FORTNIGHT FOR FREEDOM

Opening Prayer: Come, Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful and enkindle in us the fire of your love.

REFLECTION: Religious liberty is not only about our ability to go to Mass on Sunday, or pray the Rosary at home.  It is about whether we can make our contribution to the common good of all Americans. Can we do the good works our faith calls us to do, without having to compromise that very same faith? What is at stake is whether America will continue to have a free, creative and robust civil society–or whether the state alone will determine who gets to  contribute to the common good, and how they get to do it. (from Our First, Most Cherished Liberty U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.)

George Washington wrote that “the establishment of civil and religious liberty was the motive that induced me to the field of battle.” Thomas Jefferson assured the Ursuline Sisters–who had been serving a mostly non-Catholic population by running a hospital, an orphanage, and schools in Louisiana since 1727–that the principles of the Constitution were a “sure guarantee” that their ministry would be free “to govern itself according to its own voluntary rules, (Our First, Most Cherished Liberty..)

The Civil rights movement was an essentially religious movement, a call to awaken consciences..   In his famous “Letter from Bermingham Jail” in 1963. Reb. Martin Luther King Jr. bodly said, “The goal of America is freedom… I would agree with St. Augustine that ‘an unjust law is no law at all’..How does one determine when a law is just or unjust? A just law is a man made code that squares with the moral law or the law of God. and unjust law is a code that is out of harmony with the moral law. (Our First, Most Cherished Liberty..)

IT IS A SOBERING THING TO CONTEMPLATE OUR GOVERNMENT ENACTING AN UNJUST LAW. AN UNJUST LAW CANNOT BE OBEYED. An unjust law cannot be obeyed. In the face of an unjust law, an accommodation is not to be sought, especially by resorting to equivocal words and deceptive practices. If we face today the prospect of unjust laws, then Catholics in America, in solidarity with our fellow citizens, must have the courage not to obey them.  No American desires this. No Catholic welcomes it. But if it should fall upon us, we must discharge it as a duty of citizenship and an obligation of faith. (Our First, Most Cherished Liberty..)

WHAT WE ASK IS NOTHING MORE THAN THAT OUR GOD-GIVEN RIGHT TO RELIGIOUS LIBERTY BE RESPECTED. WE ASK NOTHING LESS THAN THAT THE CONSTITUTION AND LAWS OF THE UNITED STATES, WHICH RECOGNIZE THAT RIGHT BE RESPECTED.IN INSISTING THAT OUR LIBERTIES AS AMERICANS BE RESPECTED.

DAILY PRAYER:  ALMIGHTY GOD, Father of all nations, For freedom you have set us free in Christ Jesus. 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

GOD BLESS AMERICA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

 

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FORTNIGHT FOR FREEDOM

Did you know that the Catholic Church has asked for special prayers from  June 21 to July4, 14 days to pray for Religious Liberty in this Country.  I should have told you all on June 21st, but it is not to late to join in the last 4 days of prayers.   Fortnight for Freedom started about 8 yrs ago, when the American Bishops  decided that we are loosing our Religious Freedom in this Country at a faster rate than ever before. Fortnight is to bring attention to this fact, and to pray for wisdom and help from our Almighty God to preserve our basic right in this Country.

From well before Cardinal Gibbons in the late 1800’s, Catholics in America have been advocates for religious liberty, and the landmark teaching of the Second Vatican Council on religious liberty was influenced by the American experience…We have been staunch defenders of religious liberty in the past. We have a solemn duty to discharge that duty today. We address an urgent summons to our fellow Catholics and fellow Americans to be on guard, for religious liberty is under attack both at home and abroad.

Of particular concern are certain attempts being made to limit that most cherished of American freedoms, the freedom of religion. Many of you have pointed out that concerted efforts have been made to deny the right of conscientious objection on the part of Catholic individuals and institutions with regard to cooperation in intrinsically evil practices. Others have spoken to me of a worrying tendency to reduce religious freedom to mere freedom of freedom of worship without guarantees of respect for freedom of conscience.(Pope Benedict SVI, Jan 2012)

I will post more information Friday night, for now, here is the DAILY PRAYER FOR RELIGIOUS LIBERTY. Which of course, we can say anytime during the coming year.

ALMIGHTY GOD, Father of all nations, FOR FREEDOM YOU have set us free in Christ  Jesus. 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

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ASH WEDNESDAY,GOD SPEAKS TO HIS PEOPLE

By: Father Richard Veras             ASH WEDNESDAY

When I was a young priest, I dreaded Ash Wednesday. I experienced myself as a marked  man. I couldn’t step outside the rectory or the Church without being asked/accosted for ashes.  After each Mass or service, it seemed that just as I had washed my thumb, somebody would stick their head into the sacristy with that plaintive smile that always means the same thing on Ash Wednesday.

HOWEVER, WITH the passing years and passing ashes, I have grown to love this day..not despite, but because of so many of my brother and sister Catholics who return to the Church on this day with such a mysterious but real desire to receive “their” ashes.

What an amazing witness it is, what amazing witnesses they are, to the fact that at its core, Christianity is a belonging to Christ, who has chosen us and offers his mercy to us.

And it is a very public witness! How many of their friends might needle them for those ashes, or even ask them why they got ashes if they rarely or never go to Church. I would venture to guess it might be hard for them to explain.. and thus they, and their ashes, witness to the deep mystery of Christ among us.

THE ASHES TELL THE WORLD THAT WE ARE SINNERS. BUT THEY ARE IN THE SIGN OF THE CROSS..AND SO WE ARE SINNERS WHO HAVE HOPE.

On Ash Wednesday, let us thank God for, and pray for, all of our brothers and sisters who witness to us that this hope does not die.

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When the priest makes the cross with the ashes on the forehead of the person he says:

“REMEMBER THAT YOU ARE DUST, AND TO DUST YOU SHALL RETURN”

DURING LENT, let us spend the gift of time seeking the wisdom of heart taught by self-sacrifice, so that, dead to sin, we may rise to new life in Christ, in who death has died.

REPENT AND BELIEVE IN THE GOSPEL.  (Mk 1:15)

 

SABBATH WORSHIP

RELIGION…is the virtue which helps us to show due worship to God as the source and goal of all things, an obligation which is strictly binding, but cannot be paid in full…It falls short of being a species of the cardinal virtue of justice, because, although we certainly owe God worship, we can never pay God a worship that is equal to his worth, except as we join Jesus in his worship of the Father. As Son of God Jesus alone can offer that full measure…

The natural law as well as the first three to the TEN COMMANDMENTS (Ex 20:2-11; Dt 5:6-15) require that we worship God, since as intelligent creatures we must in truth recognize him as our Creator and need to express this by word and gesture in the human community, as we express every other important truth. To be silent about the greatness of God is completely unnatural..

The first three Commandments demand that first we worship God alone and not idols; second, that we honor his NAME; third, that we keep the Sabbath. The  universal natural law which this third COMMANDMENT implements is that we set aside proper time for worship. Hence the early Church used its freedom from the ceremonial precepts of the law (Col. 2:16) to choose Sunday, the day of the Resurrection, in place of the Sabbath to indicate the new creation of the New Covenant.   (by Father Benedict M. Ashley,O.P. who was a prominent theologian, and the author of several books.)

DAY OF PRAYER FOR THE LEGAL PROTECTION OF UNBORN CHILDREN

I planned on writing this on Friday, Jan. 22, the day of the Pro Life March in San Francisco and Sat. Jan 23, the day of the Pro Life March in Washington DC, but am just getting to it today. Jan. 22 was the DAY OF PRAYER for the Legal Protection of Unborn Children In all the dioceses of the United States of America. It is the day of prayer for the full restoration of the legal guarantee of the right to life and of penance for violations to the dignity of the human person committed through acts of abortion. The liturgical celebrations for that day could be the Mass “For Giving Thanks to God for the Gift of Human Life, or “For the Preservation of Peace and Justice.  The following MEDITATION FOR THAT DAY expresses our love and preservation of Human Life perfectly. By:  Servant of God Dorothy Day,who was the founder of the Catholic Worker movement and died, 1980.

DAY OF PRAYER FOR THE LIGAL PROTECTION OF UNCORN CHILDREN:

I am meditating. I am thinking of what I have come to think of as fundamental to our search for peace, for non-violence. A flood of water (and Christ is living water) washes out sins–all manner of filth, degradation, fear, horror.  He is also the Word. And studying the New Testament, and its commentators, I have come in this my seventy-sixth year, to think of a few holy words of Jesus as the greatest comfort of my life: “Judge not…Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us…Forgive seventy times seven times.” All words of our Lord and Savior. “I have knowledge of salvation through forgiveness of my sins,” Zechariah sang in his canticle.

And so, when it comes to divorce, birth control, abortion, I must write in this way. The teaching of Christ, the Word, must be upheld. Held up though one would think that it is completely beyond us–out of our reach, impossible to follow. I believe Christ is our Truth and is with us always. We may stretch towards it, falling short, failing seventy times seven, but forgiveness is always there. He is a kind and loving judge. And so are 99% of the priests in the confessional. The verdict there is always “not guilty” even though our “firm resolve with the help of his grace to confess our sins, do penance, and amend our lives” may seem a hopeless proposition. It always contains, that act of contrition, the phrase, “to confess our sins,’ even though we have just finished confessing them, which indicates that the priest know, and we know, and we want to be honest about it, that we will be back in that confessional, again and again.

I believe in the sacraments. I believe grace is conferred through the sacraments. I believe the priest is empowered to forgive sins. Grace is defined as “participation in the divine life,” so little by little we are putting off the old man and putting on the new.

ACTUALLY, “PUTTING ON CHRIST.”

 

EPIPHANY-Christmas Season Ends

THE MYSTERY OF THE EPIPHANY

Oh, when will that blessed day come on which we shall do as the Wise Men did, and, leaving everything, give ourselves to God?

I say, my brethren, that their faithfulness to their calling was strong: they overcame every difficulty and hindrance which stood in their way, so as to follow the star. And what sacrifices they had to make!  They had to leave their country, their palaces, their families, and their kingdom, or in other words, they had to leave everything which was most dear to them in this world.

To part from them, they underwent the fatigues of a long and troublesome journey, and all this of a very cold season of the year: everything seemed to stand in the way of their undertaking. How much ridicule did they not have to put up with from their equals, and even from the people?  But no! Nothing daunts them from undertaking this important journey.  You see here plainly, my brethren, that the merit of the true faith consists in this: that we sacrifice all that which we love best to obey the voice of grace which calls to us.  By: St. John Vianney

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Folks, Epiphany Sunday is tomorrow, Jan. 3rd, and that is the end of the Christmas Season.  That is the day the Three Kings arrived in Bethlehem to honor and adore Jesus Christ, the Son of God.

Our Priest spoke today of the chance they took leaving their homes and coming to Bethlehem.  They would be known today as Astrologists and the Jews hated them.  They came where they were not wanted because they were called by God to come Adore His Son.

We are in a similar situation.  People now days say they are spiritual but stay away from religion, Then, there are other religions and new ones, the New Age type, which takes parts from other religions, arising all the time. People are choosing what religion they want to belong to. And there are good things about each religion, however, being a Christian is different. We did not choose to be Christian, WE WERE CHOSEN BY JESUS CHRIST HIMSELF, JUST AS THE 3 KINGS WERE CHOSEN. What we do with being the chosen ones is up to us, and with God’s grace, if we listen, we will do what Christ wants us to do, be who He wants us to be, go where he wants us to go, and say what He wants us to say.  Others have been chosen also, but if the don’t listen and ask for His Grace, they miss the opportunity.

The Three Kings gave up everything because they listened when they were chosen.  ARE YOU LISTENING? ARE YOU ASKING FOR HIS GRACE? WILL YOU BE ONE OF THE CHOSEN ONES? OR ARE YOU ALREADY ONE OF US? IF NOT, WE ARE WAITING FOR YOU TO JOIN US AND WE WELCOME YOU.

 

FIRST ENDURE MANY SUFFERINGS

YOU ARE THE HEIRS OF A GREAT TESTIMONY, A PRECIOUSE WITNESS TO CHRIST. He is the Light of the World; he is the light of our lives! The martyrs of Korea…handed over their bodies to their persecutors; to us they have handed on a perennial witness that the light of Christ’s truth dispels all darkness, and the love of Christ is gloriously triumphant.  With the certainty of his victory over death, and our participation in it, we can face the challenge of Christian discipleship today, IN OUR OWN CERCUMSTANCES AND TIME..

Keep close to one another, draw ever closer to God, and with your bishops and priests spend these years in building a holier, more missionary and humble Church, a Church which loves and worships God by seeking to serve the poor, the lonely, the infirm, and the marginalized.

In your Christian lives, you will find many occasions that will tempt you…TO PUSH AWAY FROM THE STRANGER, the needy, the poor, and the broken-hearted. It is these people especially who repeat the cry of the woman of the Gosper:  “LORD, HELP ME!’  This…plea is the cry of everyone who searches for love, acceptance, and friendship with Christ.  It is the cry of so many people in our anonymous cities, the cry of so many of your own contemporaries, and the cry of all those martyrs who even today suffer persecution and death for the name of Jesus: “LORD, HELP ME.!”  Let us respond, not like those who push away people who make demands on us, as if serving the needy gets in the way of our being close to the Lord. No! We are to be like Christ, who responds to every plea for his help with love, mercy, and compassion.

A responsibility which the Lord gives you…IS TO BE VIGILANT, NOT TO ALLOW THE PRESSURES, THE TEMPTATIONS, AND THE SINS OF OURSELVES OR OTHERS TO DULL OUR SENSITIVITY TO THE BEAUTY OF HOLINESS, TO THE JOY OF THE GOSPEL.

By Pope Frances

( He refers to these Korean martyrs: The Korean Martyrs were the victims of religious persecution against Catholic Christians during the 19th century in Korea. At least 8,000 adherents to the faith were killed during this period, 103 of whom were canonized en masse in May 1984. Paul Yun Ji-Chung and 123 companions were declared “Venerable” on February 7, 2014, and on Au…(From the Wickepedia)  now it is going on in the Middle East, more Christians have been martyred in the last two years than in all the years since the Romans started killing them 2015 yrs ago.)