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Fortnight Mass highlights models for us to follow

Posted By July 3, 2013 | 1:01 pm | Lead Story #2
Fran Hogan_3019WEB

By Jessica Valera
CFP correspondent

The closing celebration of the Fortnight for Freedom in the diocese called upon the influences of men in both the history of the church and the country.
“It is providential that we conclude our diocesan celebration of the Fortnight for Freedom on the liturgical memorial of Blessed Junipero Serra,” Bishop McManus said in his homily during the Mass for the Protection of Religious Freedom, Monday night at St. Stephen Church. “The faith preached and celebrated by Father Serra gave rise to the flourishing of Catholic institutions throughout the Southwest, and it is precisely the future of those types of Catholic institutions that are being threatened by the unjust mandate from the Department of Health and Human Services.”
Bishop McManus went on to discuss the issuing of the mandated services by the administration, and how health insurance companies must cover such problematic services.
“As a a result, many of our church’s institutions, especially those in the field of education, health care, and charitable services are now placed in a position of either having to violate their corporate conscience or run the risk of being heavily fined or forced out of existence,” he said. “My dear friends, let us be completely clear: we cannot, and we will not violate our consciences by becoming complicit with immoral policies and practices.”
Keeping with the call to prayer preached by Father Richard F. Reidy at the celebration of Solemn Vespers that opened the Fortnight for Freedom, Bishop McManus restated the need for prayer.
“Our prayer must be as confident and as persistent as was the prayer of Abraham,” he said, referring to the reading of the day from Genesis 18 in which Abraham intercedes for the people of Sodom. “Abraham thoroughly believed in the justice, mercy, and love of God for his chosen people.”
The bishop encouraged the faithful to continually pray for the exercise of religious liberty.
“We must boldly and persistently pray, and do so with complete trust that God will indeed answer our prayers,” he said. “We must work that justice will be served by the courts and that our religious liberty and our rights of conscience will be vindicated in this way.”
Bishop McManus then referenced a 1789 letter to the annual meeting of Quakers made by the first United States president.
“George Washington wrote the following words: ‘The conscientious scruples of all men should be treated with great delicacy and tenderness and it is my wish and desire that the laws may always be extensively accommodate to them,’” he said.
Bishop McManus concluded his homily with the acknowledgement of both patriarchs.
“Tonight, and in the days and months ahead, we must pray with the persistence of Abraham, our father in faith,” he said. “We must pray that the words of our first president will prove true in our own day.”
Following the Mass, a presentation on “St. Thomas More: A Model of Public Virtue for Our Time,” by Attorney Frances X. Hogan, was held in the church hall. She began her talk by touching upon threats to religious liberty.
“I think our founding fathers would be shocked to see us where we are,” she said. “We’re seeking access to the most basic of rights on which this great country was founded – the right to religious liberty, the right to freedom of religion, the right to inviolability of conscience.”
Attorney Hogan went on to discuss Thomas More as, in the words of Erasmus, “a man of all seasons.”
“I think he is a man for this season, for our time, for this place that we find ourselves and I think we could look at what he did in use it as a model for what we ought do,” she said. “I think that the life of Thomas More provides many reasons to model our lives after his. He was an amazing man and a great saint, but also provides other examples for us to look at.”
She addressed five areas of More’s life that she believes can be applied today.
“The first lesson we can learn from More is prayer, at all times and in all places, in seeking God’s will wherever he has put us in life and this is what our bishops are calling us to, as the first part of the Fortnight for Freedom,” she said. “Prayer, prayer for ourselves, prayer for our leaders, prayer for our country.”
The importance of establishing a good family life was the second point Attorney Hogan discussed. She expressed concern for its disappearance, and encouraged her listeners that, “we ought not let it go without a fight.”
The cultural achievements of Thomas More, followed by his professional excellence and public service were the third and fourth ideas she discussed.
“As he advanced in public service, More saw the many foibles of politicians of his day,” she said. “Boy, does he seem like a prophet for our own times when he said: ‘When statesmen forsake their own private conscience for the sake of their public duties, they lead their country by a short route to chaos.’”
The final element of More’s life that Attorney Hogan shared was his martyrdom: He was executed by beheading.
“His final words are just so appropriate for our consideration during this Fortnight for Freedom,” she said. “More said: ‘I die the King’s good servant, but God’s first.’”
She ended her presentation by calling to mind what More might say of the current threats to religious liberty.
“I truly believe that he would take his place at the table of public discourse on the HHS mandates and using all of the wisdom and judgment and reason God gave him,” she said. “He would stand tall for the right of our properly formed consciences to be honored and for the members and institutions of our Church to be allowed the religious freedom not only to worship God in our sanctuaries, but also to freely engage in the Church’s mission as set forth by Christ.”