According to thy word,
They shall praise Thee and suffer in every generation
With glory and derision,
Light upon light, mounting the saints’ stair.
Not for me the martyrdom, the ecstasy of thought and prayer,
Not for me the ultimate vision.
Grant me thy peace.
- T. S. Eliot, "A Song for Simeon"
I've been meaning to write about the HHS mandate, but have not found the time or mental and emotional energy to discuss it. To be perfectly candid, when the deacon at mass this Sunday ended his sermon discussing this gravely troubling action on the part of the Administration, I was completely overwhelmed and began crying in the pew. But today is the Feast of the Presentation, and I find the resigned, almost desperate plea of Simeon as told in Eliot's poem, and his resolute attachment to hope, the perfect inspiration this morning.
This mandate is one of the grossest abuses of power, and strikes at the very core of our understanding of human liberty. As I said before: It is not about contraception. It is not about the Catholic faith. It is about our most fundamental freedom - the one upon which all other freedoms are based - the freedom of conscience.
My friend Aaron recently mentioned that he wants a bumper sticker that says "I Support My Bishops." I wish I were a better graphics designer, and I'd make one for all our blogs (someone, please, do this!)
I would encourage all of you to sign the White House Petition. We need 25,000 signatures Feb. 27th - and are well on the way. And take a look at the USCCB website dedicated to this issue. Furthermore, I encourage you all to consider donating to Belmont Abbey and Colorado Christian University, for help in their suit against the Administration.
For more information:
+ Thomas Peters has rounded up the statements of bishops across the US--many of who required that their letter be read during Sunday's masses, or included in the bulletin. I expect this list to continue to update as the week moves on. He's been following this pretty closely, with daily updates (tuesday, wednesday), so keep an eye on American Papist.
+ Michael Greeson wrote powerfully in The Washington Post about this issue (and, in fact, the Post wrote in support of the bishops...sort of...in an editorial last week.) Here's the money quote from Greeson:
The implications of Obama’s power grab go further than contraception and will provoke opposition beyond Catholicism. Christian colleges and universities of various denominations will resist providing insurance coverage for abortifacients. And the astounding ambition of this federal precedent will soon be apparent to every religious institution. Obama is claiming the executive authority to determine which missions of believers are religious and which are not — and then to aggressively regulate institutions the government declares to be secular. It is a view of religious liberty so narrow and privatized that it barely covers the space between a believer’s ears.
Obama’s decision also reflects a certain view of liberalism. Classical liberalism was concerned with the freedom to hold and practice beliefs at odds with a public consensus. Modern liberalism uses the power of the state to impose liberal values on institutions it regards as backward. It is the difference between pluralism and anti-clericalism.
+ Many of the so-called Catholic Left (I hate this phrase as much as I hate Catholic Right; I'm sorry to be using it) have spoken out against this, including, most powerfully, E. J. Dionne and Michael Sean Winters. Here, from Winters:
President Barack Obama lost my vote yesterday when he declined to expand the exceedingly narrow conscience exemptions proposed by the Department of Health and Human Services. The issue of conscience protections is so foundational, I do not see how I ever could, in good conscience, vote for this man again.+ Elizabeth Scalia has so many quotes and links that I'll just send you over there for further reading.
I accuse you, Mr. President, of failing to live out the respect for diversity that you so properly and beautifully proclaimed as a cardinal virtue at Notre Dame. Or, are we to believe that diversity is only to be lauded when it advances the interests of those with whom we agree? That’s not diversity. That’s misuse of a noble principle for ignoble ends.
I accuse you, Mr. President, of betraying philosophic liberalism, which began, lest we forget, as a defense of the rights of conscience. As Catholics, we need to be honest and admit that, three hundred years ago, the defense of conscience was not high on the agenda of Holy Mother Church. But, we Catholics learned to embrace the idea that the coercion of conscience is a violation of human dignity. This is a lesson, Mr. President, that you and too many of your fellow liberals have apparently unlearned.
+ Julie Davis takes it personally. And this terrified me, too, since I hope to run my own business in the not-to-distant future. (Though, not to spread wrong information, I read somewhere that it doesn't apply to companies with fewer than 50 employees.)
+ Join the Facebook group for a day or prayer and fasting for our Bishops: this Friday, Feb. 3rd.
(The Presentation by Fra Angelico)