4th of July

     All of us are familiar with of how our country was founded, yet, I think we often forget that the founding of our country was a struggle that came at the price of great personal sacrifice for the founding fathers. The founding fathers were certainly aware of those risks when they introduced a motion to the Continental Congress to declare independence from Great Britain on June 7, 1776. Thomas Jefferson was aware that he could easily have been discovered and hung for treason when as he sat in the second-floor parlor in Philadelphia throughout June of 1776 composing the first drafts of the Declaration of Independence. And each of the 56 members who signed the Declaration of Independence after it was approved by the Congress on July 4, 1176 were keenly aware of the personal sacrifices they may be called to make to uphold the ideals of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.[1]

     Of those 56 signers of the Declaration of Independence, 5 were captured as traitors by the British and tortured to death, 9 died in the Revolutionary War, and 1, a merchant, had his ships captured and then gave the newly formed United States of America a massive loan that was never paid back leaving him to live the rest of his life in the streets.[2] For all of their hardships, the founding fathers knew that they had only begun the work of establishing a new nation. They believed this new form of government demands a constant struggle by the citizens to preserve, build upon and protect it. For 242 years, each successive generation of US citizens has joined the struggle of the founding fathers to honor the founding principles of our nation. Each successive generation of Americans has recognized that our founding fathers never thought they had produced the perfect government and has joined to make American what She is today.

     Friends, we as American citizens who take our Catholic faith seriously must stand up to make sure that our generation recalls the basic principles that prompted the declaration of Independence; namely the conviction that every person enjoys the unalienable rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness as well as the laws which recognize and protect those rights for individuals and associations of individuals. Just as the founding fathers had to sacrifice so much to drive out the injustices of the British monarchy, we too must undergo some hardships if we want to take up the torch of Lady Liberty and lead in our nation to live out her mission to be one nation under God. Like the founding fathers we need to be concerned about being right with God rather than fearing whatever judgments might be directed at us by those who oppose our values. We must believe what is true, we must resist what is not true and we must never grow tired or despair of prevailing in this struggle to uphold the principles on which our nation was founded.[3]

[1] The Declaration of Independence, 1776 available at https://history.state.gov/milestones/1776-1783/declaration

[2] Destiny of the Singers of the Declaration of Independence available at  http://www.nhccs.org/destiny.html

[3] Inspired by a homily by Bishop Gainer available at https://cdlex.org/july-4th-homily

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