MADISON -- Freedom is a "precious gift given into our safe keeping" and it shouldn't be taken for granted, said Bishop Robert C. Morlino in his homily on Memorial Day.
Bishop Morlino presided and preached at the Memorial Day Mass celebrated outside the chapel at Madison's Resurrection Cemetery.
Concelebrants included Msgr. Ken Fiedler, Our Lady Queen of Peace Parish, and Msgr. Mike Burke, Fr. David Carrano, and Fr. Chad Droessler, Our Lady Queen of Peace Parish. Newly ordained Deacon David Johannes was deacon for the Mass.
A Knights of Columbus honor guard participated. Cantor was Amy Treinen and organist was Glenn Schuster. Randy Roisum played "Taps."
A large crowd gathered for the Mass as a breeze blew through the trees on a sunny day. A large American flag flew at the entrance to the cemetery and flags decorated many graves.
The program for the Mass included an insert with the names of almost 200 people who died and were buried at the cemetery in the past year. Among them are Bishop William H. Bullock and Bishop George O. Wirz.
Freedom of religion
In his homily, Bishop Morlino emphasized the "beautiful gift of freedom," saying that "the most precious gift is freedom of religion."
He noted that if someone believes in life after death, "the most important thing to do is what is necessary to win eternal life. Nothing is more important than that," said the bishop. "That's why offenses against freedom of religion are so bad."
Freedom of religion is being attacked from the outside and the inside of our country, said Bishop Morlino. "Religion unites people and inspires people toward the good. Dictators want to discourage this," he charged.
"We also have enemies from within who seek to redefine the truth. It cannot be an act of authentic human freedom to promote abortion, same-sex marriage, and euthanasia."
'America the Beautiful'
How to live out true freedom is described "very beautifully" in the hymn, "America the Beautiful," said the bishop.
He talked about last two lines of each stanza of the hymn.
"And crown thy good with brotherhood/From sea to shining sea!"
Bishop Morlino commented, "Look at how divided our country and our own area are. We can't even have one Bratfest any more!"
"Confirm thy soul in self-control,/Thy liberty in law!"
The bishop said laws are being "stretched" to fit a "false freedom."
"Till all success be noble-ness/And every gain divine!"
The bishop said that again, religious freedom and liberty are expressed in this hymn.
"Till paths be wrought through wilds of thought/By pilgrim foot and knee!"
"This means we plot our path forward with the laws of reason," said the bishop. "It is reason that directs our path, which is the same for every person. God made it that way."
"Till selfish gain no longer stain/The banner of the free!"
"Only religious people could have written that," said Bishop Morlino. "All of life these days is about self-interest, about number one. Selfish gain stains the banner of the free."
"Till nobler men keep once again/Thy whiter jubilee!"
This refers to heaven, said the bishop. "The closing lines are addressed to God. There is an afterlife and we should be free to do what we need to get there."
Pray for those who died
Bishop Morlino concluded, "We pray today for all our wonderful military members who have died, especially those buried here and all those buried here, especially our Bishops O'Connor, Wirz, and Bullock. Today we remember them.
"Let's be true to who we are as followers of Jesus Christ and as citizens of the United States," he said.