As I write today, I am visiting a classmate from Mt. St. Mary’s Seminary in Emmitsburg, Maryland. The trip was more than social. Fr. Bob was diagnosed with an aggressive form of bladder cancer and is preparing to undergo treatment. He is currently living with the Little Sisters of the Poor in their home for the aged just outside of Richmond, Virginia. Please keep him in your prayers.
This morning I went to pray in the chapel centrally located in the home. It is such a blessing to begin my day being able to spend quiet time with Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament. No matter where I have travelled throughout the world, whenever I am with the Blessed Sacrament, I am truly home.
I watched as the sisters came into the chapel at varying times early in the morning to pray. I was edified to see their love, reverence and devotion for Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament.
Recently, it was this religious order, the Little Sisters of the Poor, who caught national attention by their lawsuit against the US Department of Health and Human Services Mandate (HHS), part of the Affordable Care Act (“ObamaCare”) requiring the sisters to provide contraceptive, abortion and sterilization services to their employees against their core religious beliefs. On January 24, 2014 the Supreme Court sided with the sisters and has enjoined the federal government from enforcing the HHS mandate against the sisters, pending their appeal.
This HHS mandate has a direct impact on all religious believers—not just Catholics. Regarding the mandate, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) has written the following: “. . . With its coercive HHS mandate, the government is refusing to uphold its obligation to respect the rights of religious believers.” The First Amendment to the US Constitution guarantees the free exercise of religion without government interference (known as the Free Exercise Clause). The US bishops have continually stated that the US government has clearly overstepped its bounds by this mandate.
The foundress of the Little Sisters of the Poor, St. Jeanne Jugan, so cared for the poor and elderly of her time in France that she was able to establish a religious community respecting the life and dignity of every person, regardless of wealth or age. To mandate a religious order such as this to provide anti-life procedures (contraception, abortion and sterilization) railing against their core belief (respect for the life and dignity of every human person) should make us all take note and become more vigilant regarding legislation which apparently violates both our US constitution and our religious beliefs as US citizens living in a free society.
I know that the power of prayer can do more than we could ever imagine. I wonder how many silent prayers of these dedicated sisters have been lifted up to God early each morning on behalf of the sick and dying, the poor and the elderly whom they have chosen to serve? Isn’t it strange that a lawsuit filed on behalf of these humble sisters resulted in an injunction with the unanimous support of the US Supreme Court?
Thank you sisters for your dedication to the poor, for your sacrificial love for Jesus and for the humble prayers you offer each day. I pray that many other women be inspired to follow your example and the example set by your foundress and consider joining the Little Sisters of the Poor.
Fr. Ed Namiotka