“Be doers of the word and not hearers only…” James 1:22
We will soon celebrate Independence Day. A day we give special thanks for the courage and commitment of our founding fathers for the cause of liberty, and to all who have died in defense of that cause. Our founders understood that an important tenant of a well-ordered and just society would be the freedom of its citizens to express their belief in God and to put that faith into practice in the everyday circumstances of life. How blessed we are to live in these United States of America where life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness matter.
The Church continues to ask us to remain vigilant in the protection of one of our most cherished, and dare I say threatened, liberties-religious freedom. The Catholic Bishops of the United States have asked that we reflect on what we may often take for granted—the freedom to express our faith without fear of persecution. But regrettably, we see far too many instances of a gradual erosion of this precious and protected gift. And in parts of the world we see painful images of an all-out assault on Christians, for no other reason than their faith in Christ, our Brother and Savior.
The Second Vatican Council document Dignitatis humanae, the Declaration on Religious Liberty, declares, “that the human person has a right to religious freedom. This freedom means that all men are to be immune from coercion on the part of individuals or of social groups and of any human power, in such ways that no one is to be forced to act in a manner contrary to his own beliefs, whether privately or publicly, whether alone or in association with others, within due limits. The council further declares that the right to religious freedom has its foundation in the very dignity of the human person as this dignity is known through the revealed word of God and by reason itself. “ (DH #2)
St. James teaches us to be “doers” of the Word. This requires us to have the courage to put our faith into everyday ACTION. We can do so by expressing that faith though our system of government. In letting our voice be heard, voting our conscience, writing to our elected officials, and standing up for the poor and vulnerable we show the impact of our Christian values on a confused and often misled culture. These are all ways we can bring our faith to the public square for the common good and the good of all of God’s creation.
Let us pray always for those persecuted for their walk with Christ, stand firm in our faith, and embrace the truth as revealed by God. We are called to live our faith in all facets of life-to hear the word of God and live it by our Piety, Study and Action. In these we are “doers” of the Word.
To learn more about how to stay informed on the issues and be engaged with our elected officials, I recommend you take a look at the Catholic Conference of Illinois Website at https://www.ilcatholic.org.
Deacon Wayne Weiler