He dwells among us: Truth and freedom

The liberty we celebrate also is a summons to protect and defend ‘self-evident truths’

Freedom isn’t free.

We are particularly reminded of this during our solemn observance of Memorial Day as well as with Independence and Veterans days. For it is all too easy to take for granted our freedoms that have been secured and defended by the sacrifices of so many.

And the very first and most precious of our constitutional freedoms is that of religious liberty, the freedom upon which all our other freedoms depend.

This is the reason why the bishops of the United States called for another “Fortnight for Freedom” to be observed from June 21 through July 4—to remind us that our religious liberty can no longer be taken for granted.

Indeed, freedom of religion isn’t free.

We are called to be witnesses of the truths of our Catholic faith, truths that no human law can redefine, restrict or strike down. We have two citizenships in life, the more apparent one as citizens of our great country; the other a citizenship we know by faith through our baptism and professed in the Creed.

We are Americans and we are Catholics, and the citizenship that defines the two need not conflict.

We must give to Caesar what belongs to Caesar and to God what belongs to God (Luke 20:25). But we must never give to Caesar what belongs only to God—our conscience.

When we are forced to make a choice between them, to give to Caesar what belongs only to God, we must then choose the citizenship that is of heaven.

Our freedoms are a great gift, but they also are a summons to us to be vigilant to protect them.

We celebrate as a nation now one such man—Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.—for standing up to defend the “truths, rights, and freedoms” that our Founding Fathers recognized as coming “from above” and not from man.

That it took 100 years after the Civil War for racial bigotry to begin to give way to civil rights and to be respected by laws tells of the struggle and slowness of the human heart to respect the “self-evident truths,” and how easily they can be undone.

So today, particularly, when our religious freedom and rights of conscience are threatened, and with attacks against the Catholic Church only becoming bolder and more vile, we must have the courage to stand up and defend the fullness of the truth that comes from God, and the Church he has entrusted it with.

Why this Fortnight for Freedom?

To bring our nation before Christ and to ask His blessing upon it, and in His great mercy and love, to mend its every flaw.

May your celebration of our nation’s birth be blessed, and may God grant you the courage to defend and protect the “Truths, Rights, and Freedoms” that we celebrate.