Saturday 1st November 2014

Home » Our Catholic Faith » Currently Reading:

Fortnight For Freedom . . . The Redemption Of Jesus Christ Sets Us Free

July 9, 2014 Our Catholic Faith No Comments

By MOST REV. JAMES D. CONLEY

(Editor’s Note: Bishop James Conley of Lincoln, Neb., gave this homily at an ecumenical prayer service for religious liberty at Zion Church in Lincoln on Friday, June 27, 2014. After the prayer service, representatives of the Diocese of Lincoln, the Nebraska Family Alliance, and faculty members for the University of Nebraska conducted a roundtable discussion on religious liberty.
(Bishop Conley delivered this homily only days before the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision on Burwell v. Hobby Lobby Stores Inc.
(The Diocese of Lincoln kindly granted The Wanderer reprint permission for Bishop Conley’s homily. All rights reserved.)

+    +    +

Pastor Kearns, dear brother priests and clergy members, dear brothers and sisters in Christ.
It is a privilege to come together today with you to pray for the good of religious liberty. I am grateful, Pastor Kearns, that you are hosting us. And I am grateful to the Nebraska Family Alliance, and Greg Schleppenbach, for helping us to arrange this prayer service.
Today, we pray together as disciples of Jesus Christ for the good of our nation, and the good of religious believers around the world.
King David says in Psalm 133: “How good it is when brothers dwell in unity.” Today, we dwell in unity with one another — the unity of our common Baptism, our common redemption, and our common need for the freedom that comes in the salvation of Jesus Christ.
In the redemption of Jesus Christ, we’re set free from the chains of sin that enslave us. In the redemption of Jesus Christ, we’re set free to live in the world as sons and daughters of God the Father — set free to worship, to work, and to pray as disciples. In Christ, no matter the circumstances of our daily lives, we’re freed — and in Him we’ll enjoy an eternal life of real liberty. In eternity, we’ll possess the freedom for the highest kind of human activity, the worship of the Blessed Trinity.
The freedom promised to us by Jesus Christ assures that no matter how we fare in this world, He alone, in eternity, will be victorious. It’s important to remember that. We needn’t be discouraged in temporary defeats.
But it’s also important to remember that what happens in this world matters. The freedom Christ confers on us: the fundamental freedom God gives us in creation — is for our vocations in this world — lived out now, in our real lives.
We’re set free by Christ so that we can know Him, love Him, and serve Him. We’re set free by Christ so that we can be instruments of his divine Providence. We’re set free by Christ for our sake, but also for the sake of the poor, the marginalized, the unborn, and the lonely.
We are set free by Christ so that we can love as God loves.
Freedom is the responsibility to choose goodness over profit, or comfort, or consequence. As the Letter of St. James says, freedom is the responsibility to “be doers of the word, not hearers only.” We are praying today for religious liberty. But we should also pray that we each use the liberty we’ve been given to be good disciples of Jesus Christ.
Our freedom is a grace. But it is also a tremendous responsibility.

An Abolitionist

In my own mind, the preeminent Christian hymn to freedom is John Newton’s Amazing Grace. All of us know the lyrics. Grace, recalls Newton, sets free captives, brings sight to the blind, and brings sinners to the freedom of eternal life with God. Some of you may know something about its author. John Newton was a sailor on slave ships that ran between Africa, England, and the Caribbean, in what Eric Metaxas called the “Triangle of Death.”
He was a believer — he had become a Christian during a shipwreck in his youth. But shipwreck conversions sometimes lack depth, and Newton’s might have. He gave up gambling, and drinking, and profanity, but for years after his conversion, he continued in the slave trade.
The Lord transformed John Newton’s heart. Slaves had made him wealthy. They’d given his family great opportunities. They’d funded his studies in theology, and allowed him to become an Anglican priest. Comfort and profit blinded John Newton. But the Lord worked in Newton’s heart. And eventually, his eyes were opened to truth.
John Newton became an abolitionist, and a mentor to William Wilberforce. His influence led to the 1807 Slave Trade Act, which began the process of abolition in the British Empire. Through Christ, John Newton brought justice to the world. He loved, in a real sense, with the merciful love of God.
Grace sets captives free. And freedom is the grace to know the fullness of truth, and to respond.

The Darkness Of Sin

Our religious liberty has the potential to transform the world. God may well use the Christians of our generation to end the shame of abortion. In the power of the Holy Spirit, we may well restore the family, and protect marriage, and bring peace to the poor. If we work together in the Holy Spirit, Christians can be the hands and feet of our redeemer.
Is it any wonder that religious liberty has so many enemies? Should we be surprised that the freedom to live as Christians is under attack?
The human freedom to choose goodness is a great threat to the chaotic injustice of the Devil. The darkness of sin has no greater enemy than those who carry the light of Christ.
In Massachusetts, and D.C., and Illinois, Christian adoption agencies have been shut down in the name of “tolerance.” In Colorado, believers have been barred by law from respecting the natural law of marriage. In several states, providing care to undocumented immigrants — to children even — has been outlawed.
And today, or perhaps Monday, the U.S. Supreme Court will decide whether Christians have the right to bring the faith into their business administration. Churches, and hospitals, and universities are still being threatened.
All of these threats are coming to the state of Nebraska. We are not immune from the great force of secularization that is reshaping the moral landscape of our nation.
Of course, Christian persecution in our nation pales in the face of the threats believers face around the world. In the Middle East, and Asia, and Africa, Christians are still beaten, and tortured, and crucified. This is happening today. Right now.
Our religious liberty is threatened because of the tremendous influence religious believers can have on the world. Persecution is a force of evil.
Pope Francis says that religious persecution is the “great challenge of the globalized world, a sickness, in which weak thought even reduces the general ethical level, in the name of a false concept of tolerance that ends up persecuting those who defend the truth on humanity and its ethical consequences.”
Religious liberty is threatened by those who would use government as a tool for tyranny, for oppression, and for the triumph of hedonistic self-interest. But the best solution to the threats we face is to do the opposite — to live active, joyful, just lives as Christian citizens.
As followers of Jesus Christ, we’re called to make disciples of all nations. And if we actually commit to doing that, we’ll overcome the forces of secularization and hedonism. The greatest response to the threats we face is a commitment to real evangelization.
Pope Francis said last week that “every human is a ‘seeker’ of truth on his origins and destiny. In his mind and in his ‘heart,’ questions and thoughts arise that cannot be repressed or stifled, since they emerge from the depths of the person and are a part of the intimate essence of the person. They are religious questions, and religious freedom is necessary for them to manifest themselves fully.”
Men and women enslaved by sin are searching for truth. The truth is knowable. Jesus Christ is the truth. And the way. And the life. If we are witnesses to that fact, then the slavery which threatens religious liberty stands no chance. If we use our freedom to choose the goodness calls us to, our freedom will beget more freedom. Our love will always beget more love.
St. Paul says that we must not be “conformed to this world.” He tells the Romans that we must be “transformed, by the renewal our minds.” Today we are here to renew our minds — to deepen our understanding of God’s plan for us — and our understanding of real, divine freedom.
May we understand freedom. May we exercise it. And may Christ use us each to transform the world.

Share Button

Comment on this Article:

Cardinal says church under Pope Francis is a ‘rudderless ship’

VATICAN CITY (RNS) American Cardinal Raymond Burke, the feisty former archbishop of St. Louis who has emerged as the face of the opposition to Pope Francis’ reformist agenda, likened the Roman Catholic Church to “a ship without a rudder” in a…Continue Reading

Angola: Catholic Priest Refutes Criticism of Church Practices

Lubango — The Southern Huila province?s Lubango city emeritus archbishop, Zacarias Kamwenho, rejected as false the claim that Catholic Christians worship images. Speaking on Sunday in the Muxima Diocese, in Lubango, the archbishop explained that Catholic Christians worship God instead,…Continue Reading

Ave Maria School of Law Wins Its HHS Mandate Case in Federal Court

The Obama Administration has suffered another defeat in its quest to force Catholics and people of faith to pay for abortion-causing drugs, as required by the HHS Mandate. Today the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida came down…Continue Reading

Catholic Educators Appeal to Obama Administration for Relief from HHS Mandate

Today a coalition including The Cardinal Newman Society, leaders of Catholic schools and colleges, and the expert attorneys of the Alliance Defending Freedom told the Obama administration that its latest rule mandating insurance coverage for sterilization and contraception, including abortion-causing…Continue Reading

Toronto schools hosting ‘LGBTQ’ conference for students as young as 11

The Toronto District School Board (TDSB) is hosting three student conferences within the span of eight days for the purpose of LGBTQ activism.  The conferences, which have been organized in collaboration with Jer’s Vision, will take place on October 28,…Continue Reading

The Synod and the Media: Culpable Naïveté or Shrewd Calculation?

Upon becoming director of media relations for the American bishops in late 1969, I quickly made a crucial discovery about my new employers. With just a handful of exceptions, the bishops were painfully naïve about the news business, yet convinced…Continue Reading

Chaldean Catholic patriarch suspends 10 priests, including 1 from El Cajon

SAN DIEGO – The head of the Chaldean Catholic Church has suspended 10 priests, including one from El Cajon. Chaldean Catholic Patriarch Louis Sako issued a decree a month ago, demanding the priests return to Iraq or be suspended. Wednesday…Continue Reading

Retired Pope Says Interreligious Dialogue No Substitute For Mission

VATICAN CITY – Retired Pope Benedict XVI said dialogue with other religions is no substitute for spreading the Gospel to non-Christian cultures, and warned against relativistic ideas of religious truth as “lethal to faith.” He also said the true motivation…Continue Reading

California Forces Churches to Directly Fund Abortions, Churches Refuse to Comply

To the dismay of California’s people of faith, the California Department of Managed Health Care has reclassified abortion as a “basic health service” under the Affordable Care Act and ordered all insurance plans in the state to begin covering surgical…Continue Reading

Relax. God’s Still In Charge.

It’s an enormous challenge to maintain pristine doctrinal purity while at the same time respond to the experiential, personal, and difficult needs of married couples and families. Behind every arcane discussion of gradualism and natural law there are parents and…Continue Reading

Cardinal Burke: The “Relatio Synodi” Is “A Significant Improvement Over The Text Of The ‘Relatio Post Disceptationem'”

In a third short interview with CWR, conducted by e-mail late yesterday, Cardinal Raymond L. Burke, the Prefect of the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura, offers his impression of the Relatio Synodi, comments on reports that the Synod has…Continue Reading

Synod Final Document Reaffirms Church Teaching

The final document of the Extraordinary Synod was released Saturday as the Synod Fathers voted to approve all 62 paragraphs, but with three paragraphs not receiving the normally required two-thirds majority vote. The three paragraphs, which in the past would…Continue Reading

Untitled 5 Untitled 2

Attention Readers:

  Welcome to our new website. Readers who are familiar with The Wanderer know we have been providing Catholic news and orthodox commentary for over 145 years in our weekly print edition. Now we are introducing the online daily version of our print journal.


  Our daily version offers only some of what we publish weekly in print. To take advantage of everything The Wanderer publishes, we encourage you to subscribe to our flagship weekly print edition, which is mailed every Friday or, if you want to view it in its entirety online, you can subscribe to the E-edition, which is a replica of the print edition.
 
  Our daily edition includes: a selection of material from recent issues of our print edition, news stories updated daily from renowned news sources, access to archives from The Wanderer from the past 10 years, available at a minimum charge (this will be expanded as time goes on). Also: regularly updated features where we go back in time and highlight various columns and news items covered in The Wanderer over the past 145 years. And: a comments section in which your remarks are encouraged, both good and bad, including suggestions.

 
  We encourage you to become a daily visitor to our site. If you appreciate our site, tell your friends. As Catholics we must band together to rediscover our faith and share it with the world if we are to effectively counter a society whose moral culture seems to have no boundaries and a government whose rapidly extending reach threatens to extinguish the rights of people of faith to practice their religion (witness the HHS mandate). Now more than ever, vehicles like The Wanderer are needed for clarification and guidance on the issues of the day.

Catholic, conservative, orthodox, and loyal to the Magisterium have been this journal’s hallmarks for five generations. God willing, our message will continue well into this century and beyond.

Joseph Matt
President, The Wanderer Printing Co.

Untitled 1

'From our friends at The Foundry'


Today . . .

Pope: Seek The Unity Which Is The Work Of The Holy Spirit

pope628

(Vatican Radio) On Friday Pope Francis met with members of the “Catholic Fraternity of Charismatic Covenant Communities and Fellowship.” The group is in Rome for its Sixteenth International Conference, which has for its theme “Praise and charismatic worship for a New Evangelization.” The Holy Father touched on several themes in his address to the group, beginning with the idea of…Continue Reading

Pope At Mass: Christian Life Is A Continuous Battle Against The Devil

(Vatican Radio)  Pope Francis described Christian life as a continuous battle being waged against Satan, the world and the passions of the flesh. His comments came during his homily at Mass celebrated on Thursday morning at the Santa Marta residence. He stressed that the devil exists and we must fight against him with the armour of truth. Pope Francis’s reflections…Continue Reading

Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI Writes Personal Ordinariate Of Our Lady Of Walsingham

ben1

(Vatican Radio) Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI has sent a message to the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham, which was established for former Anglicans in England in 2011.  The message was on the fifth anniversary of Pope Benedict’s apostolic constitution Anglicanorum Coetibus, which was released on November 4th 2009. The Pope Emeritus was responding to a letter he received…Continue Reading

Pope At Audience: The Church Visible And Spiritual

pope650

(Vatican Radio)  “Often, we hear people say: the Church doesn’t do this …the Church doesn’t do that!’ ‘Tell me who is the Church? – ‘Well the Church is the priests, the bishops, the Pope …’ We are all the Church! All of us all of us Baptized! We are the Church, the Church of Jesus’”. This was the message at…Continue Reading

Reconnecting With Mary . . . The Holy Souls

By DONAL ANTHONY FOLEY November is the month traditionally associated with the Holy Souls in Purgatory, and the feast day associated with them, the Commemoration of All the Faithful Departed, “All Souls’ Day,” falls on November 2, just after All Saints’ Day, which commemorates all those in Heaven, whether well known or unknown. On November…Continue Reading

Culture Of Life 101 . . . “Does Contraception Lead To Abortion?”

By BRIAN CLOWES Part 2 (Editor’s Note: Brian Clowes has been director of research and training at Human Life International since 1995. For an electronic copy of chapter 21 of The Facts of Life, “Contraception,” e-mail him at bclowes@hli.org.) + + + We have seen that contraception fails frequently and so often leads to abortion.…Continue Reading

Pass-Fail Grading: For The Professors’ Benefit?

By JAMES K. FITZPATRICK S.M. writes to offer some observations about the proposal to introduce a “pass-fail” grading system for freshmen at Princeton University. The possibility of doing that was discussed in the October 9 edition of First Teachers. He sees the idea as a “form of grade inflation that is solely intended to accomplish…Continue Reading

Contemporary Culture Encapsulated In A Single Sentence

By DONALD DeMARCO It is remarkable how much a single sentence can reveal about the temper of a culture, even when its author is trying to be withholding. Jacalyn Duffin, a historian and practicing hematologist, is the author of History of Medicine (University of Toronto Press, 2000). It is a 243-page tome that was produced…Continue Reading

Synod Document Of October 13, 2014

By JOHN F. KIPPLEY (Editor’s Note: John F. Kippley is the author of Sex and the Marriage Covenant: A Basis for Morality and other books and articles. With his wife Sheila, he is a coauthor of Natural Family Planning: The Complete Approach and cofounder of NFP International. This commentary appeared on his blog [johnkippley.com] of…Continue Reading

Advertisement

Our Catholic Faith (Section B of print edition)

Sacred Scripture And Sacred Tradition

By DON FIER Over the past three weeks, our primary focus has been on God’s supernatural divine Revelation. We’ve examined how “by love God has revealed Himself and given Himself to man [and]…thus provided the definitive, superabundant answer to the questions that man asks himself about the meaning and purpose of his life” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, n. 66). We’ve…Continue Reading

Catholic Replies

Editor’s Note: Regarding our recent column on advanced medical directives and particularly the Physician Orders for Life Sustaining Treatment (POLST), A.M.V. of Florida writes to say that the American Life League provides individuals with a document called the “Loving Will,” which corresponds to Catholic teaching. She said that this document was “crucial with my mom’s situation” when she was admitted…Continue Reading

Temples Of The Holy Spirit

By FR. ROBERT ALTIER Feast Of The Dedication Of St. John Lateran In Rome Readings: Ezek. 47:1-2, 8-9, 12 1 Cor. 3:9c-11, 16-17 John 2:13-22 Today we celebrate the feast of the dedication of a church building that many people have never heard of and also have no idea of its significance. In Rome, there are four major basilicas; the…Continue Reading

Message Of The Extraordinary Synod Of Bishops . . . We Ask You To Walk With Us Toward The Next Synod

(Editor’s Note: Below is the text of the concluding message of the Extraordinary Synod of Bishops on the Family, held October 5-19. This message was released on October 18. (See Fr. Kevin M. Cusick’s column in this issue, p. 2B, and the front page for reporting and commentary on the separate final document of the Extraordinary Synod.) + + +…Continue Reading

A Leaven In The World… Redefining Marriage: Not About The Kids And The Picket Fence

By FR. KEVIN M. CUSICK Following the Extraordinary Synod and the rollback on confusing language about same-sex attraction and the divorced and remarried in the final version of the Relatio Synodi document, the predictable reactions are coming in. Those who continue to hold Church teaching that marriage is only between a man and a woman are labeled as “bigots,” while…Continue Reading

Cast A Gauntlet – Sola Scriptura: Part 1

Catholic Heroes . . . St. Wolfgang

By CAROLE BRESLIN October 31 has come to be yet another Christian holy day corrupted by our secular society. All Hallows Eve, Halloween, is now celebrated with emphasis on evil and horror. Corn mazes with frightening objects around the corner, haunted houses to terrify even the bravest of persons, glorification of vampires, and decorations of death and witches — these…Continue Reading

Catholic Heroes . . . St. Anthony Mary Claret

By CAROLE BRESLIN St. Anthony Mary Claret has something in common with at least three other saints. Like St. Peter Claver, he was born in northeastern Spain — over 200 years later. Like St. Pio of Pietrelcina, when he heard Confessions, he frequently could read the souls of the penitents, asking them about a sin that they had not confessed.…Continue Reading

A Powerful Weapon: 15 Quotes on the Holy Rosary

We live in evil times. I hardly need elaborate the multitude of crises that fill the globe. Sadly, many are being swept away by this flood of evil and are succumbing to an overwhelming anxiety and discouragement. But no matter how tempting it is, we must not shrink back. We must pray and fast with a living faith and a firm confidence—and there is no better way to…Continue Reading

12 Ways to Become a Committed Catholic Man

There is a Catholic “man-crisis.” Large numbers of men who were baptized Catholic have left the Church and the majority of those who remain are “Casual Catholic Men”, men who do not know the Catholic faith and don’t practice it. This large-scale failure of Catholic men to commit themselves to Jesus Christ and His Church has contributed to the accelerating…Continue Reading