Independence Day and Religious Freedom
On Wednesday we celebrate Independence Day, a day which gives us the opportunity to consider the freedoms we enjoy today – and so often may take for granted. How many men and women have given their lives to purchase and hold our right to liberty? We must be vigilant to guard that freedom or we might very well find ourselves punished for losing that right and subjected to dehumanizing servitude. This can happen in far too many ways - the first of which may be what our nation was founded upon, freedom of religion; a right almost unheard of when it was proposed for the colonies back in the 18th Century.
During Pope Francis' 2015 visit to the United States while in Philadelphia, the birthplace of American freedom, he said: “May this country and each of you be renewed in gratitude for the many blessings and freedoms that you enjoy. And may you defend these rights, especially your religious freedom, for it has been given to you by God himself. In a world where various forms of modern tyranny seek to suppress religious freedom, or try to reduce it to a subculture without right to a voice in the public square, or to use religion as a pretext for hatred and brutality, it is imperative that the followers of the various religions join their voices in calling for peace, tolerance and respect for the dignity and rights of others.”
In many ways, the American experiment in such freedom has been in line with what the
Catechism of the Catholic Church
(CCC) has to say: "Freedom is the power, rooted in reason and will, to act or not to act, to do this or that, and so to perform deliberate actions on one's own responsibility. By free will one shapes one's own life. Human freedom is a force for growth and maturity in truth and goodness; it attains its perfection when directed toward God, our beatitude. As long as freedom has not bound itself definitively to its ultimate good which is God, there is the possibility of choosing between good and evil, and thus of growing in perfection or of failing and sinning. This freedom characterizes properly human acts. It is the basis of praise or blame, merit or reproach." (CCC 1731-1732)
In forgetting this delicate balance of freedom and licentiousness, one danger we can encounter is the attempt to re-define this basic freedom from "freedom of
" to "freedom of
", in effect saying “Keep your religion to yourself. Religion is a private affair. What you do behind the walls of your church is your business, but there is no place for you in the public square where religion is barred.” Any time that suppression of religion was attempted it would often start this way. Pope Francis warned the U.S. against making this during his apostolic visit:
“A people which remembers does not repeat past errors; instead, it looks with confidence to the challenges of the present and the future. Remembrance saves a people’s soul from whatever or whoever would attempt to dominate it or use it for their interests. We remember the great struggles which led to the abolition of slavery, the extension of voting rights, the growth of the labor movement, and the gradual effort to eliminate every kind of racism and prejudice directed at successive waves of new Americans."
On this Independence Day, we celebrate God's blessing that we exist in a nation privileged to live and practice the freedom we know so well. All the same, it is also a time to renew our “eternal vigilance” lest everything we know is taken away from us. Just as Jesus Christ died to give us true freedom, so many of our countrymen have died to give us the liberty that we possess and enjoy and, sad to say, so often take for granted.
The best road to progress is freedom's road.
John F. Kennedy, American president
Our FORMED Recommendation for the Week
Movie (1 hour, 29 minutes) -
The War of the Vendée
This inspiring and unique new film from Navis Pictures, producers of
St. Bernadette of Lourdes
, tells the moving story of France's little known religious civil war in the years following the French Revolution. Featuring an exuberant and gifted cast of over 250 young Catholics (playing all the roles), it is a powerful story of sacrifice and martyrdom. It is told with a careful sense of reserve and is an outstanding movie for the whole family. In 1793, after enduring three and a half years of Church persecution under the architects of the French Revolution, a small band of faithful peasants and nobles from the Vendee region of France began a Catholic "counter-revolution." This is the unknown, heroic story of the valiant, six year struggle of the people of that small section of western France to restore their Holy Religion and their King. Steeped in the spiritual influence of St. Louis de Montfort, and wearing their rosaries and emblems of the Sacred Heart, their sacrifices resulted in countless martyrdoms, and ultimately won the restoration of religious freedom for all of France.
This beautiful film is a love-letter to the Vendean people, and was produced to honor the memory of these brave men and women who willingly sacrificed their lives, "for God and King." This wonderful film features stunning performances by the large, talented cast of young people, gorgeous cinematography, and a glorious original music score that will inspire audiences of all ages with its timeless themes of courage, faith, and love.
If you haven't done so already, go to
, click on the REGISTER button and enter our parish code
). Enter your e-mail address on the registration screen and you're good to go!
Do you find these weekly eCommunity mailings useful and think that family members or friends could benefit? Invite them either by having them text
on their smartphone or by signing up on our parish website at
- we'd love to have them join us!
Sent by Fr. Ed Blanchett on Friday, June 29 at 3:05PM