fortnight-4-freedom-logoThe U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops has called for a two-week period of prayer and penance in defense of marriage, life and religious liberty. The “Fortnight for Freedom,” held for the first time during 2012, begins June 21.

Locally, the fortnight commences with Bishop Thomas J. Olmsted celebrating an opening with Mass at Ss. Simon and Jude Cathedral. Archbishop William Lori of the Archdiocese of Baltimore will celebrate the opening Mass June 21 at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Baltimore. Cardinal Donald Wuerl of the Archdiocese of Washington will celebrate the closing Mass July 4  at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washingtonton, D.C.

The two-week period will feature nationwide holy hours of adoration, rosaries and special Prayers of the Faithful at Mass as well as fasting and abstinence on Fridays.

Manny Yrique, who last year came up with the idea for the Rosary for the United States of America, said he thinks the praying of the rosary and consecrating the nation to the Blessed Virgin Mary are an integral part of the effort to protect life, marriage and freedom.

“The rosary brings us back to our fundamental roots,” Yrique said. “We are children trying to communicate with our parents. Prayer doesn’t have to be complicated.”

The 50 red, white and blue beads in the Rosary for the USA Yrique designed stand for the 50 states, each of which is consecrated to Our Lord and Our Lady. The first three decades are prayed for the executive, legislative and judicial branches of government. The fourth decade is dedicated to state and local governments as well as police and fire fighters. The fifth decade is devoted to U.S. military personnel.

“Our culture has been desensitized us to the point where we cannot identify right from wrong anymore,” Yrique said. “We make excuses and sometimes we go along with the crowd.”  Praying the rosary could help change that, he believes.

Mike Phelan, director of the Office of Marriage and Respect Life, said the Fortnight for Freedom will be a great way to re-energize the faithful. He acknowledged that on the issue of marriage, the momentum seems to be on the side of those who would legalize same-sex unions.

“It began with the acceptance of contraception,” Phelan said. “I’m not in despair though because that’s not a Christian option. We have to fight.”

Phelan pointed to “What is Marriage,” a booklet written by several prominent scholars and published by the Heritage Foundation that defends marriage between one man and one woman.

In a January press conference at which the booklet was released, Robert George, one of the authors, defended traditional marriage as the “original Department of Health, Education and Welfare.”

“Everything depends on marriage, the fundamental unit of society,” George said. “There is no conceivable way to maintain…the rule of law and the preservation of democratic self-government while letting the institution of the family erode and collapse.”

Fr. John Lankeit, rector of Ss. Simon and Jude Cathedral, challenged the recent Time magazine cover that proclaimed the issue of marriage had already been decided by the American people and that the upcoming Supreme Court decision on the issue would be irrelevant.

“The battle is not over and the question of marriage is not a done deal,” Fr. Lankeit said. “Just as the disciples on the road to Emmaus were downcast because they thought that it was a done deal with Jesus, He showed them otherwise. Our continued prayer and our continued confidence in that same Jesus is our hope.”

Matt Anderson, who works alongside Phelan in the Office of Marriage and Respect Life, agreed.

“The Fortnight is an opportunity to unite and to stand up for what we believe to be the truth about marriage….where children can experience the love of a father and a mother,” Anderson said. “It’s about not being afraid to stand up and have a voice that might be going against the current culture.”

Fortnight for Freedom

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The U.S. Bishops have called for a “Fortnight for Freedom,” a nationwide 14-day period of prayer, education and action in support of religious freedom, from June 21 to July 4.

Our liturgical calendar celebrates a series of great martyrs who remained faithful in the face of persecution by political power — St. John Fisher and St. Thomas More, St. John the Baptist, Sts. Peter and Paul, and the First Martyrs of the Church of Rome. Culminating on Independence Day, this special period of prayer, study, catechesis, and public action emphasizes both our Christian and American heritage of liberty.

Bishop Thomas J. Olmsted invites the public to pray for religious freedom at the following Masses:

Saturday, June 22 – Feast of St. Thomas More and St. John Fisher

Bishop Olmsted will celebrate the 11 a.m. Mass at Ss. Simon and Jude Cathedral for the Phoenix Diocesan Council of Catholic Women, 6351 N. 27th Ave., Phoenix.

Sunday, June 23 – 12th Sunday of Ordinary Time

Bishop Olmsted will celebrate the 9 a.m. televised Mass at Ss. Simon and Jude Cathedral.

Auxiliary Bishop Eduardo A. Nevares will celebrate the 10:30 am Mass at Our Lady of the Lake Parish, 1975 Daytona Ave., Lake Havasu City.

Monday, June 24 – Feast of the Nativity of John the Baptist

Bishop Nevares will celebrate the Noon Mass at St. Mary’s Basilica, 231 N. 3rd St., Phoenix.

Saturday, June 29 – Feast of Sts. Peter and Paul

Bishop Olmsted will celebrate the 5 p.m. Mass at St. Paul Parish, 330 W. Coral Gables Dr., Phoenix.

Bishop Nevares will celebrate the 5 p.m. Mass at Immaculate Conception Parish, 700 N. Bill Gray Road, Cottonwood.

Sunday, June 30 – 13th Sunday of Ordinary Time

Bishop Olmsted will celebrate the 10 a.m. Mass at St. Peter Indian Mission, 1500 N. St. Peter Road, Bapchule.

Bishop Olmsted will celebrate the 5 p.m. Mass of Perpetual Vows at Our Lady of Mount Carmel Parish, 2121 S. Rural Road, Tempe.

Bishop Nevares will celebrate the 10:30 a.m. Mass at St. John Vianney Parish, 180 Soldier Pass Road, Sedona.

Thursday, July 4 – Independence Day

Bishop Nevares will celebrate the 8:30 a.m. Mass at Ss. Simon and Jude Cathedral followed by praying the rosary.