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In this Year of Faith, the U.S. Bishops are encouraging the faithful to pray and fast for the renewal of a culture of life and marriage and for protection of religious liberty. In particular, Catholics are invited to make a pledge to fast and abstain from meat on Fridays between now and the Feast of Christ the King (Nov. 24, 2013). Below are suggested intentions and reflections for each Friday fast.
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we may recognize each person we encounter as created in God's image and that
our interactions with them might reflect the welcoming love and mercy of Christ
for each person.
Reflection: At the June 16 Mass celebrating the encyclical Evangelium Vitae (The Gospel of Life), written by Pope John Paul II, Pope Francis closed his homily with the words, "Let us ask Mary, Mother of Life, to help us receive and bear constant witness to the 'Gospel of Life'."
His use of the word "constant" is striking and invites us to consider more deeply what it means to be pro-life. Attending events like a Holy Hour for Life or the National Prayer Vigil for Life are special moments when we can join together in a visible way in requesting the Lord's protection of human life, but we simply cannot spend every moment of our life participating in these events.
However, we can ask for the grace to live our lives in a way that constantly bears witness to the incredible dignity of each person as created by God in His image and likeness. We can respond to the invitation of the Holy Father to "say 'Yes' to the God who is love, life and freedom, and who never disappoints"!
Did you know? Today is the first day of the Fortnight for Freedom! Join the Facebook event or visit www.fortnight4freedom.org to learn more and get involved! Check out the new video on the Fortnight home page and look on the Diocesan Activities page to find out what dioceses in your area are doing. Get prayers for religious liberty and fact sheets about domestic /international issues too!
Intention: For fathers, that their attentive care for their children may reflect God the Father's unending love. And for those who grieve the absence of their earthly father, that God the Father may comfort them.
Reflection: In a January 30, 2013 audience, Pope Benedict XVI spoke about the meaning of God as Father. He acknowledged that "it is not always easy to talk about fatherhood" in a world where many children grow up without a reliable or loving father. For them, "imagining God as a father becomes problematic."
And yet God has revealed Himself in Scripture, and most fully in the Person of Jesus, as "a Father who never abandons his children, a loving Father who supports, helps, welcomes, pardons and saves with a faithfulness that surpasses by far that of men and women, opening onto dimensions of eternity."
Men who are fathers receive the high calling of reflecting God's fatherhood to their children. Faithful, loving fatherhood is a precious gift, and Father's Day is an opportunity to thank fathers for their irreplaceable presence. For those who lack an earthly father's love, Pope Benedict reminds us that "the love of God the Father never fails, he does not tire of us; it is a love that gives to the end, even to the sacrifice of his Son."
Did You Know? Fathers are irreplaceable. By loving their wives, fathers model for their children healthy male-female relations. Fathers teach their sons how to be men and teach their daughters to expect respect from men.
The importance of fathers to children is one reason why the Church defends marriage as the union of one man and one woman. Every child deserves the best chance of being raised by his/her mother and father together. By uniting a man and a woman for life, marriage creates a "sanctuary of life" where children can receive the love and care of both father and mother together.
Note on fasting: Because June 7 was the Solemnity of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, it was not appropriate to fast. However, we continued to join in prayer for the building up of a culture of life, marriage and religious liberty.
Intention: On this Solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus,aHeart which has loved men so much, we ask Christ to help us love our Church and country courageously, for the glory of God.
Reflection: In just two weeks, the 2013 Fortnight for Freedom will begin on June 21 and last until July 4. Part of the Bishops' "Call to Prayer" initiative, the Fortnight for Freedom is a two-week period of prayer and action that seeks to address many current challenges to religious liberty. These include the potential legal redefinition of marriage by Supreme Court rulings in late June and the HHS contraceptive mandate, which has a deadline of August 1, 2013 for compliance by religious organizations.
On this Solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, we recall the words of Charles Carroll of Carrollton, the only Catholic signer of the Declaration of Independence: "God grant that religious liberty may be preserved in these states to the end of time, and that all who believe in the religion of Christ may practice the leading principle of charity, the basis of every other virtue."Today, we fervently ask from Christ's Sacred Heart an infilling of this "leading principle of charity" within ourselves, and we pray that throughout the Fortnight for Freedom and beyond, we will love our Church and our country courageously, for the glory of God.
Did you know?In a letter to the United Nations last week, Archbishop Silvano M. Tomasi, Permanent Observer of the Holy See to the UN,wrote, "In some Western countries where historically the Christian presence has been an integral part of society, a trend emerges that tends to marginalize Christianity in public life, ignore historic and social contributions and even restrict the ability of faith communities to carry out social charitable services."To learn about current domestic and international threats to our religious freedom, check out the Fortnight for Freedom fact sheets.
engaged couples, that their time of preparation for marriage may be richly
blessed as they prepare to give themselves fully and irrevocably to each other
as a sign of Christ's love for His Church.
Reflection: In September 2011, Pope Benedict XVI gave the following pieces of advice to engaged couples in Ancona, Italy:
"As engaged couples, you find yourselves living a unique season that opens you to the wonder of the encounter and enables you to discover the beauty of existence and of being precious to someone, of being able to say to each other: you are important to me. Live this journey intensely, gradually and truthfully. Do not give up following a high ideal of love, a reflection and testimony of God's love!"
"Dear friends, all human love is a sign of the eternal Love that created us and whose grace sanctifies the decision made by a man and a woman to give each other reciprocal life in marriage. Live the period of your engagement in the trusting expectation of this gift."
"Fidelity, indissolubility and the transmission of life are the pillars of every family, the true common good, a precious patrimony of society as a whole. From now on found your journey towards marriage on these pillars and witness to this among your peers, too: such a service is precious!"
Did you know? As the summer "wedding season" begins, take a look at the many resources on the USCCB website For Your Marriage for engaged couples: blessings and prayers for engaged couples, 10 tips for planning a Catholic wedding, FAQs for engaged couples, and a directory of marriage preparation resources. These are great pages to share with family and friends who are tying the knot this summer!
Intention: For the conversion of all who support abortion, that Christ's love may open their hearts to the truth and that, through the Sacrament of Reconciliation, they may experience the depths of God's healing mercy and forgiveness.
Reflection:Although we may understand intellectually what abortion is, after 40 years since its legalization, we may start to become numb to its reality. However, the recent convictions of the Philadelphia abortion provider, Kermit Gosnell, for the killing of three babies who were born alive, manifested in yet another vivid way the horrific details of the abortion culture that confronts the Gospel of Life. These children remind us of the urgent necessity to promote and defend the sanctity of all human life.
We can do this by being witnesses of Christ's love to all those who support abortion and by praying for their conversions. We must strive to imitate the absolute character of God's longing and love for each of them, which can then evoke the conversion that each needs. Remembering the conversions of St. Paul and Mary Magdalene, which show us that with God all things are possible and that no one is beyond the reach of His mercy and forgiveness, let us pray for every heart to be opened, reconciled, and united with the Lord.
Did you know? In the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, today is a special day of prayer and penance in reparation for the crimes against the sacredness of human life, especially in the womb. It is also the World Day of Prayer for the Church in China. Join in prayerful solidarity with the faithful in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia as they unite their prayers and penances with the same intentions for the Church in China.
Intention: As we approach the feast of Pentecost, we pray for the Church and that our faith might not be simply a private matter, but rather that the Holy Spirit will help us witness to Christ in all areas of our lives.
Reflection: As faithful Catholics, the beliefs that we profess in Church on Sunday carry over into our personal and professional lives. Christ invites us into loving relationship with Him, and His love infuses our actions, helping us to love Him in return by following His commandments in our daily lives. However, the proposed HHS "contraceptive mandate," in effect, attempts to restrict the practice of our faith to the private sphere. As explained by the USCCB general counsel, the mandate's current definition of "religious employer" (a definition used to determine which employers are exempted from the mandate) excludes "a wide array of employers that are undeniably religious," including organizations that "contribute most visibly to the common good through the provision of health, educational, and social services," such as Catholic schools and hospitals. Telling faith-based organizations that they are not "religious enough" to qualify for an exemption to the contraceptive mandate is a violation of religious freedom.
we approach the feast of Pentecost, let us ardently pray to Christ to send
forth His Spirit so that we will be filled with His peace and strength to live our
faith at all times.
Did you know?"This year's Fortnight [for Freedom] occurs just weeks before August 1, when the administration's mandate coercing us to violate our deeply-held beliefs will be enforced against most religious non-profits. During the Fortnight the Supreme Court's decisions on the definition of marriage will likely be handed down as well. Those decisions could have a profound impact on religious freedom for generations to come." Archbishop William E. Lori, News Release (May 13, 2013)
Intention: For mothers: that they may discover the depths of love through their gift of themselves to their children, and in so doing, serve as a witness of the love to which we are all called.
Reflection: In his Letter to Families, Pope Blessed John Paul II reminds us that we can’t “fully find [ourselves] exceptthrough a sincere gift of self" (no. 11, quoting Second Vatican Council, Gaudium et Spes, no. 24). The self-sacrifice of a mother’s care for her child reveals the continuous gift of self that love entails and invites others to follow her example. There is no doubt that “love is demanding,” as Bl. John Paul II said. However, "this is precisely the source of its beauty: by the very fact that it is demanding, it builds up the true good of man and allows it to radiate to others."
We must keep our eyes fixed on Christ, who helps us to see the people in our lives through his eyes and love them with his heart. As we celebrate this Mother’s Day, remembering our own mothers’ gift of life to us, let us take seriously our own call to self-sacrificial love, allowing that love to radiate to others.
Mary, Mother of God, pray for us!
Bl. John Paul II, pray for us!Did you know? We've all heard it said that our hearts become bigger the more we love, but did you know that during pregnancy, a mother's heart actually physically increases in size? (See: Health on the Net Foundation and British Journal of Radiology). Also, read more about how we can follow the most perfect example of motherhood in the newest Life Issues Forum column, "Mary, Pro-Life Inspiration."
the justices of the U.S. Supreme Court, that they would respect the authentic
meaning of marriage by upholding California's Proposition 8.
Reflection: The following are key quotes from the USCCB amicus brief in the case Hollingsworth v. Perry, about California's Proposition 8, which is currently being reviewed by the U.S. Supreme Court.
"Given both the unique capacity for reproduction and unique value of homes with a mother and father, it is reasonable for a State to treat the union of one man and one woman as having a public value that is absent from other intimate interpersonal relationships" (p. 2).
"Redefining marriage…not only threatens principles of federalism and separation of powers, but would have a widespread adverse impact on other constitutional rights, such as the freedoms of religion, conscience, speech, and association" (p. 4).
"If the meaning of marriage is so malleable and indeterminate as to embrace all 'lifelong and committed' relationships, then marriage simply collapses as a coherent legal category" (p. 14-15).
"A law is not constitutionally impermissible because it overlaps with a religious teaching" (p. 20).
Did you know? California's Proposition 8 is the marriage referendum approved by California voters in 2008. It defines marriage as the union of one man and one woman in the California State constitution. Proposition 8 was challenged as being unconstitutional and is now under review by the U.S. Supreme Court, with a ruling expected in June. The USCCB urges the Supreme Court to uphold Proposition 8 (see January 2013 amicus brief). A negative ruling could mean that marriage would be redefined nationwide.
Intention: For all mothers and fathers facing a poor prenatal diagnosis or unexpected parenthood; that they may know the Lord's deep love for them and their child and trust in His providential care.
Reflection: There are times in our lives when the path is unclear and the future uncertain. We may not know what lies beyond the present moment, and we may feel frightened and anxious. However, we are not alone. Each of us is deeply loved and cherished by the Father, and we can trust in His care for us, knowing that He pays close attention to our lives: "Not one [sparrow] falls to the ground without your Father's knowledge. Even all the hairs of your head are counted. So do not be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows" (Mt 10:29-31). Recognizing the Lord's love, we can trust that the path on which He leads us is one that leads to our ultimate happiness – even if the path looks different from what we expect. Let us therefore run to our Blessed Mother and ask, as Pope Francis did in a tweet earlier this week, for her aid in helping us know and follow the voice of Jesus, who is the Way, the Truth, and the Life.
Did you know? The following is the optional closing prayer of the Chaplet of Divine Mercy: "Eternal God, in whom mercy is endless and the treasury of compassion — inexhaustible, look kindly upon us and increase Your mercy in us, that in difficult moments we might not despair nor become despondent, but with great confidence submit ourselves to Your holy will, which is Love and Mercy itself."
Resources are available at the end of this article for those facing poor prenatal diagnoses. If you or someone you know is facing a crisis pregnancy, call 800-712-HELP (4357) or text "HELPLINE" to 313131 for free, confidential help.
Intention: Today, we pray for the approval of laws which will protect health care professionals from being forced to violate their consciences.
Reflection: In today's first reading from Acts 9:1-20, we are reminded again of Saul's fervent persecution of the early Christians, those disciples of the Lord "who belonged to the Way." While Saul's persecutions occurred over 2,000 years ago, the persecution of Christians occurs even today. Currently, government agencies are trying to coerce many Christians, including devout Catholics, into violating their consciences.But it is important to remember that we are not alone.Earlier this spring, Rep. Diane Black and other members of Congress introduced H.R. 940, the Health Care Conscience Rights Act. A press conference gave many medical professionals the chance to tell their personal stories of persecution or attempts to force them to violate their consciences.
Please join with us in prayer today, especially in union with the early Christians, for health care professionals who are being or who have already been coerced into violating their consciences. We pray for their fortitude and ask that they are blessed with the knowledge that they are not alone in this fight.
Did you know? There are now 127 House co-sponsors of the Health Care Conscience Rights Act. Archbishop William E. Lori of Baltimore, Chairman of the USCCB's Ad Hoc Committee for Religious Liberty, welcomed the bill's introduction: "While federal laws are on the books protecting conscience rights in health care, this Act would make such protection truly effective. This overdue measure is especially needed in light of new challenges to conscience rights arising from the federal health care reform act."
For more information, see Archbishop Lori's letter on the importance of conscience rights.
the justices of the Supreme Court, that they would respect the authentic
meaning of marriage by upholding the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA).
Reflection: The following are key quotes from the USCCB amicus brief in the case United States v. Windsor, about the Defense of Marriage Act, which is currently being reviewed by the Supreme Court.
"There is no fundamental right to marry a person of the same sex" (p. 2).
"For well over a century, this Court has held that marriage is a fundamental right, but those decisions, which expressly reference the link between marriage and procreation, make clear that by 'marriage,' the Court means the union of one man and one woman" (pp. 8-9).
"If this Court were to conclude that the Constitution requires a redefinition of marriage to include persons in same-sex relationships...it is unclear where the logical stopping point would be. This Court will ultimately be asked why other interpersonal relationships are not entitled to similar inclusion, and why other 'barriers' to marriage (such as those posed by youth, kinship, or multiplicity of parties) should not also have to be struck down as inconsistent with this redefinition" (p. 20).
Did you know? The Defense of Marriage Act, or DOMA, was passed in 1996 with strong bipartisan support. DOMA defines marriage as the union of one man and one woman for the purposes of federal law, and ensures that states will not be forced to recognize so-called same-sex "marriages" enacted in other states. The part of DOMA that defines marriage is currently under review by the Supreme Court, with a decision expected by June. The USCCB urges the Supreme Court to uphold DOMA (see amicus brief).
Note on fasting: In these days of the Easter Octave, we rejoice in the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ, and continue to join in prayer for the building up of a culture of life, marriage, and religious liberty. Since each day of the Easter Octave is observed as a solemnity, it is not appropriate to fast on Easter Friday.
Intention: For all who grieve the loss of a child through abortion: that they may discover the depths of God's merciful love for them and seek his forgiveness, healing and peace.
(Visit www.hopeafterabortion.org for information on the Church's healing ministry to those who have been involved in abortion.)
I thank you for the mercy you have shown in forgiving my sins and for the peace that comes from being reconciled with you and with your Church.
O God, you are faithful, and you never abandon those who hope in you. I know that my redemption from sin and death has been purchased at the cost of your Son's blood. In return for this priceless gift, I resolve today to renew my trust in your unfailing mercy.
In times of doubt, when painful memories of past sins threaten to destroy the peace you have given, let the power of your Holy Spirit cast out all self-condemnation and give me greater confidence in your word of pardon.
Teach me to encourage others so they, too, may seek your tender compassion and come to know your peace, which nothing can take away.
I pray this in the name of Jesus, your Son, in whom you have restored me to life.
(Text from "Trust in God's Mercy" prayer card, Item 9913 in the 2012 Pro-life Catalog)
Did you know? This Sunday (April 7) is Divine Mercy Sunday. In the 1930s, Jesus chose a Polish nun, St. Maria Faustina Kowalska, to receive private revelations concerning Divine Mercy. The revelations were recorded in her Diary, among which was the request that a Feast of Mercy (Divine Mercy Sunday) be observed.
Intention: For the strength to stand with Christ and conduct our personal and professional lives according to our religious convictions.
Reflection: In today's Gospel reading, Christ says, "For this I was born and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone who belongs to the truth listens to my voice." Pilate replies, "What is truth?" In today's culture, it can be difficult to recognize truth. The question, "What is truth?" is used by many to justify various actions or inactions. Christ, however, makes clear that those who belong to truth listen to His voice.
Archbishop Charles Chaput stated in his
homily for the Fortnight for Freedom closing Mass last year, "We need to
speak out, not only for religious liberty and the ideals of the nation we love,
but … 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."
On this Good Friday, let us ardently pray to Christ our Savior for the
courage and strength to express our religious convictions—to be unafraid to
witness to the truth.
Did you know? Our call to witness to the truth continues! In February 2013, the Obama administration issued a "proposed rule" providing revisions to the HHS contraceptive and sterilization mandate. Last week, the USCCB filed public comments stating that the mandate continues to be "an unprecedented … violation of religious liberty by the federal government" and must be changed. Click here to file your own comments, which are due April 8!
all who will march in the March for Marriage on Tuesday, or join spiritually
from a distance, that they may witness boldly to the truth of marriage as the
union of one man and one woman.
Reflection: If you need a good reason to attend the March for Marriage, here's one: When Pope Francis was Archbishop of Buenos Aires, he encouraged the Catholic faithful to participate in a march for marriage! The Argentinean legislature was then considering a bill that would redefine marriage to include two men or two women. In a letter to Carmelite nuns in Argentina, then-Cardinal Bergoglio said about the marriage debate, "At stake is the identity and survival of the family: father, mother and children. At stake are the lives of children who will be discriminated against in advance, and deprived of their human development given by a father and a mother and willed by God." (Original Spanish here.)In closing, the future Pope Francis wrote, "We look to Saint Joseph, Mary and the Child Jesus and ask that they fervently defend the family in Argentina at this particular time." Following our Holy Father's example, let us entreat the Holy Family to defend marriage and the family in the United States!
Intention: For all who help to build a Culture of Life: that even in the midst of trials, the Lord would strengthen their faith and help them know His saving power.Reflection: We may sometimes find ourselves tempted to feel discouraged when it appears as though evil has defeated good, but today's readings remind us that the Lord is close to the brokenhearted and that He is bigger than any challenges we face. He is with us not only in our joys, but also in our pain. Even within our suffering we find the opportunity to grow in an awareness of who we are as His creation: we are His children, utterly and completely dependent on Him, and in this there is great freedom. So let us lay our burdens at the foot of the Cross, recognizing that even when it "appears" as though evil has triumphed, Easter Sunday always follows Good Friday (even if it doesn't look as we might expect)!
Did you know? Angels are powerful and invisible spiritual beings tasked with doing God's work; this includes assisting our efforts to spread the truth about the dignity of human life. No matter the time or the place, we can pray to the angels for their help in protecting life and illuminating the minds of those involved in efforts against life. (Read morein this Life Issues Forum article, "Angelic Assistance").
Intention: For all people of faith who fight to preserve
religious freedom, that the Lord will strengthen their resolve to hold firm in
Reflection: Religious freedom is a fundamental right not only for Catholics and Christians but for all human persons. In the U.S., freedom of religion is an inalienable constitutional right that protects citizens and institutions from government interference with the exercise of their religious beliefs. However, freedom of religion does not arise solely or originally from the U.S. Constitution. Rather, as the Fathers of the Second Vatican Council declared in Dignitatis Humanae(the Declaration on Religious Freedom), "the right to religious freedom has its foundation in the very dignity of the human person" (DH, 2).
Because men and women are created with reason and free will, they "are bound to seek the truth, especially in what concerns God and His Church, and to embrace the truth they come to know, and to hold fast to it" (DH, 1). Thus, the U.S. Constitution simply secures the right that inherently belongs to each person by virtue of his or her personhood. The fact that religious freedom is rooted in the dignity of the human person reminds us that we are praying and fasting not for an abstract concept called religious freedom, but for the full dignity of all men and women, created to seek the truth and hold fast to it.Did you know? A bill titled the "Health Care Conscience Rights Act" was just introduced in the House earlier this week by Rep. Diane Black.The bill would protect Americans' First Amendment rights by providing a full exemption for all those whose religious beliefs run counter to the HHS mandate.The bill would also protect institutions and individuals from forced participation in abortion. Click here to take action to support H.R. 940!
Intention: For the justices of the Supreme Court, that when they consider two marriage-related cases later this month, they would uphold the authentic meaning of marriage as the union of one man and one woman, a good in itself and for all of society.
Reflection: Catholic Social Teaching is clear that marriage and the family are essential to the common good: "The family, the natural community in which human social nature is experienced, makes a unique and irreplaceable contribution to the good of society" (Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church, no. 213). The family, "born of the intimate communion of life and love founded on the marriage between one man and one woman," is indeed "the first and vital cell of society" (no. 211). The importance of marriage and the family to the common good is why the Church works tirelessly to enact laws that recognize and support marriage's authentic meaning as the union of one man and one woman. According to the Compendium, society and state institutions are called "to guarantee and foster the genuine identity of family life and to avoid and fight all that alters or wounds it" (no. 252).Did you know? Beginning this month, the Supreme Court will consider two marriage-related cases: United States v. Windsor, about the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), and Hollingsworth v. Perry, about California's Proposition 8. Depending on how the Court rules, there could be ramifications for marriage laws throughout the country. Oral arguments for the cases begin March 26, the same day as a March for Marriage to show support for upholding the definition of marriage as the union of one man and one woman. A ruling on both cases is expected from the court by June.
the guidance of the Holy Spirit in the selection of the next Holy Father: that
the next pope may be granted wisdom and strength in leading the faithful into
deeper relationship with Christ, that through our own continual conversion, we
may witness to the sanctity of all human life through our words and actions.
Reflection: Today is the feast of the Chair of Saint Peter the Apostle. In today's Gospel reading, Jesus names Peter the rock and foundation of his Church and declares that "the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it." As we await the transition of a new pope, the successor of St. Peter, let us pray for the Holy Spirit's guidance, trusting in the Lord's Providence, and thankful for the pastoral care of Pope Benedict XVI over the last eight years. He has consistently presented the invitation of Christ to each of us as to an ever deeper and more personal friendship with Himself, a friendship which is transformative: "Christians are people who have been conquered by Christ's love and, accordingly, under the influence of that love… they are profoundly open to loving their neighbor in concrete ways. This attitude arises primarily from the consciousness of being loved, forgiven, and even served by the Lord, who bends down to wash the feet of the Apostles and offers himself on the Cross to draw humanity into God's love" (Pope Benedict XVI, Message for Lent 2013). Let us then continue our Lenten journey faithfully, responding to the Lord's tender love and allowing Him to transform us, that we may bring His light to the world, witnessing to the sanctity of each human life.
Did you know? Pope Benedict XVI recently linked respect for life with peace: "The path to the attainment of the common good and to peace is above all that of respect for human life in all its many aspects, beginning with its conception, through its development and up to its natural end. True peacemakers, then, are those who love, defend and promote human life in all its dimensions, personal, communitarian and transcendent. Life in its fullness is the height of peace. Anyone who loves peace cannot tolerate attacks and crimes against life."
Intention: For our President, legislators, judges, and all in service to the common good, that through the gift of heavenly wisdom they may work to uphold religious freedom and conscience protection for all.
Reflection: In the face of powerful cultural trends which promote a "freedom of choice," we need to remember that true freedom is a gift that has been paid for by the blood of Christ. Of the many freedoms given by Christ to His people, the freedom of religion is the most cherished of American freedoms. Just last year, Pope Benedict XVI reminded the U.S. bishops of the need for "an engaged, articulate and well-formed Catholic laity… with the courage to counter a reductive secularism which would delegitimize the Church's participation in public debate about the issues which are determining the future of American society."
As we begin Lent, let us reflect with gratitude on the priceless gift of freedom. Paid for by His blood, it is our gift from Him, and we must work together to protect it. May the Blessed Virgin Mary, Our Mother of Hope, unify our efforts in this time of prayer and sacrifice so that together we can build a civilization of love.
Did you know? The freedom of Catholic institutions like hospitals, charities, and universities to adhere to Catholic moral teaching in their health plans is still under threat. Plus, business owners and individuals with moral or religious objections to the Health & Human Services (HHS) sterilization, contraception, and abortifacient mandate receive no conscience protection. See the Bishops' statement on the new rule proposed by HHS on February 1, 2013 by clicking here.
a greater reverence for the gift of marriage and family in our nation and for
the healing of those suffering from troubled or broken marriages, especially
children. (Written by Bishop Kevin Rhoades, Fort Wayne-South Bend, Chairman of
USCCB Committee on Laity, Marriage, Family Life, and Youth)
7-14 is National Marriage
Week, a collaborative effort to strengthen individual marriages, reduce the
divorce rate, and build a stronger culture of marriage. In an address
to Latin American and Caribbean bishops in 2011, Pope Benedict XVI lauded
precisely this kind of marriage-building initiative: "No effort is therefore
wasted in promoting anything that can help to ensure that each family, founded
on the indissoluble union between a man and a woman, accomplishes its mission
of being a living cell of society, a nursery of virtues, a school of
constructive and peaceful coexistence, an instrument of harmony and a
privileged environment in which human life is welcomed and protected, joyfully
and responsibly, from its beginning until its natural end."
Did you know? Strong
marriages and families benefit society in numerous ways. A USCCB review of
research on the benefits generated from families rooted in marriage can be
found here: "Marriage
and the Family in the United States: Resources for Society."
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