EWTN has opened a website devoted to keeping the faithful and people of goodwill informed on the current issues concerning religious liberty, which liberty is under serious attack here in the U.S.A. I just found out about it and have only spent a few minutes looking over the contents of the site. A number of similar sites have opened up lately and I need to do a page of links devoted to this issue pretty soon.

 

Where's the freedom? Protesting the HHS Mandate outside the Supreme CourtYes, I heard the news. No, I’m not surprised. Neither am I throwing up my hands in despair. The battle over religious freedom (and freedom in general) is on and it has only just begun. I’d like to quote a newsletter I received today from Eric Scheidler. I think it will help to clear up some of the misinformation which is already flooding the airwaves now that this decision has been handed down. We have a long way to go, folks. Get educated. Do it now.

THE SUPREME COURT DID NOT UPHOLD THE HHS MANDATE TODAY.

Our opponents will try to claim we’ve lost our fight against the HHS Mandate because of today’s ruling. That is simply FALSE.

The Supreme court did not address the HHS Mandate issue in their ruling today. Nor did they declare the whole 2700-page Obamacare law to be constitutional.

Today’s ruling only addresses the constitutionality of a few pages of that law, on completely different issues from the HHS Mandate.

Provisions of Obamacare like the HHS Mandate could still be struck down in the future. In fact, I’m sure it will be when the scores of lawsuits against the HHS Mandate reach the high court.

But I’m not willing to wait that long — not when religious freedom is on the line. …

As I said, I’ll be nailing down specific plans for future action against the HHS Mandate soon. Meanwhile, visit the Stand Up website to see what you can do RIGHT NOW to fight the HHS Mandate:

http://StandUpRally.com/action/

So don’t lose heart.

Yes, today’s Supreme Court ruling is a disappointment. But in the end it will only INCREASE the urgency of our protests and inspire MORE people to join us out onto the streets!

The fight to stop the HHS Mandate will go forward with zeal — in the courts, in Congress, on the streets and on election day!

Yours for Life,

— Eric

This is truly spiritual warfare. Join the battle! Stand Up For Religious Freedom today! Read another interesting take on the decision and its implications.

Seek First the Kingdom, by Donald Cardinal WuerlSo much has happened in the last few weeks, even the last few days (including the air conditioner in my car konking out yesterday–thank the Lord the dealership was able to repair that this afternoon and for far less money than I’d expected). I’m hoping now to get some work done for the blog, which has been sadly neglected during 40 Days for Life. I started several posts and they’re sitting there in my poor little also-abandoned writing app, waiting, waiting, waiting for me to get back to them and write more than a the barest outline of a draft of a note and get them posted. I’ll be picking up this week where I left off in Cardinal Wuerl’s book, Seek First the Kingdom (see other posts); finishing my write-up for the rally for Religious Freedom (see part one); sharing some thoughts (with photos) on the wonderful pro-life film, October Baby (see other posts, only mentions so far); writing an account (also with some photos) of a trip I took with friends today to the Shrine of the Most Blessed Sacrament in Hanceville; and working on some other projects that are still in the idea stage.

May your observance of Holy Week bring you closer to the Lord and fill your heart and mind with grace upon grace. Peace be with you. See you soon. :)

[Note: This page has several photos on it, so I’m not posting the whole thing on the front page of the blog. See the post page for all the photos. Thanks!] I’ve been sitting in a cafe downloading and editing photos from the Stand Up For Religious Freedom Rally in Birmingham, AL, that took place from noon until around 1 p.m. today.

CEC For Life Director, Fr. Terry Gensemer
CEC For Life Director, Fr. Terry Gensemer

Didn’t realize that today is Fr. Coyle’s birthday. Who’s Fr. Coyle? He was a Catholic priest at St. Paul’s in downtown Birmingham, back before St. Paul’s was made the cathedral. He worked very hard to bring people together, used to pray the Divine Office on the steps outside the St. Paul’s so he could be close to those passing by. He was threatened many times for the audacity of true hope, for taking Christ’s prayer that we all be one seriously and doing something about it.

Hey, check it out! News cameras! Local news coverage! Maybe...
Hey, check it out! News cameras! Local news coverage! Maybe...

Continue reading

In a few hours I’ll be heading to Mass (I better get to sleep quick!), then I’m off to the rally to Stand Up For Religious Freedom. After that I’m going to go see October Baby, which was filmed right here in good old Birmingham, Alabama. The trailers look great and what I saw on EWTN’s Life on the Rock last week convinced me that I have to see this film.

October Baby, filmed here in Birmingham AL, the trailers look GREAT

What a wonderful day it should be. Got my cameras all cleaned up, batteries charged, smart cards formatted and ready to go. May have to make a stop somewhere on the way to the rally to pick up a raincoat, judging from the forecast and the rain we got on Thursday. My full report on the day’s events will be forthcoming some time this weekend. See ya then! And please don’t forget to stand up for religious freedom in a town near you!

Seek First the Kingdom, by Donald Cardinal Wuerl(I mentioned in an earlier post that I’m writing a series of posts as I read a truly important book that was released at the end of 2011, not long before the infamous HHS Mandate was announced. The following is the first installment in the series. All excerpts are taken from Seek First the Kingdom: Challenging the Culture by Living Our Faith, by Donald Cardinal Wuerl, Our Sunday Visitor, 2011, Kindle Edition. Get the book from Amazon. Preview or buy the Kindle version.)

Most Christians have prayed the Lord’s Prayer. As a young Methodist my parents helped me memorize it and we prayed it every Sunday as part of our worship service. As a New Ager I used a form of it in a daily meditation (don’t laugh, or do laugh, but know that I was earnestly searching for truth even if I had no idea how or where to find it). Later as a Buddhist I opened each and every meditation session with the words “Our Father” because I never could accept the atheism of Buddhism. I suppose over the years I gave some thought to this idea of praying to “Our Father”. But I gave almost no thought at all to what it meant to pray that His kingdom would come, even though I said those words, too, every time I said the rest of the prayer. I didn’t even know what the kingdom was.

So what is the kingdom? Is it a metaphor and nothing more? I will allow the Cardinal to speak to that himself:

In the course of this book we will consider the kingdom in some detail. We’ll look at Jesus’ sayings, the apostles’ doctrine, and the tradition of the Church. What we’ll see is that Jesus was not simply speaking symbolically when he announced the kingdom. This was not just a preferred metaphor. He was urgent and specific about what the kingdom was and what it wasn’t, who was in it and who was outside it, and about how one could get in it and stay in it. His kingdom had distinguishing characteristics.

If he had been speaking metaphorically, it would have been an ill-chosen metaphor, since it brought suspicion and persecution upon him, his apostles, and many followers down through the ages. The Romans did not fear a metaphor. Nor did the Persians. Nor have any of their successors in the business of the persecution of Christians. These earthly powers killed Christians because they knew the Christians were serious about a certain king and his kingdom, and they considered that kingdom a threat to their own. God’s kingdom was serious business.

Yes, serious. Then and now. I can’t tell you how serious I have gotten about my faith since I first heard about the HHS Mandate and the ramping up of attacks on religious freedom here in the U.S. This past Friday I bought myself an early Easter gift to celebrate my 16th anniversary of being received into Holy Mother Church: a brand new beautiful Daily Roman Missal, first one I have ever had. With that purchase I also made a commitment to attend Daily Mass. It’s part of my preparation for what I see coming, part of my putting on the whole armor of God, diving deeper into discipleship, getting ready to do my part for the kingdom. For my King. To do that I need, among other things, to understand more fully what the kingdom is, because, as Cardinal Wuerl writes:

[I]n our own day the kingdom is often misunderstood and misconstrued, even by Christians. Some do try to dismiss it as a metaphor — a symbol of what the world would be like if more people would be nice to one another. People should be nice to one another; but the kingdom of God is not reducible to niceness. Others bring it up when they want to suggest that Christians are secretly disloyal to the current regime — that the Christian “kingdom” is somehow a code word for theocracy.

In every election year, it seems, we find the kingdom suffering violence and taken away, far away, from its original intention. Political parties and candidates like to claim, or strongly suggest, that their agenda is the valid way to apply the Gospel in the world. When they do, secularists will then step forth to argue that religious people have no right whatsoever to “impose” their beliefs by speaking up in public.

We should be prepared for this; and as Christians we should be prepared to give an answer to both errors, to make the necessary distinctions, and to call people to account for their use and misuse of the kingdom of God.

I often deal with personal attacks on the Church and myself from people I interact with online and in person, and get a fair share of honest (if misinformed and confused) questions and (sometimes) accusations from friends and family. These confrontations are happening with more and more frequency. All the more reason to learn more about my faith, to practice my faith, to live my faith, at a deeper level than ever before. This is why I’m studying the faith, as, indeed, I was before, but with renewed fervor. Why I’m returning to my earlier practice of attending Daily Mass. Why I’m reading this book. And why I’m sharing it with you.

I hope you’ll join me as I seek to learn more about the kingdom and about our role in that kingdom. And I hope you’ll pick up a copy of your own and share it with your family and friends. We need all Christians and all people of good will to stand up and speak out now, to do what is right. To do that, we need to know what is right. First things first. I’ll share what I learn with you here on the blog, both as I continue to read Cardinal Wuerl’s book and as I continue to grow in discipleship.

Please pray for me and know that I am praying for you. Peace be with you, now and always.

Seek First the Kingdom, by Donald Cardinal WuerlSeek First the Kingdom was published on Dec 2 2011; in light of recent events (the HHS Mandate, among other things), it could not be more timely and strikes me as being prophetic. I downloaded the Kindle version tonight after seeking in vain for it in stores around Birmingham for two days. I’m still reading the foreword by Mary Ann Glendon, former U.S. Ambassador to the Holy See, but I can already tell you, as I had suspected, this is an important book. (Brief video at end of post or watch on YouTube.)

I’m going to write about the book here and post it (as opposed to writing about it and never getting the writing out of rough draft stage on my laptop) as I read it because we need the guidance of our bishops now. We need to remember, when it’s tempting to allow ourselves to get caught up in political action and issues and arguments and worry, that Jesus told us something that we tend to forget. Or neglect. He told us to seek first the kingdom of God and that then all these things that we need will be added unto us. But we have to put first things first.

And we have to do our part to build up the kingdom, too. We cannot let ourselves fall for our ancient enemy’s new (old) trick: telling us that we have to keep our Catholic Christian selves to ourselves and in our Church on Sunday and out of the public square and out of our public lives. No matter how many people are going around proclaiming the good news that Christians are being shoved out of sight and out of mind, it just isn’t true. Because we are not going to let it be true. We can’t afford to let it be true. But it will be, if we don’t stand up and speak out and speak truth, in love but firmly. And for us to speak the truth with love and firmly, we have to be united with Christ. We have to get serious about our faith. We have to know our faith. And we have to live our faith.

Because if we don’t live our faith, we are going to lose it. That’s something we cannot afford to do. And the world can’t afford for us to lose our faith either: If we lose, the world loses, too. We need more Christian witness now, not less. We need faithful, loving, informed, intelligent Christian witness.

Get this book. Get ready. Get to it!