Today we bring the Fortnight for Freedom to a close—our two weeks of prayer and fasting for the cause of religious freedom in America.
We have benefited greatly from Kyle’s insightful talks here in our parish cluster. But, indeed, embracing two weeks of penance can be difficult. It gets easier when we meditate on what our forefathers and foremothers endured.
As the Church in America sings today at Mass, our Lord Jesus Christ’s message of peace and fraternity took form in the vision of the founding fathers of our nation. They kept many fortnights for freedom, risking life and limb, putting everything on the line, in order to establish a nation where we could be free to live our holy Catholic faith.
But, as the Church in America also prays today, much more work still remains. Our nation has always held the ideal of religious freedom. But, in practice, we have often found ourselves shackled in one way or another as a Church. We know that suspicion of Catholicism has run deep in these lands, ever since the first Fourth of July. The contempt we face is nothing new.
Therefore, in every generation, we American Catholics must do penance and purify ourselves. We claim freedom to operate as a Church according to our own norms; we claim this as our due, since we are Americans. But this claim of ours will only resonate when we ourselves turn to God and live fully in the truth.
If we claim immunity from subsidizing immoral contraceptive practices, then we ourselves must strive always to live chaste lives. If we claim freedom to consecrate only those marriages which we can recognize, and no others, then our own marriages must be faithful, fruitful, and altogether Christian. If we assert our prerogative to welcome the immigrant into our midst, no matter how the civil law classifies him, then we must in fact help him best by showing him our example of obedience to law.
Now, to be honest with you, the Lord has been pleased to give me a very penitential fortnight. I have neither eaten nor slept much these two weeks, owing to local pastoral problems. These unexpected problems have consumed my heart and mind. They have weighed me down with some of the bitterest sorrow I have known in a long time. I have repeatedly found myself joking with Kyle about running away to the Trappists.
But, of course—as I said—it is nothing compared to what our forefathers have suffered for our sakes. Today we can eat hamburgers together in peace because of the blood spilled in this land for the noble cause of freedom.
May God guide us always. May He turn the freedoms we enjoy into opportunities for us to spend ourselves in His service.