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.

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