FRIDAY A fax was sent to the parish today from our bishop. It stated that “This week the federal government’s Department of Health andHuman Services issued a mandate which requires religious non-profits to cover sterilizations, contraceptive services, and some abortion-inducing drugs as part of their employee’s healthcarebenefits.” It went on to say that a letter was attached that was to be read at all Masses and stuffed into each bulletin.
I don’t know what stuns me more right at this moment – the blatant violation of the Constitution of the United States which is only a thinly veiled attack on the Catholic Church, or that our bishop is speaking out so boldly and quickly! I must say that it fills me with a bit of pride and excitement That he has done so.
This past weekend we celebrated the feast of Saint Sebastian and I warned the congregation that someday their faith might be put to a similar trial – particularly those who worked in the medical fields.
That day came more quickly than I anticipated.
How big will this be? Will it go out in a puff of smoke? Or will this be the beginning of a war on the Church? Will a bishop end up in jail? Will we have our tax exempt status taken away from us? (Given
in to this mandate is not an option.) I imagine much of it depends on the reaction of the populace that understands that any violation of the Constitution places the whole Constitution in jeopardy.
Wanting the parish to know that their pastor is also taking this seriously I yearned to make a statement right away. I went over to the church and said a prayer before the painting of Saint Sebastian. Tonight (around 7PM) before my next appointment, I copied and blew up the pertinent parts of the bishop’s letter, “We cannot – we will not – comply with this unjust law . . .” put it on parish letter head and stuck it to all the doors of the church. I call the bishop and leave a message that the letter is great.
This comes to mind tonight: The Chicago Archbishop, Cardinal Francis George, remarked, “I expect to die in bed, my successor will die in prison and his successor will die a martyr in the public square.”
SATURDAY I woke up this morning with a mixture of excitement and nervousness. The excitement is that there is something happening that could galvanize us as a Church. There is a cause for which we can all unite. The nervousness was about what could be in store for us if
this remains the law of the land.
Fr. Pfeiffer came home late from his retreat last night and the morning was the first opportunity to talk. How seriously do we need to take this? We don’t want to be reactionary but neither do we want to think that missed the opportunity to help bring strike down this unjust law.
It is time for the homily at the 4:30 Mass. I point to our patron Saint Sebastian and remark, “Last week we talked about how our patron stood up to a corrupt government and remarked that we should be ready to face such opposition if we encounter it. That day has come!” Then I read the letter sent to us from our bishop. “We cannot – we will not” conform to this unjust law. At the end of the letter the organ stuck up “Faith of Our Fathers” and we sang.
Faith of our Fathers living still
In spite of dungeon, fire, and sword.
O how our hearts be high with joy
When ere we hear that glorious Word
Faith of our Fathers
We will be true to thee to death!
A Man for All Seasons (St. Thomas More) 52 seconds. Watch it!
SUNDAY I wake up and go downstairs to read the letters to the editor of the Plain Dealer. (There is nothing in the Beacon Journal) They basically told the Catholic Church that it needs to buck up and get over it. Nobody sees that this is a blatant attack on the Constitution of the United States. They do not see that once part of the Constitution can be ignored it all can be. They feel safe because
they don’t mind this action, but what about when it recoils on them? Why is this not emblazoned on the front page of my newspapers? Have they fallen so far?
The letter was read again at the 9AM, 11AM, 1PM, and at the 5PM Mass the people clapped. One man from out of state said, “I realize that you were only reading your bishop’s words, but that was one of themost stirring homilies I have ever heard! I am taking this letter to my bishop!”
I read that in one diocese they have instituted praying the St. Michael Prayer. I write my representatives in congress. At the Chesterton we are reading book two of Napoleon of Notting Hill. The topic turns to this legislation for a while.
MONDAY I take Sebastian for a walk. We come across a man with a dog who is a regular playmate of Sebastian. He asked me how things are going and I tell him about this legislation. He states that he is for, at least in part, all the things that are included in that package. “It is about pooling money.” I state that it has little to do with any of those things. This is a blatant attack on the Constitution of the United States! Everyone no matter what they believe on reproductive rights should be screaming angry! That the conversation kept turning to contraception, abortion, and sterilization was unnerving. In this case these are all moot topics.
The point is, if you remain silent while this is done to the Catholic Church, then don’t be angry, surprised, or resentful when the government comes into your religion and passes laws and imposing
penalties forcing you to act against your core beliefs. That is what this is about.
I stand in awe that this is happening and happening so easily. We wonder how such things happened in other countries throughout history?