Much has been said of late about religious freedom and the infringement upon that freedom that seems to be growing in our government lately. While it is true that administration officials are doing whatever they can to force certain issues, it is also true that our government and its administration are a reflection of us as a people. Because of our failure to live by our principles and because of our failure to speak up when our moral criteria are compromised and because of our failure to elect officials who represent the values which inform our moral compass, we are as much to blame for the current difficulties as are any of the elected officials and their staffs. Rather than electing people who represent our values and our moral convictions, we tend to vote for people who will improve our bank balances, who will fatten our wallets.
Before we begin to rant and rave against the failure of the current generation to make itself known in the public square, it is also important to realize that our failure is but another in a long line of failures in this regard. The first reading for today's liturgy details how the Israelites forsook their covenant relationship with God very shortly after the covenant was ratified. It is a truism in human behavioral patterns that when life is easy men and women fail to stand up and be counted. When they were slaves in Egypt, the people were almost militant in their devotion to their faith. However, once they were freed from their oppression and had begun to experience a bit of "the good life," their devotion to the faith and to their moral principles waned quickly. The same has happened over and over again in human history. When Catholic Christians were the victims of prejudice and bias, our voice was loud. Now that we are part of the mainstream, we have fallen back into a comfortable pattern of life and cannot be bothered by moral principles and ethical criteria. Now that our religious freedom is being threatened, many are once again voicing concern. However, our actions don't match our words.
Sadly, while we don't want the government telling us what we must do, there are many who don't want God to direct our lives either. Only when we return to living out our faith, when our actions bear witness to our faith, will we triumph over the secularism that is gripping our society and culture. Perhaps the current situation is God's way of warning us to return to obedience to the commandments before we lose our precious freedom of religion.
Fr. Lawrence Jagdfeld, O.F.M., Administrator