Tim Drake is an award-winning writer and former journalist and radio host with the National Catholic Register/EWTN. He currently serves as New Evangelization Coordinator for the Holdingford Area Catholic Community in the Diocese of St. Cloud, Minnesota. He resides with his wife and five children in St. Joseph, Minn.
In case you haven't heard, tomorrow begins an unprecedented 14-day campaign of prayer, fasting, education, and public action dedicated to the celebration and protection of our religious liberties. Catholic parishes and dioceses across the country are hosting special Masses, parades, lectures, and other activities to highlight the Fortnight for Freedom, an event asked for by our country's bishops.
“We recommend to our brother bishops that we focus ‘all the energies the Catholic community can muster’ in a special way,” stated the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Ad Hoc Committee for Religious Liberty in its April 12 statement “Our First, Most Cherished Liberty.” “This special period of prayer, study, catechesis and public action would emphasize both our Christian and American heritage of liberty. Dioceses and parishes around the country could choose a date in that period for special events that would constitute a great national campaign of teaching and witness for religious liberty,” the statement added.
To fire people up, CatholicVote created the attached video for the Fortnight.
Take a look at the listing of dioceses at the USCCB web page or the EWTN resource page to find out what is happening near you, and make plans for you and your family to attend. Use it as a teachable moment to talk about the founding of our nation and the unique freedoms we possess.
The festivities begin tomorrow - the Feasts of the English Martyrs Sts. John Fisher and Thomas More. Both men opposed King Henry VIII’s break with the Catholic Church. They were canonized together on June 22, 1935, by Pope Pius XI.
The Fortnight will culminate on the 4th of July. Many Churches around the country - Catholic and non-Catholic - will be ringing their church bells at noon on July 4th in unity for the defense of religious freedom.
EWTN will be televising the opening and closing Masses for the Fortnight.
Mass at Baltimore’s historic Basilica of the National Shrine of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, scheduled for June 21 at 7pm, will open the Fortnight. Baltimore Archbishop William Lori, chairman of the Ad Hoc Committee on Religious Liberty, will celebrate the Mass.
The closing Mass will be celebrated July 4 at 12:10pm in Washington at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception. The Mass will be concelebrated by Washington’s Cardinal Donald Wuerl and Philadelphia’s Archbishop Charles Chaput. Archbishop Chaput will be the homilist.
The Fortnight offers a unique opportunity for all of us to provide a public witness for our faith. It falls in the liturgical calendar during a period where we celebrate a series of prominent martyrs who remained faithful in the face of persecution by political power, including tomorrow's English martyrs, Sts. John the Baptist (June 24), Irenaeus (June 28), Peter and Paul (June 29) and the First Martyrs of the Church of Rome (June 30).
Why not use the Fortnight to learn more about the freedoms we have as U.S. citizens, attend Mass during some of these feast days, and offer some prayers for the future of our country and the Church that we call home.