Religious Freedom Day 2018

Even in the face of much criticism, scrutiny, and out-right destruction among the left-leaning individuals in this country, the President of the United States, Donald J. Trump, announced yesterday, January 16, to be Religious Freedom Day. Click on the link to read the statement from the White House.

Although his predecessor (as well as his predecessors) also declared each January 16 Religious Freedom Day, it’s this writer’s personal opinion that this year and the years to follow will have more impact for those actually facing religious persecution in this country. For eight years, we had been subjected to an individual that didn’t care about religion or the religious beliefs of any of his citizens. It was lip service at best. Today, I feel confident that our religious freedoms will be upheld with our current President, his Administration, and that the Courts will rule with the laws already on the books in mind.

As a Catholic, a writer and a parish evangelist, I hold religious freedom fundamental to our very existence. If you include this article, I have written on religious freedom 12 different times on here. I see it as important to not only US citizens, but all people who desire to openly express their religious beliefs and faith.

If you aren’t aware of it, religious freedom is one of the major themes of the Second Vatican Council that was held from 1962-1965. Read the document, Dignitatis Humanae. So many of the Bishops in Europe, most notably, the future Pope, John Paul II, then Cardinal Karol Wojtyla, were forced into how the government wanted him and rest of Poland, matter of fact the entire Iron Curtain, to profess their Catholic (and other Christians) faith.

This is also why so much of John Paul II’s writing’s during his papacy focused on the dignity of the human person. He saw first-hand how the human spirit was destroyed when religious freedom was not permitted to be expressed freely and openly. It seems that Pope John Paul II could see the writing on the wall here in the USA, when on October 8, 1995, he said the following in Baltimore, Maryland –

“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 in 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.”

What does the Catholic Church profess regarding religious freedom? Well, if you have the time, read the aforementioned Vatican II document. It’s a good read. If you don’t time for that, I would suggest reading what the Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches on religious freedom. You can find those teachings in paragraphs 2106-2109. I would also suggest checking out Tim Staples’ article on Religious Liberty on the Catholic Answers webpage.

Of course, I can’t end an article like this one without asking you all to pray for our country, or for the country you live in currently, pray for religious freedoms, and pray for those who oppose religious freedom or those who see it as a form of intolerance. Pray for the conversion of all people who are not open to Jesus Christ. Yes, I know it be difficult to pray for people like this, but it needs to be done. Trust me, I remind myself of this every day.

Fortnight for Freedom 2016: Witnesses to Freedom

As we enter the Fortnight For Freedom 2016: Witnesses to Freedom, which will last from today till July 4, we need to remember the sacrifices of other Catholics who have laid down their lives in defiance of tyrannical kingdoms and governments in the past. It is fitting, and obviously planned, by the United States Bishops to begin this fortnight in anticipation of the feast day of Saints John Fisher and Thomas More.

St. john fisher

From the early Christian martyrs to Saints Fisher and More to the Mexican Martyrs (see the film, For Greater Glory) to Saints Maximilian Kolbe and Edith Stein to the Catholics and Orthodox that are being killed for their Christian faith around the world today, especially in the Middle East and Africa, it is fitting that it is now our time to Stand Up for the great injustices that have been promulgated by the current presidential administration; an administration that has tyrannical, socialistic, and anti-Christian tendencies rooted in its very foundation. They are a great threat to this nation and people of good conscience.

At this time, we may not be called to shed our blood for the faith (red martyrs), but we are being called to stand up for our faith and face social persecution (white martyrdom).

Over the next couple of weeks, we will celebrate the lives of martyrs in the liturgical calendar. During this time, we must pray, study, catechize, and engage in public action. Religious Freedom is at the heart and center of not only the United States of America, but it’s also fundamental to every human being by means of the Natural Law. I urge you during this time to pray hard for the conversion of the hearts of those seek to destroy the Catholic Church. The Catholic Church has faced many tyrants in her past and every time has been victorious, for we have Jesus Christ and He has already conquered evil and death.

St. Thomas moreSt. Thomas More is the key figure for us when we think of one who stands up to tyranny and injustice. St. Thomas More was wrongfully committed of High Treason by the Kingdom of England for not agreeing to the marriage of King Henry VIII. Below are the last few lines of St. Thomas More from the play, A Man For All Seasons. I think we need to remember these words and try to live up to them for ourselves and fights we may have ahead. This is a play I first read in college and many of the lines have stuck with me over the years. It’s a beautiful depiction of St. Thomas More as servant to the king, but God’s servant first. Always remember, we are Americans, but Catholic first.

Norfolk: Prisoner at the bar, you have been found guilty of High Treason. The sentence of the Court –

More: My Lord! My lord, when I was practicing the law, the manner was to ask the prisoner before pronouncing sentence, if he had anything to say.

Norfolk: Have you anything to say?

More: Yes. To avoid this I have taken every path my winding wits would find. Now that the Court has determined to condemn me, God knoweth how, I will discharge my mind…concerning my indictment and the King ‘s title. The indictment is grounded in an Act of Parliament which is directly repugnant to the Law of God. The King in Parliament cannot bestow the Supremacy of the Church because it is a Spiritual Supremacy! And more to this the immunity of the Church is promised both in Magna Carta and the King’s own Coronation Oath!

Cromwell: Now we plainly see that you are malicious!

More: Not so, Master Secretary! I am the King’s true subject, and pray for him and all the realm…I do none harm, I say none harm, I think none harm. And if this be not enough to keep a man alive, in good faith I long not to live…I have, since I came into prison, been several times in such a case that I thought to die within the hour, and I thank Our Lord I was never sorry for it, but rather sorry when it passed. And therefore, my poor body is at the King’s pleasure. Would God my death might do him some good…Nevertheless, it is not for the Supremacy that you have sought my blood – but because I would not bend to the marriage!

*************************************************************************

More: My Master had easel and gall, not wine, given him to drink. Let me be going.

Margaret: Father! Father! Father, Father, Father, Father!

More: Have patience, Margaret, and trouble not thyself. Death comes for us all; even at our birth – even at our birth, death does not stand aside a little. And every day he looks towards us and muses somewhat to himself whether that day or the next he will draw nigh. It is the law of nature, and the will of God. You have long known the secrets of my heart.

The Death Scene from the film, A Man For All Seasons. 

Quick Lessons from the Catechism: The Freedom of Humanity and Religious Freedom

Since today is Independence Day, the Fourth of July, and the conclusion of this year’s Fortnight for Freedom here in the United States of America, I found it strikingly appealing to focus on what the Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches on Freedom. With the religious freedom decision handed down from the Supreme Court this week and other cases that are being found just as unjust as the Hobby Lobby case, this quick lesson will also cover religious freedom and the importance it plays for all of humanity.

Although the Supreme Court gave us a favorable ruling for religious freedom, we must continue to stay steadfast in prayer and conviction. This is not the first time the Catholic Church has found herself facing persecution. What her enemies don’t understand, nor they seem to realize, is that history has shown us one simple fact – the more you persecute the Church, the stronger we become. As Tertullian said, “The blood [of martyrs] is the seed of Christians.”

Remember: Don’t lose hope, because in the Big Picture of Salvation History, we have won. Stay focused on Jesus Christ and the Church and remain in constant prayer. Play an active role in civic duties, make your voices heard, and participate as a civil and patriotic citizen. Simply, be Catholics in the public square.

With this being said, let’s examine briefly the teachings of the Catechism on Freedom –

CCC 1743: “God willed that man should be left in the hand of his own counsel (cf. Sir 15:14), so that he might of his own accord seek his creator and freely attain his full and blessed perfection by cleaving to him (Gaudium et Spes 17 § 1).

CCC 1744: Freedom is the power to act or not to act, and so to perform deliberate acts of one’s own. Freedom attains perfection in its acts when directed toward God, the sovereign Good.

CCC 1745: Freedom characterizes properly acts. It makes the human being responsible for acts of which he is the voluntary agent. His deliberate acts properly belong to him.

CCC 1746: The imputability or responsibility for an action can be diminished or nullified by ignorance, duress, fear, and other psychological or social factors.

CCC 1747: The right to the exercise of freedom in religious and moral matters, is an inalienable requirement of the dignity of man. But the exercise of freedom does not entail the putative right to say or do something. *See below for more detail*

CCC 1748: “For freedom Christ has set us free” (Galatians 5:1).

For a more extensive explanation on Man’s Freedom, please read CCC 1730-1742.

Focusing specifically on Religious Freedom, the Catechism teaches…

CCC 2106: “Nobody may be forced to act against his convictions, nor is anyone to be restrained from acting in accordance with his conscience in religious matters in private or in public, alone or association with others, within due limits [italics added].” This right is based on the very nature of the human person, whose dignity enables him freely to assent to the divine truth which transcends the temporal order. For this reason it “continues to exist even in those who do not live up to their obligation of seeking the truth and adhering to it.”

CCC 2107: “If because of the circumstances of a particular people special civil recognition is given to one religious community in the constitutional organization of a state, the right of all citizens and religious communities to religious freedom must be recognized and respected as well.”

CCC 2108: The right to religious liberty is neither a moral license to adhere to error, nor a supposed right to error, but rather a natural light of the human person to civil liberty, i.e.; immunity, within just limits, from external constraint in religious matters by political authorities. This natural right ought to be acknowledged in the juridical order of society in such a way that it constraints a civil right [italics added].

CCC 2109: The right to religious liberty can of itself be neither unlimited nor limited only by a “public order” conceived in a positivist or naturalist manner. The “due limits” which are inherent in it must be determined for each social situation by political prudence, according to the requirements of the common good, and ratified by the civil authority in accordance with “legal principles which are in conformity with the objective moral order.”

Our freedom, and specifically our religious freedom, should always be focused on and acted towards the common good of society. Freedom helps us grow in virtue, responsibility, and integrity.

As we celebrate our Independence Day here in the USA, let us continue to understand and keep hold to the freedom that God Almighty has given to us through the Natural Law; let us also continue to stay focused and convicted through prayer that the freedoms we have been given in this country continue, especially the freedom of religion. We pray all of this through Christ Our Lord. Amen.

Fortnight for Freedom 2013

As we enter the Fortnight For Freedom 2013, which will last from today till July 4, we need to remember the sacrifices of other Catholics who have laid down their lives in defiance of tyrannical kingdoms and governments. It is fitting, and obviously planned, by the United States Bishops to begin this fortnight in anticipation of the feast day of Sts. John Fisher and Thomas St. john fisherMore. From the early Christian martyrs to Sts. Fisher and More to the Mexican Martyrs (so eloquently shown in the film, For Greater Glory) to Sts. Maximilian Kolbe and Edith Stein to the Catholics and Orthodox that are being killed for their faith around the world today, it is fitting that it is now our time to Stand Up for the great injustice (HHS Mandate which is set to begin on August 1, 2013) that has been promulgated by the current presidential administration; an administration that has tyrannical, socialistic, and anti-Christian tendencies rooted in its very foundation. They are a great threat to this nation and people of good conscience.  At this time, we may not be called to shed our blood for the faith (red martyrs), but we are being called to stand up for our faith and face social persecution (white martyrdom).

Over the next couple of weeks, we will celebrate the lives of martyrs in the liturgical calendar. During this time, we must pray, study, catechize, and engage in public action (search religious freedom on this blog and you will find more posts). Religious Freedom is at the heart and center of not only the United States of America, but it’s also fundamental to every human being by means of the Natural Law. I urge you during this time to pray hard for the conversion of the hearts of those seek to destroy the Catholic Church. The Catholic Church has faced many tyrants in her past and every time has been victorious for we have Jesus Christ and He has already conquered evil and death.

St. Thomas moreSt. Thomas More is the key figure for us when we think of one who stands up to tyranny and injustice. St. Thomas More was wrongfully committed of High Treason by the Kingdom of England for not agreeing to the marriage of King Henry VIII. Below are the last few lines of St. Thomas More from the play, A Man For All Seasons. I think we need to remember these words and try to live up to them for ourselves and fights we many have ahead. This is a play I first read in college and many of the lines have stuck with me over the years. It’s a beautiful depiction of St. Thomas More as servant to the king, but God’s servant first. As I have said in other posts –  We are Americans, but we are Catholic first!

Norfolk: Prisoner at the bar, you have been found guilty of High Treason. The sentence of the Court –

More: My Lord! My lord, when I was practicing the law, the manner was to ask the prisoner before pronouncing sentence, if he had anything to say.

Norfolk: Have you anything to say?

More: Yes. To avoid this I have taken every path my winding wits would find. Now that the Court has determined to condemn me, God knoweth how, I will discharge my mind…concerning my indictment and the King ‘s title. The indictment is grounded in an Act of Parliament which is directly repugnant to the Law of God. The King in Parliament cannot bestow the Supremacy of the Church because it is a Spiritual Supremacy! And more to this the immunity of the Church is promised both in Magna Carta and the King’s own Coronation Oath!

Cromwell: Now we plainly see that you are malicious!

More: Not so, Master Secretary! I am the King’s true subject, and pray for him and all the realm…I do none harm, I say none harm, I think none harm. And if this be not enough to keep a man alive, in good faith I long not to live…I have, since I came into prison, been several times in such a case that I thought to die within the hour, and I thank Our Lord I was never sorry for it, but rather sorry when it passed. And therefore, my poor body is at the King’s pleasure. Would God my death might do him some good…Nevertheless, it is not for the Supremacy that you have sought my blood – but because I would not bend to the marriage!

*************************************************************************

More: My Master had easel and gall, not wine, given him to drink. Let me be going.

Margaret: Father! Father! Father, Father, Father, Father!

More: Have patience, Margaret, and trouble not thyself. Death comes for us all; even at our birth – even at our birth, death does not stand aside a little. And every day he looks towards us and muses somewhat to himself whether that day or the next he will draw nigh. It is the law of nature, and the will of God. You have long known the secrets of my heart.

The Death Scene from the film, A Man For All Seasons. 

Pope St. John Paul II on Religious Freedom in America

As this new dawn rises on America, it’s a day of sadness. It seems 50% and the electoral college of the United States of America (united is now a loose term) have decided to re-elect a person that opposes religious freedom in this country. Actually, this individual is very hostile toward Christianity, but specifically Catholicism. For the 50% of Catholics (another term used loosely) who chose to vote for this person, what are you thinking? Do you have any idea what you have just done? You reap what you sow! I hope that at some point you will come to realize what your decisions could do to this country.

As Catholics, who are faithful to the teachings of the Church (not like the 50%), we must turn our gaze to the late great pontiff, Pope St. John Paul II. He too lived through the Nazi Empire as well as the Socialists who ruled with Communism in Poland and most of Eastern Europe. Pope St. John Paul was a fundamental figure in the writing of Dignitatis Humanae, the Declaration on Religious Freedom from the Second Vatican Council – because he was living through it!

As faithful practicing Catholics who adhere to the teachings of the Church (not like those numbers above), we must storm heaven with prayers and ask the intercession of Pope St. John Paul II, St. Thomas More (and the fight for religious freedom), St. John Fisher, the Mexican Martyrs, and all the other saints who lived under governments that oppressed religious freedom.

On October 8, 1995, in Baltimore, Maryland, no less, 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 in 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.”

It would seem that John Paul II could see the “writing on the wall” in 1995 as his statement has a prophetic tone to it. So what can we do?  Storm heaven with our prayers and know that God is still God no matter who the person leading a country is and remember the words of Our Lord Jesus Christ and Pope St. John Paul II – “BE NOT AFRAID!”

Updated: January 17, 2018.

Hiatus Continued

Hello Everyone,

Well I am safely back in the Valley of the Sun (Phoenix, Arizona) after two days of traveling on the road between Austin to Phoenix. I arrived back in Phoenix on Saturday afternoon and was greeted by a monsoon thunderstorm. It’s been great being home with family and friends so far and I look forward to more time with them and meeting new people. I just wanted to let everyone know that my short hiatus from my blog will continue till next Monday. I am looking forward to getting back to some writing, but just know that this week off will bring me back refreshed and renewed. Stay diligent and stay in prayer.

I encourage you to read or reread my posts from the past 6 months. If you are a new follower to my blog or a new follower on Twitter, please read some of my posts from February, March, and April. Since we are in the aftermath of the Fortnight for Freedom, I would encourage you to read my posts on Religious Freedom and Conscience Formation. I also write a lot on Blessed John Paul II and would like to see those posts read more. We need to look to him as our religious freedoms are threatened. He knew this subject well dealing with the Nazi’s and Socialist’s in Poland. On the right side of my blog you will find my tags for the posts. That is the easiest way to find subjects of the posts.

You are in my prayers this week. Please pray for me as well.

See you next Monday with the Blessed Mother.

In Christ,

Tom Perna

Fortnight for Freedom Closing Mass

Last Wednesday, July 4, 2012 – Independence Day for the United States of America, I was able to attend the Closing Mass for the Fortnight for Freedom at the National Basilica of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C. I found it providential that I could attend because I have been writing about religious freedom ever since the HHS Mandate was promulgated by this current tyrannical administration in the White House. Truth be told, I was in the D.C/Northern Virginia area for a friend’s wedding that would occur on the following Friday, but since the closing Mass was to happen while I was there, I found myself blessed to be in the area.

I was sitting in the front row of the back section of the basilica on the right hand side. I could look up from my seat and see the mosaic dome that portrays Jesus’ Temptation in the Desert, his Crucifixion, Resurrection and Ascension. Sitting next to me was a nice married couple from Baltimore who I talked to briefly before Mass began. We talked about my blog a bit and the husband said that he knew people in Phoenix, Arizona. The husband has recently contacted me via email to assist me network with another gentleman in the Phoenix area for potential employment.

As the procession began with the altar servers, then the deacons, I noticed the vast amount of priests that showed up for this important Mass. There were so many priests present, even Cardinal Donald Wuerl mentioned it before Mass began as he thanked all the hierarchy and lay faithful in attendance. There were also quite a few Bishops present as well. It was so great to be at this closing mass! I truly felt blessed being in the presence of so many great and faithful Catholics. I would say the highlight of the Mass, not including when Jesus became present on the altar – which happens at every Mass, would be Archbishop Charles J. Chaput’s homily that can be read here. His homily was so inspiring! His passion for religious freedom is contagious. Everyone present was inspired to stand up for religious freedom for the months ahead. I would encourage you to read his homily located above.

In his homily, the one thing that really stood out for me was when he said that Caesar isn’t able to give or take away religious freedom. He may be able to interfere with it, but when he does he takes away from his own legitimacy. Read the homily and this will make more sense. Religious freedom, in accordance with the Natural Law, is rooted in the very foundation of our humanity. At the end of his homily, he received a loud ovation from all in attendance. There were even people waving small American flags in the basilica. 

As Mass ended and the procession exited the nave of the basilica, I found myself with tears in my eyes. I said two things to myself. First, “Man, I love being Catholic.” Second thing I said, “If being persecuted is what it’s going to take, then bring it!”

Even though the Fortnight for Freedom has concluded, we all need to be diligent and continue to fight for our religious freedom. We need to continue to pray, catechize, battle, and support each other during this trying time in our country’s history. I encourage you to read all that you can on religious freedom. Continue to follow my blog (many of my February posts are on conscience formation and religious freedom) and other Catholic bloggers who will continue to write on religious freedom, especially as we draw closer to this upcoming election. This election could define our country for generations to come. The current person that calls himself our president must be removed from the oval office for if he is not, the United States of America could cease to exist, as we know it.

**Note: I will be on a short hiatus over the next 5 days or so since I am moving back to Phoenix. Please continue to read my blog and check out older posts during my short absence. Also, please pray that my move is efficient and safe.**