Adult Faith Formation Column for the Sunday Bulletin of St. Michael Parish, Livermore, California

This weekly column is a short meditation on the Bible readings of the Sunday Mass. The meditations are direct quotations from the Catechism of the Catholic Church, papal encyclicals, writings of the Saints, and similar orthodox sources.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Proclaiming Christ in the Public Square . . . Pentecost, Sunday, 27 May 2012

We do not seek to defend religious liberty for partisan or political purposes, as some have suggested.  No, we do this because we are lovers of a human dignity that was fashioned and imparted not by the government but by the Creator.

We defend religious liberty because we are lovers of every human person, seeing in the face of every
man and woman also the face of Christ, who loved us to the very end and who calls us to love and serve our neighbor with the same love he has bestowed on us.  We uphold religious liberty because we seek to continue serving those in need while contributing to the common good in accord with the Church's social teaching and to do so with compassion and effectiveness....

We do this because Archbishop John Carroll's generation of believers and patriots bequeathed to us a precious legacy that has enabled the Church to worship in freedom, to bear witness to Christ publicly, and to do massive and amazing works of pastoral love, education, and charity in ways that are true to the faith that inspired them in the first place.  We defend religious liberty in fidelity to the wisdom of James Cardinal Gibbons who withstood in the breach those who said it wasn't possible to be a practicing Catholic and a loyal American.  " ...I belong to a country," he said, "where the civil government holds over us the aegis of its protection, without interfering with us in the legitimate exercise of our sublime mission as ministers of the Gospel of Christ.  Our country has liberty without license, and authority without despotism."

Now we must be loyal Americans by being bold and courageous Catholics!

So, dear friends, let us be of good cheer.  Let us never imagine that the faith we profess with such personal conviction is merely a private matter.  By its nature, the profession of faith is a public matter -- for the faith is meant to be spread far and wide and acted upon in and through Church institutions and in the witness of individual believers.  Let us not shrink from entering the public square to proclaim the Person of Christ, to teach the values that flow from reason and faith, to uphold our right to go about our daily work in accord with our teachings and values, to defend the sanctity of human life from the moment of conception until natural death, to defend the institution of marriage as between a man and a woman, and to serve effectively those in great need with convictions borne of the moral law.

                                -- Archbishop William Lori,
                                Installation Homily, May 16, 2012
                                Archdiocese of Baltimore

        Lord, send out your Spirit, and renew the face of the earth.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Go Into the Whole World.... Sunday, May 20, 2012

Go Into the Whole World....

    Among those things which pertain to the good of the Church and indeed to the good of society here on earth, things which must everywhere and all times be safeguarded and defended from all harm, the most outstanding surely is that the Church enjoy that freedom of action which her responsibility for the salvation of men requires.  This is a sacred liberty with which the only-begotten Son of God endowed the Church which he purchased with his blood.  Indeed it belongs so intimately to the Church that to attack it is to oppose the will of God. The freedom of the Church is the fundamental principle governing relations between the Church and public authorities and the whole civil order.

    As the spiritual authority appointed by Christ the Lord with the duty, imposed by divine command, of going into the whole world and preaching the Gospel to every creature, the Church claims the freedom for herself in human society and before every public authority.  The Church also claims freedom for herself as a society of men with the right to live in civil society in accordance with the demands of the Christian faith.
                        -- Vatican Council II
                            Declaration on Religious Liberty
                            (Dignitatis Humanae) # 13

Do YOU Want To Stand Up For Religious Freedom?


When:        JUNE 8, 2012 -- 12:00 NOON

            U.S.  DEPARTMENT OF HHS
            90 Seventh Street
            San Francisco

More information:

All are welcome.  Rallies are held throughout the country at noon on June 8.  This location is closest to Livermore, California.  For other locations, see the website.  Join with thousands across the US in standing up for religious freedom!

            Saint Michael Faith Enrichment Team

Monday, May 14, 2012

Sunday, May 13, 2012

If You Keep My Commandment, You Remain in My Love

        ... From the very beginnings of the Church the disciples
of Christ
strove to convert men to confess Christ as Lord, not however
by applying coercion or with the use of techniques unworthy of the
Gospel but above all, by the power of the word of God.  They steadfastly
proclaimed to all men the plan of God the Savior, "who desires all men
to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth (1 Tim. 2:4).  At
the same time, however, they showed respect for the weak even though
they were in error, and in this way made it clear how "each of us shall
give account of himself to God" (Rom. 14:12) and for that reason is
bound to obey his conscience.  Like Christ, the apostles were constantly
bent on bearing witness to the truth of God and they showed the greatest
courage in speaking "the word of God with boldness" (Acts 4:31) before
people and rulers. 

     With a firm faith they upheld the truth that the Gospel itself is indeed the
power of God for the salvation of all who believe.    They
therefore despised "all worldly weapons" and followed the example of
Christ's meekness and gentleness as they preached the word of God
with full confidence in the divine power of that word to destroy those forces
hostile to God and lead men to believe in and serve Christ.  Like their
Master, the apostles too recognized civil authority:  "Let every person be
subject to the governing authorities ... he who resists the authorities
resists what God has appointed" (Rom. 13:1-2).  At the same time they
were not afraid to speak out against public authority when it opposed
God's holy will:  "We must obey God rather than men" (Acts 5:29).  This  is
the path which innumerable martyrs and faithful have followed through
the centuries all over the world.

    The Church, therefore, faithful to the truth of the Gospel, is  following
in the path of Christ and the apostles when she recognizes the principle
that religious liberty is in keeping with the dignity of man and divine
revelation and gives it her support....

                        -- Vatican Council II
                            Declaration on Religious Liberty
                            (Dignitatis Humanae) # 11-12

    The Lord has revealed to the nations his saving power.
                            (Psalm 98)

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Sunday, May 6, 2012

"He Had Spoken Out Boldly in the Name of the Lord"

    "It is in accordance with their dignity that all men, because they are persons, that is, endowed with reason and free will and therefore bearing personal responsibility are both impelled by their nature and bound by a moral obligation to seek the truth, especially religious truth.  They are also bound to adhere to the truth once they come to know it and direct their whole lives in accordance with the demands of truth.....

    ...It is through his conscience that man sees and recognizes the demands of the divine law.  He is bound to follow this conscience faithfully in all his activity so that he may come to God, who is his last end.  Therefore, he must not be forced to act contrary to his conscience.  Nor must he be prevented from acting according to his conscience, especially in religious matters.  The reason is because the practice of religion of its very nature consists primarily of those voluntary and free internal acts by which a man directs himself to God. 

Acts of this kind cannot be commanded or forbidden by any merely human authority,  but his own social nature requires that a man give external expression to these internal acts of religion, that he communicate with others on religious matters and profess his religion in community.  Consequently, to deny man the free exercise of religion in society, when the just requirements of public order are observed, is to do an injustice to the human person and to the very order established by God for men.

    Furthermore, the private and public acts of religion by which men direct themselves to God according to their convictions transcend of their very nature the earthly and temporal order of things.  Therefore the civil authority, the purpose of which is the care of the common good in the temporal order, must recognize and look with favor on the religious life of the citizens.  But if it  presumes to control or restrict religious activity it must be said to have exceeded the limits of its power."

                        -- Vatican Council II
                            Declaration on Religious Liberty
                            (Dignitatis Humnanae,) #2-3

        I will praise you, Lord, in the assembly of your people.