By Fr. Guillermo Carmona, National Director of the Schoenstatt Movement in Argentina •
During these days in which we celebrate (Argentina’s Bicentennial of) Independence, I invite you to reflect on the concept of independence, beyond its meaning and its impediment in political history. We can, in this sense, ask ourselves about our being independent and how we live this attribute positively in our daily life.
Independence is related to liberty and autonomy. To become that new man which Schoenstatt proposes implies being a free and autonomous man, a man with an independent personality.
Acceptance of oneself
Autonomy begins with the acceptance of oneself directed toward the valuation and the commitment with oneself. Whoever accepts himself as he is, with his qualities and shortcomings, does not run the risk of mimicking others, losing his identity and personal profile. This does not mean that we should conform ourselves and become passive beings. On the contrary, we should be able to live searching for that equilibrium between what I am and what I should change to become more complete, to be a better person. Each day we are presented with that possibility of being what I am, and likewise, to realize some change no matter how small.
Independent from the opinion of others
Autonomy implies working according to our own criteria, independent from the opinion of others. Those around us should not manipulate our actions. It is good to be inspired by human models, but it is one thing to value someone and another, very different, to idolize. Autonomy does not invalidate listening to those around us. Their judgments can be indicative, but they should not be determinant. One is independent who does not depend on others to decide on what he should do, but likewise, he looks, listens and analyzes what others may have to tell us.
The independence that is most difficult is emotional independence. To depend too much on approval, whether far or near, to depend on the applause or the criticism of those we love, does not help. Others do not determine the level of happiness: happiness depends on each one and the attitude with which we face our life.
The road to independence also passes through periods of detachment: when a child or a good friend leaves, we are fired from a job, someone we get mad at and no longer see, the abandonment of someone we loved. To be free is not easy; it implies assuming the failures and the injustices. It is about being firm on the way…if we are supported by our moral conscience…when facing those who do not share my values…my sincerity…my honesty or my way of living.
Perhaps the way will also detain us with periods of loneliness. Let us not be afraid, and let us descend. If a person knows how to profit from these, the periods of loneliness can be very fruitful and can strengthen our independent personality.
Autonomy – central in Father Kentenich’s pedagogy
This autonomy is central to the pedagogy and spirituality of Father Joseph Kentenich. It is based on the original love of the Father and in the Covenant with Mary. She invites us to embody the best of ourselves, the personal ideal, so unique that there are not two, just like there are no two fingerprints alike. This awareness brings out the best version of oneself.
Jesus and Mary tend to our heart in winter so that it can glow like a garden in spring. It is the heart that rejoices in what St. Paul called in the Letter to the Romans: “The complete freedom of the children of God.”
I wish that the mercy of the Father, which always comes to meet us, permits us to celebrate today, not just the Bicentennial, but also our own independence.
With cordial greetings and blessings,
Fr. Guillermo Carmona