I have been cleaning out the back bedroom at my mom’s house. That may not sound like hard work, but I confess, it has been more than a little wearying to do so. You see, the back room is where mom had stored all her papers from the various causes she has championed over the years: Pro-Life issues such as the health dangers of contraception and the pill and the hidden poison in some of the sex education courses being planned in the 70’s and Planned Parenthood’s efforts to shape the Abortion debate as ‘tissue’ instead of human life. There were articles on the New Age movement, the Siecus Circle, the Guttamacher Institute. There were highlighted columns from the Review and the New York Times alike. There were countless letters from so many groups asking for her urgent donation to keep their ministry alive.
These were the battles of her time and day, reflecting the values that mattered enough to her to collect articles and read books; to write Bishops and Senators and Representatives and School Board presidents; to do the hard work of voicing what she both feared for our children in the present and what she hoped to provide for them in their future. These certainly were not all the battles that needed to be fought these past 40 years, but they were mom’s battles that SHE needed to fight with all she was and hoped to be.
This process has given me pause to think about the Fortnight for Freedom that we are now in the middle of in our country. The USCCB (United States Conference of Catholic Bishops) have championed many causes over the years and been outspoken opponents to lots of issues that face our republic: The Issue of Peace during the cold war; A pastoral response to people with Aids; Opposition to the Death Penalty; Cuts to the social safety nets that support the poor and those on the margins of society. And for these next two weeks (and beyond) they are focusing on the issue of Religious Freedom. Like my mom, they have identified this battle as one of the crucial ones to fight in our age and our time. And they do so because in this issue, the Health Care Mandate, the government is trying to redefine WHO we are as a church.
You can view the Archbishop’s speech given at the Capitol on the Archdiocesan Website. (archstl.org/liberty) You can go to fortnight4freedom.com for more information and further action steps. But mostly, you can pray for the success of the church’s response to this issue of our day. There are cards at the entrances to church with a prayer to pray during this fortnight of freedom.
And if you feel that this is not the only issue that the church needs to address, you may join our social justice committee as they try to expand our awareness of the many needs and issues that face the church as believers and citizens in this great country of ours. Contact Barry Buchek or Holly Scheibel for more information.
“Almighty, eternal God,
in whom we find true freedom and lasting peace,
look with favor, we pray, on our needs
and, seeing the faith that inspires us to pray to you,
grant what we truly need, especially the freedom to serve you in love. Through Christ our Lord, Amen.”