I am back from my retreat, and thankful to report that I feel the great ship that is me has begun the slow, arduous task of righting its course.
Coming home yesterday was a relief in some ways, particularly in that I was able to attend mass in the evening with my dear family. I wont go into all the details of what struck me as off about the “mass” I tried to attend in the morning at the “worship center”… although I will say that I have never in my life seen 200+ septuagenarians who exhibited a poorer understanding of the concept of reverence. Of course, it doesn’t help when the “processional” consists of the priest waltzing down the center aisle his white alb, howdying everyone as he goes, then wandering into the vestry, returning in his chasuble, and leading everyone in a rousing chorus of “Oh what a beautiful MORRRRRning….”. I did not feel at all bad about slipping out the back after the homily and heading for home. Anyway, I digress…
Back at Ss. Simon and Jude, I was thankful not only to receive the Eucharist, but to hear a very forthright homily from Fr. Lankeit tying the readings of the day, on understanding true authority, with our great Bishop’s letter to all the churches in the diocese, which was read from the pulpit in every church yesterday. Here is that letter:
January 25, 2012
Feast of the Conversion of St. Paul
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ:
I write to you concerning an alarming and serious matter that negatively impacts the Church in the United States directly, and that strikes at the fundamental right to religious liberty for all citizens of any faith. The federal government, which claims to be “of, by, and for the people,” has just dealt a heavy blow to almost a quarter of those people–the Catholic population–and to the millions more who are served by the Catholic faithful.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services announced last week that almost all employers, including Catholic employers, will be forced to offer their employees health coverage that includes sterilization, abortion-inducing drugs, and contraception. Almost all health insurers will be forced to include those “services” in the insurance policies they write. Almost all individuals will be forced to buy that coverage as a part of their health insurance plans.
In so ruling, the Administration has cast aside the First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States, denying to Catholics our nation’s first and most fundamental freedom, that of religious liberty. As a result, unless the rule is overturned, we Catholics will be compelled either to violate our consciences, or to drop health coverage for our employees (and suffer the penalties for doing so). The Administration’s sole concession was to give our institutions one year to comply.
We cannot—we will not—comply with this unjust law. People of faith cannot be made second-class citizens. We are already joined by our brothers and sisters of all faiths and many others of good will in this important effort to regain our religious freedom. Our parents and grandparents did not come to these shores to help build America’s cities and towns, its infrastructure and institutions, its enterprise and culture, only to have their posterity stripped of their God-given rights. In generations past, the Church has always been able to count on the faithful to stand up and protect her sacred rights and duties. I hope and trust she can count on this generation of Catholics to do the same. Our children and grandchildren deserve nothing less.
Therefore, I would ask of you two things. First, commit ourselves to prayer and fasting, that wisdom and justice may prevail, and religious liberty may be restored. Pray the rosary, asking Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception, Patroness of our nation, to intercede for us. Without God, we can do nothing; with God, nothing is impossible. Second, I recommend visiting www.usccb.org/conscience to learn more about this severe assault on religious liberty, and how to contact Congress in support of legislation that would reverse the Administration’s decision.
United in prayer and in confidence in God’s mercy, I remain
Sincerely yours in Christ,
+ Thomas J. Olmsted
Bishop of Phoenix
Fr. Lankeit’s address yesterday emphasized three things that we as the faithful can and must do in the face of this attack on our religious liberty.
- Writing to congress
With that in view, each member of our family is making a vow to fast in some way for the strengthening of the Church, that wisdom and justice may prevail, and religious liberty may be restored. We are additionally praying the rosary together for the intercession of Our Lady on behalf of the Church. And we will begin our school day today with writing letters to all the members of our congressional delegation, asking them to overturn this unjust and unconstitutional HHS mandate.
Many have been warning for quite some time that persecution is coming to the American Church, and the signs have been growing that it is already here. This new effort is the most blatant to date, and all of us must join together to protect religious freedoms for our posterity. As Fr. Lankeit said as he finished his homily yesterday, “We have our marching orders.” Let’s get busy.
- Rest and Renewal
- The Spice of Life
I agree, that law in an outrage against not only Catholics, but huge numbers of Protestants also. I will also be praying (to God, though) that this law will not actually go into effect.
Amen, Linda! It is God, and God alone, who answers all of our prayers, through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Yes….I wrote to my congressmen last night…wanted to “get right to it”! May God have mercy on us, and move in the hearts of those who are in a position to change this policy!