Dear OSJ Family,

Last week we honored the legacy of our great Civil Rights Leader, the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., who by his words, deeds, and martyrdom taught us the true meaning of the word freedom. During the Civil Rights Movement, Dr. King preached nonviolence was the only way to fight for freedom, successfully leading many in their pursuit of their “unalienable rights” promised by our Constitution. He often credited his Christian faith, and his role as a Baptist Minister, for providing him with the drive to fight for freedom.

Freedom is something that, at times, many take for granted in our great country. Yet we know that freedom is never easily gained and must always be protected. Indeed, freedom is one of those “inalienable” rights and beautiful gifts given to us directly from God.

One of my favorite quotes about freedom is that which is inscribed on the Tomb of the Unknown Revolutionary War Soldier just a block away from OSJ in Washington Square.  On the stone wall behind the statue of George Washington, just over his head, are inscribed these words: “Freedom is a light for which many men have died in darkness“.

Jesus, the Light of the World, is the one who inspires Christians to defend and protect our freedom so as to truly live as the Sons and Daughters of God. It is Jesus, as we pray at Mass, who “by his cross and resurrection has set us free.” It was his blood that was spilled to bring us true freedom, that same freedom that inspires men and women of every age, like Dr. King, to work tirelessly to promote authentic freedom that leads to peace. With that, I offer here the inspiring words of a prayer that I used in my homilies last week by the late Jesuit Archbishop Alban Goodier:

This Is Freedom
To be the slave of nothing, to be the slave not even of myself. To be able to make myself obey.
To make myself say no. To make myself say yes.
To have a noble end in view, to make myself live for it. To be able to use all things for that end.
A life of sacrifice. A life of strong endeavor.
To be rid of useless burdens. To shoulder burdens that belong to me. To shoulder burdens that belong to others. Understanding all. In sympathy with all.
To live thus nobly, to hear and obey, this is freedom!
The freedom of the children of God, the freedom where with Christ has
made us free.

Together as we usher in and pray for our new President and new leaders for our government, let us rally against the sin and darkness of the world, the pain of our sisters and brothers, and share in the world’s healing as children of one God, united in one faith dedicated to lasting peace, justice, love, and true freedom for all people.

In the Lord,

Fr Phil Florio, SJ