“TIME TO SAY GOODBYE….” go the words of a familiar tune, made very popular recently by the blind operatic sensation, Andrea Bocelli. For us, it’s time to say good-bye to our dear friend, Fr. Bob Higgins, who will be leaving us this week and taking up his new assignment in South Carolina. There he will serve as Port Chaplain in Charleston, and Chaplain at the V.A. Hospital, while still retaining his post as State Chaplain for the Knights of Columbus (I taught him well!). We certainly appreciate all the help he has given us these past three months during his sabbatical, with his special spiritual insights into Christian life. His service to us has been invaluable, and I thank him for being so willing, during his “time-off,” to be so available to our parish and its needs. We pray that he will not be overworked in his new positions, and that he will remember us once in a while in prayer. Adios!
This Sunday, we celebrate the Solemnity of the Birth of St. John the Baptist, a direct relative of Jesus, and a real link between the Old and New Testaments. St. John is given two feast days to celebrate his life, the other being August 29th, marking the death of the Baptist. Jesus refers to him in this way: “Among those born of women, there has been no greater than John the Baptist; yet the least in the Kingdom of heaven is greater than he” (Mt. 11:11). In an upcoming article, I will tell you of a beautiful story that will have a tie-in with this feast of John the Baptist.
The Fourth of July is only a week away. The celebration of our nation’s 236th birthday will take on many forms, and if we were to be true to the principles of our Founding Fathers, we would be “on our knees, giving thanks for all that God has wrought.” So many people will have the day off and will observe the occasion with barbecues, parades, and other get-togethers. For us, our primary “get-together” can be at morning Mass, offering our prayers and sacrifice in worship of the benevolent God who has made and shaped this nation into the greatest one on earth. May we give thanks, too, to those men and women who have, over the years, fought to preserve our liberty and our various freedoms.
We have begun our “Fortnight for Freedom” celebrations (they started on Thursday), and we will continue them through the Fourth of July, when we celebrate the collective freedoms guaranteed by our nation’s Founding Fathers, and enshrined in our federal constitution. Unfortunately, the media has tried to downplay these celebrations as “partisan attacks” on the administration. But that doesn’t fly in view of the fact that so many of our participants are members of both major parties, and others are unaffiliated. The easiest way for us to succumb to such treachery is to become indifferent to the forces that would gradually erode our freedoms.
There are other documents that pertain to the securing of our freedoms and rights, which exist beyond these national ones. These are found in some of the Church documents that emanated from the Second Vatican Council. In the opening chapter of Declaration on Religious Liberty, the Council Fathers at Vatican II forthrightly declared that “the human person has a right to religious freedom.” This right is founded upon the intrinsic dignity of the human person. From God’s revelation we know that the dignity of human beings resides in their being created in the image and likeness of God (Gn 1:27). Like God, we are intelligent beings with free will. Because of this we can know the truth and perform God-like actions, such as being loving, kind, forgiving, etc. Reason, itself, in knowing what a human being is, confirms that we possess a dignity and worth that exceeds the rest of creation and that cannot be violated, but rather needs to be protected and fostered.
What human beings believe concerning God is of supreme importance. Religious belief lies at the very center of who we are in relation to what is most central and cherished in our lives. Therefore, the Council insists that the religious convictions of individuals or groups should never be coerced, but must be held freely, protected by a civil constitutional right. Now, if we can only get this message across to those who are supposed to be our constitutionally selected leaders!
Our annual Ferrer Fund drive for this fiscal year is coming to a close, and I want to thank all of those who, with their generous donations, help keep our school the premier school it has become. I will offer my Mass this Wednesday morning, during my annual retreat, for your intention, giving thanks, on behalf of our parish school family, for all that you have done to help in this work. God bless you!!!