WARSAW — Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades celebrated a Eucharistic Holy Hour for religious liberty Friday, June 27, at Our Lady of Guadalupe Shrine in Warsaw. The Holy Hour was being celebrated in conjunction with the third annual Fortnight for Freedom established by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) to bring awareness to threats to religious liberties.
During his homily Bishop Rhoades told attendees that it was the solemnity of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus. “Devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus is profoundly Eucharistic. In fact, we can call the Eucharist the outstanding gift of the Heart of Jesus. In the Eucharist, we are nourished and strengthened by the grace which flows from the Sacred Heart of Jesus,” he said. “The Eucharist is the sacrament of love.”
Bishop Rhoades told the congregation, “During this Holy Hour, we pray in the presence of Jesus and draw close to Him in the mystery of His heart, where we learn love, meekness and humility. We learn to abide in His love. This strengthens us and inspires us to imitate His love and to help build a civilization of love.”
He told those present for the bi-lingual service that during this particular Holy Hour the primary prayer intention was religious liberty at home and abroad. The Fortnight for Freedom brings attention to how religious liberties are increasingly threatened in this country. He said as Catholics the faithful continue to oppose the HHS mandate (requiring employers to provide insurance for contraceptives and abortions) and pray that it is overturned.
“Our faith calls us, the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Holy Eucharist call us, to love and serve our neighbor. We do so through our schools, hospitals, charities and social service ministries,” the bishop said. “The HHS mandate interferes with our mission to serve since it harshly penalizes us if we do not comply.”
He also spoke about the recent judge’s decision to strike down Indiana’s ban on same sex marriages. He said the ramifications are unknown and wondered, “What will happen to those who adhere to the truth about marriage as the union of one man and one woman?”
He continued, “Love for our brothers and sisters with same-sex attraction is part of our faith. At the same time, we know and believe that marriage, by its very nature, in the divine plan, is a communion of life and love between one man and one woman. So let us pray during this Holy Hour for the preservation of our religious liberty in this new and real threat that arises from the redefinition of marriage in our state,”
The bishop also asked those gathered for silent prayer before the Eucharist to remember their brothers and sisters around the world who are persecuted for their faith and who have no religious liberty.
The service concluded with the Litany for Liberty and the Divine Praises. Afterwards Bishop Rhoades greeted those who attended and bestowed a blessing upon one couple celebrating their 20th anniversary that day.
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