The Fortnight for Freedom Prayers
This morning I had my first taste of the devotions published by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishop for its Fortnight for Freedom. The Fortnight is an effort to raise awareness and seek Divine assistance for the cause of religious liberty in the United States, particularly with reference to the notorious HHS mandate.
At the Willsboro, NY church we’re attending during a working vacation at my wife’s mother’s “camp” on Lake Champlain, we prayed a special litany for freedom during Mass, and we also used other prayers provided by the USCCB during the exposition of the Blessed Sacrament which followed. There is something very important about how these prayers are written. Their primary focus is spiritual.
What I mean is that the prayers begin with a very strong emphasis on interior freedom and grace and then proceed to the freedom necessary to live positive lives of Christian witness and service. Only at the end do they take up freedom from various kinds of coercion. This sequence is exactly right. It is impossible to go through the litany, for example, without realizing that we need God’s grace first and foremost for interior freedom—the freedom of the children of God to live according to the Gospel no matter what pressures we encounter.
Most notably, there is a specific petition for the interior freedom to live chastely. Ultimately the grace of chastity is the antidote to the poison of contraception, which lies at the core of the HHS mandate. A prayer merely to be spared the coercion of paying for the sins of others would be acceptable but relatively shallow. This whole matter should be causing Catholics to strive for greater purity of heart.
This morning, I found I was able to embrace these USCCB prayers without constantly making caveats in my own mind—unlike (for example) many environmental prayers that have come our way from various offices over the years. This is yet another sign, I think, that the bishops of the United States are slowly clawing their way back toward spiritual health, and with them the churches over which they preside. In any case, I received these prayers not as a burden but as a gift.
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