Saturday, June 22, 2013

Fortnight for what?

Today the Church remembers both St. John Fisher and St. Thomas More, two men whose stalwart witness to and suffering for the truth led to their martyrdom: one was a bishop (John Fisher) and the other a layman (Thomas More).

In light of recent revelations disclosing the fact that several Catholic dioceses, most notably the Archdiocese of New York, along with many Catholic institutions, have already caved to state mandates that we violate our collective conscience (maybe this is a strange way of acknowledging subsidiarity, a rare thing for the Church is the U.S.), I suggest that during the Fortnight for Freedom we take a week to examine our consciences, followed by a week of reparation for compromising our witness to the truth. This would also include repenting of still expecting to be seen as credible on this matter despite our collective failure. This gets back to my persistent point that this cannot be about some content-free assertion of religious liberty. It is about a specific issue, an important issue, an issue of truth on which the Church has vacillated a lot since 1968. Again, not to play the prophet (heaven forbid), I can hardly believe that the whole issue of religious liberty reached this flash-point on the basis of this issue by pure chance.

St. John Fisher, bishop and martyr

Empty cheer-leading and political posturing can't save us from ourselves, only Christ can do that. Lest any reader think I am engaging in despair, I am not. I see the Lord at work in this too. Hence, I am reminded of words spoken by Pope Benedict XVI in an address to lay Catholics in his native Germany during his Apostolic Journey to his homeland in September 2011: "Once liberated from material and political burdens and privileges, the Church can reach out more effectively and in a truly Christian way to the whole world, she can be truly open to the world." This means not compromising the truth, a perennial temptation, but living it fully and bearing witness to it by our joy in a culture that is indifferent at best and hostile at worst.

Taking to heart the words of my brother deacon, St. Efrem, I will concern myself with my own witness before the face of God:

"Yea, O Lord and King, grant me to see mine own faults and not to judge my brother. For blessed art Thou unto the ages of ages. Amen."

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