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Letter: ‘Fortnight’ anticipates Fourth of July observance in county
A few people may be inclined to go to church for a civic holiday to give thanks to God Almighty, but most perceive the Fourth of July as a civic day for celebrating independence with parades, patriotic music, public speeches, relaxing with good food and great fireworks. Why anticipate it with 14 days of prayer in a church?
Part of the reason is that our Founding Fathers penned provisions within our Constitution that spell out the rights of all citizens in this great USA. In the very first amendment is cited “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof ... ” It continues on with speech, press, assembly, etc. But this liberty for all citizens to publicly practice their religious beliefs and live by their conscience is the very first aspect in our Bill of Rights.
This article, together with the other nine that follow, has been ratified effective for 220 years already, but only recently have interpretations and attempted legislation been put forth to redefine “religion” and what is entailed for the “free exercise thereof.” The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops expresses it this way:
“Among many current challenges, consider the recent Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) mandate requiring almost all private health plans to cover contraception, sterilization, and abortion-inducing drugs. For the first time in our history, the federal government will force religious institutions to facilitate drugs and procedures contrary to our moral teaching, and purport to define which religious institutions are “religious enough” to merit an exemption.
This is not a matter of whether contraception may be prohibited by the government. It is not even a matter of whether contraception may be supported by the government. It is a matter of whether religious people and institutions may be forced by the government to provide coverage for contraception and sterilization, even when it violates our religious beliefs.” Visit www.usccb.org for more on Fortnight for Freedom.
For the cause of bolstering public awareness and appreciation for our liberty of religious conscience, St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Stockdale invites people of faith and good will throughout Wilson County to gather during fourteen evenings before July 4 -- Wednesday, June 20, through Tuesday, July 3, both Fridays are excluded -- for enlightenment, inspiration, patriotism, and prayer.
Each evening will begin at 6:30 p.m. and should conclude within an hour. Each service is designed to embrace prayers, writings, scriptures, hymns, and reflections while respectful of denominational differences.
So make plans to join the parishioners of St. Mary’s and the community of Stockdale for one, some, most, or all these services planned during the 14 days before July 4. The liberties we enjoy should not be taken for granted. Seize the moment and exercise your right to assemble as well as act with the conscience formed by religious belief.
REV. DENNIS JARZOMBEK
Pastor, St. Mary’s Catholic Church, Stockdale
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