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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

Third Sunday of Lent

Last Monday, March 13th, Pope Francis celebrated his 4th anniversary as Bishop of Rome and leader of the Global Catholic Church. The Holy Father's first four years have been driven by mercy, service and humility. Reading about the pope in the media one confirms that his message and actions have clearly captured the world's attention. An important theme during the first four years of his papacy has been "forgiveness".

I want to share some experts taken from an article published by Loyola Press: Pope Francis on the Parable of the Merciful Father. This reflection speaks to the people who might feel their sins are too great to ask God for forgiveness.

"Think of the younger son who was in the father's house, who was loved; and yet wants his part of the inheritance. He goes off, spends everything, hits rock bottom, where he could not be more distant from the father. Yet when he is at his lowest, he misses the warmth of the father's house and he goes back…

Had the father forgotten the son? No, never. He is there, he sees the son from afar; he was waiting for him every hour of every day. The son was always in his father's heart, even though he had left him, even though he had squandered his whole inheritance, his freedom. The father, with patience, love, hope, and mercy had never for a second stopped thinking of him, and as soon as he sees him still far off, he runs out to meet him and embraces him with tenderness, the tenderness of God, without a word of reproach: his son has returned!

…God is always waiting for us; he never grows tired. Jesus shows us this merciful patience of God so that we regain confidence, hope-always!"

- Excerpted from The Church of Mercy by Pope Francis

On the journey,
Fr. Dennis G. Lewandowski