Religious Freedom Week concluded this past Friday on the solemn feast of Saints Peter and Paul, June 29. This US Bishops’ initiative invited us to reflect on the gifts and challenges to Religious Freedom in our modern world, both at home and worldwide. Religious Freedom is rooted in human nature and therefore is a fundamental human right. It invites us to build a culture of respect and dignity for human persons by sharing the truth and seeking God.
“In [his encyclical] Deus caritas est [God is Love], Pope Benedict XVI notes that “Being a Christian is not the result of an ethical choice or a lofty idea, but the encounter with an event, a person, which gives life a new horizon and a decisive direction” (no. 1). Faith gives the Christian a vision to see the world anew, or rather, aright. Thus, the
Pope-emeritus also claims that faith liberates reason from its blind spots (no. 28). Sin clouds our vision, leading to blind spots that only Jesus Christ in the gift of faith can heal. By availing ourselves of the Sacrament of Reconciliation, we allow Christ to purify our vision, and serving others in God’s love through evangelization, we participate in Christ’s mission to help others come to see things as they are.”
As we celebrate Independence Day and the birth of our nation, may we realize all the more the commission we have received from Jesus Christ. He has sent us to be instruments of His grace to help our brothers and sisters into true freedom and liberation from the blind spots of sin. We are to work to enable ourselves and others to see the world aright, according to the eyes and plans of God ~ always respectfully and peacefully.
During this month of July, we will also mark the fiftieth anniversary of Blessed (soon to be Saint) Paul VI’s encyclical Humane Vitae, On Human Life. In this remarkable teaching, the Church reaffirmed the perennial understanding and teaching of God’s gift of life, marriage and human sexuality. We know that it was widely rejected when published, and ignored by many. Not until Saint John Paul II’s extensive teaching on the Theology of the Body, did the Church’s voice re-engage the world in a deepening and fuller expression of God’s perennial teaching.
Saint John Paul II’s teaching helps us to understand the why and the beauty of God’s gifts and God’s Divine Plan for human love and sexuality. I recommend reading the original text of Humane Vitae; it is short. You can also find additional explanatory information about it on the USCCB website, just enter the words “humane vitae” in the search engine. In addition, as I have mentioned before there is an untold amount of resources regarding Theology of the Body. These are very worthwhile resources to deepen and enhance our appreciation and comprehension of God’s great plan and our intimate participation in it. It would be good summer reading.
As I write this column, there is a contingent of our youngsters who are attending the first day of our pilot new initiative, Take the Plunge. It is a weeklong religious education program, which along with some additional meetings and celebrations during the school year, is designed to help families juggling myriad demands on their time. We pray for God’s blessings on everyone!
Our Bible Summer Camp, Shipwrecked Island, was a huge success. Thanks to our Youth Ministers, Matt and Alex, all our high school volunteers and the adult volunteers for a job well done! The children really enjoyed it. We had a gathering of the campers for a blessing at last weekend’s 9 am Mass and they all knew and answered out loud for the whole Church to hear that Jesus rescues us! May we all take those words to heart every day!
God bless you, God love you,