WE WELCOME OUR MCREST GUESTS! Welcome to St. Blase this week and know that, though we host you but one week a year, you are in our thoughts and prayers the entire year. May this week be filled with every grace and blessing for you.

We have been notified that THE WATER FOR FLINT CAMPAIGN IS NOW SUSPENDED. I thank all those who donated water and cash toward this effort. From our parish we sent out 515 cases of water to the people of Flint, along with several hundred dollars for other supplies such as infant formula and water filters. One of the blessings of our participation in this effort was the number of visitors who came by the church to drop off water. It allowed them to see a Catholic parish that was looking beyond itself in service to the wider community. Any water that inadvertently comes our way will now be used for the benefit of our McRest guests this week.

Thanks to the generous response of Ceil Toepel and Kathy Tate, our Parish Pastoral Council is now complete for the upcoming year. Our PPC, together with our 50th Anniversary Committee, will be instrumental in guiding us through this jubilee year.

Quick Quiz: On the Church Calendar, whose or what feast is celebrated on July 4th? Here in the U.S. we automatically associate July 4th with our nation’s independence, but the calendar of the Church is not so provincial. July 4th is the Feast of Elizabeth of Portugal (aka, Elizabeth or Isabella of Aragon.) Given the conflict of her feast day with Independence Day, as you might expect, there are few parishes in the U.S. dedicated to Elizabeth of Portugal, though I did find one in California that ministers to the Portuguese community there and another in Honolulu.

HAPPY INDEPENDENCE DAY! As people of faith we recognize that our true independence day is Easter, when Christ set us free from the power of sin and death. That is why the Sacred Triduum (Holy Thursday – Good Friday – Easter) is the most important time of the Church year. Our nation shares in that paschal victory whenever it lives us to its high ideals. To the extent that it does not, we pray and work to “mend thine every flaw.” Among the freedoms we enjoy is freedom of religion. Religious freedom has become a buzz phrase as of late, especially as all levels of government grapple with solving the conundrum of resolving a person’s right to practice their religion that comes into conflict with another person’s civil right not to be discriminated against.

Even so, one becomes suspicious that some who yell “religious freedom” have a different agenda than that of all people to freely exercise their religion. Some of our fellow Christians mobilize on behalf of their own religious freedom while remaining awkwardly silent when it comes to the rights of Muslims or Native Americans in practicing their respective faiths. Before jumping on any bandwagon one needs to ensure that those claiming to protect religious freedom are not simply using rhetoric that disguises their real concerns which are far less praiseworthy and, truthfully, have little if anything to do the freedom of religion.