By OSV staff - Our Sunday Visitor, 7/1/2012
As the Fourth of July draws near, so culminates the Fortnight for Freedom, the two-week period the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops designated for prayer and catechesis on the issue of religious liberty.
If you haven't had a chance to participate in events on the parish or diocesan level, there are still plenty of ways to make the Fortnight, which began June 21 and ends July Fourth, meaningful to your life as a Catholic American. Here's how.
O God our Creator,
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.
Cardinal Donald Wuerl of Washington, D.C., will celebrate an Independence Day Mass at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington. Archbishop Charles Chaput of Philadelphia will give the homily at the 12:10 p.m. EST Mass, which EWTN will air nationally.
The U.S. bishops have provided readings culled from the Second Vatican Council's Declaration on Religious Liberty (Dignitatis Humanae). The July 2 reflection, in part, states, "the Council Fathers forthrightly insist that the Church must 'enjoy that full measure of freedom which her care for salvation of men requires.' Jesus became man, died, and rose from the dead so that all men and women would come to salvation — to know the fullness of truth and the fullness of the Father's love. This is why the Church's religious freedom is 'sacred.'" The readings can be used in small-group discussions or in individual reflections. Visit http://osv.cm/KXwpTs.
Prayers for protection
The bishops have compiled prayers that can be used individually or at the parish level. Likewise, many parishes are holding Holy Hours for religious liberty during the Fortnight, or one could make a Holy Hour individually. See sidebar for the Prayer for the Protection of Religious Liberty. Visit http://osv.cm/M74sT1 for others.
At www.fortnight4freedom.org, visitors will find speeches and statements on religious liberty from Catholic leaders, including Pope Benedict XVI, along with documents explaining the threats to freedom both at home and abroad.
Please note: Comments left online may be considered for publication in the Letters to the Editor section of OSV Newsweekly.
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