The United States bishops have called us all to “A Fortnight for Freedom”: Two weeks of prayer, education, and action for the cause of religious freedom in our country (June 21st to July 4th). They are calling upon “all the energies the Catholic community can muster.”
In other words: This is a big deal, people. The bishops are the successors to the Apostles… That means when our bishop speaks, we listen up. When all of the bishops of our country speak in unison, I repeat: it’s a big deal. So how are we, as young people, called to participate in this Fortnight for Freedom?
What can you do?
This is the most important thing you can do. In fact, if you do everything else on this list, but you leave out prayer, your efforts will have been wasted. Apart from Christ, we can do nothing.
Practically speaking: you can pray the prayer for religious freedom, which I’ll paste at the end of this post. The Bishops have also provided a Litany for Liberty, which can be said individually or in a group (so do it before you and your friends head out the movies on Friday night). St. Thomas Moore is the patron Saint of Religious Freedom, and there’s a whole list of martyrs who remained faithful in the face of political persecution that you can ask for prayers from as well.
Refuse yourself that last bite of food at dinner every day during the Fortnight and offer up your desire to God for the sake of Religious Freedom in our Country. Pull a lent and give up chocolate for two weeks for religious freedom. Abstain from meat for the whole two weeks. Your sacrifice will not go unnoticed. (But refer back to number 1: Fasting without prayer is not only more difficult; it’s pointless. Fasting ought to be an act of prayer).
3. Write to Congress to Tell Them You Oppose the HHS Mandate
4. Educate Yourself
Know what you’re fighting for and what is at stake with the current mandate. Know that it’s not about access to contraception nor is it about limiting anyone else’s freedom. It’s about the right for religious organizations and institutions to be able to exist as such without being forced by the government to violate basic tenets of their faith.
For a clear and concise explanation of how the HHS Mandate violates your right to religious liberty, click here.
5. Attend and/or Speak At Events like Tomorrow’s Rally for Religious Freedom
Across the country (160 cities in 49 states) at noon tomorrow, hundreds of thousands of Americans will gather together to Rally for Religious Freedom. Check the link to find the rally nearest you and, if possible, go.
6. Organize Your Own Event
If you belong to a Catholic Young Adult Group, this needs to be discussed. Propose a night focused on education about religious freedom and the HHS mandate, pray and discuss. And eat. Food is always good. (unless, of course, you’re fasting ).
7. Speak Up
Speaking at a rally or in another public forum is great, but what will ultimately be the greatest witness will be on a person-to-person level. Unfortunately, it also threatens to be exceedingly more terrifying. But we cannot stand idly by as our rights are being trampled upon. You don’t have to go yell from the street corners, but if you happen to hear someone saying something that is simply not true about what is going on, politely correct them. Even if your argument doesn’t convince the person in that meeting, at least they will know that theirs is not the only side to the story.
Please share, spread the word, and start thinking and praying about how you are called to participate in the Fortnight for Freedom. One thing is certain: you are called to participate. Pass this along especially to any other young Catholics you know. As young and faithful Catholics, we can’t let our bishops’ call be ignored.
To be Catholic and American should mean not having to choose one over the other. Our allegiances are distinct, but they need not be contradictory, and should instead be complementary. That is the teaching of our Catholic faith, which obliges us to work together with fellow citizens for the common good of all who live in this land. That is the vision of our founding and our Constitution, which guarantees citizens of all religious faiths the right to contribute to our common life together.
-The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops
Prayer for Religious Freedom (print it out and carry it in your pocket):
O God Our Creator,
from your provident hand we have received
our right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
You have called us as your people and given us
the right and the duty to worship you, the only true God,
and your Son, Jesus Christ.
Through the power and working of your Holy Spirit,
you call us to live out our faith in the midst of the world,
bringing the light and the saving truth of the Gospel
to every corner of society.
We ask you to bless us
in our vigilance for the gift of religious liberty.
Give us the strength of mind and heart
to readily defend our freedoms when they are threatened;
give us courage in making our voices heard
on behalf of the rights of your Church
and the freedom of conscience of all people of faith.
Grant, we pray, O heavenly Father,
a clear and united voice to all your sons and daughters
gathered in your Church
in this decisive hour in the history of our nation,
so that, with every trial withstood
and every danger overcome—
for the sake of our children, our grandchildren,
and all who come after us—
this great land will always be “one nation, under God,
indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”
We ask this through Christ our Lord.