March 2, 2012

I can't sit idly by any longer.

Over the past few weeks I have been showing Fr. Robert Barron's Catholicism series to both friends in my home and to our parishioners at work.  The reaction has been so positive and it is encouraging to think that Fr. Barron's documentary will inspire people to think more about their Catholic faith, and re-engerise them so that they can go out an be part of the new evangelization.

The series has affected me as well. Not only has it increased my joy in being Catholic but it is making me realize that the Church that I love is coming under terrible attack and I can't just sit idly any longer.  I am the type of person who doesn't get involved in politics. I am not registered with a political party, and I don't know much about what goes on in Washington. But as of late, what is going on in Washington has given me a wake up call that I cannot just let slide and ignore. We, as Catholics in the United States, are under persecution. Of course I am speaking about the HHS mandate requiring Catholic institution to provide their employees with  insurance coverage for contraception, some types which are abortifacients, and sterilization.

I know many people who disagree with the Church on this and that those employed by the Church should not have to be subject to beliefs that they do not agree with. The way I see it, they don't have to believe what we believe, but as someone working for a religious institution, they have to respect the beliefs of their employer.  When I was a teenager I would babysit for an orthodox Jewish family. They kept a Kosher home and when I watched their children on Friday evenings when they went to the synagogue, there were things that could not be done according to their religious beliefs. I was expected to go along with them.  I could not turn on or off lights, there were certain utensils that could not be used, and certain foods that the children were not allowed to eat.  I would not think twice about disobeying their laws since I wanted to be asked back to baby sit, and I had a great respect for their religious beliefs. Or another example. The the catering hall where my wedding reception was held was Kosher. My reception had to start after a certain hour on Saturday night and there were certain foods that could not be served.  I  knew this when I signed the contract and while a big shrimp station might have been been  popular and enjoyable  at our cocktail hour, according to Jewish law it was not allowed. Neither were any dairy products allowed to be served since we were having meat as part of our dinner. Perhaps these examples aren't exactly the same thing as the HHS mandate, but in a way they are.  I had to obey the religious laws of a religion that was different from my own.

When it comes to the right to contraception and sterilization, both are against the teachings of the Catholic Church. The Church does not hide the fact and it would be a sin for any Church institution to promote sinful behavior by including these things in their health package. The government is asking the Church institutions to commit sin, to go against Church law. It flies in the face of our Constitutional right to freedom of religion. Besides, pregnancy is not a disease that is necessary to be avoided. There are many medical procedures and medications that insurance does not cover because they are not seen as medical necessities. My eye surgery a few years back was not covered, but if I did not have it I would live with severe eye pain for the rest of my life. To me it was very necessary, so I paid for it out of pocket.  If someone wants to avoid pregnancy, and is working for an institution that sees contraception as a sin, then the woman should either pay for it herself or seek other means of birth control. NFP is 99% effective and all natural, but of course we all know the arguments people have against it.

I admit, I am not good at arguing this and there are so many that do it so much better than I.  What I am doing, and I encourage others as well, is to write your senators and congressmen and women. This most recent setback is a rallying call to all Catholics and to those of other faiths as well as it is not just a Catholic issue. Government cannot dictate the rules by which our religious institutions can be run. This is a slippery slope that will lead to more interference and other mandates. Where will it end?

The Catholic faith knows about persecution. We have lived with it for two thousand years. What we need to do is to stand firm in our faith, to trust God and to take a stand for what we believe in as Catholics. I am Catholic. I am proud of it and I am happy to be among those Catholics taking a stand against this affront against our Church.

Since I like Fr. Barron's series so much, I end with his thoughts on this issue.

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