The Fight for Freedom Begins July Fifth

The Fortnight for Freedom, which ends today, July 4, will hopefully be a great boon to Catholics across the country. Despite the Supreme Court’s recent decision to uphold Obamacare as a tax, hopefully the Fortnight, organized by the United States Bishops, has brought unity and resolve to American Catholics.

But I fear that in the end, it’ll accomplish next to nothing. Because our attention spans are short, and our wills are weak.

Did we pray for two weeks? Maybe we have, if we had the proper rest and hydration. Did we fill out an online form that sends a letter to our Congressman? Probably, as long we weren’t put on some annoying email list. Yes, we can do these things. At least for two weeks.

But what happens tomorrow? What happens on July 5?

Will we lift the standard higher or will we stash it in the attic and go back to the norm? I’d like to think that the Fortnight for Freedom has inspired and emboldened Catholics here and around the world; that it strengthened them for the long haul; that it initiated real change in Washington.

I’d like to think that, but let’s remember what got us here in the first place. Modernism? Sure. Relativism? Certainly. Secularism, atheism, communism, socialism? Check.

But more than any “–ism,” the reason we’re in this predicament is our indifference; our inability, or unwillingness, to stand up for the Church and for ourselves. The government does not simply wake up one day and tell everyone that they have to fund contraception. Little by little, we give them that power.

Over the years, we’ve compromised or looked the other way as government and society have chipped away at freedom and our faith. We can still worship. We can still, technically, believe what we want to believe, but we’re now thoroughly on the outside. We are second class citizens who can be coerced and trampled upon.

Catholics—real Catholics—are on the brink of being ushered out of the public square. And it didn’t happen with the HHS mandate, that’s merely one shove. It’s been happening for years in our capitals and in our classrooms. And while part of it is the raging sea of all those “-isms,” a large part is our malaise; our weakness.

We live in a post-Christian society. Getting to that point requires a powerful and malicious anti-Christian ideology. It requires a bastardization of philosophy, a corrosion of the family, a loss of reason, a disdain for the spiritual. But it also requires weak and ineffectual Christians.

The HHS Mandate is not a new threat. It’s merely the next order of business. It’s a result of years of temerity and compromise. Now, admirably, the United States bishops are fighting back. Many Catholic colleges and hospitals are fighting back, but will we fight back?

Recent history says, eh, probably not. Sure, we can say some prayers and listen to some homilies and sign some letters over these two weeks. But what happens on July 5?

This is no longer about “compromise” or bipartisan politics or keeping the peace. We’ve tried that and failed. We took the easy way and it’s only gotten worse. We’re losing. Will two weeks change any of that? Not if we can’t continue the effort and grow stronger for the next two weeks. And the next two weeks. And the next two weeks. And the . . . well, you get the picture.

The Fortnight for Freedom must be a launching pad, not merely a nice gesture. It must go beyond simply freedom. Freedom can be compromised, twisted. It must be about protecting and honoring Christ and His Church. It must be about restoring all things to Christ.

The bishops have cited the string of great martyrs—John Fisher, Thomas More, Saints Peter and Paul, and John the Baptist—whose feasts fall within the Fortnight as one of the reasons for choosing this time of prayer and action.

Tomorrow, July 5, is the feat of Saint Zoe of Rome. She was a member of Emperor Diocletian’s court, but she was also a passionate Christian, devoted to Saint Peter. Eventually, she was found out and Diocletian had her hung from a tree by her ankles and burned. On July 5, let’s pray for the intercession of Saint Zoe, that we may have the faith and the strength to put our Church and our God first.

July 6 is the feat of Blessed Thomas Alfield. In 1585 he was hanged by the British government for distributing pro-Catholic pamphlets. On July 6, let’s pray for the intercession of Blessed Thomas Alfield, that we may have the courage to defend Christ and His Church.

July 7 is the feat of Blessed Ralph Milner, an Englishman who aided British priests and Catholics during their oppression. He was hung, drawn, and quartered in 1591. On July 7, let’s pray for the intercession of Blessed Ralph Milner, that we may give our full support to Christ’s ministers here on earth, giving them aid as they lead us in the fight for our faith.

And it goes on and on. There is a martyr for every day of the year. The Roman canon is filled with men and women who laid down their lives for Christ. They defended Christ and His Church at all costs, not just for two weeks.

We shouldn’t hesitate to call upon them . . . and we shouldn’t be afraid to imitate them. We may not have to die, but we will have to suffer.

Two weeks of prayer and unity is great. And we should participate enthusiastically. Pray. Fast. Tell your neighbors. Write to your congressman. And prepare for the long and painful journey that lies ahead.

Or else, do nothing.

Because if we aren’t prepared to continue the fight—if we aren’t prepared to be martyrs—then the Fortnight for Freedom will be just another empty gesture.


After a brief career restoring timber-framed barns, Christian Tappe worked as an editor for Regnery and ISI Books. He is currently Editor of Saint Benedict Press/TAN Books in Charlotte, NC.

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  • Bill

    This battle was lost when the American hierarchy made the pragmatice decision, as advised by Cdl Avery Dulles, to not excommunicate pro-abortion “catholic” legislators. The reason? Many Catholic institutions were being funded with public money and they did not want the “faucet” shut off. Stop picking on the laity! The Church is a hierarchy and not a democracy. Place the blame where it belongs.

    • That’s the spirit!

    • Adam_Baum

      The laity shares blame. It dutifully voted for Democrats because they “were for the working man”, despite numerous other assaults on the Church (abortion, et al) and yes, they had “seamless garment” blither courtesy of Cardinal Bernardin-but among my family there’s some that STILL can’t fathom not voting for the donkey-and adopted widespread use of contraception, dutifully limiting their families to 2.1 children. 

  • Alecto

    Um, excuse me, but for those of us who saw this tsunami, this storm decades ago because we WERE properly catechized, and came from solidly Catholic families, who were being persecuted and laughed at by phony-baloney bishops, bad priests and Marxist nuns; who were calling, writing, protesting, praying and voting as well as donating to and working for pro-life candidates, I respond, “Where were you for the past 30 years?”  I’m not stopping my efforts.  I simply want to reiterate that this is 24/7/365 for the rest of our lives.  Satan doesn’t sleep, and neither do the Progressives in the Democrat Party, and please don’t kid yourself that  this isn’t political and that any Catholic who now votes for Democrats should be excommunicated immediately!  We cannot afford to take a break.  Since today is July 4th, I join with the famous Revolutionary War hero, John Paul Jones (born on July 6th), “I have not yet begun to fight!”  Nothing less than full, unconditional repeal of Obamacare will suffice. 

    Perhaps one of the efforts by the fervently timid USCCB needs to be a re-invigoration of catechism at all ages, for all Catholics?  You cannot evangelize or defend a faith about which you know nothing.  I have not heard one sermon in my diocese about the Church’s teaching on abortion, contraception, homosexuality or same sex marriage, fornication, adultery, etc…, but have heard plenty of sermons extolling the virtues of illegal immigration and castigating those horrible Baptists down there in Alabama even as our own Cardinal Wuerl disciplined a priest who denied communion to a practicing homosexual!  Cardinal Wuerl has some nerve trying to parade around as a great defender of the faith now!  I am convinced our leadership is comprised of the most cowardly, hypocritical, misguided twits on Earth.  I’m Catholic, not stupid.   Let’s stop praising the bishops – they got us into this.  I don’t expect them to do much to get us out.

    Hats off to Mother Angelica at EWTN who is such a fine example of using technology to spread authentic Catholic values and counter the filth.  

    • Tout

      Thanks. congratulations ALECTO. I too keep at armslenght from bishops. Our pastor put up 2 new buildings in the last 17 years, but replaced not the communion-rail that was thrown out. I offer weekly only 25 cents till the communion rail is back. Some of my actions: I am the only one who always receive on tongue in this church. Two priesta tried to open my hands, no succes. Every month I prayed at Mary-statue downtown and hang sign “Whether glad,sad or wary, stay a while,say a Hail Mary”. Some pedestrians come, touch the statue. Young man came,prayed, left. Girl (19 ?)prayed on her knees,left. Woman prayed with me the rest of my rosary. Older woman prayed,left. Started(at age 82) yearly May-procession ending in church, Mary-crown-ing.  Always make sign of cross before meal, in restaurant, also when with others who don’t. In old-people home, the only one making sign of cross before meals, between 80 people. Wear wooden 3 cm cross over my sweater. Made my scouts-promise 1932. “Once a scout, always a scout” A real scout has a religion, or is only a copy of scouting.

    • Alberioth

       Indeed.  As a Catholic, for years I’ve been opposing being forced to support, with the fruits of my labor,  something I think is immoral: torture (including waterboarding) and the wars ordered by the very same politicians who are shoving the HHS mandate down our throats. Where were the bishops?  Praying for “our brave troops,” but not for our enemies, which is actually the group for whom Christ specifically told us to pray. Ah well.  I think the bishops’ response is too little, too late. It’s almost amusing that it they’ve finally begun to catch on to what the government is all about.

  • John Key

    Right on! The Church…Bishops, priests, deacons, religious, and laity…share blame. A radical Christianity is necessary to achieve personal holiness. That in turn is what animates the Body of Christ to do His will: Holy zeal. From Bishop to Sunday Catholic pew warmer, we are way too comfy, too busy, too distracted. This moment of gentle persecution is a gift. Use it wisely. God will bring us in line. If we don’t respond to the easy lessons, they will get harder.

    Saint Zoe pray for us!

  • Carl

    Excellent article, my thoughts exactly!  And I would like to report in from Southeast Pennsylvania.   One man’s observation and the news isn’t good.
    The Bishops are selling this as a Religious Freedom issue and when they explain that they oppose contraception and abortive drugs people lose interests and the movement dies.

    Where’s the Subsidiarity?

    This should be explained for what it is, as a Marxist take-over of our beloved Republic.

    And as a previous article explained, Church leaders are afraid of upsetting Pharaoh, and losing billions of dollars is Federal Funding.

    I compare this scenario to King Henry VIII, the difference being that so far I see no Thomas More, I see no John Fisher!

    All hail King Barrack Hussein Obama!

    Live free or Die!

  • 4Marks

    “NOTHING is impossible with God!” Luke 1:37

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