A Time for Freedom

by Fr. Adam

The COVID-19 pandemic is undoubtedly a time of crisis for the world, for Wichita, and even for ourselves. Part of the personal crisis, though mild compared to what many may be going through, is the fear of keeping ourselves entertained. How can I survive the possibility of two months of social distancing? What will I do when I have scrolled to the very end of Instagram? After I’ve watched all four seasons of the worst show on Netflix?

To avoid these frightening questions, I propose a challenging thought from one of my favorite theologians: “A young person is judged by how he uses his free time.” Fr. Luigi Giussani was a high school teacher in Italy who argued that a person ought not to be sized up according to how well he performed in school or the kind of work he did. He found it much more illuminating to find out how a person used his or her free time.

Why is this? Because free time is when a person does what they love the most. It is the time when they are liberated from responsibility and duty, freed from the drudge of homework and schedules! Free time is the time when people can do what most excites them, what fills them with joy, what gives their life meaning. Thus, how one uses his or her free time reveals what they truly love, their true passions, who they really are.

Conversely, “If a young person or an adult wastes his free time, he does not love life; he is a fool.” For Fr. Giussani, if he heard someone spent their free time doing “nothing” or spent it on mindless, banal things, then he would assume their hearts and souls had, sadly, gone cold. They must not love anything greater than those mindless things, or they may have very little love for life at all.

“But Father,” you may say, “what is the point of all of this? School will continue virtually so we still will have homework and deadlines, etc.” Assuredly, but I suspect we will all have more free time since events and gatherings are canceled. I point you to the wisdom of Fr. Giussani to encourage you to think about how you use your time over the next few weeks. To put it bluntly, don’t be the fool who wastes much or most of your free time scrolling, binging shows, or button mashing! Seek the greater things that you are passionate about! Maybe it is reading, writing, learning, the outdoors, art, playing music, working out, or calling friends and family. We will be restricted in many ways over the next few weeks, but don’t let that serve as an excuse to take a hiatus from your life. When you have free time, live!

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