Witness to True Freedom: Weekly Message for 06-21-16

Dear Fellow Digital Pilgrim in Christ,

Today, June 21st, is the vigil of the Feasts of St. John Fisher and St. Thomas More, as well as the start of the “Fortnight for Freedom,” which goes through Independence Day on July 4th. This initiative, started several years ago by the U.S. Bishops, unites us in defense of religious freedom through prayer and action.

Throughout the history of western civilization, Christianity has proclaimed God’s vision of the human person, communicated by Jesus in how he lived, died, and rose from the dead. At the core of his ‘coming down amongst us,’ Jesus offers the precious gift of spiritual freedom — freedom from the bondage of sin and death, anticipating fullness of life with God in eternity.

As Pope Francis emphasized during his message on religious freedom at Philadelphia’s Independence Hall last September, we often limit our understanding of that gift to its political dimension. Pope Francis didn’t use the fight for religious freedom as a justification for intolerance. Instead, he encouraged people of all faiths to work together for peace:

In a world where various forms of modern tyranny seek to suppress religious freedom, or try to reduce it to a subculture without right to a voice in the public square, or to use religion as a pretext for hatred and brutality, it is imperative that the followers of the various religions join their voices in calling for peace, tolerance, and respect for the dignity and rights of others.

With increasing news stories of atrocities and intensified persecutions against our Christian brothers and sisters around the world, religious freedom has come to mean more than just the freedom to practice a religion. Our hearts should be deeply moved to both pray and work for religious freedom at home and abroad.

Yet we know that true freedom for the mature Christian is an interior reality, no matter the circumstances — how else to explain why so many saints suffered with joy? Freedom is in the heart and of the spirit. The lives of St. John Fisher and St. Thomas More highlight the saint’s development of this freedom to the full. It is no wonder that saints have consistently been the greatest influencers of culture. We too are called to sainthood and its hallmark of interior freedom.

On July 4th, the USA celebrates its political freedom and cultural values. During the next few weeks, let us pray for the new evangelization of our culture, first by seeking the strength of true freedom in our own lives. To that end, it may help to dip back into some past Retreat Guides, such as The Anatomy of Temptation: A Retreat Guide on David and Goliath. Or take a deeper look at the life of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton, our first native-born citizen to be canonized, finding inspiration in her example of Christian maturity and true freedom.

Thank you for being part of the RCSpirituality family as a digital missionary! Be assured of our continued prayers for you and your families.

God bless you!  

In Christ,
Lucy Honner

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