This week on Register Radio, learn what you can do to defend religious freedom. Jeanette De Melo speaks with Archbishop William Lori about the upcoming Fortnight for Freedom and the celebration of religious liberty June 21 - July 4. Also …  a resource for keeping the flame of faith alive in your family … Dan Burke talks with author Leila Lawler about her book The Little Oratory, which helps Catholic families preserve Catholic culture.

Fortnight for Freedom with Archbishop William Lori

Archbishop William Lori was installed as the 16th archbishop of the Archdiocese of Baltimore in 2012.  For the last three years, Archbishop Lori has been the chair of the U.S. bishops’ Ad Hoc Committee for Religious Liberty. He called on Congress to defend the American legacy of religious liberty.  He cited several recent actions by government entities that mark the erosion of the freedom of religion. Archbishop Lori has led and championed the national efforts to raise awareness of religious liberty through the Fortnight for Freedom.

The Fortnight for Freedom is an initiative from the U.S. bishops for prayer, education and action … and also celebration of religious liberty, under the theme “The Freedom to Serve.”

The theme is drawn from Pope Francis and, according to Archbishop Lori, “it’s a recognition that our faith impels us to serve and that there’s a bond between the Word of God as proclaimed and the sacraments we celebrate, and that this must issue forth in service. True religious liberty means not only the freedom to worship but also the freedom to provide for the common good in accord with what we believe.”

“I’m gratified that so many dioceses are responding to this,” Archbishop Lori said. He mentioned that there are Masses and marches in many places, but that there are also groups going to Catholic Charities facilities and volunteering their time and service. This action makes the idea of the freedom to serve concrete, he said. “People get an idea of the tremendous work the Church does in helping individuals and contributing to the common good.”

“Serving the poor is part of the Gospel,” and the archbishop cited Matthew 25 in reference to seeing the face of Christ in the poor. We don’t have religious freedom, he explained, when we have to “check our beliefs at the door,” but rather when we are able to serve the poor and the needs of society. Religious freedom is not, he maintained, the chance to just think or do what we want within an enclosed room and then check those beliefs at the door when we leave that room. That’s never what was understood by our Founding Fathers.

Bishops are first and foremost teachers, he said, and “religious freedom is not a question of trying to secure special privileges for the Church. It is a question of proclaiming the Good News. Part of the Good News is that we’re made in God’s image and likeness and endowed with freedom so that we can respond to God freely in love. Secondly, our Church teaches that we must use our freedom to serve the poor, the needy, to serve the common good of society.”

Archbishop Lori discussed how the laity can speak about the topic and discussed, in particular, how we can all draw others into the topic. He referenced the courageous lawsuit of the Little Sisters of the Poor filed and shared how it inspires him and speaks to the topic of religious liberty.

The Catholic Benefits Association filed suit against the HHS mandate and the archbishop shared about that, including the implications and what the injunction means for both the dioceses involved and Catholics in general.

Be sure to listen to the full interview, and don’t forget to visit the Fortnight for Freedom website,

The Little Oratory with Leila Lawler

Our home is where we live with our family, and it’s also one of the special places where we pray.  So why not prepare — in our home — a visible sign at our prayer corner with a “little oratory!”

Our next guest is Leila Lawler is a wife of one, a mother of seven, and a grandmother of four (and counting.) Leila came into Christianity while still in high school and entered the Catholic Church the same year she married Philip Lawler, a noted Catholic journalist.  Leila encourages people to commit to family life.

Dan Burke calls Lawler’s new book, The Little Oratory: A Beginner’s Guide to Praying in the Home, an important work, because it helps us to live a Catholic life in the home, which Lawler said is one of the aims of the book. The other aim, she shared, is for “each individual person to connect his interior life with the liturgy.” 

“What we’re hoping for is that parishes will realize that this will be a very important tool for them when it comes to answering how can we get people to connect what they are learning in their heart about their faith with what goes on in the Eucharistic celebration at that church,” Lawler said.

The term “little oratory” refers to a phrase in the Catechism, in the section about the places for prayer. “When we heard this phrase, we realized that this was the solution to a little bit of a problem that we had with trying to narrow down between different phrases we had both heard to describe a sacred place in the home,” Lawler said. Some of the other phrases she and her husband had heard were icon corner, prayer table, home altar, and home shrine. “We just felt that none of those terms were universal enough,” she said.

Basically, a little oratory is a place in your home where you can gather your sacred images and holy objects, with perhaps a candle, and the family can use it as a focal point for their prayer life.  The book, in fact, includes instructions, drawings, configurations, and suggestions for constructing your own little oratory.

“I’ve seen over the years that it has helped to ground our family prayer,” Lawler said of her own family’s prayer space. 

The book includes beautiful icons from Lawler’s co-author David Clayton, which are perforated and removable. It delves into the different aspects beyond the place in the home, including the Liturgy of the Hours, the liturgical year, the liturgy itself, and incorporating all of this into family life and formation of children in the faith.

“We did try to keep in mind the different readers we would have,” Lawler said, “and hopefully we didn’t wear them out.” 

You can order The Little Oratory from Sophia Institute Press, your local bookstore, or from any of the usual online places. You can follow Leila Lawler on her blog, Like Mother, Like Daughter.

Listen to this week’s show online or on your mp3 player.