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Mobile, Ala., Aug 27, 2014 / 01:38 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- A student group at the University of South Alabama is challenging the university administration after being told its pro-life display must be limited to the school’s small “speech zone.”

The non-profit legal organization Alliance Defending Freedom filed an amended complaint on behalf of the students in their lawsuit against the university on Aug. 23.

“Free, spontaneous discourse on college campuses is supposed to be a hallmark of higher education rather than the exception to the rule,” said ADF senior counsel Kevin Theriot. “We hope that the University of South Alabama will revise its policy so that its students can exercise their constitutionally protected freedoms.”

Following university guidelines, Students for Life USA requested permission last October to host a “Cemetery of the Innocents” which would have consisted of planting small crosses in the ground to honor the victims of abortion.

The school denied their request, saying that the event was controversial and that it would could only be held in the campus “speech zone” which then consisted of the student center, making up less than 1 percent of the campus.

The university has allowed other student groups to exercise their freedom of speech on other parts of campus, ADF noted.

In its complaint, the legal group argues that the school’s “speech zone” policy violates students’ right to freedom of speech and gives university officials, “unbridled discretionary power to limit student speech in advance of such expression on campus and to do so based on the content and viewpoint of the speech.”

In August, the school expanded its “speech zone” to include other parts of campus, but Alliance Defending Freedom says that the school continues to restrict students’ constitutional rights.

Large, park-like parts of campus that ADF says were designed and previously used by students for practicing free speech are still off-limits.
 

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Orlando, Fla., Aug 27, 2014 / 11:48 am (CNA/EWTN News).- Amidst increasing violent religious persecution in the Middle East and Africa, it is vital for Christians in the U.S. to remain on guard of their own freedoms, said Archbishop William Lori of Baltimore.

“I'm not given to apocalyptic predictions, but I do believe that we have to be vigilant,” Archbishop Lori said. “It's easy to see that the threats to religious liberty in the West are starting to constrict religion more and more.”

Archbishop Lori serves as chairman of the U.S. bishop conference's ad hoc committee on religious freedom as well as the supreme chaplain of the Knights of Columbus. He spoke with CNA in early August at the Knights of Columbus Supreme Convention in Florida.

There are two main challenges in regards to religious freedom in the United States, he said, and the first is the increasingly popular view of seeing religion as a purely private affair.

“(Religion is seen) as reducible simply and solely to freedom of worship, the sentiment that as long as you're in church, do what you want, but don't think about bringing religious values into public, into your place of work, into the political discussion,” he said.

This “freedom of worship” mentality is the root of the problem of religious freedom in the West, the archbishop said, and the other major challenge is the diminished view of the human person.

“One's relationship with God and with the faith is thought to be a limitation, is thought to be a sort of an imposition of the human person,” he explained, “and that in order to be free, you need to be free of God and free of religion, therefore religious freedom in society is no longer a value.”

These root problems then take on many forms, from federal and state mandates restricting conscience rights regarding contraception to various threats posed by “gay marriage” advances, he said.

The importance of being vigilant and aware of potential domestic religious persecution can be difficult to see when it takes on a much more violent and visible form in other countries, he acknowledged.

“It’s a hard sell,” the archbishop said, “because churches are open here, Catholic Charities is functioning, nobody’s being imprisoned, so people will say, 'Where's the problem here?'”

But although there has been little to no physical violence in the West, the problems facing religious freedom here are no less real, he said.

“The threats are more subtle (in the West), many people don’t even perceive them, they happen bureaucratically, or legislatively, or judicially,” he said. “Whereas in other parts of the world…it’s bloody, violent, overt, but in both cases it’s a denial of the rights of conscience, it’s a denial of the fundamental freedom to relate to one’s own God.”

“We have to keep the flame of faith and freedom alive as an act of solidarity with those who are suffering so terribly around the world.”
 

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Seeing the Face of Christ in the Poor

Each Sunday, we hear St. Vincent’s name mentioned along with St. Louis and St. Rose Philippine Duchesne during the Eucharistic prayers. St. Louis we know was the King of France. We know St. Rose was a teacher and brought education to all children, especially the Native American Indians. We have heard of St. Vincent and we know he is associated with the poor and that the St. Vincent de Paul Society provides resources to those in need. St. Vincent was involved in the formation of priests and set up missionaries to go out among ordinary people and tell them about Jesus. About 150 years after his death, his missionaries came to the St. Louis area. They asked his intercession on their great mission of reaching out to the people in the wilderness of St. Louis, asking him to be our patron. 

In 1581, St. Vincent de Paul was born to poor farmers. He was the third son and learned how to tend the animals. His father thought this would be good for him, but Vincent was smart and everyone noticed. The neighbors convinced his father to send him to school and let one of his other brothers tend the animals. Therefore, Vincent went away to school. He got along very well and taught others. His teaching ability would become an asset to him and allow him many opportunities to bring others to Christ. Although, he lived almost 500 years ago, St. Vincent had a very interesting life. While making a journey by boat to a new city where he was assigned, St. Vincent was captured by pirates and sold into slavery. After years as a slave, his master decided to help him escape and chose to go with him. St. Vincent’s Christian example would lead his master to repent and return to the Catholic Church. 

The St. Vincent de Paul Chapel at the Cardinal Rigali Center

Everywhere St. Vincent lived and worked the example of his life would bring others to Christ. He was a tutor in a very rich household. He affected the parents of the children he tutored. In the 1500’s, dueling was the answer to any offense. Honor was everything. One day, the father of his students was in church praying before going off to duel. St. Vincent convinced the father that taking another’s life in a duel was cruel and God did not approve. The father amended his ways and followed the example of St. Vincent. The father and mother became St. Vincent’s greatest supporters and after the mother’s death, the father would go on to become a priest. 

This was the effect St. Vincent had on people. People would change their behaviors and amend their ways to live according to the church doctrines and follow the ways of Christ. St. Vincent had no desire to be rich or famous. Although he had influential friends, he was happy to stay working with the poor in every community. In a time when people lived extravagant lives with no regard to how the poor people lived, he would remind them of the vast differences in lifestyles. He found priests to be missionaries and formed Lady’s Charities. While volunteering for these charities, wealthier women would work alongside not so wealthy women to feed and shelter the poor. They founded hospitals and orphanages. Where there was a need, St. Vincent found ways to go to these people and meet them where they were. One day he decided to visit the prisoners who served their sentence rowing the large ships. The inhumane way in which these prisoners were treated saddened and shocked him. He appealed to the ship owners and gained permission to take care of these men. It was difficult work, but St. Vincent managed again to con-vert souls and bring more people to the Church. He said to his followers, “Love makes us see God and nothing else but God in each of those whom we love.” St. Vincent gave his life for others and taught everyone by his exam-ple. 

Each month our Pope has special intentions. He has general and missionary intentions. In September 2012, he asked God to send: “Help for the poorest Churches that Christian communities may have a growing willingness to send missionaries, priests, and lay people along with concrete resources to the poorest Churches.” On September 27, we celebrate St. Vincent de Paul’s feast day. This is an appropriate time to ask God to help the poorest. St. Vincent would approve, he once said, “By mutual support the strong will sustain the weak, and God’s work will be accomplished.” St. Vincent wants everyone to be an example of Christ in the world. To love all people as God loved us. --- Alethea Paradis, M.T.S.

 

St. Vincent de Paul's Legacy

Jesus said, “this is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.” (Jn 15:12) As Christians we are called by these words of Christ to love and care for one another. The greatest way to outwardly express our love for one another is through charity- by donating our time, talent, and treasures to those in need.

There are many ways to get involved in the Catholic ministries in the Archdiocese of St. Louis that help the poor,
abused, neglected, elderly, disabled and lonely in our community, and one way is through the Society of St. Vincent de Paul. 

“Serving Christ’s needy is the first purpose of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul.”

The Society of St. Vincent de Paul provides services in crisis intervention, housing, criminal justice ministry, transportation, and health.

Photo courtesy of svdpstlouis.org

Most parishes have a Society of St. Vincent de Paul conference, which are “chapters” of the Society. To find volunteer opportunities with your parish SVDP conference, you can call your parish office or look at the list of SVDP conferences.

To volunteer or donate to the Society of St. Vincent de Paul call 314.881.6000 or donate online.

 

Read more about the Society of St. Vincent de Paul.


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St. Monica
8/27/2014 12:00:00 AM
On August 27, one day before the feast of her son St. Augustine, the Catholic Church honors St. Monica, whose holy example and fervent intercession led to one of the most dramatic conversions in Church history.Monica was born into a Catholic family in 332, in the North African city of Tagaste located in present-day Algeria. She was raised by a maidservant who taught her the virtues of obedience and temperance. While still relatively young, she married Patricius, a Roman civil servant with a bad temper and a disdain for his wife's religion.Patricius' wife dealt patiently with his distressing behavior, which included infidelity to their marriage vows. But she experienced a greater grief when he would not allow their three children – Augustine, Nagivius, and Perpetua – to receive Baptism. When Augustine, the oldest, became sick and was in danger of death, Patricius gave consent for his Baptism, but withdrew it when he recovered.Monica's long-suffering patience and prayers eventually helped Patricius to see the error of his ways, and he was baptized into the Church one year before his death in 371. Her oldest son, however, soon embraced a way of life that brought her further grief, as he fathered a child out of wedlock in 372. One year later, he began to practice the occult religion of Manichaeism. In her distress and grief, Monica initially shunned her oldest son. However, she experienced a mysterious dream that strengthened her hope for Augustine's soul, in which a messenger assured her: “Your son is with you.� After this experience, which took place around 377, she allowed him back into her home, and continued to beg God for his conversion.But this would not take place for another nine years. In the meantime, Monica sought the advice of local clergy, wondering what they might do to persuade her son away from the Manichean heresy. One bishop, who had once belonged to that sect himself, assured Monica that it was “impossible that the son of such tears should perish.� These tears and prayers intensified when Augustine, at age 29, abandoned Monica without warning as she passed the night praying in a chapel. Without saying goodbye to his mother, Augustine boarded a ship bound for Rome. Yet even this painful event would serve God's greater purpose, as Augustine left to become a teacher in the place where he was destined to become a Catholic.Under the influence of the bishop St. Ambrose of Milan, Augustine renounced the teaching of the Manichees around 384. Monica followed her son to Milan, and drew encouragement from her son's growing interest in the saintly bishop's preaching. After three years of struggle against his own desires and perplexities, Augustine succumbed to God's grace and was baptized in 387.Shortly before her death, Monica shared a profound mystical experience of God with Augustine, who chronicled the event in his “Confessions.� Finally, she told him: “Son, for myself I have no longer any pleasure in anything in this life. Now that my hopes in this world are satisfied, I do not know what more I want here or why I am here.� “The only thing I ask of you both,� she told Augustine and his brother Nagivius, “is that you make remembrance of me at the altar of the Lord wherever you are.� St. Monica died at age 56, in the year 387. In modern times, she has become the inspiration for the St. Monica Sodality, which encourages prayer and penance among Catholics whose children have left the faith.
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6 And we charge you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you withdraw yourselves from every brother walking disorderly, and not according to the tradition which they have received of us. 7 For yourselves know how you ought to imitate us: for we were not disorderly among you; 8 Neither did we eat any man' s bread for nothing, but in labour and in toil we worked night and day, lest we should be chargeable to any of you. 9 Not as if we had not power: but that we might give ourselves a pattern unto you, to imitate us. 10 For also when we were with you, this we declared to you: that, if any man will not work, neither let him eat. 16 Now the Lord of peace himself give you everlasting peace in every place. The Lord be with you all. 17 The salutation of Paul with my own hand; which is the sign in every epistle. So I write. 18 The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen. 
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