So then, brethren, stand firm and hold to the traditions which you were taught by us, either by word of mouth or by letter (2 Thess. 2:15). Guard what has been entrusted to you. Avoid the godless chatter and contradictions of what is falsely called knowledge, for by professing it some have missed the mark as regards faith (1 Tim. 6:21-22).

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Canadian Mennonite Teens teach Catholics importance of religious convictions.

Canadian Mennonite teens teach Catholics the importance of religious observance.

A (dreaded) human rights commission (HRC) did right by recognizing and protecting religious observance.

The  Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario found in favour of a Mennonite brother and sister whose employer fired them for observing a religious holiday.

TORONTO — A pair of Ontario teenagers will soon collect thousands of dollars after their employer fired them for observing a religious holiday.
The province’s human rights tribunal ruled that vegetable grower Country Herbs discriminated against the young siblings on the basis of their creed.
The tribunal heard and accepted evidence that the teens, identified only by their initials, provided several weeks of notice that they planned to take the day off to celebrate a holiday that was important to their Christian Mennonite faith.
Only the 16-year-old sister H.T. was scheduled to work that day, but both she and her 14-year-old brother J.T. were fired immediately after she failed to report to work.
Country Herbs argued that it dismissed H.T. for not complying with its attendance policy, but the tribunal ruled that the company made no effort to work with her to accommodate her religious beliefs.
The tribunal also found that her brother was let go solely for his association with her (guilty by association) and awarded the pair more than $26,000 in compensation and lost wages.
The Christian Mennonite holiday of Himmelfahrt happened to fall on Thursday, May 29, (2014) however, and H.T. informed the employer that she would be unable to work that day. The tribunal said that her brother had not been scheduled to put in a shift on that day.—Michelle McQuigge for the National Post.
Himmelfahrt (Heaven-bound) is Ascension Thursday.

One can only imagine the effect on the protection of religious expression if Canadian Catholics took the small step of celebrating Ascension Thursday actually on a Thursday instead of transferring it to a Sunday to accommodate people's worldly preoccupations. We avoid our duty to God and Church, which is the work of bringing the Gospel to the market place, when we hide the lamp of faith (and joy and hope) under the bushel of worry, self preservation and the pursuit of material gain.

Celebrate good times—come on!

Have we allowed ourselves to be so cowed by false pastoral concerns which undermine religious conviction that we have cooperated in the marginalization of religious observance in the public square? Have we allowed the Faith to be relegated to second place in our lives and last place in society? Canadian Catholics seem to have lost an appreciation of priority, of obedience to God and Church first before material and mundane pursuits. We have emptied our religious observations of meaning, of chronological significance and liturgical progression, and we are paying the price for our retreat from religious integrity and a retreat from society. Why, in a so-called free society, must we be forced to defend our inalienable rights before HRCs and in court? Loss of religious freedom is the canary in the inalienable rights coal mine.

Strength in numbers.

Perhaps there would be fewer pressures on all Christians to submit their religious convictions to secular priorities if Catholics and others actually celebrated Ascension Thursday on the day upon which it is supposed to be celebrated. Imagine the effect of Catholics setting an example of lived faith. Imagine the impact of reminding others that a good portion of Canadian society is comprised of Catholics and people of faith whose religious convictions have a necessary civilizing effect on Canadian culture. All citizens benefit when people of faith, as made evident by the two teens, live lives of integrity and thereby defend inalienable rights that all should enjoy in a freedom loving democracy.

Witness vs Retreat

We have two days of obligation in Canada: Mary, Mother of God, and Christmas. Many Catholics elsewhere would be right to call that a limp witness and a failure to bring the Faith into the public square. Instead of celebrating the Faith, we have retreated into timidity. Our religious holidays are mere caricatures of true feasts of joy, bereft of solemnity and meaning. This curious outcome has a cause: poor catechesis. Religious formation has failed to form in believers a deep sense of mystery, of religious beauty that ennobles the soul and fuels passion for witness.

Imagine the effect on society if Canadian bishops encouraged their respective flocks to bear witness to the Faith by simply observing feasts as important as Ascension Thursday on their traditional and time-honoured dates! Have we forgotten the importance of sanctifying time and place? Have we given in to the curious notion that all of Gaia is sacred and there is no need for Christ's redemption of fallen man and creation? (cf Romans 8:18-25)

No good deed goes unpunished.

Catholic charitable and social institutions are an important reminder to others that churches provide for the education, health and well being of all Canadians. Even while this care and compassion is shown to all, many are still hostile to people of faith and religion.

Have Catholics made it easy for people of faith to be marginalized by failing to expose the Faith to the public, by failing to make time for religious feasts and exercising a just right for accommodation by employers, schools, etc.?

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