4th of July, Fortnight for Freedom, and Supreme Court Victory. We continue our prayers for religious liberty this weekend, and conclude the Fortnight this Tuesday, the 4th of July, with Mass at 10am, followed by special prayers for religious liberty. Thanks for all who have participated in the Fortnight so far, and please join us on the 4th.
As we celebrate the liberty proclaimed in 1776, and pray for God’s preservation of that liberty, we also celebrate a new victory in our defense of religious liberty. Last week in a 7 to 2 decision the Supreme Court held it unconstitutional for a state government to deny a school public funds for non-religion-specific activities just because the school is run by a church. In the case, the State of Missouri rejected Trinity Lutheran Church Pre-School’s application for state funding for safe playground equipment solely because the equipment was operated by the church. As Chief Justice John Roberts wrote for the court: “…the exclusion of Trinity Lutheran from a public benefit for which it is otherwise qualified, solely because it is a church is odious to our Constitution….and cannot stand.”
In more good news, newly minted Justice Neil Gorsuch wrote a separate concurring opinion, joined by Justice Clarence Thomas, indicating he would have gone even farther in defending the application of the First Amendment in this case. Excellent news for folks who hoped President Trump would appoint judges to protect religious liberty. Apparently he has.
Let us give thanks to Almighty God for this and the many gifts He has given our nation. And let us pray for our beloved country, and its government. Consider this venerable old prayer, composed by Archbishop John Carroll, first bishop and archbishop of Baltimore, and of the United States, in 1791:
Prayer for Government:
We pray, Thee O Almighty and Eternal God! Who through Jesus Christ hast revealed Thy glory to all nations, to preserve the works of Thy mercy, that Thy Church, being spread through the whole world, may continue with unchanging faith in the confession of Thy Name.
We pray Thee, who alone art good and holy, to endow with heavenly knowledge, sincere zeal, and sanctity of life, our chief bishop, Pope N., the Vicar of Our Lord Jesus Christ, in the government of his Church; our own bishop, N., all other bishops, prelates, and pastors of the Church; and especially those who are appointed to exercise amongst us the functions of the holy ministry, and conduct Thy people into the ways of salvation.
We pray Thee O God of might, wisdom, and justice! Through whom authority is rightly administered, laws are enacted, and judgment decreed, assist with Thy Holy Spirit of counsel and fortitude the President of these United States, that his administration may be conducted in righteousness, and be eminently useful to Thy people over whom he presides; by encouraging due respect for virtue and religion; by a faithful execution of the laws in justice and mercy; and by restraining vice and immorality. Let the light of Thy divine wisdom direct the deliberations of Congress, and shine forth in all the proceedings and laws framed for our rule and government, so that they may tend to the preservation of peace, the promotion of national happiness, the increase of industry, sobriety, and useful knowledge; and may perpetuate to us the blessing of equal liberty.
We pray for his excellency, the governor of this state, for the members of the assembly, for all judges, magistrates, and other officers who are appointed to guard our political welfare, that they may be enabled, by Thy powerful protection, to discharge the duties of their respective stations with honesty and ability.
We recommend likewise, to Thy unbounded mercy, all our brethren and fellow citizens throughout the United States, that they may be blessed in the knowledge and sanctified in the observance of Thy most holy law; that they may be preserved in union, and in that peace which the world cannot give; and after enjoying the blessings of this life, be admitted to those which are eternal.
Finally, we pray to Thee, O Lord of mercy, to remember the souls of Thy servants departed who are gone before us with the sign of faith and repose in the sleep of peace; the souls of our parents, relatives, and friends; of those who, when living, were members of this congregation, and particularly of such as are lately deceased; of all benefactors who, by their donations or legacies to this Church, witnessed their zeal for the decency of divine worship and proved their claim to our grateful and charitable remembrance. To these, O Lord, and to all that rest in Christ, grant, we beseech Thee, a place of refreshment, light, and everlasting peace, through the same Jesus Christ, Our Lord and Savior. Amen.
Staff Changes. This Friday, July 7, we will be saying goodbye to Patti Eckels, who has moved out to Gainesville—a heck of a long commute to St. Raymond’s. For the last 5 years Patti has served as both our Religious Education Administrative Assistant and Parish Liaison for Child Protection. She has done an excellent job at both, but I especially have to commend her for her work in Child Protection (making sure everyone working with our children meets the strict requirements of the Diocese), which is a largely thankless position. So, I want to thank her for all her work with and for our children, especially for helping to keep them safe.
Stepping in to her position we welcome Vince Drouillard, a long-time parishioner. Vince is a retired naval officer and holds a Master’s degree in Theological Studies from Christendom. He has been active in various parish activities over the last few years, including as an active Knight of Columbus, a CCD catechist, and founding leader of our Trail Life Troop. I’m very excited to have him join our staff.
Please join me in praying for both Patti and Vince.
Seminarian. Please remember to welcome Seminarian Mike Nugent who joins us this weekend and will be staying with us until August 13.
Great Trail Life News. I’m very pleased to announce that James Drouillard has become the first member of our Trail Life Troop to receive Trail Life’s “Freedom Award.” For those of you not familiar with this award, it is the highest award in Trail Life, equivalent to and modelled after the Eagle Scout award of the Boy Scouts of America. After achieving the rank of “Life Scout” in our BSA Troop, James became a founding member of our TL Troop in 2013. His Servant Leadership Project was to plan and build, with the help of his Troop, a storage shed for Angelus Academy. (Thanks to the Knights of Columbus for providing the funds). James is a recent graduate of St. John Paul the Great High School, and will be attending Ave Maria University in the Fall. He is also a long time Altar Server in our parish. Congratulations to James. May the Lord continue to bless him, and our Trail Life Troop.
Oremus pro invicem. Fr. De Celles