Saturday, July 4, 2015

Independence Day and Freedom

We gather today to praise and thank Almighty God for the many graces and blessings, that He has showered upon our country since its founding over 200 years ago.

It was on July 4th, 1776 that our nation was founded, based on some very basic principles whose source was God. Our founding Fathers understood that God was the source of all rights and duties, and that He governed the world based upon certain truths. “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights that among these rights are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”

In the Constitution the authors sought to secure certain freedoms for citizens within the government that they were establishing which was to be the hallmark of this new nation. In the Bill of Rights the framers laid out these rights among which the first right is the right and ability for one to practice one’s religion free from coercion or force. An important reason for this was because they had experienced religious oppression in their native lands and had come to this new land to escaped the religious oppression that was so commonplace at home. During the Fortnight for Freedom, at the request of the Bishops of the United States, the Catholic Community along with many people of other faiths have been praying and doing acts of penance invoking the help of Almighty God to combat what we see as a threats to this God given right to religious freedom. It is also true that around the world religious freedom is under attack and many have lost their lives while worshiping their God. One of the central issues is the question of defining what we mean by religion.

In contemporary times our society has moved more and more toward marginalizing God. For many religion is something that we do in a Church. Unlike our forefathers who understood God as the source of all truth and the guide for the proper ordering of society and of one’s life, there are many in our day that see man as the ultimate source of truth and man’s freedom to do whatever he chooses to be the ultimate good. For us as Catholics, religion is much more than our ability to worship God in a building or in our home. As we read in Sacred Scripture the Lord calls us to be a people that are His one who will cooperate with Him in building a society that is based on justice, love and truth. Our religion is not simply something that we do on Sunday; it is a lifestyle, a way of life. In truth, or life is to be our religion.

Throughout the course of our nation’s history, Catholics in the United States have been good Americans and have served our country well. We have never been asked to choose between being an American and being a Catholic. The threat that we wee arising now in our country is a divergence from the values that we hold dear as disciples of the Lord and some of the policies that are being established in our country that would make us chose between being faithful to the Gospel values that the Lord teaches us and the mandates of our government. For our Founding Fathers their understanding of God as the author of life and the guarantor of freedom is a message that needs to be emphasized in our own day and our own society. We must not let God be pushed to the margins of American life. We must let our voices be heard in the public square and we must not allow our freedom to practice our faith to be compromised by allowing it to be defined as simply a right to worship God within the confines of a Church building. (hbgdiocese.org)

May God bless America and may our faith flourish in the land of the free and the home of the brave.

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