My Dad and I had an interesting conversation in the car. Come to think of it, I can’t recall how the conversation started. We talked about the HHS mandate and the Bishops’ call to action and the upcoming Fortnight For Freedom.
Towards the end of the conversation my Dad brought up an interesting aspect of the argument. What happens when this debate becomes more than a game of chicken, each side on a collision course into the other? What would our Catholic world, hospitals, schools and businesses look like in a government where our religious freedom is no longer protected?
I don’t have those answers. I am confident that plans have been drawn, decisions made and an ultimate course of action been discerned by those in charge. Whatever the choices or the plan, there is one important component that only we can provide. It needs a faithful people who support through prayer and action.
The USCCB released “United for Religious Freedom: A Statement of Administrative Committee of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops” on March 14, 2012. It details the stance of the Bishops and the measures being taken to preserve our rights as Catholic.
It is the last paragraph that catches my eyes. It’s not a grand plan to approach the Executive branch or pursue legislation to restore religious freedom. It’s directed to you and me – the everyday Catholic.
“Most importantly of all, we call upon the Catholic faithful, and all people of faith, throughout our country to join us in prayer and penance for our leaders and the complete protection of our First Freedom – religious liberty….Prayer is the ultimate source of our strength – for without God, we can do nothing; but with God, all things are possible.”
It’s tempting to sit back, relax and wonder how individually we can make a difference. How we can see our small actions manifest themselves into change, into something tangible. I know I run the risk of sounding preachy, I wrote last time about the dangers of going through the motions. But here’s me: A twenty something college graduate who has never voted in a local election, catches the news occasionally because I hate when people get into shouting matches, and who finds out about breaking news on Twitter before CNN.
There is one thing that I am certain I can do and that we are all called to as Catholic faithful – prayer. We are called to be united behind our Bishops. We are called to be a faithful Catholic people.
At Mass this Sunday at St. William’s, Monsignor Louis Pavlicek delivered a short message inspired by Archbishop Oscar Romero. Archbishop Romero defended the rights of the poor who were being persecuted by El Salvador’s government forces in the late 1970s. He was assassinated in 1980 after calling for international intervention to protect those in his country being killed.
This prayer, written by Bishop Ken Untener of Saginaw and inspired by Archbishop Oscar Romero, is a reminder of that no matter what we can and cannot do, we are serving as a vessel for Lord’s grace. We will not be able to do everything, but we’re hope for the future, that the Church’s mission will ultimate triumph and we will always have the hope for God’s Kingdom.
It helps, now and then, to step back and take a long view.
The kingdom is not only beyond our efforts, it is even beyond our vision.
We accomplish in our lifetime only a tiny fraction of the magnificent enterprise that is God’s work. Nothing we do is complete, which is a way of saying that the Kingdom always lies beyond us.
No statement says all that could be said.
No prayer fully expresses our faith.
No confession brings perfection.
No pastoral visit brings wholeness.
No program accomplishes the Church’s mission.
No set of goals and objectives includes everything.
This is what we are about.
We plant the seeds that one day will grow.
We water seeds already planted, knowing that they hold future promise.
We lay foundations that will need further development.
We provide yeast that produces far beyond our capabilities.
We cannot do everything, and there is a sense of liberation in realizing that.
This enables us to do something, and to do it very well.
It may be incomplete, but it is a beginning, a step along the way, an
opportunity for the Lord’s grace to enter and do the rest.
We may never see the end results, but that is the difference between the master builder and the worker.
We are workers, not master builders; ministers, not messiahs.
We are prophets of a future not our own.
Bishop Ken Untener of Saginaw