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June 19, 2013
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The people of Israel faced a terrible drought nearly 3,000 years ago. It began when Ahab, the Israelite king, abandoned the true God, and worshipped an idol; a false god. The prophet Elijah proclaimed a drought, which lasted three years.
Eventually, Elijah proposed a test of the goodness of the true God and the power of the idol Baal. Two altars were built, one for God and one for Baal. Worshippers prayed that each deity might send fire to the altar. The worshippers of Baal prayed all day, and poured their blood on the altar. But Baal did not send fire.
Elijah chose a different tactic. He poured water on God’s altar, making the wood soaking wet. Then he quietly prayed to God, and a fire came down from heaven. The glory of the Lord was revealed.
After God’s glory was revealed, his mercy was revealed. As Elijah prayed quietly, the heavens opened, and a renewing rain covered the people of Israel.
When we quietly and humbly pray, God’s mercy and glory are revealed. In response to our prayer, his love covers us in abundance. As the letter of St. James says, “The prayer of a righteous man has great power in its effects.”
Today, like the people of Israel in the time of Ahab, our country seems to worship false gods. We’ve created false gods of “tolerance” and “equality” and “choice.” Instead of worshipping the Lord, we’ve found ways to worship pleasure and vanity—we’ve found ways to worship ourselves. And, like the people of Israel did in Elijah’s time, we’re suffering the effects.
Worship of choice leads to abortion and contraception, and the Health and Human Services contraceptive mandate, which threatens our freedom of religion. Worship of money leads to poverty. Worship of “equality” leads to a fundamental rejection of marriage and family.
We’re worshipping false gods, and we’re in trouble.
But, like Elijah, the Lord calls us to pray. And to pray in a special way for our country. This Friday, we will begin the “Fortnight for Freedom.” The Fortnight is an invitation for all American Catholics to pray and work for our nation—to pray for a return to the true principles that make America great, most especially for the protection of religious liberty.
If we give ourselves to quiet, humble prayer, like Elijah, God’s glory and mercy will be revealed.
In particular, I am inviting all Catholics in Denver to join me in fasting for the protection of religious liberty in our country. I will fast on June 21 and 28—the Fridays of the Fortnight for Freedom. By fasting, we can unite our prayers to Christ’s suffering on the cross. By fasting, our day can become a prayer—and prayer has real power.
In the time of Elijah, Israel was lost. Today our nation is lost. But Israel became great again—so great that Christ our Lord was born of Israel. America can be great again too—can be a witness to the power of God to convert a people, and draw them into his love. But America needs our prayers. And our sacrifice.
Please join me in prayer and fasting in our nation. Together, we will witness to God’s power and mercy, poured out for us and for our nation.