A First Amendment Victory vs Obama’s HHS mandate

A small business run by practicing Catholics has prevailed over the big government of President Obama.  By “small” I mean small enough (under 50) so that it could evade the Obama birth control mandate simply by not providing health insurance.  But it wanted to provide health insurance coverage, so it took Obama and Company to court by claiming their right to practice their religion in accord with the First Amendment.

This case has special significance for me.  One day some years ago when Sheila and I were still leading CCL, a generous donation arrived from someone completely unknown to any of us.  It was from a former quasi-fundamentalist Protestant minister who first learned about our work from an Episcopalian minister with whom he was doing social work.  The minister gave him some copies of our CCL magazine.  Reading them, our friend told himself, “This is good stuff and it’s Catholic,” and then he realized that he had never previously used the words “good” and “Catholic” in the same sentence.

When he and his wife had married, it never occurred to him that there could be a moral issue about birth control; it was just a matter of what method to use.  But he was a convinced Christian with an open heart and mind, and when he saw the Christian case against contraception and for natural family planning when needed, he (and she) embraced it.  Then they decided that if the Catholic Church was right on this issue, they owed it either to the Church or to themselves to investigate the truth claims of the Church.  Once again their open hearts and open minds were enlightened by the grace of Faith, and they entered into full communion with the Church.  Wayne and Patty Hepler became practicing Catholics

Eventually, we invited Mr. Hepler to be on the CCL Board of Directors, and he later served as its Chairman for several years.  Then, while still very much interested in our efforts to support Humanae Vitae, he also saw a need for another apostolate, and he founded and built the St. Thomas More retreat center.  The family hardwood business continued to flourish, and it provides employees with health insurance that excludes any coverage for abortion and contraception.

With the imposition of the Obama HHS birth control mandate, the Hepler business filed suit for protection from the mandate so that they could continue to exercise their First Amendment rights of the free exercise of their religion.

On April 19, 2013 Judge Joy Flowers Conti of the U.S. District Court for the Western District for Pennsylvania ruled in favor of plaintiffs Wayne Hepler and Carrie Kolesar, his oldest daughter.  I understand that this is the first such case decided on First Amendment grounds, and that provides great hope for many others in similar situations.

Congratulations to Wayne and Patty Hepler, their children, and their employees for their fidelity and perseverance, and to their attorney for a job well done.

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You can read more about this at http://www.thenewamerican.com/usnews/health-care/item/15189-family-run-businesses-successfully-defend-faith-against-obamacare-mandate.  It first appeared at www.LifeNews.com, but I was unable to find it there today.   However, that site’s archives has several previous articles on this subject dating back to September 2012.

The Boston Massacre

FREEDOM, NOT FEAR, MUST WIN OUT.  Such was the headline on the Cincinnati Enquirer’s editorial page today concerning the Boston Massacre last Monday, April 15th.

Of course, every sane person finds the terrorist bombings horrible, but that may be about as far as universal agreement will go.  The Enquirer opines that the terrorists, whoever they might be, “resent that this is the freest land on Earth, that we can travel at will, that individual rights and freedom are enshrined in our founding, that we have freedom to pursue prosperity and that the rights of individuals are paramount.”  That may be true, but it may also be far wide of the mark.

If the terrorist has been influenced by Islamists, it might be more helpful to look at some of the objections made by Islamists as well as moderate Islam against the American and European culture of death, a label used by many sane people including Blessed John Paul II.  At the National Prayer Breakfast in 1994, Mother Teresa noted that if a culture teaches that mothers can kill their own babies, how does it argue against the killing of innocent children and adults?  Whenever we have a tragedy such as Sandy Hook or Boston, can we ignore and suppress the fact that the free citizens of this country are using their freedom each day to kill some 4,000 innocent babies?

Internationally, the United States is aggressive in promoting abortion in cultures that have previously stood against the murder of the unborn.  When the abortionists have pushed their agenda at the United Nations and other international assemblies, we know that the Vatican has gained key pro-life support from traditionally Muslim countries more than from those in the once-Christian West.  We know that Islamists have complained about the American promotion of pornography, excessively revealing clothing, and women in roles not approved by Islamists.  Female runners might fit their criteria for bombing.

I would like to suggest that some progress might be made in the war against terror by examining the Western behaviors that lead certain Islamists to allege justification for terror.  In short, why not provide a smaller target?  This would not be an act of cowardice.  It would simply be an act of humility.  Cannot America admit that it has been horribly wrong to promote abortion, contraception, and pornography?  Can’t America admit that it is counter-productive to ridicule the modest-dress codes of traditional cultures?

Further ideas on how to pray the Rosary

The following thoughts on praying the Rosary appear in the “Introduction” of The Seven Day Bible Rosary.  –John Kippley

VarietyNot only children but also some adults experience restlessness with the rosary, so you may find it helpful to introduce a certain amount of variety into your family rosary.  For example, one week you may want to read everything.  The next week you might omit the meditations.  Another week you may want to spend a few minutes discussing one mystery, read the verses for just that one mystery, and announce only the title, an intention, and a selected Bible verse for the others.

Announce the mystery, read at least one key Bible verse, and state the intention.  This combination will help to keep your mind and heart engaged.

Our Lady’s request. Start the rosary by specifically praying it in response to Mary’s request at Fatima.  For example:

“Dear Blessed Mother, we pray our rosary today for world peace, for the conversion of Russia and for the conversion of sinners throughout the world as at Fatima you asked us to pray.”

In the family rosary setting, that makes it clear to everyone why you are praying the rosary as a family: it is not your idea; it’s our Lady’s.

Prayer intentions. I suggest making several other intentions that are of universal importance—a stop to abortion and contraception, a rebirth of chastity, and authentic reform and renewal within the Church.  Perhaps you will want to pray also for other large-scale intentions such as the conversion of Islam, the conversion of the Jews, peace in the Holy Land and the rest of the Middle East, the missionary work of the Church, the conversion of those who oppose the Church, and the conversion of the nation in which you live.  Then mention your special family intentions and invite each family member to join in—perhaps with at least one prayer of thanksgiving and one of petition.

Our Lady of Fatima never told us that we had to enjoy praying the rosary, and many people who do not really enjoy praying the rosary continue to do so simply because Our Lady told us that if we want peace, we must pray the rosary.  On the other hand, if various techniques can help you or me to pray the rosary with fewer distractions and greater devotion, then let us use them.

I hope that some parents will find this form of the rosary helpful in praying the family rosary with their children.  Perhaps the combination of a wider series of meditations, the scripture verses, and a variety of ways to pray The Seven Day Bible Rosary will prove helpful to children as well as to adults.

It’s also possible that weekly meditation on the importance of priests and their vocation to administer the sacraments and to preach the Word of the Lord may stimulate vocations.  Perhaps weekly reflection on the permanence of marriage may have beneficial long-term effects on Christian married couples.

I make no claim that this form of praying the rosary is “better” than the usual method.  I can say only that it provides more of the events in the life of our Lord for meditation and that some people find it helpful.