USCCB: Tomorrow is a Day of Fasting and Prayer for Marriage and Religious Liberty

USCCB: Tomorrow is a Day of Fasting and Prayer for Marriage and Religious Liberty June 27, 2013

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Bride and groom, praying before their wedding.

I think we’ve exhausted the emotional discussion about Tuesday’s Supreme Court decision.

Now is a good time to turn to prayer. Propitiously, it is still the Fortnight for Freedom and tomorrow is Friday. The American bishops have called us all to a day of prayer and fasting tomorrow for the intention of marriage and religious liberty. For you Protestants out there, “intention,” when it’s used in this context simply means that what you are fasting and praying for is marriage and religious liberty.

Fasting does not mean that you go without food and water. It means that you abstain from eating meat. You can eat fish. You can eat cheese, eggs and other sources of protein. The whole purpose is to exercise a bodily discipline as a form of prayer and penitence.

That word “penitence” brings me to something I think we should all consider, and that is how we have failed personally in our fidelity to Christ. I am going to concentrate to my failings in terms of marriage and religious freedom. I haven’t divorced anyone, and since my religious conversion I have moved ever steadily toward a Jesus orientation on these things. The Catholic Church and its teachings have been both a guide and a source of strength in this regard.

However, I did a lot of things back in my anti-religion period that contributed to the mess we are in now. I’ve repented, gone to confession, been forgiven. But the knowledge that I did them has given me a slightly more generous take on those who are making the same mistakes now that I did then. I know that if God can convert me, he can convert anyone. I also understand that you can’t know what motivates another person to do the things they do.

All you can do is pray for them. That, based on the reaction to a post I wrote earlier this week, is something I think we should all try to do more of. We cannot change the world for Christ by destroying those who do things we see as sinful. We have to convert them. The only way to do that is to remember, always, that they are people in need of God’s love and that the only Jesus some of them may ever see is one of us.

I am asking each of you to join the bishops tomorrow in a day of prayer and fasting for marriage and religious freedom. You might also consider asking God to use you in the battle that lies ahead. But remember: He can not and will not do that unless you yield it all to Him, including your pride and anger. This kind of yielding is not a once for all thing. You have to go back and do it again over and over almost every day you live.

We’ve got work ahead of us, people. It’s not a matter of changing laws so much as it is winning hearts. The best way to do that is to begin by letting God change our own hearts.

Friday Fast for Life, Marriage
& Religious Liberty 
June 28, 2013
St. Irenaeus
Thank you for participating in the Bishops’ Call to Prayer for Life, Marriage, and Religious Liberty! 


This week was a big one for marriage. Today’s reflection is on St. John the Baptist, a witness to marriage – to the death.

We’re still in the Fortnight for Freedom, coming into the second week. Remember to for latest news!



For the courage to keep witnessing to the truth and beauty of marriage, the lifelong, fruitful union of one man and one woman.



St. John the Baptist, whose birth we celebrated on Monday June 24, was a martyr for truth and justice, particularly the truth about marriage. He was put in jail, and ultimately executed, because he rebuked Herod for marrying his brother’s wife, Herodias (see Mt 14:3-12 and Mk 6:17-29). St. John the Baptist’s defense of marriage cost him his head.

In his Angelus address on Sunday, June 23, Pope Francis said of the saint, “He died for the sake of the truth, when he denounced the adultery of King Herod and Herodias. How many people pay dearly for their commitment to truth!”

Today, standing up for the counter-cultural truth of marriage as the lifelong, fruitful union of a man and a woman can be difficult and lonely. But Christ is always with us and asks us to be witnesses of His loving truth, which is worth defending, no matter what the cost. As our Holy Father exhorted the crowd, “Forward, be brave and go against the tide! And be proud of doing so.”

St. John the Baptist, pray for us.

Did you know?

On Wednesday of this week, the Supreme Court struck down part of the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) and refused to rule on the merits of a challenge to California’s Proposition 8. In a statement, Cardinal Timothy Dolan and Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone called Wednesday “a tragic day for marriage and our nation.” They said, “Now is the time to redouble our efforts” in witnessing to the truth of marriage.

Learn more about Proposition 8 and DOMA from this backgrounder.

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21 responses to “USCCB: Tomorrow is a Day of Fasting and Prayer for Marriage and Religious Liberty”

  1. So for religions that recognize same-sex marriage, will you be praying for their religious liberty, too?

  2. Yes. Religious liberty isn’t about uniformity. It’s about the freedom NOT to be uniform.

  3. I really don’t want to have my post deleted, but at the same time, I want to make an observation about John the Baptist. Was Herod’s personal indiscretions really any of John’s business? I’m just asking, because if it wasn’t, it would change the way people should look at how other people choose to live their lives.

  4. Herod’s marriage was illicit. John was calling out on the scandal and hypocrisy of it.

  5. No. It means you need to chose something else to give up in prayer instead of meat. Your fast will be different, but just as spiritual; depending, of course, on your intentions and your heart. It’s not the food; it’s the prayer and sincere desire to repent and be close to God that count.

  6. John the Baptist was acting as a prophet of the Lord. Herod was a Jewish ruler, who had gone to considerable lengths to “prove” his Jewishness to the populace. John the Baptist was entirely within his calling as a prophet and the forerunner of the Messiah in pointing out hypocrisy at this level, if for no other reason than to make sure that the population at large did not this leader’s position that he was a devout Jewish despite his “personal indiscretions.”

    Your comment makes me think that John the Baptist’s witness about the sanctity of marriage has the power to disturb people who want to destroy that sanctity, even today.

  7. Some things are no one else’s business than the people involved. If there were a problem with the king’s leadership of his kingdom, that would be more worthy of protest than his marrying his brother’s wife. His brother has a case, but not a person who claims to be speaking for a deity.

  8. First of all, thank you for not deleting my comment. Fidelity is probably a better word to use when speaking of marriage. When you use words like “sanctity” you are disregarding the nones.

  9. Bill, you keep trying to interpret the ancient world through the lens of a Massachusetts liberal atheist pretend Catholic Knight of Columbus. It’s no wonder you come up with questions like this.

    John the Baptist was the forerunner of the Messiah. Of course setting things straight and calling people to repentance — including public people — was part of his calling.

  10. What the King does is the business of the whole people. If you can’t see that, you don’t even make a good enough liberal.

  11. I’m to the point where I do disregard the nones and the rest of the secularists. What civil marriage has become, bears no resemblance to the real thing. Fidelity is important, but it is nowhere near enough.

  12. Making a big fuss about the King marrying his sister-in-law and getting your head chopped off is just being a crazy religious fanatic.

  13. I’m not really an atheist anymore. I just have problems with the Catholic faith even though I see it as a good way to live.

    Telling other people they are sinning is problematic to me. John the Baptist is the poster child for people sticking their neck out and telling others how to live their lives.

  14. It was a good experiment while it lasted, but the rot has well and truly set in.

    More and more I’m finding strength in Tolkien’s words about the long defeat and turning the Church as my sole source of comfort.

  15. In that case, why are you making such a big fuss about gay marriage, and getting called a bigot and a bully? Are you not being just as judgmental as John the Baptist?

  16. All I want is a separation of Catholicism from the government at this point. I see nothing left worthwhile in this form of government. The other religions can and should forge their own ways as well.

  17. “It was a good experiment while it lasted, but the rot has well and truly set in.”

    It seems a bit ironic to say this on a day that the rot of bigotry, homophobia and discrimination has been removed and replaced with tolerance and acceptance.