As the month of August begins, we are reminded that the clock is ticking. We have one year to “update” our thinking – to reform our consciences – to change our beliefs. Basically, we have one year to become good secularists and bad Catholics, according to the federal government. In one year, Aug. 1, 2013, the accommodation offered by President Obama regarding the HHS mandates will go into place for all Catholic institutions as they went into place yesterday for everyone else including some Catholic businesses. Religious freedom – our first and most cherished liberty – is not being considered by the Administration and millions of other Americans, as an important element in this debate.

Many, including a large number of people under our own Catholic tent, seem to overlook the obvious government exclusion of the Constitution, preferring to vilify the Church because we refuse to support contraception and abortion as simple facts of life in a modern and sophisticated world. I guess they just expect us to take our old fashioned ideas about religious liberty, patriotism, and the sacred dignity of humanity, and just go curl up in the corner someplace and quietly wait for our inevitable death.

Please don’t lose sight of this unjust burden being placed on the shoulders of people of faith. It’s not about a war on women. It’s not about a contraception battle. It’s not about us verses them. This matter has been resolved. In 1776, the truths we hold and proclaim in this struggle over the mandates were declared self-evident, inalienable rights endowed upon us by our Creator. In 1789, the Constitution of the United States became the guarantor of the great American Republic, and in 1791 the Bill of Rights ensured religious freedom as the first among many of our cherished rights.

Our Catholic institutions, in particular, have stood the challenges of time and the assaults of intolerance and hatred all over the world. In this age, it is up to us to turn back an unprecedented violation of Constitutional protection and freedom. If you haven’t called your representative in Congress to make your voice heard, please do so. If you have not said the prayer to Saint Michael the Archangel at least once today, do that before you call.

. . . and I’ll see you at Sunday Mass.

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