I’m seeing headlines in the Catholic press that say or
suggest that a persecution of those who claim the importance of Christian faith
as essential to the person. This is making me think of what follows the HHS
mandate. Education and service of the poor? The work of knowing the contours of religious freedom are not for an elite group of Catholic academics, or the clergy, or the daily communicant. It is important for each of us to understand, and to live, and to share with others the fruit of a living faith in Christ.
 These issues have me searching for what the Church has said and is saying. John Paul II helps to begin to frame the issues.

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In John Paul II’s encyclical Veritatis Splendor firmly states  “one of the most acute pastoral concerns of the Church amid today’s growing secularism,” that is, the reduction, the separation of faith from the moral life (n. 88). He identifies that it is urgent for us “to rediscover the newness of faith and its power to judge a prevalent and all-intrusive culture ……. . It is urgent to rediscover and to set forth once more the authentic reality of the Christian faith, which is not simply a set of propositions to be accepted with intellectual assent … but is a lived knowledge of Christ, a living remembrance of his commandments, and a truth to be lived ou” (n. 88). What the Church teaches about faith possesses a moral content if and only if the believer adheres to Jesus Christ: “It gives rise to and calls for a consistent life commitment: it entails and brings to perfection the acceptance and observance of God’s commandments” (n. 89). 

Authentic Catholic theologians and spiritual directors teach that it is through daily grind of living the faith (prayer, virtuous living, frequent reception of the sacraments of the Holy Eucharist and Confession, and a diakonia) the moral life becomes a  “witness” “a confession.” John Paul said, a living faith is the “fundamental option” of the Christian. And by definition, a living faith bear fruit in good works, “above all those of charity (cf. Mt 25:31-46) and of the authentic freedom which is manifested and lived in the gift of self even to the total gift of self, like that of Jesus” (n. 89).