Love of God, my friends, is not some vague term or nebulous concept. Love of God, on our part, is both the awareness of and gratitude for God’s abiding presence in our lives and in our hearts. Love of God is rooted in a relationship with the person of Jesus, who identifies himself as the Way, the Truth and the Life. Love of God is our attempt to respond to God – who loves us first – thereby making it possible in the first place to turn toward God with open hearts. … Love of God is given flesh and substance in our efforts to selflessly love and serve the people whom God has entrusted to our care.
Jesus didn’t hesitate for a moment to immerse himself into the messiness of life and the society and culture in which he lived. […] Jesus ignored the risk of cultural taboos and custom. For Jesus, what was most important was not his good name in society or respect for empty traditions that ultimately had the ability to burden rather than uphold the well being of a people. What was most important for Jesus was the opportunity to respond to human need – to respect and treasure life, that part of creation made in the image and likeness of God.
But we all best remember that this place we occupy on earth is not the end of the line. God is the end of the line. Being with God in the hereafter can only happen by being with God here. You and I can’t afford to put off until tomorrow what God wants of us today.
For Christians, patriotism is a virtue. Love of country is an honorable thing. As Chesterton once said, if we build a wall between ourselves and the world, it makes little difference whether we describe ourselves as locked in or locked out. But God has made us for more than the world. Our real home isn’t here.
Health is a basic human right; we have a right to be healthy. There’s no declaration on the part of the Church that that has to be accomplished through government intervention. There are many ways of approaching health care, and I think it’s very important for Catholics to understand the fact that the Church, seeing health care as a basic human right, does not mean [to say] there’s a particular method of obtaining that [right that’s] better than another.
I think it’s a disappointment on the part of many of us in the Church because we had hoped the decision would make our lawsuits unnecessary. But a decision of the court is a decision of the court, and we have to accept it in a generous kind of way. We have to do all we can to make sure the position of the Church on religious freedom is clearly articulated and that the challenge to religious freedom, as embodied in the mandates from the Health and Human Services agency,… are overturned.
Too many families are resigned to substandard education. We simply can’t live with this sort of failure any longer. As many thousands of Catholics have said in a clear and collective voice in recent weeks, it’s time to give all students a chance by giving parents a choice.
The Pennsylvania legislature should commit itself to significantly increasing funding for school choice immediately. Many other issues may or may not have merit, but most of them can wait another year. Our children cannot.
We also need to remember with Pope Benedict that resistance is “part of the task of the Church,” and with Henri de Lubac that it’s “not our mission to make truth triumph, but to testify for it.
So much of the Church in the rest of our country is now really mission territory–again; for the second time.
We need to look honestly at the arc of Catholic history in our country. The lessons may not be comforting. American Catholics began as an unwelcome minority. The Church built her credibility by defending and serving her people. She developed her influence with the resources her people entrusted to her. A vast amount of good was done in the process. We need to honor that. But two other things also happened. The Church in the United States became powerful and secure. And Catholics became less and less invested in the Church that their own parents and grandparents helped to build.
The U.S. Constitution is a great document–historically unique for its fusion of high ideals with the realism of very practical checks and balances. But in the end, it’s just an elegant piece of paper. In practice, nothing guarantees our freedoms except our willingness to fight for them.
Earlier this year religious liberty advocates won a big Supreme Court victory in the 9-0 Hosanna-Tabor v EEOC decision. That’s the good news. Here’s the bad news: What’s stunning in that case is the disregard for religious freedom shown by the government’s arguments against the Lutheran church and school.
Religious freedom is a cornerstone of the American experience. This is so obvious that once upon a time, nobody needed to say it. But times have changed.
Should the Church negotiate more before filing lawsuits? We already have. But what exactly can we negotiate when it comes to religious freedom already guaranteed by the Constitution? Why are we now forced to concede to the government religious freedom that has always been guaranteed by the Constitution?
2012 is another election year. Our home is heaven, but to get there we need to live our daily lives, including our citizenship, in a way that witnesses our love for Jesus Christ and serves the needs of God’s people.