by Sister Ann Rehrauer
This weekend we would normally celebrate the 12th Sunday in Ordinary Time. However, this year the Solemnity of the Birth of John the Baptist falls on Sunday. A solemnity (major feast) takes precedence over an ordinary Sunday -- so this Sunday we commemorate John's birthday.
John the Baptist had a unique role in salvation history. He was the cousin of Jesus and very important in God's plan, but his work was getting ready for the main event. He called people to repentance, alerted them that the Messiah was near, and when Jesus made his appearance, John sent his own disciples to follow Jesus. John was a man who knew his place.
All of us have a place in salvation history as well. Some of us do "spadework" by planting and nourishing seeds of faith in our children, by teaching, or by witnessing to Jesus by our lives and evident values in the workplace. Like John the Baptist, we pray this weekend that we understand the way God wants to use us, and that we do whatever God asks of us as well as we are able.
In addition to being the feast of John the Baptist, this weekend is part of the Fortnight for Freedom -- a two-week campaign of intense prayer, study, and fasting called for by the U.S. Bishops to pray for the protection of religious liberty in our country and around the world. The bishops set June 21 to July 4 as this special time of prayer. Different prayer experiences will take place in each parish. Bishop David Ricken will celebrate Vespers (evening prayer) on Sunday afternoon, June 24, at St. Joseph Chapel on the diocesan office grounds. This 4 p.m. prayer will bring together clergy and laity from various faith traditions to pray for the protection of the right of conscience guaranteed by the First Amendment. Vespers will be followed by punch and cookies in the Chancery building. All are welcome to join us.
On July 4 Bishop Ricken will celebrate the 8:30 a.m. Mass at St. Francis Xavier Cathedral in downtown Green Bay and again pray especially for the gift of religious freedom in our country.
Please join in prayer with us these days as we pray for the protection of religious liberty in our country.
Prayer for Religious Liberty
Almighty God, Father of all nations,
For freedom you have set us free in Christ Jesus (Gal 5:1).
We praise and bless you for the gift of religious liberty,
the foundation of human rights, justice, and the common good.
Grant to our leaders the wisdom to protect and promote our liberties;
By your grace may we have the courage to defend them, for ourselves and for all
those who live in this blessed land.
We ask this through the intercession of Mary Immaculate, our patroness,
and in the name of your Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
with whom you live and reign, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
From the USCCB resource packet on Fortnight for Freedom