Like many of my fellow Dominicans, [a main stream religious order that follows the example of St. Dominic. Nearby St. Gertrude’s parish in Madeira is run by the Dominicans], I am an Eagle Scout. I have been blessed to have received over a decade of invaluable character formation in the scouting program, where love of God, love of country, and leadership were foundational. The program instilled in me great gratitude for being an American. The Scout Oath begins with, “On my honor I will do my best to do my duty to God and my Country."
Almost two decades later, I find those words ringing in my head, for today we face a truly great threat to the religious liberty of our country. In the course of our formation as friars preachers, we learn that to love our country and to fulfill our duties in her regard is an act of piety. St. Thomas [Aquinas] says, "consequently man is debtor chiefly to his parents and his country, after God. Wherefore just as it belongs to religion to give worship to God, so does it belong to piety, in the second place, to give honor to one’s parents and one’s country." (ST 2a, 2ae, Q. 101, Art 1, Resp.) After worship of God, first and foremost, and honor to our parents, honor and duty to our country ranks third for Aquinas!
So I thought that I would take a moment for our readers to use my post this month to rally us for the upcoming Fortnight for Freedom, starting this Thursday, June 21st and ending on July 4th. It's easy to become complacent when campaigns of this sort are launched. Thoughts such as "yeah I’m with you 100%, all the way!" and "we’ve gotta do something, now!" are usually followed up with, "okay, let me know how it goes!" Then I'm back to my life. In the age old battle between good and evil, it can be hard to follow through with good endeavors. I imagine many of you can agree with me on this.
This time it can be different. It must be different. The Catholic Church is the most numerous Christian body in the United States. Will every Catholic in the USA step up and be part of the Fortnight for Freedom? No. But you and I can be, and doing so can be a great act of piety on our part, an act of virtue. The bishops have described the Fortnight for Freedom, culminating on Independence Day, as a "special period of prayer, study, catechesis, and public action [that] will emphasize both our Christian and American heritage of liberty." This comes from a desire of wanting the best for our country, not just a desire for us to live in a selfish Catholic Ghetto. It is about ensuring that ours is a country with true freedom of conscience: a country that ensures that her people are free to accept the Truth. I encourage us all to visit the Bishops' website, where our shepherds give us unified plans and prayers for use throughout the Fortnight. Let us grow in the virtue of piety, praying and acting for the protection of our religious freedom!
Br. John Maria Devaney entered the Order of Preachers in 2008. He is a graduate of the Emerson College in Boston, where he studied communications.