A month ago I asked what people were planning for the “Fortnight for Freedom” that the Bishops have asked us to observe from June 12 thru July 4th. Responses were few, mostly, I expect, because most people were only just becoming aware of the Fortnight, and their own dioceses had not yet made any announcements.
Our own diocese, beyond a news release from the USCCB in the diocesan paper, doesn’t seem to be doing much. However, I’m told that the recent entry of our diocese into the lawsuit fray has expended a lot of our Bishop’s energy, and so any activities related to the fortnight in and around the cathedral may be thrown together at the last minute.
But that didn’t stop Catholics in our region, at the southern end of our mostly rural diocese. Our parish will have literature tables out after every mass (with cookies and donuts to slow down the exodus from mass!) with an assortment of pamphlets and fact sheets on the HHS mandate and other issues related to the current Religious freedom struggle. There’s some excellent stuff for free at the USCCB website, plus some wonderful, inexpensive pamphlets at Our Sunday Visitor and Catholic Answers.
In addition, we’ll be holding a series of evening lectures over the course of the Fortnight. Part I will be an in depth look at the entire mandate/lawsuit issue, getting beyond evening news soundbites and explaining why more is at stake than a quibble about an unpopular moral teaching. Part II will be a history lesson about religious freedom in the United States since its founding. Part III is titled, “So What’s the Big Deal About Contraception Anyway?” Here, we hope to bust the usual myths about out-of-touch male celibates, present some basic theology of the body, and remind folks about the availability of NFP classes. Beer and brats (as in German sausage, not annoying children) will be served in conjunction with this talk. (Think that will draw them in?) Out last talk will be a call to action, outlining suggestions for action in the public square as well as spiritual welfare.
When word of our plans got out to other parishes, energetic lay people from those churches started making plans of their own. A request was made that our lecture series be repeated in a second location. Others are talking about a rally in one of the small town parks. (We only have small towns around here. The nearest city is 60-some miles away.) Everything is still very tentative, but it looks like we’re gonna Let Religious Freedom Ring as loudly here in the sticks as any of the big urban venues.