Singing in the Face of EvilIn New Jersey, there is a battle raging to preserve religious freedom. Recent legislation is not only threatening our parental rights but making it clear that if we want to continue to live our faith, we must fight. Top officials have said openly that faith has no place in matters of "public good" and "science." We are not alone, this battle is playing out across the country. How do you live your faith, if you cannot live it at every moment in every place?
Protests have been ongoing since December. Mothers, fathers, children, elderly...some from states away. All descending on the capitol square to have their voices heard. There are people from every background and faith. We do not all see the issue in the same light, but we do all see how it erodes our freedom. Once freedom is abandoned, it is seldom, or at least not easily, brought back.
Where Two or More are Gathered
Gathering is a way to show support and distress. We need to come together and fight for what is right. Although we are called to be peacemakers, we are never called to be doormats. Jesus himself turned over the tables in the Temple and disrupted the status quo. He did not accept the will of the government when it interfered with the will of God. To preserve religious freedom, we must come together. We must drop everything, everything that seems important in the moment but has no value in Our Master's Plan, and come together to stand up for what is right. Evil waits for no man. Plowing your field--or cleaning your home, or completing your work--is of temporary importance. The big picture requires action that is swift and focused.
Catechism in ActionWe are called to preserve and promote the Good, the True, and the Beautiful. Our lamps are meant to be where all can see to shed light on a very dark world. Does that mean that our lamps will protect us from discomfort and criticism? Absolutely, not! Some will try to blow out our lamps. Others will be offended and come against us to put out our lamps. And still others will call us crazy for having a lamp in the first place. Shining our lights makes us vulnerable.
Jesus admonishes us to not deny Him before men. When we hide and "fly under the radar," we are denying Him who gave us the light to shine! Peter denied Jesus with his lips three times. He wanted to fit in. Perhaps he was too tired to handle the jeers and arguments that would follow. Or maybe, he felt that if he just kept his head down this would all blow over and His Savior would be set free!
Will You Be Silent?
This past Thursday, a small but mighty group of Catholics gathered in Trenton to pray and sing. We processed up the block across from the statehouse, sprinkled holy water, and blessed salts on the path to the statehouse door, and prayed for over two hours for each senator, the governor, and the preservation of religious freedom. When organizing this event, I had a much different idea of how it would go. My family left early in the morning for the long, and slow-moving drive to Trenton. My boys have been wanting to see Washington's crossing and several landmarks, but this was not a time for sightseeing. This was an opportunity to put our faith, and civics lessons, into practice.
My youngest was having a day, a three-year-old day to be exact. Her usually delightful personality was not a happy camper from the moment she woke up. Time in the cold with loud noises from the protesters did not help. As the crowd continued to shout and bang drums, our little band of faithful continued to pray even though it was hard to even hear the person right next to you. And Lovie Lu began to cry. I bounced, I rocked, I rubbed her back and feet...nothing would settle her down.
So there I sat on a cold, concrete curb, with my back aching and rocked her until she slept briefly. For a moment I was just there with my child and the screams of her agony staring me in the face. As I began to question my parenting capabilities and wonder if really I should have stayed home like a "good mom," a sign caught the corner of my eye.
SO I CAN TELL MY CHILDREN I WAS NOT SILENT!
Uncomfortable with Being Uncomfortable
That was it. Emotion caught in my throat. I could not be silent. What would I tell my children if I were and their freedom is stripped away? How could I answer for a future where faith and personal autonomy are banned? How could I be silent?
My child's momentary distress, which was quickly remedied with a bag of gluten-free pretzels, her favorite doll, and a warm van, was just a distraction. We have grown so accustomed to comfort, we are unwilling to allow ourselves to be uncomfortable. Our parochial vicar recounted his experience walking El Camino this summer, "I realized how uncomfortable I have become with being uncomfortable."
This was what had to be done. Her tears and frustration are but a blink of an eye that she will likely never remember. Living in a world devoid of freedom, she would never forget. Our discomfort was necessary. Clinging to comfort is how the world has gotten where it is. As Matthew Kelly said in The Best Advent Ever, the world is the way it is because too many people have chosen not to do their "small bit."
No One is Shirking
The prayer, the march, the protest all brought to mind a Dr. Seuss classic, "Horton Hears a Who." With pro-life undertones, the story tell of Horton who discovers a microscopic world that the powers that be wish to destroy. He pleads and pleads but they will not listen, they do not believe the world exists and are not interested in investigating any further.
So, Horton turns his pleas to his miniature friends, the Whos. He asks them to make as much noise as possible so he can show it is true. A cacophony arises, that the officials cannot hear. Once again, Horton pleas to increase the noise, make sure everyone is making as much noise as possible. Still nothing. Finally, he asks if there is anyone "shirking" their duty. The Whos discover one small Who in a tiny apartment who is just sitting quietly. Through some prompting, this shirker lets out a small "yip" and suddenly the officials' ears can hear. The Whos and their world are saved by one small voice.
What You Can Do to Preserve Religious Freedom
If all who professed Christ as their Savior, and all who enjoy liberty stood up, there would be no room for legislation that goes against the principles of our faith and our constitution! The first thing to do is to make your position known. Sign petitions, attend rallies, share the message that we will not go quietly into the darkness--do not be silent!
Next, you must pray. Gather and pray. Pray and sing. Process and pray. Fast and pray. Prayer is powerful, it is our greatest weapon against the schemes of the devil. We must realize that this all comes down to the battle Christ has already won. Every moment, every incident is a battle for our soul. Will we side with Our Savior or fall victim to the empty promises of the world.
Pray the litanies, the full rosary, a flying novena, or the Divine Office. Commit to praying in a way that is uncomfortable and requires sacrifice. Then sing! Sing in the face of evil. Songs are prayers prayed twice. God's angels sing hymns of praise every moment of eternity. The enemy hates joy and praise. Be a beacon in a very cold and dark world!
That which I tell you in the dark, speak ye in the light: and that which you hear in the ear, preach ye upon the housetops.
Linking up with Kelly for some #7QT!