Skip to comments.Challenging the Culture as We Celebrate Independence Day
Posted on 06/10/2014 5:17:11 PM PDT by Coleus
In May, a group of Little Sisters attended the Becket Fund for Religious Libertys annual Gala in New York (the Becket Fund represents us in our lawsuit). It was an inspiring evening as we mingled with such an accomplished and diverse group of people gathered in the name of religious liberty. It was also quite sobering to realize the extent of the threats to freedom in America today.
Many people at the Becket Fund Gala commended us for our courage in taking a public stand against the HHS Contraceptive Mandate. I felt a bit embarrassed by all the attention, since we are mere newcomers to the cause of religious liberty. Interestingly, hearing so many edifying stories led me to a new appreciation of our own history. As a 175 year-old, international community, our congregation has seen its share of ups and downs related to religious intolerance. Our history has helped us to take the long view on our current situation.
Our foundress, Saint Jeanne Jugan, was born during the French Revolution and began her work among the needy elderly in its aftermath. When the first Little Sisters arrived in England in 1851 they faced jeers from a suspicious, anti-Papist Protestant majority. These pioneers persevered, allowing their selfless charity and radical poverty to convert the hearts of those who were hostile toward Catholicism.
In the 1930s, anti-Catholic factions threatened the Little Sisters in Spain during that nations civil war, but they remained unwavering in their devotion to the elderly in their care. Two decades later communist forces took over our homes in China, expelling the foreign Little Sisters and imprisoning the native Chinese, some of whom eventually died in captivity.
As Little Sisters of the Poor living and ministering in the United States since 1868, we thank God that we have never been confronted by war or religious oppression. Nevertheless, we celebrate this Independence Day under the cloud of evident religious intolerance. As I write this, I am reminded of Saint John Paul IIs homily on religious freedom during his visit to Baltimore, our nations first Catholic diocese, in 1995. Sometimes, witnessing to Christ will mean drawing out of a culture the full meaning of its noblest intentions, a fullness that is revealed in Christ, he said. At other times, witnessing to Christ means challenging that culture, especially when the truth about the human person is under assault.
As we celebrate our independence this Fourth of July, let us vow to do all we can to uphold the dignity of every human person, especially those most under assault. Let us vow to keep God, who is at the heart of our Nations founding documents, at the center of our lives.
Sister Constance Veit is director of communications for the Little Sisters of the Poor.
Disclaimer: Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.