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On the Journey - Fr. Dennis G. Lewandowski

Each year, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops reminds us the importance of defending our religious freedom. From June 21st to July 4th Catholics are called to take part in the Fortnight for Freedom. Resources on How to Talk About Religious Freedom are available online at www.usccb.org where you can also find ways to get involved.

The U.S. Bishops encourage all citizens to keep in mind that "if religious liberty is not respected, all people suffer and are deprived of the essential contribution to the common good, be it in education, health care, feeding the hungry, civil rights, and social services that the Church and other people of faith make every day, both here at home and overseas".

"Religion cannot be relegated to the inner sanctum of personal life, without influence on societal and national life". -Pope Francis, Evangelii Gudiium, 183

Below are a few excerpts from the Religious Freedom guide which you can download from: http://www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/religious-liberty/how-to-talk-about-religious-freedom.cfm

"Many religious freedom skeptics have plausible concerns. For example, they are concerned that all people should be treated with equal dignity. Indeed, the dignity of all people is the foundation for Catholic teaching on religious liberty. It is important that we not dismiss skeptics, but rather, that we listen to their concerns and take them seriously".

"Religious freedom is a fundamental right. It means that the government cannot coerce people into acting against their consciences".

"People of faith need religious freedom to have the space to serve others. Oftentimes, religious liberty disputes arise when religious organizations are expected to sacrifice aspects of their faith in order to continue to serve the surrounding community. But it is our faith that inspires us to serve. Take the Little Sisters of the Poor, who live out their Christian faith by serving the elderly poor".

On the journey,
Fr. Dennis G. Lewandowski

Fourth Sunday of Lent

Spring is here and soon the trees will recover their leaves and flowers will bloom. Many people say spring is the happiest time of the year. Perhaps this feeling has something to do with spending more time outdoors, admiring God's creation. Though there is surely a common desire for happiness in the hearts of men and women of all ages, there are people who seem to avoid happiness because they feel it is too hard or impossible to achieve.

"God has placed in the heart of every man and woman an irrepressible desire for happiness, for fulfillment".
—Pope Francis

A couple of years ago, Pope Francis' 10 Secrets to Happiness was published, this ten-page booklet with thoughts on how to achieve happiness is available online at Our Sunday Visitor: www.osv.com/10secrets.aspx.

Following is a quick list of the Holy Father's recommendations for happiness but I encourage you to visit the provided link where you can download the booklet and read the description he provides for each of them.

  1. Live and Let Live.
  2. Create jobs for young people.
  3. Be giving of yourself to others.
  4. Respect and take care of nature.
  5. Proceed calmly.
  6. Stop being negative.
  7. Develop a healthy sense of leisure.
  8. Respect others' beliefs.
  9. Make Sunday a holy day.
  10. Work for peace.

Earlier this month we hosted a Lenten Afternoon with John Allen Jr. This was a unique opportunity for members of our faith community and neighbors to listen to someone who has been covering the Vatican and the papacy for more than two decades, and ask questions about Pope Francis' direction to rejuvenate the Catholic Church. We have received positive feedback from people who attended this event and hope to bring other interesting speakers to our parish in the future.

On the journey,
Fr. Dennis G. Lewandowski