Tag Archives: HHS mandate

…And We’re Back!

Howdy folks,

Wow, I can honestly say I never intended to stop posting for as long as I did…It’s been quite some time, so you could say I’m well-rested and ready to go.

It’s actually with quite an exciting purpose that I write today. You see, as I was glancing around at other blogs I follow, I came across this post from Father Z’s Blog (a very good source on Catholic current events, and a source of inspiration for me, I might add. Check it out sometime) about a document published by the United States Bishops yesterday, April 12. The statement is concerning Religious Freedom.

What struck me as I read Father Z’s comments about the statement, as well as the statement itself (right HERE) was how quickly and easily we can forget things like this fight for Religious Freedom. In our world of 24-hour news coverage and constant Tweets and Facebook notifications, things tend to come and go quite fast. For some things this is OK; I would rather forget the St. Louis Cardinals won the World Series last year; and the sooner the Cubs’ 2012 season is over the better. But for other things, the rate at which news comes and goes is very alarming indeed.

Even though CNN has stopped covering the HHS mandate, for instance, it is still coming this August, whether we remember or not. Something I loved about the Bishops’ statement was how it chronicled seven, yes, SEVEN, specific attacks by our government on religious freedom in the past 12 months or so.  Now, I can remember reading about each and every one of these attacks. But because of the nature of our national media, it seems like these happened over the course of years. In reality, it was in a matter of months (and by the same administration too, don’t forget).

Now, do I suspect this as a plan by the national media or the Obama administration? In part, yes. I think it is quite convenient to space all these attacks out, letting them get their coverage and endure the backlash for a few weeks, and then have the American public more or less forget they ever happened. That is a problem!

I am so thankful for the Bishops’ writing this statement for that very reason. It has reminded me about all that is at stake when our government launches attack after attack on our Church and religious freedom as a whole. I hope this post can serve as a reminder to you as well and to restore the zeal and courage necessary to fight such evil and injustice.

The last thing the Bishops’ say in the statement (in case you don’t make it that far) was to call for a “Fortnight for Freedom” dedicated to prayer, education, and awareness of religious freedom and the current attacks by our government. It is scheduled for June 21 (Vigil of the Feast of St. Thomas More, who himself once took a stand for religious freedom and conviction) through July 4 (did you catch that significance?), and the Bishops are encouraging all dioceses to participate though planning special events sometime during those two weeks.

I encourage all of you to keep a watch for those events and make plans to participate in as many as possible. We must not forget what is going on in our country! To help with that, try praying this prayer the Bishops have written in preparation for the “Fortnight for Freedom”:

Almighty God, Father of all nations,
For freedom you have set us free in Christ Jesus (Gal 5:1).
We praise and bless you for the gift of religious liberty,
the foundation of human rights, justice, and the common good.
Grant to our leaders the wisdom to protect and promote our liberties;
By your grace may we have the courage to defend them, for ourselves and for all those who live in this blessed land.
We ask this through the intercession of Mary Immaculate, our patroness,
and in the name of your Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
with whom you live and reign, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Hope you all continue having a Blessed Easter season. Check back here for more posts in the coming days!

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New Evangelization 7

Hey folks! We’re finally at the end of journey through Cardinal Dolan’s speech last week about the New Evangelization. The full speech is here, and don’t forget to read Part 1 & Part 2!  Let’s get right into the last part of the Cardinal’s speech.

Pillar 7

“Joy, love . . . and, last point . . . sorry to bring it up, . . . but blood.”

Blood. What we’re talking about here is, of course, martyrdom. In his speech, Cardinal Dolan referenced the connection between the color of his biretta he wears as a Cardinal (red) with his call to shed his blood for the sake of the Church and the spread of the Faith. Let us pray that he will never have to take that step, but that if he does he has the courage to accomplish God’s will.

“The blood of the martyrs is the seed of the church,” Tertullian tells us in Apologeticum. The witness of the Church’s martyrs shouts out to people and evangelizes in a way that words never could. Eleven of the 12 Apostles died a martyr’s death, all choosing to die for our faith rather than live without it. My patron saint, St. Sebastian, was martyred in the early church during the Roman persecutions. Our Church’s history is riddled with examples of men and women shedding their blood for Christ and His Church.

Martyrdom, however, is not something reserved only for Cardinals and Popes. We all must be ready to shed our blood for Christ. Thankfully, many of us will never be asked to shed our blood for our Faith. But that doesn’t mean that we cannot be martyrs. Several bishops have predicted coming persecution for the American Church, where clergy and laity alike could be arrested for proclaiming the Truth. Among those bishops are Cardinal Burke and Bishop Aquila of Fargo, ND.

Taking a look at current events makes it obvious that this is where our country is headed. Sure, the current HHS mandate may yet be tossed away, or at least provide true exemptions for religious employers. But the attack on our Church will not end there. A time is coming, earlier rather than later, when we will be faced with a choice: either be true to the Church or follow the law. The HHS mandate is only the beginning of the war on the Church. We must be prepared to fight this battle!

What a wonderful thing to think about heading into Lent, right? (BTW, Ash Wednesday is tomorrow. Ready to explain those ashes? I found this piece by Mark Hart to be extremely helpful :)) That brings us to the other reason for this post – Lent. Most years, I hear a lot of people talk about giving something up, fasting from something. I am right on board with that. But not drinking coffee for 40 days really only deals with 1 of the 3 pillars of Lent: Prayer, Fasting, and Almsgiving.

In order to best participate in Lent, we should reflect on ways we can progress in all three areas of prayer, fasting, and almsgiving. I’ve found it effective to couple up those pillars. For example, this Lent I will be fasting from watching TV shows. Instead of watching TV, I’ve decided to pray with Scripture more. I found a good “Read the Bible in a Year” plan here (FYI, this one also includes part of the Catechism to finish that in a year too!). See how that works? It’s like killing two birds with one stone.

So, what things do you do routinely that are unnecessary? Do you watch way too much TV like me? How about Facebook? Fast from that, and in place of it take up some prayerful activity. For the almsgiving part, maybe pick up a CRS Ricebowl from your parish tomorrow and fill it with loose change.

One more idea to cover all 3: Skip your morning Dunkin Donuts run for Lent. Fast from your coffee, then give that money to charity. Then, with the time you save by not making that extra stop in the morning, pray a Rosary daily, or head to daily Mass if you can!

Now, last week I promised an announcement of some sort. Well, here it is: every week during Lent (and maybe beyond) I’ll post a reflection on the Sunday readings. Look for them around Thursday of Friday each week (maybe you could even make that part of your Lenten observance; it would definitely be penitential to read what I have to say).

Anyway, after this marathon couple of days blogging, it’s time to take a break. Happy feasting on this Fat Tuesday; enjoy it while it lasts (another 7 hours or so). Stay strong during Lent!

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The Theology of “Boondock Saints”

A movie I watched quite a few times in high school and college was The Boondock Saints, a movie about two Irish Catholic brothers living in Boston. In the movie, they take it upon themselves to murder members of the Russian and Italian mobs, believing that they are on a mission from God to cleanse society.

I think it goes without saying that this movie is not an accurate depiction of what goes on in the Catholic Church.  Sure, it brings up a good point by looking a lot like the Conquest in the Book of Joshua, but we’ll save that can of worms for later.  In one scene of Boondock Saints, the FBI agent chasing these mysterious murderers goes into a Catholic confessional while drunk. He has figured out that the brothers are behind the murders, but he admits that he wished he could do what they were doing. He knows that these mobsters deserve to die, and yet his job dictates that he arrest the brothers.

At this point, the priest in the confessional delivers one of my favorite lines from the movie. He tells the FBI agent “the laws of God are higher than the laws of man.” NOTE: I am absolutely not encouraging vigilantism or taking God’s judgement into our own hands. Condemnation of sinners is something reserved for God alone.  However, I want to draw attention to that quote.

“The laws of God are higher than the laws of man.” That is exactly what is being tested by the current presidential administration. By forcing all employers to provide for contraceptive services (including sterilization and abortifacients), our government is asserting that the laws of man are higher than God’s law. In fact, not only are they saying this, but they are trying to force every single person in America to acknowledge that fact. And by refusing to stand up against this attack against religious liberty, we agree with President Obama. To make a stand against this attack, go here. To find out more about the HHS mandate, go the USCCB’s (United States Conference of Catholic Bishops) website, usccb.org.

So eventually, we all could be faced with the choice of following our consciences (i.e. God’s law) or the law of the United States. This decision will first come to the American Bishops, almost all of whom have denounced the current mandate (along with many non-Catholic religious groups, here’s a short list). They will be faced with the decision of following Obama’s mandate or facing extreme financial and legal consequences of following the Church’s teachings. Please join me in beginning to pray now that they have the courage to do so.

This civil disobedience will not cause change overnight. Only through dedication and perseverance (and God’s grace) can we hope to win this battle. And when we do, it will not be the last fight. I promise that this current attack on religious liberty is only the beginning. It will take courage to disobey our country, but then again, the laws of God or higher than the highs of man. For strength in times like these, I often look to the intercession of St. Michael the Archangel. In the late 1800s, Pope Leo XIII had a vision of great evil approaching in the 20th century. After awakening from his vision, he composed the prayer below. I urge you all to pray it daily, and whenever you feel temptation of sin.

St. Michael the Archangel, defend us in battle. Be our protection against the wickedness and snares of the devil. May God rebuke him, we humbly pray, and do thou, O Prince of the heavenly host, by the power of God, cast into hell Satan and all the evil spirits who prowl about the world seeking the ruin of souls. Amen.

St. Michael, oro pro nobis.

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