Fortnight for Freedom

A call by the U.S. bishops to pray, reflect and act upon religious liberty at home and abroad.

When: June 21-July 4

Click HERE for more information.

Independence Day Prayer for America

Attend Mass with Bishop Eduardo A. Nevares and offer a Rosary for the United States of America.

When: 8:30 a.m., July 4, Mass followed by Rosary

Where: Ss. Simon and Jude Cathedral, 6351 N. 27th Ave.

Click HERE for more information.

Faith and freedom go hand in hand in the United States. It’s right there in the first few phrases of the Bill of Rights.

Too often though, when it comes to the annual celebration of American’s birth, faith takes a sideline to freedom. That is, unless you count a faith-based entry or two in the neighborhood Fourth of July Parade.

Catholics can and should do better than that, especially when there just so happens to be 50 U.S. states and just as many Hail Mary beads between the “Our Father” ones. Those two factors are increasingly gathering the faithful in public and private prayer to intercede on behalf of the United States.

Patriotic Rosary

Anywhere from 12 to 30 Catholics have gathered in prayer weekly at Prince of Peace Church in Sun City West. They pray what’s known as the Patriotic Rosary. Every state gets a Hail Mary offered on behalf of souls within it.

“A lot of people are worried about what’s going on in our country and in our world right now. I think many feel the only solution to these problems is divine intervention,” explained Mary McArdle, a member of Prince of Peace. The church is part of Our Lady of Lourdes Parish, also within the active retirement community.

The Patriotic Rosary began as a lead up to last November’s election. It continued through election night and beyond.

Catholics who pray specifically for the U.S. with rosary beads in hand pray for the president plus members of Congress, governors and those in county and municipal seats between the decades. Patriotic songs are also sung.

More than half a year after the election, the Patriotic Rosary shows no sign of slowing down, McArdle said. It comforts those who come, especially with the Blessed Sacrament exposed nearby.

“We are doing something. We are doing maybe the greatest of things: we’re asking for God’s help,” she said.

A woman prays the Rosary for the United States at Ss. Simon and Jude Cathedral for a morning Mass and Rosary July 4, 2015, that closed out the local observance of the nationwide Fortnight for Freedom. The annual Fourth of July liturgy is scheduled this year at 8:30 a.m. at the cathedral. (Ambria Hammel/CATHOLIC SUN)

Rosary for the United States

Catholics have been offering a similar Rosary every first Monday at Mount Claret Retreat Center for six years and annually on July 4 following the morning Mass at Ss. Simon and Jude Cathedral. They, too, offer a Hail Mary for the intention of each U.S. state while dedicating an entire decade to each branch of government, the military and state and local governments.

Some even move their fingers around a tangible Rosary for the United States of America, whose elegant red, white and blue beads are connected by a gold chain. Nearly 35,000 rosaries have reached the hands of Americans since Manny Yrique, a local Catholic, began producing them in 2012.

“Today, people have this misconception that you can’t be a good Catholic and a good citizen. Love of country and love of God go hand in hand,” said Yrique, who organizes a Rosary for the United States at Ss. Simon and Jude Cathedral every Fourth of July.

Ask any Fourth Degree member of the Knights of Columbus. Known as the “patriotic degree” of the Knights, their entire existence is dedicated to being the best Catholic they can be which moves them to defend and honor religious liberty.

Or ask the more than 1,200 people who attended the National Catholic Prayer Breakfast June 6 including Vice President Mike Pence. He confirmed Catholicism’s “indelible mark” on the American spirit.

“Your faith has moved mountains and the Catholic Church, and its millions of parishioners, have been a force for good in our communities large and small throughout our land throughout our history,” Pence said.

Yrique would love to see similar numbers kick off their Fourth of July celebrations in private or public prayer. Bishop Eduardo A. Nevares will help him lead the Rosary at Ss. Simon and Jude.

The same Rosary will be offered July 4 at Maricopa Integrated Health Systems. It’s one of four days a year that the hospital chaplaincy organizes the Rosary for the United States of America. Patients, visitors and staff are welcome.

“We have a pretty robust prayer program,” said Chaplain Gail Torres. That includes prayer lists, an Adoration chapel and Mass. They’re all opportunities for individuals to address their worries and needs, she said.

“My only hope is that it will eventually be available in Spanish as well as English,” Torres said about the Rosary for the United States. She encounters plenty of patients and visitors who are fluent in English, but grew up learning prayers in Spanish.

A worshipper holding a rosary and crucifix prays during a Fourth of July Mass celebrated at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington on the final day of the U.S. bishops’ 2014 Fortnight for Freedom campaign. (CNS photo/Bob Roller )

Fortnight for Freedom

Daily Prayer Intentions

Each day of the Fortnight for Freedom is dedicated to praying for a particular aspect of religious liberty.

June 21: Freedom to serve migrants and refugees

June 22: May we be God’s servants first

June 23: Freedom to care for the sick

June 24: Freedom to bear witness to Truth

June 25: Freedom to serve God with our whole lives

June 26: Freedom to seek the Truth

June 27: For Christians in the Middle East

June 28: Freedom to serve our communities through education

June 29: For the freedom of the Church

June 30: Freedom to serve families seeing and children awaiting adoption

July 1: Freedom to serve the vulnerable

July 2: Freedom to build stronger communities

July 3: For our brothers and sisters in Mexico

July 4: Freedom to promote a culture of freedom for all

The U.S. Bishops understand that. Their prayer and reflection guide for this year’s Fortnight for Freedom, observed June 21-July 4, is online in both languages. It encourages Catholics to reflect daily on the 2017 theme: Freedom for Mission.

Americans have inherent freedoms to care for the sick, seek the truth, serve the vulnerable, serve those awaiting adoption and more. As Catholics, that includes the freedom to serve God by the way you live your whole life.

“Sometimes, our culture urges us to think of our faith as a strictly interior matter,” the U.S. bishops wrote in one of the reflections. “A culture in which faith is never visible tends to be one that constricts religion. Christ calls us to a whole life of discipleship. We exercise our faith in all that we do.”

Fr. Jess Ty proudly displayed his faith by wearing his clerics and sharing his brief biography the day he became an American citizen. It was all of five weeks ago. Thirty-seven others from a total of 14 countries took the courageous step with him.

“Freedom in my mind is always in the religious sense — freedom from slavery to sin,” Fr. Ty said, “but Jesus set us free.”

With that freedom comes responsibility. For baptized Catholics, that mission, like that of Jesus, is priestly, kingly and prophetic, Fr. Ty said. The priestly mission is about praying for others. The kingly one is about service and being a light for others while the prophetic one is about telling the truth.

“When we practice or faith, it’s always good for the society,” Fr. Ty said.