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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

Solemnity of Mary, the Holy Mother of God

I hope that you have enjoyed sharing stories and time with your family during this Christmas season. Today, we celebrate the Solemnity of Mary, the Holy Mother of God, and as we listen to the story of how the shepherds were the first to be told by God's angels of Christ's birth, and they were also the first to visit baby Jesus. The shepherds were the poorest and most marginalized of all people in those days, yet they were chosen to bear the good news of what God's angels had announced: The Savior, the Messiah, the Lord, has been born.

Mary who is our model in responding to God's word also hears the good news from the shepherds, she ponders it in her heart and fully responds to it discovering who her newborn baby truly is. Mary's heart becomes the place of responding to Jesus, so too must our hearts become the place of our own response to the Lord.

This Sunday, the Church also observes the World Day of Peace, and the U.S. Catholic Conference of Bishops offers a Prayer for Peace in Our Communities and encourage all of us to pray for peace.

May this be a peaceful New Year for all!

On the journey,
Fr. Dennis G. Lewandowski