS FROM THE YOUCAT FOR THIS SESSION

If you are using the YouCat with your Sycamore group, please click here for general advice about the YouCat and how to use the readings. Here are the readings that go with this week’s Sycamore session:

  • #291 to #298 – knowing right and wrong [4 pages]
  • #343 to #351 – the moral teaching of the bible and the Church [4 pages]

NB the numbers (#) refer to paragraph numbers in the YouCat and not to page numbers. The number in [square brackets] at the end tells you roughly how long this passage is in terms of the pages you need to read (excluding picture pages).

 

LONGER READINGS FROM THE CATECHISM OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH

If you have more time, and if you want to go deeper into the topic of this session, you can follow up by exploring the longer Catechism of the Catholic Church. See the standard online version here, and a digital “flip-book” edition here. Here are the readings that go with this week’s Sycamore session:

NB the numbers (#) refer to paragraph numbers in the Catechism and not to page numbers. Click on the links themselves to read the paragraphs in the online version.

 

KEY IDEAS FROM THE FILM

9A – Is there such a thing as right and wrong?

If you speak about morality today, you get a fascinating mix of views. On the one hand, we don’t like to judge or interfere. We value diversity and freedom. On the other hand, most people agree that we need some kind of moral code, some shared values. It’s not enough just to say: do whatever you want. Some things are just wrong.

Christians believe in freedom. They also believe in an objective morality. Not everything is relative. There are some fundamental human values that all people have in common. Why? Because we all share a common humanity, and some things help us to live a good life, they lead us to a genuine fulfilment, and other things can damage that.

It’s a good thing, for example, to care for the sick, to tell the truth, to honour your parents, to do an honest day’s work. And it’s wrong, for example, to kill an innocent person, to steal, to betray your spouse, to exploit the vulnerable.

We can argue about the exact details. But Christians believe that a core set of values has been accepted by most people in most societies. They’re expressed in the Ten Commandments of the Jewish-Christian tradition and many other similar codes.

Most of us are struggling to live a good life. But the knowledge that there are some guidelines and boundaries is actually a huge gift, rather than a burden. And trying to follow them actually helps to set us free.

9B – Where can we find moral guidance?

Sometimes we just know, very clearly, that something is wrong. But lots of the time we are just unsure about what the best way forward is. Often we need guidance. Where can we find it? What can we do?

Here are some tips. First, you can stop and think. Sometimes we need to stop; make some space; listen to our heart, to our conscience; and think things through.

Second, you can talk. Sometimes we need to talk things through and get some advice. It’s so important to have one or two people you really trust and look up to.

Third, you can pray. Especially to the Holy Spirit, that he will give you wisdom and guidance.

Fourth, you can look to the bible. The moral teaching of the bible is a sure guide for life. Not every rule and regulation of the Old Testament, but the core moral wisdom of the bible, and above all the teaching of Jesus in the Gospels. If we listen to God’s Word in the bible, it’s like building a house on rock.

And finally, you can look to the teaching of the Christian Church over many centuries. Christian history has so much to teach us. And as a Catholic, I believe that the Pope and the Catholic bishops have a special role in the Church, keeping us faithful to the teaching of Jesus.

Life is messy, and moral clarity doesn’t come easily. We will make a lot of mistakes. But these are some of the things that can help us when we are trying to find the right way forward: thinking, talking, praying, the bible, and Christian teaching.

9C – How do you discover your true identity?

If I say to you, “Tell me something about yourself”. What would your answer be? It’s the question of identity. Do you start with your name? Your nationality? Your job? Do you show them your Facebook feed or your Instagram account? Is this you? Is there more?

We can discover a deeper truth about our identity, that comes through knowing the love of Jesus Christ. It’s to discover that you, personally, are loved by God. That you are his beloved son or daughter. That your life has meaning and purpose, even if you can’t see the whole picture yet.

It’s to be honest about your mistakes, your sins, the things you have done wrong. And to know that you can say sorry to God, and receive his forgiveness. So many of us feel trapped by the mistakes we have made; we even feel condemned. It is such a gift to know that Jesus wants to forgive us, and that with his help we can make a new start.

It’s to be filled with the Holy Spirit. The Spirit of God comes into our hearts and changes us from the inside. He gives us the ability, the power, to do things that simply wouldn’t be possible through our own efforts alone. He helps us to believe, to hope, to love. He gives us the gifts of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, self-control; the gifts of wisdom, understanding, courage. Amazing gifts.

Our deepest identity is actually to live a life of holiness, to be a saint. The saints are just ordinary people like you and me, but they have come to know God’s love for them in Jesus Christ, and want to love him in return. They have learnt to love deeply, truly, passionately, joyfully, often at great cost. But they are the happiest people on earth. That’s an identity worth living for.