I have fond memories of the 4th of July going back to when I was probably only four or five years old. We remember the parades, the picnics or barbecues, and the happy gathering of families. During the American Revolution, the legal separation of the American colonies from Great Britain actually took place on July 2, 1776, when the Second Continental Congress voted to approve the resolution of independence previously put forth by Richard Henry Lee of Virginia. After debate and revision Congress approved the Declaration of Independence on July 4th.
Of note is the letter John Adams, one of only two Founding Fathers who went on to become president, wrote to his wife Abigail:
…This day ought to be commemorated as the day of deliverance, by solemn acts of devotion to God almighty. It ought to be solemnized with pomp and parade, with shows, games, sports, guns, bells, bonfires, and illuminations, from one end of the continent to the other, from this time forward forever more. (Adams Family Papers: An Electronic Archive. Massachusetts Historical Society)
Like so many of the Founding Fathers, Adams recognized that the day of deliverance came from the providential hand of almighty God. I am not sure about large numbers of duplicitous politicians and other so-called public servants today, whether elected or appointed.
Freedom is a great thing, and we do well to celebrate it on the 4th of July. That being said, it’s something rooted in truth, and apart from the truth there can be no authentic freedom.
If you continue in my word [truth] you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free. (John 8:31-32)
An individual, a country, or a world that does not remain rooted in objective truth cannot ultimately live in freedom. If you are serious about your faith, my dear friends, I strongly recommend that you read #1730-1748 [in the Catholic Catechism] as we approach the wonderful celebration of Independence Day, or the 4th of July.
Some highlights of this reality:
1731: 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 [true happiness].
1733: The more one does what is good, the freer one becomes…
One of the most common errors of all time is to confuse freedom and license. Today, frequently under the specious pretext freedom, mankind acts in a manner that is really license. We are not morally free to do whatever we choose to do. Only when rooted in truth and acting in objective truth can we hope to be free. No one has the moral right to do evil. No one has the moral right to choose to take an innocent life or to engage in actions that are out of accord with right reason or any objective standards of morality we have ever known.
The inevitable consequence of abusing freedom is losing freedom. Soon, if we do not alter our present course, the United States will no longer be the home of the brave and the land of the free. Loss of personal freedoms, one at a time, is already well underway. One day we shall awake from our moral slumber and find that we have become slaves.
We must live in truth and act in truth if we are to remain free. Abuse it and I assure you we shall lose it! Wake up America! God is not a disinterested spectator. Let’s thank God for our freedom, but let’s not sit by idly while the forces of darkness divorce freedom from truth. For, as Jesus says, “The man who sins is the slave of sin.” (John 8:34)
I’ll leave you with the motto of the United States Army Special Forces on this 4th of July:
De oppresso liber! (To free the oppressed)
Indeed, Jesus came to set the captives free. Let’s do our part for our country and our world that we might all remain free in the glorious freedom of the children of God.
God bless you,
Fr. John Corapi