What an enjoyable evening we had this past Tuesday when the children of our parish school put on their annual Spring Concert. The talent went beyond the level of traditional grade school fare and highlighted the fun and entertainment that motivate children to excel. Our Catholic school is such a blessing, especially with the high level of academic achievement we’ve been witnessing these past few years. I thank our parents and other parishioners and friends who make this available for our kids through their sacrifices, donations and good will contributions. I know that you know that our children pray every day for you.
Graduations of all sorts take place at this time of year. This week, in our school, they were on three different levels: Pre-K, Kindergarten and 8th grade. Our children earned quite a few awards, including nearly $20,000 worth of academic and service scholarships. I’m pleased to note that thirteen of our 8th grade graduates chose our local Catholic High School, Pope John Paul II, as their next venue for learning. It seems that in a recent series of surveys, pollsters found that 75% of teenagers living in the United States abandon their Christian faith by the end of their freshman year in high school. Somewhere along the line, someone is neglecting to stress the importance of training our youngsters in the Faith, possibly via a poor example shown by failure to participate in Sunday Mass every week, or by ignoring the teachings of our Catholic Faith in matters of grave importance, or laziness and indifference on the part of all above. Thank God, we still have good Catholic schools in the area to reinforce the teachings of our Church, and to assist our parents in their primary duties as Catholic parents (not “buddies” or “best friends”) to instill in these young, formative minds the truths of our one, true Faith. May we always have this salient opportunity, and NEVER take it for granted; for the erosion of our Catholic beliefs and values is always a real possibility, especially if we don’t take careful measures to safeguard them. That’s the crux of an ongoing problem between certain politicians and religious leaders in our country.
That was also the setting in Catholic Mexico about eighty or more years ago, when so-called “Christian (by baptism, anyway) leaders” decided to enforce laws that gradually curtailed and later took away the religious freedoms of Catholics. This persecution eventually caused a serious uprising in that country that resulted in the death of no-too-few loyal Catholics (several bishops and priests among them). That dark part of that country’s history was carefully excised from the books and teaching materials in which children were taught their country’s history. It came to light recently in the “most-viewed film in Mexico’s history”: “For Greater Glory!” It will be appearing in its original English-language version in our theatres, starting June 1st. Watch for it! The film stars such movie greats such as Peter O’Toole, Andy Garcia, Eva Longoria, Eduardo Verastegui (of “Bella” fame) and Oscar Isaac. It is rated “R” because of violence (not language or nudity), but that’s what wars are usually about: the struggle between “right” and “wrong.” And if you think it can’t happen in our country, remember that what the Catholic Spaniards said just before it occurred in their history some ten years later, with an even bloodier outcome.
Our U.S. Bishops’ are calling for a “Fortnight for Freedom” initiative, from June 21-July 4, to encourage prayer, education and public action about religious freedom. This initiative was created in response to several moves by the current administration that threaten not only our Church’s religious freedom, but also many other denominations. The most wellknown action is the Health and Human Services mandate put forth as part of “Obamacare,” under the direction of “Catholic” HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, that requires employers to cover birth control and other services that Catholics and other believers find morally objectionable.
Some readers of this column have said that they wish I would explain some of the underlying issues of the subtle and not-so-subtle attacks by the U.S. Church leadership on members of the current administration in Washington in terms of “What would Jesus do?” regarding the coveted principle of tolerance. It’s not so much an attack by our Church leaders as a defense brought about by an attack from the administration’s leaders. As to what would Jesus do? I think He answered this well when they “attacked” His Father’s House (the Temple). The administration has tried to twist this into a charade of “an imposition of Catholic teaching on ‘Artificial Means of Birth Control’ upon the rest of the nation.” That is a LIE! The distorting of the real truth is always the means by which Satan seeks to rule his world. On the principle of tolerance and intolerance, I refer you to the real wisdom of a great Catholic philosopher known to many: “There is no other subject on which the average mind is so much confused as the subject of tolerance and intolerance….Tolerance applies only to persons but never to principles. Intolerance applies only to principles but never to persons.” Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen
This Monday, our nation will again observe its Memorial Day, in honor of the men and women who put their lives on the line so that we could enjoy the freedoms procured by our founding patriots. As we look past family barbecues and focus on the original intent of this observance, we might take note that freedom is not really free; it costs very much….but, thankfully, the men and women of our Military will pay most of our share. Mark Twain remarked that “Patriotism means supporting your Country all the time, and your government when it deserves it.” There’s much wisdom in that saying.