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.
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.