Fr. J.J.’s Jottings

“OH SAY CAN YOU SEE, BY THE DAWNS . . .” –
For many, the Fourth of July is a day for barbecues, baseball, shopping, and fireworks. There is nothing wrong with any of this. But in 1776, our founders didn’t sign the Declaration of Independence (and then go to war) only so that later generations would spend July 4th at the department store. They knew Americans needed to be educated and informed in order for our hard-won liberty to survive. As Thomas Jefferson put it: “If a nation expects to be ignorant and free, in a state of civilization, it expects what never was and never will be.”

The same goes for us as Catholics. As Catholic Americans, we need to educate ourselves, reconnect to our heritage, pray for the wisdom of the Founding Fathers and our Father God, and rediscover the meaning behind our country’s creation and our vocation as Christ’s Disciples.

Catholics have long been staunch defenders of God-given religious liberty. Today, such liberty is threatened in our country by government intrusion. Both the federal and state governments have made attempts to inhibit – and even to make illegal – efforts by Catholics and Catholic institutions to operate according to their faith. We have just completed a two week period of prayer and action (Fortnight for Religious Freedom), to address many current challenges to religious liberty, including the August 1, 2013 deadline for religious organizations to comply with the HHS mandate; Supreme Court rulings on marriage, and religious liberty concerns in areas such as immigration and humanitarian services.

As Archbishop Vigneron states, “Religious liberty is not only about our freedom to go to Mass on Sunday, or to pray the rosary at home, or even to say publicly that we are Christians. It is about whether we can live how Christ would have us live. Unfortunately, in many instances in our country, our Christian actions – the very things we do to follow Christ and His Church – are being infringed upon and impeded by the government that we so often have counted on to protect our religious liberties.

We are weeks away from the federal government enforcing a mandate that would have many Catholics violate their consciences by forcing them to provide abortion-inducing drugs and contraceptives to employees. We face landmark decisions in federal courts that redefine marriage (see Archbishop Vigneron’s response to the Supreme Court decision else ware in this issue of the Good News) and, accordingly, how the Church is required to treat marriage under the law. In states, laws have inhibited the Church from providing foster care, adoption services, refugee services and vital humanitarian aid – because we do so according to our Christian faith.” 

With these and other critical issues in front of us, and as we celebrate the anniversary of American Independence, The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops have supplied the faithful with prayers, educational resources, social media outlets, and various other ways to become involved in speaking up for our religious liberty. Resources from the U.S. Bishops are updated on the Archdiocese of Detroit website, www.aodonline.org. Religious freedom is the “first freedom” in our constitution and is meant to be protected by government. Doing a little will mean a lot — to you, to your family and friends, to the nation, and to the Church. Happy Fourth of July!

“WHAT PERTY FLOWERS!” –
As we drove into the parking lot, Fr. Moses commented that I seem to always bring up the amazing landscaping. “Look at those beautiful flowers.” I believe we have one of the most striking and well maintained gardens of any parish I have seen.

I bring this up for two reasons. First, this Wednesday, the Troy Garden Club holds its 39th annual garden walk. The home of Carol Corbin, our parishioner who heads up our “Garden Angel” Team here at St. Anastasia, is being featured this year. Call 248-540-4249 or visit www.TroyGardenClubMI.com for more info.

Second, the “Garden Angel” Team used to be about 20 folks. Over the years, people have moved, gotten older, etc. and the team now consists of 4 very dedicated servants. Yep, you read that right. Only 4 people keep our parish landscape looking this beautiful. Can you join in and help? I have even gotten Fr. Moses to join in. I do not want our volunteers to get burned out. I do not want our grounds to get weed ridden and ugly. Please, please, please call the Parish Office and sign up to help.

God bless,
Fr. J.J.