Archive | June, 2012

Freedom is not free

29 Jun

Looking down into Canaan Valley, WV, calls to mind the undeniable existence and presence of God — our God. Our religious freedom is being challenged by the very government sworn to protect us under the First Amendment of the Constitution of the United States.

If I walk out into the field, look!
Those slain by the sword;
If I enter the city, look!
Those consumed by hunger.
Even the prophet and priest forage in a land they know not (Jer 14:18).

I’m not sure the Fortnight for Freedom, June 21-July 4, made sufficient impact on Catholics. It was a two-week call to action and prayer for the sake of our religious liberty.

The Supreme Court has upheld the so-called “individual mandate” which will tax people who do not buy insurance. But this issue is not really the challenge of “Obamacare” to our basic freedom of religion.

 The federal government seeks to tell Catholics and other people of faith just what faith and religion are and where they can be experienced and expressed. The issue of religious freedom was raised by the government’s insistence that our Church provide insurance coverage for abortion, sterilization and contraception. In trying to redefine Church, religion and faith our government is in violation of the First Amendment of the United States Constitution.

 This is a real challenge of Obamacare: You believers can exercise your religion inside your churches, but your religion ends as you step out of that building.

 Our bishops have clearly stated that as Christians we have the duty and privilege to bring our values and faith into the public forum. This is freedom of speech and freedom of religion.

 This bold and crass violation of our First Amendment cannot stand and it will not prevail. The First Amendment does not guarantee freedom FROM religion, but freedom OF religion.

 If people of faith don’t wake up, we’ll soon be in a land where “priest and prophet” and John and Susie Believer will no longer find freedom of any kind.

 In Steubenville in mid-June, during the Franciscan University’s annual retreat for priests, deacons and seminarians, someone observed that our Catholic priests are beginning to feel victimized.

Following on the heels of the sex abuse scandals, in which all priests suffered embarrassment and were often ridiculed and held in suspicion, we now have the public efforts to silence not only the Church but God himself.

 In this social boil, priests are going to feel the brunt of stress. They will have to fight the liberal media which campaigns relentlessly to make faith seem superstitious and therefore foolish. Our priests – as well as deacons, religious and lay teachers and catechists – will have to address congregations who are not fully informed about and formed in their Catholic faith.

 The Church must be activated – and the Fortnight for Freedom is only a beginning of any effort to fortify the Church.
Moreover, this sense of urgency concerns more than defense of our religious faith.

 There is an urgent need to promote actively God’s Word and will in our nation – for it was upon freedom of religion that our nation was founded. It is on freedom of religion that it will endure.

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A Faith Checkup

17 Jun

This grand old lady caught my attention several times in a local Christian book store. She apparently is a bit tired out, one shoe on and one shoe off, and her big toe seems bruised. Dozing, her fan dangles and her tambourine lies at her feet. But her Bible is in her hand. She has found a home on  my desk, reminding me that faith is simple, a matter of trust, obedience and love.

Lord, you have renewed the face of the earth. Your Church throughout the world sings you a new song, announcing your wonders to all. Through a virgin, you have brought forth a new birth in our world; through your miracles, a new power; through your suffering, a new patience; in your resurrection, a new hope, and in your ascension, new majesty. (Morning Prayer, Book II, Page 1387)

In this prayer of praise to God, the Church acknowledges the life-giving power of the Holy Spirit, the nourishment of Word and Eucharist, the joy of oneness with all of creation and with all saints. This prayer proclaims the suffering of Christ as remedy for impatience and his ascension as the springboard of majesty in grace.

It is so easily prayed. It is so easy to bask in its promise.

It is not so easy to measure one’s life against its call, its ideal, its demand.

• Our song of praise cannot become tired and dull piety.
• God’s wonders are everywhere, but do we see them? Or have we become too sophisticated to find God in a rosebud, the smile of an ancient man, the warmth of a mother’s eyes?
• Do we really see his miraculous and loving power – in the cooing of a dove, the smile of a child, the healing of the sick, the rescue of persons in grave danger, in a deathbed conversion?
• What about this new patience in suffering? How are we doing? Do we run from one pill to the next for every minor ache and pain?
• In these trying times, what do people see in our faces – hope and confidence in God’s goodness and power?
• And is there a new majesty – a new life of joy and grace – evident in our daily lives? Do our spirits rise in praise even in the midst of turmoil and suffering?

The Lord and his Church call us to a new explosion of faith, a profound trust, obedience and love.

‘Catholic and Confident …’

14 Jun

Maybe we should become more open to life and one another. After all, life is beautiful and good — for many people. But for others, life can be a difficult and painful experience. What can you do about that neighbor whose son was killed in Iraq or that co-worker who has cancer? You can share your faith. “Catholic and Confident,” Deacon Henry Libersat’s new book, can help you. Read  here what reviewers are saying:

Greg and Jennifer Willits, “The Catholics Next Door,” Sirius XM 129:

“Catholic and Confident” is designed to help Catholics embrace their call to spread the message of salvation to everyone in their lives. Providing references from various popes and the Second Vatican Council, this book shows the need for laypeople to evangelize and affirms their unique place in the world to do so. Real-life examples of Catholics who are living their call combined with practical suggestions make this a valuable resource. Readers will find a new vitality of faith, a greater understanding of God’s presence in their lives, and the peace that comes from living and sharing confidently as God calls them to do.

Father David Knight ( www.hisway.com and www.immersedinchrist.com . ) “In his book, Henry Libersat gives doctrine, he quotes the popes and Vatican II. But he does more: he goes deep into the mystery of our faith and of Christian living. He doesn’t scare us off: he slips in mystery so gently it is almost unnoticed. Unnoticed but not ignored. In fact, nothing in this book can be ignored. It is too practical, too down-to-earth to ignore. This is a book that should be, not on every shelf, but in every heart. Read it!”

Father Michael Scanlan, president emeritus of Franciscan University of Steubenville: “It’s one of the best books I’ve read on the New Evangelization.”

Lee Callaghan, foundress of Spirit of God Community and author of “The Gospel According to Mom”: “I have known Henry Libersat for forty years. He has been consistent in his desire and ability to attract people into a closer relationship with God. He makes our faith exciting and desirable. This book, “Catholic and Confident” is darned good – no, it is excellent! He deserves to be read.”

Bert Ghezzi: “For those who have never evangelized, Henry explains how to get started. And he tells numerous stories of ordinary Catholics just like us who successfully share the Good News in their everyday lives.”

Father Michael Eivers founder of the Parish Cells of Evangelization: “This book is important to the RCIA process of catechesis and useful in helping Catholics embrace their responsibility to share the Good News of salvation.”

So get your copy. Draw up a chair. Let’s have a cup of coffee and take a fresh look at who we are Catholics, as Christians.

OTHER BOOKS:

Miracles Do Happen,” Servant Books, Cincinnati (1987). Sister Briege McKenna, OSC , with Henry Libersat, co-author — the story of her vocation and ministry. Now in more than 50 languages, still moving.

“Way, Truth and Life, Living with Jesus as Personal Savior,” St. Paul Books and Media, Boston. The author’s story of growth from insecurity and alcoholism to healing and excitement over the gift of faith and salvation. (1989)

“Do Whatever He Tells You,” sequel to “Way Truth and Life,” St. Paul Books and Media, Boston (1990). This book springs from the last statement in “Way, Truth and Life.” It shares wisdom on the Christian life, centering on growing in holiness, repentance and discipleship. The reader is advised: “Mary’s remark to the servants at the wedding feasts in Cana gives us all we need to be holy: ‘Do whatever he tells you.'”