Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Fortnight for Freedom- How to bring it home

Since President Obama announced his health care plan, there has been quite a big stir about Religious Freedom. Basically the proposed plan will require every employer, including religious groups and organizations  to provide and pay for sterilization and contraceptives. Sterilization and contraceptives have always been morally objectionable by the Roman Catholic Church because they separate the procreative act from the act of marriage. Never before has the federal government forced individuals and organizations to go out into the marketplace and buy a product that violates their conscience.

What do we mean by religious liberty?
Religious liberty is the first liberty granted to us by God and protected in the First Amendment to our Constitution. It includes more than our ability to go to Mass on Sunday or pray the Rosary at home. It also encompasses our ability to contribute freely to the common good of all Americans.

religious-liberty-home-masthead-image-thumbnailWhat is the First Amendment?

The First Amendment of the U.S. Bill of Rights states the following: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”
Our Catholic Bishops are courageously leading us right now in a "Fortnight for Freedom." This is a time from June 21 through July 4, Independence Day when ALL people who want our country to remain a place of freedom are praying, studying, fasting and taking action.

So how can we bring, what might seem like a big political thing, home in our families? Here are 5 ways:

1. Pray
This is easy to do with children of any ages. 
  • Pray the Prayer for the Protection of Religious Liberty each morning or evening, or at meal time depending when everyone is together.
  •  Pray through the beautiful Litany for Liberty. This can be interactive with 2 groups within the family, one leading, one responding. 
  • Use the Prayer Card and prayers for the intercession of Our Lady of Guadalupe and of St. Thomas More

2. Study
The bishops have compiled study material from Vatican II document Dignitatis Humanae. These reflections are a brief one page reading, reflection and questions for discussion. These can be read by the head of the house with the spouse and children listening and the answering as they are able.

3. Learn
 In the last several months there have been some fantastic speeches on the topic. You don't have to be a history or political science major to read through what the Pope, Bishops and laymen have written on the topic. Challenge your teens to read through one and give their comments. CLICK HERE for Speeches.

A simple way to learn more about the topics surrounding religious liberty is to listen to the story of what happened in Mexico in the early 1920s when their religious freedom was taken away, CLICK HERE for a FREE MP3 by Patrick Madrid, or CLICK HERE to order a CD for just $3.50

See the new movie in theaters: For Greater Glory on the same topic. Please note, movie is rated R

4. Take Action
If you are a registered voter, write to congressmen and senators to support the Respect of Rights of Conscience Act that will ensure respect for religious liberty and conscience rights of all participants in our nation's health care system. Click Here for an email draft you can send to your senators and US representatives.

Stand UP for Religious Freedom is a series of Rallies around the US. We have had 2 of them here in St. Pete so far, March 23 and June 8. These are peaceful protests where people of all ages come and hold a sign and pray. The kids can join the adults in this-even the babies in strollers!
Stay informed on the next rally date by visiting

5. Get to know the great Saints who stood their ground.
St. John Fisher and St. Thomas More were beheaded just weeks apart in the summer of 1535. They are men who preferred death rather than betray their consciences and opposed their King when he tried to use his power over the doctrines of the church.
St. John Fischer was a priest appointed tutor for the young Prince Henry. In 1504 he became bishop of Rochester, England and Chancellor of Cambridge University. He wrote eight books against heresy, and Prince Henry, now King Henry VIII, was his friend.
St. Thomas More was a scholar, lawyer, author and a married man with four children. He too was favored by King Henry VIII and was appointed Chancellor of England, a position second only to the King in importance.
More’s home was deeply spiritual, but also filled with joy, music, and laughter. One time he brought home a monkey to amuse the children! If we are tempted to be rigorous or somber we need remember More's monkey!”
The trouble began in 1527 when Henry wished to divorce his wife, Catherine of Aragon for failing to produce a male heir. Fischer said that they had a valid marriage which angered the king. Later when Henry claimed to be the official head of the Church in England both Fisher and More opposed him.
Fisher was beheaded June 22 and More July 6. More’s famous words before his death are “the king’s good servant, but God’s first.” These saints give us the good example to stand up to the secular powers when they contradict the church.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Summer Free-Bs

Summer means all the kids are home. Just a few weeks into summer vacation, I am already hearing "I'm bored."

We all know there are some great summer camps out there, but often those run $100 on up per week per child. So here are a "baker's dozen" of 13 ideas that are free or cheap for your kids this summer:

Books- The library is our FIRST stop for summer fun. Some libraries offer a summer reading log/contest where you get a prize at the end. Pinellas County libraries are teaming up with the Rays this year. Many libraries have free story hours for the little ones. Ours also has puzzles for pre-schoolers so you can actually hang out at the library and have some fun. CLICK HERE to see my personal list of great reads.

Beaches- Just about everyone in Tampa Bay area can reach a beach in under 30 minutes. Pack a cooler, some drinks, some lunch and your sand toys and spend a day. Don't forget quarters for the meters and plenty of sunscreen and water to stay safe.

Baking-Summer is a great time of year to introduce your kids to baking, cooking and meal planning. If they are old enough to read, they can cook (with your supervision.) The kids always like to make brownies or cakes from a box, but try out something new- breakfast muffins, dinner casseroles, bread or summer salads. Have the kids help plan the meals for the week and send them on a grocery store scavenger hunt to find the items they need. Teach them to look for cheap prices and cut coupons too!

Bikes-Although it is pretty hot in the middle of the day to be biking, try an early morning or late evening bike ride, and attach some fun by biking to the pool so that at the end of the ride you can all really cool off.

Babysitting-Kids or Pets.
If your kids are at least 10 years old, they can be a "mommy's helper" and babysit for a mom with young children, while she is in the home. Do it for free as a pro-life service to give a mom a break! If the kids are 13 plus, have them take the Red Cross babysitting class and start earning money as a part time job. Many people who take a vacation during summer are looking for someone to walk the dog, feed the cat or fish or check in on the chinchillas. Help your child learn to do these things and help a neighbor at the same time.

Building- Everyone has building pieces in their homes that have been put away in bins. Get out those Legos, Duplos, Kinex as well as household items like shoeboxes, toilet paper roles, and egg cartons and have kids create something fun to then play with. Our kids love to build something new with Legos, but they also like to recycle stuff like paper towel cylinders, tissue boxes, tin foil and turn it into some robot, monster or building.

Baseball-While attending a game at Tropicana fields is a big treat, it can really take a big bank account to take the whole family. So why not have family fun watching the Rays on TV? Cook your own hot dogs, get cracker jack and make some popcorn while you cheer on the home team. Invite some friends over for sleep overs afterwards.

Bowling-The bowling alleys usually have some great specials and even leagues for kids. Boy does that air conditioning feel great on a hot day.

vacation Bible school-Many churches offer VBS. Some in the mornings and more and more in the evenings for parents that work.

Buddies-Have your kids' friends over to play during the summer and trade back and forth with another family to have your kids over too. One of the favorite things our kids like to do in the summer is a slip and slide--add plenty of dish detergent to make it super slippery!

Banning or limiting electronics-Sure don't want the summer to be spent only on the couch. Figure out a reasonable hour a day? 4 days a week?

Banking- kids earn allowance or cool stuff for extra chores they do around the house

Bonding- Best part of summer is to be together as a family, bond over the fun times and make a memory book to celebrate your summer. Get together with grand parents and cousins too for a lot of family fun time.