Saturday, July 28, 2012

Archbishop Cordileone: "Children deserve to have a mother and a father"



Video streaming by Ustream
"Marriage benefits everyone. Marriage is against no one.

"Marriage is the union of a man and a woman ... my stance is marriage can only be between a man and a woman."

Friday, July 27, 2012

Time to Go, Rocco Palmo: Orthodoxy is not a "faction" in the Church

Rocco: take it back. Orthodoxy is not a "faction" in the Church.

Report the facts or retreat into blessed silence next time you are tempted to write screed like this:

"After a half-century of occupants accused by conservatives of soft-pedaling church teaching in favor of a more conciliatory approach toward constituencies ranging from gays and lesbians to Nancy Pelosi -- a group of prelates among which even the recently-retired lead guardian of church doctrine, Cardinal William Levada, was not exempt from stinging criticism -- the move delivers the long-desired "Holy Grail" of the American Catholic Right firmly into the faction's hands, in the form of a prelate already known widely both for his forcefulness and a stringent doctrinal cred almost unequaled among his confreres on the national bench."

His post here: http://whispersintheloggia.blogspot.com/2012/07/b16s-bombshell-by-bay-marriage-chief.html

Bishop Salvatore J. Cordileone of Oakland appointed as archbishop of San Francisco


Vatican City, 27 July 2012 (VIS) -

The Holy Father appointed Bishop Salvatore J. Cordileone of Oakland, U.S.A., as archbishop of San Francisco (area 6,023, population 1,866,000, Catholics 448,000, priests 408, permanent deacons 78, religious 854), U.S.A. He succeeds Archbishop George H. Niederauer, whose resignation from the pastoral care of the same archdiocese the Holy Father accepted, upon having reached the age limit.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

S James: "We hold this treasure in earthen vessels"

that the surpassing power may be of God and not from us.
--2 Cor 4:7-15

Christ himself chose the apostles and gave them a share in his mission and authority. Raised to the Father's right hand, he has not forsaken his flock but he keeps it under his constant protection through the apostles, and guides it still through these same pastors who continue his work today. Thus, it is Christ whose gift it is that some be apostles, others pastors. He continues to act through the bishops.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Text of the Oath of Fidelity for teachers, catechists and all parish leaders

PROFESSION OF FAITH and THE OATH OF FIDELITY ON ASSUMING AN OFFICE TO BE EXERCISED IN THE NAME OF THE CHURCH

Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith

As conforming to Pope John Paul II's Apostolic Letter Motu Proprio Ad Tuendam Fidem, this Profession of Faith and Oath of Fidelity supercedes the Profession and Oath of 1989.

I. PROFESSION OF FAITH

I, N., with firm faith believe and profess everything that is contained in the Symbol of faith: namely:

I believe in one God, the Father, the Almighty, maker of heaven and earth, of all that is seen and unseen. I believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ, the only Son of God, eternally begotten of the Father, God from God, Light from Light, true God from true God, begotten not made, one in Being with the Father. Through him all things were made. For us men and for our salvation, he came down from heaven: by the power of the Holy Spirit he became incarnate of the Virgin Mary, and became man. For our sake he was crucified under Pontius Pilate; he suffered death and was buried. On the third day he rose again in accordance with the Scriptures; he ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of the Father. He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead, and his kingdom will have no end. I believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life, who proceeds from the Father and the Son. With the Father and the Son he is worshiped and glorified. He has spoken through the Prophets. I believe in one holy catholic and apostolic Church. I acknowledge one baptism for the forgiveness of sins. I look for the resurrection of the dead, and the life of the world to come. Amen.

With firm faith, I also believe everything contained in the Word of God, whether written or handed down in Tradition, which the Church, either by a solemn judgement or by the ordinary and universal Magisterium, sets forth to be believed as divinely revealed.

I also firmly accept and hold each and everything definitively proposed by the Church regarding teaching on faith and morals.

Moreover, I adhere with religious submission of will and intellect to the teachings which either the Roman pontiff or the College of Bishops enunciate when they exercise their authentic Magisterium, even if they do not intend to proclaim these teachings by a definitive act.

II. OATH OF FIDELITY ON ASSUMING AN OFFICE TO BE EXERCISED IN THE NAME OF THE CHURCH

(Formula to be used by the Christian faithful mentioned in Canon 833, nn. 5-8)

I, N., in assuming the office of __________, promise that in my words and in my actions I shall always preserve communion with the Catholic Church.

With great care and fidelity I shall carry out the duties incumbent on me toward the Church, both universal and particular, in which, according to the provisions of the law, I have been called to exercise my service.

In fulfilling the charge entrusted to me in the name of the Church, I shall hold fast to the deposit of faith in its entirety; I shall faithfully hand it on and explain it, and I shall avoid any teachings contrary to it.

I shall follow and foster the common discipline of the entire Church and I shall maintain the observance of all ecclesiastical laws, especially those contained in the Code of Canon Law.

With Christian obedience I shall follow what the Bishops, as authentic doctors and teachers of the faith, declare, or what they, as those who govern the Church, establish.

I shall also faithfully assist the diocesan Bishops, so that the apostolic activity, exercised in the name and by mandate of the Church, may be carried out in communion with the Church.
So help me God, and God's Holy Gospels on which I place my hand.

(Variations in the fourth and fifth paragraphs of the formulary, for use by those members of the Christian faithful indicated in can. 833, n. 8).

I shall foster the common discipline of the entire Church and I shall insist on the observance of all ecclesiastical laws, especially those contained in the Code of Canon Law.

With Christian obedience I shall follow what the Bishops, as authentic doctors and teachers of the faith, declare, or what they, as those who govern the Church, establish. I shall also — with due regard for the character and purpose of my institute — faithfully assist the diocesan Bishops, so that the apostolic activity, exercised in the name and by mandate of the Church, may be carried out in communion with the Church.

NOTE: Canon 833, Nos. 5-8 obliges the following to make the profession of faith: vicars general, episcopal vicars and judicial vicars; "at the beginning of their term of office, pastors, the rector of a seminary and the professors of theology and philosophy in seminaries; those to be promoted to the diaconate"; "the rectors of an ecclesiastical or Catholic university at the beginning of the rector's term of office"; and, "at the beginning of their term of office, teachers in any universities whatsoever who teach disciplines which deal with faith or morals"; and "superiors in clerical religious institutes and societies of apostolic life in accord with the norm of the constitutions."
Taken from:L'Osservatore RomanoWeekly Edition in English15 July 1998, page 3

"Woe to those who plan iniquity"

"Woe to those who plan iniquity" (Mi 2:1-5)

"By recalling the commandment, 'You shall not kill,' our Lord asked for peace of heart and denounced murderous anger and hatred as immoral. "Anger is a desire for revenge. 'To desire vengeance in order to do evil to someone who should be punished is illicit,' but it is praiseworthy to impose restitution 'to correct vices and maintain justice.'

If anger reaches the point of a deliberate desire to kill or seriously wound a neighbor, it is gravely against charity; it is a mortal sin. The Lord says, 'Everyone who is angry with his brother shall be liable to judgment.'

-- CCC 2302

THE "OSSERVATORE ROMANO" TO BE PUBLISHED IN THE UNITED STATES

Vatican City, 20 July 2012 (VIS) - Beginning in August, the "Osservatore Romano" newspaper will be distributed in the United States of America. It will be published by the "Our Sunday Visitor" Catholic publishing house, based in Indiana, which also publishes the "Our Sunday Visitor" weekly newspaper, the largest selling Catholic periodical in the U.S.

The publishing house will also supervise the subscription service and marketing strategies to promote the circulation of the "Osservatore Romano". Thanks to this initiative, news concerning the Pope and the Vatican will now be more accessible to families in the United States.

You can subscribe to L'Osservatore Romano by visiting the Our Sunday Visitor website at his link:

Subscribe to L'Osservatore Romano

Our Sunday Visitor has been selected by the Vatican as the exclusive distributor of the North American English Edition of L'Osservatore Romano, the official Vatican newspaper. Read the press release

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

"Re-Born this Way": Parents and children together courageously resist the dangerous labeling agenda

We are re-born in baptism to a completely new life in Jesus Christ and thereafter we use the "label" Christian to describe ourselves. At the same time we actively resist attempts by others, or any personal experience of temptation, to describe ourselves in ways that are incompatible with the new life He has given us through the grace won for us by His passion, death and Resurrection.

The catechism helps us in our understanding:

"Holy Baptism is the basis of the whole Christian life, the gateway to life in the Spirit (vitae spiritualis ianua), and the door which gives access to the other sacraments. Through Baptism we are freed from sin and reborn as sons of God; we become members of Christ, are incorporated into the Church and made sharers in her mission: 'Baptism is the sacrament of regeneration through water in the word.' " (CCC 1213)

Total freedom is necessary for the full human development through nature and grace that God intended for us from the beginning and which has been won for us after sin by Jesus Christ in His redemptive self-offering on the Cross.

"Re-Born this Way"

Join the movement with Jesus Christ and the Catholic Church to help create a kinder, gentler world where frightened young people are not exploited into using labels to describe themselves based upon what may be only transitory feelings that are a part of normal human development.

Together we can build a safer, kinder world where each human person is free to grow to his or her full human potential in authentic freedom without the bondage of labels peddled by predatory adults with a toxic agenda.

No more labels except the ones God gives us: man and woman made in His image and likeness.

Thank you.

Please help to combat the destructive agenda of the misguided "Lady" Gaga as seen at this link in her Born This Way Foundation.

Germantown, MD: Illegal Dumping Uncovered at Carhart's Maryland Late-term Abortion Clinic

Corrected video link
Illegal Dumping Uncovered at Carhart's Maryland Late-term Abortion Clinic


July 17, 2012

Germantown, Maryland - Formal complaints have been filed against abortionist LeRoy Carhart and his late-term abortion clinic in Germantown, Maryland, after an investigation by pro-life activists uncovered the illegal dumping of biohazardous waste, private patient medical information, and dangerous drugs.

Illegal Dumping at Carhart's Maryland Late-term Abortion Clinic
Illegal Dumping at Carhart's Maryland Late-term Abortion Clinic

Between August, 2011, and May, 2012, trash generated by Germantown Reproductive Health Services was inspected and photographed by pro-life activists working in conjunction with Operation Rescue.

The trash contents fell into three categories:

1. Documents containing private patient information, including photocopies of patient drivers licenses, information about birth control prescriptions, and detailed information about a 15 week abortion for which the patient was charged $2,200.


2. Bloody refuse including bloody sanitary napkins and blue pads, some of which contained blood clots and possible human fetal remains.


3. Also dumped were partially full bottles of IV drugs that are classified as controlled substances and other drugs.

"In light of new clinic regulations that are set to go into effect on July 23, we are asking the Maryland Board of Physicians and the Department of Health to fully investigate Carhart's dumping practices at Germantown Reproductive Health Services and take whatever disciplinary action is necessary to protect the public," said Troy Newman, President of Operation Rescue and Pro-life Nation.

"Lack of clinic oversight has made Maryland a magnet of late-term abortionists who seek to evade the laws in their home states," said Newman. "Problems with these abortionists have lately spun out of control."

Last week, Operation Rescue released the results of another undercover investigation conducted in Maryland that involved the notorious unlicensed abortionist James S. Pendergraft IV of Florida, who was caught operating a dangerous clandestine late-term abortion and fetal injection center in Forestville.

In 2010, another unlicensed abortionist, Steven Chase Brigham of New Jersey, was caught illegally operating a secret late-term abortion clinic in Elkton, Maryland.

Complaints filed by Operation Rescue related to illegal dumping have a history of success.

In Texas, two Whole Women's Health abortion clinics along with Stericycle were fined a total of $83,000 for dumping the remains of aborted babies in open dumpsters in 2010.

Last month, Dr. Emily's abortion clinic in the Bronx, New York, was charged after pro-life activists discovered bloody waste that included human tissue from abortions was tossed out onto a busy New York public sidewalk. The clinic also lost its accreditation with the Joint Commission for Office Based Surgery.

________________________________

About Operation Rescue®

Operation Rescue is one of the leading pro-life Christian activist organizations in the nation and has become a strong voice for the pro-life movement in America. Operation Rescue is now headquartered in a former abortion clinic that it bought and closed in 2006. From there, Operation Rescue launches its innovative new strategies across the nation, exposing and closing abortion clinics through peaceful, legal means. Its activities are on the cutting edge of the abortion issue, taking direct action to stop abortion and ultimately restore legal personhood to the pre-born in obedience to biblical mandates. Click here to support Operation Rescue.
About Pro-Life Nation

Pro-Life Nation is an initiative of Operation Rescue that offers a goal-oriented strategy to end abortion. For more visit ProLifeNation.org and read our new booklet that details our strategy.

________________________________
Web site:
www.operationrescue.org

E-mail: info.operationrescue@gmail.com

Find us on Facebook Follow us on Twitter
Operation Rescue/Pro-Life Nation
Troy Newman
President
Operation Rescue/Pro-Life Nation
Cheryl Sullenger
Senior Policy Advisor

Operation Rescue | P.O. Box 782888 | Wichita | KS | 67278

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

"Baptism

.,. is ransom, forgiveness of debts, death of sin, regeneration of the soul, a resplendent garment, an unbreakable seal, a chariot to heaven, a royal protector, a gift of adoption."


-- St. Basil the Great

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Friday, July 13, 2012

Forestville, Maryland: Undercover Sting Exposes Illicit Late-Term Abortion Clinic

Undercover Sting Exposes Illicit Late-Term Abortion Clinic in Maryland

July 12, 2012

Forestville, MD -- A seven-month undercover investigation conducted by Operation Rescue revealed scandalous details of a late-term abortion scheme involving one of the nation's most notorious abortionists that is shockingly similar to one run by disgraced abortionist Steven Chase Brigham.

Operation Rescue caught late-term abortionist James S. Pendergraft IV and his Maryland accomplice, Harold O. Alexander, red-handed operating an illicit late-term abortion business in Forestville, Maryland, even though Pendergraft is not licensed to practice there.

Beginning on November 8, 2011, Operation Rescue staff members, posing as potential late-term abortion customers, began recording a series of conversations with Pendergraft of Florida, which document a suspicious bi-state abortion business aggressively advertized on the Internet as LateTermAbortion.net.

"Documentation that Pendergraft is operating a late-term abortion operation in Maryland confirms that state as the Late-term Abortion Capital of America," said Troy Newman, President of Operation Rescue and Pro-Life Nation. "Pendergraft joins the likes of New Jersey's Steven Brigham and Nebraska's LeRoy Carhart, who targeted Maryland for their late-term businesses because of the state's reputation of allowing abortionists to operate without regulation or accountability, something we hope will be remedied by Maryland's new clinic regulations that are set to go into effect on July 23."

A video and a full report of Operation Rescue's findings can be viewed at OperationRescue.org.

Pendergraft offers late-term abortions in the second and third trimesters. His business uniquely provides women with "intracardiac injections" that kill the pre-born babies prior to the abortion. The women are then sent back to their home states or countries where the abortions are completed by others. The dangers of this process are shockingly high and place the lives of women at unacceptable risk.

In addition, OR caught Pendergraft contriving "mental health" justifications for the abortions. In one call, he said that stress over a boyfriend being in jail was a medical reason for a late-term abortion.

Complaints filed against Alexander have already yielded results. Alexander has been charged with violations of the Maryland Medical Practice Act, listing a number of shocking allegations that could cost him his medical license including a charge that he illegally shredded a medical record of a late-term abortion patient that was subpoenaed as a result of OR's complaint.

Pendergraft's complaint file remains open and late-term abortions dangerously continue at his Forestville clinic.

"We are urging the Maryland Board of Physicians to immediately act to protest the public from Pendergraft's dangerous late-term abortion operation in Maryland," said Newman.

Read the full Report

Contact the Maryland Board of Physicians at:
Voice: (800) 492-6836 or (410) 764-4777E-mail: https://mail.google.com/mail/u/0/h/1j75bghwnckvc/?&v=b&cs=wh&to=%20mbpmail@rcn.com

________________________________
About Operation Rescue® Operation Rescue is one of the leading pro-life Christian activist organizations in the nation and has become a strong voice for the pro-life movement in America. Operation Rescue is now headquartered in a former abortion clinic that it bought and closed in 2006. From there, Operation Rescue launches its innovative new strategies across the nation, exposing and closing abortion clinics through peaceful, legal means. Its activities are on the cutting edge of the abortion issue, taking direct action to stop abortion and ultimately restore legal personhood to the pre-born in obedience to biblical mandates. Click here to support Operation Rescue.

About Pro-Life NationPro-Life Nation is an initiative of Operation Rescue that offers a goal-oriented strategy to end abortion. For more visit ProLifeNation.org and read our new booklet that details our strategy.
________________________________Web site: http://www.google.com/url?q=http%3A%2F%2Fr20.rs6.net%2Ftn.jsp%3Fe%3D001BwJAdXTQ4AD2meHOUDPyxDJw6q7OYRtMtdjIuvmjaysVf7aQRRtHNuh2u0KqSZZxI8aKFHyvZ0duOVQZ_P6z9PWghY6h3icuqPXldL4Z9p3unousk3ukHmWez3Q-y8mQ&sa=D&sntz=1&usg=AFQjCNHyEAQM638AcBC4GiJgz6S0XUeRrQ E-mail: https://mail.google.com/mail/u/0/h/1j75bghwnckvc/?&v=b&cs=wh&to=info.operationrescue@gmail.com

Operation Rescue/Pro-Life Nation
Troy Newman
President
316-841-1700
Operation Rescue/Pro-Life Nation
Cheryl Sullenger
Senior Policy Advisor
316-516-3034

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Hic est

... enim calix Sanguinis Mei.


1. If anyone denies that the body and blood, together with the soul and divinity, of our Lord Jesus Christ and, therefore, the whole Christ is truly, really, and substantially contained in the sacrament of the most holy Eucharist, but says that Christ is present in the Sacrament only as in a sign or figure, or by his power: let him be anathema.


2. If anyone says that the substance of bread and wine remains in the holy sacrament of the Eucharist together with the body and blood of our Lord Jesus Christ, and denies that wonderful and extraordinary change of the whole substance of the bread into Christ's body and the whole substance of the wine into his blood while only the species of bread and wine remain, a change which the Catholic Church has most fittingly called transubstantiation: let him be anathema.


--The Council of Trent (1545-1563)



Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Benedict MD steeple struck by lightning

The steeple of Saint Francis de Sales Catholic church in Benedict, Maryland, was struck by lightning on Sunday evening, July 8, 2012. Slate shingles were blown off the roof and scattered across the lawn and parking lot of the church and into a wooded area across Benedict Avenue about 100 feet.

Neighbors two doors away from the church were watching the storm and witnessed the lightning strike, exploding the shingles away from the roof and sending them like projectiles across the property. They also saw the roof catch fire as a result but said the rain quickly put the flames out.

Damage is largely on the east side of the cupola between the lantern and cross crowning the steeple as partially visible in above photo.

Photo by Karen Hefter.

Winter

... is five months away but we can start thinking about it now.
Photo source: Support the Priests and the Catholic Church, Facebook, dated 1955.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Saint Francis de Sales Summer Dinner

Prep in the kitchen
Chatting at the table

Joe Spohr, a visitor from Germany by way of Cape Town, South Africa, and Michigan, also crewed the vessel Irish Blessing on its voyage to Benedict by way of the Chesapeake and Patuxent River.


Father Cusick with his dad, "father" Cusick, the skipper of the sailing vessel Irish Blessing on port call in Benedict for the weekend

Photos courtesy of Doug Swanson

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Archbishop Chaput: "God made us for more than the world ... We belong to God, and only to God."

"Caesar is a creature of this world, and Christ's message is uncompromising: We should give Caesar nothing of ourselves."

July 4, 2012

ARCHBISHOP CHAPUT'S HOMILY:
NATIONAL CLOSING MASS OF THE FORTNIGHT FOR FREEDOM
Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, Washington, DC


Paul Claudel, the French poet and diplomat of the last century, once described the Christian as "a man who knows what he is doing and where he is going in a world [that] no longer [knows] the difference between good and evil, yes and no. He is like a god standing out in a crowd of invalids . . . He alone has liberty in a world of slaves."

Like most of the great writers of his time, Claudel was a mix of gold and clay, flaws and genius. He had a deep and brilliant Catholic faith, and when he wrote that a man "who no longer believes in God, no longer believes in anything," he was simply reporting what he saw all around him. He spoke from a lifetime that witnessed two world wars and the rise of atheist ideologies that murdered tens of millions of innocent people using the vocabulary of science. He knew exactly where forgetting God can lead.

We Americans live in a different country, on a different continent, in a different century. And yet, in speaking of liberty, Claudel leads us to the reason we come together in worship this afternoon.

Most of us know today's passage from the Gospel of Matthew. What we should, or should not, render unto Caesar shapes much of our daily discourse as citizens. But I want to focus on the other and more important point Jesus makes in today's Gospel reading: the things we should render unto God.

When the Pharisees and Herodians try to trap Jesus, he responds by asking for a coin. Examining it he says, "Whose image is this and whose inscription?" When his enemies say "Caesar's," he tells them to render it to Caesar. In other words, that which bears the image of Caesar belongs to Caesar.

The key word in Christ's answer is "image," or in the Greek, eikon. Our modern meaning of "image" is weaker than the original Greek meaning. We tend to think of an image as something symbolic, like a painting or sketch. The Greek understanding includes that sense but goes further. In the New Testament, the "image" of something shares in the nature of the thing itself.

This has consequences for our own lives because we're made in the image of God. In the Greek translation of the Old Testament, the same word, eikon, is used in Genesis when describing the creation. "Let us make man in our image, after our likeness" says God (Gen 1:26). The implication is clear. To be made in the image of God is more than a pious slogan. It's a statement of fact. Every one of us shares -- in a limited but real way -- in the nature of God himself. When we follow Jesus Christ, we grow in conformity to that image.

Once we understand this, the impact of Christ's response to his enemies becomes clear. Jesus isn't being clever. He's not offering a political commentary. He's making a claim on every human being. He's saying, "render unto Caesar those things that bear Caesar's image, but more importantly, render unto God that which bears God's image" -- in other words, you and me. All of us.

And that raises some unsettling questions: What do you and I, and all of us, really render to God in our personal lives? If we claim to be disciples, then what does that actually mean in the way we speak and act?

Thinking about the relationship of Caesar and God, religious faith and secular authority, is important. It helps us sort through our different duties as Christians and citizens. But on a deeper level, Caesar is a creature of this world, and Christ's message is uncompromising: We should give Caesar nothing of ourselves. Obviously we're in the world. That means we have obligations of charity and justice to the people with whom we share it. Patriotism is a virtue. Love of country is an honorable thing. As Chesterton once said, if we build a wall between ourselves and the world, it makes little difference whether we describe ourselves as locked in or locked out.

But God made us for more than the world. Our real home isn't here. The point of today's Gospel passage is not how we might calculate a fair division of goods between Caesar and God. In reality, it all belongs to God and nothing - at least nothing permanent and important - belongs to Caesar. Why? Because just as the coin bears the stamp of Caesar's image, we bear the stamp of God's image in baptism. We belong to God, and only to God.

In today's second reading, St. Paul tells us, "Indeed religion" -- the RSV version says "godliness" - "with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into the world, just as we shall not be able to take anything out of it." True freedom knows no attachments other than Jesus Christ. It has no love of riches or the appetites they try to satisfy. True freedom can walk away from anything -- wealth, honor, fame, pleasure. Even power. It fears neither the state, nor death itself.

Who is the most free person at anything? It's the person who masters her art. A pianist is most free who -- having mastered her instrument according to the rules that govern it and the rules of music, and having disciplined and honed her skills -- can now play anything she wants.

The same holds true for our lives. We're free only to the extent that we unburden ourselves of our own willfulness and practice the art of living according to God's plan. When we do this, when we choose to live according to God's intention for us, we are then -- and only then -- truly free.

This is the freedom of the sons and daughters of God. It's the freedom of Miguel Pro, Mother Teresa, Maximillian Kolbe, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, and all the other holy women and men who have gone before us to do the right thing, the heroic thing, in the face of suffering and adversity.

This is the kind of freedom that can transform the world. And it should animate all of our talk about liberty - religious or otherwise.

I say this for two reasons. Here's the first reason. Real freedom isn't something Caesar can give or take away. He can interfere with it; but when he does, he steals from his own legitimacy.

Here's the second reason. The purpose of religious liberty is to create the context for true freedom. Religious liberty is a foundational right. It's necessary for a good society. But it can never be sufficient for human happiness. It's not an end in itself. In the end, we defend religious liberty in order to live the deeper freedom that is discipleship in Jesus Christ. What good is religious freedom, consecrated in the law, if we don't then use that freedom to seek God with our whole mind and soul and strength?

Today, July 4, we celebrate the birth of a novus ordo seclorum - a "new order of the ages," the American Era. God has blessed our nation with resources, power, beauty and the rule of law. We have so much to be grateful for. But these are gifts. They can be misused. They can be lost. In coming years, we'll face more and more serious challenges to religious liberty in our country. This is why the Fortnight for Freedom has been so very important.

And yet, the political and legal effort to defend religious liberty - as vital as it is - belongs to a much greater struggle to master and convert our own hearts, and to live for God completely, without alibis or self-delusion. The only question that finally matters is this one: Will we live wholeheartedly for Jesus Christ? If so, then we can be a source of freedom for the world. If not, nothing else will do.

God's words in today's first reading are a caution we ignore at our own expense. "Son of man," God says to Ezekiel and to all of us, "I have appointed you as a sentinel. If I say to the wicked, 'you will surely die' - and you do not warn them or speak out to dissuade them . . . I will hold you responsible for their blood."

Here's what that means for each of us: We live in a time that calls for sentinels and public witness. Every Christian in every era faces the same task. But you and I are responsible for this moment. Today. Now. We need to "speak out," not only for religious liberty and the ideals of the nation we love, but for the sacredness of life and the dignity of the human person - in other words, for the truth of what it means to be made in the image and likeness of God.

We need to be witnesses of that truth not only in word, but also in deed. In the end, we're missionaries of Jesus Christ, or we're nothing at all. And we can't share with others what we don't live faithfully and joyfully ourselves.

When we leave this Mass today, we need to render unto Caesar those things that bear his image. But we need to render ourselves unto God -- generously, zealously, holding nothing back. To the extent we let God transform us into his own image, we will - by the example of our lives - fulfill our duty as citizens of the United States, but much more importantly, as disciples of Jesus Christ.

###


Editor's Note: For more information about the Fortnight for Freedom in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia please visit http://archphila.org/HHS/hhs.htm. For further information about the Fortnight for Freedom nationally please visit www.Fortnight4Freedom.org.


Contact
Kenneth A. Gavin
Associate Director of Communications
215-587-3747

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