This week on Register Radio, Jeanette De Melo talks to the Cardinal Newman Society's Patrick Reilly about a serious threat to religious freedom on Catholic university campuses in our nation's capitol. And in the second part of the show, Dan Burke and Father of Mercy Father Wade Menezes discuss setting a routine of prayer and making daily duties holy in this New Year.

Patrick Reilly on Threats To D.C. Catholic Schools

Patrick Reilly is president and founder of the Cardinal Newman Society, a wonderful organization dedicated to safeguarding faithful Catholic education. He is a frequent contributor and source to Register news, as well as a regular guest here on Register Radio.

Reilly discussed the two bills that threatened religious freedom of Catholic schools in the District of Columbia.

The first bill repealed a 25-year-old law that Congress passed in 1989 protecting religious schools and colleges from being forced by the District to recognize or otherwise support and fund student or faculty clubs promoting or activities a homosexual agenda, Reilly said.

The second bill, the Reproductive Health Bill, was a new provision in the Human Rights Act that bans discrimination by employers against employees for their actions related to reproductive health. The problem with this, Reilly said, was that there is no religious exemption.

“Clearly, that’s a problem for religious institutions,” he said, citing an example of a teacher at a Catholic school who has an abortion and celebrates it.

In the case of the first bill, schools could be forced to recognize and perhaps fund the activities of gay and lesbian student organizations even if it opposes vocally Catholic teaching. “It takes out of the hands of Catholic educators the ability to determine from a Catholic standpoint what is appropriate and not appropriate at a Catholic institution,” Reilly said. “You can’t have religious education if you can’t make decisions based on the religion.”

Both the opponents and proponents of the second bill, the Reproductive Health Bill, believe that this law can be used as it was in California, to mandate abortion and contraceptive coverage in health insurance plans. “It could be considered discriminatory against women to not provide for these things in health plans, and that of course is a very great concern,” according to Reilly.

It’s not a done deal; the mayor hasn’t signed it. “We are hopeful that the new mayor will veto the bill,” Reilly said. However, if he signs it, Congress has 30 days, under the DC Home Rule Act, to rescind the bill before it becomes law.

Reilly went on to discuss the same sex marriage controversy at Marquette University. “This broad sense of academic freedom has been used to justify just about everything under the sun that descends from Catholic teaching,” Reilly said. “In this case, the professor who is defending Catholic teaching is claiming violation of academic freedom of his rights.”

John McAdams has had a blog since 2010 where he’s been quite direct in his criticism of Marquette University. In this case, he exposed a case where a professor in a class wasn’t allowing a full discussion of same sex marriage because she claimed it would be offensive to the gay or lesbian students in the classroom. Another student complained, arguing that marriage is something that ought to be protected and discussed in the classroom.

This dispute was reported by McAdams on his blog. As of last month, he was suspended from his job, banned from campus, and currently under investigation for violating the rights of the other professor and perhaps the student mentioned in the blog post.

“It’s not necessarily clear that Marquette is opposing Professor McAdams’ position on marriage,” Reilly said, “but there are real questions about whether a professor who is voicing strong orthodox positions that might be offensive to those who disagree with the Church doesn’t have the same protection of academic freedom that dissenters would have on the campus.”

Recently, there was an issue related to the National Labor Relations Board. In the past few years, the Board has established a test that makes it an arbiter for whether a religious college or university is sufficiently religious, according to its own determination, to be considered exempted under the 1979 Supreme Court ruling that upheld that they were. 

Though they have dropped the investigation about religiosity of the institution, they’re now looking at individual faculty members to determine their right to unionize.

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Fr. Wade Menezes on Spiritual Life in the New Year

Fr. Wade Menezes is a member of the Fathers of Mercy, a missionary preaching religious congregation based in Auburn, Kentucky. Fr. Menezes holds degrees in theology as well as journalism and communications. He’s written for numerous Catholic periodicals, including the Register. He’s also hosted several series here on EWTN radio and television, covering such topics as the necessity of the spiritual life, the four last things, ten commandments of Catholic family life, and the gospel of live vs. the culture of death.

“We’re all called to a certain rule of life. However, it’s according to one’s proper state in life,” Fr. Menezes said. “While the weight resolutions are appropriate, we’re a body-soul composite: we gotta also think about the soul and not just the body.”

Whether single, married, or consecrated religious life, all are called to a rule of life. “We should live a balance of prayer, work, and recreation,” he said. 

Fr. Menezes recommended the rosary for family prayer, but noted that it may not be the daily rosary. He also mentioned staples in the life of an individual: monthly confession, weekly Eucharist with our Sunday obligation, maybe a weekly visit to the Blessed Sacrament.

Ask yourself: what is a small step that I can reasonably accomplish every day with a reasonable amount of certainty? This, according to Fr. Menezes, is the key to establishing your rule of life.

When you make that small step toward God, “we draw ourselves closer to him and he’s constantly seeking out the human person,” said Fr. Menezes. “We can’t forget that the actual activity” — whether it be prayer or work or recreation — “each of those activities can be offered up as a pleasing sacrifice to God.”

You want to be diligent in your efforts, he advised, that middle ground between slothful and workaholic. 

A rule of life is a plan to love God. “The rule is the truth that God wants to make you a saint right there where you’re at,” he explained. “We tend to want to be too extravagant sometimes, when really, the Beloved is right there before us, very easy to please. We have to realize that it’s not in doing overly extravagant things but right there where we’re at.”

Whatever the plan is, let’s take very simple steps and write it down. “Begin by getting a piece of paper and writing those three categories at the top of it: Prayer, Work, and Recreation,” Fr. Menezes advised. “Commit yourself. Maybe find one or two items to put in each of those categories. That’s where we begin. Look to the lives of the saints,” he said, especially those saints who have the same state in life as you do.

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