Thus far on this blog, I’ve tended to focus more on the spiritual aspect, or the “personal relationship with God” aspect, than I have on the religious aspect, or “communal relationship with God” aspect. However, the truth is that belief, which has Old English roots of “by” and “lief”, or “by life,” is not simply an idea, concept, or value that one holds in their head and heart, but it is something that one lives out in a practical sense, an idea by which one lives his/her life. The Gospel call to Catholics (and more broadly to all Christians) to love God and neighbor does not stop at the level of personal feelings, but goes far beyond it into a value that is infused into every aspect and action of our daily lives.
With that said, here is an article from the Wall Street Journal that details a very controversial current event: the HHS mandate that basically forces religious service providers (houses of worship are pretty much the only ones “exempt”) to fully fund contraception and sterilization services (and in the case of “contraception,” some methods also perform abortive functions as well, i.e. post-fertilization, so technically, some methods of abortion would also be “covered”) which are morally objectionable to certain religious faiths. The article does a great job of summarizing the impact of this mandate on the Catholic Church specifically but also refocusing the discussion on the most basic and most important concern in this debate, one which impacts all Americans: the religious freedom that is protected by the First Amendment. This debate, sadly, has brought out a lot of ugly, hateful, bigoted, angry words from many different sides on different tangents, which have obscured this most important concern. What I hope and pray for, all the time, but also specifically on this issue, is this: that we can learn to open our hearts and minds to see things from each others’ perspectives with kindness, patience, and love, so that we can be who we were made to be: people of love and compassion.