Finding Freedom with Jacques Philippe and St. Maximillian Kolbe

Our present culture places a heavy emphasis on freedom and self-reliance.  Freedom, in this day and age, is understood as an ability to act however we want, whenever we want.  This understanding of freedom is actually very limiting, however.  When we subscribe to the idea that freedom means acting on our own impulses and desires, we can easily become slaves to our passions and lose a sense of personal agency.  In one of his most widely read works, Interior Freedom, Jacques Philippe argues against this modern notion of freedom in favor of selfless spiritual maturity and healthy detachment from what we can’t control. 

Want to reach a state of interior freedom? Read on for advice from Jacques Philippe’s book, Interior Freedom, on liberating the heart and mind and finding freedom in your faith today. 

There are several things that prevent us from attaining freedom, according to Philippe.  Some of the roadblocks include our own anger, frustration with things beyond our control, inability to accept our own weaknesses, and inability to accept suffering.  When we recognize that we only have control over the ways we respond to negative or challenging situations, however, freedom becomes far more attainable.  Philippe points out that,“No circumstance in the world can ever prevent us from believing in God, from placing all our trust in him, from loving him with our whole heart, or from loving our neighbor.”  He references St. Maximilian Kolbe, a saint who died in Auschwitz during WWII, as an example of someone who, despite being physically imprisoned and ultimately martyred, chose love, hope, and freedom over anger for his oppressors.  

In order to be free in this way, we must be aware of two things: our own inadequacy, and our need to replace our evil inclinations for good ones. He writes, “First, our efforts will never be sufficient on their own. Only the grace of Christ can win us the victory. Therefore our chief weapons are prayer, patience, and hope.”  We need the grace of God, as well as the humility to embrace that need, to be able to attain interior freedom.

“Second, one passion can only be cured by another - a misplaced love by a greater love, wrong behavior by right behavior that makes provisions for the desire underlying the wrongdoing, recognizes the conscious or unconscious needs that seek fulfillment and either offers them legitimate satisfaction or transfers them to something compatible with the person's calling.” If we replace our negative inclinations with positive inclinations, we are able to not only free ourselves from those negative inclinations but also find deeper joy in the good ones.  We must grow in virtue and goodness in order to be truly free.

Jacques Philippe points out that we all have the ability to attain freedom despite our circumstances,  and it all comes down to the way we approach life.  He claims that, “we gain possession of our interior freedom in proportion to our growth in faith, hope, and love.”  Let’s grow in faith, hope, and love, and find freedom today!