The Fundamentals of Spiritual Freedom

In his 1941 State of the Union Address, President Franklin D. Roosevelt proclaimed to the United States and to the whole world his belief that all people had a fundamental right to four freedoms as human beings. Echoing the words of the American Constitution, he explained that everyone deserved freedom of speech, freedom of religion, freedom from want, and freedom from fear.

While a noble vocalization of Roosevelt’s concern for the human rights issues of the world, they were ultimately a political and world way of viewing the necessities of the human race. While a right to religious freedom is part of our needs, feeding our spiritual appetite requires a deeper dive into the fundamentals of spiritual freedom in the interior life.

But what is spiritual freedom? Father Bobby Blood joined Josh Raymond on The Inner Life to help answer this question and find out how we can find it in our own personal lives.

Father Bobby began by explaining that freedom in a civic sense differs from the sort of freedom you can find in God. In the civic sense, freedom is often interpreted as an exclusion of interference. As Americans, we understand this sentiment well. We don’t want to have other people or other entities like the government interfering in our personal business. And sometimes, that desire for freedom can be abused. It’s incorrectly interpreted as a blank check to do whatever we want.

Many people think that a life without boundaries and restrictions is a life of freedom. But if you were to ask anybody who has dealt with addiction or abuse, nothing could be further from the truth. A life without boundaries is a life of slavery and submission to lifestyle, substance, or whatever cross one might be dealing with.

As Father pointed out, the excuse often given by those who want to live lawlessly is, “If it’s not hurting anybody else, why shouldn’t I be able to do this or live this way?” The whole reason we shouldn’t hurt other people is that they are children of God in possession of bodies that are temples of the Holy Spirit. But we are also children of God. If, by living with no restrictions, we are harming ourselves, we are still destroying something which is not ours to destroy.

Not only that, but that excuse is no motto to live by. If that’s the standard by which we’re judging our actions, we have no chance of excelling, growing, or becoming the best versions of ourselves in God’s eyes. The idea of something being good simply because it’s doing no harm is a very low-set bar, to be sure. We aren’t called to be potted plants. We’re called to be fishers of men, apostles, firebrands, and zealous disciples.

In order to fill those roles, our spiritual lives have to be in peak condition, and, like the body, nothing trains the spirit like sacrifice. When you’re preparing for an event that asks much of your body, like a marathon, you train for weeks or months so that your body can handle the task of running that long distance. When you know your spirit will be tempted by all the vices of the world, you train your mind by forgoing pleasure. Forego the things that are most capable of enslaving you, and you will find freedom.

That is why our reason and will are so integral to the search for spiritual freedom, as the Catechism points out. Our ability to reason is what allows us to differentiate between the things that will set us free and grant us a more intimate relationship with God, and the things that will tempt us with admission to our every desire and trap us in a life of obsession and secularism. A potent prayer life and reason will show us the differences, and then it’s just a matter of willpower whether we decide to chase pleasure or paradise.

Tune in to The Inner Life weekdays at 11am CT

John Hanretty serves as a Digital Media Producer for Relevant Radio®. He is a graduate of the Gupta College of Business at the University of Dallas. Besides being passionate about writing, his hobbies include drawing and digital design. You can read more of his daily articles at and on the Relevant Radio® app.