Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo

By Deacon Keith Fournier

10/31/2013 (5 months ago)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Rightly understood and properly respected, religious freedom means a freedom for religious expression; not a removal of such expression from public places.

We must face the facts, the first freedom, religious freedom, is under a ferocious assault in the United States of America. Further, the Catholic Church is increasingly being threatened at the very heart of her mission. Religious faith and the values informed by faith serve and promote the common good. Religious freedom is a fundamental and basic human right which must be secured and protected by law in truly free Nations. Rightly understood and properly respected, religious freedom means a freedom for religious expression; not a removal of such expression from public places.

The Archbishop of Baltimore, the Most Reverend William E. Lori, is one of the Chairmen of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops Committee for Religious Liberty for good reason. He has been a heroic advocate for our first freedom, religious freedom, for many years.  I have followed the courageous leadership of Bishop William Lori for many years, both as a constitutional lawyer, concerned for the issues which he addresses so well, and as a cleric, a Deacon of the Catholic Church. He is a faithful and inspiring shepherd of the Catholic Church who shows us all how to both explain and defend religious liberty.

The Archbishop of Baltimore, the Most Reverend William E. Lori, is one of the Chairmen of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops Committee for Religious Liberty for good reason. He has been a heroic advocate for our first freedom, religious freedom, for many years. I have followed the courageous leadership of Bishop William Lori for many years, both as a constitutional lawyer, concerned for the issues which he addresses so well, and as a cleric, a Deacon of the Catholic Church. He is a faithful and inspiring shepherd of the Catholic Church who shows us all how to both explain and defend religious liberty.

Article Highlights

By Deacon Keith Fournier

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

10/31/2013 (5 months ago)

Published in U.S.

Keywords: Red Mass, Religious Liberty, Religious freedom, First Ammendmant, Bill of Rights, Archbishop William Lori, anti-Catholic, anti-Christian, relaigious persecution, HHS Mandate, St Benedict catholic Church, Deacon Keith Fournier


RICHMOND, VA (Catholic Online) - The Archbishop of Baltimore, the Most Reverend William E. Lori, is one of the Chairmen of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops Committee for Religious Liberty for good reason. He has been a heroic advocate for our first freedom, religious freedom, for many years.  I have followed the courageous leadership of Bishop William Lori for many years, both as a constitutional lawyer, concerned for the issues which he addresses so well, and as a cleric, a Deacon of the Catholic Church. He is a faithful and inspiring shepherd of the Catholic Church who shows us all how to both explain and defend religious liberty. 
 
We must face the facts, the first freedom, religious freedom, is under a ferocious assault in the United States of America. Further, the Catholic Church is increasingly being threatened at the very heart of her mission. Religious faith and the values informed by faith serve and promote the common good. Religious freedom is a fundamental and basic human right which must be secured and protected by law in truly free Nations. Rightly understood and properly respected, religious freedom means a freedom for religious expression; not a removal of such expression from public places.

Archbishop William Lori is a highly regarded theologian and teacher of the faith. He is known to be a man of deep prayer and personal warmth - which endears him to the faithful under his pastoral care. When he was installed as Archbishop in Baltimore he gave a beautiful homily which should be read by anyone who takes seriously our call to engage and not retreat from the culture. The first reading was the account of the Apostle Paul's brilliant presentation on Mars Hill which is recorded in the seventeenth chapter of the Acts of the Apostles.

Here are some excerpts
:

We have just heard how St. Paul preached the Gospel in the Areopagus of Athens, the ultimate public square, in the height of the Roman Empire. Paul did not hesitate to bring the Gospel of Jesus Christ into that place where ideas that mattered were discussed and debated. By pointing to the altar to an unknown God Paul sought to make connections between the culture of the Athenians and the Gospel. But never did it occur to St. Paul to present the Gospel as mere ideas, as an alternative philosophy.

Rather, in that very public square St. Paul preached Christ crucified and risen as the source of life itself, of meaning, and of salvation. His words were met with skepticism and even ridicule yet among those who heard him, some came to be believe.Few people in history went to more Areopagai than did Pope John Paul II as he travelled the length and breadth of the globe proclaiming the Gospel of Christ, as indeed his successor, Pope Benedict, XVI, continues to do. In so doing they are teaching me, they are teaching us all how important it is not only to bring the Gospel into the public square but indeed to defend the right to do so, not for ourselves and for all believers.

Standing in this Cathedral, Blessed Pope John Paul II said: "The challenge facing you, dear friends, is to increase people's awareness of the importance for society of religious freedom; to defend that freedom against those who would take religion out of the public domain and establish secularism as America's official faith. And it is vitally necessary, for the very survival of the American experience, to transmit to the next generation the precious legacy of religious freedom and the convictions which sustain it."

Recently, Archbishop Lori gave the homily at the Red Mass held at St. Benedict Catholic Church in Richmond, Virginia. This is a beautiful, dynamically orthodox Catholic parish under the leadership of a truly gifted and wonderful priest, Fr. James  Kauffmann. I served as Deacon there while pursuing my PhD coursework in Moral Theology at the Catholic University of America.I will always be grateful for my time there.

My Bishop, Frances X. DiLorenzo, concelebrated the Red Mass with Archbishop Lori. I am a Deacon of the Diocese of Richmond. I was ordained seventeen years ago. The Red Mass is held annually to coincide with the opening of the session of the U.S. Supreme Court. It seeks the wisdom of the Holy Spirit upon lawyers, judges, legislators and others in the legal profession. As my readers know, I am a constitutional lawyer and was admitted to my first bar 33 years ago.

The name Red Mass derives from the red robes which judges wore in England, as well as the color of the Fire of the Holy Spirit. Archbishop Lori's homily once again showed why we are all so fortunate to have this good bishop in his position. I offer it to our readers in its entirety because it not only demonstrates great homiletic skills, but it sets our struggle to defend religious freedom in a vitally important historical context.

*****
Homily of Archbishop William E Lori at the Red Mass at St. Benedict Catholic Church in Richmond, Virginia

Historical Notes
Let me begin by thanking you for your kind invitation to take part in the annual Red Mass here in the Diocese of Richmond. This is my first opportunity to visit the Diocese of Richmond since my installation as Archbishop of Baltimore a year and a half ago. As you may know, Richmond is part of the ecclesiastical province of Baltimore and the two dioceses are joined by a long and rich history.

When the Archdiocese of Baltimore was created in 1789, it included all of Virginia, and indeed stretched all the way to the Mississippi River. At the time there were few Catholics in Virginia in part because of anti-Catholic laws that hindered Catholics from worshipping freely.

By the end of the 18th century that had already begun to change, largely because of the Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom, which was authored by Thomas Jefferson and enacted in 1786. This law was a prototype of the Free Exercise and Establishment clause of the First Amendment to the United States Constitution. All Americans owe the Commonwealth a debt of gratitude.

In 1820 the Diocese of Richmond was erected by Pope Pius VII and it included the entire State of Virginia and what is today West Virginia. At that time, this vast new diocese faced many challenges and so for nearly 20 years was overseen directly by the Archdiocese of Baltimore.

Over time, four of your bishops would hail from Baltimore, including James Gibbons, who was Bishop of Richmond from 1872 until 1877. Cardinal Gibbons would go on to serve as the Archbishop of Baltimore for 41 years. Evidently, Richmond was a good training ground for the 9th Archbishop of Baltimore!

And among the many wonderful graces and blessings of this growing Diocese is the Cause for Canonization of Francis J. Parater, a young man who was an Eagle Scout and a seminarian who died in 1920. Lastly, I would like to pay tribute to your own bishop, Bishop DiLorenzo, who has served the Diocese of Richmond with distinction and dedication since 2004.

Red Mass: Invoking the Holy Spirit
We have gathered this afternoon to celebrate the Red Mass. In this Mass we ask for a fresh outpouring of the Holy Spirit and his seven-fold gifts upon us all, but especially upon those of you who dedicate your professional lives to the practice of law and the administration of justice.

It is a moment when the Church recognizes the vital importance of your daily work for human dignity and flourishing as indeed for the common good of society. It is also a moment for us to ask the Holy Spirit to guide our reflection on the living Word of God as it applies to your lives and your professions. Indeed, this Mass is graced opportunity to ask for the special blessings you need as you face the daily challenges you experience, both personally and professionally.

What, then, can we draw from our Scripture readings today? For what, then, shall we ask of the Holy Spirit?

St. Paul to the Romans
Let us begin with St. Paul's Letter to the Romans. In this passage, St. Paul uses a phrase you might find a bit jarring: ".you are not under the law but under grace." (Romans 6:14). Does St. Paul mean to say that followers of Christ are not subject to the law? Does he mean to say that because believers in Christ have received God's grace they can disregard every form of law, whether it be civil or ecclesiastical?

Let's first ask, what was St. Paul's attitude toward governing authorities? To be honest, St. Paul does not deal with that question in this passage. Here he refers to the law of God revealed to the Chosen People and we will return to that point in just a minute.

But elsewhere in his Letter to the Romans St. Paul does address what our attitude ought to be toward governing authorities; he writes: "Let every person be subordinate to the higher authorities, for there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been established by God."

In this passage, from the 13th chapter of Romans, St. Paul goes on to say that if we, as believers, do what is good, we should have nothing to fear from civil authority whereas, if we do evil, then we do indeed have reason to fear. St. Paul even seems to put his stamp approval on paying taxes: "Pay to all their dues, taxes to whom taxes are due, toll to whom toll is due; respect to those whom respect is due; honor to whom honor is due" (Rom. 13:7).

This must have been a difficult teaching for the early Christians who were subject to severe persecution by government authorities. Yet, St. Paul and the early Christian writers consistently said that it was the duty of believers to accept, as divinely ordained, the legitimate authority of government to maintain good order in society.

Yet, in that same passage from Romans, St. Paul makes clear that governing authorities are not entitled to force believers to act in a way that is immoral or that contravenes their faith. The Christian who lives by the law of love ought to escape all legitimate indictment by the governing authorities. Authorities who persecute believers for living under grace, for following the law of love - act unjustly. Thus begins an endless series on the relationship of church and state!

Now we are ready to return to the passage from Romans which we just heard. Here we find St. Paul in the midst of describing the authentic freedom that should be ours as followers of Christ. Because the love of God has poured into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, we not only have nothing to fear from civil law but indeed we are even free from the constraints of ancient law of God revealed to the Chosen People as they journeyed through history.

But does freedom from the law give us a license to sin? By no means! St. Paul is telling us that because we live under grace and not under the law we are liberated freely to embrace what is right, true, and good. We are not subject to external constraint because we have been internally freed to choose the moral good.

And not only that, thanks to the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, we have engrained in us the pattern of Christ's own love, set forth in the Beatitudes, such that we keep the Commandments not out of fear but out of love, and not grudgingly but rather as response of gratitude to the grace we have received.

We may draw two applications for ourselves at this point. First is the importance of religion and morality for the good order of society. In his farewell address, George Washington famously said: "Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, Religion and morality are indispensable supports."

Think of the many social problems we are striving to restrain by the force of law. Think of the many social problems could be averted if more and more people lived not under the law but under grace - that is to say - if they were interiorly freed to choose the good and to choose it generously.

It is, I would submit, in the interest of the government and the common good not to establish a state religion but to encourage religion generally, to encourage the moral formation of citizens that so often occurs through religious institutions such as parishes, schools, and indeed our charitable institutions. I would also submit that it is not in the best interests of our society for the government to pressure the very religious institutions that serve common good such as schools, hospitals, and charities, to violate their moral teaching - be it ever so counter-cultural.

And here's a second reflection arising from St. Paul's words on grace and freedom. It refers as much to our personal lives as to our professional lives. If you are known to be a serious Catholic, you are bound to be asked questions about the Church, most often, I suspect, about some hot-button issue.
At the drop of a hat, we may find ourselves explaining and defending the faith. We should be happy to help people understand better the Church's teaching and to give it our own personal and friendly endorsement. Yet, as Pope Francis has been telling us and indeed the world, the faith is not merely a series of hot button issues. It is indeed a way of life, a way of love that leads to joy.

For once we have fallen in love with God, once we can say that Christ dwells in us through the Holy Spirit, then everything changes, including how we live our daily lives. We may do the same work every day but now with a loving wisdom and integrity that comes not from ourselves or from our good will but rather from pattern of Christ's Death and Resurrection deep within us, giving us the interior freedom embrace what is coherent, good, true, and beautiful.

The Gospel According to St. Luke
As we draw our reflections to a conclusion, let me turn briefly to the reading from the Gospel according to St. Luke where Jesus urges us to remain vigilant in expectation of his return in glory. As the early Christians looked for the imminent return of the Savior, they took to heart Jesus' message of preparedness and so should we. It is so easy for us to allow workaday responsibilities to lull us into complacency. It is so easy for us to make compromises, both professional and personal, that render us unprepared to serve the common good & to bear witness to our faith.

"Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty!" we are told, and how true it is that you and I must be keenly aware of those things that threaten religious liberty, including religious freedom - not only outward hate crimes, reprehensible as those are, but also those laws, regulations, and polices which chip away at the fundamental freedoms that belong to us "not from the generosity of the state but from the hand of God" (J.F.K., Inaugural).

Many of the threats to religious freedom are in fact to be found in government rule making, licensure and accreditation, local ordinances & state laws which may appear on the surface to uphold some important value but which erode a fundamental freedom for which many have given their lives.
If such vigilance is necessary in the natural order of things, how much more necessary is it in the things of the Spirit. We cannot allow a divide to occur in our lives between our personal and professional lives - whereby we check our beliefs and values at the door when we go to the office.

How easy it is to presume on God's kindness, to make compromises with sin, to fall back into sin after we have been rescued from it by the love of our Savior. Jesus passes in our midst daily. He is with us now in this Eucharist. So let us ask the Holy Spirit that we be alert - intellectually and spiritually - so that we may encounter the one who has set us free. So much has been given to us, so much is expected. May the Holy Spirit guide us to embrace, cherish, and foster that 'freedom for which Christ has set us free' (Gal. 5:1).

---


Pope Francis calls for your 'Prayer and Action'


© 2014 - Distributed by THE NEWS CONSORTIUM

Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for March 2014
Respect for Women:
That all cultures may respect the rights and dignity of women.
Vocations: That many young people may accept the Lordís invitation to consecrate their lives to proclaiming the Gospel.



Comments


More U.S.

Suffering, Struggle and the Christian Revolution Watch

Image of

By Deacon Keith Fournier

The Christian tradition instructs us that even undeserved and unmerited suffering, when joined in love to the sufferings of Jesus Christ, can produce extraordinary fruit within us - and then through us, as we change. This is a part of the teaching on the mystery ... continue reading


Live the Easter Way! The Holy Spirit which Transformed the Early Church Enlists Us! Watch

Image of Candle by candle, the light of the Resurrection illuminates the world around us as He who is the Light of the World fills it with His radiance.

By Deacon Keith Fournier

I just watched Pope Francis preside at the Easter Vigil at the Basilica of St Peter. His homily on encountering Jesus and finding our own Galilee was beautiful. Now, I am about to depart for the Easter Vigil at my parish in Chesapeake, Virginia. I will greet the ... continue reading


Holy Saturday: God has Died in the Flesh and Hell Trembles with Fear Watch

Image of Holy Saturday Byzantine Icon. This is a day which presents to those who approach it in contemplation, an opportunity to probe the mystery of life and death. It is a day to enter into the deeper mysteries of the faith with the millions and millions of those who have gone before us.

By Deacon Keith Fournier

Something strange is happening - there is a great silence on earth today, a great silence and stillness. The whole earth keeps silence because the King is asleep. The earth trembled and is still because God has fallen asleep in the flesh and he has raised up all ... continue reading


The Birth of Catholic Evangelism Watch

Image of I recently interviewed Jeff Cavins  for my weekly show  on Ave Maria Radio.  Jeff, who is nationally known for his study guides to the Bible, has just taken a job as Director of Evangelism at the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis.  It's a significant point in this nation's Church history that an apologist/educator with EWTN origins has taken a significant job inside an archdiocese.

By Deal W. Hudson

In spite of being ignored, and in some cases blacklisted, several of the hosts of EWTN radio and TV shows grew ministries of their own in the evangelistic Catholic style of Mother Angelica's still-prospering network. Jeff Cavins is one of the most successful of ... continue reading


Good Friday: Behold the Wood of the Cross Watch

Image of

By Deacon Keith Fournier

This is Good Friday. This is the day when the whole world stands still. We recall the great Sacrifice offered on the second tree on Golgotha's Hill. There, the one St. Paul calls the New Adam (1 Cor.15), in the perfect obedience of love, did for us  what we ... continue reading


Finally Justice! Small town city manager gets 12 years in jail on corruption charges Watch

Image of Bell City Manager Robert Rizzo's party came crashing down when it was revealed in 2010 that Rizzo was giving himself an annual salary and benefits package of $1.5 million.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Bell, California is a small town with less than 36,000 people. That didn't stop City Manager Robert Rizzo, along with his friends, from awarding themselves hefty raises and drawing yearly salaries as high as $1.5 million. It was fun while it lasted - now Rizzo ... continue reading


FORCED BESTIALITY: Evil teenage girls sexually assault autistic boy - and record it for posterity Watch

Image of Seventeen-year-old Lauren Bush along with her 15-year-old accomplice are accused by the St. Mary's County sheriff's department on numerous charges.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

In an episode shocking for its sheer cruelty, two teenage girls in Maryland are now in custody after they repeatedly abused a 16-year-old autistic boy - eventually making him perform sexual acts with a family pet - and recording it all on their cell phones. LOS ... continue reading


HOW LONG BEFORE THE SYSTEM BREAKS? Working Americans increasingly made to pay for those on welfare Watch

Image of Those who work in America are increasingly being made to pay for those who don't -- in the manner of an over-burdened ox.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

If you're an American who awakes each day to begin a day of toil you have no interest in, take heed: There are only more reasons to hit your pillow in frustration each night as you drift off to sleep. You are an endangered species, and the media has not rallied ... continue reading


Ron Paul warns Feds may stage 'Waco styled' raid Watch

Image of Cliven Bundy has been fighting with the Bureau of Land Management for 20 years over his cattle and grazing rights.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

While Cliven Bundy, his family, their supporters, and myriad militiamen forced federal agents from the Bureau of Land Management to back off of the Bundy's Nevada ranch and release hundreds of captured cattle, one politician warns that the feds could be planning ... continue reading


What does this say about America? More people getting food stamps than women working full-time Watch

Image of There were only 15,678,000 women who worked full-time, year-round in the United States in 1969.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

It's a distressing figure that shines a most unflattering light on affairs here in the United States. According to recent statistics, those  participating in the food stamp program, or SNAP outnumbered the number of women who worked full-time, year-round ... continue reading


All U.S. News

Newsletters

Newsletter Sign Up icon

Stay up to date with the latest news, information, and special offers

Daily Readings

Reading 1, Acts 10:34, 37-43
34 Then Peter addressed them, 'I now really ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 118:1-2, 16-17, 22-23
1 Alleluia! Give thanks to Yahweh for he is good, for ... Read More

Gospel, John 20:1-9
1 It was very early on the first day of the week and ... Read More

Reading 2, Colossians 3:1-4
1 Since you have been raised up to be with Christ, ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for April 20th, 2014 Image

St. Marian
April 20: When St. Mamertinus was Abbot of the monastery which St. ... Read More

Inform, Inspire & Ignite Logo

Find Catholic Online on Facebook and get updates right in your live feed.

Become a fan of Catholic Online on Facebook


Follow Catholic Online on Twitter and get News and Product updates.

Follow us on Twitter