“The Virgin Mary struck her claim to our nation from the beginning,” Manny Yrique said July 4 during Phoenix’s Mass and Rosary closing out the local observation of the fourth annual nationwide Fortnight for Freedom.
The observance calls to mind the continued fight for religious liberty, which can yield a strong moral compass for the country. A sizeable crowd rivaling that of a regular Sunday liturgy comfortably filled Ss. Simon and Jude Cathedral.
Yrique spearheaded the Rosary for the United States of America and led the day’s Patriotic Rosary. It offers a Hail Mary for each state and a decade for each branch of national government, one for state and local governments and one for the military.
He described the Blessed Mother as an advocate, who has “a voice so sweet no one can ever turn an ear away from it.”
It’s prayer, particularly to the Blessed Mother, that will change the country’s weakening social climate that’s sliding even faster in the wrong direction since the U.S. Supreme Court legalized gay marriage June 26. Catholics showed up with heavy hearts but joyful spirits — many wearing their best reds, whites and blues — and confident in the power of prayer.
“We are to love one another, but we are to obey God’s laws. His laws come first,” said Patty Schoenen, who came from Avondale with a couple of fellow St. Thomas Aquinas parishioners.
She echoed what Auxiliary Bishop Eduardo A. Nevares said in his homily during the Mass. He reminded the assembly of the need to stand up for the truth when any U.S. Supreme Court decision goes against the faith. It’s not the final word, he said.
Fortnight for Freedom
Video snippet: Musical prelude to closing Mass
“You and I will protest. You and I will once again find ways to uphold God’s law,” the bishop said.
He challenged the faithful to discern ways to do that, namely by voting with a well-formed conscience, not just going with the majority, and by returning to prayer.
“How many of us just go along with the wisdom of the land?” Bishop Nevares questioned. “I think it’s time you and I start making some decisions as to… the God we serve.”
He acknowledged the average Catholic’s day can be busy, but suspected that activities at the computer, using social media, exercising and following the latest diet trend likely far outweigh the time in prayer.
“How much time do we give to these other gods and how much time do we give to the one, true God?” the bishop asked.
The second reading chosen for the day recounts God’s promises to Solomon. The Lord simply requested humble prayer and a turn from their evil ways. God would grant them pardon and peace.
“The solution for all of our immorality in this land is: we need to pray. We need to pray. It’s the word of God. He promises,” the bishop said.
It’s the lack of fervent prayer that Yrique fears led to last month’s Supreme Court ruling on gay marriage. He felt a tremendous amount of guilt when he heard the decision, saying regretfully, “I didn’t pray enough.”
Yrique advised the crowd to pray that God unite families, transform their own lives and let His transforming grace humble the nation. Don’t be afraid to share the faith, he said.
“People today want to have hope and the hope is still where it has always been: in the Lord Jesus Christ,” Yrique said. “Pray the Rosary and before you know it, she will get you to where real change occurs: at the foot of the cross of Jesus.”