This weekend we celebrate our Independence Day. The Fourth of July is a time for all of us to stop and thank God for the many freedoms we have as citizens of the United States of America. President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, in his 1941 State of the Union Address, spoke about four
freedoms which are at the heart of what it means to be part of this country. He spoke of the Freedom of Speech, the Freedom of Worship, the Freedom from Want and, the Freedom from Fear. Norman Rockwell famously illustrated these four freedoms in four large paintings which beautifully and symbolically depicted each freedom.
As Catholics, we are called to be especially grateful for the freedom to worship. Many Christians (and those of other religions) are regularly denied the right to worship throughout the world. But we must be careful to distinguish the freedom to worship from the freedom of religion.
Often the right to worship is seen as a personal, private choice and, therefore, belongs only to the private sphere. It is almost as if critics are saying, “Worship however you want but do not bring it into the public sphere.” Freedom of religion is a much broader concept. The freedom to
practice our religion is much more than the act of worship. It entails speaking about our faith openly, being part of the public sphere (and the political process), and to have the same rights as every citizen in living out our beliefs. We can never be afraid to espouse our Catholic faith wherever we find ourselves: at home, work, in the community, in the voting booth, in all times and places.
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