We’re All in the Garden Now

As you probably know, the Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of ObamaCare.  I’ll leave it to political websites to debate, praise, and criticize the ruling.  My concern now turns toward the Health and Human Services Mandate which will require businesses and organizations to cover contraception expenses regardless of their religious beliefs.  What are we, as people of faith, going to do about this assault on our freedom of religion?  How can the rosary help us find God‘s path and the strength to follow Him?

An angel comforting Jesus before his arrest in...
An angel comforting Jesus before his arrest in the Garden of Gethsemane (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

If the Supreme Court had ruled ObamaCare and the individual mandate unconstitutional, then the HHS mandate would have become a moot point.  The only way the government could require people to provide contraception coverage in a health care plan was through the authority granted somewhere in the 2,700+ pages of the ObamaCare law.  This “silver bullet” approach to striking down the HHS mandate reminds me of the First Sorrowful Mystery — The Agony in the Garden.  Jesus prayed to God to spare Him the agony of the Passion and Crucifixion.  Jesus said in Matthew 26:39, “My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from me.”  And that is exactly what people of faith asked the Supreme Court.  We asked, “if possible, please strike down ObamaCare so we won’t have to fight the HHS mandate.”  But Jesus did have to suffer through the Passion and Crucifixion much like we will have to suffer through many fights ahead regarding ObamaCare , the HHS mandate, and other violations of our religious liberty.

But don’t give up all hope.  God’s plan for Jesus involved suffering through the Passion as we see in the Fourth Sorrowful Mystery of Jesus taking up His cross.  But God was with Jesus through it all.  God gave Jesus the strength to get up every time He fell under the cross’ heavy burden.  And so find ourselves, under the heavy burden of the HHS mandate as one of our crosses.  But similarly to how God gave Jesus the strength to continue despite His suffering, God gives us the strength to fight the good fight.

Now is the time to pray much like Jesus did in the Garden of Gethsemane.  But we need to follow up that prayer with action.  When your priest preaches about the HHS mandate and how it threatens our religious liberty in a homily, tell him after Mass that you agree and support him.  People who are on the front lines of this battle, like priests and bishops, need to know they have our support and they aren’t just fighting this alone.  We need to educate ourselves and then educate others on the implications of the HHS mandate (see the video below for a quick primer).  We need to let our politicians know that we will not vote for or support those who think the government can arbitrarily give and take away our inalienable rights such as our freedom of religion.

Jesus suffered, but ultimately redeemed us all through His Resurrection.  The sorrows and suffering in His Passion and Crucifixion only made God’s ultimate triumph that much more spectacular and meaningful.  Who knows?  Maybe this whole HHS mandate battle will ultimately convert and save many more souls than if the Supreme Court had simply ruled against ObamaCare.  God sometimes works in mysterious ways like that.

Here are some more resources on how you can contribute to our defence of religious liberty:

  • The Colson Center has developed a page with regular updates on the religious liberty questions still in play.
  • The Becket Fund is another create resources for learning about the legal battles that lay ahead.
  • And one of my personal favorites is the stophhs.com lead by radio host Al Kresta
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Tale of Two Atheists, Part 1

The assault on religion, Catholicism specifically, seems to have increased exponentially recently.  People of faith are under fire from the government, the media, and a long-time foe — atheistsRichard Dawkins is one of the leaders of the new atheist movement.  What sets him and his kind apart from earlier atheists is that he’s not content with letting believers have their faith while he maintains his faith in not having a faith (try to say that three times fast).  Instead, his mission is to convert all religious people to believe God does not exist thinking the world will be a better place without religion.  He has gone so far as to call for openly mocking Catholics.  At the Reason Rally, he said:

For example, if they say they’re Catholic: Do you really believe, that when a priest blesses a wafer, it turns into the body of Christ? Are you seriously telling me you believe that? Are you seriously saying that wine turns into blood?”

If the answer is yes, Dawkins suggested atheists should show contempt for believers instead of ignoring the issue or feigning respect.

“Mock them,” he told the crowd. “Ridicule them! In public!”

Richard Dawkins giving a lecture based on his ...
Richard Dawkins giving a lecture based on his book, The God Delusion, in Reykjavik (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Publically mocking people; how’s that for a better world?  Dawkins is so sure of his views that anyone who doesn’t see the world as he does is an open target for mockery.  In his worldview, nothing can exist outside known science.  He maintains his positions despite the fact that known science is always expanding.  He can’t prove exactly how life starts or how the mass that resulted in the Big Bang came into existence and yet he’s certain God can’t exist.  Hopefully, history will show Dawkins views as ludicrous as Charles H. Duell‘s statement, “everything that can be invented has been invented,” made in 1899.

Dawkins’ attitude towards faith reminds me of a few mysteries of the rosary.   Look at Jesus’ Passion.  The Romans mocked him in the Third Sorrowful Mystery when they crowned Him with thorns.  In the Fifth Sorrowful Mystery, while being crucified, people mocked Jesus telling Him to save Himself if He truly was the Messiah.  Like Dawkins, they demanded proof of Jesus’ divinity despite witnessing all the miracles He already performed.

During His Passion, Jesus did not perform miracles to simply please the mob.  Besides, there probably wasn’t anything Jesus could have done that would have sufficiently proved Himself to His critics.  After all, if the countless miracles and raising someone from the dead didn’t satisfy people, what would?  And so we find ourselves in a similar situation with atheists.  There is very little people of faith can offer them that will satisfy their need for concrete proof.  After all, the very idea of faith is that it is belief in the absence of proof.  But there is real evidence in the reality and power of faith.  It drives us to do good in the world and overcome life’s challenges.  Faith leads countless people to a lasting happiness, not only in Heaven, but in this life as well.  It is what drove Jesus to get up after falling down so many times under the weight of the cross.  Unfortunately, critics often ignore that God-given strength much like they ignored Jesus continuing to do God’s will in His Passion and Crucifixion.

Richard Dawkins, the new atheist movement, and the rosary mysteries show us how weak our faith can be at times and how we often don’t believe God exists.  While we may not be as brazen as the new atheists, we do certainly have those moments where we doubt God’s existence.  That disbelief manifests itself in sinful behavior.  If we were truly conscious of God’s presence, we wouldn’t sin because we know sinful activity separates us from God’s grace.  Why would we sin knowing that we face possible eternal damnation or at least more time in Purgatory?  But because we often have momentary (or sometimes prolonged) doubts in the reality of God and the consequences of sin, we do things that we should not do.

When we pray the rosary and think about all those mysteries where people mocked Jesus and wanted proof of His divinity, we should ask ourselves how often we do the same thing through our thoughts, words, and actions.  We might find ourselves behaving more like an atheist than we think.

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