Tuesday, July 4, 2017

July 4, 2017: Independence Day

July 4, 2017: Independence Day

Independence Day is one of the biggest holidays of our country. This year, the 4th of July marks the 241st anniversary of the Declaration of Independence, which was signed in 1776. The Thirteen Colonies of America declared themselves states and no longer part of the British Empire. The Revolutionary War was long and costly--perhaps the second-longest conflict in American history. While the 50,000 casualties on the American side are roughly equal in number to the total dead and wounded in Afghanistan, this was at a time when there were fewer than three million people were living in the former British colonies.

The impression we have about this significant birthday of our country is that of joyful celebrations--parades, barbecues, vacations, and fireworks. Yet, it is good to remind ourselves what we celebrate and why we celebrate. Psalm 33:12 summarizes succinctly what Independence Day means to our country, “Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord.” One of the founding fathers of our country, Charles Carroll (the only Catholic signer of the Declaration of Independence) said, “Without morals a republic cannot subsist any length of time; they therefore who are decrying the Christian religion, whose morality is so sublime and pure (and) which insures to the good eternal happiness, are undermining the solid foundation of morals, the best security for the duration of free governments.”

Our beloved America was shaped by Christian forefathers displaying wisdom, knowledge, and understanding of Christian faith. The forefathers spoke of God-given, inalienable rights. Our forefathers believed in God and acknowledged Him.  They planted seeds for future generations to live faith-filled lives, freely and without cause for concern.  And they set up laws under which they knew man could prosper.

St. John Paul II, a man who lived through totalitarian regimes pointed out why Christian values need to be the foundation of democratic nation like ours. “Authentic democracy is possible only in a State ruled by law, and on the basis of a correct conception of the human person… Nowadays there is a tendency to claim that agnosticism and skeptical relativism are the philosophy and the basic attitude which correspond to democratic forms of political life… As history demonstrates, a democracy without values easily turns into open or thinly disguised totalitarianism.” (Centesimus Annus, No. 46)

Someone beautifully summarized why we cannot divorce our nation from the Christian faith. “Our Founding Fathers may have opted for a separation of Church and state but not for a separation of God and state. There is no brotherhood of man without the Fatherhood of God. The division of life into the sacred and the secular is a false dichotomy. There is not now, there never was and there never will be the purely secular, that is, anyone or anything which is not dependent on God. Atheistic capitalism would suffer the same fate as atheistic communism.”

On this day celebrating our nation’s Independence Day, let us fall on our knees like our Founding Fathers and acknowledge how we are dependent on God, how we need His wisdom, providence, and guidance on every aspect of our lives.